table setting

Title: Family
Author: Kalynn
Written: October 13, 1998
Rating: PG
Classification: V/A
Keywords: M/S friendship, Mulder angst/torture
Scully angst
Spoilers/Timeline: Demons, Redux I
II, Emily (very minor). Just prior to season six, but ignore the very end of The End.
Archive: Okay for Gossamer. Others, if you want it, I'm honored. Please, ask first, thanks! Come on, at least let me know where it's at so I can visit. :-)

Summary: Mulder and Scully during Thanksgiving.

Author's Notes: Alrighty, this was written after reading the holiday challenge on Shirley's MTA. So, just so you know this is a Thanksgiving story, and it's mostly a mental angst/torture thing. Then again, that might depend on your idea of torture. So anyway, blame Shirley *evil grin*. Second note: I know very little of the geography of the eastern seaboard. Specifically, I don't have a clue how long it would take to drive from DC to RI, and I made up details on the house (it's fic after all *l*). Lastly, I'm basing this around the belief that Sam was abducted on the 27th of November. That being stated, please just run with me, 'kay? Thanks!!! :-) ~kaly

Regarding the Keywords: Time and again my work has been deemed shipper, or at least shipper friendly. This at the same time that when I read my stories I see a deep wonderful friendship, or at most UST. In fact, I've often been taken for a shipper, and while I'm cool with that, I'm more a friendshipper/UST-er. The point of this rambling is to just say we all get out of a story what we bring with us. If you find this to be leaning toward MSR, feel free. Either way, I hope to enjoy it. :-)

Disclaimer: Straight simple and to the point: Mulder, Scully, Mrs. Scully and Skinner are property of FOX Television, 1013 Productions, Chris Carter, and probably a bunch of other people. If I owned them, I wouldn't need student loans. :-) Oh, and Barbie ain't mine either.


Basement Office Of Mulder and Scully
Wednesday Afternoon, November 25

Mulder sat at his desk, staring blankly off into space. He had vaguely noticed Scully casting concerned glances in his direction several times over the past hour. For most of the morning he had been fine, or as close to fine as he could manage during the week of Thanksgiving. He didn't feel as if he had much for which to be thankful. Practically no family and few friends. In fact, the only thing he could actually find himself thankful for was the woman sitting across the office from him.

His state of melancholy had been triggered by glancing at the calendar behind his desk. He hadn't realized, or more likely he had blocked it out, but the anniversary of Samantha's abduction fell on the same day on which it had happened. The 27th was again on the day after Thanksgiving.

Ever since that discovery, Mulder had barely moved. A wave of loneliness swept over him, and refused to relent. Even glancing over at Scully, to assure himself that she was indeed there, did little to soothe the empty ache in his heart. Memories of loss from long ago were prevailing in his mind and his heart.

It had been just over a year ago that he had been presented with the prize to his quest. Samantha, alive and whole. It had proven to show him how pointless so many of his efforts had been. Had it not been for Scully's recovery, it would have been the lowest point of his life. Unknowingly, Scully had grounded him and kept him sane. Now, a year later, the anniversary held him like a vise. It had come to signify the loss of so much more than just Samantha. It had become the hallmark of his lost childhood and innocence. He still felt as if his world died that day. That was the day when Fox Mulder had been left alone.

The longer he sat unmoving, the more morose he became. After the first hour Scully had given up trying to observe him covertly and had begun to examine him openly. Twice, Mulder had started to speak, but found the words would not come and instead, kept his mouth closed. Whenever he would try to speak he felt like he couldn't get enough air, it was as if he were suffocating on grief.

Mulder knew Scully was concerned, however, he was also aware that in three hours she would be leaving for her mother's house. He couldn't bring himself to cause her to miss the chance to see her family. Especially knowing Charlie and his family were flying in.

A file lay open in front of him, but he had no memory of pulling it out. A cold shudder coursed though Mulder when he realized that it was his sister's file that had found its way onto the top of the cluttered desk. Broken from his reverie, he again noticed Scully looking at him. Seeing that she had packed her laptop and had her purse out, he glanced at the clock to verify it was indeed time to leave for the extended weekend.

Pulling off his glasses, Mulder reached around the back of his chair and picked up his jacket. Looking at the files that lay scattered across his desk, he gathered a few and shoved them into a carry case. Seeing the disproving look cross Scully's features, he shrugged. "Just a little light reading, Scully," he added offhandedly.

"I wish you would reconsider, Mulder. Mom's going to be disappointed that you didn't come."

Mulder managed a laugh that didn't quite reach his eyes. "I'm sure she'll be more than distracted enough not to miss me. Particularly with Charlie and his family in town." When she started to protest, he cut her off. "Come on, Scully. Time to go, you've got a long drive. Besides, I might have plans to, you know."

Both of them knew Mulder was lying, but Scully let it slide. "Okay, Mulder. I can't force you. What do you say we get this weekend started?" She gestured toward the door before walking through it. Scully waited for Mulder in the hallway to ensure that he at least left the office, and the partners walked through the empty hallways to the parking garage.

