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06 November 2009 @ 09:21 pm
Take A Walk Down The Lonely Street 1/4  
Take A Walk Down The Lonely Street - Chapter One.

For Warnings, Author's Notes, ETC. see the Master Post.

+++


Chapter One: It Hurts Me

It hurts me to see him treat you the way that he does
It hurts me to see you sit and cry



+++

She wrote and sent a new version of her report on the Eddie van Blundht case, this time including the fact that she was mislead by the criminal. However, she didn't include the fact that she was floored by his creation and if Mulder hadn’t interrupted them , she'd probably be imersed in – at least – a serious making out session with her partner's look-alike.
It was all so embarrassing! Mulder obviously felt it too. Their 'best friend' attitude and understanding that they managed to finally achieve and cement between them, was broken by uneasy silence and awkward looks. She was under the impression that Mulder looked almost scared a few times. As if the thought that she may find him attractive was completely new to him… And maybe it was, and he obviously was uncomfortable with it. When they finally managed to give van Blundht to the police and they were sure, he wouldn't be able to run away, Mulder drove Scully back home. She still remembered the look he gave her, when she was getting out of the car. He looked at her as if she just killed his best friend. Maybe she did.
She felt tears finally escaping her eyes and she let herself cry. There was no one to see them, anyway. Mulder ran away a long time ago with some ridiculous explanation and who else came down here? She told herself to be strong so many times these days that she needed to let go. She begged every power in this world she could think of, to not let her loose Mulder . Not right now, when she needed all the strength she could get.
She was so lost in her thoughts and feelings that she didn't hear or see him until he quietly called her. Only then did she have a chance to feel embarrassed that he caught her in the moment of weakness.

“Agent Scully? Are you… I mean, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, sir. I just, uh, let’s say our last case shook me up a bit.”

She tried smiling reassuringly and quickly took a Kleenex out of her purse to dry her face. She might’ve been sitting by Mulder’s desk, but she’d never risk using anything found in there. Sometimes she thought Mulder hadn’t yet classified his desk as an X-File to avoid embarrassment that would come with revealing some things he hid in there.

"It’s nothing really… I’m fine, it's just… It's a long story," she finally finished with a sigh, realizing she was very close to babbling.

"Good,” he said shortly. “You can tell it to me as I drive you home. You're in no state to work, not to mention drive by yourself."

He handed Scully, her the coat and raised his eyebrows expectedly, when she didn’t move.

"But sir… It's really not necessary…"

"It wasn't a question, Agent Scully," he stated sternly. "And if you keep refusing my help, I'll just assign another agent to it and you'll have to show another person how 'weak' you are."

She sighed, took her coat and glared at her boss momentarily. What has this world come to if Skinner is making fun of her?

+++

When I know I could be so true
If I had someone like you


+++

In the FBI chain of command the AD is a much more important person than her FBI partner. He can't just drop an investigation and run to her hospital bed, beg for information, check up on her, make sure that the doctors information is true and that she really, really, really will be okay. As the AD he has investigations to run and a whole team of people to supervise , it’s not his job to check-up on one hurt agent. Apparently that doesn't matter that he's head over heals in love with said agent. Even if he saw that she's alive, he'll be scared shitless until he was able to hug her small frame to him, proof, that she's fine.
He showed his badge to the receptionist without being asked.

"I'm here to see Special Agent Dana Scully, she was brought here almost two days ago."

"Yes, a case of vasogenic shock and some first degree burns …" answered the blonde woman, checking her computer. Shaking her head she continued. "I'm sorry, sir. She's been released on her own wish a few hours ago. I remember her leaving… She left with a tall, handsome man. Her husband, I suppose." The nurse smiled, apparently thinking they were an amazingly cute couple.

Mulder.

He sighed, unclenching his jaw. By now he should’ve really gotten used to the fact that everybody thought Mulder and Scully were made for each other. Sure they would be a great couple, he thought darkly, and then Mulder would finally get her killed with his recklessness. They weren't a couple and it still could’ve happened. He shrugged inwardly, thank God, Mulder and Scully both seemed to agree that they could never be a good couple, much less a 'perfect' one.

He sighed quietly again and took out his cell phone, leaving Mulder a message to meet him in his office as soon as possible. Being AD had it’s advantages, he could summon his agents to him. With Mulder and Scully it didn’t matter who he summoned, they always came in tandem.

