Life Cycles: Thanksgiving Friends
by Susan Proto (

Category: Angst, MSR
Rating: PG13 for some language
Spoilers: Through season 4

Summary: Mulder & Scully decide to have a Thanksgiving holiday
get-together for their friends, so everyone will be familiar with one
another at their December wedding. Problems arise when Mulder realizes he
needs to make a very important choice and feels insecure because he's
uncertain as to how that choice will be received.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. Since I have learned to play nice in the sandbox, I am only
borrowing them and promise to return them at the end of the story.
Honest. I promise. Believe me. Please, because I couldn't afford to be
sued on my salary.

Special thanks to my cyber editor and friend, Vickey Moseley, for taking
the time to help me wade through the necessary and the unnecessary, and
for knowing the difference between the two!

Introduction: Here's part three in the series. The stories are going in
a chronological order, so for continuity's sake you might want to read the
first two, but I believe all of them could be stand alones, maybe. Though
I think it's a stand alone, it probably wouldn't hurt to read the first
two, LC: The Unveiling and LC: The Engagement Do you want more?
Depends a lot upon your reaction, so react people!! Good, bad, or heaven
forbid, indifferent! (I can take good, I can take bad, but I think I
would cry if you were indifferent!!) Thanks in advance, folks.

Send along any constructive criticism and comments to my e-mail at:

Part 1/4

The Basement
Washington, DC
Friday, October 25, 1996

"Mulder? Would you mind if I run an idea by you?" Scully asked.

"Is this something X-File related, or something that can wait till we get
out of here in an hour?" he replied.

"Oh, it's definitely not an X-File. It can wait, I guess."

Mulder looked up at his partner and realized she was keeping her emotions
in check. He smiled to himself, since he realized whatever it was Dana
wanted to discuss with him related to their now very public, personal love

"What is it Dane?" he asked. "This file on the latest fluke babies isn't
all _that_ interesting."

"No, you're right, Mulder. If it's not work related we should wait until
we're finished for the day to discuss personal matters. That's what we
agreed upon, hell, it's what _I_ insisted upon!" she stated.

"Okay, well, seeing as how it's Friday," Mulder began in his most
sensuous, conspiratorial voice, "and it's, as they say, 'a slow news day'
here in the basement, what do you say we knock off early, pick up some
take-out Chinese food on the way to Mom's house, and discuss whatever it
is you want to discuss while driving over."

"Oh, I don't know, I mean it's only twenty after four," she replied.

"Oh hell, I'm technically still the division head here, right? If I can't
use my power for good, then why have it at all!" he replied in a
self-mocking tone.

"I know, but there's still the paper work, and with all of the time we
took off in October because of Mom's illness, well I just feel a little
guilty about leaving early."

"Oh Scully, think about that. For most normal people, they would have
had their bags packed and ready to go out the door in the next ten minutes
without batting an eyelash. We're just so used to twelve hour days__," he

"__You mean _you're_ used to the twelve hour days!" Scully interrupted.
"_I_ will never get used to twelve hour days, and after we're married
_you_ are going to get used to eight to maybe, just maybe, ten hour days.
Do I make myself clear, G-Man?"

"Yes Sir! Scully, Sir!" Mulder replied as he jumped up to his full six
foot plus frame at attention. He then dissolved in laughter as he drew
her into his arms. "I love it when you give me orders, Scully."

Then he drew her face up to look at her with his typical Mulder "melt your
heart" smile and whispered, "I love you so much, Dana, so much."

"So, what do you say we blow this joint, Mulder?" she replied in an
emotion-laden voice.


Maggie Scully's Residence
Baltimore, MD

After they had called Maggie to get her request for the Chinese takeout,
Mulder and Scully picked up the order and then drove to the Baltimore home
of Maggie Scully. She'd only been home a few days from the hospital
recovering from a nasty case of microplasma pneumonia, so both Scully and
Mulder felt better staying at her house in order to give her whatever
assistance they could to help her recover.

Of course, Maggie felt it was ridiculous that they felt the need to baby
sit her, but she also felt extremely grateful that she had children who
were so caring and giving of themselves.

Ever since Dana's abduction, four years ago, Maggie held Fox Mulder in a
special place in her heart. Though he didn't know it at the time, she
knew he was hopelessly in love with her daughter, and Maggie prayed for
her safe return not only for her sake but for his.

As Dana and Fox came through the door, they called out to her. When she
indicated to them she was in the den, they walked in to find Maggie with
her feet up on the couch.

"Hi Mom," Dana said as she gave her mom a kiss.

"Hi Mom," Fox said, as he too gave her a kiss. The words fell from his
lips as naturally as they sounded from Dana's.

