She stood slightly to the side, watching the people deplane. She was nervous, but totally excited. Then she spotted him and her heart gave a triple beat. He was looking for her as well and when he saw her, his smile warmed her whole body.
Then they were in each other's arms, his bags forgotten at his feet as he lifted her to his lips.
When they finally broke apart, she was gasping for air. "Miss me?" He murmured in her ear.
"Oh yeah." He was touching her face, her lips, her hair with his fingertips, so she couldn't concentrate.
"I want you, I want you right here, right now."
"We'd spend the entire holiday in jail."
"Can we share a cell?"
She shook her head as he nibbled on her neck.
"Then forget it. And you should keep your hands to yourself in public. Shame on you."
She laughed out loud then and he watched, falling even more in love with her if that was possible.
"Come on, let's get out of here. We have things to do."
He waggled his eyebrows at her and retrieved his bags. "I have one bag I had to check."
Once they were in the car, he leaned back to watch her drive. "It'll take a while to get used to driving on the wrong side again."
"Then I'll do the driving."
"Where am I staying?"
"Oh, I found you a nice little place, quiet. You have to share it though."
"Uh oh, do they snore?"
She swatted at him, and he took her hand. Her voice sounded full of wonder. "I can't believe we have two weeks together. I have two more exams, then I'm all yours, no distractions."
"I hope you've already done some studying."
She nodded, "I knew having you here would wreck my concentration, but I know the stuff. I'll need a couple of hours before the actual tests for review, but other than that . . . "
"I'll try to be good, but if you keep looking at me like that, there are no guarantees." He smiled again, "I see you're still wearing the ring."
"I always do, either on my hand or around my neck when I'm working in a lab. You didn't think I wouldn't be wearing it, did you?"
"No, I feel pretty secure with you. It feels good."
She fell silent; she was actually too happy to speak. Just having him beside her was nearly overwhelming.
When she pulled into her space in front of the building, she turned to watch his reaction. "It's not as historic as your apartment."
"You mean the pipes won't rattle every time I turn on the water?"
"Something like that." She smiled.
"You're sure your roommate won't mind?"
"She's already gone, though she wanted to meet you. She finished her exams yesterday and headed home to South Carolina. We've got the place to ourselves."
He took the larger suitcase and the box he had checked, while she took the smaller bag.
Once inside, he kicked the door shut and dropped his luggage as she came into his arms again. He found her bedroom, mostly by radar, and they tore the clothes from each other.
Their second encounter was slower, becoming more familiar with each other again. After that they lay, exploring each other's bodies, not really talking. That would come later, they had two weeks to be together and they would make the most of them.
"Hey, big guy, I need to take a shower. Mom's expecting us for dinner."
He picked the most obvious topic first. "Shower?" His eyes gleamed.
"Mulder, I have to be able to walk. We are going to my mother's."
"I'm looking forward to seeing your mother and your dad, but it's gonna take a lot more than a shower to wash that 'I just got some' glow off of your face. Mine too, no doubt."
"Are you kidding?"
"Oh great. You better let me up."
"Does this mean I can't shower with you?" That puppy dog look was devastating.
"Can you behave?" She rose, nude, from the bed and looked down at him.
"I'll do my best." He crossed his heart with an index finger.
He washed her hair for her, and though his body tried to betray him, he didn't allow himself the release yet again. She stepped from the shower first and shut off the hot water. The cold water blasted him and he yelped, following her rapidly from the tub.
"Evil, you are evil." He took the towel she handed him.
"Like I'm going to let you be in front of my father with that hard on."
He mock glared at her, but didn't disagree.
She pulled up in front of her parent's house. "You ready?"
"You think they'll be happy to see me?"
It was the first bit of insecurity she'd seen since he arrived.
"Oh yes, Mulder. They've been looking forward to your visit. They may ask about the ring."
"I can be honest with them?"
She nodded, feeling unaccountably shy for an instant.
He saw that and took her hand, squeezing it gently. She nodded and they both left the car.
Mrs. Scully met them at the door and gave Mulder a hug, ushering them inside. "You look wonderful, Fox. I want to hear all of your news. Dana, Missy's here. When she heard Fox was coming to town, she decided to come in for the weekend."
