Dana Scully came into her office and was glad to see that her partner wasn't in yet. She was in one of those moods in which she was even glad the office was in the basement where she couldn't see the light of day. She set her briefcase down, got a cup of coffee that looked as though it was left over from someone's bad Monday morning, and settled down to sort some paper work that a clerk normally would have been doing if there was any money in the Federal Budget for clerks anymore. The phone rang. Since the office was empty, she hit speaker.
"Dana, it's Frank.."
"Oh hi, Frank," she said putting a smile in her voice. Her date with him had not gone well the night before. He was an agent working out of the Baltimore office, and she'd seen him a few times. He was handsome and charming. Last night he had taken her out to dinner, but at the end of the evening had become very very physical and hadn't wanted to take no for an answer. She hadn't expected to hear from him again, but was pleased that he had called. He would apologize, and they could pick up where they had left off. After all, you can't blame a guy for trying right?
"I just want you to know, Scully, you can get yourself another date for your cousin's wedding. I've spent a lot of money on yo, and I don't do that with a woman unless I get something in return."
"Frank, when a man takes a woman out to dinner the only thing he is entitled to is a polite thank you. I don't put out for a guy just because he feeds me," she replied angrily.
"Yeah, well, I know about you, Scully. Jack Willis told us all what a bitch you are. Scully, the Ice Queen. Are you gay or have you been f---ing Spooky Mulder so long you don't know how to do it with a real man?"
"This conversation is at an end," she snapped hitting the hangup button. Since it was on speaker, she didn't even have the satisfaction of slamming the receiver down in his ear. She lowered her head unto her arms fighting the urge to cry. Did everyone screw up their personal relationships as badly as she did? How did she manage to find these winners? What was wrong with her anyway? Up until this moment, Frank had seemed a nice man. He was a gorgeous guy.
Anyone else would have slept with him. Why couldn't she learn to relax and enjoy herself? Was there something wrong with her, really wrong? Damn Jack and his mouth anyway, and damn Frank Ambrose for saying that about Mulder. That was really a low blow against her partner and friend.
"You okay, Scully?" a gentle voice asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she looked up. "You heard." It was an observation, not a question.
"I have to tell you I'm a little surprised you went out with Frank. He's married. That doesn't seem your style."
"He's what?" she shrieked.
"Married. His wife is pregnant."
"Oh God, it's only 8:30 in the morning. No, Mulder..no..this day just can't get any worse," she sighed. "I didn't know."
He studied her carefully for a moment. She really looked on the verge of tears. The only time he'd ever seen her cry was after she'd been abducted by Donnie Pfaster. He wondered just how much gossip about them was really out there. He tended to be oblivious to such things. He didn't really give a damn about what they thought of him, but it might be different for her. Being assigned to work with Spooky Mulder wasn't the greatest thing that could happen in anyone's career, but being accused of sleeping with him...well...that, plus given how much of the double standard still existed, it couldn't be easy on her.
"Like I say, Mulder, this day just can't get any worse." She reached into her desk draw and pulled out two aspirin. Swallowing them quickly, she added, "I'm really sorry you heard that. I'm not gay, and I feel sure in my mind that you are a real man." With that she managed a faint smile and turned back to her work.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," he chuckled. He decided that he too had better get to work.
Not a half hour later, just as the throbbing in Dana's head had begun to ease, the door opened and a very pregnant woman came bursting in.
"So you're the one. You're the little bitch who's been screwing my husband. I hope you are satisfied, you goddamn little slut."
"Excuse me?" said Dana getting to her feet.
"Don't lie. I know you and Frank have been doing it."
"You must be Mrs. Ambrose," she said softly admonishing herself to be calm."I went out to dinner with your husband, Mrs. Ambrose. I didn't know he was married, and I most assuredly did not go to bed with him."
"Liar," raged the woman."You're a liar."
"Mrs. Ambrose," said Fox getting up and slipping his arm around Dana's shoulder. He could feel her shaking, "if Dr. Scully says she didn't sleep with your husband, then she didn't. This woman is not the problem. Frank Ambrose is, and if you don't calm down, I'll have to have you removed."
"What am I going to do? What the hell am I doing to do?" she raved. The woman turned and left the office as quickly as she had come in.
"Poor soul," whispered Dana, "There but for the grace of God go I. Thanks, Mulder." She extricated herself from his arm. "I didn't know what to say to her. Jeez, I sure do know how to pick them. Jack Willis, Frank Ambrose. I should have become a nun."
"No way." He smiled. "Then you couldn't be my partner."
"Are you doing anything tomorrow, Mulder?" she asked him suddenly, definitely on the spur of the moment.
"Laundry," he replied. "Lot's and lot's of laundry."
