Scully looked over at Mulder. He’d drifted off during the movie and was snoring softly. She smiled and rose gently from the couch. She carried the remains of their meal into his kitchen.
Without warning the lights went out. She cried out in surprise; the darkness in his kitchen was total.
“Scully? Scully! Ow!”
“Mulder? What happened?”
“I, I banged into the table. Where are you?”
“The kitchen. Don’t you have a flashlight?”
“Yeah, in the drawer next to the sink. I’m coming.”
She located the drawer by feel and opened it. “Ow!”
“I’m okay. I stabbed myself on something in the drawer.”
“Are you okay?” He was looming over her suddenly. She hadn’t heard him come up behind her.
“Yeah, it’s - “
“Are you bleeding?”
“I can’t see.” She felt him locate and take her hand. The finger she was holding was suddenly enveloped by his lips, his tongue caressing her injury. The sensation went south immediately.
“You’re not bleeding.” He whispered in her ear.
“Um…” She smiled, the pain gone.
“Why are the lights out?” was his next question. “You don’t have to go to such lengths to seduce me.”
“Yeah, like you need seducing.” She murmured. “I don’t know. The credits were up on the movie, so I brought our dinner stuff in here and it went black. Think someone hit a transformer?”
He had located the flashlight by now, as well as some candles and matches, and led her back to the couch. He turned to the window. “Could be, but the ice probably had something to do with it.”
“Ice? It was just raining when I got here. Was there ice in the forecast?” She sank onto the couch.
He turned back to her, shrugging and admired her in the candle light. “I didn’t hear a forecast today, but it appears we made a bad decision getting together here tonight instead of your place.”
“What?” She looked up at him.
“Well, I don’t know how long we’ll be here, but there’s nothing here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“No food, Scully. What we ate for dinner is it.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
He took his seat beside her. “Nope. I don’t think there’s even a can of soup. Now there is ketchup, but I’m not sure we were even partners when I bought it.”
She shook her head, “How do you live like that?”
“Hey, when do I eat here? It’s just easier to grab something on the way home, or eat with you at your place.” He grinned.
“So I’m an enabler.”
“Ooh, I love it when you talk psychology.” He nuzzled her neck.
“You’re crazy.” She pushed him away, slightly. “You know it’s getting cold in here.”
“No power, no heat. I heard that the best way to generate body heat - “
“You mention sleeping bags again and I slug you.” She tried to keep a straight face.
“That would be assaulting a federal officer and I’d have to take you into custody, maybe cuff you to my bed until I could call for back-up.”
“In your dreams, G-man.”
He gave a quick nod, his eyes sparkling. She rolled her eyes and pulled the afghan down around her shoulders.
“I can keep you warm.” He pulled her close.
She snuggled in. “Tell me a story.”
“Yes. Tell me about what a stud you were in high school.”
The guffaw brought a smile to her face. “Stud. Yeah, that describes me to a ‘t’.”
“Oh come on, that swimmer’s body. You were beating the girls off with sticks.”
“Well I was beating off - “ He grunted at the elbow in the chest. “Swimmer’s body, huh? I was 6’ 1”, maybe 150 pounds soaking wet and 100 of that was nose.”
“Okay, maybe only 50. I studiously avoided chess club and audio-visuals. Track was better, and I liked the solitude.”
For the first time in the conversation, she heard the pain creep in. “So, what female on the Vineyard did you miss the most when you went to Oxford?”
Suddenly he seemed far away, obviously remembering something.
Dee looked up when the back door slammed. She mock glared at the boy, “Sorry, Mom.” He didn’t look the least sorry, exuding charm in her direction.
“The guys are coming over, we got any drinks?”
“The refrigerator in the rec room is full.” She looked out on the deck, seeing the boys assembled out there. “Give me everyone’s name again, okay?”
Her son grinned, “You’re never gonna remember ‘em.”
“Give me more than a couple of days. There’s a whole gaggle of ‘em out there.”
He chuckled then, “Dark, curly hair is Joe, the buzz cut is Seth, red t-shirt is Rick, the blond is Kyle.”
Dee nodded; she’d seen each of these kids a couple of times in the few days they had lived here. “Who’s the tall one? Over there by himself.”
“Oh, that’s Fox.”
“Is that a family name?” She turned her attention to Clarke. He shrugged. At twelve he had no concept of that kind of thing, even knowing he was named after his grandfather. “Well, have ‘em come on in.” She laughed, and turned back to the sink.
The boys trooped in, each speaking to her on their way upstairs. Again the taller boy trailed as though not sure of his welcome. She leaned out to watch him make his way upstairs, then spotted the shoes just inside the door. She had to laugh, the pile of shoes at the door was bigger than her daughter. She shook her head and returned to the box of lesser used cookware she was unpacking.
