Title: Who You Were
Author: Mack the Spoon
Written: September 2008
Classification: VRA
Keywords: MSR
Spoilers: IWTB
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, the show, or the movie.
Feedback: Yes, please! I'd love to get your comments at glace_aux_fraises@hotmail.com
Archive: I'd be thrilled, but please email me first.

Summary: Scully wanted and needed to reconnect with her family.

But the fact that Mulder couldn't come to San Diego with her made her feel like she was being pulled in two, the farther she got away from him.

Author's Note: This is a sequel to my story "The Things That Are Given", as per the requests I got. You don't need to have read that story to understand this one, although it might help.

Also, big thanks to Dasha for her edits and always insightful comments!

Scully kept glancing at the seat next to her to talk to Mulder, and turning away again quickly as soon as she realized it was, of course, not him. It felt so wrong to be traveling by herself.

Especially after the stress of getting to the airport on time and checking her bags properly, she wanted Mulder. She could clearly imagine him making a silly crack about airline food or how their combined air mileage would be enough to reach some distant planet, and she would give him a little smile and be able to relax for the flight ahead.

But he wasn't here. It still wasn't safe for him to travel much of any distance away from their home. The charges against Scully had been dropped, and she wanted and needed to reconnect with her family. But the fact that Mulder couldn't come to San Diego with her made her feel like she was being pulled in two, the farther she got away from him.

They had managed to have a relatively normal breakfast early that morning, before Scully left. Mulder had jokingly promised not to become too much of a hermit during the week that she would be gone, and Scully had told him he'd better not. Neither of them had been able to eat much, but they could pretend that it was because it was earlier than either of them usually ate.

When the taxi had arrived, there was no dramatic good-bye scene.

That would have been ridiculous, Scully thought, for a week-long absence. And besides, they'd had quite enough of those. They had kissed farewell inside the house, and Scully had picked up her bags and gone after committing to find a way to call him when she arrived. He had nodded, wished her a good trip, and locked the door behind her. She spared a thought to hope the taxi driver hadn't seen him, although her common sense told her that she was probably being over paranoid.

Now, though, as she pictured Mulder's parting smile and the way his eyes always looked after they kissed, she felt tears well up in her own. *Normal, healthy people don't cry when they leave for a week,* she told herself, then instantly answered, *Yeah, but normal people haven't been forced to stay together to stay alive for a year... and why am I bothering to pretend to be normal, anyway?*

She smiled wryly, shook her head, and took a deep breath, forcing herself to focus instead on how she was looking forward to seeing her family after so long. That worked, but the effort it took must have shown, because as the plane took off, she was startled by a voice next her saying, "Don't much like flying, do you?"

She tried not to jerk too much, and turned to face the man, smiling faintly. "Never have. And, um, it's been a while since I've had to."

"It's not my favorite thing, either," he said agreeably, "and of course it's so much less pleasant in the dungeons of economy class."

She smiled again. "Yeah."

"So, is this for business or pleasure?" he asked.

"Pleasure," Scully said. "I'm visiting family."

"Oh, me too," her neighbor replied. "My nephew's getting married."

She realized he expected her to explain further, in turn. "It's more of... just a family reunion, for me."

He nodded. "My name's Troy, by the way." He extended his hand.

She shook it. "Dana."

"Nice to meet you, Dana. Don't worry, I'm not going to talk for the whole rest of the flight - I know as well as anyone that the best way to get through these things is to try and get some sleep."

She nodded gratefully. "It's nice to meet you, too. That sounds like a good idea. You don't mind if I close the shade?"

"Nope, go ahead. Sleep well." He grinned again, put on some headphones, and closed his eyes.

She closed the shade and shut her eyes, but couldn't relax enough to go to sleep. Quite apart from the fact that she didn't know how long it had been since she had fallen asleep on a plane without the comforting knowledge of Mulder's presence nearby, she couldn't stop wondering about what would happen when she arrived in San Diego.

Her mother had said she and Bill would both come to meet her, and they would go back to Bill and Tara's house. That sounded good, and was to be expected. And she had a strong hope that if Bill didn't have the sense on his own, her mother or Tara would keep him from making too many disparaging comments about Mulder. He had grown in his attitudes, she knew, but the turmoil of that last year before she and Mulder had left had thrown everything into even more confusion. She winced at the thought of her family's reaction to the news about William, and quickly shifted her thoughts elsewhere.

