Dana felt bored and restless. She had already cleaned the apartment from top to bottom that week, scrubbing everything that could be scrubbed and dusting everything that could be dusted. Except for the daily mess that Krycek, their parrot, made her apartment looked almost like her apartment again, spotless and neat with everything put away. The only sunflower seeds laying about belonged to the bird. It should have given her a feeling of satisfaction, but it didn't. It just felt empty. She felt empty. Fox was still on light duty, so Skinner had sent him to speak about serial killers at a law enforcement conference in Florida where he would be able to spend his afternoons lying on the beach. Unfortunately, they had not been able to spare her. She was desperately needed in forensics as they had two people out, one sick, one on maternity leave. She had had to remain at home alone. It was the first time they had really been seperated since they had gotten married in October, and she felt incomplete. There was nothing left to clean. She eyed the chair where Fox still managed, despite a big improvement in neatness levels, to toss his jacket every night when they came home from work. Strange, it didn't look right without that dark blue or gray fabric tossed across its back. She missed that suit jacket sitting there waiting for the non existent maid to hang it up.
She hoped he was relaxing in Fort Lauderdale, perhaps doing some light swimming, now that the cast was finally off. She hoped there were not too many women. Although Mulder was actually quite shy with them, they were attracted to him like bees to flowers, and she couldn't help but be a little jealous no matter how hard she worked at controlling it. Having such a good looking, sexy husband had its advantages, but its disadvantges as well. Other women liked him! He called her every night, of course, and they talked, but it wasn't the same as lying in bed with him. She had grown so accustomed to curling up next to him and resting in his arms or being pressed against his back, that she had difficulty falling asleep at night. She missed making love. It was unusual for them to miss a night unless it was her time of the month, and it had already been four that he had been gone. Dana felt an ache deep inside her. She needed him. She sighed. She felt that tell tale pain on her left side, the one that told her that now was the time to try to make that very much wanted baby, but there was no one home to make it with and wouldn't be for two more days. For just herself, she didn't bother cooking as she had gotten in the habit of doing for him, and had been surviving on sandwiches and salads. Even the books she had planned to catch up on while he was gone hadn't had the appeal that they might have. Fox had become the center of her universe, and it was empty without him. Well, at least in theory, he was safe, and he would be home in two more days. She smiled faintly. He would come in the door, and her immaculate home would be an instant mess. She couldn't wait.
Finally deciding that it was stupid to sit around and brood any longer, Dana decided to take herself out shopping. She and Fox were really ridiculous. They had more damned money than they knew what to do with, and they never seemed to spend any of it. It just kept growing. Her paycheck paid all the bills and his just sat in the checking account. Part of the reason was that they didn't need anything, and part of it was that they didn't have much time to shop, but now she did, so rather than sit around any longer, she decided to make herself go to the mall. She treated herself to a decent meal, and then looked at pant suits that would be appropriate for work. She stopped in front of a maternity store and sighed. Maybe it was a waste to buy clothes now. She would be pregnant soon and wouldn't be able to wear them. She would, she reassured herself. She definitely would. But it was silly to hesitate. Again she reminded herself she had plenty of money and bought herself an Armani suit in a lovely teal color that brought out her eyes. That, of course, required shoes. She had always been something of a shoe addict. Well, she had killed an empty hour and couldn't think of another thing....well, yes, she could use some underwear. She had been hoping that Fox, having ripped off all but one pair of the purple underwear he had insisted on buying her on their honeymoon, would suggest another trip to Victoria's Secret, but he had been quite busy inspite of being on light duty. So far, he hadn't had the energy after work. She decided that she would surprise him and took herself. This time, Dana shopped for a red head. She bought beautiful dark greens and teals, yellows and golds, all the autumn colors. Then she purchased a few sets of absolutely hideous underwear, bras and panties with big daisies, or geometric shapes, patterns that were distinctly Mulderesque. Unlike his ties, however, the rest of the world would fortunately not have to look at them. He would be the only one other than her who would have to see them. She would close her eyes. He would enjoy them and think they were lovely before taking them off of her. Mulder had no sense of what was "tacky." It was part of what she loved about him.
