TITLE: Skin Deep
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Gossamer, Spookys site, Xemplary,
etc.
SPOILER WARNING: Eighth season episodes through DeadAlive.
RATING: PG
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSR
CLASSIFICATION: VRA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully Romance
SUMMARY: Post ep for DeadAlive.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
NOTE: Huge thanks to Keleka and Sallie for beta reading!

Skin Deep
By Shoshana

*****************************************************
Twelve hours after Mulder wakes up in the hospital
*****************************************************

Mulder opened his eyes the minute Scully walked through the door.
He'd been sleeping most of the time since she'd finally made good on
her promise to get some rest. It didn't take much to alert him to
her presence now.

Medical personnel had scurried around him all night, taking his
vitals, making little notes on his chart. A young orderly had come
in a couple hours ago to bathe him with deliberate ease. The man had
offered him a shave and he had taken him up on it, half-awake
throughout the process.

When Mulder had asked for a mirror to inspect his handiwork, the
caretaker lost his painted-on smile, stammering out quickly that he
thought Dr. Scully ought to be consulted first. His patient, curious
how 'Dr. Scully' could dictate hospital policy, had given him a weary
nod and drifted back to welcome sleep.

It was the first thing on his mind when he woke to Scully's soft
footsteps, hours later. Well, maybe not quite--the first thing he
noticed when he opened his eyes was how radiantly beautiful his
partner was today. He couldn't contain his joy, at being alive, at
witnessing the graceful swell of her pregnant belly.

Yesterday he hadn't believed his eyes, softly gasping with sudden
apprehension. Scully had crossed the room to retrieve a container of
ice chips and revealed her form to him. She'd rushed back to his
side, tears welling in her eyes, then falling freely down her cheeks
as she'd resumed her seat beside him.

'Is this real?' Mulder had asked, not certain what to say. Her
affirmative response brought a grin to his ashen face, a sparkle to
his tired eyes.

He'd had so many questions; yet he'd suppressed them all, content
merely to hold her hand, to share her obvious jubilation. However
this had happened, whatever had happened, he didn't have the energy
to question this possibility.

Silently, she had pulled his hand down to her stomach, placing it
there until the baby kicked against their joined hands. He'd been
lost for words, before he'd been abducted he'd thought she couldn't
conceive--but then, he must have been wrong, something must have
been wrong.

Shaking off thoughts of last night, Mulder motioned for Scully to
sit beside him. She smiled and did just that.

"Hi. Get some rest?" he queried.

A soft chuckle. "Yeah, they've been treating me really well here,"
she responded.

"What?! You didn't go home?" he rasped, vocal chords unaccustomed
to speech.

"I meant to, but--"

"You fell asleep in the lounge--" he guessed, knowing her all too
well.

"Yeah. I did. No one had the heart to wake me. The doctor said
you're doing well."

"Oh? Does Dr. Scully agree?"

She lowered her eyes to their joined hands and managed a little
shrug of her shoulders, "I don't want you to get your hopes up for an
early release--"

Mulder smiled widely. "For once, Scully, I'm happy where I am. As
long as you're around, that is."

Scully lifted her head to meet his gaze, eyes crinkled in a smile
that matched his. She moistened her lips nervously before saying,
"Good, that's good. You need some more rest."

Mulder relaxed his head against his pillow and almost drifted off as
she smoothed stray hair off his forehead. He might have fallen
asleep, if not for the burning speculation in his mind. He was
pretty sure of the answer now; he'd run his hand over his cheek
experimentally since the orderly's hasty retreat.

It was no wonder the young man had difficulty giving him a shave--
there were scars, raised bumps all along his cheeks. He'd thought it
was due to the man's inexperience and youth, not any previous
condition he could remember. Realization was swift and
disconcerting--how could he have forgotten? His mind was so
muddled, so vague on so much that had happened to him.

"Hey, Scully," he asked, eyes still closed, tone as casual as
possible.

"Yes?" she replied, leaning close to his side.

"Did you leave any additional instructions before you took that nap
of yours?" he said, cracking one eye open.

Scully took a good look at him, searching for any change in his
appearance. Yes, they had cleaned him up, allowed him a shave.
Scully pursed her lips in consternation. Dammit, she thought, he
hates to be protected from anything, no matter how hard I try.

"I guess I can't keep anything from you, can I?" she told him.

"No more than I can from you, Scully," he responded.

He caressed the palm of her hand with the pad of his thumb,
revelling in the tiny specks of perspiration there.

"Are they bad?" he asked. "Am I out of the running for the cover of
GQ?"

Scully closed her eyes and laughed, smiling fondly. She shook her
head, amazed at his lightheartedness.

Reopening her eyes, she tilted her head to one side, then lifted her
hand to his altered cheek.

"You look fine to me," she told him, running her fingers lightly
across his cheekbone, then settling on his freshly shaven jaw.

A grin spread across his face, erasing any doubt, any real need, for
that mirror.

Mulder leaned his cheek into the palm of her hand, then gently drew
the delicate skin just inside her wrist to his lips. He rested his
mouth against the pulse of her being for long seconds, then closed
his eyes in content exhaustion.

Scully lowered their hands to his chest, then stroked the length of
his arm from elbow to fingertips. She encircled his larger hand as
well as she could, smoothing her thumb over his knuckles.

"I'll be right here when you wake up, Mulder," she whispered,
lowering her head to his chest.

"I know," he replied before drifting back to sleep.

fin

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