NEW! Birthday Barbecue
Date: Mon, 04 May 98

Category: Story, Angst, Mulder/Scully UST

Rating: PG13 for language and Violent Images

Spoilers: Very minor mentions/spoilers for Fire, Detour, Redux 2 and
fifth year completion of cancer arc

Summary: Mulder reluctantly attends the birthday bash of someone he
cares for very much. Of course, even a simple birthday party doesn't go
quite as planned for our hero.

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully & Mrs. Scully, Charles, Tara & Matthew
Scully, & Charles Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris Carter.
I'm just borrowing them. I won't keep them. At the end of the story you
can have `em back, I swear, (unless you *want* to give `em to me.) All
other characters belong to me, and if Mr. Carter wants to borrow them, all
he needs to do is ask. <grin>
Also, thank you Hallmark Cards (r) for the wonderful greeting card program
that inspired so many of Mrs. Scully's birthday wishes.

Introduction: Can you believe Walter Skinner does not make an appearance
in this story? Neither can I…. But it is written in my favorite
character's P.O.V. so hopefully you will find some redeeming value in it,
even sans the AD.

This one's a little different style for me…. not totally off the Proto
beaten track, but a little. I'd appreciate any and all feedback regarding
it. Flames will be noted, but constructive feedback will be appreciated

As always, thank you Vickie Moseley for being my CyberMuse on this one

Birthday Barbecue
by Susan Proto (


It was a simple enough question. I simply didn't know how to answer it.

"So, what are your big plans for the weekend, Mulder?" she'd asked.

"Nothing much," I'd replied.

"You're not going to your mother's?" she'd asked.

"No, she made plans to visit friends in Manhattan. Mom's idea of a
barbecue is ordering a filet mignon at the Four Seasons," I'd said

She looked at me with a bit of a glint in her eye. I felt almost as if I
was a cornered stray and wasn't sure if I was facing a friend or foe. But
this was my partner. My friend. My Scully.

"So, then you'll be free to join us for our Scully Family Annual Memorial
Day Barbecue, right?" she'd asked so innocently.

Cornered. Like a dog, trembling in an alley with no escape plan. No place
to run or hide.

"Umm, Scully, I don't do family events too well. So, if it's all the same
to you, I think I'll pass," I'd said as graciously as I could muster.

"Well, actually Mulder, personally, I wouldn't mind if you didn't come. I
do know how much you really hate these kind of affairs," she'd said, her
voice dripping with compassion, which of course I hadn't believed for a

Why? Because in her next breath she'd said, "But I suspect Mom would be
really disappointed. _She_ asked me to ask you, you know."

I'd felt myself wavering. I mean, this was Scully's mom. She wasn't
playing fair. I mean, it was Mrs. Scully, for crying out loud. And then
Scully had said, "Oh, and did I mention it's also Mom's birthday? It
falls out on Memorial Day weekend this year. Isn't that wonderful?"

Snagged, just like a pup snatched up by the dog catcher . It was also Mrs.
Scully's birthday.

Like I was going to refuse to go to Mrs. Scully's birthday party.

Yeah, right.

And there's this nice bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you too.


So here I am, standing in the corner of Mrs. Scully's beautiful, old home,
watching the entire Scully family have fun.

I never knew how lonely it could feel to watch other people have fun.

Scully came up to me about half an hour ago to ask me if I was okay, and,
of course, I said I was fine. She didn't pick up on the humor in my using
that particular phrase, but she was really busy, so I forgave her. But
now I'm watching the family interact with one another and wonder if it's
possible for me to ingratiate myself upon these good people.

I hear the doorbell. Before anyone can go and answer it, I see _him_ walk
in, carrying his son and leading in his wife, Tara. I wonder if he ever
gives her any shit? And then I see her look at him, and even more
incredibly, I see the look he gives back to her. He actually looks
tender___, loving___, human.

And now he sees me. Well, so much for human. He practically throws
Matthew into Tara's arms and marches over to me.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Bill Scully seethes.

"I'm here because your mom invited me," I begin, and then I plead ever so
gently, "Please, can we avoid a scene today? It's your Mom's day."