+++

Be careful what you wish for. He should write it somewhere on the wall in his office. For so long he begged every god on this world for Mulder to give up his chase after aliens and now what? Now, his wish was granted, now, apparently, he had no choice but believe in the existence of extraterrestrials.
He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to stop the oncoming headache. Everything was falling apart and he had to keep it together. And write a report. Joy.

He raised his head and met her blue eyes, a bit startled that she was still there. He tried to forget about her, shut her off, so he could concentrate on the job. He knew she wasn't offended. When he told her about that, she actually took that as a compliment. The fact that she could be that distracting.

"Dana?" he asked a bit worried. He didn't need to hear any more troubling news.

"I…" she stopped, at lost for words and he would be petrified with fear if she hadn’t smiled at him a moment later, apparently sensing his feelings. "I think we need to talk, Walter. As soon as possible, although in this situation, I don't think we should get distracted, but it's kind of important, so I thought maybe…"

"Dana… You're scarring me, you're babbling," he announced and she had a nerve to laugh at him. Evil woman, he thought, but couldn't stop the small smile appearing on his face.

"It's actually a good news… One, I was too terrified to believe and I made a doctor repeat the examinations…" she was still smiling, but her eyes shined with tears.

"Dana?"

"I'm pregnant."

If she really wanted him to keep that promise about not acting on his feelings, while at work, she really shouldn't have said that in his office. Noting the fact that fifteen minutes later, just before Scully was about to leave, Kim came into the room, he was glad that they were too smart and responsible to do something really interesting on his desk. .

+++

Oh, I know he never will set you free
Because he's just that kind of guy


+++

She didn't meet Mulder's eyes and that gave her away. Scully was a woman tougher than half of the men he knew. She was proud and she was stubborn and she was never a coward. She never refused to meet his gaze out of the pure feel of fear or unease. They were equal. Always.
Or at least they were before she came to the office after lunch and announced that they need to talk seriously. By the end of that sentence Mulder was terrified. She was so still, so obviously nervous, but still trying to hide it. He knew the look on her face, what she needed to say was something very hurtful. He had the suspicion that he was the one who was going to be hurt the most.
He could almost feel some protective walls building in him, forming from a distanced attitude and an ironic sense of humor; trying to protect him as much possible.

"Hey, Scully! Turn off the Ice Queen mode!"

She moved her lips in a kind of uneasy smile, but he knew it was more to make him happy than to show real amusement. She sighed and looked guiltily at him for a second, as if losing the determination that brought them to this conversation in the first place.

"Maybe we shouldn't talk about it in here…" She admitted, hedging but not shutting down the conversation. "I mean…"

"Come on, Scully. What did you do? You ruined something in my office and I didn’t notice? You stole my new issue of 'Celebrity Skin'? You killed somebody? You're pregnant with an alien?"

Mulder smiled at her, trying to pull her into this spin of ridiculous explanations. He saw the corners of her mouth lift a bit, more spontaneously than the last time, and he counted it in his score of personal victory.

"None of the above," she stated. "I'm also not hiding Big Foot under my bed, nor am I having a wild affair with the Loch Ness monster."

He smiled at her, trying to encourage her to continue and not forget what she really came here for.

"Come on Scully. You know you can tell me everything. As long as it's not about you marrying Cancerman and leaving the FBI, I won't even throw a tantrum!"

He was smiling and trying to make her more at ease. Trying to make this discussion less hurtful, trying to protect himself. He almost started to feel safe, but than she lowered her gaze and all thoughts of monsters flew out the small window.

"Scully?" he asked in shallow voice. "Tell me you fell for that guy and you're dragging him over to our side!"

"Mulder, please… Let me explain," she asked." You know I don't want to leave…"

"If you didn’t want to leave, you wouldn't!"

+++

But if you ever tell him you're through
I'll be waiting for you
Waiting to hold you so tight
Waiting to kiss you goodnight


+++

He tried not to be overprotective… No, that's wrong. He knew he was being overprotective and did nothing to stop himself. Most of the time he just hid his worries well, because nothing terrified him more than the thought that he may insult her with his feelings. He adored her pure strength that not only gave her the ability to get through life, but also dragged others along. The pure force of her spirit was enough to keep her safe and independent, she didn't need him for that.
Or so he thought for a very long time, ignoring his feelings and letting her be on her own. Or with Mulder, or whatever.