She still wasn't quite satisfied, however, and perused the mall restlessly. She browsed in a book store and bought her husband the latest alien abduction book. He always enjoyed them. They made him laugh aloud. She picked up some of her favorite perfume and some scented soap from the San Francisco soap company. Fox's favorite was lemon. It had been what she had used when they had soaked together in her bathtub on their wedding night. He hadn't forgotten and would have preferred it if it was the only scent she ever used because it triggered such happy images in his eidetic memory. She liked a little variation, however. Finally, feeling as though she had shopped too much, she headed back toward their car and realized that a new store had been opened. Sexy Images, it was called. There was a display of very, to put it mildly, exotic sleepwear in the window. Dana hesitated. She felt silly going into a place like that. The pretty green night gown Fox had bought her was the sexiest thing she'd ever really had, and it was discreet compared to what was displayed here. She preferred more modest nightgowns, comfortable cotton....but Fox might enjoy the sight of her in something more revealing, something wild. Perhaps she could surprise him! She swallowed and went in. What she came out with was a black transparent lace teddy that had all the necessary parts cut out, with fishnet stockings and a garter. It was more appropriate for a high priced"working girl" than an FBI agent, and it had taken all her nerve to purchase it, but she knew, she just knew, that when he walked in the door, Fox would be delighted to see her in it. The idea of what he would do with her then sent tingles down her spine. Maybe it wouldn't be too late to make that baby after all. Fox Mulder sat on the beach in Fort Lauderdale thinking about home. It was where he wanted to be. So far, three tall brunettes had tried to pick him up, all minimally clad, all busty, and one more beautiful than the next That was only today. Yesterday, it had been blonds and a single black haired beauty. He sighed. He thought perhaps there was something wrong with him, but the thought of doing anything with any of them had little appeal. He kept thinking of his tiny redhaired wife, who wore a size 32 B bra if it was cut small, and who would never dream of trying to pick up a man. Once again, he realized how appealing it was to have been her sole lover. He smiled slightly. He, perhaps had every man's fantasy, a sexy, beautiful woman who had been exclusively his. The "blessed virgin Dana" as her family had called her, had turned into a wonderful lover, just for him. He really really wanted to go home to the woman who preferred to wear long nightgowns and pajamas, but liked it just as well when he took them off. Fort Lauderdale would have been beautiful, if only Dana could have been with him. On the other hand, there was a small part of him that was jealous and said that if she were here, she would be wearing a bikini and other men would look. Oh, well. He would be going home tomorrow. They would be together again. He thought idly that he hoped she had remembered to wear the padded gloves he had bought her for when she fed Krycek in his absence. He didn't want to come home and find her bloodied in battle or Krycek being served for dinner. Since they had come back from Martha's Vineyard, and in spite of the talk she had had with his pet, the bird had not reformed in the least. It continued to try to bite her, and refused to say "Hey, pretty lady." It had, however, learned to shriek "Goddam it, Dana," over and over between "Help, Murders" not to mention, and this was truly awful, "Open your legs, Scully." He had sworn up and down on his life that he had never said it within earshot of the bird, but he wasn't sure his wife believed him. She said he had to have done so "accidently." Either that, or the damn thing had very big ears and had heard them that time in the kitchen when they had.....Well, suffice it to say, he had snuck up behind his wife in the kitchen one day while she was cooking dinner. She had been amenable to taking "requests" at that particular moment Something extraordinary had happened. Dinner had burnt to a crisp, and the Take Out Taxi had been called on HER night to cook. Dana was, however, a jewel among women. She hadn't called Krycek Phoebe once or killed him or anything...so far, inspite of his motor mouth, at least not since before the Fort Lauderdale trip. If she was serving Cornish Game Hens when he got home, he better check the cage before eating ! A lot could happen in a short period of time. Krycek could tell her to....well, he could run his parrot beak once too often.