Mulder didn't have the best of relationships with his own mother,
Elizabeth, so he was most grateful to have Maggie Scully step in as his
surrogate mother. He looked to both her and Dana for support and
strength, and of course, love.

Of course it took Maggie Scully to make Mulder and Dana actually see how
much they loved one another, and belonged with one another. Now, if
anyone asked Scully or Mulder just exactly how marriage was proposed,
neither one would ever present the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
That would be up to Maggie Scully, for it was _she_ who proposed that
they get married, and it was, thanks to her, that Assistant Director
Walter Skinner knew they were engaged to be married.

Granted, that last little tidbit wasn't exactly planned, but it managed to
work out just fine anyway. Walter Skinner promised to keep them together
as long as they continued to work as well as they had been and their solve
rate remained high.

"Hungry?" asked Mulder.

"A little, dear. Were you able to pick up the wonton soup?" Maggie asked.

"Absolutely! Do you want us to set up in here or are you up to going into
the kitchen?" he asked.

"I think I'd just as soon stay put, kids, if you don't mind," Maggie

"Mom, why should _we_ mind. It's your house, remember?" Dana reminded.

"Well, it seems so natural for you two to be here, I figured I should

As Mulder moved about collecting snack tables for Maggie and Dana, (he
planned on sitting right on the floor by the coffee table near all of the
food) he remembered Dana never got around to asking the question she had
wanted to ask in the office.

"Dane? What was it you were going to ask me earlier?" he asked.

"Oh, that. Well, I guess it's just as well I waited till we got home
since this involves you too Mom," she said.

"Okay, we're all ears, Scully."

"Okay," Dana began. "Mom, do you remember when my friend Ellen was
getting married what she did a month or so before the wedding?" Maggie
shook her head with a curious expression on her face, so Dana continued.

"Well, about a month before she got married, she and Jerry invited all of
their friends that were going to be attending the wedding to a pre-wedding
dinner." Maggie began to nod her as the memory came back to her.

"Of course, Dana, now I remember. She and Jerry wanted to give their
friends a chance to get to meet before the wedding to avoid having to
introduce themselves to one another over the noise of a band and the
visual obstruction of hundred foot high flower arrangements," she said
with a chuckle.

Dana giggled along with her mother, while Mulder looked on. He noticed
how the two Scully women's faces just lit up whenever the word "wedding"
was mentioned.

"Well, I was thinking," Dana began.

"Uh oh! I'm in trouble! Dr. Dana's thinking!" Mulder teased.

"Watch it, G-Man, or I'll do more than just be thinking!" she retorted.
Mulder reacted by raising his hands up and looking somewhat contrite. Not
totally, just somewhat. Dana smiled inwardly and wondered if she could
ever stay annoyed with this man for more than fifteen minutes at a

"I was thinking," she began again, all the while glaring at Mulder and
daring him to interrupt again. "I was thinking perhaps we could do the
same thing for Thanksgiving, or if not on the Thursday, maybe Friday or

"I think it would be wonderful if your friends and my friends could get
together before the wedding and really get to know each other. Then the
wedding would be more like a reunion, doncha think?" she asked hopefully.

Before Mulder could respond, Maggie blurted out, "I think it's a wonderful
idea! Your brothers can't make it in for Thanksgiving because they wanted
to be sure that they would be here at Christmas time for the wedding, so I
wasn't planning a big family dinner anyway. Oh Dana, it's a perfect

Mulder looked at the joy and excitement on both his fiancee's and future
mother-in-law's faces, and then realized the only thing he felt at the
moment was a giant knot in his stomach.

"Mulder? So what do you think? Is it a good idea? I mean when Ellen
did, it worked out so well. We all got a chance to mingle and chat, and
when we got back together for the wedding reception, it was like a
reunion! Mulder, I really think it would be wonderful to get all of our
friends together like that, don't you?" Scully asked, but rhetorically.

She turned back to her mother and began discussing possible menu items.
Scully wanted it to be special, and perhaps be just a little different
from the traditional Thanksgiving meal, which is why she was seriously
considering inviting everyone for Friday or Saturday.

"You know, not everyone gets Friday off, so maybe Saturday would be
better." She continued chattering happily with Maggie, while Fox mulled
over the pending dinner. It wasn't that the idea was unappealing, he
simply felt an uneasiness that he couldn't quite pin a legitimate reason

"Mulder, what's wrong?" Scully asked.


"Mulder, when are you going to learn that I can read you like a book. Now
spill it. What's wrong? Ever since I mentioned my idea of a dinner party
for all of our friends, you've looked like I was planning a funeral
instead of a happy occasion. Why?" she demanded.

Mulder looked at her, then at Maggie, and then returned his gaze to Dana.
He took a deep breath to prepare himself, because he figured both women
would laugh at him for his concern. "Scully, how many people do you
figure you want to invite?" he asked quietly.