Then he saw her crying. Sitting in the basement office, in Mulder's chair, with unfocused eyes and silent tears running down her face. That's how it all started… When he finally understood she might actually need someone outside her unusual friendship with Mulder. Someone who would think of her before himself, someone who had no crusade to poison his thoughts, someone who can take care of himself and be there for her as well.

It wasn't easy. Even though he worked with them for so long, he still couldn't completely grasp this strange relationship between Scully and Mulder, but he had to learn to live with that. There was no way to be with Scully without Mulder appearing in their lives.
He just had to clench his teeth, when she smiled about something he didn't know about. Every time she laughed at an inner jokes of their’s, he had to take few deep breaths and try to at least look calm, every time she ran after Mulder to save his life, his cause, his job, risking everything she had. Except him. After some time she learned that he'd be there, when she came back. That he'd be awfully jealous and mad, but he'd get over it and stay by her side no matter what. It took some time, but finally she did believe in him. She trusted him enough not to try to hide Mulder and her feelings from him. He thought about it as his own victory. Even if it hurt so badly to see her crying, because of that bastard.

"Dana? What are you doing here?" he asked shocked a bit. He didn't expect her in his apartment today, at least not yet .

Then he noticed her red, puffy eyes and wet cheeks and not for the first time in his life he wanted to just smack Mulder in that thick head of his and make him see some sense.

"It wasn't that bad," she said smiling slightly upon seeing his barely concealed anger.

"This means he took the news well?"

"No," she smiled through her tears. "This means he was so mad, he didn't even listen to me and I didn't break the biggest news…"

"Oh, Dana…"

"No, Walter. You promised, remember? I'm handling Mulder, and I will. I'll go to him and talk until he understands, and I know that when I' finally get him to listen to me, he will understand… I just needed some time to calm down and… I didn't want to sit in my apartment…"

"I know. Of course, I know. Are you sure you should talk with him today? I mean, maybe tomorrow…"

"No, Walter. By tomorrow he'll have set such thick walls between us that it'll take me months to talk to him and by then he may notice by himself," she smiled.

"I wouldn't be that sure… He can be pretty dense when he wants to be," smiled Walter, hugging her tightly. "You know him best, so I have to trust you on that… I just hate to see the way he treats you, sometimes."

"Walt, you're even worried to let me go to the doctor alone. You're just big, overprotective bear, get over it."

"Hey, I have nothing against that, it's you, who may mind. And it's a new doctor so I have no reason to trust him."

"Call Mulder paranoiad once more and I swear I'll laugh in your face."

He just smiled in her hair, trying to calm her down. He knew that the talk with Mulder wouldn’t be easy for her. It always was hard for her to say 'no' to him, and never before had she had to tell him 'no' to him, his cause and the whole X-Files department. He hugged her even more tightly and stroked her back in small circles with his large hand. Trying to give her all the strength he could. Just in case his brave girl needed it this time.

+++

Yes, darling, if I had someone like you

+++

He vaguely remembered kicking the dustbin just before he slammed the door behind him, leaving the office. So maybe he did throw a little tantrum, but he didn't feel even a bit guilty about it. He gave her fair warning.

He had known her long enough to know that if she wanted to explain herself, make him see her reasoning, she woouldn’t give up. It was one of the reasons why he just left the office after hearing her news, he knew it wasn't the last time he would see her. Most of the times that he had spent brooding since then a quiet voice in his head was telling him that if she betrayed him that much, she might never show up again. He ignored it.
She came to visit just when he was about to watch "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer", the interruption didn’t make him feel any better. He silently hoped that a sexy blonde was what he needed, especially if there was a chance of Angel appearing in his famous leather jacket and tight trousers.

"Mulder, I know you're in there, open up!" she yelled, pounding at his door again, just when he finally made his way to it.

He quickly opened the door and coldly looked down at her serious face. He might've been acting a bit childish, stubbornly not giving her a chance to explain her actions, but he didn't care at the moment. He felt he had a right to do so. He was betrayed and abounded by the person closest to him and he never took a turn of events like this very well. It hurt so much more than normal betrayal, when someone used his fragile trust against him.

"Mulder," she sighed and he saw a glimpse of tears reappearing in her red eyes, just before she lowered her head and made a step forward to hug him tightly. "I'm sorry… please, let me explain..."

