He was a little surprised that he had beaten her home, but she was out shopping for a dress with her mother. He checked the refrigerator but decided to wait. Maybe she’d like to go out to eat tonight and just relax.
He smiled when he heard the key in the lock and moved in that direction quickly. He opened the door and his eyes widened. “Shit.” He lifted her into his arms and kicked the door closed, then carried her into the bedroom.
He lay her gently on the bed and brushed her hair back. “What happened?”
She shook her head slightly. “I’m just tired.”
“Did you work all day before you met your mom?” He started to scold her, but she looked too beat already.
“I had a nosebleed while we were shopping.”
“A bad one?”
She shrugged slightly.
“Do you have a headache?”
She closed her eyes rather than answer.
“I’ll get you some medicine. Just relax.” He returned with her pills, a glass of water and a piece of toast, lightly buttered.
“I’m not hungry, Mulder.”
“You shouldn’t take the pills on an empty stomach.” She cut her eyes at him, but didn’t dispute it. “Now lie back.” She did, letting her eyes close. He cupped her face and brought his lips lightly to hers, then quietly slipped out of the room.
He headed for the kitchen, but the phone stopped him. He grabbed it up to keep her from being disturbed. “Hello?”
“Mulder, we’ve got something. Can you come by?”
He glanced toward the bedroom door. “I can’t leave now. What about lunch tomorrow?”
“We’ll be here. Is she okay?”
“She’s really tired.”
“Yeah, okay. Let her know we’re thinking about her.” Byers hung up, and Mulder turned. He realized she was standing in the door.
“What are you doing up? Did the phone wake you?”
She ignored that. “This is why I was hesitant to accept your proposal.”
“What?” He moved toward her, obviously disturbed by her words.
“You have somewhere you need to be, some evidence you need to check on, but I’m holding you back.”
“That’s not - “
“Mulder, I’m going to bed. You don’t need to watch me sleep.”
“Maybe not watch, but I’d like to hold you.” That got a tiny smile.
“Get out of here, Mulder.”
He sighed. “Let me tuck you in, then I’ll go.” She held out her hand to him and he grasped it gently.
Langly answered his knock. “I thought you couldn’t come tonight.”
“She tossed me out. I can’t stay long. What did you find?”
Byers had joined them and led the way to the desk. “There’s not a lot of data, Mulder, and the treatments seem to mostly make the patient miserable without prolonging . . . Anyway, this is what we found.” He motioned for Mulder to take the seat.
Frohike joined them. “Did you tell him about the anomaly?”
“Allentown, Pennsylvania. There’s a cluster of patients there. No correlations like work, but they’re all women and they all belong to the same Mufon group.”
Mulder gaped at them, “Mufon? Are you serious?”
“That’s why we didn’t want to talk over the phone.”
“You have names? Addresses?”
Byers handed him the sheet. Mulder scanned it quickly. “I need to get up there.”
“These women all claim to be abductees. Has Dana . . . “ Byers’ voice trailed off at his look. “Let us know what else you need.”
Mulder took the list and a printout of websites, and tucked them into his jacket pocket. “The wedding’s on the 14th at St. Gregory’s, 4 p.m.”
“We’ll be there.”
Mulder nodded his thanks and let himself out. They watched him silently.
With the dress out of the way, Mulder deemed nothing else should be secret from him. Scully’s meetings with her mother included him. Rather than subject her to the ordeal of meeting his parents, he orchestrated a dinner in a public place and made certain her parents also attended. Everyone was imminently civilized if her parent’s warmth was lacking from his own.
He really thought he was holding it together, and in front of her he did.
When he learned that Charlie and his family would be coming in a little early for the wedding, he readily agreed to a family dinner.
Mulder was moving toward the dining room when he heard a tap on the door and then it opened without waiting. A young boy that Mulder recognized blew in, followed by Mary holding the younger one. Will and Sam. Mary hugged Mulder, then chased after Will toward the kitchen.
Charlie dropped the suitcases just inside the door and took a deep breath, then shook Mulder’s hand. “Never travel with two kids under five.”