"Oh, I haven't made up the list yet, but I figure there's Ellen and Jerry,
and of course Kathy and her husband. I also want to invite a few of the
people I work with in the forensics lab, like Jeannie, Bob, as well as
Jessica and Arlene. Oh, and Alan and his wife, Sandy, who works in the
communications department.

"Of course we have to invite Kim and her Significant Other, as well as AD
Skinner," she ticked off the list on her fingers, one by one. She turned
to her mother to ask if there was anyone she forgot.

Mulder felt his face become hot and turning a bright crimson. He opened
his mouth to speak, but he couldn't get the words out. Scully finally
turned around and noted the deep blush of his face, as well as the tell
tale sign of discomfort as Mulder was now standing and shifting his
weight first from one leg and then to the other.

"What's wrong?" she asked.


"Mulder? Stop this! Now tell me what's wrong, please."

"God Scully, it's going to sound so stupid. I mean it sounds stupid to
me, so I can only imagine what it's going to sound like to you," he began.

"Mulder, when are you going to learn you can trust me?" Dana asked.

"Dane," he began, and then hesitated. "Damn it, this is so dumb! Even I
know it's dumb." When he paused she nodded and silently encouraged him to

"Scully, I can count the number of _friends_ of mine to invite on one
hand. And that includes Kim and Skinner, who you've already included on
your list," said Mulder forlornly. "I never realized how hard up for
friends I was until you started ticking off your list."

"Oh c'mon Mulder. I bet you have more friends than you think. Now think!
Who do you want to invite?" she asked.

"Well, there's the Lone Gunmen, Byers, Langley and Fohicke."

"Good, and they'll bring their dates," Scully said.

"Dates?" Mulder looked a little surprised at the thought. "You think the
Lone Gunmen go out on dates?" he asked more seriously than Scully would
have thought.

"Mulder, Byers wears a wedding band, or hadn't you noticed? Of course
they date. They must date. Everyone dates!" she persisted.

"Everyone? Scully, I didn't have a date in four years until we finally
came to our senses and decided to admit we were crazy in love with each

"Yeah, but they have a life, don't they?" she asked.

"Are we talking about the same Lone Gunmen here, Scully?" Mulder chuckled.

"Right. Well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt, okay?" Mulder
nodded and stifled another laugh, until Scully asked him who else.
Mulder's face became very serious.

"Scully," he whispered, "there is nobody else. In case you hadn't
noticed, I didn't have a life before you."

"Oh Mulder, surely you have some friends from the bureau? What about
Agent Obayashi?" she asked.

"I worked with Riichi on one case, Dane. Don't you think that might be a
little presumptuous of me?"

"Do you like him?" she asked.

"Yeah, of course I like him. I like anyone who doesn't treat me like a
freak," he retorted.

"Mulder, I'm sorry. I didn't mean___," she paused.

"No, Dana. I'm sorry. I guess I'm just feeling a little embarrassed at
not having as many friends as you do," he responded contritely.

Maggie Scully cleared her throat to remind them both she was still in the
room. When she got their attention, she asked, "You two should really
think about getting your guest lists together for the invitations anyway.

"Also, you need to choose your attendants so they can find their dresses,
and Fox, you need to choose your ushers and best man. I know we're not
planning the royal wedding, but we still need to coordinate things, okay?"
she appealed.

"Sure, Mom." Then turning to Mulder, she asked him, "Which of the Lone
Gunmen are you going to ask to be your best man?"

Mulder hesitated for a moment or two, and then said, "None of them. I
can't break up the set without hurting the other two's feelings, ya know?"

Scully nodded, and then asked, "But then who's going to stand up for you?
Fox, you have to ask someone be your best man."

"Fox, dear, is there a relative you can ask to stand up for you?" Maggie

He looked pensively towards her and then slowly shook his head. When he
spoke, his words came out slowly and deliberately. "My mother and father
were never very close to the rest of their families.

"Dad didn't allow it. You see, Dad's parents didn't exactly approve of my
mother, so they cut us off too. Mom and her family were a little "too
Jewish" for their taste."

"But I thought your father was Jewish, Mulder. We had the unveiling
service six months ago, and you said that's a Jewish tradition," Scully

"He was Jewish, Scully. His family just didn't like to acknowledge that
fact too loudly, since it wasn't good for business. When Dad married Mom,
and they realized that Nana came along with the package, they cut the ties
real quick. Dad was pissed off, but he got so involved in his government
work, that after a while he didn't give a damn anymore.