He automatically hugged her back, suddenly seeing above his hurt feelings and saw how much this affected Scully. His beautiful, tough and always collected Scully, who was now crying in his arms, asking him for a chance to explain. Slowly he moved, tugging her inside the apartment and closed the door the door behind them.
He led her to the couch and handed her the un-opened bottle of beer he sat on the table earlier. After he finally managed to find some clean handkerchiefs for Scully, he went to the kitchen for another beer for himself. He quickly opened it, sitting on the couch, next to his friend and took a long sip. For a moment he wondered if he had anything stronger than beer in his kitchen. He had the sudden, spooky feeling, that he may need it.

"Talk." He said sharply, very glad of the fact that she appeared to calm down a bit.

"Mulder," she started, playing with the handkerchief she still held in her hand, the beer bottle standing unopened on the small, messy table. "Firstly I wanted to once again apologize to you. I really am sorry that I have to leave X-Files…"

"So you're not leaving the bureau only me?" he interrupted, more and more irritated not only with what she was saying, but also with the dry tone of someone retelling a speech from a written script.

"Mulder, please!" He fell silent, giving her sign to continue. "I'll be transferred back to Quantico. I hope… I hope I'll still be able to help you… I hope you'll let me…"

"Why suddenly you can't help me by being my partner?" he asked still angry, refusing to stay silent for longer.

"It's too big risk…"

"Too big risk? Too big risk?!" He couldn't believe she actually had the nerve to say something like that. "Scully! I'm risking my life almost everyday for this cause. One might say I don't have a life, 'cause I already lost it long time ago! I thought we were on the same page here, Scully!”

She bit her lip, looking down at her hands that she tried to occupy with the handkerchief, so they wouldn’t shake too much. Finally she looked up at his pacing silhouette and with that one gaze, willed him to sit back down.

"Mulder, you know I was… I am more than willing to risk my life… Maybe not for the cause I could never completely believe in," she didn’t stop, ignoring his angry snort. "But for you, Mulder, in whom I always believed and I always will believe."

He lowered his gaze hearing this. He knew he was loosing this battle, when she started talking about him like that. Someone who believed in him so much just couldn't betray him, could she?

"But it's not about my life anymore," she continued. "I lost my sister… And I probably risked the lives of my family more times than I'm able to count, without even knowing. But Mulder, I can't knowingly risk the live of my family… for anybody, even you."

Her stubborn gaze bore into him and he suddenly sighed and hugged her to his chest. One of the great advantages of hugging Scully was the fact that he wasn’t close enough to watch her face . He couldn't watch her right now, because he knew he had just lost the battle. He knew he'd have to let her go, he couldn't ask for such sacrifice from her. As she had once told him – not everything was about him. She probably never knew how hard those words hit him and how often they came back to haunt him, mostly in the middle of the night, when he was half way done with punching her number and calling her just to hear another human voice to calm him down.
Apparently he'd have to take another step on the path of letting her have her life back. Life without fear for her family.

"Why is it so sudden?" he asked defeated. "Someone threatened you?"

"No, Mulder," she said, sliding from his arms, to sit back far enough to look in his face. "It's just… God, I don't know how to say that. You'll be mad I didn't told you earlier…"

"What?" he said smiling slightly at her uneasiness. "You've got yourself a boyfriend and you're afraid for him, you promised yourself that even one hair won't fall from his pretty head?"

She chuckled quietly, more from the stress of the day than from the joke Mulder Unintentionally shared.

"I'm not the one here, who's attempting the impossible," she murmured quietly and added louder, seeing his frown. "As a matter of fact, I… I am with someone right now, and it's been going on for… some time…"

She ignored his "You're full of surprises…" murmur and took a deep breath. It felt almost strange that after this whole emotional roller-coaster she had gone through today, she still hadn't shared the important news, which had caused all of this mess.

"But it's not about him, not really… He can well take care of himself perfectly well and he knows exactly what he's getting into and what he's risking, because of this relationship." She bit her lip again. "But we accomplished something that I was even afraid to talk about too loud or for too long, because I was so… afraid that I hoped for too much. So I was just praying and… And maybe it helped, I don't know. What counts is the fact that it happened and because of my fear I- I wasn't even prepared for it."

