Mulder was decidedly uncomfortable here. He wasn't used to being in a family group like this. He'd never had many family ties to begin with, even when he was very young and his family had only shrunken over the years, where Scully's had expanded in most directions.
And heíd tried to talk her out of the memorial service at this time anyway. It was too soon, they didnít have a body. Now, watching the family, he thought he might have been mistaken. They needed this closure to get on with their lives. He couldnít dispute the evidence of all that blood and Scullyís logical mind couldnít listen to his possibilities. Not this time.
Charlie's wife Mary had arrived with their kids, two boys who were all over the place and Tara was here with Matthew. He'd met her before, when Emily had died, and Matthew was born. He hadn't spent any time with her - Bill would have had his head. It had been all Bill could do to allow him into his home.
He watched Scully mingle around the room. This gathering was keeping her busy, her mind off of what was going on. She was holding Matthew, smiling at the people who had come to pay their respects. She looked so natural with the baby in her arms. It wasn't right that they, that she, couldn't have one of her own.
She looked over and saw him watching her. It warmed her, having him here. He did look uncomfortable, he'd probably rather be in the sewers with flukeman than here with so much family around. He was here for her. She was the only reason he would put himself through this. Scully felt herself drawn to him and headed across the room.
"You doing okay Mulder?"
"Don't worry about me." He grinned at her. A commotion from the next room caused her to turn. Something obviously needed her attention. She thrust Matthew into his arms and was gone before he could articulate his protest.
He and Matthew eyed each other suspiciously. Mulder wasn't entirely sure which one of them was going to burst into tears first. He tentatively bounced the baby on his hip and Matthew decided that possibly he wasn't totally evil, and smiled at him. Then he reached up and grabbed Mulder's nose. Great, Mulder thought, point out just how big it is. The baby chortled at his expression and pulled on his nose. Well, maybe they were friends now; at least he hadn't screamed.
"What the hell are you doing with my son!" Bill was before him and grabbed Matthew from his arms. The baby began crying at the sudden harsh change. "What did you do to him?"
"Nothing, I. . . "
"Bill, Mulder didn't hurt Matthew, you did when you jerked him out of his arms."
Bill's expression burned into Charlie and Mulder winced though Charlie didn't. Bill turned back to Mulder. "I want you out of here. You don't belong here, you're not family. Hell, you're probably the cause of all of this. Get out!" His voice had risen louder than the baby's cries.
"Bill, you're making a scene."
"A scene! You're worried about a damn scene! Our mother's dead, just like Melissa and you want me to calm down and make nice, with him! Go to hell, Charlie." Everyone was watching them now and Bill had made no move to comfort his now screaming son. Tara approached him cautiously, he'd been a powder keg since Dana's call, and took Matthew from him. She looked apologetically at Mulder, then away quickly so Bill wouldn't see. Mulder looked around for Scully but she hadn't returned. Good, at least she hadn't had to witness this.
Mulder silently headed for the door. Charlie caught up with him and took his arm. "Don't leave Mulder."
"It'll just upset him more if I stay."
"What about Dana?"
Mulder shook his head and went on out.
When Scully returned to the room Charlie was watching her. Her head went up instantly as though she sensed his absence. She spotted Charlie and made her way across the room to him.
"Have you seen Mulder?"
"He, uh, he left."
"Left? He wouldn't, what happened?""
"Bill. Bill asked him to leave."
"He what? No!" She was headed back across the room to the door before he could speak.
The car, it was still there. He hadn't left yet. She hurried out and opened the passenger door, startling him. "Are you okay?"
"Scully, what are you . . . "
"Why were you leaving?"
"I wasn't leaving. I just came out to get some air." She looked at him, the seat was reclined and the keys weren't even in the ignition. He hadn't been leaving, just getting out of the way. He wouldn't leave her. She relaxed back into her seat.
"Scully, you need to go back in. It's too cold out here."
"No, I'd rather stay with you."
He frowned at her, then brought his seat back up and removed his own coat, putting it around her shoulders.
"Thanks." They sat in silence after that. In a few minutes she reached out and took his hand. He smiled at her and squeezed it.
They were both startled when the overhead light came on once again and Charlie sat down in the back seat.
"Charlie?" They both turned to look at him.
"Couldn't have you two steaming up the windows in my mother's driveway while we have company. I came to chaperone."
"Actually, I prefer the company out here." She smiled at him then and the three sat together in a comfortable silence.
That silence was broken when the door opened a third time and Tara slipped into the seat beside Charlie.
Mulder turned to her. "Is Matthew okay?"
Matthew? Scully frowned, just what had she missed?