"When Nana died though, that was it. We didn't keep in contact with
anyone from my mother's side of the family either, and up until she died,
I only saw Grandmother Mulder maybe two or three times before Sam

"I mean, I know Mom has a sister somewhere, and she had a son. We used
to get together once in a blue moon when I was young, but then when Sam
disappeared, well, even he was lost to me. After Sam was abducted, family
life, as I knew it at least, ceased to exist."

Mulder didn't realize his eyes had welled up with tears at first, but then
he began swiping at the silent tears that had begun falling down his
cheeks. Maggie called him over to her to sit next to her on the couch.

"Fox, I want you to understand something very important. You do have a
family. Dana and I have been your family for as long as we have known
you, okay? And after you two are married, you are going to officially be
a part of the biggest, noisiest, sometimes most irritating, but always the
most loving, Irish family you could ever hope to be a part of. Do you
understand me?

"Oh sweetheart," Maggie cajoled, taking him into her arms, "You're not
alone anymore." The silent tears continued to cascade down Mulder's face,
intermingling with those streaming down Maggie's face as well.

End of part 1/4


Life Cycles: Thanksgiving Friends
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in part 1 & 3

Part 2/4

Scully and Mulder quietly cleared away the cartons of half eaten Chinese
food and dinner plates. Appetites waned following Fox's revelations
about his relationship with his family. As they cleaned up, Scully looked
at Mulder thoughtfully and asked, "Who do you plan on asking to be your
best man?"

"I have someone in mind, but I'd rather not say anything until I ask him.
Don't wanna jinx it, ya know?" he retorted. When she raised her eyebrow
in typical Scully fashion, Mulder merely said, "Don't go there right now,
Scully, okay? I promise I'll let you know when I find out."

"Okay, I let it rest for now," she agreed. "Hey. I love you G-Man," she
said as she nuzzled into his embrace.


FBI Building
Washington, DC

Dana had made up some dinner invitations on the computer, and gave Mulder
a few to address to the Lone Gunmen, Kim, and Skinner. The plan was to
hand deliver as many as possible to save time, and Mulder won the
privilege of delivering theirs.

He would drop off the LGM's invites after work today. Kim's was easy to
deliver, as he just needed to hand it to her before he met with Skinner.
She seemed genuinely delighted to receive it which of course made Mulder
very happy.

Next was the AD. Mulder was nervous. He simply didn't know if what he
intended to ask the AD would be received well or not. Mulder was very
nervous. Very.

"What can I do for you, Mulder?" Skinner asked in a brusque voice.

"Oh, umm, I was wondering, well, Scully and I both were wondering if,
well__," he hemmed and hawed until Skinner couldn't take it any longer.

"Mulder, what!?" he practically shouted out of frustration.

"Here," Mulder said nervously as he awkwardly passed the invitation to

Skinner opened the invitation and looked at it for a long time. Next, he
looked back up at Mulder with an expression that was a cross somewhere
between consternation and puzzlement.

Mulder returned his gaze with some trepidation, and having lost his nerve,
simply said, "We hope you can come." Then, before Skinner had a chance to
respond either positively or negatively, Mulder turned on his heels and
headed for the exit.

"Mulder," called out the strong, decisive voice. Mulder turned around to
face his boss. "I don't recall dismissing you, Agent Mulder."

"No, Sir. I mean, yes, Sir. You didn't. Sorry, Sir," Mulder

Mulder felt like an idiot. His mouth refused to work correctly, his
tongue suddenly felt too large for his palate, and he knew his prayers for
a hole to miraculously appear for him to drop into would most likely not
be answered.

It was a rare moment when Special Agent Fox Mulder felt reduced to what
amounted to a blithering fool, but Assistant Director Walter Skinner
somehow managed to do that to him.

It wasn't for the obvious reason either. Mulder wasn't scared of the AD
like so many of the other agents. They believed every aspect of his
rumored reputation of being a hard-assed, inflexible, tow-the-hard line,
FBI administrator.

Mulder knew better. Mulder had seen another side of the AD that blew the
rumored reputation out of the water.

It was the evening Mulder went to visit Maggie in the hospital. He had
just finished up on a serial murder case, and Agent Riichi Obayashi
dropped him off at the hospital's front door. When he got up to the room
he had last seen her in and couldn't find her, Mulder promptly haired out.

He, with the ever present pessimistic nature, assumed the worst and
totally lost it in the men's room of the hospital. When Skinner arrived
and heard some "nut case" was holed up in the men's room, somehow he knew
it was Mulder.

Mulder remembered Skinner coming into the bathroom and talking so softly
to him. He couldn't really recall the exact words, but he did remember
the gentleness of the words. The AD then, seemingly without hesitation,
sat down on the bathroom floor, and did what no rumor could have ever
justified. He pulled a very needy, frightened, stressed-out special agent
into his arms, and held him and rocked him until he was ready to face the
world again.