She really was excited to see them all. And it would be a step toward feeling like she had connections in the world again, after so much isolation. She just hoped that she could actually re -establish such connections - it hadn't been easy to open up to her colleagues at work, even to the admittedly limited extent that she had been used to at the FBI. She couldn't count the number of changes she had undergone since the last time the Scullys had gathered as a family, and she hoped that neither she nor her loved ones would feel like strangers to each other.

Somehow, despite her worry, she must have drifted off, because the next thing she knew, someone was shaking her shoulder gently.


Scully blinked and sat up, catching herself just in time before she spoke Mulder's name. "Oh, Troy?" she asked, running a hand through her hair.

"We're about to land. Sorry to wake you, but you didn't seem to hear when the captain said to put your seat up," he said with a smile.

"Hmm, guess I was more tired than I thought. Thanks," she said.

She pulled out her carry-on and then stretched a little, wishing she could stand up.

"Well, we both slept through most of the flight, then. That's always a relief. Although I guess that might not help with the jet lag."

She smiled faintly in response, but her mind was already occupied with pushing down an absurd rush of nervousness. As people finally began to leave the plane, though, Scully did remember to wish his nephew a nice wedding. He told her to have fun at the reunion, and she nodded decisively. "Thank you, I will."

"There she is!" Scully heard her mother's voice from several yards away at the baggage claim terminal, and almost before she could look up, she was enfolded in her arms. "Dana, sweetheart!"

Now she was crying, and she could tell by the way her arms shook that her mother was crying, too. "Hi, Mom," she breathed.

Maggie pulled back. "Let me look at you. You look good, honey."

Scully laughed shakily. "Mom, no one looks good after a cross -country plane trip." But she searched her mother's face. She looked older than she remembered, but not by much. "You look wonderful." She turned to Bill, who had been watching, and had tears in his eyes, too. "Don't I get to hug you, too?"

"Of course," he said in an unsteady voice. "C'mere." She was enveloped again, and savored the feel.

"You look good, too. How are Tara and Mattie and Sarah?" she asked, even though she had talked to her mother about them recently.

"They're great. They're really excited to see you, Dana," he said, grinning.

"Well, I'm excited to see them, too." She paused, unable to stop looking at them both.

After a pause, Mrs. Scully remarked, "We'd better get your bag," and turned to the conveyor belt.

"Oh, yes," her daughter said, and turned as well. In a second or two, it came around, and she reached for it.

"I can get that," Bill offered. "That one there?" He pointed.

She nodded, deciding to let him. He could be so chivalrous.

Sometimes it reminded her of Mulder, in a way. She smiled to herself, wondering what either of them would think of such an observation, and followed her family out to the car.

"So Mom tells us you're working as a doctor now, Dana?" Bill said, after they'd buckled in. "What area do you specialize in?"

"I'm in residency right now," she said, "but I'm going to be a general practitioner."

"So, a family doctor?" he asked.

"Basically, although I also do surgery if my patients require it."

She had only participated in a few minor surgeries recently, but it had been interesting how similar and different the process was from pathology.

He nodded. "Do you enjoy it?"

"Yes, I do. It's exhausting to do the training I need in order to practice again, but it's been rewarding," she said.

Her mother spoke from the back seat, where she had insisted she would sit. "How are your colleagues?"

She paused for a second. "They're good people. Good doctors." She sighed mentally before adding, "I haven't gotten to know them very well yet."

"But you're..." Bill paused, too, and started again. "You are taking care of yourself, right? Letting yourself have some fun, sometimes?"

She sighed out loud this time. "Yes, Bill, I do know how to take care of myself." She made an effort to sound pleasant. "It didn't take long to remember from med school how important it was to take breaks or risk exhausting myself."

He gave her a sharp look, as if he didn't quite believe her, but nodded again. "Well, good."

"It must be nice to be safe again," Mrs. Scully said. "I know we've been so relieved to hear that."

"Yeah," Scully said, thoughts drifting to Mulder in spite of herself. "It, uh, took some getting used to, actually, but it's nice."

"Being home is completely different from being at sea," Bill stated, and she was surprised to realize how apt the comparison was. He would understand that much, even if there was much he could never understand.

They arrived, and Bill took her suitcase again as they entered.

Tara opened the door immediately, and Scully had her third very enthusiastic hug of the day, which she returned just as eagerly.

"It's so good to see you, Dana! Come in. You're staying in Mattie's room - I hope you don't mind. He'll take his sister's, and we'll have Sarah in our room for the week."

"Oh, that should be fine. I hope it doesn't bother you all too much," Scully said.

"No, he'll be fine, don't worry about it," Tara replied. "Speaking of, where is that boy? Mattie, your Aunt Dana's here!" she called.

