He removed his glasses, rose from the desk and stretched. He’d been going over photos too long. The little growl from his stomach reminded him he needed to eat something, something light. They had big plans for dinner, bigger than she knew. He smiled to himself and felt his pocket again, almost superstitiously. He was almost to the door when his cell phone rang. “Mulder.”
“It’s me. Could you come over?”
“Scully? Are you at home?” Her tone was wrong somehow. He felt his heart rate increase.
“No, the hospital.”
“Are you okay?”
“I . . . I need to see you.”
“I’m on my way. Your office?”
“Uh, no. Ask for me at the ER.” He heard other voices in the background. “I need to go.”
“Scully!” But the connection had been broken. All thoughts of food gone from his head, he hurried to his car.
He parked illegally, but didn’t give it any thought as he hastened inside. “Dr. Scully?” he asked at the desk.
“Yes, sir. Down the hall, second door on the right.” The nurse had obviously been watching for him.
He glanced at the sign on the ceiling but didn’t take time to let it register. He reached for the handle to the door and pushed it open. She was standing there, in one of those pink flowered hospital gowns. Her back was to him as she gazed at the lighted panel on the wall.
“Scully?” he said quietly. She reached for him, but didn’t turn to face him. He eagerly took the hand she held out. “What’s going on?”
“I saw Karen this morning.”
He moved closer, watching her though her eyes remained on the lighted panel. Suddenly the word he had read as he entered this hall made the connection in his brain - Oncology.
His hand tightened around hers. “Scully.”
“Here.” She touched the light spot on the film in front of them. “It's a small growth between the superior conchea and the sinoidal sinus.”
He felt the spear of fear penetrate his spine. His breath was gone. “I, uh, what do we do?”
She turned to look at him for the first time then, a small smile gracing her face. “Nothing. I just needed . . . I haven’t called anyone else. I needed - “
“What do you mean, nothing?” His hand around hers tightened, anchoring her to him.
“Let’s get out of here. I, I don’t want to be in a hospital today. Oh, you’re supposed to be at work.”
“No I’m not. Get dressed. I’ll make a call.” He pulled her against him for a moment, then stepped out into the hall. He made a quick phone call and was waiting when she opened the door, now dressed in her street clothes.
His arm went around her immediately and he led her back through the ER and to his car. Her eyebrow rose at his parking place, but she made no comment. He pulled out a little quickly, but then settled down in traffic.
“Are you hungry?” he finally asked.
She gave a sad laugh and shook her head. “No.”
“Okay.” He pulled onto the highway and headed north.
“So, where are we going?”
“I don’t know yet, just out of the city.” He headed for the shore. They were quiet. She watched the scenery and he drove, although he did glance at her occasionally. She was aware of it, but neither spoke.
He pulled into a parking lot and she was out of the car immediately, headed for the small beach area. He followed, giving her space even though he ached to hold her. She stood with her back to him, looking out at the ocean. Her arms were wrapped around her ribs, hugging herself tightly.
When he saw her shiver he knew it wasn’t from temperature and moved to stand beside her. He pulled her into his arms, her back pressed against his chest. Her hands pulled his arms even more tightly around her. He buried his face in her hair for a moment. “What can I do?”
“You’re doing it.” She leaned against him.
He kept quiet then, letting her gaze out toward the horizon. After a few long minutes, she turned and let her cheek rest against his chest.
“Scully, what do we do now?”
“You know, surgery, chemotherapy. What’s the next step?”
She looked up at him then. “I . . . you don’t understand. There is no next step. Because of the location of this tumor, there’s nothing . . . “ her voice trailed off at his expression.
“No! There has to be - “
She turned to him finally. “Thank you.”
Her hand came up then to caress his cheek, her thumb stroking his bottom lip. He forced himself to silence again.
He swallowed hard. “You need to eat something.”
She started to protest, but then just nodded and allowed him to lead her back toward the car. He drove them to a seafood restaurant nearby and parked. They were a little early for the dinner crowd.
They ordered, but when the meal came, Scully mostly pushed her food around on her plate. He watched to make sure that some food was eaten, but didn’t force anything. When she lay her fork down, he pushed back his chair and moved around to hold her chair as she stood. She leaned against him and his arm went around her. His eyes closed, then he took a deep breath and they returned to the car.
“Why don’t we get a room? It would be late when we got home.”
“Sure.” She stared at her hands.
He watched her for a minute, then put the car in gear and headed down the strip. He pulled into one of the slightly nicer looking motels and parked. “You want to wait here?”