Mulder wasn't frightened of the AD, on the contrary, he felt the utmost
respect for this man who so willingly placed the needs of his agents above
his own. What frightened Mulder was the possibility that Walter Skinner
couldn't possibly hold him in the same regard as he held him.

Mulder's experiences with male role models were limited and none too
positive. Walter Skinner was the first male authority figure that Mulder
felt should be in control, because Walter Skinner was the first male
authority figure he'd ever felt was worthy of his trust.

But he didn't know if Walter Skinner felt the same way, and that is what
frightened him. He could tolerate the jeers and harassment of the
majority of his peers and, in fact, came to expect it. However, Mulder
did care about his boss's opinion of him. He cared very much and it was
affecting his ability to maintain a calm demeanor in front of him.

"Agent Mulder, would you like an answer now?" Skinner finally asked.

"Umm, yes, Sir. That would be fine."

"Thank you for the invitation. I accept. Now you are dismissed," he
replied evenly.

"Umm, yes, Sir," Mulder hesitated.

"Is there anything else, Agent Mulder?"

Once again Mulder lost his nerve and merely thanked the AD. He wished him
a good day as he slipped out the door. He figured he would just ask the
AD at the dinner.

End of Part2/4

Life Cycles: Thanksgiving Friends
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in part 1&3

*** Addendum to the disclaimers*** Special thanks to gizzie for allowing
me to borrow the love of her life's (that would be J.F. Byars, folks!)
girlfriend, Rebecca Foster. I promised gizzie I would play nice, and not
kill her off. Actually, I hoped to set up a little bit of history, in my
story which takes place during the time span of the early fourth season
(pre-Cancer setting.)
Thanks again, giz.

Part 3/4

Maggie Scully's Residence
Baltimore, MD
November 23, 1996

Mulder stood in the corner of the room and watched Scully play hostess to
the dozen or so people that had arrived for their dinner party. At the
moment everyone was noshing on little crudit‚s and other hors d'ouevres.

Scully decided that everyone would be "turkey'd out" so she prepared an
Asian feast. Mulder was a little uneasy at first about Riichi Obayashi's
reaction to the menu, (yes, Scully convinced him it would not be
presumptuous at all to invite him) but Riichi said he was so glad to get
away from turkey that an Asian meal made him feel right at home. Mulder
knew there was a reason he liked the guy.

Mulder was proud of himself because he had even helped out a little by
cutting up the vegetables and scrambling the eggs in preparation for the
fried rice, but he left the rest of the meal to his future bride.

He observed how at ease she was with everyone there. Granted, he didn't
really know anyone who was there at this point, with the exception of
Riichi, who arrived with his wife, and Kim, who came with a new boyfriend
of the month. He wondered what it was that made Scully so comfortable
with a crowd of people and he so ill at ease.

The doorbell rang, and Mulder went to answer it. When he opened the door
he was relieved to see more familiar faces. He chuckled a bit at the
sight of Frohicke "dressed to the nines" in a plaid sports jacket and bow
tie. Langley, on the other hand, wore a relatively conservative denim
workshirt over a white turtleneck pull over, while Byers wore his usual
three piece suit.

Frohicke brought a woman that stood at least four inches taller than he,
with long, dark brown, wavy hair and a rather significant cleavage.
Mulder was properly impressed until he realized that "Marisa" was a woman
he'd used as an escort in the past, something that Langley was quick to
point out on the sly.

Langley's date, on the other hand, looked very familiar to him. The
reason for that familiarity was the fact that "Sunshine" was the spitting
image of her older brother, "Ringo" Langley. Obviously their parents were
full-fledged, card carrying members of the flower child movement.

It was then that Byers introduced his significant other, Rebecca Foster,
to Fox Mulder.

"Hi Fox," she said.

"Mulder, just Mulder."

"Oh, well most of my friends call me Becca, just Becca."

"Okay, nice to meet you Becca," Mulder said. Then looking at his watch
again, he asked, "Is this the right time? Eight o'clock?"

"Yes, Mulder. Why? Are we late?" asked Becca.

"You? No. It doesn't matter. He'll probably be a no-show anyway. It
never mattered," Mulder mumbled more to himself than those around him.

While Rebecca Foster looked quizzically at Mulder, Byers tried to make
some more small talk and informed Mulder his date was an entertainment

"Great, if I ever need to be entertained, I'll be sure to call you," he
said with a slight edge to his voice.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked.

Mulder noticed the nonplused expression on both Byers and Rebecca's face
and realized he screwed up. He muttered, "Nothing, Sorry, I didn't mean
anything," and then he gave up trying to explain himself and told them
Scully was inside.

