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TITLE: Of Showers and Secrets
AUTHOR: Maidenjedi
ARCHIVE: Spooky's, list archives, otherwise please ask.
SPOILERS: Essence/Existence, general season 8, tiny reference to Fearful Symmetry, all things.
KEYWORDS: implied Kim/Skinner, Scully
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, thank you very much.
SUMMARY: Like I couldn't tell she was getting thick around the middle.
Author's Notes at the end.

What kind of baby shower gift do you get for a woman you only know from the F.B.I.?

This is the question I ask myself as I walk down the aisles of a fluorescent baby store, some place I never really knew existed until I turned 34 and suddenly every woman I knew was having kids.

Every woman, except of course me.

I swallow my sour grapes and trudge forward, casually picking at pink jumpsuits and blue-striped overall sets. Pooh Bear on some things, Mickey Mouse on others, and the "Carter's" tag on a special display near the end of the aisle.

I don't even know Scully all that well. I've worked for Walter Skinner for about nine years, and during that time, Agents Scully and Mulder have been frequent visitors. Generally speaking, though, assistants to Assistant Directors don't interact with Special Agents, except to say "He'll see you now" or "The assistant director is in a meeting; you should come back in an hour".

So, I was a little shocked that I'd gotten an invitation. I didn't recognize the handwriting on the envelope (and I'd know Scully's anywhere, after all these years of X-file reports coming across my desk), but I've been to enough showers to know that the mom-to-be doesn't do the inviting. When my friend Trudy had her first son, she was furious to see a few of her husband's ex-girlfriends there; apparently, her sister-in-law was trying to make some kind of point.

I give up on clothes (babies grow so fast anyway) and move over to toys. I finally settle on a stuffed elephant, which reminds me of one of the more bizarre cases Scully and Mulder worked on. Something about invisible zoo animals. I remember Walter shaking his head when that case report came through, and muttering something about wishing for alien abductions or liver-eating mutants.

"Hello! Glad you could make it....I'm Maggie Scully, Dana's mother. I'll take that, we're setting the gifts to the side till after a few games. What's your name, I'm so terrible with names and I don't know many of Dana's friends...."

"Kim. Kim Cook." I shake Maggie's hand, thinking immediately of the differences in the two women. Scully had a reputation for being a ballbuster, but she was generally subdued and sometimes pensive.

"Ok, I know who you are now. Dana didn't give me much to go on; you were the only person from work that she wanted to invite."

Needless to say, I look at Maggie's back as she led the way into the living room with something more than surprise.

In the living room is a bunch of giggling women, all swapping stories of childbirth and early growing pains. Scully isn't hard to find; she has this smile on her face that doesn't quite reach her eyes, and like many mothers-to-be she looks uncomfortably warm. Maggie seems to notice this at the same time I do, and makes a beeline for the thermostat.

There aren't many places left to sit, so I take a chair somewhat out of the action and say hello to Scully. She looks at me for the first time, and when she smiles again, it reaches her eyes.

"Kim, glad to see you could make it!" I'm not deaf, I

can hear the unmistakable enthusiasm in her voice.

"Wouldn't have missed it, Scully," I say, and even I notice the slight surprise in my tone. She smiles a little wider.

"Want something to drink? I'm dying of thirst."

"Sure, I can get..."

"I'll go with you. Show you to the kitchen."

Noticing the nearly nine month pregnant hostess struggle to her feet stops the women from giggling for a few moments. Offers to help her fly from all sides, and Scully shakes them all off. As we get a little distance away from the group, she whispers to me "You'd think I was an invalid instead of pregnant."

I laugh. Scully and I have never been close, never even had contact outside the Hoover Building, and here she is treating me like a confidante.

A bowl of punch (I shudder inwardly remembering my last glass of punch...some sherbet and ginger-ale concoction gone awry) sits on the dining room table, but Scully bypasses it and goes into the kitchen. "I don't know about you, but I was never one for punch made with anything other than champagne. So how about a soda?"


"Sure. Diet Coke?"

She grins. "Of course."

We pop the tops on two cans of caffeine-free Diet Coke

and stand there for a moment in silence. Laughter drifts again from the living room, followed by Maggie's voice declaring that it would indeed be easier if we all knew the sex of the baby. An annoyed look crossed Scully's face.

So I start talking.

"So, who are all these people? You're the only one I know."

"Ironically, I don't know them all either. My mother's friends, bridge players and old neighborhood chums. Besides her, I really only know my sister-in-law, Tara. And you." She takes a swig of her soda.

"To be honest, this is the last place I expected to be

invited to." I shock even myself with that line.

"Well, Kim, I guess I should tell you why I invited you."

Great, I think. Here's the part where I get a sob story about Scully isolating herself for years. I kind of kick myself for thinking it, knowing it isn't fair to either of us.

And then, she really gives me a shock.

"I wanted to thank you."

"Thank me?"

"Yes." She stops to take another sip of Diet Coke, frowning a little at the sound of some guest inquiring as to the baby's paternity. "It hasn't been an easy year on me. When Mulder went missing....I would have shut down, closed up, if it hadn't been for Skinner."

My stomach flips as I realize what she's saying. Apparently, there are no secrets in the F.B.I.

"I noticed how much you've covered for him, worked late or on weekends, fended off Deputy Director Kersh, all those things. I noticed how you held his hand before his eulogy at Mulder's, erm, Mulder's funeral. I leaned on him more than should have been allowed, but he leaned on you and that made it easier on all of us."

I set my soda down for a minute, and look Scully in the eyes. She didn't really hint that she knew about my relationship with Walter. But the way she meets my searching glance tells me all I need to know. Scully had the same kind of relationship with Mulder; unspoken, even when the whole world might be able to guess. Built more on the need for each other at first, which grows at some point into a natural want. She knows what its like, I think, to wait up for him, hold him at night, and stave off nightmares with kisses and passionate sex. She knows what it is to take off your shoes at his apartment and find yourself buttoning your shirt eight hours later.

"We have to be there for them all the time, don't we." It's not a question, really. And she nods.

"They're always there for us, though, too. So its worth it." Her eyes drop as she rubs her stomach almost absentmindedly. "I wanted to thank you, Kim, because without you, I wouldn't have made it either. And besides," she raised her eyes as she gave me a mischievous smile, "my little boy could always use a stuffed elephant."

My eyes widen, and then my hastily wrapped package appears in my peripheral vision. Hey, I never claimed to be Martha Stewart.

I laugh. "Shall we get back to the action, then?"

Scully smiles. "Why not?"

A little later, when her mother badgers her yet again to know the sex of the Impending Stranger, Scully winks at me.

After all, I'm there as her friend.

Author's Notes: This story never would have seen the light of day without my stalker and beta-reader Kristen_K2. Showers of chocolate-covered Skinners will be littering your yard as soon as it can be arranged! Thanks for catching my its/it's habit, and for guiding me through the end.

Of course, many more thanks to the Wives at the Harem, for providing a haven during the death throes of Our Show, and to the girls at XPFC for the baby shower discussion. And as always, for Michael, the other shoe, for being there.

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