Bill shut the door, and they heard running footsteps. Her five-year-old nephew was shy at first, since it had been a while since he had seen her, but soon he was chattering to her and insisting she come look at his baby sister.

Scully had met Sarah briefly a few weeks after her birth, but she allowed herself to be led to crib where the baby was currently asleep. "Don't wake her up, Mattie," Tara cautioned as they left, smiling.

He promised he wouldn't, and they peered in. Scully whispered, "You have a beautiful sister, Mattie," and he beamed at her with a proud, "Yep!" She firmly pushed away all thoughts of another little boy who would be around Sarah's age now, as they went back downstairs to have a meal that would feel something like lunch to Scully's east-coast-oriented body.

Tara's cooking was as good as ever, and the meal passed smoothly.

Fatigue from the trip gave Scully a good excuse to mostly sit, listen, and absorb, although she answered when she was spoken to.

Mrs. Scully passed on Charlie's regrets at being unable to see her, and assured Dana that she would give him his sister's at missing him, the next time they saw him.

As she helped to clear the table, and after Mattie had gone to go watch his favorite show in the other room, Tara asked, "Any news about Mulder? Maggie said you said he was safe?"

Scully nodded. She had known that wasn't going to be enough once she was actually here. "Yes, he's fine. I - I can't really talk about him, though. I'm sorry."

"They're still looking for him?" Bill said, shaking his head.

"Well, we - I don't know if they're actively looking for him, but it's still best that he be in hiding, yes," Scully responded.

"Heaven knows why they'd still be wasting resources on him," Bill scoffed.

She glanced up sharply from where she had been putting plates in the dishwasher. "What do you mean?"

"I just mean, the FBI should focus on some actual criminals!" he said. "Why, what did you think, Dana? Of course I know he didn't do anything wrong, or you wouldn't have left with him."

"Oh," she said, unable to think of a response. "Yes." She cleared her throat. "Well, I'm not going to argue with that." She smiled thinly.

"No one is," Maggie put in.

Scully braced herself for more tense comments, but all that happened was Tara asking, "But... can you tell us if you get to see him, or anything?"

She looked her sister-in-law in the eye. "I really do want to tell you. I can say... I can say that when I tell you he's safe, I have very good reason to believe it." *Please don't ask any further,* she added silently.

Tara nodded slowly, looking concerned. "All right. That's good, I guess. I just hate to think of him being all alone."

*Me, too,* Scully thought with a pang. "Yeah," was what she said.

After a moment, she offered, "I can pass on your greetings to him."

"Please do," she said, smiling. "Tell him we wish we could see him, too."

Scully couldn't help but glance at Bill, but his face matched Tara's in concern. "I will." She finished her task, and stood up straight. "If you don't mind, I'd like to unpack just a little and settle in upstairs. I won't be long."

"Sure, go ahead. We were planning on heading to the beach for a little before dinner. Does that sound good?" Bill asked.

"That sounds wonderful," she said sincerely, and went upstairs, closing the door behind her. She knew that might be seen as a little odd, but she needed the privacy.

Sitting down the bed, she opened her carry-on to get out a few essentials, and her cell phone. Making sure everyone was downstairs, she flipped it open and pressed her number one speed -dial. It picked up on the second ring, and there was silence, as she expected. "Mulder, it's me."

"Scully! How was the flight?"

"It was fine. I missed having you to distract me," she admitted.

"That's my job," he agreed, and she could hear his smile. "How's the family?"

"Everybody's good. Mattie's way too big. Oh, Tara and Bill send their greetings."

"Really?" Both of them? he might as well have asked. "Well, I'd tell you to say thanks for me, but you know."

"Yeah," she said, sighing. "Are you as tired of me having to be your go-between for everyone as I am?" Then realizing what that sounded like, she hurried to add, "Not that I really mind, it's just... I don't want you to be a secret."

He was quiet for a second, and then she heard his sigh. "Well, I couldn't pick a better one, if I have to have a go-between. Sorry it's such a bother, though."

"No, Mulder, you know that's not what I meant." She wondered if his guilt for his involvement in her life would ever go away.

"Please don't start that again. I just... as much as I won't complain about having you all to myself - it's not fair, that my so-called crimes were just as fake as yours, yet you still aren't free."

"You know, you're really sexy when you're mad on my behalf," he said.

She laughed, and allowed him to lighten her mood. "Whatever, Mulder."

"No, I've always thought so," he insisted.

"Always? You didn't just think I was cranky?"

"Well, maybe. But you're sexy when you're cranky, too," he said.