"'It' being…?" he asked finally too shocked to react with something more than curiosity.

"Mulder, I- I'm pregnant," she announced with a smile and eyes watering for the hundredth time. She finally laughed at his dumbfounded face. "When you told my about my ovas that you brought back from that lab… I wanted to try, the doctors said that some of them with a bit of luck might be viable… and I decided to try … As I said I was thinking it would be too much of a miracle to dream for it to come true. At first it seemed that I was right. The first try didn't bring any results and I almost gave up. I didn't want to start hoping for something that so obviously wasn't for me… I decided to try just one more time, but then I never even had the time to wonder if it was successful. With the case on our hands and me losing hope it was just… I attempted to forget all about it. Then it was right after the Ruskin Dam accident. In the hospital the doctor told me that while they were doing checks on me, they learned about my pregnancy."

"But how… I mean… How is it possible? If the doctors said the IVF failed…"

He felt his paranoia waking up. Sudden thoughts about Scully's safety, about her 'boyfriend's' intentions, about some unknown doctor who Scully trusted and who could do absolutely anything to her and her unborn child… He never was one to believe in miracles, even if they seemed really great. He saw her smile, happiness practically radiating from her and he tried to calm his uneasy feelings.

"Only the first one, as I said I’ve never checked the second, I tried ignoring the fact that there could be some miracle happening," she explained. "It’s unbelievable, but I'm certainly not going to complain… I… I took as many checks on this baby as I could in this early stage… They can't tell me much, but for now it certainly looks… normal. Normal and healthy, and I want to keep him or her that way…"

She looked up at him and he understood what she was asking, he understood what she was saying. She asked to leave, to keep her child safe, but she was also telling him that she couldn't leave without him accepting her decision. She couldn't leave him alone, she couldn't betray him.
Suddenly he felt stupid and guilty for his earlier thoughts that seemed so ridiculous now. Scully betraying him? If he was now sure of one thing, it was that that could never happen.

"I understand, I don't like it very much, but I understand."

He smiled tightly at her, trying to calm her down and with one hand moved her hair back to the place behind her ear from where it had escaped. For a moment he wondered if was wrong to touch someone else's girlfriend like that. He shrugged inwardly, he didn't care. He didn’t have any romantic inclinations towards Scully, but he loved her more than anyone else on this world and her lover boy will just have to get used to that.

"So… Who's the lucky father?" he asked, willing his tone to be as light as possible.

"You're going to be mad," she announced making a face at him.

"Scully," he deadpanned. "If it's Frohike's, kill it now."

"Not that bad," she laughed, but quickly turned serious again. "Skinner's."

"Oh. My. God… Wally Junior?"

"Mulder, I warned you," she laughed as he placed his hand against his heart, pretending the shock might've just caused him a heart attack. "One more word and I'll name the kid after the godfather!"

"Don Vito Corleone?"

"No! Fox! And I don’t even care if it’s a girl!"

He laughed at her and the serious, threatening face she was trying to keep.

"You wouldn't be that cruel. Besides Wally Senior wouldn't let you!"

"As if he has a say," she snorted.

He laughed again, and now that the atmosphere finally cleared he finally noticed that he never finished his beer that stood open and half full before him on the coffee table. He took a sip, but quickly decided that freshly opened it was much better. Without another glance at his friend he took the bottle he earlier gave her and opened it for himself. She was taking care of her child and she wouldn't drink it anyway.

"You've got him completely under your thumb, don't you?" he asked after taking a gulp of the beer.

"Don't sound too happy about it. It doesn't work with anything connected to work, or - especially – the X-Files."

"So you won't buy my blessing with a bigger office above the ground?"

"Nope. I'll only try buying said blessing by giving you more duties and making you a godfather."

"I'd be honored… You know that," he said seriously. "Even if I am pathetic choice, which you know as well."

She hit him lightly in the arm.

"I'd never picked a pathetic godfather for my child, and you know it. I'm taking this very seriously."

"I've never doubted that," he stated calmly drinking his beer.

She looked at him as if waiting for something, but when it didn't come, she just sighed again and rested her head on his arm. She wondered if she should bring that back up, or if she should just get up and leave. She just knew she didn't want to ruin this secure truce between them.

"Okay, spill it," he said. "What's wrong now?"

"Nothing!" she stated quickly. "It's just… Oh, God I don't want to spoil the fact that you calmed down and listend to me, and… understood. It's just…"

"What?"