She nodded and he let himself out. When he returned, he moved the car closer to the stairwell leading to their room and got out, pulling his overnight kit from the trunk. He helped her out of the car, placed his hand on her back and led her to the room.
Once inside she looked around at the aqua and beige décor but didn’t seem to see it. “We, we don’t have anything with us.”
“Everything I need is here,” he said gently.
“Don’t.” She swallowed and looked away. He moved to the small bathroom to set his kit down and to give her some time.
“You want to get comfortable? Would you like me to run you a bath?”
“No, that’s . . . no.”
He unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it over a chair, then removed his t-shirt and handed it to her. “Can you sleep in this?”
She took it and crushed it to her. “Yes,” she said quietly.
“I’m, uh, I’m gonna take a quick shower.” She nodded and he let himself into the small bathroom and turned on the water. He managed to hold it together until he was in the warm enclosure, then clasping a washcloth to his face, he sobbed until he had to lean against the wet walls for support. When he was cried out, he flipped off the water and, taking a deep breath, stepped out of the tub.
He slipped on his cutoff sweats and a sleeveless t-shirt from his bag, checked the mirror for signs of his breakdown, then returned to her.
She was sitting Indian-style on the bed. The TV was on, but she wasn’t watching. When she spotted him, she used the remote to turn it off. He joined her on the bed, pulling out a pillow to brace against.
She faced him then and tried to smile. Immediately it slipped away and her eyes widened. “Oh Mulder, the reservations! I forgot.”
He glanced toward his suit coat. He’d forgotten as well. “No biggie, Scully. I can make reservations again.”
“Those took a while.”
“It’s not a problem. There is one thing I’d still like to . . .”
“What?” She watched him stand and move toward his coat. He reached into the inside pocket and withdrew the ring box. He looked over at her. Her face was pale and her eyes huge. She was shaking her head.
“Scully - “
“No. You can’t do this, just because I got . . . sick.”
“Scully, do you remember me stopping to buy a ring on the way up here?” he asked gently.
She paused then, of course not. “Be-because of what Mom said. No, Mulder, that’s - “
“No. Not because of your mother. I didn’t exactly buy this ring, Scully. It was my Grandmother Mulder’s. She left it to Samantha, then I got it.”
“But why now?”
“You said you wanted to be with me. I’d waited, but when you said that . . . “
“Look at the receipt, Scully. I had it sized for you.”
Silently she took the slip of paper. “This, this is . . . “
“The morning after you came to my place to find out if I wanted to be alone,” he said quietly. “I don’t.” He opened the small box and she stared down at the large emerald with diamonds on either side. “I know it’s not a solitaire or - “
“Mulder, it’s beautiful, it’s perfect, but I can’t . . . “
“Are you saying you don’t want to be with me?”
“No! I mean . . . Mulder, I can’t marry you, not now. I don’t know how long - “
“Stop. Stop right there. I’m not letting you go, and I’m not letting you give up. I want to be with you for the next thousand years.”
“Mulder - “ she was shaking her head.
He sat back on the bed then and pulled her against him. “You’re already my next of kin. Let me be yours.”
Tears welled up in her eyes then and she buried her face in his chest. “I wanted this so much.”
He felt a pang at that, but just caressed her hair. “You have it, Scully. Just say yes.”
“You haven’t thought this through. It’s not fair to you. I’ll become a burden and - “
“Shh.” He kissed her gently. “It’s only unfair to me if you say no.”
“Mulder - “ His lips cut her off then.
She watched this man as he caressed her, loving her. She had never felt this close to a man, never gone through experiences like she had with this one. He had taken charge and protected her from the moment she had met him, not only in her apartment, but at the hotel and especially at his lake house. She still was in awe of how they had moved toward one another after that experience.
He loved her. Even now he made her feel alive and safe. For as long as she could, she wanted to be with him.
He began making love to her, slowly, thoroughly. She didn’t remember losing the t-shirt, but she was nude as he hovered over her, using his knowledge of her to move her toward ecstasy.
He’d made certain she was completely satisfied before he allowed his own pleasure and they fell asleep clutching each other fiercely.
When she woke the next morning, he was on one elbow watching her. She lifted her hand to caress his cheek and saw that he had slipped the ring on her finger. “It looks good there,” he commented, his voice rough from sleep. It caused a shiver up her spine. “I want you to wear it, it’s yours whether you marry me or not, Scully. I just hope . . . “
“I love you, you know that. That’s why I don’t want to - “
“Marry me,” he interrupted, his eyes locked on hers.
