He’s checking out of the motel when he notices it for the first time; the distinct bulge at her middle, the V of her blouse straining the buttons. He squints, wondering if the distance or the low afternoon light is somehow accentuating her new figure, but no—without her oversized trench coat, this Scully looks markedly different from the one who chased down and body-checked their suspect-cum-killer not six hours ago.
Mulder had approached the man with the intent to question him, but he’d bolted, running straight to where Scully was waiting on the curb, not seeing her in his frantic attempt to escape. She’d caught him from the side, crashing into him with her shoulder and taking him to the pavement in a single fluid motion, mounting and cuffing him before he knew what—or who—hit him.
It was a sight to behold, but Mulder had caught her rubbing her shoulder and wincing more than once since they finished wrapping things up at the precinct.
He thanks the motel clerk and jogs toward the car. “Here, let me get that,” he says, reaching for her carryon.
“I’ve got it, Mulder,” she says, wincing again as she hoists the bag into the trunk and shuts the door.
“That was quite the tackle back there.”
She grimaces, rolling her shoulder. “I’ve done worse.”
“Not with the peanut on board.”
She shoots him a look, walking around to the driver’s side, tugs open the door. “I’ll drive.”
He opens his mouth to reply, but decides against it, shrugs. “Wake me up when we get to the rest stop.”
They’ve been on the road for a while when she lets out a startled cry.
“Oh! Oh, wow.”
He’s awake in an instant. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she giggles, a sound so airy and foreign coming from his partner, he’s momentarily dumbstruck. “The baby kicked.”
Before he can answer, she grabs his hand and places it on her stomach.
“Feel that,” she says.
“Wait for it.”
Just then, there’s a sharp kick to his palm, then another, followed by a distinct push that lasts a second or two before pulling away.
“Whoa,” he says, bemused. “You’ve got a live one.”
She grins. “He’s active—“
“Or she,” she says.
“Maybe she’s taking lessons in ass-kicking from her mother.”
Scully shakes her head, flicks on the turn signal. “It’s your turn to drive.”
They pull in at a gas station off the highway. Mulder’s legs protest as he unfolds them from the vehicle, stretching his hands above his head.
“I’ll be back,” Scully says, eying the restroom. “Grab me a water?”
He’s filling the tank when she returns, heels clipping across the pavement.
“Drink’s on your side,” he says, nodding to the passenger seat.
“Right,” she says, her voice strained, but she doesn’t move to get in the car.
“Scully? What’s wrong?”
She worries her lower lip with her teeth before answering. “I’m bleeding.”
“First Aid kit’s in the trunk—“
“No…I’m spotting. I…I need to call Dr. Parenti,” she says, reaching into her jacket pocket, pulling out her phone. “I’ll be right back.”
She walks to the edge of the parking lot, pacing the line where the grass meets asphalt. He catches snippets of the conversation from a distance.
Light…started this afternoon…traveling for work…yes…come in…I know, thank you.
She pockets her phone and returns to the car.
“Should we find a hospital?”
She shakes her head. “He’s going to meet me at his office when we get back. Can you drop me off? It’s in midtown.”
“Of course…whatever you need.”
“It’s probably nothing. Spotting is common, I’m just being cautious.”
There’s no more lighthearted chatter as they make their way back to DC. Her back is straight and stiff, her eyes fixed on the road, and he catches her putting her hand on her belly, her side. Eventually she tips her head against the window and closes her eyes, but her breathing stays light, her fingers restless at the edge of her abdomen.
They pull up to the doctor’s office a couple hours later. It’s dark, save for a light in the reception area and a few scattered offices.
“Scully? We’re here.”
“Thanks,” she murmurs, begins to gather her things.
“Do you want me to stay?”
“No. I’ll catch a cab from here.”
“Are you sure?”
The line of her throat moves as she swallows hard, but she offers a tired smile. “It’s just a couple tests, I’ll be fine.”
On impulse, he takes her hand, squeezing gently. Her fingers are cold, clammy; he wants to bring them to his lips and blow on them, rub them between his hands to warm them, but he lets her go.
He considers unpacking but decides against it, tossing his bag and suitcase on the bed before sprawling on the couch, not bothering to change. He needs to start their report, but all he can think about are sterile paper gowns and gloved hands and blood, so much blood.
He’s wide awake to catch the phone on the first ring.
“It’s me,” she says softly, and he desperately wishes he could see her face.
“You’re home? What did the doctor say?”
“The baby’s fine. The placenta is partly covering my cervix. I probably jarred something when I took down the suspect this morning.”
“But everything’s OK?”
“Yes. Dr. Parenti wants me off field duty. It’s sooner than I’d anticipated, but he doesn’t want to risk it.”
“Small price to pay,” he murmurs.
Comfortable quiet falls, with only the sounds of her breathing on the other end of the line, the worn leather creaking beneath him as he shifts on the couch.
“How’s your shoulder?” he asks finally.
“It hurts,” she admits.
“No more tackle football for you, Mom.”
She chuckles, and a weight slowly lifts from his chest. “Goodnight, Mulder.”
“‘Night, Scully. Rest up.”