Dana had wanted to pick him up at the airport, but he had insisted that he would get a cab and in a way, she was glad. It would give her the chance to get the Cornish Game Hens she planned to make stuffed and ready, and change into her new "outfit." First things first. She got out the sunflower seeds for Krycek, and inserted her hand into the cage, forgetting the gloves, of course. She reached for the food dish. The bird immediately bit her so hard she shrieked. He had gotten her right in the tender spot between thumb and forefinger. Her hand began to bleed. She wiped away the blood and told him that he could easily become dinner. Then she repeated over and over to herself as she got the gloves that she loved her husband, and her husband loved the freaking bird, only she didn't use the word freaking. "I will not kill this bird. I will not kill this bird." The phrase had become Dana's mantra.
"You know," she told it, "I could cook you with those hens, and Fox would never know the difference."
"Open your legs, Scully," he screeched. She reached for it. "Help, murder, Help, Murder." Finally, her emotions under control, she just laughed. The stupid thing didn't know what it was saying. It was just the world's greatest mimic. Fox was coming home. The hell with Krycek. After today, she wouldn't have to feed it. She hopped in the shower with the lemon scented soap, and let her hair fall into its natural wave as it dried. Fox liked it that way, natural, and she wore it that way when she wasn't working. It had gotten quite long again, but he didn't want her to cut it. She would have preferred it shorter, but when he had time, he loved to brush it at night. Then, she slipped into the black teddy. It felt strange, not at all like her. It didn't look like her either. She found herself with distinctly ambiguous feelings about it. She wasn't at all shy about being naked in front of him, and there probably wasn't much left that they hadn't tried with each other, no parts of each other they hadn't explored, but this made her feel a little uncomfortable. She cursed her conservative upbringing, wanting only to give him pleasure. He would enjoy it. He had spent years watching adult videos and must have found this sort of thing sexy, although since they had been married, he hadn't bothered, at least not when she had been around. With the makeup she had put on, she didn't think she really looked like her, but it was only pretend for the man she had married and loved so much.
"Guess it's just as well you became a doctor, Scully," she thought. "You probably wouldn't make it as a hooker." She decided that the outfit needed high heels. Gee, that made her 5'4" and didn't do a thing for her bust! Oh, well. One had to work with what one had. She heard the key in the lock and ran to the living room curving her hips sideways in what she thought, hoped, was a sexy pose. She expected him to look, to waggle his eyebrows, to whistle, to tell her that she looked sexy, to embrace her. She expected him to do anything but what he actually did do. He stared for a moment unable to believe his eyes, and then his face darkened and grew angry.
"What the hell is this?" he demanded. This certainly wasn't the homecoming he had expected. He had thought he would find his pretty wife dressed the way he liked her, in jeans and a shirt, clean, sweet, the girl nextdoor, the Dana he loved. He thought she would run to him and hug him. He hadn't expected....jeez....he hadn't expected.....Phoebe.....
"What? I thought...." she stammered. She took a step backwards. He really looked angry, angry and hurt.
"I doubt that." He took her by the arm and led her to the bathroom in a way that could have been gentler although he didn't actually hurt her. Then grabbing the wet wash cloth, he began scrubbing at her face.
"Fox..." she protested. "Stop. You've got no right." She pulled away from him. He was making her feel like a little girl. What had happened to hugging and kissing and making love?
He dropped the wash cloth and put her robe over her.
"Get that thing off," he ordered. "Get it off now. If I wanted to marry a whore....I don't....jeez, Dana, just get rid of that thing, and don't ever do that again." He stormed out of the bathroom slamming the door behind him. Shakily, she went into the bedroom and slipped into a pair of jeans and a shirt. When she went to the living room, he was lighting a fire. They needed to talk about this or it was going to escalate in a very unconstructive manner. They had agreed they didn't want that sort of thing to happen anymore, and they were both very angry at that moment.