He keeps looking at me as if I was a piece of meat ready to be gnawed,
chewed, and spit out again. I know he'd like nothing better than to take
a swing at me. Instead, he decides to verbally abuse me. "

"Listen you one, sorry, sonofabitch," he says to me yet again, and I
wonder if I have that tattooed on my forehead, "it's bad enough you've
sullied the reputation of my sister. I'll be damned if I allow you to
ruin my mom's party too."

Well, for some reason, all my brain picks up on his comment about
sullying his sister's rep, so now all that runs through my mind is he's
afraid I'm going to "Sully my Scully." I feel the corners of my mouth
begin to turn upwards, and it's all I can do to keep from losing it.

I now get a look at his face, and from the vein that bulges from his
forehead, I come to the conclusion I'd be a lot happier if Bill Mulder
wasn't always pissed off as hell with me.

Well, so much for being happy.

Ahh, but the cavalry is coming, as I see from the corner of my eye Scully
is approaching us. This is a good thing, because as big and brawny as
Bill Scully is, his baby sister can still put him in his place with one
well placed line.

"Hello Bill," she says as she greets him with a small kiss on the cheek.
"I need your help with the barbecue, okay?"

Well, so much for a well placed line, but it does the trick just the same,
and there's no bloodshed (which is good, since any blood shed would
undoubtedly be mine) and gets Bill out of my face for a while. I watch
him trudge off to deal with the art of starting a coal fire.

Apparently Mrs. Scully is a purist and doesn't believe in the modern
convenience of a gas grill. So Bill will have to deal with the dirty
coal, the smelly starter fluid, and keeping the fire going. Better him
then me, that's for sure.

Scully gives me a little smile and asks, "Need anything, Mulder?"

"No, I'm fine," I say, still getting no reaction to that particular turn
of phrase. I guess that's okay though; I guess we've moved beyond that
time in our lives.

"Steaks will be up soon, Mulder," she says to me.

I smile at her and then think to myself, oh joy.

Bloody. Dead. Cow meat.

Scully had kept promising me a thick juicy steak all day yesterday, and I
hadn't the heart (or the stomach, I guess) to point out to her I haven't
eaten any red meat since we'd wrapped up the Diamond case three weeks ago.

She'd apparently forgotten just how much blood was involved in that case.
At first, the lunatic had simply drained the blood of small animals
(which he'd hung up on meat hooks for display,) saved it in several ornate
challises, and videotaped himself drinking from them during some crazy
ritual he'd made up.

He'd graduated from small animals to larger ones, and then, finally, had
decided it was time to go for the big time and exstanguinated small
humans. Children to be exact. The crime scene was one of the most
horrific I'd ever seen.

I'm still puking my guts up from nightmares about it each night.

And I've stopped eating anything that bleeds. Strange how Scully hasn't
noticed. Of course, we haven't eaten too many meals together since that
case either. In fact, come to think of it, this will be one of the first
real meals we'll have eaten together since we were at that crime scene.

I guess I've been kind of avoiding sharing a respite with Scully, or maybe
I've just been avoiding food and eating in general. Probably both.

I smell the charcoal now as the aroma wafts through the open window. I'd
always loved the smell of charcoal. When I was a kid it meant casual
attire, paper plates, and soda. Mom hadn't allowed me and Sam to drink
soda at most meals, but barbecues were different. When we were kids, I
used to love when dad barbecued on the grill.

We almost looked like real family. I actually smile at a childhood
memory. What an amazing feeling that is, unusual to be sure, because of
its rarity.

I feel a hand touch my elbow which brings me out of my reverie. I look to
my right and see Mrs. Scully looking at me with really bright, happy eyes.
I love it when Mrs. Scully looks at me like that.

"Come, Fox. Let's go get you some food and put some meat on those lanky
bones of yours," Mrs. Scully says.

"Aw, Mrs. Scully, I'm fine." Funny, Mrs. Scully reacts to what I've just
said with a raised eyebrow. Like daughter, like mother I think to myself.
I smile. "Really. I'll get a bite to eat in a little while," I say in a
feeble attempt to stall for time.

"Nonsense! Come along, Fox. It's time to chow down," she says
enthusiastically. She then clasps her hands around my elbow, and I find
myself being escorted to the backyard. But before we actually walk out
the back door, she stops for a moment and turns to me.