After everyone had left, she cornered her own kids for dinner. “Did you have fun today?”
“Yeah.” Clarke said between bites.
“Slow down, you’re in for the night.”
“Aw, come on. We were gonna get together and - “
“Not until you unpack the boxes in your room.” She stared him down and grumbling, he went back to eating. “Do you want me to cut up your meatloaf?” She turned to her daughter.
”Uh huh. Can we unpack my Barbies tonight?”
“Some of them. We need to get more boxes out of your room before we can set up too much.” She smiled at Mandy, who nodded sagely.
“Hey, why did Fox leave early?” She turned back to Clarke.
“Oh, he had to check in.”
“Check in?” It had looked to her like the gang of boys that roamed the island had a lot of freedom.
“Yeah, they told me about him after he left.” He said around a mouthful of potatoes.
“Told you about him? Gossip?”
“No, just why he hangs back so much.”
“Okay.” She waited.
“Well, his sister disappeared a couple of years ago, while he was babysitting. He was in the hospital for a little while after that. He wasn’t arrested or anything. They never found her.”
“Where did she go?” Mandy asked.
“The boogey man took her.” He sneered at his little sister. “Too bad I can’t get so lucky.”
“Clarke.” Dee admonished him immediately.
“Anyway, a lot of the kids aren’t allowed to hang out with him. His parents are getting a divorce.”
“That’s too bad. Sounds like it wasn’t his fault and he was injured in the process.”
Clarke shrugged. “He’s okay, a little quiet.”
“I’m sure after he feels comfortable around here . . . “
“Yeah. He’s smart and real quick on the games. Can I go start unpacking now?”
She chuckled. “Yes. Just put your dish in the dishwasher.”
Late Saturday afternoon she heard the knock at the back door. “Who is it?” She was on the step ladder, reaching down for books from Mandy.
“Uh, Fox Mulder.” He stuck his head inside.
“Hi, Fox. Come on in. The guys aren’t here right now. They said something about a baseball game.”
“Yeah, I figured it would be over by now.”
“You runnin’ late this today?” She grinned.
“I had things to do at home. I’ll get out of your way.”
“You’re not in the way, if you’d like to wait. They should be home in fifteen, twenty minutes.”
He looked uncertain. “Can I help?”
She smiled then, “You sure could.” She stepped down carefully from the ladder and waved her hand toward it. “I’d appreciate it.”
He smiled tentatively, and stepped onto the ladder. She handed him several books and he placed them on the top shelf. In minutes they had emptied the box and she opened a second one. Mandy had made her escape to her room as soon as Dee took over her job.
Fox remained on the ladder, looking over the books. “Are these Mr. Hudson’s books?”
“Uh, no these are mine.” She looked up at him and grinned. “I know, girls don’t read Science Fiction.”
“No, that’s not what I - “
“But it’s true.” She laughed. “Do you read?”
“Yeah, uh yes ma’am. I’ve read a lot of these. You like Niven?”
“Oh yes. He loses me with the math sometimes, but I get enough to enjoy them. What’s your favorite?”
“That’s tough, I guess The Foundation Trilology. I’ve read it three or four times.”
They continued discussing books as he helped her finish emptying the boxes. He was amazingly well read for his age and she found herself wishing Clarke would show this love of books. When the sound of the other boys trooping across the deck caught their attention, she motioned him down. “I appreciate this, Fox. With Mandy, this would have taken forever.”
He chuckled, nodding shyly, then went to join the other boys. She folded up the boxes, thinking about this quiet boy.
“Mom!” Dee hurried into the kitchen from the laundry room at Clarke’s call.
”I’m right here. What’s the emergency?”
“Fox fell off his bike.” She looked over to see the disheveled boy, his t-shirt torn and bloody.
“Oh my goodness.” She reached for the plastic box on top of the refrigerator. “Take off that shirt. Clarke, get me a washcloth.”
“I’m okay, really. I should go on home.”
“Nonsense. You’re here.” She took the cloth from Clarke and dampened it. She carefully washed the abrasion. It wasn’t nearly as bad once the blood had been washed away. She disinfected it, then put an antiseptic cream and finally a bandage. “There, you’re all patched up. Mandy, get one of Clarke’s t-shirts. What happened?”
“It was dumb, we were practicing jumps and I . . . “
“Ah, being a dare-devil, huh. I better call your mother and let her know - “
“No. No, there’s no reason to call her. I’m fine.” He took the shirt from Mandy and thanked her.
“But you got hurt at my house.” She moved toward the phone.
“No, please. She, uh she’s probably taking a nap or something.”
Dee stopped and looked at the boy. “Is she ill?”
