New! The Barbecue Series 14: Labor of Love
Date: Saturday, September 04, 1999

Category: Story, MSR, MulderANGST, LiteMulderTorture

Rating: PG-13 for language; minimally graphic violence.

Spoilers: Let's just say through season 6, to be safe.

Summary: Mulder's got big plans for this Labor Day weekend, and then
BigBrotherBilly gets wind of it. Let the angst begin!

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: The names you recognize belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. I'm just borrowing them, and since I've learned to play nice in the
sandbox, I promise to return them in one piece.

Introduction: It picks up in the Barbecue Series Universe and follows the
incidents of # 13, and it would probably make more sense if you knew what how
this universe works. There's actually something called continuity in this
universe. (Hey CC, try it sometime…you might like it! I know I would.

To my friend and fellow fanfic writer, Vickie, thanks for the quick
turnaround on this one. Thanks for the 'cocktail tip,' and the trip to the
er is all for you. <G>

Real life has once again reared its ugly head and the school doors are now
open! Instead of just concentrating on the lives of our heroes, I have to
think about teaching 'place value' and 'D.O.L.' Oh joy! So, you have to
know I would really appreciate hearing from you. Feedback is definitely

The Barbecue Series 14: Labor of Love
By Susan Proto (

Part 1/2

I finger the small velvet box that's tucked away, hidden, in my pants pocket.
Knowing Scully the way I do, I probably shouldn't have gone out and picked
it out without her, but knowing Scully the way I do, I know it's perfect.

I admit it; I've been nervous for the entire week while waiting for this day
to come. Scully has asked me a couple of times already if I'm okay, but I
brushed her off easily enough. When I think about it, it's actually amazing
she's let me get away with my moodiness; maybe she suspects something's up.
If she does, she hasn't let me know about it.

She's showering now, while I sit here wondering if proposing to her while
we're at Mom's annual Labor Day barbecue is the wisest move I'll ever make.
Probably not, but then again, I'm not known for my wisdom, am I?

We've talked about getting engaged, but it's always been just that. Talk. I
don't know if Scully thinks we're okay just the way we are or not; all I know
is I'm ready to make the commitment official.

I actually saw some gray hairs around my temples a couple of weeks ago, and I
came to the brilliant conclusion I'm not getting any younger. Which means
neither is Scully. It's not that she isn't still the most beautiful woman on
the face of the earth; that's not what I'm talking about at all.

We've been having our 'what is normal?' discussions more frequently, and not
because she's initiating it, but because I am. It all started when we had to
go to San Diego, because that damned car hit Matty. God, he was so banged
up. I couldn't be there at first; I had to finish up with that fucking
serial case, and I felt so helpless. I knew I had to stay on the case, but I
wanted to be in San Diego for Dana and her family.

And I wanted to be there for Matty, of course. I love this little boy so
much, and the amazing thing is I know he loves me. It's a wonderful feeling.
It really is.

But I want that feeling with a child of my own, too. I want to share that
feeling with a child that Dana and I bring up, together.

I don't know if any of her ova are viable. I don't know if anything can be
done about her infertility. Maybe she'll be open to using a surrogate,
though I think I'd prefer to adopt; I pray that if it comes down to only that
option, she will be equally willing.

But, first, I have to ask her to marry me.

I squeeze the little velvet box again to see if it will give me strength to
carry through my plan for the day. I'm getting more and more nervous and I
wonder if my plan isn't really foolhardy.

I suspect it's downright stupid, but like I said, I'm not exactly known for
my wisdom.

"Mulder? What time is it?" Scully calls out from the shower.

"It's almost eleven-thirty," I call back.

"Damn! We're running late! Why didn't you tell me?" she asks with a little

"Sorry," I apologize, "I got lost in thought."


It's almost one o'clock by the time we pull onto the street. There's no
space left in the driveway, as I see the rentals representing Charlie and his
family, as well as Bill and his family, are in the driveway. Having little
kids gives you first dibs on the driveway rights.

We park behind the AD's car a few houses down.

I don't jump out of the car immediately and I feel Scully reach for my hand.
"You're awfully quiet today. Feel okay?"

"Yeah. Must be that time of the month," I jest halfheartedly.

She doesn't comment; bless this woman, she knows when to persist, but she
also knows when I need her to back off. This is one of those times. I don't
know how she realizes it, but she does. I think that's one of the best
reasons I have for marrying this woman and make sure she's with me forever.
No one else can read me like she can. I don't want to chance losing this.