"I'll make a deal with you. If you'll take me to Sinead's wedding, you can use my washer/ dryer when we get back."
"I don't have a tux," he said
"Hey. We are talking my cousin Sinead here. Your FBI uniform is fine," she smiled at him. "They had to put the wedding together rather quickly. She and Tim got a little carried away one night, and they want to do it while she can still wear the dress."
"Why am I not surprised? I take it Frank was going to be your date."
"Yeah...normally I wouldn't need one, but Vinnie the Lech is going to be there. He's been putting the moves on me for years. If he tries anything, I'll have to twist his testicles off in public, and I don't want to be the one to make a scene at my cousin's wedding.
I'm hoping a nice tall date will discourage him."
"Vinnie the Lech huh? You want me to protect you from Vinnie the Lech."
"No,"she laughed. "I want you to protect Vinnie the Lech from me."
"Oh I get to twist his testicles off? Sounds like fun. You just let me know when to be there Scully. Why did they invite him anyway?"
"You know how it is. He's the son of an old family friend, and no one could think of a way not to include him. Thanks, Mulder.
You're a good friend. I think you will enjoy it. It will be different from any other wedding you've been to I'm sure."
The truth was, that he was delighted at the prospect of taking Dana to her cousin's' wedding. They didn't socialize much outside of work, not because they didn't like each other's company ,but because they worked so much and because to do so was potentially dangerous for them. The FBI rather frowned on partners becoming involved with one another, so they had to be careful. Still, he couldn't help but be happy at the thought of seeing her in something other than her work clothes, of dancing with her, having his arms around her. He pushed that thought away as he chose his most conservative tie to wear to her house. Then, he packed up the laundry in a bag and headed out the door.
"Hi, Mulder," she smiled when she saw him. She thought to herself that he looked gorgeous in the dark blue suit with the white shirt and a tie she didn't hate even though the laundry bag kind of ruined the picture. "Go put that by the washer. I'm nearly ready."
The wedding took place in an old fashioned Catholic Church. It was rather dark with pretty stained glass windows. Fox didn't quite understand the concept of lighting candles to statues of saints and had been rather surprised to see Dana do so when they had entered the church.
"It's for my dad," she said softly as though reading his thoughts. "My dad really believed." She'd smiled at him then. "At least this church still has real candles. A lot of them have converted to electric. It's a little too much like putting your quarter in and praying to Potomac Power and Light."
They had taken their places, and Fox found himself thinking about how beautiful she looked. She was wearing a rather long green dress with a tie at the back. She had let her hair fall in its natural wave, and the only jewelry she wore was the earrings he had bought her for her birthday. He didn't know that the dress was new, that she had bought it to match his gift just the night before, that she hadn't planned to wear the earrings for Frank because she considered them so special. He had no idea. He studied the groom Tim, whose normally ruddy complexion was deathly pale. The man looked terrified as he waited with the best man. He wondered why anyone wanted to get married at all. Suddenly the music started, and Sinead came down aisle dressed in white. Mulder's breath caught in his throat. Beneath the veil she looked so much like Dana that it was frightening. For an instant, he saw himself in Tim's place waiting, waiting while Dana walked toward him...He pushed that thought away very very quickly.
Such a thing would never be possible, not for him, not for Fox Mulder.
Even if he should ever be lucky enough to be loved that much by her, he had other things to do. He still needed to find Sam and nothing, absolutely nothing, not even Dana Scully, was more important than that. That was what he told himself. He couldn't give up his search for anyone, not anyone, and he couldn't trade his sister for anything in the world. No matter what, Samantha had to come first in his life.
Dana was right about the wedding being different from anything he had ever been to. It was great, just a big hall with homemade decorations and long tables allowing people to sit where they wanted to. No pretensions, no show business. Apparently, no one gave a damn about who fought with whom, and if Aunt Sadie and Aunt Rose couldn't stand each other, they could just sit on opposite sides of the room or fight it out as they saw fit. Dana got them seats at a table with her mother and the rest of her family. It required moving some plates and dragging a chair, but that didn't stop her. Then the music started and that too was unlike anything he'd ever heard. It was traditional Irish music. Fox found himself alone at the table briefly with Gran McBride, who had apparently returned from Ireland for the occasion.
He thought she was incredible.
"And how are you, Wolf?" she asked him.
"I'm fine, Mrs. McBride." He smiled. "You are looking lovely today."
"Aye and you're a charmer lad. You might as well call me Gran like they all do. It'll be soon enough anyway. You didn't do what I told you to do."
"We are work partners, Mrs... Gran," he said. "I couldn't do what you said. Not," he smiled, "that I find the thought unappealing."
"Mrs. Gran. Well I suppose that will have to be good enough for now but remember I'm an old woman. I can't wait for too long to see that glow on Dana's face."