"I haven't seen her in ages. Where is she?"
"Helping your father with the wine. Come in, come in!"
They followed her to the kitchen. Captain Scully and another redhead looked up.
Her father held out his hand to shake. "Good to see you again Fox."
"You too, Sir. It's good to be back in the states."
"Fox, this is Dana's sister, Melissa."
He held his hand out to shake with her as well. Dana couldn't help but notice Missy's interest, or the way her eyes flicked down to check him out.
She was stunned at the depth of her reaction, fighting the urge to scratch Missy's eyes out.
It was possible that Mrs. Scully sensed the tension, though the men seemed oblivious. "Why don't we have a toast?" She moved forward and took a glass from the counter to hand to Mulder.
"Yes. Thank you." Mulder glanced over at Dana and touched his glass to hers.
Her confidence returned at the look in his eyes. Maybe he had noticed. Maybe things like that happened to him all the time, but it was her that he loved. She was the one wearing his ring.
"Dinner's ready. Fox would you take the salad out? Dana, fill the glasses with ice." Mrs. Scully kept the evening moving, putting everyone at ease as she brought herself up to date on Mulder's life.
Dana marveled at the information her mother garnered and wondered if she'd ever be so adept herself. An official interrogation wouldn't have revealed so much.
They moved into the living room for coffee and dessert. Mulder couldn't help but compare this to his own upbringing. He felt Dana's hand slip into his. He looked down at her and winked.
He sat beside her on the couch and took the cup and saucer Mrs. Scully handed him. He took a sip, then Captain Scully spoke.
"Fox, I'm curious about this ring Dana's wearing."
Mulder felt Dana tense slightly. "Yes Sir. It belonged to my Grandmother Mulder. When she died it went to my sister, the only granddaughter. When she . . . I got it. I've had it for years."
"It's a very valuable piece Fox." Mrs. Scully remarked.
"Not as valuable as the woman wearing it." He glanced down at her. "Mrs. Scully, Captain Scully, I want Dana to have it. It shows a small amount of the . . . the love I have for your daughter." He smiled at her and she returned it full wattage.
"Are you . . . is this an engagement ring?" Mrs. Scully asked.
"Yes ma'am, it is. Dana has agreed to marry me."
"What about school?" Her father leaned toward the couple.
"I'll be finished with my dissertation in eighteen months. Then I'll come back home permanently and set up a practice. I know Dana has quite a bit more ahead of her, but we'll be okay. We know what it's like not to have enough time together. It's just nice to know that in the future we'll have more time."
"I love him Ahab. I have since I was fifteen."
"You haven't dated that much, Honey." Mrs. Scully said mildly.
"I've dated enough. I know what I want, and I want Mulder. We're not going to run off this week, don't worry about that. We both want to finish school."
Captain Scully leaned back and looked at his wife, then turned back to the young couple. "I think it's wise that you're planning to finish school. Your mother and I are frankly relieved to hear that. Fox, I'd like to spend a little time, just the two of us, before you have to return to England."
"Yes Sir. I think that's a good idea."
Everyone seemed to relax a little at that.
After a little more visiting, Dana spoke up, "I'm sorry to end this evening, but I do need to study a little more tonight. My exam's tomorrow afternoon."
"You're right, but it's been a wonderful evening and I hope we get to see more of you while you're here."
Dana picked up the tray and Missy took the extra cups and headed for the kitchen.
"You haven't said much, Missy."
"I think you've found a winner, Dana."
"You seemed to appreciate him."
"Who wouldn't? He's a hunk, but you don't have to worry. You're the only woman he sees. Dana, his eyes follow you whenever you're in the room. He always knows where you are, regardless of what else is going on around him. I envy you."
"We've loved each other a long time."
"Just be sure you use protection, Dana. You both want to finish school."
"Oh come on, a blind man could see it with a cane. Mom and Dad are ignoring it for now - part denial and part avoidance I think. Just be careful."
Dana nodded and moved to return to him. She wasn't comfortable with this conversation.
She heard her mother speaking as she returned, " . . . with your parents. I'd like to meet them."