We walk up the street and I can already see Charlie's kids, Briana and
Daniel, playing with Bill's boy, Matty, on the front lawn. As Dana and I
step up to the front walk, Matty looks up and sees me before the others.

"Unc-Key Mulder!" he screeches and before I know it I have been toppled over
by three screaming children. They are literally swarming all over me, while
I lay flat on my back on the front lawn. Scully of course is laughing so
hard, she can hardly catch her breath, much less be of any help to me.

"Guys, guys, okay! Okay! I need to get up now," I repeat over and over, and
after several more tickles and a few more giggles, they finally allow me to
come up for air. I look over at Scully, who now has this Cheshire cat grin
on her face, and I realize she's only mirroring my own expression.

God, I love this shit! I feel as though I may ask her to marry me right this
second and beg her to go birth us some babies immediately! I shake my head
to get such thoughts out of my head immediately, since I know if Scully ever
heard me make such a request at this time, she would most likely aim for the
other shoulder.

"Okay you guys, you knocked me down, how about you help me up?" I say as I
extend my hand. Well, I have three pairs of hands grabbing onto me and
pulling me up off the grass. I start to brush the grass and dirt off of my
khaki pants and startle when I feel three more pairs of hands brushing me as
well. Such service!

"Thanks, kids," I say in appreciation of their efforts. Then I really look
at them and realize they've grown since I've seen them last. It's only a
little over a month, but I swear Daniel must have grown an inch or two since
I last saw him. Briana has also grown, though not as much physically as
socially. She's not nearly as shy with me as she's been in the past. I
guess going through Matty's trauma together brought us all closer together.

It's hard to believe Matty was in the hospital at all. Even his cast is off;
the wrist healed in only four weeks. Kids sure do spring back fast. If it
were I in his place, I'd probably still be hobbling around.

"So, are your moms and dads inside with Grandma Maggie?" I ask.

"Yes, and Grandma's Walter is inside too," responds Briana.

"Grandma's Walter?" Scully echoes. "That's a unique way of addressing him."

I can only imagine what is going through that woman's head, but I pity Walter
Skinner when she finally lets us all in on it. He doesn't have a prayer, but
then again, if he is indeed 'Grandma's Walter,' I don't think he's going to
really give a damn. Hell, I may even have a little fun with this one, and I
chuckle a bit out loud at the mere thought of seeing the AD's face when we
call him on this.

"Okay you guys, if we don't get inside to say hi to everyone, they may not
let us have any hamburgers!" admonished Scully.

"Uncle Mulder don't eat no stinkin' hamburgers," comments Daniel.

I crack up laughing at this, and impulsively reach over to hug him. Ever
since we'd met up in the hospital in San Diego, I've felt a lot closer to
Daniel, and for that matter, Briana too. It's a nice feeling, because I know
they feel the same way. I can tell for sure, since Daniel leans into my

Oh, yeah. I can get used to this. Big time.

We finally become like the Pied Pipers and lead our little entourage to the
back of the house. Everyone has gathered in small little clusters in the
backyard. Mom looks up and smiles right at us. It always amazes me to see
how happy Maggie Scully looks when she sees her daughter come home.

Oh, and me, too. I think I've finally accepted the fact she really likes
having me around, too. I watch her hurry over to give Scully a hug and then
turn to embrace me as well. She holds onto me for an extra second or two,
and I'm not sure why. It feels nice though.

"Hello, Fox," she says in a slightly muffled voice. "I'm so glad you and
Dana were able to make it today."

"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Mom, don't you know that?" I ask sincerely.

She nods her head and releases me from her hug. "Well, go say hi to
everyone. Now that you're here, I can start pulling out food."

"May I help?" I ask.

"No, no need, sweetheart. My wonderful friend, Irene, is here to help me
avoid a catastrophe and get through yet another barbecue," she says with a
chuckle. "And of course, I have poor Walter in the house forming hamburger
patties up the wahzoo. Oh, but don't worry, I have some shrimp ready to
throw on the fire just for you, Fox."

I lean over to give her a kiss of thanks and I get such a kick out of seeing
this lovely woman actually blush right in front of me. I love making all of
my Scully women blush, though I admit I have other methods with the beautiful
red head I live with.