"And what glow would that be, Mrs. Gran?"
"The one that comes when the right man loves you well. Whether you do or whether you don't, Wolf Muldoon, the little dark haired girl won't be found any faster. Maybe..maybe when you find her they'll tell you what happened to my Brendan,"she said seriously. After all the years it still hurt to think of the little red haired two year old she'd lost.
"They say he fell from the rocks into the sea, but I know better.
My dear little Brendan. They took him, the grey devils. I saw them.
You've seen them too," she sighed. "Thought I was mad they did, with my talk of banshees. Had to leave home we did, come to Amerikay."
"Mom," smiled Margaret Scully returning from the ladies room, "stop scaring Fox with those Banshee stories. No one believes in banshees anymore. My mom is the only woman I know that still leaves a bowl of milk outside for the fairies." She smiled. "Oh they are playing a waltz. You must dance with me, Fox. I insist."
The truth was, Mulder felt a little left out. He had declined to dance. He didn't know the steps. He would have felt foolish. He was content to watch Dana and her cousins do the jigs and reels and to talk to Gran McBride. He wished he could have an uninterrupted conversation with the woman and one that didn't involve his having sex with her granddaughter. Oh well. She was very old. He preferred to talk about banshees, and he believed her story, but there was never time to tell her.
"That was lovely ,Fox," smiled Margaret when the music ended. "You dance almost as well as my Bill."
"You miss him don't you, Mrs. Scully?"
"Oh yes, but I don't want to think about sad things today."
"Uncle Wolf...Uncle Wolf," said a little voice. He looked down and there was Eileen Scully, her hair in long dark curls, looking up at him. "Will you dance with me?"
"You are a bold little vixen," smiled Margaret, "and you should call him Mr. Mulder."
"Gran says he's going to be Uncle Wolf as soon as he and Aunt Dana make me a baby cousin," she explained."I hope you make me a baby cousin soon. I like babies."
"Well, Eileen, " he said "don't count on it, but I'll be happy to dance with you." He lifted her up and waltzed her around for a few minutes. He returned her to her Dad with a smile, thinking Bill a lucky man to have such a fine family, and did a quick check to see where Vinnie the Lech was. Mulder saw that he was pestering Melissa, and that Chuck was handling the problem, and headed back to his seat.
Dana swooped up suddenly and put her arm around his waist.
"Come dance with me." She smiled. "They're going to play If Ever You Were Mine. It's my favorite." She looked up at him as the music started. He understood immediately why she loved it. It was a beautiful, slow song with a haunting melody and to his American "Elvis" trained ears, ancient and exotic. It touched something inside of him. He tightened his arm around her a little and for a moment she lay her head against his shoulder. The music built in intensity, and he realized that he didn't want it to end. He wanted to stay like this forever with his arm around Dana's waist and her head resting against him. It was not possible of course. The music had to end.
The moment had to end with it. Once again, she was Dana Scully, his partner and his friend, nothing more. The magic was gone, gone but not forgotten.
"Looks like it's time to eat," she smiled, "I'm starved. Let's hit the buffet. Keep your eyes open because Vinnie has made his way through Shelagh, Siobhan and Melissa. That means my turn is next."
"Does he always go in that order?" laughed Fox.
"As usual, good old Dana is the last one on any guys list," she chuckled.
"Hey. That's not true Scully. I happen to know that you are number one on Frohicke's list of hot females."
"I guess you don't really want to use my washer/dryer that badly," she laughed. "Frohicke indeed."
They loaded up plates and grabbed a couple of bottles of beer and returned to the table. Conversation was light and bantering while everyone ate more than they needed.
"You looked good with Eileen, Fox," said Melissa. "You'll make a wonderful daddy one day when you and Dana get around to making that baby cousin she keeps telling everyone she's been promised."
"That will be the day," he said fighting a blush.
"Aye, and it better be soon," said Gran. "I promised her you'd make her a baby cousin soon."
"I know. She told me," Mulder replied dryly supposing when you were 90 you didn't really care who you embarrassed.
"If you all will excuse me,"said Dana. "I think I'll go powder my nose." She got up quickly and headed for ladies. She stayed there as long as she could diplomatically do so and headed back to her dinner in the hope that the topic of conversation had changed in her absence.
"Uh oh," said Margaret. "Here comes Dana, and Vinnie the Lech is getting ready to make his move."
"Aye lad," laughed Gran. "Time to strut, Wolf."
"Oh brother. Excuse me. This was just great," he
thought. "Everyone was going to watch him now. He'd be the one to start the brawl and ruin the wedding. Vinnie had Dana against the wall, and she wasn't looking happy. Mulder approached and "accidentally" bumped into the far shorter man, "Excuse me, Vincenzo," he said quietly, "but that's private property you are trespassing on."