She rolled her eyes. "You're incorrigible."

"And you're just plain hot, Scully," was his earnest response, using the tone of voice he'd use if he were trying to convince her to come chase Bigfoot with him.

"Hmm, well, then it's a good thing I got assigned to that hot partner all those years ago," she said.

"Who was that?" Mulder asked, pretending jealousy.

She laughed again, tolerantly, and then heard footsteps coming up the stairs. "Oh, sorry, Mulder, I have to go. I'll see if I can call you tomorrow. Please stay out of trouble?"

"Of course, Scully," he said seriously. "Love you."

"Love you, too," she said quietly, and hung up. At that moment, there was a knock, and her mother opened the door. "Hi, Mom."

"Hi, Dana. I was just checking to see if you wanted any help up here. Who was that on the phone?" She sat down on the bed next to her daughter.

"Oh, um, just a colleague," Scully said, setting the phone on the bedside table.

"Do you tell all your colleagues that you love them?" Maggie asked, smiling.

"I..." she started to try to answer, flushing despite her best efforts.

Mrs. Scully interrupted. "Don't worry about it, honey, you know I won't tell anyone. You know you can trust me that much, right?"

Dana sighed. "I know, Mom. I don't want to hurt you. I just... have to be careful all the time. I can't start slipping."

Her mother put a hand on hers. "All right, I won't push. You've made your point, and I believe you know what's best for your own life. But you can trust all of us, too. We're your family, and we love you."

Scully took a deep breath. "I do know that." She wanted to explain, but didn't really know how. "Old habits, I guess."

"Oh, Dana, isn't that one you can give up, now?" Maggie smiled worriedly.

"While Mulder's still not safe..." Scully said, then stopped.

"Well, I can try, especially here." She returned the smile.

"Of course you can," her mother said. She bent down and took out some of her daughter's clothes. "Dana, I'm proud of you. I need to tell you that. It took me a while to realize because I was so hurt after - after William, and then you left and I didn't know where you were..."

"I'm sorry," Dana whispered, tears filling her eyes.

Her mother squeezed her hand. "But I finally realized you were doing what makes you, you, and sticking to the choice you know is right even when it's hard. And you made it, and you're here, and you're safe!" She pulled her to her arms again.

Scully found herself crying in earnest in her mother's arms as she hadn't been able to after the terrible day she had given up her son. "I'm sorry, Mom, I'm so sorry," she choked. "It was... so hard, and I didn't think... you'd ever forgive me..."

"Shhh, Dana," her mother soothed. "I know. How could I stay angry forever, once I started to think what I could have done if I were ever faced with such an awful choice?" Her voice, too, was clogged with tears.

Scully got her breathing under more control and protested, "I never really explained... What you must have thought of me!" She pulled back and met her mother's eyes.

"Well, I eventually had a visit from Mr. Skinner. He didn't tell me a whole lot more than you had. It was more his obvious care for you that helped persuade me." She paused. "I won't deny I was angry, sweetheart. But even when I was angry, I knew there was a reason. I know you better than to mistrust your reasons, hard as it was." She sighed. "It still took a long time, though. I wish you could have found a way to ask for our help making the decision. He's our family, too."

Scully tensed and looked down. "Don't, Mom. Please don't. It's done," she whispered, still taking deep breaths to try to right herself. "It doesn't matter... what doubts anyone might have had."

Maggie's gaze as she glanced back up was reproachful, but her daughter stayed silent, unable to talk about this anymore.

Finally, Mrs. Scully relented. "All right. But please, please keep your family in the loop when you make major life decisions? I refuse to believe that's too much to ask, especially now that you're safe."

Scully gave a reluctant nod. "I'll do my best." There was a pause.

"And Bill and Tara? Do they, um, do they know-?"

"Bill and I talked while you were gone. It took him longer to come around to the idea that there really wasn't another choice, but I think he understands now. I guess he discussed it with Tara later, too."

"Thanks, Mom." She looked down at the pathetic amount they had unpacked, and gave a watery chuckle. "I guess we didn't really get me unpacked."

Mrs. Scully smiled. "Not really, but that's all right. Go wash your face, and then we'll all take a walk on the beach."

Scully smiled at that familiar-sounding instruction, and did as she was told. As she finished drying off, she felt a weight she hadn't remembered carrying lifting from her shoulders.

Author's Note: Thanks for reading!

I honestly didn't intend for this to have as much William Angst as I eventually did put in, but then the plot seemed to need it. Hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you thought at glace_aux_fraises@hotmail.com .

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