Charlie looks up and sees me coming over toward him and the rest of the
Scully siblings and wives. I immediately extend my hand out while he simply
pulls me in for a hug. It's a manly hug, of course, and I accept it without
question. Karen then calls out, "Hey, me too," and I am released by Charlie
only to find his wife's arms immediately entwined around my waist.

And people wonder why I love this family. Damn.

"Hello, Fox," says another Scully wife.

"Hi, Tara," I say and move to envelope this person who has truly ingratiated
herself into my heart. She's been every bit my champion (along with the
rest of the Scully family,) in my on again, off again, war against Billy.
"How are you?"

"I am wonderful, now," she replies with a huge smile. I know she's referring
to Matty; I can only imagine how difficult it was going through that. The
waiting alone is enough to make people go off the deep end, but when the
patient is only going on three years of age __. I hope Scully and I never
have to go through something like that when we become parents.

Huh, aren't I something? If Scully ever knew I was making all of these
assumptions without her, she'd have me handcuffed and hauled away. But I
have to believe she feels the same way about starting a family together. I
have to.

I want to believe it so much.


I guess the war is on again. Bill's pretty much ignored me the entire
afternoon. The only times I see him look in my direction is when Matty comes
bouncing over to play with me or just give me a hug. I know it irritates
Billy to see how affectionate the baby is with me, but I'll be damned if I'm
going to turn him away.

I adore this child, and Bill's going to have to learn to deal with it.
Daniel and Briana pop over and sit by me for a little bit too. The contrast
in the Scully brothers' reactions, it's almost funny. Charlie simply picks
up where ever the conversation leads among all of us, while Bill literally
glowers and sits mutely.

If Matty tries to bring something to his Dad's attention while I'm nearby,
the man insists upon the child walking over to sit by him.

Away from me.

And you know what? It pisses me off. I can't understand what this man
thinks I'm going to do to his child, or his wife, or his sister or mother or
brother. It's become pretty ludicrous and I'm sorely tempted to call him on
it today.

But I have other matters to tend to, and now that I've been left to munch on
my teriyaki shrimp, I reach into my pocket to check on the symbol of my

I feel my fingers probing around in my pocket, but all I feel is the khaki
cloth of my slacks. I'm sure I'd put it in my right pocket, but I quickly
stand up to check my left. I realize my mind is a little bit up in the
clouds today, so I'm sure I just didn't remember properly.

It's not there.

I don't feel it in the right or the left pocket.

Shit! I don't want to go into a full state of panic, because if __, no, make
that _when_ I do find it, I still want the proposal to be a surprise. I
consider the possibility that the ring box fell out in the car. Oh God, I
hope it's in the car. What if it fell out in front of the apartment
building. OH SHIT! What if it fell out and someone's picked it up already.

Oh God…Ohmigod…ohmigod…

Stay calm, Mulder. Think. Go back to the car and see if it fell out in the
car, or maybe right by the car as you were climbing out. It's going to be
there. You'll see.

I stand up with the intention of simply slipping out the side of the house.
I walk calmly though my heart is doing flip flops. I can't help but wonder
if losing the ring is a sign that I have no business asking Scully to marry
me. I know this is a ridiculous thought, but I can't help it, and as I walk
toward the front of the house and up the walkway, I break out into a trot.

Then I run to the car and look as carefully as possible all around the ground
on the driver's side.


I open the car door and carefully sweep my palm along the bucket seat, and
dig into the seat to see if the velvet box became wedged.


Now I walk around the car and come up to the curb. I look down as I walk and
try to retrace my steps back to Mom's house. Where had I walked when we
first arrived? I wrack my brain to figure out where the box could have
fallen. Ohmigod! The kids! I was rolling around the grass with the kids!
I jog back to the house so I may begin a search of the lawn. I'm sure it's

It has to be here. "Oh, God, please be here. Please," I whisper aloud.

I am now on my hands and knees searching the grass with my hands. I'm so
focused on my search, I don't realize I'm being observed the entire the time.
I don't realize it, that is, until I hear a voice say, "Lose something?"

I look up and see Billy, of course. Damn. He wasn't exactly the first
person I'd wanted to mention my little mishap to, mainly because I wasn't too
sure I'd wanted to mention the actual engagement to him either.

I consider for a moment that maybe, just maybe he'll show a little compassion
and actually want to help me. I'm beginning to feel a little frantic here.
Okay. It's time to lay the cards on the table. Heart on the sleeve
situation, right now.