"He's fine. I just wanted to apologize."
"There's no need - "
"Yes there is. I grew up with nothing but rifts in the family. Brothers and sisters not speaking because of arguments that happened so long ago no one remembers what they were fighting about. I don't want that for my family."
"You're safe there, I'm not family." Mulder offered.
Tara looked over at Scully, then at Charlie. "Yes, you are Mulder."
Mulder looked at her, ready to protest, when he saw Charlie's nod at him and Scully squeezed his hand again. Family? He was part of all of this? Well, yeah, but. . .
"It's getting cold out here, why don't we all go back inside." Charlie suggested, looking at both of the women.
'"I'm not sure it's a good idea for me. . . " Mulder didnít want to cause trouble, but he couldnít leave. She needed him.
"You could hang out in the kitchen. That's not a room Bill usually frequents. And besides, Father McCue took him off upstairs somewhere." Tara smiled.
"Come on, it is cold Mulder." Okay, if Scully wanted to go in and wanted him nearby that's what would happen. All four of them headed in the back door. Mulder settled himself at the kitchen table. It wasn't long before Charlie's boys found him there.
When Scully checked on him next the boys had settled in next to him and were pumping him for information.
"But if it's a real ghost, what good does it do to carry a gun?" The older boy was asking. Scully stood silently in the door, smiling. How in the world had they gotten on that topic and how was Mulder handling it?
"Your parents will kill me if they think I've been talking to you about ghosts."
"Nah, Dad's cool and Mom's not bad. He tells us stories about you all the time."
"Yeah, you and Aunt Dana - how you solve weird mysteries and stuff. It sounds neat. Are you wearing your gun now?"
"Well, huh. . . " Scully backed away without making her presence known. A little hero worship wouldn't hurt Mulder. In fact it was probably the best thing for him. She would have to see what kind of things Charlie was telling the boys, but she was confident it had been considerably watered down in any case.
Eventually the crowd thinned and the family found itself alone except for Bill who had not reappeared. Scully gathered up some plates and headed for the kitchen.
Mary took the dishes from her, "Dana, you've done enough. Let Tara and I clean up. You go sit."
"I can help. . . "
Charlie had taken her arm. "You heard the commander. Go." He leaned over and kissed Mary, "I'll put the boys to bed."
"Thanks." She kissed him back and turned to the sink.
Scully watched them then let Charlie lead her from the room. "You and Mary are good, aren't you?"
"Very good. She's my best friend. No one understands me like she does." He turned to see what she was looking at and spotted Mulder helping the boys gather up some of the left over food.
He leaned down and brushed a kiss across his sister's cheek. "Yes."
"What?" She focused back on him, but he only smiled, making no further comment to her.
"Okay guys, it's late. Come on, take that stuff to the kitchen, kiss your mother goodnight and get moving. Hustle." He took the dishes out of Mulder's hands and followed the boys into the back.
"You doing okay?" Mulder approached her.
"Yeah. Could you give me a lift home?"
"I thought you'd be staying here."
"No, I need to be home for a while."
"No problem, I'll get our coats." He left her, grateful for an excuse to leave and still be with her.
He walked her to her door and watched as she let herself in. "You want some coffee?"
At that he followed her in, "No, I'm fine. I should be heading home myself."
"Not yet." She took his coat and hung it in the closet, not throwing it across the chair, then led him to the couch and sat beside him. Close beside him. What was this?
"Mulder, donít leave yet." His eyes widened, what was she saying? She leaned in closer and her lips met his. He was too stunned to move, Scully was kissing him?
Her hand was now resting on his chest, practically burning a hole in it and her thumb moved to find his nipple and caress it. He felt his groin tighten in appreciation.
"Scu. . . Scully, how much did you have to drink tonight?"
"One glass of wine."
"One?" What was going on?
Scully sighed, but smiled at him too. "Mom was right."
"About what?" He felt he was really on thin ice here.
"That you would never make the first move toward me."
He gaped at her. She had discussed this, him, with her mother? She smiled, reading that expression with no problem.
"I'm going to change. Why don't you get comfortable?"
Get comfortable? What the hell did that mean? And where was the entrance to this parallel universe he must have fallen into? She left the room and he sat frozen, what was going to happen here? She didnít want him to leave. What did that mean, exactly?
He removed his tie, unbuttoning the top two buttons on his shirt. Okay, he was kind of comfortable, maybe.
She returned, wearing her robe and sank onto the couch next to him. "I need to tell you something Mulder." She plunged in before her fear could keep her from it. "I need you to know what you are in my life. I donít want to scare you away, and I know Iím stepping over a line here, but a few days ago my mother was alive and vital and healthy. And in the wink of an eye she was gone and Iíll never see her again. People can die so easily Ė you and I know that better than most.