"Bring me that thing, Dana. Bring it to me now," he ordered. When she did so, reluctantly, he tossed it into the fire, but was so angry he didn't even realize that he had missed.
"I...I thought you'd like it. I thought you'd think it was sexy. I wanted...." she stammered.
"Yeah, well I don't. I could've had all the whores I wanted in Florida," he replied. Silently he was cursing his eidetic memory, cursing the image that had passed through his mind as he had walked in the door and seen her. The bird started to scream. Well, it isn't hard to guess what it started to scream at that moment, "Open....."
"Oh, shut up," shouted Dana all thoughts of talking gone, "Just shut up. I'm sick of the goddamed bird, and if I want to dress up like a whore I will. You are a damn hypocrit, Mulder and you aren't....you aren't my father!" Her lip trembled. She was really angry now, and she ran into the bedroom. She didn't lock the door. She wouldn't do that again, not after Christmas, but she threw herself down on the bed and promised herself she wouldn't cry. It was the first time they had been apart and this was what he had done on his return. He had made her feel cheap, like a whore. He had yelled at her and scrubbed her face like he was her ultra conservative dad or something. He'd even lectured her, and this from a man who had basked in porno films for years. It was hypocritical. It was the double standard at work in her own home. She buried her face in the pillow. Husband's weren't supposed to make you feel like you were 13 again. When you did something to try to please them, they weren't supposed to make you feel like trash. She wouldn't put up with it! She just wouldn't!
A few minutes later, the door opened slowly.
"Dana," said a voice softly.
"Go away," she replied. angrily. In response, she felt him sit at the edge of the bed.
"I'm sorry, Dana," he said softly rubbing her back. "I....my temper...forgive me, baby, please."
Upon careful consideration, he had decided that telling her he could have had all the whores he wanted in Florida had not been a wise move. It was one of those things that popped out, one of those stupid things he always said without thinking that hurt her. It implied that she was a whore, which she wasn't. She was his beloved wife, his reason for existing.
She turned over and looked at him. It was unusual for him to ask forgiveness so quickly. There were tears in her eyes, tears of anger and hurt, but she wouldn't let them spill over. He got on the bed next to her and slipped his arm under her gazing at her with his beautiful hazel eyes. He seemed genuinely upset with himself.
"I missed you, Shorts," he said softly touching her cheek tenderly with the back of his hand.
"I missed you too, Spook," she replied rubbing the cheek against his hand.
"I know you were trying to please me, sweetheart....I...I'm really sorry. Please, forgive me." Fox reached down and kissed her gently on the lips. They melted into each other. She should have been able to stay angry with him. She should have given him "what for," but she couldn't. He felt suddenly so vulnerable pressed close to her. She knew he was sorry he had hurt her again, that he hadn't meant to. It was simply the Mulder temper that he hated so much at work.
She supposed she should get up and start dinner, but she felt so lethargic and content lying next to him. He'd been extra sweet and considerate, whispering beautiful things to her, and they had made love until they couldn't anymore. No matter what, that always worked for them. It always seemed as though their bodies were made for one another, even when their minds seemed far apart.
"What, angel?" he asked softly rubbing her arm gently as her head rested against his shoulder. Her hair smelled so pretty. He loved the smell of her hair.
"You know that I'm not....I mean, you know I'd never look at another man, and that I only bought that ...thing...for you don't you? I mean, you always used to watch those adult videos, and I thought you'd think it was sexy."
"Of course I know that, baby," he said softly. "I only used to watch those videos because I didn't have anybody." He sighed. A tremor ran through his slender body. "I'd never want to go back to those days....ever." His voice cracked a bit while he considered the possibility. "I know I was being a hypocrit and a chauvinistic pig. I had no right to talk to you that way. It wasn't you, Dana. It was me, my past, my damn past that always comes back to haunt me and hurt you."