"They, uh, they're divorced now Mrs. Scully. I haven't seen either of them for a couple of years."
"Oh Fox, I'm sorry."
"No, it's okay, really. I plan to see them while I'm here, introduce Dana. I'll be sure to tell them you'd like to get together." He turned toward Dana then, though she hadn't made her presence known and reached for her hand.
Captain and Mrs. Scully walked them to the door and said goodnight, then they were on their way back to her place.
"How do you think it went?" He turned to look at her.
"Very well. You were a hit as always." She grinned at him.
He sighed and leaned back in the seat. Once back at her apartment he expected her to hit the books, instead she tugged him back into the bedroom and when he backed up to the bed, pushed him down onto the mattress.
He lay back and watched her as she slid his belt from the loops.
"I thought you had to study."
"I do. Anatomy, yours."
His eyes gleamed as he watched her remove her blouse. When he reached for her, she shook her head. He tried to keep the smile from his lips and almost succeeded.
She stood over him then, nude and after watching him for a long moment, straddled his knees. She was amazed that he could grow even larger.
She traced the muscle of his chest and felt his body twitch against hers.
"Whose," he cleared his throat, "who else's anatomy do you study?"
"Grey's, but it's not nearly as much fun."
"You really are taking a . . . anatomy?" He closed his eyes a second to try to regain control.
She was smiling when he opened them again. "It seemed like an interesting elective."
Without warning she impaled herself on him and his hands fisted in the sheets straining for control. His groan shook even her.
"You liked that?"
"You're trying to kill me aren't you?"
"I wouldn't even consider it. I plan to keep you around for a very long time." She rose again to her knees.
"Not like this you won't." He placed his hands on her hips and fell into her rhythm. When she lost control, her spasms pushed him over the edge and he exploded into her. She collapsed onto his chest.
"Dana, you okay?"
"Never been better, Mulder."
He smiled and pulled the sheet up over them, settling her more comfortably on his chest. She needed to sleep and he wanted to hold her while she did.
The next morning he was gone from the bed when she woke. She smelled the coffee and rose, reaching for her robe.
He turned as though he felt her presence and she remembered Missy's words. "Sleep well?"
"You're kidding, right?" She grinned and accepted the cup of coffee he handed her. She'd really been asleep if she'd missed his shower and dressing.
"Okay." He settled at the table. "Your exam is at 2. I'm going to make myself scarce until lunchtime. I'll be back here at noon, to make sure you eat something before you go and take you over if you want, so you don't have to worry about parking. That's if you trust me with your car."
"Just stay on the correct side of the road. I don't want you to be gone all morning."
"It's just for today and tomorrow. After that, you'll see so much of me, you'll be sick of me."
"I'd like to see you try to be around that much."
He stood and kissed her. "I won't be late, but you be sure to buckle down while I'm out."
She sighed and walked him to the door.
She actually did get into her studying and was startled when he opened the door at noon. "Is it really twelve?"
"Yeah, do you need more time?"
"No, if I don't know it now, another hour won't help. What's that aroma?"
"Lunch." He held up the bag. "I haven't had an American hot dog since I can remember. Hope you don't mind."
She was laughing, "No, I don't mind at all. It does smell good."
"Great!" He laid the greasy bag on the table and pulled some glasses from the cupboard. "Come on, eat, then you have to get dressed."
She joined him at the table and they enjoyed their meal. When they were finished he insisted on cleaning up while she showered.
He was waiting for her when she emerged from the class. "One down, one to go."
"How was it?"
"Actually I feel pretty good about it, but your body is still more interesting."
He kept after her about her studies that night too; the last final was at ten the next morning, though he held her closely to him all night. She was practically dancing when she emerged from that exam.
He was sitting in her car and watched her approach him. She waved him to remain in the car and let herself in. "That's it. And I think I aced it as well."
He still hadn't spoken and she finally realized how upset he was. "Mulder? What happened?" She reached out and took hold of his arm. "Mulder?"
"I'm sorry. You said it went well?"
"Forget the exam, what happened?"
"I called my father."
He said it without emotion, but that only increased her fear. He hadn't sounded like this since that summer. "What . . . what did he say?"
