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“What about this one?” 

She passes him a page torn from the real estate guide in her lap, a three-bedroom, two-bath Foursquare house circled in red marker.

“Price is good,” he says, studying the small black-and-white picture. He could see her in that porch swing on cool summer evenings, sipping lemonade with her feet in his lap. He could see chalk drawings on the concrete steps. “Put it in the call pile.”

He hands the page back, and she puts it with a small stack of others on the coffee table. The don’t-call pile, much larger, is mounded in the trash can across the room.

“How do you feel,” she asks, tapping her marker against her chin, “about split-levels?”

Mulder shrugs and stretches out along the length of the couch to peer over her shoulder where she sits cross-legged on the floor.

“Unfavorable,” he says. “I guess.”

“Hmm.” Her marker goes tap-tap-tap. “Me too.”

She tears the page and crumples it, tosses it overhand into the trash. Two points.

A few weeks ago, on a run for fudgesicles and baby carrots, he’d seen a rack of real estate guides in the checkout lane. He’d picked up a couple, thinking of how tight Scully’s apartment had become. After Oregon, after she’d gotten sick and he’d decided to stay, after they’d received news of a miracle—their miracle—he’d let his lease expire. They hadn’t really talked about it; they hadn’t needed to. Everything that mattered was in Georgetown.

But now Georgetown is getting cramped. Between his things and her things, two apartments’ worth of things packed into four rooms, there is barely space to breathe. They could handle it for a while if it was just them, but it isn’t. Or, it won’t be for long.

“What about that one?” Mulder points at a tiny picture on the page in her hand. “Jacuzzi tub, Scully.”

“Mm,” she says. “Expensive, Mulder.”

“So?” He leans forward to nuzzle the side of her head, the soft wispy hairs escaping her ponytail. “You’re worth it.”

“Mulder...”

“You are,” he insists, propping himself up on one elbow to rub her shoulder with his free hand. “You both are.”

It’s an understatement, of course. She’s worth so much more than jacuzzi tubs and walk-in closets and big backyards. But it’s a good place to start.

“But we don’t need it,” she says.

He chuckles and kisses the back of her neck right over the tiny bump of their last miracle. Liar, he thinks. On the TV, Tom Brokaw declares it time for the six o’clock news.

“Getting hungry?” Mulder asks, twisting his fingers through her ponytail. “Want me to start dinner?”

Scully sighs and tips her head back for a kiss. “In a minute.”

“In a minute,” he echoes, soft, and brushes his lips against hers. The angle is bad for serious kissing, but the gentle touch of her mouth on his is more than enough. He could stay like this all day. When she finally pulls away, he traces her nose with his fingertip and asks, “What’s she in the mood for tonight?”

Scully groans and lolls her head against the cushion. “Mulder. We’ve talked about this.”

They have. The amniocentesis is still half a month away, marked on the calendar in the kitchen as well as the one in the office in bold black letters. A few exclamation marks for good measure.

“I’m telling you,” he says, cupping her jaw and kissing her cheek, “she’s a girl. A little Scully. Just like you.”

She twists to face him, eyebrow raised. “You can’t know that. Nobody can know that. The ultrasound tech couldn’t even tell.”

“The doctor can.” He kisses her other cheek. “In three to four weeks. And he’ll say, ‘Congratulations, Dana Scully, you’re having a girl.’“

She rolls her eyes and says, “You’re full of it,” but he can tell she’s pleased.

He’d always thought the pregnancy glow thing was a myth. He’s seen lots of pregnant women in his day, most of them happy, a lot of them pretty, but none of them glowing. None, that is, until Scully. She glows so brightly it’s nearly painful to look at her. The light in her eyes, the warmth in her cheek—rounder now, soft—it makes him ache.

“And you’re beautiful,” he says, because it’s true, because he doesn’t tell her nearly enough.

She flushes and lowers her gaze, picks at the hem of her shirt. His shirt, actually—an old orange flannel she rescued from the Goodwill pile. She’s been doing this more lately, hiding in oversized t-shirts and sweaters. Even her work clothes are different, the jackets bigger, looser. Not as big as the early days, but big enough to remind him.

He had been perplexed about it, too, up until last Thursday when she stood in front of the mirror before work, lamenting her favorite white blouse. 

“I can’t wear it anymore,” she’d said, and she’d sounded so sad that he had expected buttons unfastened, seams strained.

But when he turned around, all he saw was...Scully. In her favorite blouse. Buttoned all the way up like always. It was a bit tighter around the stomach, yes, but not inappropriately so. She just looked like she’d had a large Thanksgiving dinner or perhaps drank too much soda.

And that’s when it clicked: Dana Scully thought she was fat.

Not even four months in, her soft belly still very much in bump territory, and she thought she was fat. He could have laughed.

Now, watching her chew her lip and avoid his eyes, he feels more like crying. How can she not know?

“Hey.” He puts a hand on the back of her neck and pulls her forehead to his: pay attention to me. I am so serious. “You, Dana Scully, are gorgeous.

She smiles a little, demure, uncertain, her sure, Mulder, whatever you say smile, and he kisses her mouth. Top lip, bottom lip. Little tug. She groans softly in the back of her throat and lifts up on her knees to press closer, her hands sliding through his hair. Her kisses are wet and deep, a little sloppy, and it’s his turn to groan when she pulls away to trace the line of his jaw with her tongue.

He laughs breathlessly, pants, “Oh my god,” when she latches onto his neck with her teeth and sucks. His hips buck against nothing.

“I want...” she mumbles against his pulse. “Please?”

Like she has to ask.

