She stopped just inside of the pub door, to let her eyes adjust and to look around for him. This was the place his neighbor had told her to check. Everyone in the pub noticed her presence though she didn't seem to realize.
Her eyes found him and her whole body seemed to light up at the very sight. Every man in the place knew he didn't have a chance with her. More than one man looked to see who had caused this reaction in her.
He, however, just sat there unmoving, seemingly miles or years away. It wasn't until she took a step toward him that he shook as though waking. He was on his feet instantly and met her in two strides. "Dana?"
If anything her smile grew brighter and his hand came up to touch her shoulders and then caress her face. "Is it really you?"
"It's been a long time."
He seemed to remember where they were suddenly and guided her to his small table in the back. He closed the books he had been using and sat gazing at her as though she still might go up in smoke.
"Mulder, you're staring." She glanced around and several men turned away, chagrined at having been caught by her.
He shook himself again and placed his hand over hers on the table. "What are you doing here?"
"It's a gift from my parents before starting college. My brother Bill is stationed here, so when they came to visit, they brought me along."
"Your mother's here too?" She nodded. "I'd like to see her." He fell silent then, just watching her again. A blush took over her face.
"Dana, why didn't you ever answer my letters? I thought . . . I thought you'd forgotten about me." He couldn't stop himself from asking. The question had been on his mind for years.
Now her face grew puzzled. "I wrote to you. I wrote all the time in the beginning, but when you didn't answer . . . "
"You got none of my letters?" His hand had tightened its grip of hers.
"I got one. It was waiting for me when I got home with Mom. When you told me . . . " Her own hand turned then to grip his in return.
He looked down, then up again. "You needed to know. That's the only one? I must have written you daily for a while. I kept thinking that . . . I don't know, that your father had been transferred or something and eventually the mail would catch up with you. Then I . . . "
"Did you ever get any of my letters?" He shook his head, unwilling to look away from her. He'd dreamed about this for years.
Neither saw the dark haired woman enter the pub and spot them. It was obvious to her that neither would have noticed the end of the world if it had happened around them right then.
She'd come to cancel their date again tonight. She knew she was playing on thin ice, and that he was aggravated with her for standing him up or canceling so often, but it had worked. At least she thought it had worked until two minutes ago.
She would have put money on the fact that he wasn't seeing anyone else, and that when she did decide to allow him back into her bed all she would have to do was snap her fingers.
But she'd never seen that expression on his face. He had never looked at her with such . . . such love. She turned abruptly and let herself out of the pub. She needed to get her act together. No one ventured into her territory like this - he was hers to play with and no one else was allowed in her playground.
Her mind raced as she headed toward her flat. She'd cultivated him so well over the last few months. She had thought he was hooked tight. She loved his type, dark, brooding, inherently sad most of the time. He hadn't looked sad just now. Who was the redheaded bitch? She didn't remember seeing her on campus.
She let herself into her place, but was barely aware of her surroundings. She wasn't going to let either one of them get away with this. She began digging through her lingerie drawer.
"Dana, this isn't . . . would you go back to my room. It'll be all right, I mean - "
"It's okay Mulder. Let's go."
His smile returned to full wattage and she wasn't sure her legs would support her. He rose and took her hand. That gave her the support she needed and she stood beside him. She felt his hand come to rest on the small of her back. It felt good there.
She made sure they were in there. She'd known somehow that he would take her back to his room. It made her resolve all the firmer. She took a deep breath and exited the car, the small bag in her hand.
She stood at the door and withdrew the small piece of lace from the bag, tossing the bag aside, then knocked.
It took a couple of minutes for him to come to the door. When he opened it and saw her, she had the impression he was going to slam the door in her face. She didn't give him the opportunity.
"Ph . . . Phoebe."
She turned so that her back was to the girl as though she hadn't noticed her. She held the tiny teddy in front of her. "What about this for tonight, Fox? At least to begin with."
He'd grown pale, but didn't answer her, looking instead behind her. She turned to see what he was looking at and feigned surprise. "Fox, I didn't know you had company." She didn't lower the lacy nothing she had held up to her body, but let her eyes scan this girl now that she had a closer view. "I guess Fox isn't going to introduce us. I'm Phoebe Green." She held out her hand.
Dana rose from the small divan. "Dana Scully." They shook hands quickly.
"A Yank. Well, Luv, you should have told me you had a little friend visiting. We can't leave her all alone tonight. I bet Derrick's free."
Derrick? Mulder didn't even know how to react to that statement. He wasn't going to let Derrick anywhere near Dana. He'd probably rape her on a first date. Besides, he couldn't go out with Phoebe tonight.