"The normal stuff. I remember why I haven't been in touch. He wants to have dinner tonight, and he wants to meet you."
"Mulder, we planned all along for me to meet him. What did he say to you?"
"He was just his normal charming self. I don't want to subject you to him. Couldn't we pretend I'm an orphan and - "
"Mulder, it'll be okay. I'll be there."
He laid his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes. "I shouldn't have contacted him. I was having such a great time. If I never saw him again . . . "
"Mulder," her hand tightened on his arm. "Let's go home. It's going to be okay."
He nodded and put the car in gear. She watched him, this had really upset him, much more than she had thought. She was back to that summer, the things this man had done to Mulder. She could still see those bruises and closing her eyes didn't help.
He let them into her apartment and she led him to the couch. He pulled her against him and just held her. "Dana, explain it to me. I'm an adult. He's not paying for my education anymore. I earned the fellowship I'm on. Hell, I'm less than two years from being a licensed psychologist. How can I treat patients when the sound of his voice does this to me?"
"Mulder, what did he say to you?"
"He wasn't thrilled that I wanted him to meet you."
That surprised her. "He doesn't want to meet me?"
"He doesn't want there to be a you. I guess it goes back to not wanting me to have any happiness in my life."
"Mulder, regardless of what he wants, I am in your life. He can't change that."
His arms tightened around her.
"It's going to be okay. Besides we're only going to dinner, then if you want, you don't have to see him again your entire visit. Do you have a Christmas gift for him?"
"Then give it to him tonight. If you want to see him later, if tonight goes well, you still can."
"Go well? I spent an evening with your folks - that went well. Nothing like that ever happened in my family."
She sighed, she hadn't met these people, but anyone who hurt this man was on her list. She wasn't going to let them hurt him any more than she could help.
Mulder stepped into the restaurant and looked around. He spotted the man almost immediately. "He's here." He pointed the older man out to Dana. "He's already got a drink. I wonder which one it is."
Dana's hand squeezed his arm and he looked down at her. "I love you."
"I know. That's the only thing keeping me here right now." He didn't smile as he said it and she saw again how hard this was for him.
Neither noticed that his father had looked up and seen them. He took in the protective way his son hovered over this diminutive redhead and felt despair. It would never work; his son had responsibilities that he wasn't even aware of yet. A woman would be an encumbrance, at least a woman that he truly cared for would be. He stood and saw his son straighten up and this woman's hand grip his.
"He's seen us."
"Then let's go meet him Mulder."
He looked down at her again and was actually able to smile. She might look small, but there was a lot there in that tiny package. He nodded and they moved toward the table.
"Son." William Mulder held out his hand to shake and Mulder took it.
"Dad, I'd like you to meet Dana Scully."
The older man shook her hand as well, scrutinizing her for a moment. "Ms. Scully." He nodded and held her chair for her. When they were all seated, an uncomfortable quiet settled over the table.
"Would you like a drink?" Mr. Mulder offered and motioned the waiter to their table.
Dana looked up at the waiter and smiled, "Iced tea please."
"I'll have the same." Mulder nodded.
Mr. Mulder watched them, not sure what he was looking for, "I suppose Fox warned you not to drink in front of me."
"Actually, Mr. Mulder, I won't be 21 until February, and I like iced tea."
Her directness caught him off guard. This woman was only twenty years old? She seemed much more assured than that. He caught the look of amusement in Fox's eyes before the younger man could look away.
"I'll have another Scotch." He spoke to the waiter, who took the order and left. No one seemed to know how to break the silence. Finally Mr. Mulder looked at Dana. "Why don't you tell me a little something about yourself?"
She nodded before Mulder could protest. "I'm at Georgetown University, majoring in physics."
"Physics?" The normal response and she smiled.
"Yes, it's a fascinating field. I don't plan to teach; right now I'm looking at pure research, but I have a little time to decide." She noted that he was more uncomfortable than the information would warrant. Why would a physics major bother him?
"My parents are in DC now, my father is career Navy and stationed at the Pentagon. He'll be retiring soon."
"Will that interfere with your academic plans?"
"No, I'm on a scholarship."