"Yes," I admit. My voice is a little raspier than I'd expected it to be. "I
have lost something."

"Really. What did you lose?" he asks coolly. If I weren't so damned upset
about the dropping the ring, I might have sensed something wasn't quite
right, but I'm going into panic mode and so I confess my problem.

"I had a small green jewelry box," I say with a rush, "and I think I dropped
in the grass when I was playing with the kids." I come up for air for a
moment or two and then ask, "Bill, can you see it? I don't think I could
make it out even if it were staring me right in the face. I can't make out
the green on green."

"Why not? You blind or something?" he asks sarcastically.

"Yeah, Bill." When he looks at me quizzically, I tell him I'm red-green

"Jeeze, you're defective on top of everything else?" he grouses.

Now I'm feeling a little more agitated, because I don't see him looking for
the box with me; I certainly don't hear any sympathetic musings from him.

"Bill, look if you don't want to help me, just get out of here, okay?"

"Get out of here? Hey, Agent Mulder, this is my house. I don't need you
telling me where I can and cannot be, okay?" he says with spite.

"Damn it, Bill, I'm not in the mood for this shit. I have to find that box!"

"Oh," he says in a voice dripping with malevolence, "you mean this box?" He
holds up the small, green velvet jewelry box that hold Scully's diamond
engagement ring.

"Oh, thank God, you found it. Thanks," I say with great relief and reach out
for the box, but unfortunately, he snatches it back from me immediately.
"What the hell are you doing, Bill? I told you, it's mine. Now hand it back
to me!" I demand angrily.

"Now why the hell do you think I would do something like that? Mulder, there
is no way in hell I'm going to let you marry my sister! No way in hell!" he
pronounces loudly enough for the neighbors on either side to hear.

"What makes you think you can make that decision for your sister? Bill,
contrary to what you may think, Dana has a mind of her own and is quite
capable of making decisions for herself," I declare.

"Not where it concerns you, you sonofabitch," he replies through gritted

I feel my frustration level reaching an all time high. How do I get through
to this asshole that his sister will never kowtow to her brother's demands?
How do I convince him that she doesn't have to; I've always trusted her

Even when we've disagreed with one another, we've always trusted each other.

But I don't know how to make this lug of a brother of hers understand this
point. I used to think it was because he loved her so much and wanted to
protect her. He'd already lost one sister, so I could relate to this
interpretation. But the more I learn about Bill Scully, the more I realize
that it may have started out about trying to protect her, but no more.

It's about power.

His power over her, which means he has to get me out of the picture. Well,
screw the fucker; I'm not going anywhere.

"Bill, give me the ring. Now," I say as I inch closer towards him.

He simply stands there, tantalizing me with the small velvet box in his hand
and shaking his head. "Mulder, when are you going to realize you're not
going to win this."

"Win?" I ask in astonishment. I continue to ease myself closer and closer,
but I have to ask him, "When did this become a contest? There are no winners
or losers here, Bill."

"Since when?" he replies angrily. "Because of you, you sonofabitch, I lost
my sister Melissa, and I very nearly lost Dana. Damn it, I even believe
you're the reason my father died of a heart attack. He never wanted Dana to
stay with the bureau. He wanted her to practice, but she wouldn't leave you.
She would never leave you. I don't know what you did to her, but__."

"__What the hell are you talking about?" I shout as I cut him off. "Who do
you think I am? Scully's svengali? Do you really think I have that kind of
power over her that I can control her every decision? For heaven's sake,
Bill, you don't know your sister very well at all, do you?

"God, for all of the times I've told her to leave me and the X-files; Damn
it, I've begged her to go and be a doctor. She's never listened to me. So
much for my so-called Mulder Mind Control, Billy."

I'm now almost within three, maybe four, feet from him. I am getting this
ring from him if I have to knock the fool bastard out to do it. Just as I'm
about to make my move, the sonofabitch raises his arm up and, oh God, I can't
believe he's going to do this, but I anticipate his move, and then I hear a
small voice excitedly calling out, "Wanna play catch, too, Unc-key Mulder!
Wanna play Daddy! Me wanna play catch!"

"Matty, go back to your mother. Now," Bill says sternly.

"Daddy, wanna play catch," whines the child.

"Matty, NO! I said go back to your mother now!" he shouts at the child, and
my stomach feels like it's doing flip flops.