“I’ll make a note.” Mulder grinned.
“You move fast,” Charlie commented.
“The wedding? Yeah, I guess I do. I found the perfect woman.” His smile dimmed a little, but Charlie didn’t seem to notice.
“Perfect woman? Gotta remember, she’s my sister, I can tell you stories.”
“But you won’t.” Both men turned at the sound of her voice.
She took the ginger haired man into her arms and he returned the hug. Mulder saw the slight frown appear on his face. Charlie looked up at Mulder as he held her and started to make a comment. The slight shake of Mulder’s head stopped him. He stepped back and took a long look at his sister. “You look happy.”
“I am.” She smiled. “Come on, say hi to Mom.”
“I’ll take the luggage up,” Mulder offered.
“Wait for me. We’ve got a ton of it with the kids’ equipment.”
Mulder nodded and followed him toward the kitchen. After hugs were shared, Mulder and Charlie returned to the front of the house and made a first trip up to take the bags. Once in the guest room, Charlie turned to Mulder. “Is she okay?”
“What do you mean,” Mulder evaded, moving one of the suitcases from the floor to the bed.
Charlie looked at him for a long moment. “She’s never looked happier, but hasn’t she lost weight? I mean, she’s tiny to begin with, she doesn’t need to lose any and I saw the circles under her eyes. The makeup wasn’t that good.”
To his shock, Mulder sank onto the bed and let his shoulders slump. After an instant, Charlie pulled on his arm. “We need to get out of here for a few minutes.”
He led the taller man downstairs and grabbed up the car keys he’d tossed onto the foyer table.
“Mary!” he called toward the kitchen. “I’m going to pick up a couple of things. I’m stealing Mulder.” He didn’t wait for an answer, pulling open the door and nearly dragging Mulder outside.
“I can’t, I can’t leave.”
“Mary’s here. There’s nothing she can’t handle. She married me, didn’t she?” He grinned and Mulder followed him, taking the passenger’s seat in their minivan. Charlie pulled out of the driveway and headed west. He didn’t drive far, spotting a small park with playground equipment. He pulled over and parked. Charlie got out first and Mulder followed. They headed toward the equipment and took a seat on a bench near the swings.
After a moment, Charlie looked over at Mulder. “What’s going on?”
Mulder shrugged. “I . . . “
“Is something wrong with Dana?”
Reluctantly Mulder nodded.
“Is she sick?”
Mulder leaned back, looking up at the emerging stars. After a moment he responded. “Yeah. She, she has a tumor.”
“A tumor? Where?”
Mulder closed his eye and shifted on the bench. He let his face fall into his hands. “Near her brain.”
Charlie gaped at him then. “Are you . . . are you saying she’s got cancer?” He realized that Mulder was crying. Without hesitation Charlie took him into his arms as he would one of his sons.
They sat there a long time, until both men had regained their composure. “She doesn’t want anyone to know, at least until after the wedding.”
“That sounds like my sister,” Charlie sighed. “She can’t protect us like that.”
“She’s worried about how Mom . . . “
“I know; especially now, with Missy gone. Look, I won’t say anything, but I need more information. What’s her treatment? I mean, chemo, radiation?”
Mulder shook his head. “She isn’t . . . She says there isn’t an effective treatment. She’s not taking anything right now. Maybe after the wedding, but the treatments I’ve investigated aren’t . . . “
Charlie stared toward the playground equipment, not seeing it. “She would know; she would have investigated this. You can’t bullshit a doctor on this kind of thing.”
“She’s had nightmares that she’ll have a nose bleed in her wedding gown and ruin it before I can see it.”
“Jesus,” Charlie muttered.
Finally Mulder sat up. “I need to get back to her. Can you make sure she doesn’t realize you know?”
“Yeah. I can do that for her. Mulder, you’re not alone. You can call me. We can talk.” The look on Mulder’s face nearly caused Charlie to cry again, but he rose to his feet and held out his hand. “Come on. We need to pick up some beer or something. We need an excuse to be gone.”