"Says who?" he asked belligerently.
"Oh yeah, and just what are you going to do about it?"
"This is not going according to plan," thought Fox. "I am supposed to be subtle. What I am going to do," he said very very softly, "is to twist your f-----g balls off if I see you looking at any of the Scully women, and then Vincenzo, I'm going to call the IRS and have them audit your taxes. They tend to cooperate with the FBI in matters like that."
"Okay...Okay," he muttered giving Dana one last lustful and longing look. '"Jeez, Dana, what zoo did you find him in?" He walked away somewhat chastened. He might have been willing to risk his testicles for one of the Scully sisters, but he sure wasn't about to risk the IRS.
Dana was still laughing when they got back to their seat. "Now why didn't I think of that?" she asked. "It was perfect."
"What did you say to him, Fox?" asked Melissa
"Mulder threatened to sic the IRS on him," laughed Dana. "He went distinctly pale."
They finished eating and danced some more. Sinead and Tim cut their wedding cake and fed each other. Then it was time to toss the bouquet and the garter. The idea was that Melissa was supposed to catch the bouquet. The cousins had planned it that way. Dana didn't want to go up with them at all. She thought the tradition was stupid, but she was forced by Gran because she was after all, still single.
Sinead's throw was a little off, so of course Dana got the bouquet.
She rolled her eyes. She would never hear the end of it. She wished she could give it to Melissa who was really in love with Chuck and who liked that sort of silliness.
Need-less-to say, Vinnie the Lech caught the garter. It was one of those inevitabilities of life. Fox rolled his eyes. He had really tried to catch it just so Vinnie wouldn't. Now he would have to do something about it. The thought of getting his hand between Dana's legs was so profoundly overwhelming to Vinnie, he nearly forgot about the IRS. So ecstatic was he, he did forget about Mulder...
momentarily. He got a rude awakening when Mulder stepped in front of him and said very quietly, "The garter Vinnie."
"I said give me the f-----g garter," Fox whispered between clenched teeth, "or the IRS will seem mild..." At that point Vinnie noticed that Bill, Chris and Kevin Scully were closing in on three sides and that Tim was getting ready to provide backup on the fourth. Chuck was lingering in the background waiting to see where he was needed. Vinnie "knew" about the Irish. They were always fighting about something. They'd love an excuse to pound someone. Not even the Scully sisters were worth that, not to this Italian Stallion.
"Okay,Okay," he muttered handing it to Fox.
"I just want you to know I hate this, Mulder," whispered Dana as someone pulled a chair over for her to sit on.
"Yeah, well so do I, Scully," he said, "but would you like me to give it back to Vinnie?"
"Unh Unh...no way," she replied lifting her dress so that he could slide it over her foot. He felt himself go red in the face as cries of "Higher, higher." rang out around him.
"Oh, jeez," muttered Dana. "Go for it, and let's get this over with, Mulder." She plastered a grin on her face as he shoved the garter up her leg as high as he could get it. She told herself she didn't like it. Then, in removing his hand he accidentally brushed a very private spot. His face wasn't the only thing that the blood was rushing to.
"Keep it up, Mulder," she muttered. "You are asking for it."
"It's staying up by itself, Scully," he hissed. "And don't make promises you aren't going to keep. Be a good girl now and dance with me like you are supposed to."
She couldn't help herself. Normally she ignored his teasing and innuendos, but this was too funny. Also she'd had a couple of beers.
She dissolved into a fit of giggling and once again rested her face on his shoulder as they danced.
"And to think I could be doing this with Vinnie the Lech," she laughed. "Maybe I don't know what I missed."
They were quiet on the ride home. When they got to her house, she pointed in the direction of the laundry room while she went to put coffee on, and then she went to change. When she came back he was sitting on her couch with his feet propped up on her coffee table looking very much at home. He smiled at her when she came in, thinking how pretty she looked in old jeans and a shirt with her make up off. He decided he liked her best like that. She handed him a mug of coffee and a bowl with a bag of sunflower seeds. Across the top lay the blue and white garter.
"Thought you might like a souvenir of the wedding," she smiled sipping her own cup of brew.
He laughed aloud. "Thanks," he said. "I'll put it in the draw with the condoms from your birthday. I sincerely hope you invite me to another family occasion soon. My collection is growing more interesting each time. I wonder what it will be next. A baby cousin for Eileen maybe." He waggled is eyebrows at her.
She picked up one of the pillows from her couch and started pounding him with it until he cried Uncle. Then they settled down to watch "Four Weddings and a Funeral" while his clothes washed, with Dana sitting on the opposite end of the sofa, safely out of reach of any man thinking about making a baby cousin for Eileen.