"No. Uh, no. Phoebe I'm sorry. I . . . I need to cancel - "
"Mulder, no. You shouldn't change your plans. I should have realized you'd be busy. I need to get back anyway. It was, it was really good seeing you." Dana found her voice finally.
His eyes widened in disbelief. "Dana, I - "
She held up her hand. "Really, its okay. It was nice to meet you Phoebe." Phoebe nodded taking in the pain in her eyes and reveling in it. She didn't see his face behind her.
"Dana -" She had moved to the door now. He took a step toward her but Phoebe moved, seemingly innocently, blocking him.
Dana was out the door, moving as fast as she could without actually breaking into a run.
"So, what time you 'coming' tonight Luv?" Phoebe pursed her lips at him and brushed her breasts against him.
"Phoebe, just a minute." He held her in place as he moved around her, then sprinted after Dana. He got to the street in time to see the cab pull into traffic. "Dana!"
He stood on the sidewalk too stunned to move. No! How the hell could he have let her get away? He didn't even know where she was staying! He felt despair closing in on him and had to force himself to move back toward his place.
Phoebe was watching from the window and her fury at his reaction to the little redhead's departure grew. She forced herself to calm down before he opened the door.
"The little Yank gone? I don't remember you mentioning her before."
"Phoebe, I . . . I need to cancel tonight."
"What? Come on Luv, I'm hot for you. We could - "
"Phoebe. Not tonight. Okay?"
"Are you going to tell me what's going on?"
"Nothing's going on. I just . . . I need to get some work done tonight. I'm behind on my reading and . . . "
"Your reading? Fox, you've never been behind in anything since I met you."
"Look, I'm sorry. Tonight's not a good night. I need you to leave."
"Leave? You're throwing me out?"
He turned away from her, missing the look of outrage that covered her face. He'd pay for this. No man treated her this way. He'd come crawling back to her and then he'd pay.
"Fine. You 'read' tonight." She stopped herself from saying more, she'd bide her time. One last look at him and she let herself out of the apartment. Damn him, he didn't even look over at her when she opened the door.
He hadn't looked because he hadn't realized she was finally gone. His mind was remembering, sorting, recalling every word Dana had said.
Her parents had brought her here as a gift before she started college. They were with her. Yes! Her brother was stationed here. Her father was Navy, so it made sense the brother was as well. He lunged for the phonebook.
An hour later he was ready to join a militia against the US military. Their sole purpose in life was to thwart his search for her. He'd been transferred and placed on hold by every department. Finally he slammed the receiver down; they weren't going to talk to him anyway.
So now what? Should he just head over to the base and go door to door? Hell, he would if he thought it would help. He left his flat and jogged to the bus stop. He had to find her.
She got out of the cab after checking her makeup one more time. Hopefully no one would know that she'd been crying. She took a deep breath and headed toward her hotel room.
She hadn't been there long when she heard the knock on the connecting door. "Dana?"
"Yeah Mom." She moved to open the door.
"Where did you go?"
"Oh, I just wanted to look around a little."
"I realize you're 18 now, but I'm still allowed to worry." She stopped and looked at her daughter more closely. "Are you feeling all right?"
"It's just a little headache."
Her mother continued to watch her, so she turned away. "Why don't you take a little nap? There's time before dinner."
She nodded, "Yes. Maybe that will help." She waited until her mother had left the room, then sank down onto the bed. As she reclined the tears started again and she buried her face in the pillow.
It had been almost an hour when her mother tapped on the door. "Dana? Dana, are you awake?"
It took her a moment to respond. She had fallen asleep but she didn't feel rested. "Mom? I . . . I'm awake."
Her mother opened the door, "Honey, Bill should be here in half an hour of so. You better start getting ready."
"Mom, I . . . Okay." She sat up and lowered her legs over the side of the bed. Her mother looked at her curiously but then retreated to give her some privacy.
She dressed and applied her makeup carefully. Hopefully no one would notice how red and puffy her eyes were. Her mother made no comment when she joined them, but her father gave her the once over.
"That's a little tight, isn't it Starbuck?"
"What?" She was going to have to concentrate if she was going to make it through this evening.
"You okay Honey?"
"I'm fine Ahab. Maybe a little jet lag." He nodded knowingly, then turned at the knock on the door.
Maggie opened it and threw her arms around her first born. "Bill, you look wonderful!"
The large man, now nearly a foot taller than his mother, picked her up and swung her around. "It's good to see you, Mom." He approached his father then and shook hands, then they hugged each other. His father stepped back then to inspect the uniform and nodded.