“She takes some medicine.” He wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Okay, but Fox, if she wants to talk to me about this, please have her call.”
“It’s okay. She won’t even notice.” He brushed his hair back, “Thanks for, you know.”
“It was no problem. Just be careful.”
He nodded and let himself back out to rejoin the boys. Dee thought about it as she cleaned up the mess. His mother was on medication and wouldn’t notice a bandage that large on his shoulder? That sounded odd.
Dee looked out the front door. Clarke was already out of sight. Damn, she’d have to get Mandy dressed. There was no way she’d get to the post office before it closed. John should have called earlier.
She spotted Fox on his bike, getting ready to make a turn on the next street. “Fox!”
He skidded to a stop and looked in her direction. Immediately he turned his bike toward her. “Is everything okay?”
“Clarke got away from me and I need to run a quick errand.” She held the door open to let him in. “Could you keep an eye on Mandy while I run to the post office?”
“Miz H, are you sure you want me . . . “
“Do you mind? It would just be a few minutes.”
“No, I don’t mind. But, are you sure you want me to stay with Mandy?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” She stopped, her keys in her hand.
“I . . .” he looked away, “I know you know the story about my sister.”
“Fox, look at me.” He complied. “Did you hurt your sister?”
“I believe you. When I get back, we can talk if you like.” He only looked at his feet. “Mandy!” The little redhead raced into the kitchen. “I have to run out. Fox is going to stay with you until I get back.”
The little girl ducked her head, shyly, but nodded.
“I’ll hurry.” Dee was out the door.
When she returned, the two of them were seated in the middle of the great room floor, playing Candy Land. Dee grinned as Mandy slid the little blue figure into the final slot. “I won!” Both of them looked up as she chuckled.
“Just in time, I see.” Dee held out her arms and the little girl ran into them.
“I like him better than Clarke.” She declared.
“What?” Dee looked down at her.
“He plays with me and he doesn’t call me ‘fungus’.”
“Fungus? What are you talking about?”
“Clarke called me ‘fungus’.”
“Were you in his room?” She asked, her eyebrow raised. Mandy looked down, kicking at the carpet with her foot. Fox was trying not to laugh. “Well, I’m glad you like Fox, but stay out of Clarke’s room, okay? I’ll tell him he’s not supposed to call you names.”
“Can Fox keep me again?”
“We’ll see. Take the game back in your room now.” She watched the little girl leave, then turned back to Fox. “Thank you.”
“I said we’d talk, if you wanted to.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I know. Want a Coke?”
“You don’t have to. . .”
“Do people treat you differently because of what happened?”
The boy shrugged. “It was a weird thing. No ransom demand and we’ve never found her, then my parents . . . “
“Were you injured? Clarke said you were hospitalized.”
He looked away, though she saw the bleak look in his eyes before he turned. “No, I wasn’t injured.” She didn’t voice her question, but he heard it anyway. “I was un-unresponsive for a couple of days, but there was no physical injury.”
She nodded matter of factly. “It must have been very traumatic.”
“I don’t remember. That’s probably the strangest thing. It’s the only thing I don’t remember.”
“The only thing?”
“I have one of those memories that won’t quit. Comes in handy at test time.” He gave her a small sideways quirk of his lips.
She smiled back, “I always wanted a memory like that. I can barely keep all you boys straight.”
His smile faded, “No you wouldn’t. Not really.”
She met his eyes then. They were chocolate now; she could have sworn they were a shade of green earlier. “You’re right. There are things I don’t want to remember.”
He nodded seriously.
“Fox, any time you want to talk or have a place to hang out, you’re welcome here. You remember that.”
He looked at her for what felt like a long time. “Yes ma’am. I will.”
“Was she a Mrs. Robinson?” Scully sat up and turned to look at him.
“No! She was . . . she was a ‘Mom’. Like yours, and she treated me like she treated the other guys. She had this real soft Southern accent, not deep south, just . . . it was nice.” He shrugged.
She’d treated him like she treated the other guys. Her heart clutched that that was what made the woman special. “Do you ever see her?”
He shook his head, “I saw her a few times when I was home from England. She sent me a real nice note when I graduated.” He cuddled her against him. “I hadn’t thought about her in years.” He kissed her lips lightly. “Thanks.”
“For reminding me.”
She leaned up and kissed him. “Let’s go get under the covers, Mulder. We’ll generate that body heat and you can tell me some more stories.”
His grinned widened. “Maybe we could write some of our own.”
“I knew you’d come up with a good idea eventually.” She rose to her feet and tugged him up beside her. It was chilly in the apartment now and she wanted to feel him against her.
Hard as it was to believe, she loved him a little more for sharing that piece of his past with her. She sent a silent thank you to the woman who had allowed him to feel normal for a little while as a boy.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.