Mulder nodded mutely and headed toward the car. He didn’t feel nearly as alone as he had.
Her brothers and Skinner joined the Gunmen for a bachelor party. Watching Bill and Skinner with his friends was the best part of the evening for him and Charlie, though he kept quiet about that.
Returning to an empty apartment that evening was almost more than he could handle. Maggie had insisted that they not see each other prior to the ceremony and Mulder wanted to kick himself for not insisting on an 8 a.m. ceremony. After a bad night, with a multitude of bad dreams, he found he had to entertain his parents, who inexplicitly seemed to want to spend time together with him. That didn’t make the time pass any faster. He was delighted when Charlie came to rescue him, taking him to the church to get dressed.
“How’s she doing?” he asked Charlie as soon as they were alone.
“Good. She had her hair done and she’s excited. She seems to have a lot of energy.”
“No. It’ll be okay, Mulder.”
The taller man nodded. They both dressed, then Charlie watched as Mulder paced. When Mulder realized what he was doing, he looked over at Charlie, smiling ruefully.
“You know you’re supposed to be nervous,” Charlie said grinning.
Mulder looked startled. “I’m not nervous about getting married. I just want to see her.”
“I know.” Charlie looked down at his watch. “It won’t be long now.”
Very shortly Father McCue joined them and led them to the small chapel. When the doors opened and Captain Scully led his Scully into the aisle, Mulder felt his jaw drop slightly. She looked incredible. Her mother had talked her into a wedding gown rather than the suit that she had originally thought about. The gown had a short train and the veil did not cover her face. The empire waist accentuated her bust line and lace covered the bodice. The long sleeves had lace at the V-point that covered the back of her hands, very traditional, very elegant. Her father’s dress whites matched beautifully.
When they reached Mulder, the Captain gave Dana a kiss, then placed her hand in Mulder’s. The ceremony was short, Charlie didn’t lose the rings and Mulder finally heard the priest say the words he’d waited for. “You may kiss your bride.”
He didn’t wait for a second invitation.
The reception was short, following what felt like a massive photographic session. Mulder had vetoed a dinner, wanting to get her away and alone with him as soon as possible.
They cut the cake, fed each other, and toasted with champagne, then they slipped away to change clothes.
After traversing a gauntlet of rice, they made it to the car, which had been decorated by his ‘dear’ friends. Scully laughed out loud when she realized there actually were tin cans tied to the bumper.
She settled back in the seat finally, sighing. He looked over to see her smile.
“A penny for your thoughts, Mrs. Mulder.”
Her smile grew. “You can’t afford these thoughts, Mr. Mulder.” She placed her hand on his thigh and he covered it with his own. They were quiet then, remembering the day.
She sat up a little. “Mulder, you missed the turn.”
“What turn?” He didn’t look at her, but she could see his grin.
“The turn to the apartment.”
“Oh, well, I only missed it if I had planned to turn there.”
“And where else had you planned to turn?” Suspicion was growing in her voice.
“Toward our honeymoon.”
“Honeymoon? I thought we were staying home, locking ourselves in, and not answering the phone.”
“We’re doing that too, just not at the apartment.”
“You’re serious.” She turned to him then. “Mulder, I didn’t pack.”
“I know,” he grinned as his voice dropped. “I did it for you. It was a real education rummaging through your underwear drawer.”
“You pervert.” But she was smiling then and he marveled at her trust in him. “Do I get to know where we’re going?”
“I guess I could let you in on it.”
“Gee, thanks.” But her eyes were gleaming.
“Cape Cod. It may be too cool to swim, but I think we can find other things to do.”
“You think? Do we have reservations?”
“I know we didn’t talk about this.” For the first time he seemed insecure.
“You know I trust you.”
“That’s good to know. I got us the Chauffeur’s Cottage at Alyce’s Dunscroft by the Sea.”
Her eyes widened and she seemed speechless.
“I, I’ve heard about it, but I never thought I’d . . . How? How did you do that with such little notice?”
“Oh, that. I can be charming. It’s a stretch - “
“I think you’re pretty terrific,” she said quietly.