Bill looked over then and grinned at Dana. "Hi Squirt. How did you manage to wrangle the trip?"
"Oh, just wanted a little vacation before I got down to studying again."
"So you finally got one of us to go to college, huh Mom?" His mother raised her eyebrow.
"I haven't given up on you and Melissa. Don't think so." He smiled down at her indulgently.
Dana remained quiet; glad the attention was off of her now. The nap had done nothing for her headache, except maybe make it worse. She needed to just get through this.
They rode down the elevator, Bill and her father talking away about ships and mutual acquaintances.
When the elevator reached the lobby, she was last to exit. She was behind Bill and didn't see him until they were almost beside each other.
She froze at the sound of his voice. All of them stopped. Mrs. Scully looked over and recognized him instantly. It all clicked into place immediately. This was the reason Dana had wanted so desperately to come with them to visit Bill. How could she have forgotten this boy was at Oxford? After all William and she had done to discourage . . . Dana hadn't heard from this boy in years. William had convinced her it was for the best.
Dana had gone pale beside her. What was going on? Where had she really gone this afternoon?
The two men with them had gone into a defensive posture at the sound of her name.
"Mrs. Scully, do you remember me?" He had approached them by now.
"Of course, Fox. How are you?" He held out his hand, but she hugged him instead. "I'd forgotten you were at Oxford. You look well."
"Yes ma'am. I, uh, I've done all right." His eyes were back on Dana now. She hadn't taken her eyes off of him. Bill was glancing back and forth between the two and not liking what he was seeing.
"We were just going to dinner, won't you join us?" Both Bill and Dana looked over at her startled at that.
"I'd . . . I'd love to."
"Good. I'd like you to meet Dana's father. This is Captain William Scully." Mulder straightened up and held out his hand. Her father shook it, searching his memory for this name. Fox Mulder?
"And this is her brother, Bill."
"Pleased to meet you." Mulder spoke to the younger man. Bill nodded and shook his hand but warmth was not forthcoming.
They entered the hotel dining room and took a table. Mrs. Scully kept the conversation going. "Fox, how much longer do you have here?"
"Well, I'll walk with this class in the spring."
"I thought you had another year."
"I took some additional classes, but I won't be leaving then. I've been accepted into the doctoral program, so I'll be here at least two more years."
"The doctoral program? That's wonderful Fox. You must be quite the scholar."
"Well, I've managed to keep my scholarship at least." He glanced over Dana. "Uh, Bill, what are you doing over here?"
"It's an exchange program."
"So you're training them in the 'Yank' way?" Bill finally grinned, and the three men began talking. Both women visibly relaxed. Dinner progressed fairly smoothly and as they were finishing dessert, Mulder turned to her father. "Would you mind if I took Dana for a walk? There're several places I'd like to show her. We've been out of touch for some time and I'd like her to see where I live."
Mr. Scully looked over at Dana. He remembered suddenly exactly who this man was. It had been his idea to divert the letters. Maggie hadn't had the chance to remind him and he'd forgotten the incident. Obviously the letters had continued longer than he had thought. Still she was three years older now. "I think that would be all right."
"We won't be late, Sir." He stood and held her chair. After a slight hesitation she rose as well. "Thank you for dinner. It was very good to see you again Mrs. Scully."
"It was good to see you Fox." She smiled at Dana and they turned from the table.
"That is the boy - " Mrs. Scully nodded as she watched them leave the room. "Did we make a mistake?" Her father asked.
"I don't think so."
"Well I'm not so sure." Bill interjected. "He looks like he wants to swallow her whole."
"Bill!" But she understood what he was saying and glanced over one more time, but they were out of sight.
They were quiet walking out, and once out in the street, she turned to him. "You didn't ask if I wanted to go for a walk with you."
"I was afraid to. But I thought, maybe, once we were alone we could talk."
"I'm not sure I want to talk to you."
"You've got to give me a chance. Yes, I have been seeing Phoebe, but not recently. I don't have a clue why she was acting that way. She never has before. It's almost like she knew you were there."
Dana stopped then and turned to face him on the street. "She . . . she did. She came into the pub this afternoon, while we were talking. I didn't think about it, but that was her. She came in the door and looked around. She looked at us, but didn't come in. She just turned and left."
Mulder closed his eyes. "That explains some things. I'd put money down that she had come there to cancel our plans for tonight. But then she saw you, saw us. My feelings for you - they're not something I can hide. Dana, when you walked in that door, I didn't jump up, I didn't run to you. It never crossed my mind that it was reality. I'd fantasized it so many times. It was too much for it to be real."