"I watched Charlie and Mary tonight, the way they were with each other. He told me she was his best friend, the only one who really understood him."
Mulder nodded, he wasnít completely sure where this conversation was going, but he was in for the duration.
"It sounded familiar, it sounded right. Like I would want a relationship Ė a long-term relationship Ė to be. Then I thought about where youíve been the whole time this has been going on. Right beside me. No matter how uncomfortable you were." He looked surprised at that and she gave him a little smile. "Was that supposed to be a secret Mulder, that you were uncomfortable? Sorry, I knew. But you knew I needed you, so your comfort didnít matter to you, only mine did.
"Mom was convinced that you and I would end up together. I used to protest, but I didnít mean it. I wanted it to be true Ė someday. I need to know honestly, if you feel the same." Before he could respond she continued. "Donít say something you donít really feel Mulder. Iíll know and it would be harmful to both of us." She fell silent.
"My turn?" She nodded and ducked her head, suddenly unable to look him in the eye. He turned her face back up to him. "Scully, I watched Charlie a lot tonight too, how he was with Mary. I was so envious at times I probably scared other people in the room. He has what I want Ė his partner in life for everyone to see. But Iím not Charlie, I canít imagine making you as happy as he makes his wife. You know what Iím like, you know me so well, is there any way I could ever make you happy?"
At that the small doubt that had gathered on her face vanished to be replaced by the most beautiful smile heís ever seen. "You already do, Mulder, in ways you canít begin to understand and Iím not sure I could explain. But Iíd like to try. Do you suppose you could stay here again tonight?"
He woke to the most incredible feeling of lightness. Something wondrous had happened, earthshaking, what? Then he felt her move within his arms where he was spooned around her and memory returned.
It had been the most incredible night of his life. But had it been for her? God, he'd fallen asleep, just passed out. What if she regretted. . . no please don't let her regret what had happened. Damn, this was worse than performance anxiety, which he hadn't admitted to, even to himself, last night. But what if, in the light of day, she was sorry she had allowed this to happen? What if she were embarrassed or. . . or . . .
His arms involuntarily tightened around her and she stirred, moving like a cat within his arms. She turned to look up at him and smiled. She smiled. He felt limp with relief, except for one part of him that had really taken her smile to heart.
Her eyes gleamed as that part of him grew against her, and she purred. His answering growl brought a light laugh from her and he began nibbling at her neck.
The investigation had come to a stand still. There was just no new evidence to investigate. Detective Waltos had called Mulder twice already and Scully was beginning to feel the same frustration she had felt when Melissa died. He hated to see her suffering like that. He decided to step up his own involvement in the case.
He knew what evidence was on file, so he decided to concentrate on interviews. The neighbors remembered nothing when the police had talked to them, maybe now, with a little time passed something would have surfaced.
He began with the widow that lived next door. She was an older woman than Mrs. Scully and had relied on her for rides and occasionally groceries. Sheíd been devastated by her loss. "Oh, Mr. Mulder, Iíve thought and thought about that night. I know my hearing isnít the best, but I didnít hear or see a thing. Believe me, if I could help you find this monster, I would."
"I know you would Mrs. Weaver. I appreciate you seeing me."
Mulder stood and headed for the door. She accompanied him and opened the door for him. "Please tell Dana Iím thinking about her. You know, Iím just so glad that Bill got a chance to see his mother before she died."
Mulder stopped and turned back to her. "I beg your pardon?"
"Yes, Bill was here the weekend before she died. I saw him myself."
"I didnít realize heíd been in."
"Oh yes. I didnít get a chance to speak to him, but I saw him driving out one time. I remember being a little surprised heíd put a rental car in the garage and left his motherís outside."
"Yeah, that is a little strange. Well, youíre right, it is good that he got to see his mother again."
Mrs. Weaver nodded sadly and let him out.
Why had Bill been here the weekend before Mrs. Scully disappeared? And why hadnít he mentioned it? As he drove off he pulled out his cell phone.
"Langley, I need you to check out something for me."
"Sure." Langley removed his feet from the desk and cleared his laptop. "Go."
"I need you to find out if Bill Mulder was here the weekend before Mrs. Scully. . . "
"What are we looking for, Mulder?"
"Iím not sure, flight information, a rental car, anything like that. And Langley, he might have used an alias."
"Yeah. Listen, I need this yesterday."
"Weíre on it." Langley broke the connection.