"I thought you'd be more shocked or something… about Walter."

"Scully," he stated firmly. "I am shocked. My lack of reaction is due to that I'm too shocked to react. I mean… you and… Skinner? Sure, I've heard of stranger things and seen a couple myself, too, but still… When did it start? How long you weren't telling me about it? How long were you lying to me?"

"I wasn't lying!" she said loudly. "I was just…"

"Not telling me the whole truth?" he asked sarcastically. "The story of my life: people aren't lying to me. They're just not telling me the whole truth!"

Suddenly he knew he went too far. He may be upset and say stupid things, but enough was enough, and some things just weren't supposed to leave his mouth even if he was downright mad at her.

"You can hardly compare me to all the liars you've met in your life!" she stated angry and hurt. "I wasn't lying to hurt you or just to make fun of you, but because I was afraid of your reaction!"

"My reaction? Scully, what the hell do you think of me? How was I supposed to react in your opinion? You thought I'd have a nervous breakdown, when I'll learnt that you're sleeping with the boss? Or maybe you thought I'll run straight to the Director's office to share the gossip?"

"Mulder, I… I was terrified by what I was doing. I wasn't ready to tell anybody about it, and later it was just harder and harder to do. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I felt wrong about it. I mean an affair with the boss? It's such a cliché and pathetic situation… I found myself in a situation I'd normally not approve of"

"But Scully," he said somehow shocked with her reasoning. "Not many women these situations have such good explanations for their actions…"

"Exactly. That's what I told myself, but than I realized all of them have some excuses and maybe mine were as unimportant as some I've heard before, and I just let myself believe I'm different."

Only the serious look on her face stopped him from chuckling aloud. It was just like his Scully, she could go around hunting aliens and shooting at people, when needed, but she was terrified that she's in immoral relationship. He also bet that along with this fear came excitement, that she's doing something forbidden and enjoying it. His Scully was a beautiful, strong woman, who was not afraid of anything, but who was hiding deep inside her soul a good Catholic girl, who sometimes was yelling at her pretty loudly. She was full of contradictions and he loved that in her and sometimes he thought that was the source of her strength.

"Don't you dare to think about yourself that way," he stated calmly. "Some of those women probably have good explanations for their actions, but most of them don't. You, Scully, are in a very special situation! You're taking part in a war that has been silently going on for a long time, you're helping to save this freaking planet, so please, give the good, little Catholic girl in you a rest! We need Scully who'll whip butts and protect everyone!"

She laughed at him, reminding him how much he loved her loud laugh. She laughed like a little, not necessarily Catholic, girl. When he heard her laugh he always wondered how this girl could be the famous "Ice Queen" of the Quantico Academy.

"You, for one, certainly need it! And don't worry… I got over it. I mean, I understand I'm sleeping with my boss, because there really is no other way, because I'm not going to risk our planet-saving job, because I fell in love."

"But the kid is different?" he asked seriously, but calmly.

"You know it is. It's such a miracle… I don't want to waste this chance because of my egoistical… well maybe not 'egoistical' want to save the world… I just don't anyone else dying, because of me."

"Hey, don't worry," he said quickly, hating that serious and scared look in her eyes. "You'll get back to Quantico. In the free time you'll be fighting aliens and raising a child. And its daddy Wally and god-daddy Mulder will do everything to keep you both safe."

"You sure?" she asked, hating the fact that her voice was breaking again.

"Sure. Can I buy him an alien plushy?"

"No," she stated shortly, smiling.

"Casper the friendly ghost?"

"Mulder, are you trying to corrupt my child?" she deadpanned, but than added in correcting voice. "mind you, it's not confirmed it's going to be a boy."

"Well, you know… I hardly will reproduce and someone has to inherit the X-files… Besides, it's a boy. I can bet my fishes on it!"

"God, you're worse than Walter. I won't know its gender and you'll be both buying him football's equipment!"

He elbowed her lightly for her grouchy tone.

"Scully… Don't be like that, girls can play football, too. And, besides, I will buy him a baseball equipment."

"Oh. Of course," she said dryly. "Men."

He laughed at her sigh and the roll of her eyes, but then pretended to be seriously offended in the name of his whole gender.

"Hey, there's three of us now! You're outnumbered."