Mulder noticed that the information the man was receiving, while overwhelmingly positive, seemed to make him more and more fidgety.
"I see you're wearing my mother's ring."
Dana felt Mulder stiffen beside her and she laid her hand over his, the ring exposed for all to see. "Yes, I am."
"I wanted her to have it." Mulder spoke, after curling his hand around hers.
"I was unaware that you had it."
"There's probably a lot about me that you're unaware of, Dad. Mom found it just before I left for England and just handed it to me. I decided to take it with me."
Mr. Mulder nodded, then turned to accept his drink from the waiter.
"I think I know a lot more about you that you realize, Fox. I'm very proud of your accomplishments at Oxford, your grades."
"I didn't know you were receiving my grades."
Dana wanted to cringe at the tone these men, father and son, were using with each other. Ahab would never have spoken to Bill or Charlie like that, much less tolerated it in return. Instead she tried to remain passive, but didn't release his hand. The image of those bruises returned.
"I'm not, officially, but I have connections as you well know. I wanted to stay in contact."
"In contact? Really?" The sarcasm was thick.
The older man looked away at that and took a sip of his drink. "I guess you'd be surprised to know how in contact I've been. Like hearing about the recruiting effort on the part of the FBI."
Mulder's eyes widened in surprise for just a second, then he had control again. Dana sat stunned, recruited by who? He hadn't mentioned that to her.
"I don't see that as any of your business." His eyes narrowed as his anger grew.
"Well it is my business. You are my son, regardless of our relationship. I think it's a bad idea. I would advise against you joining the Bureau very strongly. I know those people Fox, I don't think that's the kind of career you're suited for."
"Well thanks for the input Dad, but I think I'll file your opinion - "
"Mulder, maybe we should order." Dana interrupted quickly. "I'm getting hungry."
Mulder looked down at her, almost surprised that she was still beside him; hell, that someone like her was even in his life. She gave him a quick smile, and he nodded. They placed their orders and the waiter left the table.
"If I could get back to an earlier topic, I would like to know if the ring symbolizes some sort of commitment between the two of you."
"Yes, it does. I have asked Dana to be my wife and she has accepted."
Dana saw the man's knuckles go white around his glass. He looked at her and she returned his gaze. "Mr. Mulder, why does the thought of your son marrying me upset you so?"
He shook himself and focused on her again. "Ms. Scully, I apologize. You are a very charming young woman and I'm sure you will make someone a wonderful wife someday, I just don't see that happening with Fox."
She felt Mulder bristle beside her, but before he could speak, she leaned forward. "Why?"
He looked directly at her then, turning slightly away from his son. "I'm sure you two haven't known each other very long, you couldn't have. You're not at Oxford, you told me that, and he's been in England for the past five years."
"I fell in love with Dana when she was fifteen years old." Mulder spoke quietly, but she heard the emotion behind the words.
"Fifteen? But how - "
"Mr. Mulder, the summer before your son went to England I lived on the Vineyard, looking after my cousins. I'm Charles Richardson's niece." The name seemed to mean something to him, though he made no comment.
"She was my savior that summer." Mulder spoke then, "the only light in the pit I was living in."
He didn't comment on his son's words, looking instead at Dana. "I don't recall Fox introducing us."
"Would you remember it if I had?" Mulder asked.
"Mulder." She put her hand over his again.
"Sorry." He looked down at her and she nodded.
"That . . . that was a difficult summer for your mother and I, Fox."
Mulder nodded but didn't bother to comment. He did notice that his father would no longer meet his eyes. That was interesting.
They were saved from further conversation at the moment by the arrival of their meals. They all ate in silence for a few minutes.
"Miss Scully - "
"Please call me Dana." She interrupted him.
"Thank you. I'm William. Dana, I'll probably cause an explosion with this comment, but Fox is very like me. He becomes consumed with his work, single minded in his pursuits. That's how he's been so successful at Oxford, completed his degree ahead of time and at the top of his class. But it's not a good combination for a relationship."
"I - am - nothing - like - you." Mulder spoke low, but fairly spat out the words, enunciating each word clearly.
"I know you don't want to be, and I can't say that I blame you, but it's true Fox. You don't want to hurt this woman the way I hurt your mother."