As the trio and their dates moved into the family room, Mulder hung back
in the front hallway and began to pace. He knew he had just acted like a
bit of an ass in front of Byers and his girlfriend, and he regretted it.
He would try to make it up to them later.

But now as the time passed, Mulder was getting more and more uneasy. The
invitation had called for 7:30, it was now going on 8:20, and Walter
Skinner had still not arrived. He wondered if they had made a mistake in
inviting their boss. Perhaps Skinner felt obligated to attend, but in
reality felt uncomfortable in socializing with his subordinates.

Mulder soon came to the conclusion that he was a fool in thinking he could
assume the AD would even want to attend this party, much less__.

The doorbell rang, and Mulder answered the door. When he opened the door,
Mulder's mouth gaped. Standing before him, with his brown leather bomber
jacket opened, wearing a moss green Henley shirt and black pleated
dockers, was his boss. He had never imagined Walter Skinner in anything
but the customary dark blue, gray, or black suit with white shirt and
sedate tie. This was another new side of Walter Skinner.

"Evening, Mulder. I'm sorry I'm late. I went home first to change, and
then I hit traffic coming into Baltimore," he explained.

"No problem, Sir. I'm just__, I mean _we're_ just glad you could make
it. Come on in," replied Mulder with a smattering of anxiety.

"Mulder, how about for tonight we cut the Sir, and you call me Walter."

"Oh. Sure, Sir__, I mean Walter. Yes, I'd like that. Walter."

Skinner smiled wryly and followed Mulder's lead into the den. He looked
around the room and realized he recognized a few of the people from the
bureau, most notably his receptionist, Kim. He didn't recognize the young
man whom he presumed was her date based upon the level of physical contact
he was initiating.

He acknowledged Agent Obayashi with a nod, and smiled slightly toward his
wife. There were a couple of other people he'd seen in the hallways or
cafeteria at the bureau office, but none of these were people that he
knew well enough to know names.

At that point Margaret Scully entered the room and called out hello to the
Assistant Director. Skinner nodded in return, and casually watched her
play hostess to the young people that filled in the spaces of the informal
living room.

He'd always admired people who were comfortable entertaining a crowd, as
he never did feel at ease doing so. His former wife was the social
butterfly, while he was more like a katydid camouflaging himself as best
he could in order to avoid the nonsensical small talk with which he felt
so totally inept.

Mulder began to slowly edge up to Skinner, until he was practically on
Skinner's back. When Walter turned slightly, he bumped into Mulder and
both men jumped in startled surprise.

"Mulder, what the hell are you doing?" Skinner asked in an exasperated

"Umm, nothing, Sir. I just wanted to ask you something," he replied

Skinner waited for a few moments, and when he realized Mulder was going to
remain silent, he said in a tone that was less in control than he would
have liked, "Well, what?!"

"Oh, what. Right. Umm, may I get you something to drink, Sir?" he

"No, I'll get myself something to drink, and I thought you were going to
call me Walter tonight," he replied brusquely as he moved toward the table
with the drinks.

Mulder remained where he was and felt like an absolute dolt. "Shit," he
muttered to himself. "I can't believe this."

"Can't believe what?" asked Rebecca Foster.

"Nothing. Nothing at all."

"Oh really? Well, it's just that you look a little upset," she observed.

"Upset? Why would you say that?" he retorted.

"Because, well, because I know things like that. I mean, I just KNOW,"
she responded seriously.

"Well, you don't KNOW jack-shit, Roberta, so why don't you find Byers and
have yourself a great time," he responded angrily. Mulder began to stalk
off, frustrated as hell with himself for not being able to speak to
Skinner with any form of decorum, as well as for trying to bite the head
off of Byer's girlfriend.

"The name's Rebecca. Rebecca Foster. My friend's call me Becka. __You__
can call me Rebecca, __Fox__," she called after him, annoyed.

He turned around with an equally irritated expression on his face.
"Mulder. Damn it, I said my name was just plain, Mulder." And he then
continued into the another room of the house where he wouldn't have to
deal with anyone for the moment.

While she watched Mulder go off, sulking, she thought to herself ,
*Nothing "plain" about Fox Mulder in the looks department. Too bad he's
such an ass.*


Dana called everyone into the large formal dining room that was set up
buffet style. Various kinds of Asian dishes were set up, such as
Cantonese dishes of shrimp in lobster sauce, vegetable lo mein, and fried

Scully prepared a couple of Szechuan dishes, orange beef and chicken in
garlic sauce. Also, she ambitiously tried out a new Thai recipe she had
for scrumptious coconut shrimp dish.

Finally, Scully even prepared some California sushi rolls, but decided
tonight was not the night to introduce everyone to raw fish, so she
limited the Japanese dishes to appetizers of the California rolls,
shrimp sushi pieces, and pickled ginger.