"And when, pray tell, did you manage to squeeze into my family?" she laughed relieved, knowing that she can now safely say a thing like that without hurting him more than she already did today.

"You adopted me five years ago!"

She shook her head and then again lowered it on Mulder's shoulder.

"And here I was thinking you'd be its godfather not older brother…"

"Forget it! At best I may be a wicked uncle, but the idea of older brother sounds better…" He stopped for a moment and looked at her wonderingly. "So… You're gonna feed me now, mummy? I could use a good dinner…"

She muffled her chuckle in his arm and managed somehow to deadpan the answer to his request.

"Forget it, Mulder. Call your daddy, let him cook!"

"Eww… Daddy is – I'm afraid – still mad about my last report."

"Too bad," she answered with feigned sympathy.

"You're a bad mum. Little Don Vito and I, will starve to death with you!"

She just gritted her teeth and swore in her thoughts that if it actually will be a boy, he'd be Fox. Just to annoy his awful godfather, who'd have to use this name more than he'd like to.

"He's not Don Vito."

"Ah-ha! So it is a he!"

+++

The whole town is talking, they're callin' you a fool
For listening to his same old lies


+++

The girl at the elevator just glanced at him and quickly hid her smile behind the folder she was holding. He raised an eyebrow but stopped himself from commenting. It's not as if he was being laughed at for the first time in his life. Still, he sighed with relief leaving the elevator on the second floor and headed towards Skinner's office.
He checked his reflection in the glass he passed, but didn’t notice anything that would cause the giggling reaction from the girl in the elevator and the one he met earlier in the parking lot. He spent a few seconds wondering if he had done anything extra strange in last couple of days, but nothing came to his mind. He shrugged, maybe they were just new.

Kim smiled at him, when he finally got into the office and for a moment he wondered if she was also laughing at him or if he was getting more paranoid than normal.

"AD Skinner is waiting for you, please come in."

"Thanks, Kim," he said smiling a bit, relieved that apparently she’s just being nice. As always.

Mulder slowly entered the office and nodded in greeting to his boss, before sitting in the chair before the desk.

"You wanted to talk to me, sir?"

"Yes, Agent Mulder," said Skinner sighing. "I wanted to talk to you about your partner’s resignation."

Mulder averted Skinner's eyes. Well, at least that explained why Skinner insisted on meeting him alone, even if Scully was a part of the X-Files for another two weeks. He somehow hoped they’d avoid this conversation. Agreeing with the idea of Scully's new family was much easier when he didn’t have to remember that his boss played a major role in the scenario. Somehow in his mind there were two Skinners: Scully's lover – Walter, and his boss – AD Skinner.
Finally he looked up, meeting the uneasy look of his boss who was clearly finding the conversation as difficult as he was. He inwardly chuckled, wondering if his boss was having this conversation out of his own free will, or if Scully had decided it needed to be done. Mulder sighed, he had to face the fact that in the real life there was only one AD Walter Skinner.

"Yes, sir? What about it?" he asked carefully.

"After the news of her resignation or rather re-assignment became well known, several rumours arose regarding her reasons. One is more truthful than the others. Somehow… And I'll be damned if I know how… Everybody has agreed that she's leaving because she's pregnant."

Mulder smiled. Some things never changed in the FBI, one of them being the lightening speed with which rumours spread. And, more often than not the rumours had at least some basis in fact.. That’s what comes from closing too many investigators in one building with nothing constructive to do, they start investigating whatever they can.

"Agent Scully suspects that the FBI's doctor, who had to be informed about her state, might have leaked some information."

"That's a pretty good guess," agreed Mulder. "But I fail to see why she would have to leave X-Files if it was only a case of her being pregnant? She could just take maternity leave…"

"Unless, as most of the rumour mill think, she's pregnant to her partner."

Mulder blinked at his suddenly even uneasier boss, but his thought about how hard this conversation must be to the other man was interrupted when he finally understood something.

"So that's what it was about! Half of the female personnel I've met on my way here, started giggling and exchanging knowing smiles."

"Yes, I do believe it was just that. Obviously it makes a bit of a mess with the rumors running around the bureau. It's actually a good situation, because the more misunderstandings about this situation the less probable it is that radical action is taken by our enemies."