Mulder pulled over, he needed to think. Why was he even checking into this? Why did he care if Bill had been here? On the other hand, why hadnít Bill mentioned it? Was he that worried about what Bill would do to them? Try to tear them apart? Or did he just dislike Bill as much as Bill disliked him? No, that wouldnít account for the feeling he kept getting when he thought about this.
"Mulder." He answered the phone absentmindedly. He was buried in paperwork and didnít want to be bothered. Well, no that wasnít accurate, he definitely wanted an interruption, but he wanted it to be Scully and she was off with the attorneys.
"You need to get over here."
"You found something?" Frohikeís voice was so easily recognizable.
"We donít want to go over it on this line." And he hung up. Mulder was grimly amused; these guys made him look normal. But he stood and reached for his overcoat. They hadnít let him down very often.
He settled into the desk chair, "Okay guys, why am I here?"
"We think we located what you wanted. Bill was here that weekend, but not under the name Bill Scully."
Mulder tried to hide his excitement, what did it mean? "What name did he use?"
"Davis? Why did that even catch your attention?"
"Well, it is Mrs. Scullyís maiden name."
Mulder sat up in the chair. "How do you know that? I donít even know that!"
"Yeah Mulder, like weíre going to tell all of our secrets to a G-man."
Mulder leaned back again, shaking his head. "Okay, why do you think this Davis is Bill?"
"The surveillance tape."
"What surveillance tape?"
"From the airport parking lot."
"How the hell did you guys get your hands on that?"
"We have friends." Langley responded.
"Geez, why do I ever bother trying to go through channels? Letís see it." He watched the tape carefully. "Rerun it."
"Why, Mulder? It doesnít get any clearer than that." Langley questioned.
"Rerun it anyway." After the second viewing Mulder let his head drop.
"Whatís going on Mulder? Do you think he killed his mother?"
"No!" His head came up instantly. "No, I do not think that. I donít want Scully to know anything about this."
"Sure Mulder. No problem."
"You better get this tape back to where it belongs."
"Donít you want to take it to the police?"
"Not like this. Let them subpoena it if they need it."
"What are you going to do?" Byers asked softly.
"I donít know." His eyes were locked on the blank TV screen.
"Look, Waltos, I donít know what it means, and Iím not accusing him of anything, but I need to know why he was here. I canít ask, you can. But I want to hear what he says, see his face. Can you tape him without his knowledge?"
"It wouldnít be admissible."
"He didnít kill her."
"You sound awfully sure."
"I am. I just need to know why he was here. You can rattle him without accusing him of anything. I can only make him mad, put his back up. Then weíll never find out whatís going on. Come on, we need to get these answers. Itís personal."
"I know. Thatís what worries me." He shook his head, thinking. "Okay, Iíll ask him to come in. If he refuses, do I show my hand?"
"No. Iíll think of something. But I donít think heíll refuse."
"I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me Mr. Scully. I know this is a bad time for you and your family. Here, we can use this room. Theyíre finally repairing a leak in my ceiling, or Iíd take you to my office."
Waltos motioned to a chair at the table and poured Bill a cup of coffee from the carafe sitting there.
Bill nodded and took a sip. "I canít be gone long. We have to finish up with the attorney and . . . "
"Just a couple of things we need to tie up, sir." Waltos settled himself where Bill had to face the glass and the camera. They were alone in the interrogation room; Mulder waited behind the glass as far back as he could sit and keep a good view of Billís face.
"We were wondering why you were in town the weekend before your mother disappeared, under an assumed name. Could you clear that up for us?"
There would have been less reaction if the detective had hit him between the eyes with a fireplace poker. Bill struggled to regain his composure as Mulder watched with a sinking heart.
"I wasnít in DC that weekend."
"Uh, yes Mr. Scully. You were. Weíd like to know why and who you met with."
"Am I being accused of something?" Bill finally had his voice back, not quite to the usual booming pitch.
"Not at this time. However, we are going to clear up this little blip in our investigation, with or without your cooperation. Do you want to tell me why you were here under the name of William Davis?"
Bill stood, obviously shaken, but becoming defiant. "If Iím not under arrest, Iím out of here."
"Fine, Mr. Scully. At this time you are not under arrest, but do not leave town. We will be in touch." Waltos rose to his feet as well and watched as Bill left the room. Then he turned toward Mulder and shrugged.
Mulder was seated, slumped at the back of the room. Now what? He popped the tape from the VCR and waited for Waltos to give him the all clear. It didnít take long; Bill has apparently stormed from the building.
"Interesting, Mulder. You still convinced this guyís not involved?"
"I didnít say he wasnít involved, although he might not have known. Iím not convinced of anything right now." He turned then and hurried back to his office.