Dana lay there silently for a moment thinking. She knew what he said was true about never wanting to go back to those days. She thought back to her honeymoon week. They had gone to his apartment after a wonderful night of lovemaking to start packing some things. She, being her normal organzed self, had begun putting things in boxes. She had been packing his film collection when feeling his eyes on her, she had turned and looked at him. He had been standing still watching her, just gazing at her, his eyes soft and misty, not with the gleam of a man who wanted physical love, but with an expression she hadn't quite been able to read. Love, adoration....something else entirely. She had gotten to her feet and smiled at him wondering if he was finding it difficult to leave the place he had lived for so long.
"Fox, we could move in here if you'd prefer," she had said softly. She really hadn't wanted to. The apartment was too small and dark, but she would have. She loved him that much.
"Oh, no...no, Dana," he had stuttered, and then suddenly she had been in his arms. They had just stood that way for a long time, holding each other, clinging to one another, loving each other. "Sometimes..." his voice had cracked. "I can't believe....I can't believe I have a real home now, with someone who loves me." She had felt his body tremble as he had clung to her. He had been so lonely for so long, and so had she, but she had had a family, and he had had no one except her. "Want to tell me about it?" she asked softly bringing herself back to the present. There was so much about him that she still didn't know, so many little things. They really were still learning about each other. Although she wasn't entirely happy about this entire incident, they had progressed a lot. He could at least talk to her now.
"God, no." he replied. He felt her stiffen just a little and withdraw, and he realized that he was doing it again, shutting her out. First he had treated her like a tramp, and now he was pushing her away again. He would have liked to have left things as they were and fled, but Martha's Vineyard had taught him that that was not the way, not in a relationship like theirs.
"You made me feel....cheap, Fox."
"I didn't mean to. Honestly." He sat up and looked down at her.
"When I was 13, Fox, Melissa made me up one day. My dad grabbed me and dragged me into the bathroom and scrubbed my face off. He told me that his daughters weren't going to go out looking like whores and tramps. They were going to go out looking like nice young Catholic ladies were supposed to. I felt.....I mean, I didn't even know what I was doing wrong. I didn't know what a whore was."
He laughed outloud. "I'm sorry," he said smiling at her. "It's just that I can see Melissa pulling a stunt like that just to get you in trouble. I bet she knew what a whore was."
"You really don't like her, do you?" He realized he shouldn't have laughed and shouldn't have said that about Dana's sister. Her father's actions obviously bothered her, although as a dad, he realized he probably would have instinctively wanted to do the same thing with his baby girls. It was yet another instance in her childhood where Dana had gotten in trouble for being somewhat naive, and no matter what, she loved her ditz brained sister. Who was he to criticize someone for loving their sister?
"I'm making you angry again. Foot out of mouth, Mulder," he sighed. He pulled her up and held her. "Okay, I promise I'll try to love Melissa, and I'll tell you about , well, what happened But you promise me you won't think too badly of me, Dana. Please....I couldn't bear it if....just promise me, okay."
"Okay, I promise," she said softly. She was kind of glad now that she hadn't given him what for, at least not in the way she would have liked to, in the heat of the moment. If she had, he never would have talked to her. "You know nothing could make me stop loving you."
"Not even Krycek?" he smiled.
"Well...." she teased. "No, not even Krycek." They lay back down again.
"And I don't want you to even think I'm comparing you to Phoebe, okay? I'm not. I know you hate her, that, and .... hell.... It's just that this memory of mine is a curse sometimes and....just promise you won't alright?"
"I promise, Fox," she replied gently. Something told her that it was not going to be a pretty story.