“You know you’re crazy.”
He nodded solemnly. “About you.”
“Isn’t living together - “
“No. I want; I need to be legally in your life for all the world to see.”
Those words stopped her - legally. He’d have a voice in her care, in whatever future she might have. The tension in her body eased. “You can change your mind.”
“I won’t.” But his eyes betrayed his nerves. “Is that a ‘yes’?”
She leaned up and kissed him gently. “Yes.”
He was stunned, paralyzed for an instant.
“I . . . I never - “ His whole face lit up. “You’re serious; you really just agreed to marry me.”
“Did I make a mistake?” She grinned.
“No way.” He tucked her up against him. “So, how big a wedding are we going to have? Ten bridesmaids? Because I have to tell you, I don’t have ten friends to be ushers.”
She chuckled then. “No, not a big wedding.”
“I was kidding. You can have any kind of wedding you want. I can afford it.”
“That’s not . . . you can afford what? Am I marrying a rich man?”
“Well, kinda, yeah.”
She turned toward him. “You have money?”
He shrugged. “A trust fund. Grandmother Mulder didn’t only have jewelry.”
She faced away from him again putting that knowledge aside and snuggling into the curve of his body. “I need to talk to Mom and Ahab.”
“What are you going to tell them?”
“There’s a lot they should know, but I’d like to give them the good news first. After the year they’ve had, losing Missy like that . . . I really think they deserve to enjoy this for a little while before . . . “
“I can go along with that; whatever you say.”
“Can I get that in writing?” she said with a light laugh.
He knocked on the door and then impatiently knocked again. “Hold your horses, I’m coming,” Frohike called out. He pulled the door open. “What’s the hurry, man?”
“I need some help.” His tone drew the attention of the other two, and Byers approached them.
“What is it, Mulder?”
“What do you know about nasopharyngeal mass?”
The three men exchanged glances, finally Byers spoke. “It’s a cancer of the sinus that eventually goes into the brain.”
“What’s the treatment?”
“I, uh, there isn’t one. It’s too close to the brain for - “
“There has to be!” Mulder’s fist pounded the metal cabinet next to the desk.
Byers jerked back a step and Langly stared at him. Frohike’s hand came to rest on his arm. “Scully?”
Mulder’s eyes closed and he sagged against the desk.
“Oh god, Mulder, I’m sorry.” Byers moved toward him. “I didn’t . . . “
Mulder shook his head and straightened up. “I need you to check into it. See if anyone has any treatment, anything.”
“It’s our top priority, Mulder,” Byers said softly and looked over at Langly, who nodded.
“Thanks.” He turned toward the door. “Oh, and I want to invite you to our wedding.”
“Wedding?” Frohike was the first able to speak. “You and Scully?”
“Yes.” Mulder looked down at him, a look of defiance in his eyes.
Frohike looked him straight in the eye. “Congratulations. You couldn’t have picked a better woman.”
Mulder turned away, blinking. “I’ll get back to you with details.” He let himself out without another word. The three men exchanged glances again, then Langly sat forward and his fingers started dancing over the keyboard.
She stopped just before they got to the door. He turned to check on her. “You alright?”
“Do I look okay?”
He had to chuckle a little at that. “I think you look beautiful, but I don’t think you’ll get a completely objective opinion from me on that.” She blushed lightly and took the hand he offered. “I’m the one that’s supposed to be nervous, not you.”
“I know; I’ve just never come to them with this kind of news before.” He pulled her to him and kissed her brow lightly. “You’re right. Come on.” She rang the bell and very quickly her mother was before them, welcoming them in.
“I’m so glad you could come with Dana for lunch today, Fox. We don’t see enough of you.”
“I’ll have to make a point of coming by more often, Maggie.” He smiled as she gave him a hug.
“William is in the den, some game is on if you want to join him. Dana, why don’t you help me in the kitchen?”
“Sure, Mom.” She managed not to roll her eyes at his grin and followed her mother to the right as Mulder turned left.
He followed the sound of the television and saw her father in his favorite chair, watching football until he was summoned for lunch. The older man looked up as Mulder stopped in the doorway.
“Come on in. I’m not pulling for either team in this game, so if you have a preference . . .”
Mulder shook his head. “I’m more into basketball myself.” He took a seat on the sofa fidgeting slightly.
William noted Mulder’s nervousness. “What is it?” William sat up straighter and hit mute on the remote control.
“Excuse me?” Mulder looked back at him startled.