As everyone oohed and ahhed over the dishes, Mulder was a nervous wreck.
He observed Walter Skinner carefully and worried whether Skinner ever ate
any of these dishes. Next, Mulder wondered if he shouldn't run out for a
take out order of something simple like chicken chow mein, or perhaps even
a Big Mac.

*God, what the hell is the matter with me?* Mulder wondered to himself.
*He's a grown man, and he'll find something to eat. I hope.* Mulder
realized he was becoming irrational. If he didn't speak with Walter
Skinner soon about what he really wanted to talk about, Mulder would have
a nervous breakdown.

End of Part 3/4


Life Cycles: Thanksgiving Friends
by Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in parts 1 & 3

Part 4/4

Scully watched her fianc‚ and wondered what the hell was exactly wrong
with him. He was jumpy and anxious, and she couldn't figure out what was
causing him such discomfort.

She'd chatted up some small talk with the "unholy trio" and their escorts.
Scully knew Marisa was a face she would not likely see again, and since
Sunshine was visiting from out of town, there was a good possibility she
wouldn't see her again too soon either. Becca Foster was another matter.

The woman was sharp, and easily upheld her end of a conversation. But,
more importantly, she made Byers laugh. Scully wasn't sure what the story
was behind the wedding ring Byers wore, but she knew Becca was not his
wife. She was, however, emerging as a very close friend, and Scully
hoped Becca and Byers would be close friends for a very long time.

Scully then watched Mulder as he watched someone else. Skinner. She
noted Mulder was watching Skinner like a hawk, and looking as though he
might fly in for the kill any second. She quietly walked up to him and
gently touched his shoulder.

He jumped a foot in the air anyway.

"Scully! God, you scared the hell out of me," he gasped.

"I just wanted to check up on you and see if you were all right," she

"I was fine. Now my heart feels like it's caught in my throat." Mulder
appeared to be unable to stand still. He didn't have any food on his
plate, but he did have a glass of iced tea.

"Mulder," Scully began, "I am asking you seriously. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"You lie."

"I do not."


"Dane, I'm fine. Really. I just have something on my mind, but I'm gonna
take care of it tonight, and then I'll be fine. Really," he said, trying
to convince himself as much as Scully.

"We will talk about this later, G-Man. Get it?" she asked

"Got it."

"Good." And with that, she stood on her tip toes, while gently reaching
up to pull Fox's face down toward her own. She brushed her lips across
his, but then pressed a bit harder when she felt him responding to her.
All of sudden they both heard some whooping and hollering, and with
blushing faces, they separated quickly.

Scully looked around to see it was the Lone Gunmen and their dates leading
the cheers, and, to Scully's delight, apparently Becca Foster was the head

Meanwhile, Mulder looked over at his boss, and saw Walter Skinner staring
at the two of them with his mouth slightly agape. Mulder wanted to
desperately become the invisible man and disappear. He was beginning to
think his request of Skinner might be better left unsaid. He'd manage.
Somehow. He'd always been known as someone who marched to a different
drummer, so why not now?

Why not? Because he really, really wanted this. It was now or never.

"Umm, Sir__, I mean, Walter?" Mulder began, in a voice that threatened to
crack at any given moment. "May I speak with you in private, please?"

"If you must," Skinner replied. He followed Mulder back into one of the
guest bedrooms, where people had laid out their coats.

After Skinner walked in, Mulder closed the door. He looked at Skinner
seriously, and wondered how he was going to begin.

"Mulder, what's this all about? Are you some kind of trouble?" Skinner

"No! No, Sir, not at all. I apologize if I 'd led you to believe that,"
he replied quickly.

"Well, that's a relief. So, what is it that you need to speak with me
about?" Skinner repeated.

Skinner watched as Mulder became more and more visibly nervous. He
watched as the younger man shifted his weight from one leg then to the
other. The AD noticed Mulder tried a couple of times to say something,
but no sound came out. Then he watched him begin to pace back and forth.

"Mulder, if you don't stand still and tell me what the hell this is all
about, I swear I'm going to use my cuffs on you!" Skinner declared.

"Okay, I'm sorry. You're right, I've been acting a little strange."

"A __little__ strange?"

"Well, I know, everything is relative, but I've been acting strange even
for me. Sir__," and with that Mulder took a very slow, deep cleansing
breath in an attempt to keep from swaying and fainting.

"Sir, I was wondering. You know I'm getting married next month, and well,
I, umm, well, I need to ask you a big favor. You can say no if you want,
I mean I would understand, really. I mean, I know this may be very
presumptuous of me, and if it is, please, Sir, accept my apologies right

"Mulder, just get on with it. Please," Skinner urged.