He lifted her hand to his lips, then turned toward the airport.
They found their seats in first class and settled in. He held her hand as the plane taxied and took off. She was looking out the window, but he was watching her and moved closer when he saw her wince in pain. “Scully? What is it?”
“Just a little headache.”
Immediate concern colored his face. “The air pressure. I didn’t think - “
“It’s okay. I have some medication.”
He pushed the button to summon the stewardess and got her some water. When the woman returned she handed the bottle to Mulder, then her head came up. “Oh honey, I’ll get you a warm cloth.”
Mulder’s head swiveled toward Scully and he saw the blood coming from her nose. “God, I’m sorry. I should have - “
“Mulder, relax. It’s okay, I’m okay.”
“But I should have realized. We’ll drive home.”
“Mulder, eight hours in a car versus two hours in a plane? You made the right decision.”
He didn’t respond; taking the warm, wet cloth from the stewardess. Scully thanked her, but Mulder’s attention was only on his bride.
After she had cleaned up and downed her medicine, she settled back and took Mulder’s hand. “Please don’t let this spoil things.”
“I’m not. I just need to think things through.”
“I’d prefer you didn’t,” she retorted. “I don’t want my illness to be the first consideration of everything we say or do. At least not yet.”
He nodded, lifting the armrest that separated them and holding her close. She sighed and relaxed against him, falling asleep shortly. He didn’t release her until the wheels being lowered woke her.
She sat up, straightening her clothes. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep, but I guess it’s a good thing.”
“I plan to be up late tonight.” Her eyebrow rose and his smile looked more genuine.
The medicine seemed to work, at least she didn’t seem to be in pain any longer and there were no more nose bleeds by the time they landed.
When they pulled up in front of the inn, Scully’s eyes were huge. She exited the car and stood looking out at the private beach. “Mulder, this is incredible.”
“Wait until you see the room.” He handed the keys to the valet and led her inside to register. By the time they reached the cottage, their bags had been delivered and the king-size bed turned down. She stood in the main room, her hand caressing the fabric of the loveseat, facing the fireplace.
“Do you think it will be cool enough for a fire?”
“Count on it,” he murmured in her ear. “Why don’t you get comfortable, maybe a bubble bath and I’ll order us some dinner.”
“I like the way you think. Don’t suppose you could join me in the tub after you order?” His smile took her breath away.
While she let herself into the spacious bathroom, he placed a quick call to confirm their meal, laid a fire ready to be lit while they ate, then hurried to join her. The bath was steamy and the lights were low, but candles gleamed from several surfaces around the room. She was in the double garden tub, her head resting on a small pillow with her eyes closed. Her hands were drifting in the warm water, making tiny waves that crested on her breasts. He had to stop and just look at her for a long moment.
She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Get undressed, Mulder,” she murmured and he lost no time complying.
They sat in their robes in front of the fire, feeding each other the seafood that was brought to the room in between kisses and caresses. Mulder rolled the cart outside when they were through and hung the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.
They made love most of the night, savoring each other slowly and thoroughly. The sun was high when she woke to find him watching her.
“What? Was I snoring?” She stretched, smiling.
He shook his head. “No. I just love to watch you sleep. You look so innocent.”
“Are you implying that I’m not really innocent?”
The gleam in his eye sent her eyebrow rising. “After last night, I don’t think ‘innocent’ is a word that really applies.”
“Have I been insulted?” She started to rise, but his body pressed hers down into the mattress and breakfast was immediately forgotten.
When they finally managed to leave the room, they walked on the private beach holding hands. He brought her up to date on the plans he’d made for their week - whale watching, a tour of Hyannisport, a trip to the Raynham Flea Market to find a couple of pieces for the apartment that would be theirs, and the Wellflet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
By mutual consent what they were facing wasn’t mentioned. This was their oasis of time and they made it memorable. When they returned to real life, they would have to discuss options and plans. For now, they were together.
Author’s note: Just wanted to take a minute to thank you all for the support and love you have all given me during these past couple of weeks. This is just the best group of people out there. Thank you all -- D
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.