Sitting in her car, Scully looked over at Mulder. "Happy Thanksgiving, Mulder."

"You too, Scully." He turned and waved, then crossed over to where he had parked that morning. He watched at she started her car and drove off, grateful to be alone finally. Alone was something he had grown used to over the years.


Mulder's Apartment
Wednesday Evening, November 25

Mulder entered his apartment and threw his jacket in the general direction of the coat rack, and dropped his brief case by the door. Pausing to glance at the softly-glowing fish tank, he sighed. Reaching up, he roughly pulled off his tie and dropped it on the coffee table. Suddenly without anything to do, Mulder simply stood in the living room for a few moments.

It took only a few seconds before his gaze fell onto the framed photograph that sat beside his computer. It was one of a set of photos that were on the desk. The object of his attention was a captured memory of him and Samantha, in the time before his world had shattered. The photo immediately to its right was a snapshot of him and Scully taken on a recent case.

Mulder crossed the small room in three strides and gently picked up the faded photograph. A sorrowful smile crossed his features as he ran his fingers along the smooth frame. Unnoticed, a single tear traced down from his left eye and splashed silently on the glass. Absent-mindedly, Mulder rubbed away the track of moisture from his cheek and sat the frame down onto the coffee table next to the discarded tie.

An idea half-formed in his mind, Mulder went into his bedroom and pulled out a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. While he changed, he let his mind drift, recalling Thanksgiving holiday's past. He smiled again, a faint sad smile, as he remembered a Thanksgiving before Sam had disappeared. They had decided they wanted a puppy and had made their parents miserable in the attempt. They had all been happy then, at least as happy as Mulder could recollect.

Moments later, Mulder slipped his wallet into his jeans pocket. Pulling on his running shoes and leather jacket, he grabbed his keys and left the apartment. Not allowing himself time to think, he quickly jogged down the stairs and over to his car. Giving even the idea of extra clothes little thought, he started the car and drove off into the cold winter night.


Maggie Scully's House
Wednesday Evening, November 25

The family atmosphere at Maggie Scully's house was overflowing, as were the rooms in the crowded house. Scully stood in the kitchen doorway, watching her nephews playing in the living room. Matthew wasn't quite a year old, but Charlie's sons were old enough to be roughhousing. The memory of Emily flickered across her mind, and clouded her blue eyes momentarily.

Seeing the far away look on her eyes, Charlie walked over and put his arm around her shoulders. "What ya thinking about, Sis?"

Shaken from her thoughts, Scully looked up at her little brother and smiled. "Just thinking." Elbowing him lightly in the ribs, she diverted the conversation. "So, what about you? How's life with those two hellions these days? Geez, Charlie, they're like you and Bill were, only wilder."

His laughter joining hers, Charlie replied, "You've got that right. I'm glad that I've finally been stationed where I'm home more. I hate leaving Christy to take care of them by herself. They're a handful."

"I'm sure she's glad your home more, too." Scully raised her eyebrows suggestively.

Charlie raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Well, for matter, so am I." Laughing he added, "Gee, thanks for the appropriate conversation topic here, Sis."

Ducking out from under his arm, Scully distracted Charlie by tickling him. "Well, Charlie, you can't stay the baby of the family forever."

Catching his breath, Charlie turned toward his sister, "It's tickle payback time, Dana."

Maggie Scully laughed as she sidestepped her two youngest children. After walking into the living room, she turned to look back at them when she heard something similar to a squeal come from Dana. Relaxing into the lounge chair, Maggie smiled warmly at the sight of her family together and enjoying themselves. It was rare that the three kids were in at the same time, and rarer still that nothing went wrong.


On The Road
Wednesday Night, November 25

After Mulder had driven away from his apartment, he paid little attention to the roads ahead of him. His mind having long since sought to shut down, his body went through the motions of driving. Seemingly of its own accord, his car followed the route that would eventually take him to Rhode Island.

Even in his confused mind Quonochontaug seemed an odd choice. Although he couldn't explain it, it just felt like where he needed to go. Instead of running away, he was driving toward his memories. Resting his elbow on the window sill, he propped his head up on his hand. Yellow light flickered across his face from the street lamps and the headlights of oncoming cars crossed his vision, but he hardly knew they were there.

One road blended into another as each hour passed into the next. The car radio hummed quietly and distractedly Mulder tapped the beat on the steering wheel. He noted with disinterest when he crossed the state line into Rhode Island.

Pink was beginning to tinge the horizon before Mulder began to feel the effects of driving all night. Too determined to reach the summer house, he pressed on. Sometime after ten he pulled into a drive through and ordered a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito. He had to admit it was a bad choice, but forced himself to choke down the unappetising food. He would have preferred to stick with coffee, but he had faced a lecture from his subconscious. Strangely, his subconscious had Scully's voice.

Undeterred and careful to keep the memories at bay, he kept driving.