"It happened when I was with Phoebe. Oh, Dana, I loved her. I loved her so much, and I thought she loved me. I guess my whole life had hurt so much that I expected love would hurt too, and it did. I mean it always had in the past, and......" His voice broke a little, and he paused for a moment. It still hurt to think about this, to talk about it, even now, even in the arms a woman who loved him, really loved him, a woman whose love did not hurt.
"I'm sorry, Fox." Dana sighed. Damn that woman. After all this time, his wounds still bled.
"I never realized just how much of a joke I was to her, Dana. I mean, she was the one with experience. I didn't know she thought it was funny to....well, you know, do it with a guy who had never done it before. I mean, I was always shy with girls and...I hadn't.... I didn't know I was her damn boy toy even though we were the same age. I thought I was in heaven. I followed her like a lost puppy. I thought that we were an exclusive item. We never actually lived together, so I wasn't with her all the time, but I wanted to be. It was all I did want."
"She had another man?" asked Dana gently. The questions was rhetocical. She already knew the answer. Phoebe would always have another man.
"It was worse than that, sweetheart. She came to me and told me that she was pregnant and demanded that I give her money for a private abortion. No National Health for Princess Phoebe. She said it was my responsibility. I went wild. A baby was not what I needed just then. I had very little money, and I didn't want to start out the way my parents had, but I...I even went and bought a wedding ring, two simple plain gold bands, but it was all that I could afford just then. I thought I'd quit school. I'd get a job, anything, anything to be with her and have our family. God, what an idiot I was."
"She had a different idea I take it." Phoebe would always have a different idea. A baby would be a burden to her, never a blessing. Dana sighed. She had not been unaware of his pain at the loss of their child. Even back then, even with Phoebe, a baby would have been something for him to love, for he was a very loving man, a deeply emotional being.
"Yeah. There was no way that she was going to get tied down with a baby. I...I returned the wedding rings and gave her the money for the abortion. You know me, path of least resistance and all that. Jeez, she even....she said if I didn't take her I would be shirking my responsibility. I was so blind, so goddamed blind. I knew I'd been careful, but I never questioned...I just took her, and I brought her home, and I took care of her when she had some complications."
"Poor Fox." Dana sighed cuddling close to him. He was such a decent human being for all his temper. He would have married her, and it would have ended in disaster, but she knew he would have tried to be a good father and that the poor child would have needed one with a mother like Phoebe.
"Then, after she was better, well, she didn't seem to want sex anymore. I thought maybe she was healing slowly or...I don't know what I thought...I didn't think. Anyway, I went to her place one evening. I just wanted to talk about it. No one answered the door, so I used my key to go in and wait for her."
Dana felt him shuddering. It wasn't a shudder of pleasure.
"She was on the floor with a man, on top of him, dressed in one of those black.....things, teddy's, just like the one you.... I don't have to tell you what they were doing. I was stunned, Dana. I couldn't move. They knew I was there, and never even stopped until they were done, and then she turned and looked at me and laughed in my face. She said it was over. I can't even remember what I said, and then she told me, the baby hadn't even been mine. She wasn't certain whose it was, but she knew it wasn't mine because I was the only one she made take precautions. She didn't make me. I....I was always responsible, thinking about her. She said that my baby was the last baby she would ever have wanted. She said some nasty things about the way I...made love. Worse, she laughed. She sat there with that naked man, and the two of them laughed at me."
"Oh, Fox," said Dana softly. She pulled him closer to her. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I knew she was a bitch...I knew she hurt you. No wonder you lost it when you saw me dressed like that. If that's the kind of memories it brought back...." In truth, Dana was a something of a loss for something to say. Sometimes it was difficult with Fox to know how much sympathy he wanted, or when to back off.
"It's no excuse for losing my temper the way I did. I'm so screwed up, Dana. I always seem to take it out on you. The worst of it is that even after.....I would have gone back to her. I would have gone right back to her. I loved her. I loved her so much that I helped her kill what I thought was my own child. I'm supposed to be a psychologist, and I'm so messed up....If you hadn't showed up in Boston when you did that time, I probably would have been in bed with her before......I've ruined our homecoming, and I've hurt your feelings again."