I want to talk to him, but I'm afraid that will only bring out Bill's wrath
even more, and the last thing I want to do is frighten Matthew more. So I
stand quietly for a moment to see what Matty will do and how Bill will react.
Go back to the yard, Matty, keeps going through my mind, but the baby
remains in his place.

Finally, I tell Bill again to return the ring to me.

"I don't think so, Mulder."

"Bill, give it to __." At this point I lunge right at him, but he reacts too
quickly for me. He picks his arm up again and heaves the box toward the
woodsy little area across the street from Mom's house. I feel as if I'm
watching this all occur in slow motion.

My first inclination is to start running across the street to try and pull a
Marcus Allen type play and catch it on the fly, but then my peripheral vision
sees movement to my left. Oh shit!

"MATTY! NO!" Bill screams at the top of his lungs, but he remains frozen in

I, on the other hand, cannot find my voice but my legs take me toward the
baby who had gotten a running start ahead of me. He's practically in the
street, and all I can envision is an instant replay of six weeks ago. I know
Bill must be dying inside, and I can't believe I actually care about how Bill
feels, but I know how _I_ feel at the thought of Matty getting hurt again.
So before I know it I catch up to him, grab him, and toss him back onto the

Of course, then I feel the tremendous impact of pain in my back and feel
myself floating up in the air for what seems like several minutes, but in
reality is only a couple of seconds. I somehow manage to land hard, back
down on the road flat on my back, which only serves to magnify the already
pulsating pain in my lower back region.

I can't seem to catch my breath, so there's no way I can make any sounds
other than a sickening wheezing. I feel as if my entire body is numb, save
for the throbbing that permeates my entire back and skull. Though I can't
find the strength to speak, I can hear perfectly well, and I hear someone

Oh, Matty. Matty, don't cry. I don't think I'm dead, though if the
throbbing doesn't stop soon, I may wish to be. C'mon, Matty, don't cry.
I'll be okay. I think.

Now I hear more of a commotion and I realize there are other people coming
out of their houses to see what happened. I suppose the impact wasn't just
hard on my body; it was really loud too. I don't think I landed too quietly

I feel my breathing start to ease a little as I close my eyes and allow
myself to get a little lost in the conundrum of voices that soon surround me.
I simply concentrate on taking one breath at a time, and I feel the pain
easing a little bit, too.

Okay. I may come out of this slightly bruised, but in one piece nonetheless.

"Mulder, it's me," her voice says. "Mulder, look at me, G-Man. I need you
to stay with me, please," she begs and orders in the same sentence.

I can't refuse this woman anything, so I obey and open my eyes.

"Hi," she says with an obvious sense of relief.

"Hi," I rasp. I am able to breathe easier, but I find it still difficult to
talk. Though the pounding in my back has eased a little, it still hurts like

Damn, this pisses me off.

"I can't do this anymore," I say softly.

"What?" she asks curiously. She hasn't a clue as to what I'm talking about.
Of course if she takes the time to ask
Brother Billy what just went down, she might figure it out. But she's too
concerned with my symptoms to worry about Bill for now.

Of course, Tara's not too busy at all. She must have picked up Matty,
because all I hear from him now are soft whimpers instead of hysterical
crying. And then I hear her ask, "What happened, Bill?"

"He got hit by the Harley. He ran into the street and got hit by the Harley."

A Harley? A motorcycle hit me? My back feels like a Mack truck ran over me
and it was only a damned motorcycle? Damn, I am getting old.

And it hurts.

"I know it hurts, Mulder. Help is coming."

I didn't even realize I'd spoken aloud. Maybe I didn't; my Scully has been
known to read my mind once or twice. I smile at that thought, but it must
look like a grimace because I hear her coo to me sweet, comforting platitudes.

Eventually I hear the sirens in the background and before too long, the
paramedics are making sure I'm stabilized on a back board and neck brace and
lift me onto the gurney.

If it's a major holiday, it must be time for Fox Mulder to visit the

This is getting old. Real old.

And to make matters worse, I still don't have the ring back.

End of Part 1/2


The Barbecue Series 14: Labor of Love
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 2/2

Miracles of miracles, I didn't break anything. I'm not bleeding profusely
(well nothing that a couple of butterflies can't handle) and I don't even
have a concussion. I've been here in the emergency room for a few hours
under observation. I've gotten away lucky, or so the doctors and nurses keep
telling me.