"Fox, I am so happy you're here to celebrate with me and our family." And
then she does something that really surprises me. She stands on her
tip-toes and kisses me on the cheek.

I don't say anything for a moment or two, I'm kind of in shock at what
Mrs. Scully said, much less did. Did she say _our_ family? And that kiss
was filled with so much tenderness, I feel a little overwhelmed. I can
not believe Mrs. Scully said or did that, but of course, I'm delighted all
the same.

"I am too, Mrs. Scully,'' I reply softly and bend down to return the
kiss. She smiles at me, nods, and then starts escorting me again to the

I watch Bill standing behind the grill with this giant chef's hat on
looking totally ridiculous, but obviously having the time of his life.
The man was born to be behind a barbecue grill.

Tara's nearby holding Matthew, while Scully stands close to them. I watch
as she makes goo-goo eyes at her nephew. I sense she desperately wants to
take him from Tara's arms and hold him, but the baby is acting shyly and
clinging to his mother. Scully wisely waits before reaching for him.

"So Mulder," Bill calls out to me, how do you like it? Rare, medium, or
well done?"

"Black and blue," Scully calls out before I have a chance to graciously

"Black and blue?" Tara asks curiously.

"Charred on the outside and practically raw on the inside," Scully
explains. "I never could understand how anyone could eat their meat that
way, but that's how he likes it, and I'm not about to begrudge him this

"One black and blue coming up!" Bill says affably. I don't have the nerve
to tell him it's not necessary, that the potato salad and pasta salad is
probably all I can handle. But he looks so damned happy cooking behind
that grill, I actually feel guilty at the thought of ruining his fun.

I stand there watching the flames surround the meat and soar upwards. I'd
always been so afraid of fire, and ever since the L'Ively case, I'm more
cautious then ever. But as frightening as I find fire, I also feel myself
mesmerized by it.

And today is no different, so when I hear my name being called I need to
shake my head a couple of times to refocus my eyes and thoughts.
"Mulder," Scully calls out to me, "here's your steak. Just the way you
like it."

I look straight into her eyes and take the plate from her without removing
my eyes from hers. I can't look at it. The steak. I know if I look at
it, I will immediately become nauseous and cause a scene. God, if there's
one thing I do not want to do is cause a scene at Mrs. Scully's birthday
party. I now find myself frantically looking all around the backyard in
order to plan my latest escape.

But the thought of the steak and the bloody juices swirling around the
plate are causing me to turn a lovely shade of green. I haven't even
looked at the damn thing, and I feel as though I'm ready to puke my guts
up. Oh God, I've got to get rid of this thing, but I've got to do it
quietly, without anyone noticing.

I look around some more and then return my gaze to see Scully staring
straight at me. I look at her helplessly, and then, as if I'm watching a
loony toon cartoon, I see the proverbial light bulb pop up over her head
and her eyes widen a bit as she gasps ever so softly.

As she gently takes the plate from my hand she whispers to me, "Why didn't
you tell me? I'm so sorry, Mulder."

"Thank you, Scully," I say with a great sense of relief in my voice. My
hero has rescued me again from yet another potentially fatal dilemma. I
don't know how I would have ever lived down the taunting looks Bill Scully
would have given me had I thrown up all over the steak he'd char-broiled
just for me.

"Mulder, go sit down. You look positively green around the gills," Scully
says. "There's some pasta salad on the table you might like."

I grab for her hand and squeeze it gently in an attempt to let her know I
really appreciate her understanding. As I walk away however, Scully calls
out to me, "Hey Mulder, I think we need to talk later, okay?"

"Sure, Scully," I reply in what I hope is my best CasualMulder style
voice. When I look at her though, I know I'm not fooling anyone, least of
all Scully. She's pissed off with me for not telling her about my
reaction to the Diamond case. I'm gonna get hell for it later, that's for

But that's okay. I deserve it. Ever since her cancer went into
remission, I'd promised her I would be more up front with her on things.
What things? Oh, things like feelings, fears, hopes, dreams. Those

We'd both been doing pretty well there for awhile, like when we got
detoured from that absurd partner's workshop and stuck in the woods with
the mothmen. Well, it wasn't exactly the most pleasant of environments or
circumstances, but at least we talked.