"Right. You're right. God, Sir, I've faced fluke men and little grey men,
and alien bounty hunters, and I don't think I've ever felt as nervous with
them as I do facing you right now. Okay." Mulder took one more deep
breath and then he spoke.

"You know I don't have any brothers or close relatives. I also don't have
any real close friends that I hang out with, except for the Lone Gunmen,
but I need someone to__, to do something for me, and well, the boys are
good friends, but I need someone__." He paused to catch his breath and
collect his thoughts.

"Mulder, speak," ordered the AD.

"You see, Sir, you know my father was mur__, was killed last year, but if
he hadn't died, he probably would have been the logical person even if I
wouldn't have really wanted him to do this, but I loved him, in an odd
sort of way. I mean he was my father. But he's dead so he can't__.

"Mulder, out with it already," demanded Skinner.

"I'm sorry. I'm not making any sense, am I," Mulder asked rhetorically.
He looked directly into Skinner's eyes, took a deep breath, and continued.

"Sir__, Walter. When I get married next month, I need a Best Man to stand
up for me. I__, I was wondering if you would consider doing that__, I
mean stand up for me at my wedding."

Mulder finally stood quietly and absolutely still. He was afraid if he
moved or spoke, he would somehow jinx the moment and cause Skinner to
reject him outright.

And of course that's the way Mulder would have thought. If Walter Skinner
said no, it would not have felt like a rejection of his request. No, it
would have felt like a rejection of him, and Fox Mulder was scared to
death that was what was going to happen.

Skinner watched the young man before him and knew how difficult it was for
Mulder to request this of him, for he was taking a great risk in the
asking. Skinner, too, remained very quiet and pensive, in order to
consider carefully what he was going to say to him.

Mulder tried to determine what Skinner was going to say, but he found he
couldn't read the AD's expression no matter how hard he tried. Mulder
decided Skinner was most likely trying to think of a way to let him down
easily. Fox felt his shoulders begin to sag in anticipation.

Skinner observed the change in Mulder's demeanor, and realized he needed
to put his agent out of his misery. He walked over to put his hands on
Mulder's shoulders and with a gentle firmness, forced Fox Mulder to look
directly at Walter Skinner.

"Mulder, I've been standing up for you for almost four years now. What
makes you think I would stop now? Fox, I would be honored to be your Best

Skinner felt Mulder's body shudder and knees buckle under his grasp. He
clutched him harder and pulled him toward him in an awkward embrace. As
he held him, Skinner felt Mulder's body convulse slightly in shudders of
relief. Skinner found himself with his arms embraced around his agent,
but now he wasn't exactly sure what to do next.

For lack of knowing any better, he supported him in his arms for a few
more minutes, and then Skinner tried to get his attention.

"Mulder? Mulder? Hey, you okay?" he asked.

"mmmffffnnnn___," was his muffled reply.

"Excuse me?" Skinner asked. Mulder finally felt steady enough to raise
his head off of Skinner's shoulder.

"I'm fine, Sir." Mulder straightened up and attempted to "wash" his face
with his open hand. Walter looked around and found a box of tissues and
handed a couple to him. "Thanks," he said as he wiped his face and blew
his nose.

Skinner merely nodded and then asked, "Ready to go back in and grab a bite
to eat? Quite frankly, I'm starving and I don't want to miss out on the
sushi or the spicy orange beef."

"You like the spicy stuff? Wait a minute. You like sushi?" he asked

"Actually, I like sashimi better, but it's so damned expensive that I save
it for special occasions. Why? Don't you?"

"I've never tried it," he admitted sheepishly.

"You've never tried sushi or sashimi?" Skinner asked unbelievingly.


"Well, it looks like as your Best Man, it will be one of my duties to
teach you about the finer things in life, and Son, one of those things is
definitely Sushi," Skinner said chuckling while walking him out of the
bedroom with his arm around Mulder's shoulders.

Mulder looked at Skinner with bright, glistening eyes. He was standing
next to Walter Skinner, Assistant Director of the FBI, who was currently
laughing out loud about, of all things, teaching him the fine art of
eating sushi.

Walter Skinner, his boss. His Best Man. "Come on, Walter. You can give
me my first lesson now," he laughed.

"Hey Mulder, that looks good on you," he said softly.


"The smile, Mulder. The smile looks good on you."

"Oh," he said as his smile became even brighter. "Walter?"

"What, Mulder."

"Thank you. Thank you so much," he whispered.

"You're welcome, Fox," he replied just as softly, but then in a louder
voice, "Bet you didn't know I can use chop sticks either, did you? Come
on, Mulder, it's time for some important lessons of life."

End of Part 4/4

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Thanks, and hope you all have/had a Happy Thanksgiving!