“Something’s on your mind. You’re wound tight as a tick. What is it?”
“Uh, I . . .” The older man’s eyes never left him. He took a deep breath, this wasn’t exactly what he’d planned, but - “Sir, I would like to marry your daughter.” There, the words were out.
William didn’t even blink. “Thought so. Does Maggie know?”
“No sir, I, I don’t think so.”
“She does,” he nodded sagely. “That’s why we’re having the rib eye roast. You should be impressed; she doesn’t do that for just anybody.”
Mulder stared at the man for a moment, then his lips started to twitch. “Does that mean I should relax?”
“Yes, but not too much. Can you support her? I know, she’s a doctor, but if she wanted to take time off with kids or something . . . “ William had looked away and missed the pain that came to Mulder’s eyes.
“You don’t have to worry about that, William.” If his voice sounded husky, her father didn’t seem to notice.
“Be good to her, she loves you a lot.” William harrumphed at that and looked back to the TV. “The wife will still have to grill you a little, but I think it’s a fine idea.” He rose and stuck out his hand and Mulder took it gratefully. After a moment the older man turned up the volume on the TV and they sat in silence thinking their own thoughts.
Maggie opened a bottle of champagne and they toasted over lunch. Mulder didn’t have to say much, for that matter neither did Scully. Maggie had taken over. Mulder watched that Scully only sipped the wine; she was only on over-the-counter drugs for headaches so far, but that wasn’t a topic for today.
“I need to get in touch with Father McCue, see when his schedule is free. And we need to talk about catering and flowers, and - “
“Mom, Mom please; just a minute. We’re talking about a very small wedding here, just the families and a few close friends.”
Maggie looked at her daughter, then over at Mulder. “Why? It’s your only wedding. You should have a wonderful, big ceremony. Don’t worry about the cost.”
“That’s not it and we’re going to be paying for the wedding ourselves, Mom, Ahab. It’s just that we don’t want to wait. We’re talking about a couple of weeks, the fourteenth.”
“The fourteenth!” Maggie set her glass back down on the table. “You can’t be serious. I, you’re not - “
“No!” Dana blushed at that and shook her head. “Mom, we both have careers and our time off is limited. We want to be married, not all the hoopla.”
“Are you talking about a justice of the peace?”
“No, Maggie.” Mulder stepped in there, “If Father McCue would agree to do the ceremony, we’d be fine with that. You know I’m not Catholic.”
“Dana’s never mentioned your religion.”
“Well, I don’t really . . . my mother is Jewish, but we never practiced. My father isn’t religious.”
“What about, what about children? Will you want to raise them as Jewish?”
“Mom - “
“No, Maggie. Any children that Dana and I have I want to be raised like her, not me. You don’t have to worry about that.”
Maggie looked deep into his eyes. A look of concern came over her face. “Sometime I’d like to talk to you about that.”
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Scully press a finger to her forehead. “I’d like that Maggie, but today unfortunately we’re going to have to get out of here. I hate to eat and run, but I have a major meeting tomorrow morning, and I am not prepared.”
“Oh, so soon? We have so much more to talk about.”
“I know, and I know time is shorter than you’d like, but we really have to go now.”
“Dana could stay. I can run you home later, Honey.”
Mulder shook his head. “She is my report. If I’m going to sound like I know what I’m talking about, she’s got to coach me on the language.”
Maggie sat back then. “Oh, well do you mind if I make some calls, get started?”
“That would be nice Mom. I’d really appreciate it, but please remember, small, intimate.”
Maggie squeezed Dana’s hand. “I promise; no taffeta and tulle. But I do think some flowers, music, don’t worry.”
“Thanks Mom. I’ll take care of all the clean up next time.” Maggie waved that off and watched Mulder lightly touch Scully’s shoulder. She looked up at Mulder as he held her chair. He took her hand as she stood. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
William rose as well and both of her parents walked them to the door. Hugs and congratulations were exchanged again and Mulder’s hand led her out to the car. Mulder opened the door for her and seated her, then waved back at the house and got in himself.
Maggie looked over at William. “Something else is going on.”
“I don’t know, but something.”
“You’re happy for them, aren’t you?”
“Oh yes. They’re good together, but something doesn’t feel . . . Come help me with the dishes.”
Mulder looked over at Scully. Her pain was obvious now. “Headache?”
“Put the seat back and close your eyes. I’m taking you home.” She did as he bade silently. He knew she would only take so much coddling, but she had gone along with his story to get out of there.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.