And we touched. Okay, I was hurt again and in the throes of shock, but we
touched. And the connection was there, and not just physical, you know,
but emotional. And it felt so good.

But somehow, lately, we've both slipped back into our own little
clandestine worlds of emotion. And I miss the connection. I miss Scully.
So now I look at her again, and I say to her, "Yeah, Scully. I want to
talk later, okay?"

Well, I get my reward. A three hundred watt Dana Scully smile. And I
give her one right back. But just as I think (wish?) she was going to
join me at the table, I hear Bill call her name.

"Dana! I need some more starter fluid," he calls out. I watch her turn
to go back into the house to retrieve some.

I'm picking at the pasta salad when I see two small dynamos come crashing
through the backdoor to the yard. One of them looks like a miniature
Dana, the other a replica of Bill. Next, I see the reason for these
comparisons as Dana walks out arm in arm with who I assume is her younger
brother, Charlie.

Wow. Talk about knocking preexisting notions up and out to the moon.
This guy is nothing how I pictured him. I thought he'd be a short, squat
version of Bill. Well, surprise. Baby brother Charlie ain't nothing of
the kind.

He's tall. Tall as me at any rate. And there's nothing harsh or
judgmental about his face like I see in Bill's. It's as if Charlie is__,
is an elongated, male version of his sister. As rugged as Bill looks,
that's how gentle, almost pretty, Charles looks.

I hear the screen door slam. Mrs. Scully walks out with whom I assume is
Mrs. Charles Scully. She's almost as small as Scully, only she doesn't
look a thing like Scully. I mean, she's attractive in her own way, she's
just not my Scully.

She slender and petite, and has light brown hair and a nice complexion.
She's pretty. She's not beauty model pretty, but she's got a face that
attracts you. It's hard to explain, but I can see why Charlie would be
attracted to her.

I watch her talk animatedly with Mrs. Scully. The woman's hands never
stop moving and Mrs. Scully is obviously enchanted with her. After a
while the two of them join Charlie and Scully by the barbecue where Bill
and Tara are.

I ache to join them, though I know I have no business there. I want to
wrap my hands around Scully's waist and let it be known to the world that
this woman is my partner, my best friend, my Scully. Of course, if I ever
got that far I'd most likely be dead the next moment.

The woman would certainly pull her gun out and shoot me dead for making
such an assumption. _My _ Scully, indeed. Yeah, like I could ever
possess Scully.

Well, she possesses me. She possesses all of me.

The next thing I know, I hear Mrs. Scully calling my name. "Fox? Fox,
come here, I'd like you to meet my son and daughter-in-law."

I walk over nervously, wondering how the hell Mrs. Scully does that. The
woman simply seems to know things, and it's a little scary, I'll tell you.
She's so in tune with her kids, and even with me. I guess that makes me
one of her honorary kids. I smile at that.

"Fox, this is Dana's younger brother, Charles, and his wife, Karen," Mrs.
Scully introduces. "And their brood of two, Briana and Daniel, are
causing havoc all around the backyard," she adds with a proud smile.

"Hey Mulder," Charlie says. I'm surprised to hear him use my surname as
Mrs. Scully had clearly introduced me as Fox. Charlie must have noticed
my wonder and simply says, "Dana warned me."

I smile and extend my hand, "Nice to meet you Charlie, Karen." At
Charlie's wide-eyed look, I simply say, "Scully warned me too."

Karen looks a little confused at this point when she echoes, "Scully?"

"Karen, you remember I told you, Mulder refers to Dana by her last name
and she does the same for him."

"Oh, of course. Unusual arrangement, but that's why they invented
chocolate and vanilla ice cream, right?" Karen responds. At that moment,
we hear a crash and look over to see one of the dynamos on top of the
other under one of the tables. "Excuse me, folks, while I play game
warden for a minute."

Bill gives me the once over and interjects, "Hey, finish the steak

I look at him and don't know how to answer. I could simply lie and say
yes, but the word refuses to leave my throat. I simply shake my head a
little. I'm such a fool.

"What's the matter with it?" he asks defensively.

"Nothing," I manage to croak out. "It's fine. Well, I mean it's fine
when I was still eating meat, but lately I've kind of given up eating__,"
I start to say.

