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Astra Inclinant

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"Oh, hey, Scully. I must have dozed off, I was waiting for you to get back" Mulder jumps up from the coach, wiping his eyes as if they're bleary although he has suddenly never been more awake.

Scully stands in her doorway, she's slow moving and careful as she closes the door and orientates herself in the shadowed room. He doesn't know what that means. She removes her jacket, and he peers at her, trying to make out her expression as nonchalantly as he manage. Happy, heartbroken? She is indecipherable. Mulder tries to still his bouncing leg and bites his nails into his palms in an effort to keep them to himself, though they want her magnetically.

"Hey?" he whispers. Scully is almost upon him, her blue eyes are swimming with tears. He touches her cheek softly, afraid to break this spell, afraid to know. "Is it...is it bad news?"
Scully blinks, and a fat tear falls down her face that has inexplicably broken into a dizzying smile. She clutches his biceps, hanging onto him as though she might fall. "No," she chokes out the word.

The breath is knocked swiftly from his lungs, he gapes at her in shock. "No?"

"No."

He can't move, struck dumb. Is she saying..."You...are you?"

"Pregnant," she says, in one fast breath.

Mulder's hands are on Scully's small, strong shoulders, and he doesn't remember how they got there. Maybe his mouth is hanging open. "Pregnant?" he repeats. It sounds foreign in his mouth, like a word repeated so often it has lost all possible meaning.

She starts laughing, and it's like the room is filled with bells. "Yes, yes," she's holding his face now, tears falling fast and free. He's never seen her let them fall like that, he's never seen anything more beautiful in his life. She throws her arms around his neck, crying openly with joy. Her lips are honey at his ear. "We did it, we did it, Mulder."

He inhales deeply, the smell of her hair and the smell of her cutting through his stupor. He clutches her body tightly to his; she is shaking. His mind, his sharp mind that has been racing at 100 miles an hour, incessantly, for the last God-knows-how-long, is completely blank, still. This is it, the moment his whole world changes again. He finds himself waiting for the panic, the guilt, or the goodbye, like a muscle memory in his heart. But there's only peace here. The woman he fell in love with, an indistinguishable amount of time ago, is humming happily in his arms. She's carrying his child. His child. He imagines for a moment that this is the feeling people talk about getting when they are in the presence of God. But he doesn't believe in God. Just her, only her. His eyes shut against her auburn hair. "Scully..."

"Mulder?" Scully leans back so she can see him, her thumbs caress his face, trapping a tear. He reached the point it fell wordlessly, realising she's not the only one crying a river. Scully is looking into his eyes with a familiar concern. "Are you alright?"

The urge to kiss her rosy lips is overwhelming. It is unbelievable, unfathomable that he isn't kissing her.

"Mulder?" Scully's smile is faltering, and that's when he knows it's time to snap out of it.

"Scully..." he starts to form the sentence and stops himself. Can he say that? Old voices in the back of his mind tell him no, it's out of line. They hadn't discussed the logistics of the child they both wanted. For a while they had both been sceptics, so afraid to believe this could happen, that something so pure and good could happen to them, after all they had been through. But Scully, his brave, impossible other piece, she had never let that stop her. A heat was building in his chest, roaring, tell her.

"Mulder, talk to me."

Something clicked neatly into place.

Scully starts to frown but stops dead, caught in his expression.

Mulder is glowing. Even in the bad lighting his eyes are shining. Her knees go weak at the sight of him smiling up at her, the tears he shed crystallising on his laughter lines.
"We're having a baby!" he declares, and before she knows what's happening she is in his arms, airborne as Mulder spins her around, laughing the loudest she's ever heard him laugh.

"Stop!" Scully is giddy, laughing, and suddenly nauseous. "I'm not kidding, Mulder, I'm going to hurl!"

He stops unceremoniously, steadying her. "Shit, I'm sorry."

The sickness passes as she breathes against his chest. "Nope, false alarm."

He guided her to her plush sofa and settles himself on the coffee table, his knees between hers. Their hands are joined.

"Scully, I love you."

She looks at him sharply. "Mulder..."

"No, let me explain, please," he touches her chin, and Scully leans back against the cushions eyeing him suspiciously. She's waiting, the gears in her mind turning. He can almost hear the rebuttals she's forming, can almost see her armour form. But there's something else. Mulder spots it for a split-second, before it disappears behind the ruins of a wall she built around herself long ago, the wall he finally feels they are making some progress in scaling: she is afraid.