My lower back, however, is bruised something fierce and in total spasm. I
can't remember the last time I was so damned uncomfortable. But, they're not
making me stay, since my own personal physician vouches she'll carefully
observe me for any unusual symptoms and promises to make me take it easy.

I hear Walter Skinner's voice and realize I hadn't even seen him back at the
house yet to razz him about his new title of 'Grandma's Walter'. I let it
slide because I hear him asking questions of the doctor regarding sick leave,
and the doctor recommends a few days at home to get the kinks out of my back
and then a week or two of desk duty. After that, he recommends a day by day

Well, that's good I guess. I can live with that, until I feel my back go
into a humdinger of a spasm and I cry out in pain. It's analogous to
toothache pain; hurts like hell and there's no way to comfort yourself and
relieve it.

"Well, Mr. Mulder, I suppose this is your little way of asking for a muscle
relaxant?" asks the doctor who appears behind curtain number one.

"Make it stop," I gasp. I am not a happy camper.

"Okay, this shouldn't take very long to start working," he says. "I'm
administering a nice little cocktail of Flexeril and Darvocet. This should
keep you comfortable for a little while."

Well, the man knows from whence he speaks, because I'll be damned, but the
stuff takes the edge off almost immediately. Oh yeah, this is the good
stuff. Really good stuff.

"Scully?" I ask for my beloved in my most cryptic shorthand. I guess the doc
speaks cryptic shorthand, because he says he'll get her for me.

Moments later, I hear her footsteps by the curtain. "Hey, G-Man, how ya

Well at the moment, I feel no pain whatsoever; did I mention I'm on the
really good stuff? "Okay, Scully."

"I'm just signing some forms and then we're going to get you out of here.
Mom wants you to come back to her place. I think she feels guilty that you
got hurt in front of her house."

"No guilty, Mom," I mumble. I did mention I was on the really good stuff,
didn't I? But all of a sudden I feel awful. Not awful physically, but awful
in terms of being sad. I think I start crying, but I'm not sure.

"What's wrong?" she asks anxiously, since one minute I'm obviously flying
higher than a kite and the next I'm in the throes of depression.

"I can't do this anymore," I mutter.

"Can't do what, sweetheart?"

I don't know how to explain it, but I know this guilt trip Bill Scully gets
his rocks off on putting me through every time he sees me has got to stop. I
can't do it anymore. I won't do it anymore.

"I won't do it anymore, Dana."

She looks at me with a bit of a start, and I know why, of course. I called
her, Dana. I so rarely use her given name, that when I do, she knows I'm
really, really serious. However, before she can take this conversation to
the next level, the nurse walks in with a wheel chair and the AD is right
behind her.

"Are you sure you don't want to spend the night, Mulder?" asks Skinner. I
guess he doesn't realize I'm on the good stuff.

"No, I'm okay. I don't want to stay here," I say though I think I'm gritting
my teeth as I do.

"Fine," he says tersely against his better judgment. He moves to help the
nurse lift me into the wheelchair. Whoa. Good stuff or not, the thought
pops into my that maybe an overnight at the ol' med center wouldn't be such a
bad idea.

"Skinner says, "We're bringing you back to Maggie's house. The kids need to
see you're okay."

"The kids? Oh, God, is Matty okay?" When Scully nods her head, I realize
she's a little confused. "He ran into the street. I caught him and threw
him onto the grass. Did I hurt him?" I ask anxiously.

"You threw him onto the grass?" Skinner echoes me. "I didn't know that," he
says angrily. "Bill didn't say that."

"Don't give a damn about Bill," I mumble under my breath. I don't say it
right out loud; I can't. He's an asshole, but he's also Scully's brother,
and I can't willfully tear him down in front of him. Besides, she does a
good enough job of berating him on her own.

And then Skinner takes note of the worried look on my face and tells me what
I need to hear. "No, Mulder. You didn't hurt Matty. He's perfectly okay."

I breathe a huge sigh of relief and then, only because I am on incredibly
effective muscle relaxants, I melt like liquid metal into the wheelchair and
leave the hospital for Mom's place.

I am stretched out on the couch with my head on Scully's lap. She's running
her fingers in my hair, and I am just about ready to fall asleep.

Just then, the subject of my despondency walks into the family room. I can
only imagine why he's here. I guess he needs to get a few more kicks in
while I'm still down for the count.