"__You don't eat meat?" Bill cuts in. "Jeeze, what the hell have you
done, become one of those wussy vegetarians protesting the killing of

"No, Bill. It's nothing like that," I reply quietly. I desperately want
to find a hole in the ground to crawl into. Why didn't I just say I'd
finished the damn thing?

"No? So what is it?" he eggs on. "C'mon Mulder, what could possibly make
you stop eating something as all American as a good slab of beef?"

It's the image I conjure up immediately that puts me over the edge. If he
hadn't said "slab of beef" I probably could have held my own, but I
remember the small, children's bodies hanging from the meat hooks and,
well, I feel myself begin to lose it.

I must have turned a ghostly white, because Charlie immediately comes to
my side and pushes my head downward to my knees. I hear him say sharply,
"Bill, shut up for a minute, please."

A few moments pass, and I feel my head stop swimming around the backyard.
The thing is, I don't know if I want to bring myself back up to a
standing position though, as I feel totally humiliated.

The last thing in the world I want to do is make a fool of myself in front
of Scully's family, and the first chance I get, I do. Well, I alienated
one family already from my life; what's one more?

I feel Scully near me and she bends down to check on me. I feel her hands
gently take hold of mine. Though I wish it to be a touch of tenderness, I
know it's just to take my pulse. Well, she takes my pulse tenderly at

"Okay, Mulder. Still dizzy?" she asks softly.

"I don't think so," I reply.

"Okay then. I want you to stand back up, but very slowly."

I do what she says but I still feel myself sway a little, and I feel
Charlie's hands grasp my arms very firmly.

"Gee Charlie, we just met and ya wanna dance?" I joke feebly.

"Naw," he says, "but I hear you like to wrestle every now and then," he
says with a wry smile.

I look immediately at Scully and see her blushing a lovely shade of
crimson. I wonder how much of my life she has exposed to her baby
brother. Obviously a helluva lot more than to her older one. Thanks to
the powers that be for small favors.

End of Part 1/2

Disclaimers in part 1

Part 2/2

Everyone's pretty much finished eating, with the exception of the kids
roasting marshmallows over the last of the hot coals. I notice a few of
the adults sneaking in with a sharpened stick of their own, including, I'm
happy to say, my Scully. I like watching her when she lets her hair down.

Scully really is a whole different person when she's called Aunt Dana and
she's wearing shorts. Not that it's bad when she's in professional mode.
Jeeze, I wouldn't ever want to give up that part of Scully.

But seeing Dana in action is nice too.

Everyone is moaning and groaning over how much they've eaten when the
grandkids and the friend's kids all roll out this giant sheet cake. It's
really very pretty, and all the more so when it's announced that one of
Mrs. Scully's neighbors and good friends, Irene, made it for her.

Well, now Scully drags Mrs. Scully up to stand by the cake. Bill has now
taken over photography duties and is orchestrating her every move. Scully
smirks a little at Bill, but he's so busy playing Mr. Kodak that he
doesn't notice.

Charlie, on the other hand, cackles so hard I think he's going to lay an
egg. Interesting dynamic between these two. It seems they never see each
other, yet they behave as though they're together all the time.

I wonder if Sam and I would have had that kind of relationship if she'd
have let me. I close my eyes for a moment as I allow myself to mourn the
loss of her. Yeah, I know I found her. The smoking scum brought her to
me as a means to an end.

Well, he didn't get what he wanted. Me. But I didn't get what I wanted
either. A relationship with my sister. I'd like to think maybe someday,
but if these last couple of months have taught me anything, it's some
things never change, and if they do, they're not necessarily for the

So, I mourn for our lost relationship, because I can't allow myself to
hope and believe anymore. It hurts to damned much when it doesn't come
true. I don't have the energy to hope anymore.

I don't think I can believe anymore.

Irene's taken the camera out of Bill's hands so he can get into the shot.
Now she's orchestrating everyone. Bill, Tara, Charlie, Karen, Scully,
the kids, and of course Mrs. Scully. They're all laughing so hard up
there, the tears are starting to flow.

I feel my own eyes well up, if only out of some vicarious thrill for their
closeness, their happiness on this day.