“Get up here.” He scoots back against the couch to rest his head on the arm and reaches for her waist. “Get right here.”

The warm weight of her straddling his lap is comforting; the way she’s already grinding against him, circling and pulsing her hips, might actually drive him insane. Of all the changes they’ve been experiencing together these last few months, this, he thinks, is his favorite. Scully was never shy about sex before, but lately she’s been absolutely voracious. He’s all too happy to oblige.

She tugs at his shirt, and he raises up enough to let her pull it off before going to work on hers as she reclaims his mouth. He’s become something of an expert at unbuttoning her blind in the last year, and after only a moment, he’s pushing her back to remove the flannel.

“God,” he whispers. “Look at you.”

He strokes her rounded hips; her belly, gently mounded and firm; the undersides of her breasts through her old cotton bra. Even stretched out, it’s too small. He reaches for the clasp and tosses it to the floor with their shirts, replaces it with his hands. She closes her eyes and arches into his touch.

Her breasts are heavy and full, nipples darker, more prominent. He gives one a tug, easy, then harder. She whimpers, rocks on him, and he thrusts his cock against her through the layers of fabric between them. Seeing her like this, so soft and swollen and fertile, makes him feel intoxicatingly male. He did this. She is his. Her body bears the proof.

He understands things now, things he’s seen on the Animal Planet, primal things. His woman. His mate. She’d roll her eyes and probably not speak to him all night if he ever said it out loud, so he fills his mouth with her instead, tugging her down so he can get at her breasts, her pebbled nipples. He sucks hard and she shudders, cradles his head in her hands.

“Oh,” she gasps. “Oh my god. Sensitive, Mulder...ah.”

He pulls off of her with a pop and a little lick. “Too much?”

“Uh-uh.” Her eyes are glassy, her body quivering, and he aches, his cock so hard he could come in his pants if she just keeps moving against him like that.

He traces a hand down her back and squeezes her ass. “Want more?”

She responds by sliding her other nipple between his lips while her own fingers pinch its twin, still tacky with his spit. “Please.”

The noises that pull from her throat as he pulls at her breast are high, desperate. He’s never heard her whine like this and he’s drunk on it, on knowing she wants him this bad.

The hand on her ass slips down between her legs and he moans. She’s soaking the fabric of her leggings, hot and damp.

“Yes,” she pants above him, hands tight in his hair. “Yes, yes, yes.”

He closes his teeth around her nipple and splits her open through drenched cotton with a knuckle. She rocks, rocks, rocks on him, imprecise and needy.

Mulder.

He releases her nipple and nuzzles her cleavage, kisses her sternum. She makes a sound like mourning.

“You’re so hot for me, aren’t you?” His voice doesn’t sound like his, deep and rough. He squeezes a breast with his free hand. “You need it so bad.”

Mm.”

“Want me inside you. Deep inside you.” He rubs her harder, pushing into her just a little through her clothes. “You want me to fill you up.”

Her cry is a little choked as she grinds against him, nods her head yes yes yes.

“I’m going to,” he says, talking around her nipple now, the one she was just tweaking. “I’m gonna fill you all the way up. But first, you’re gonna be a good girl for me, okay? Can you do that?”

He finds her clit through her pants and she shakes, moans something like mm-hmmm.

“All you have to do is come for me.” He bites her nipple, soothes it with a kiss. “Be a good girl and come for me just like this, and I’ll give you whatever you want.”

He cups her with his whole hand, lets her rut against his fingers and palm while he suckles at her breast, opening his mouth wide to take as much of her as he can, then narrowing to tease the very tip of her nipple with the point of his tongue. She bears down on him hard, crushing his nose against her chest, trapping his cock against the swell of her belly.

She thrusts back against him once, twice, three times and breaks with a ferocity he’s never seen before, her body spasming, her mouth open in a stream of high-pitched nonsense, gasps and moans and his name all at once. He draws it out for her, rubbing, nipping, groaning in encouragement, until she collapses on him, sweaty and twitching. 

He rubs her slick back with both hands. “Holy shit.” His cock is still throbbing between them, but he is breathlessly satisfied, feeling her gasp and tremble on top of him.

“Yeah,” she agrees and laughs, a shy sound, considering. “Oh my god.”

She lifts up just enough to kiss him, her mouth sloppy with exhaustion instead of lust now. He holds the back of her head to keep her there, her lips soft and swollen.

“That was incredible,” he murmurs against her tongue. “You’re incredible.”

“Thank you,” she whispers and kisses his bottom lip, his top lip, his nose. She shifts to the side, her thigh bumping his cock, and he winces. She nuzzles his cheek and exhales in his ear. “Give me a minute and we’ll...”

They won’t. At least, not right now. Later, maybe, but she’s already sleep-heavy against him, sweat cooling and raising goosebumps along the backs of her arms. He snags the flannel off the floor and spreads it over her like a blanket, then reaches between them to cradle her stomach in his hand.

His whole world, right here. His whole entire world.

He’s settling down to listen to her breathe and will his erection away when a loose page on the floor catches his eye. A little farm house, tucked between ads for Tudor-style homes and condos. It’s small and, judging by the picture, it needs some work. But the porch is shady, and there’s a chimney and a nice, big yard.

Something clenched in him relaxes. Something like recognition. He sees two cars out front, parked side-by-side. He sees Christmas lights strung from the sloped brown roof, smoke curling from the chimney in thick grey waves. 

And he sees her on that porch, tiny bundle wrapped in a pink star-speckled blanket in her arms, waiting for him to open the door. 

Waiting for him to bring her home.