"Mulder," he begins, "I just want to __."

"__No." I cut him off before he says anything else. I won't play this game
anymore. If I've learned anything from going to the therapist, it's I don't
have to do this anymore. I've learned through the counseling sessions that
I've spent too much of my life shouldering the responsibility for the poor
judgment of others. Well, no more. Damn it, no more.

I remain in the same supine position I was in when he entered. It just hurts
too damned much to sit up for any length of time.

"I'm tired of always being the brunt of your tirades, Bill. You have managed
to place blame on me for the ills of not only the entire Scully family, but
for the entire free world as well. And you know what, Bill? There was a
time that I would have agreed with you.

"But damn it, I won't let you do this to me anymore, and I won't do this to
myself any longer either. As much as you would like everyone to believe it,
Billy, I did not pull the trigger on the gun that killed Melissa. I was
very, very fond of Melissa, in case you didn't know it. I mourned her death,
too. And I felt guilty for it, but a very wise woman pointed out to me it
was a very bad man who killed your sister. Not me.

"Oh, and this crap you tried to sling about me putting your father into an
early grave__?"

"__Bill! What are you talking about?" Scully interjects.

"Shh, I have to say this, Dana." She stops immediately. I used the 'D' word
again. "Your sister loves her job. Your father loved your sister. I know
he was proud of her, because he was a good father to all of you. He died
because he had a heart attack. No one gave it to him, least of all me. His
heart gave out. The man's been gone for a few years. Accept it, Bill."

I look at him and wonder if any of what I'm saying is sinking in. His
expression is blank; he's working hard to keep it neutral. It doesn't matter
if he finally understands, as long as I get the chance to say all of this
aloud to him. I need to get this off of my chest.

"And yes, Dana nearly died of cancer, but thankfully she's in remission.
We're not sure why. But all you want to do is dwell on the time she was ill
with the effects of the cancer. Why? So you can keep blaming me, that's
why. Well, damn it, Bill, I didn't develop the cancer and give it to her.
Remember that very wise woman? She's had to remind me over and over again
that it's not my fault she became ill. It was the fault of some very bad men.

"I've always said I want to believe in extreme possibilities. Well, I'm
finally learning to believe in something that I once thought was impossible."
I turn my face away from Bill and look up at Scully's face.

"I believe in _us_."


He left a few minutes ago without saying a word. Typical Bill Scully. I
refuse to deal with him ever again. This is it. No more. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Bupkus. I'm not dealing with his sorry ass excuses for blaming me for his

Besides, I'm sick and tired of ending up injured or on the verge of a nervous
breakdown because of him. Jeeze, and he accuses me of causing his family
harm?! I think it's time to bring out my hospital records and ask him if
he's ready to own up to being the culprit of most of those admittance's.

Th-th-that's all, folks.

I close my eyes.

I open my eyes. Sweet, blue eyes are staring straight at me. In fact, there
are three pairs of sweet blue eyes.

"Hi Uncle Mulder," says Briana softly.

"Hi beautiful," I answer. She blushes. I don't think I've really
embarrassed her; I think she likes it.

"How ya feeling, Uncle Mulder?" asks Daniel seriously.

"Well, like a train hit me; I can't believe a Harley caused all of these
black and blue marks," I say lightheartedly.

To be honest, I'm hurting at the moment. The muscle relaxant is effective
quickly, but not for as long as I'd like it to be. So, at the moment, I'm
feeling a little stiff, a little tense, but I don't want to make the children
feel uncomfortable. So I try my best to be a good little soldier.

"Unc-key Mulder gots boo-boos," observed Matty aloud.

"Of course he's got boo-boos, Matthew! Uncle Mulder got hit by the
motorcycle," Briana confirms while rolling her eyes at the obviousness of her
baby cousin's remarks.

"Play catch," says Matty.

"No, Matty. I wasn't playing catch," I say tiredly. "I just wanted to get
it back," I mumble.

"Oh, Oh!" cries out the baby excitedly! "I gots it! I gots it!"

"Got what?" asks Daniel curiously. He's now looking at his baby cousin as if
the kid is something out of one of our X-Files. To be honest, I'm a little
perplexed myself.

"I gots the pwetty box!" he cries out with excitement.

"What box?" asks Daniel with a hint of 'big cousin' attitude.

"The pwetty box! Gween box!" the baby is practically shouting.