I see Mrs. Scully whispering something to Scully and Scully nods in
response. She says aloud, "Wait a minute. We need a few more shots, but
we're missing someone."

I look around with everyone else, trying to figure out who's missing.
Next, Scully is standing in front of me with her hand outstretched.
"C'mon Mulder, Mom wants her 'adopted son' in the pictures too."

I gasp at this and look immediately over at Mrs. Scully. She's smiling
and waving us over. I can't believe this. I really can't believe this.
I'm afraid I'm going to start hyperventilating when Scully whispers to me,
"Slow your breathing down, Mulder." Then she squeezes my hand for moral
support and I squeeze her back in thanks.

As I step in with the Scully clan, I glance over at Bill. Big mistake.
The man is glowering. I mean, if you ever needed a definition of the
word, Bill Scully's face would epitomize it. I feel myself shudder a bit
in response, but then I feel a firm hand on my shoulder. I look behind

It's Charlie. He leans down a bit, and whispers in my ear, "He's a bit of
a wet rag, Mulder, but he's really harmless. A lot more hot air than
anything else. Besides, this is Mom's day, and _she_ feels you belong up
here with us. I'm not about to argue with the woman, and believe me,
neither is Bill."

"I just don't want to be the cause of hard feelings, Charlie," I respond
softly back.

"Mulder," Charlie continued, "Bill's not happy unless he has something to
bitch about. But like I said, he's a blowhard. A pain in the ass. But,
when push comes to shove, if either Dana or I ever really needed his help,
we both know he'd be there in a second for us. And we'd do the same for
him, Mulder. It's what brothers and sisters do for one another, you

Somehow I manage to nod my head in the affirmative, but I know that it's
not true for all brothers and sisters. I know it's not true for my own
sister. She's chosen to believe a lying, murdering, sonofabitch who
claimed to be her true father instead of believing me. She's chosen to
distance herself from me, even after I'd told her I'd been searching for
her for the last twenty or so years.

She doesn't want me in her life. I guess she figures she couldn't count
on me the first time around. What would make me think she would want me
around now. I guess not all brothers and sisters can depend upon one
another. I take a deep breath at this point in an effort to regain
control of my emotions.

I look to my right to see Scully next to me. She places her left arm
around my waist and I tremble a little at her touch. I could get used to
these family photo shoots. I tentatively place my right arm around
Scully's shoulders, certain she will pull away from me.

But she doesn't.

In fact, she moves in closer.

I think if there's a heaven on earth, I've just discovered it.


The photo shoot ended way too soon to suit me, but it's time for the
ritual opening of the gifts. Bill is back in his role as Mr. Polaroid
and Scully sits next to Mrs. Scully to help her grab the presents.
Charlie is trying desperately to keep his dynamic duo under control
without too much success.

They keep insisting they want to open the presents, but Charlie is adamant
about teaching them that not every present in the world is theirs. Karen
eventually takes over and everyone finally settles down to watch Mrs.
Scully open her first gift.

She tries to read the card aloud, but realizes she needs her reading
glasses. About a dozen glasses are proffered, but Irene volunteers to go
into the house to get her glasses from the counter.

"Thank you, Irene. You know," Mrs. Scully says, "turning fifty-five isn't
as bad as I thought. With all of you offering me reading glasses, it's
just occurred to me you're all right behind me in the age department.
Everyone chuckles out loud with her, and when Irene returns with the
glasses she reads the first card.

"This one says, "Happy Birthday, Old Pal! Old Buddy! Old Friend!" Then
she opens it up and reads, "Old Person!"
Everyone laughs at that and then Mrs. Scully reads the signature. "With
love always from one old person to another, Irene."

Mrs. Scully sends her friend a smile and quickly agrees with her. "Yes,
there's not to many around here that can sympathize as well as you can
with my back aches and arthritis pain, is there, Irene?" Next she opens
Irene's present to her and pulls out a tee-shirt that bears the same words
as the card, with the words "old person" printed on the back.

Everyone has a good laugh and Scully gives her mom the next present. She
reads the card aloud. "Maggie, on your birthday I just want to say that
I'm really glad I have you for a friend." She opens it to the inside and
reads, "I'd hate cheating on my diet and lying about my bad habits with
total strangers. Happy birthday. With love, Mary Ellen."

