“Excuse me,” Scully says, standing up from the meeting table. Her face remains neutral, her head held high as she takes her leave, but Mulder recognizes the quickening in her step that tells him she’s hurrying to the restroom. Again.
Mulder meets Kersh’s eyes for an uncomfortable moment before turning his attention to his yellow legal pad, pretending to scratch some notes as their boss drones on. Scully still hasn’t returned by the time the meeting ends. He finds her in the elevator on the way back to the basement.
“You OK?” he whispers, leaning in close.
“I’m fine,” she says, shaking a handful of Tic-Tacs into her palm and tossing them back.
He waits until they’re alone in the den of the basement office before asking again.
“I said I’m fine, Mulder,” she sighs, frowning at something on the desk. “It’s nothing.”
“The same ‘nothing’ that had you in the bathroom six times before lunch?”
She frowns. “Quit exaggerating.”
“No, I counted. It was seven, but you only did the thing with the mints six times, so I figured the seventh was just…you know. You sure you’re OK?”
“Morning sickness is a perfectly natural, if uncomfortable, affliction. I’m fine.”
“Are you sure you should be flying, though? We can find a case closer to home. I can offload this investigation, Kersh is frothing at the mouth to give it to someone else, anyway—“
She holds up a hand, cutting him off. “We’ve been over this before. I’m pregnant, not dying. You’re hovering.”
“I’m not—“ he stops himself, biting his lip. “I’d feel terrible if something happened.”
“I know, and I appreciate that. I do,” she says, facing him, her eyes tired, her complexion slightly green. “But as much as I am your friend, I am also your colleague, and I’d like it if you’d treat me the same as you would any other agent.”
“Good, glad that’s clear,” she interrupts, pressing a hand to her mouth, mumbling, “I’ll be right back.”
“And there you go again,” he mutters.
He sits down at his desk and opens his laptop, intending to review his case notes, but his mind wanders. He finds himself opening a web browser.
The next morning, he arrives at the office early with a grocery bag. The clicking of Scully’s heels on the concrete floor announces her arrival, and she turns the corner. She stops when she sees him, standing by the desk with his hands behind his back.
“Mulder…? What’s going on?”
“I did some research and swung by the pharmacy.”
She sighs, putting down her briefcase. “We’ve talked about this. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself—“
“I knew you’d say that,” he says. “And we both know it’s true, but I also know we’ve been out straight for the last three weeks, and you’re dead on your feet.”
She opens her mouth to protest, but he interrupts.
“I think what you want to say here is ‘thank you, Mulder.’”
“Thank you, Mulder,” she parrots drily. “But—“
He ignores her, begins pulling things out of the bag, starting with a large box of saltines.
“Organic, of course,” he says. “So you and the uber-Scully don’t go hungry. And there’s these lollipop things for morning sickness. They had ginger and lemon, I wasn’t sure which ones you’d like, so I got both. Sugar free.
“Sea bands,” he continues, drawing out a small plastic box. “Studies have shown applying pressure to specific points on the wrist to have a reductive effect on nausea. I know you think reflexology is crap science, Scully, but for two bucks, it’s worth a shot, right?”
She opens her mouth to speak, but he’s not done.
“Ginger ale with real ginger. Also organic,” he says, pulling out several bottles, followed by a small white one. “And I know you’re probably taking your vitamins, but did you know that a little extra B6 helps with nausea?” he says, rattling the pills for effect, pleased when her lips turn up in a smile.
“I got tea, the herbal kind. I know you miss your coffee, but if you add lots of cream and sugar and close your eyes…it’s still a shitty substitute, but it’s supposed to be good for you.
“And when all else fails…these,” he says, pulling out a cellophane bag.
“What are they?”
“Disposable toothbrushes. Peppermint flavor,” he says, holding them out. “You’re always saying Tic-Tacs are bad for your teeth.”
Her brow arches, but there’s an unfamiliar twinkle in her eye. It takes him a moment to realize she’s trying not to cry.
“It’s…um. Thank you,” she says, this time with sincerity. “I’m sorry,” she adds, wiping at her eyes, avoiding her mascara with practiced ease.
“Don’t let it go to your head, Mulder, I cried at a tampon commercial this morning. But this is…this is…thank you.”
He softens, reaching out to touch her shoulder. “C’mon, I’ll help you pack. We have a plane to catch.”