"That's all over with now, Fox," she said firmly sitting up. She wasn't hurt anymore. He had talked to her, and she understood. "We've all done things we aren't proud of, and you tried. You tried to do the right thing. She wouldn't let you. She's an evil woman. Don't be so hard on yourself, sweetheart. Don't blame yourself." She bent down and kissed his forehead gently. "I love you."
"Yeah, so I walk in the door and treat my wife like dirt because of something that happened years ago." For the first time, he saw the scab on her hand. "What happened?" He looked at her and kissed it suspecting he already knew. He didn't want to talk about Phoebe anymore. That part of his life was over, and he felt an odd sense of relief having discussed it with Dana.
"Krycek bit me."
"Again....damn that bird....I'll kill him myself...."
"No...it's okay, Spook. I just forgot the gloves." She smiled at him. "You love that stupid thing, and it loves you. Let's face it. We can't help who we love."
"Right. Another constructive relationship in the life of Fox Mulder," but he smiled then, smiled with relief that she had forgiven him and loved him. "I love you, Dana. You don't...I mean....I love you with way you are, clean and sweet and good and....you don't ever need to....I'm going to put my foot in my mouth again.....maybe I better just ask what's for dinner and get in trouble that way instead"
"Cornish game hen." Dana smiled at him. He loved her cooking. As liberated as she was in many ways, it still felt kind of nice to know her husband valued certain domestic skills she had learned, albeit under protest, from her traditional mother.
That illicited laughter, real laughter. "Maybe I better check the bird cage before I eat....No...I've already heard him scream....."
"Don't say it, Fox Mulder. I don't want to hear those words from even YOU right now!" Dana gave him her best grin, and slipping back into her jeans and shirt, headed for the kitchen hoping she had made him feel a little better about the past. It couldn't be erased, of course, but maybe now that he had told her about it, he could really start to put it behind him, as she had finally done with Jack.
Dana always made extra food on weekends that could be warmed up during the week. She had just about given up on turning Fox into a cook. If he preferred to do his share by calling the Gourmet Take Out Taxi, she had finally decided, it wasn't worth arguing about, but she liked to have homecooked things prepared for them when possible. Therefore, when the doorbell rang and it proved to be her mother and Walter Skinner, offering them dinner was not a problem. They were on their way to the theatre, but agreed to stay rather than eat at a restaurant. It was the first time they had attempted such an undertaking without a crowd of Scully's, McBride's and Skinner relatives around them. Mulder and Skinner sat across from each other, each on their best behavior, and as a result, neither said much of anything. The silence was close to ominous. Finally, Dana and Meg couldn't stand it any longer and started to giggle. Before long, they were all laughing so hard they were crying, and Skinner began to tell stories of his early days in the FBI, some of which surprised his rogue agent nearly as much as the time he had told him about Viet Nam. They talked a little about the impending wedding as they finished the meal. Meg was delighted with Dana's choice of bands. Then, Dana made coffee, and they went to the living room to sit down. Things might have remained peaceful except that Skinner saw the pile of black on the floor, and being a neat man, scooped it up.
"Well, well, what have we here?" he inquired holding up the offending black garment. This might be his chance for revenge for all those times Mulder had called him Wally! "Very interesting. I suspected you might be into this kind of thing Mulder, but you Scully?"
The younger couple just looked at each other and choked. Dana blushed.
"Don't suppose I could get you to buy one of these for the honeymoon, Meg?" he inquired innocently poking his hand through an area where a bra would usually be worn. Meg laughed and threw a couch cushion at him.
"Hell," muttered Fox, "she can have that one."
"What was that?" asked Walter.
