Chapter 6

The hospital’s winding halls bring back too many memories. He itches in his expensive wool sweater, the only thing he could find in his closet that was halfway presentable and wasn’t a suit.

“Are you sure about this, Scully? Don’t you have a girlfriend or someone you can ask? I know your mom can’t make it, but—“

“Chasing down flukemen and far-reaching government conspiracies doesn’t exactly leave me much time for socializing, Mulder,” she replies without breaking stride. “If I had the kind of life that included girlfriends, I’d ask them. It’s either you or the Gunmen, and I’m not letting Frohicke near me with a ten-foot pole.”

“Touché,” he mutters, pushing through the door to the maternity ward, where a clip-art-decorated sign points them to the Lamaze classroom. “It just feels a bit, uh, intimate is all.”

“More intimate than helping to father my child?” she asks, arching an eyebrow.

“Touché again,” he says, unable to help smiling. “You’re sassy today.”

“It’s the hormones,” she says drily. “Now play nice.”

The class finds them sitting on the floor in a circle with his legs wrapped around her, a pillow tucked between them to support her lower back.

“I’m beginning to think you were wrong about the intimacy thing, Scully. The donation process wasn’t nearly this cozy.”

She elbows him in the ribs, but he can feel her smile as the instructor begins, coaching them through the breathing exercises.

Afterward, they go out for ice cream. “As a thank you,” Scully says, holding up her sundae, “for suffering the intimate with me.”

“At least this is the real stuff and not tofu,” he says, watching as the fudge-soaked chocolate drips from her spoon. He takes a bite of his cone. “Mmm. The Bureau should put all its partners through Lamaze training. Better than building a tower of office furniture.”

“I’m not sure a tower of office furniture could hold me,” she mutters.

He bites his lip. She looks better—softer, vibrant, the way she looked before cancer and loss stole her hope—but he can’t bring himself to tell her that. Instead, he clears his throat, says, “I’ll be happy if I never have to hear the word ‘placenta’ again.”

“But it’s such a fascinating organ. Most mammals actually eat the placenta after birth. It’s supposed to be highly nutritious.”

Mulder suppresses a gag. “And there goes my appetite.”

“More for me,” she shrugs, taking another bite.

He plunks his cone in a dish, wiping his hands on his jeans. “Uh, does the peanut have a name yet?”

“No, and I’m not going to decide until I meet him. Or her.”

“You’re still keeping that a secret, too, huh?”

“There have to be some surprises.”

“Oh, you’ll get some surprises where my genes are involved.”

She giggles, an errant smear of chocolate on one cheek. “Touché, Mulder. Touché.”