"You think that if they don't know much about the kid, they won't attack? That's actually highly likely, because unless they know something already, they'll wait for confirmation with a series of well laid plans and contingencies until they know what they're dealing with. They like to have everything planned and they can't predict our actions without knowing the whole situation."

"Which means, the more mess and different opinions in all those rumours, the safer Agent Scully and her son are" Skinner summed up in a serious tone.

Mulder smiled slightly, thinking that without Scully here, there was no one to protest to that statement about the maleness of the unborn child.

"I agree, sir. But I'm not exactly sure what you want from me here?"

"I want you not to deny those rumours. Or maybe deny them with one person, but confirm with the other… Maybe encouraging them would be a mistake, but I'm sure you can mislead most of the people in this building. I'm sure that Agent Scully's doctor would encourage her to take the maternity leave as soon as possible, because of the special condition of her and the child. I'm sure that your partner will stay at work as long as possible, but when she leaves you’ll have lots of saved free days, you could take some kind of vacation."

Mulder stayed silent. He wasn't sure how to respond to that. Of course, he wanted Scully and Don Vito, save and happy, but could he really leave X-Files without any protection? No, he thought, Skinner would be here, after all. And he wouldn't risk the existence of X-Files, just as Mulder wouldn't risk the life of Skinner's family.

"I don't want to interrupt your job… Trust me, I understand now how important it is, but there won't be any pressure to stay in the office."

"I understand, sir. You have to know I can't promise you anything right now, it will all depend on what happens when Scully takes her leave. I won't abandon something really important, just to feed the rumour mill above all other reasons – it would just make our enemies sure this kid is more important to me than whole truth searching."

"I agree with that, but…"

Mulder interrupted him quickly, deciding that he somehow had to reassure this man.

"But if there isn’t anything of that sort, I'll think of some reason to take leave at the same time that Scully does."

Skinner nodded, obviously relieved by the fact that Mulder was actually ready to work together to keep his partner safe. The agent was a bit surprised at that. The AD acted as if Mulder couldn't see reason when it was pointed out to him, and he'd just run after the truth without regard for the costs. Well, maybe that was partially true, but if he could make Scully safer just by leaving office for few weeks, than why not? He wasn’t complete bastard. Not to Scully.

"I'm glad we agreed on that I do believe there's nothing more about Agent Scully's leave that we need to discuss, Agent Mulder?"

Mulder looked at his boss closely, understanding from the uneasy way the question was asked that there was something important hidden in this theoretically simple form of ending the discussion.

"No, sir. I do believe Scully's whereabouts are solely a concern of her son's father. I'll just be a good older brother and kick his ass if he ever fails in his duty to keep her happy and safe."

Maybe his message wasn't as smooth, but he needed to be one hundred percent sure Skinner got what it was about. It was far too important to mess up.
For a moment the AD looked shocked, but then he looked as if he was trying really hard to suppress a smile.

"I wouldn't expect nothing less, Agent Mulder. I just hope it won't be necessary."

"So do I, sir. So do I," agreed Mulder and with a smile stood up and left the office.

+++

The dark office full of cigarettes smoke was occupied by three men, listening to the audio of the conversation between AD Skinner and Agent Mulder. Finally the tape ran to it’s end, and for a moment the room was absolutely quiet. Finally First Elder asked the Smoking Man, what was on the mind of everyone in the room.

"Do you think the child is Mulder's?"

"We had no proof to either confirm or deny it," the Smoking Man stated slowly.

"That's the worst thing in this whole situation," exclaimed the Well Manicured Man. "We know nothing. We're not even sure how it is possible that Agent Scully is pregnant. What if They somehow helped this miracle happen? What if the fact that she survived means that They wanted this child to be born?"

"We have no proof of Their intervention," stated calmly Smoker. "As you said, we know nothing. I suggest holding off any actions until we learn more. Agent Scully’s doctor works for us and we will soon know everything he learns about the unborn child. Then we'll decide if the elimination of the child is necessary."

The Well Manicured Man cringed slightly, obviously not at ease with talk of plans to kill unborn children. Actually this time, The Smoking Man could almost understand his reluctance. After all, if the rumors were true, the little, unborn thing, growing inside of Agent Scully, could be his grandson. He smiled at the thought of the little boy he could teach everything, just as he should have done with his father.
Yes, he thought, if the rumors are verified and the child is Fox's, he'll take it and make it his successor.

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CHAPTER TWO

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