She was staring at him; he couldn't tell if she was still breathing.
"But you're sleeping with her."
What could he say? It didn't matter, nothing mattered but her. "I... I have. When she begins pursuit, it's . . . it's exhilarating. I don't know why she targeted me."
"You don't?" She clearly didn't believe that.
He barely smiled, "You're good for me. I was naive when I met her, fairly inexperienced, and lonely. So damn lonely. You were gone and I couldn't find you, I never heard from you."
"You know they took my letters."
"Yeah, I saw it in your father's eyes when he realized who I was."
He took a deep breath, "I can only say this because you're here now, but they may have been right."
"You were fifteen years old, Dana. What I felt, what I feel for you, wasn't appropriate then. I'm not sure it's appropriate now, but at least you're not jail bait any more."
She blushed at that. He took her hand and turned her to continue the walk. "Two and a half more years here."
"Yeah." He draped an arm over her shoulders and pulled her close to him. She relaxed and allowed it. He had written to her, he hadn't forgotten her. They'd been sabotaged. Besides, she'd had as many fantasies of this encounter as he had and if that woman had staged that . . . that thing this afternoon . . .
"I've been accepted at Georgetown."
"Have you decided on a major?"
"Physics." He stopped and turned to look at her with fascination. She laughed at his expression. "I know, but it's what I want to do, now anyway. I can always change my mind."
He kissed her forehead, "I bet you don't." She shrugged.
They walked for a long time, talking continuously now that the awkwardness had lessened. The really important things had been said, now they could learn about each other's lives over the last three years.
They had stopped on a bridge, still talking as he pointed out places in his life to her. She realized that he was no longer listening to her, his eyes locked on her lips. Without conscious thought they met - their lips coming together with the ease of twenty years of familiarity and the freshness of a first kiss. She felt his hand go to the back of her neck to bring her even closer to him. Her own arms encircled his waist agreeing with the sentiment.
When the kiss ended he was grateful for the bridge railing, because he was supporting her as well as himself. Neither could seem to get their breath.
"I . . . I should get you home." He finally managed to say.
She nodded, still not trusting her voice. She leaned into him as they started to walk again. "How," he had to clear his throat, "How long will you be here?"
"Oh!" She stood up straight then. "We leave in the morning."
"You what?" He stopped dead still in the street, moving only when a horn blared behind them. He moved them quickly to the sidewalk and stared down at her in horror. "You can't!"
"I . . . I didn't know if I would find you, or if I did, that you would remember me."
"Oh god." He leaned down, resting his forehead against her. "You can't go. I can't lose you again so soon."
"What . . . what do we do?"
"Where were you going?"
"Dad has a conference in Liverpool. We were going there for a couple of days."
"And then? Were you coming back here to fly out?"
She nodded, "Yes, the flight home on Saturday leaves from here. What are you thinking?"
"Stay here. Let your parents go on to the meeting. I have some friends - females - in the building. You could stay with them and still fly home with your parents when they come back. That would give us a couple of days. Do you think they'd go for it? Do . . . do you want to stay?" He was holding his breath now.
"Oh Mulder." Her hand was on his cheek, "Yes. Yes, I want to stay."
"Would they still be awake? Your parents? I need to talk to them."
She glanced down at her watch. "Mom's still up. She'll read until she hears me come in. She never admits it though." She smiled.
They quickened their pace back to the hotel. She let him into her room, then tapped on the connecting door. "Mom?"
"Dana, Honey? You're in?" She opened the door and paused when she saw Mulder with her.
"Mrs. Scully, I'm sorry to bother you so late, but I just found out that you're planning on going to Liverpool in the morning. I was hoping you would think about Dana staying here while the two of you go on to the meeting. She could stay with a couple of friends of mine - Tess Davies and Marilyn Abbot. They live in my building. We've . . . we've had so little time together."
One look at Dana's face and Maggie knew where she stood. She tried to keep the guilt she was feeling about keeping the letters from both of them at bay, but it was there. Dana was an adult now, technically and in reality. In fact, looking at her children, this one was the most adult, despite age or career choices. She really had no reason to refuse this request and in all honesty no authority. Fox knew that, but still was gentleman enough to ask. And Bill would be here if she needed anything. She smiled at them and saw the relief come over their bodies.
"Let me talk to your father, but I think I can persuade him. It is getting kind of late."
Mulder glanced at his watch. "I have an eight o'clock. I'll call you before I leave for class."