He rubs his thumb across the back of her hand reassuringly. "I want you to know that I am not saying this because I want something from you, I'm not saying it because I think it's the right thing to do, or because I'm caught up in the moment. I'm saying it because, well, because I - "

Scully looks like she wants to interrupt, her eyes are wide and worried, but he doesn't waver. "Please, I have to say this now or I might never say it," Mulder takes both her hands and holds them. Despite her anxiety they do not tremble. "I love you, Dana Scully. I am in love with you, I love you as a best friend, I love you as my partner, and I love you as a human being. You are the most tenacious, compassionate, intelligent and fiercely good person I have ever met. And I've met a lot of people. I've thought I knew what being in love meant, what love was. You know I don't say this lightly, Scully, but you proved me wrong."

Scully choked a laugh, smiling down at their joined hands. He can't help but laugh too.

"You had no ulterior motive. For the first time in my adult life, I knew that someone truly cared about me, not out of some fleeting interest, obligation, manipulation or pity. Everything that's happened, and you still asked me to be the father of your child. I didn't know what I did to deserve that, I still don't. But I trust you, more than anyone in my whole damn life, if you see something so worthy in me...then I've been an idiot. I've spent too many days and nights trying to ignore how I feel, trying to do the noble thing, leave distance between us; I've tried to set you free to live a happy life away from all this. I know I've hurt you trying to achieve that. I told myself it was for the best, because I didn't understand, couldn't comprehend, what you've told me again and again," he looks up at her through soft lashes, his warm hazel eyes smouldering, "you want to be with me too."

She met his gaze evenly, with those clear, earnest eyes. He searches them, like he has so many times before, knowing that if he is truly mistaken she will tell him. He thinks she might be searching him for the same thing. She doesn't speak. They have found something neither can deny.

"I'm not asking for anything, Scully," he finishes, quieter now, "I'll be anything you want me to be. For you, for this baby," he gestures to her abdomen, butterflies rising in his own when he thinks of the new life they've created, the miracle of science and love, growing inconspicuously in her womb. He has never believed in miracles before.

Scully is silent for a moment, taking back her hands to touch over the place the fetus resides. "I'm not perfect, Mulder," she says gently.

"I never said that you were."

"What we have is special. I don't want to risk that."

"We don't have to, if you don't want to."

Scully takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Her voice is hushed, the way it has been previously only in matters of national security. "What if I do want to?" She asks.

His heart beat quickens. "We'll work it out, Scully, we always do."

Scully worries her lower lip with her teeth, but her guard has fallen and she's looking at him intensely. He is lost in her, frozen. The room is heaving with quiet.

"What do you say?" he can't help asking her, his nerves have reached their limit. Despite his confident words, he is sure his heart will break if this ends badly.

"I say...I say we stop talking." Scully replies.

It's his turn to look down, crumbling. "Sure, I understand."

He feels her breath on his hair as she leans closer. "I'm not sure you do."

Mulder looks up. Her lips catch his in an instant.

She kisses him hard, her hands find their way into his hair, it takes a second for his brain to catch up with the quick succession of sensations he registers, landing momentarily on pure shock, before racing, exhilarating pleasure overwhelms his senses.

"Scully," he moans, her warm body is between his legs, her face bent slightly to reach his. He touches her waist tentatively, "Scully?"

"Shhh," she whispers to his lips, "I've got you."

He is on his feet immediately, kissing her back with devout fervour. Her lips part for him and any higher-functioning he still possessed in that moment melted to floor with the sweater she was wearing.

She stops unwillingly and touches her palm to his heart. "Mulder, this is a lot."

"I know, I know," He agrees. Neither of them make any move to part.

"What happens next?" Scully wonders aloud.

Mulder kisses her forehead gently, dipping his head so that they are leaning against each other, out of breath and electric, heaving with seven years of tightly spun tension. "Whatever we want," he replies.

They both laugh, high on the dizzying freedom of it. No matter how temporary, this moment was theirs for the taking, truer than any truth found in shadows, sky or sea. She was the only uncharted territory worth mapping.

"Mulder," she whispers, "come here."