And of course Mary Ellen gives Mrs. Scully a multi-pack of Hershey (r)
chocolate bars. Mrs. Scully giggles at the sight of this and immediately
admonishes Scully to keep her cotton-pickin' hands off!

Scully continues to hand Mrs. Scully gift after gift, and everyone greets
each card and gift with chortles of laughter. I, on the other hand, am
becoming queasier and queasier. I hadn't realized. Scully didn't tell

They're all gag gifts.

They're all light hearted, funny cards.

Scully didn't tell me. I desperately want to somehow retrieve the gift I
brought. I screwed up again. She's going to take it the wrong way. I
didn't mean__. My thoughts are cut off as I hear Bill Mulder call out,
"That one, Dana. Give her that one next."

"Why, Bill," Mrs. Scully says, "Do I get the feeling this one's from you?"
Bill merely smiles and nods as she pulls the card off. It says, "Mom,
Since it's your birthday I just wanted to say I appreciate your patience
with me during my difficult years." She then opens the card and reads,
with a knowing smile, " Birth to the present."

Scully is nodding furiously at this and Mrs. Scully is laughing hard now.
"Tara," she calls out, "It was you who picked out this card, wasn't it."

Tara is chortles out loud, and gives Bill a light punch on his arm. "I
told you she'd realize it was me! Mom," she says right to her
mother-in-law, "you know us too well!" Mrs. Scully tells him what a
clever and wonderful idea it is, and thanks Bill, Tara, and Matthew.

Next, Mrs. Scully opens the box up to find a picture album with pictures
of Bill on one side and Matthew, with the corresponding age, on the other.

"There are still blank pages. We figured you'd get a kick out of
watching me deal with the son that you always said I deserved for all of
the aggravation I caused you. So, we figured a photographic keepsake
would help you keep better track. We'll keep adding pictures as Matthew
grows up," Bill said.

The next card Mrs. Scully reads is from Charlie and his wife, though Karen
says it was really her idea, and Charlie wasn't even allowed to read the
card before he signed it. This of course intrigues Mrs. Scully and she
reads it aloud for all of us to hear.

"It's your birthday, Maggie Scully! Don't do anything you might regret…"
and then she opens it up to read, "But try to do at least one thing you
wouldn't tell your children about! Love always, Karen & Charlie , Briana
& Daniel.

"Oh, Karen, now I just need to think of something to do!"

"Umm, Mom, open your present," Karen says.

"Karen, didn't you buy that scarf you saw in the store?" Charlie asks

"Not quite, Charlie. Not quite," she replies.

Mrs. Scully opens up what appears to be a scarf or tie gift box and holds
up what looks like four tickets. "Oh my goodness! Karen! You didn't!
Oh my," she says blushing a royal red, "you're crazy! And I love you for

"What is it, Mom?" Bill asks.

"Well it looks like I've got tickets to the Ladies Night Only show at the
Chippendale's Night Club," she replies with uncontrollable giggles.

"A male strip joint?" asks Bill incredulously.

"Yep. And it's just for us Scully women, so you're just gonna have to
fend for yourselves tomorrow night gentlemen,'' Karen retorts.

"All right, Karen!" Scully says enthusiastically. "Leave it to you to
give Mom a night on the town! Okay, Mom, here's my little gift to you."

I wonder what Scully gives her mother for her birthday. Everything has
been so light hearted and laden with humor, I suspect Scully's gift
follows suit. It only makes my gift seem ever the more foolish to me. As
I wait for Mrs. Scully to open Scully's card, I look for my gift.

I spy it on the floor next to Scully's. Oh God, it's the last one. It's
the smallest and Scully hadn't seen it laying there. I could just
casually walk over and pick it up while everyone is looking at Scully's
gift to her mom.

"It's your birthday, Mom, and you look great!" Mrs. Scully reads on the
front of the card. She then opens it and reads, "…considering all those
times I added ten years to your age! Love always, Dana," she concludes.
"How true my sweet girl, how true. But I guess that's why they put the I
in FBI, right?"

I watch Scully laugh at her mom's joke. Though I know I should try to
retrieve the gift I brought for Mrs. Scully, I sit frozen in my spot.