"Open you legs, Scully. Open you legs, Scully. Open you legs, Scully," suddenly resounded through the apartment. Everyone looked at the parrot. Fox started towards it's cage. He got the door open. Dana intercepted to save its little avian life. Much as she hated it, it had after all been a birthday gift. She informed her husband that if anyone was going to strangle it, it was going to be her, but not now. She'd already cooked fowl for dinner. Fox glared at his wife. He really wanted to strangle the bird at that moment. He could almost feel its neck snapping. Dana glared back at him. While they were looking daggers at each other, the bird escaped. His clipped flight wings had grown back. Skinner stood there directly beneath Krycek's flight path with the controversial black teddy in his hand. "Sometimes being bald has it's advantages," he muttered to himself as Margaret stood there laughing.
The teddy served its first useful purpose of the night, that of a rag to wipe off the top of his head. He and Margaret said goodbye to Dana and Fox just as he was conceding that, yes, it should be her privlege to murder the bird since technically it was hers. The older couple doubted that the younger had even heard. Skinner took his wife to the theatre where he promptly embarrassed her because he was laughing so hard when the heroin died everyone was looking at him as though he had lost his mind. Perhaps he had. Maybe it was something in the bird ........ No, he was fine. The play was just boring. One thing was for certain though, after dinner coffee at the Mulder place was certainly a heck of a lot more entertaining, not to mention cheaper than the stupid play. He laughed outloud again as he stuck his finger in his mouth, the one that still throbbed where Krycek had bitten him.
"What's gotten into you, Walter?" Meg asked him in a hoarse whisper.
"I just realized I tossed the teddy in the backseat of the car."
"They'll never miss it," smiled Meg.
Dana made popcorn and the two of them snuggled down on the couch in front of the fire to watch a movie on "Creature Features."
"Fox, I think Skinner took the teddy."
"Well, he's welcome to it," he replied. "I'll throw in Krycek for good measure." Fox was not pleased with his pet's mouth.
"I didn't really like wearing it," she confessed, "I mean, I felt...funny. I just thought....well, I knew there would be all these beautiful women on the beach and....."
Fox realized something then, something as a trained analyst he probably should have seen before but hadn't. Dana really was insecure about her appearance. It was ridiculous of course, but usually people couldn't help their insecurities. It had probably inadvertantly become part of her upbringing with Melissa falling into the role of beauty and Dana the brains of the family.
"Right, and all I could think about was you. I wanted you with me, baby, but there was a part of me that was glad you weren't there."
"What do you mean?" That hurt a little.
"I mean, if you had been, you would have been in your bikini, and other men would have been looking at you. You don't need a teddy to be beautiful and sexy, Dana. You just are. I would have had to be jealous." He looked down at her and smiled. "I wouldn't have been able to help myself."
"I guess I don't need to be beautiful for anyone but you, Fox," she replied thoughtfully. She was a bit surprised that he would have been jealous like that, surprised and just a little pleased.
"You definitely don't need to be sexy for anyone but me," he replied. "And you are very good at that, just for me, only me. You don't need props. You never will. I love my sweet Dana just the way she is. Do we have that straight now?" He wrapped the top of her head gently with his knuckles.
"I think so," she smiled sweetly. "I'm processing the information." She suddenly felt good.
Krycek had been quietly dozing in his cage, exhausted after his flight. It had taken awhile for his little parrot heart to calm down after Walter Skinner had caught him and tossed him rather firmly back into his little wire parrot home. He had needed a nap. Now the incident was forgotten however. He was suddenly wide awake. He stretched a bit and flapped his wings. He helped himself to a sunflower seed cracking it noisily. After his little snack, he opened his beak again.
"Squawk...squawk....goddam it, Dana. Open your legs, Scully...Open your legs, Scully."
Fox looked at his wife on the couch. They burst out laughing.
"You heard the bird, Scully," he chuckled pushing her down gently onto the sofa so that she was beneath him. "You have your orders."
"Well, just this once, I'll listen and obey," she replied slipping her arms around her husband's neck.