Mulder turned away then and started to rise. "Mulder, please. Let's finish our meal."
"You don't believe him?"
She ached at the hurt on his face, and ignoring the fact that his father was sitting across from them, kissed him and whispered "no" into his lips.
William watched this by-play with a sinking heart. She was going to be a complication. His comment about not joining the FBI had reached its target, now Fox would give the idea consideration. His son might have the degree in psychology, but he'd been using it for decades.
The older man decided to change the subject. Too much pushing wouldn't work and he found himself liking this woman despite his reservations about her place in Fox's life.
"I hope you're planning to see your mother while you're home."
Mulder glanced up and blinked, then took the olive branch that had been offered. "Yes. I want her to meet Dana as well. We're driving up over the weekend."
"Good. Please wish her happy holidays for me."
Mulder nodded and returned to his meal.
Dana took over then and gave William a little more of her own background, the different bases she had lived on and the climate of Washington as opposed to more exotic locations. It worked and the meal finally ended.
Mulder refused the offer of dessert for both of them and explained that Dana had just finished her exams and was tired from the late hours she had put in studying. She only nodded, any excuse to get Mulder out of here would do. The strain on him had been enormous.
William nodded and rose from the table. He extended his hand to shake again with Mulder. Dana marveled at this, her own father never hesitated to hug his sons any more than he did with his daughters. It was incredible that Mulder had become the loving man that he was; he had certainly had no role model in this man.
Dana shook his hand as well and thanked him for the meal, then with Mulder's hand guiding her, they left the restaurant without looking back.
She drove; he was upset though he was trying to hide it. They were almost to her apartment when she heard him mutter a soft, "damn."
"I didn't give the SOB his Christmas present. Fuck it, I'll mail it to him before I go back to England. I don't want to spend another five minutes around him."
He lapsed back into silence and after a moment she released the wheel with one hand to hold his. His grip was almost painful. He only released her when she had to make the turn onto her street.
After they exited the car she took his hand again. "I think maybe I should take a walk or something." He didn't quite face her.
"Okay." She looked up at him, "where are we going to walk?"
"I . . . I thought I would go alone."
"Mulder, do you want to be alone?"
He gazed down at her for a long moment. "No."
She flashed him a quick smile. "I need to change my shoes. There's no way I can keep up with those long legs in these."
That actually drew a chuckle from him and he followed her inside.
She slipped out of her shoes and picked them up. "I'll be right back."
"Wait, you don't have to. I don't feel the need for that walk now."
"Are you sure?"
"I was going so you wouldn't have to put up with me."
"I like putting up with you." She turned toward her room to put away her shoes, when he took her arm.
She was looking up at him and heard the seriousness of the question. Her own expression grew serious. "That's easy. I love you."
"After meeting him?"
"Well, I'm not in love with him. But you aren't him, and I don't see how you could be." She moved to the couch and tugged him down to sit beside her. "I don't know what your father's gone through to become the man he is, but I do know you and what you've shared with me. I love the man you are."
She was startled to see tears in his eyes. "Mulder?"
He just shook his head and pulled her to him. She relaxed in his arms, and they held each other for a long time.
Finally he leaned in to kiss her, "Thank you."
"My pleasure." She returned the kiss, then. "I do have a question."
"Hmm?" His lips not leaving her neck.
"When did the FBI recruit you?"
"What? Oh that."
"Yeah, that. You hadn't mentioned it."
"I know, I'm sorry. I haven't given it any serious thought."
"And now?" She twisted slightly to see his face.
He sighed, "Now I'm going to give them another hearing."
"Mulder, you can't base your career decisions on your father's - "
"But Dana, that's just what I did. When the man from the Bureau came to talk to me, I assumed he came because of my father. State Department, FBI - they could have a lot of connections. If he didn't send them, if they wanted me because of my abilities, that makes all the difference."
"And the fact that your father is opposed to the idea . . . "
Mulder grinned, "Okay, that adds a little icing. You met him."
"That's the kind of family I come from."
"I'm going to be your family now, Mulder."
His lips met hers, "Yes. Yes, you are and I can't wait." He stood then and led her toward the bedroom.