Mrs. Scully opens up her present from Dana. Ever the pragmatic, though
enigmatic, Dr. Scully, she gives her mom a new cell phone with all of the
necessary phone numbers programmed right into it. I hear her tell her mom
speed dial #1 is the emergency number 911. Scully then informs her #2 is
Scully's home number, and # 3 is my home number. Next, #4 is our office

What? Did I hear Scully say _my_ phone number was #3? She programmed my
number in before Bill and Charlie's? I look quickly at Charlie who's just
sitting there smiling. Bill, on the other hand, returns my glance with a
piercing stare.

I don't think he's too happy with the turn of events here. I strongly
doubt he'll be terribly enthusiastic about my card to his mother either.

Shit. She found my present. Oh, shit.

"Mom, wait, there's one more here I hadn't seen. Here you go," she says
as handed her the small, ornately wrapped box with the large card

I am watching her open the envelope and it feels like she's doing it in
slow motion. I try to get her attention. Please, don't read it out loud.
Please. Don't. Please.

She reads aloud, "Of all the nice words in the world, the nicest must be
'mother.' You have been like a mother to me."

I close my eyes now. I can't look at her. I can't look at anyone around
me, but I feel as if all of their eyes are on me. I hate this feeling. I
hate feeling like an idiot for doing something that had felt so right just
a couple of days ago.

She continues reading aloud, " With love to you, And thanks to you, too,
For all that you are and all that you do. For all of the happiness you
give to others, and especially for being the dearest of mothers. Love
always, Fox."

The tears had started rolling down her cheeks halfway through the reading
of the card, but I didn't notice because I'd shut my eyes tight. My head
is facing down, because I don't want her to see the tears rolling down my
face. So instead of watching, I hear her tear off the wrapping of my

When it is quiet I look up, as I wonder if she approves of it. But she
hasn't opened it yet. She cradles the small box tenderly in her hands
before she lifts the cover. She looks at me quickly before I have a
chance to avert my eyes. I know what I see in her eyes, and it allows me
to continue to look at her as she opens the box.

I pray she won't be upset with the gift I'd chosen for her. At the moment
I wonder if she may think it was too brazen of me, especially given the
fact everyone knows my take on the subject. But when I saw it, it just
seemed so perfect. I hope she realizes why I chose it for her. Not
because I want to mock her beliefs. Because I admire and envy them.

I want her to believe.

I need her to believe.

Mrs. Scully lifts the box and I see her take in a quick breath. Her lips
move, and I think they form, "Oh Fox, oh my," over and over again.

I don't take my eyes off of Mrs. Scully. I'm afraid to look at Bill. I
figure at this point he would just as soon see me laid out on one of his
sister's autopsy tables.

I avoid Charlie's gaze because I fear that whatever positive feelings he
had for me when he'd arrived today may just have gone out the window for
being too damned presumptuous.

And I don't dare look at Scully, because if I look at Scully she will see
clear through me and realize just how much I need her and her mom to
accept this gift with the love it was intended. But I'm afraid. I'm so
afraid they'll think I'm trivializing something that is so important to
both of them, and that is the last thing I intended to do.

Mrs. Scully picks it up out of the box and holds it up. "Isn't this the
most beautiful crucifix you've ever seen? Look, everyone, it's made from
turquoise and silver. It's so delicate, but the material makes it seem so
much more substantial. Oh my God, it is just gorgeous."

"Fox, thank you, sweetheart," she says as Scully manages to clasp it
around her mom's neck. Then Mrs. Scully stands up and walks toward me.
She grabs me by the waist and wraps her arms around me.

"I love the cross, you dear, dear man," and then as she squeezes me ever
so slightly more, she says softly, "and I love you too, Fox Mulder.
Don't you ever forget that. I will always love you, too."

"Thank you, Mrs. Scully," I whisper into her neck. I am crying
unabashedly now, and I suspect there's not a dry eye in the house.

"Mom. You should call me, Mom," she says.

Now I'm sure there's not a dry eye in the house.

"Thank you___, Mom," I say with only a slight hesitation. It sounds okay
coming out of my mouth. It sounds right.

"Happy Birthday, Mom," I say as I hug her with a joy I have not felt in a
very long time.

End of 2/2

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