I suddenly understand what this child is saying. Now if I could only see
proof in his hand, I would be so, incredibly happy.

"Where is it, Matty? Where's the pretty, green box?" I ask with a little
trepidation. I mean, the kid is only two and a half years old.

"I go!" he screeches as he runs out of the room.

"Wait!" I cry out as I attempt to sit up, but when I do, I yell out in pain.
Which in turn sends everyone and their mother (literally, in my case) into
the family room to see what is wrong. Damn medication has definitely worn
out, and my attempts at rising off the couch do not help the cause at all.

Scully reaches me first, of course, but Mom and Walter, as well as Tara,
Charlie, and Karen have rushed in too. I think I even see Bill by the
doorway. The two older kids remain at my side. Everyone is asking me all at
once if I'm okay, and I simply mumble I'll be fine once I get another dose of
the magic pills.

Unfortunately, I'm not due for another dose for another ninety minutes.
Sonofabitch if Scully won't give in to me a little earlier.
Then, I suddenly hear the patter of little feet running. Matty is chattering
away, though admittedly I don't understand ninety per cent of what he says.

But I do understand this, "P'wetty g'ween box, Unc-key Mulder! I gots your
pwetty gween box!"

And he offers it to me in both of his beautiful, pudgy, toddler hands. All I
want to do is pick this child up and hug him for dear life, however I think
if I even think of doing something like this, I will probably have to be on
the good stuff morning, noon, and night for the rest of my life.

I lift my arm up, reach for the box, and grasp it in my hand. I waggle my
finger at this beautiful child, wonder for about a second and a half where he
found the jewelry box from, and kiss the cheek he has so generously offered
me. He giggles and gives me wonderfully wet smooch right back.

"Thank you, Matty, for finding my box."

"Is okay, Unc-key Mulder. Daddy gots-ed it from the little trees," he

So the pain in the ass went and weeded through the bushes to find it. Damn
him, just when I'm ready to write the idiot off, he goes and shows he can
actually act human.

"Tell Daddy thank you for me, okay, Matty?"

He nods his head up and down enthusiastically and then cries out, "Open the
pwetty box, Unc-key Mulder! Wanna see the pwesent!"

I chuckle out loud and realize that my greatest fear is now going to come
true. I am going to ask the woman I love for her hand in marriage in front
of her entire family. Oh joy. Where's the good stuff when I really need it?

"Yeah, Mulder, I wanna see the 'pwesent' too," says a now very flushed Scully
with a hint of trepidation.

"You sure of that, G-Woman?" I ask, surer than I've ever been at how much I
want to share the rest of my life with this woman.

"Yes, Mulder, I'm sure," she says softly, tenderly. You can now hear a pin
drop in the room. There are almost a dozen people in this room, but it's so
quiet, I think they can hear my heart beating. I know I can.

"Scully __. Dana __." I want to say something profound. I want to wax
poetic and ask her in a way that will be uniquely us and she'll remember it
for the rest of her life. Of course what comes out of my mouth is, "I love
you. Marry me?"

Well, not exactly the most original proposal, but it seems to be effective,
though I'm not sure if it's with the intended receiver.

"Oh, Fox! Oh, Fox!" cries out Maggie.

"I'll be damned! It's about time," mumbles Skinner. I swear the man says
something about an office pool that's been going on for something like six
years; don't know if he won it though.

Amid the caphony of voices that congratulate us is, finally, the one voice I
long to hear.

"I love you, too, Mulder. Yes."

She said yes. I wonder if anyone else heard her 'cause I really could use a
witness or two so someone can prove I heard her correctly. She's said yes!

I place the ring on her finger and see that she is happily surprised. Do I
know my Scully or what? Everyone oohs and ahhs as she admires the emerald
shaped stone on her finger, while I quietly admire her.

I look around at what has now become a small mob scene until my eyes meet
his. They're not exactly sad, but they are resigned. I'm sorry about this;
I'm not a bad person, and I really do adore Bill's wife and son. I wish the
man would give me just cause to like him.

As he leaves the room, I see him look once more at Scully who suddenly picks
her head up and catches her older brother's attention. I see her mouthing
something, but she's facing away from me, so I'm not sure what it is.

He mouths back, 'You're welcome.'

Well, he did find the 'pwetty gween box' now, didn't he?

End of 2/2

Send Feedback and comments to