Maggie Scully's House
Wednesday Night, November 25

Wednesday evening passed in a blur in the Scully house. Everyone was relaxed and enjoying the family atmosphere. Long after the children were tucked into bed, the adults stayed up talking. The conversation tended to stay in the past, as the siblings and their spouses shared stories of crazy things they had done as children.

During a lull in the continuous conversation, Scully slipped out of the living room and into the kitchen. She had just picked up the phone when Bill walked into the kitchen behind her. Scully paused dialing the phone when she heard the clinking of glasses as he placed the dishes in the sink. She smiled at Bill and then resumed punching in the familiar pattern of Mulder's home number.

"Dana . . ."

Scully looked at Bill again, punching in the last number, "Yeah?"

"Should you really be calling ? This is a family holiday." Bill kept his voice low so that no one in the living room could hear his question.

Placing her hand over the receiver so that if Mulder picked up he couldn't hear her, she replied, "How dare you, Bill. Would you grow up? I'm not fifteen anymore. You can't dictate whom I associate with." She paused when she heard his machine pick up. Holding up her hand to silence Bill, she spoke into the phone. "Hey, Mulder. It's me. I just wanted to say hi. I'll try to catch you tomorrow. You know how to reach me. Night."

He waited until she had hung up the phone before speaking again. "Dana, he's bad news."

Scully took a deep breath. "Bill, I know you care about me, but please don't start this again."

"Again?" Bill asked, his surprise showing on his face.

Shaking her head, Scully said, "I know what happened between you two when I was sick. I don't appreciate the way you treated him."

He placed his hands on her shoulders, "Dana . . ."

She steeled her blue eyes and looked up at him. "Don't me. Please, just leave it alone. Let's just enjoy the holiday. Okay?"

Bill nodded his head, but remained silent. Pulling Scully into a hug, he finally spoke. "Okay, I'll leave it alone. But if he hurts you . . ."

Scully pulled out of the hug, "Bill . . ."

Bill held his hands up in mock surrender. "All right, all right."

"Bill? Dana?" Both of them looked toward the living room when they heard their mother calling them. "Everything okay in there?"

"Yeah, Mom." Scully said as she walked back into the main room. "We were just talking."

Charlie covered his mouth, attempting to stifle a yawn. "I think that goes for me, too," Tara laughed, pointing at Charlie. The laughter and jokes continued as the group slowly made their way upstairs and into their individual bedrooms. Soon, Scully turned off the light in her childhood bedroom and crawled into bed. Pulling the covers up around her, she settled into a deep sleep.


The Mulder's Summer Home, Quonochontaug
Thursday, November 26

Finally, Mulder pulled up beside of his family's summer house. Before getting out of the car, Mulder simply sat and stared at the aging house. It had changed very little from when he and Samantha had spent part of that last summer there. He had few memories of the last time he had been to the house, still suffering from the effects of Dr. Goldstein's treatments. He shuddered, recalling the one vivid memory of that night. Aiming his gun at Scully before shooting the mirror and collapsing.

Taking a deep breath, Mulder pulled the keys from the ignition and got out of the car. His long strides carried him across the brown lawn. Stepping up onto the porch, he turned and looked around the deserted area. He knew it was probably the last place he should be, but it still felt right somehow. Looking down at the keys in his hand, he singled out the key he needed and unlocked the door.

The door squeaked as he pushed it open, and he squinted to see in the dark interior. He sneezed, dust filling the long still air. Mulder flipped the light switch on the wall, and was relieved to see that a dull overhead light flickered on. he thought to himself.

Mulder pulled a sheet off of the couch in the sitting room and dropped down onto the cushions. Resisting the urge to sneeze again, he rubbed his hand across his face. Sinking deeper into the couch, Mulder closed his eyes as he fought the unhappy memories that threatened to overtake him. After having driven through the night, exhaustion overtook him and he fell into a fitful sleep.

Hours later it was a dream that tore Mulder from the depths of sleep. Sitting up suddenly, he struggled to control his labored breathing. The first moments he was awake were spent trying to determine where he was. When that mystery was solved, he again slumped against the couch and sought to remember the dream which had awoken him.

Hazy images flashed in his mind. Scenes of playing with and picking on Samantha. Memories of the utter loss that had enveloped him not only after he had lost her, but after facing his father's blame as well. He could remember every detail of that last Thanksgiving, the last meal they shared as a family. It was also the last time he could remember his mother cooking a real meal. In retrospect, however, he could see that his parents were acting different. It was like they knew what was to come.

He and Samantha hadn't even gotten in trouble for fighting over the wishbone. He had won in the end, and it having broken in his favor, he had made his wish. He had wished for the puppy they each wanted so badly. That wish hadn't come true, and ever since he couldn't bring himself to make a wish for anything.

The hours passed slowly for Mulder. At one point he found himself wishing he had thought to bring his basketball, at least it would give him a distraction. Instead, he began to walk around the old house, seeking to find some of the more pleasant memories. Upstairs he found the moderate sized bedroom that he had been forced to share with Samantha. He smiled remembering the numerous times he complained that he should be allowed a room without his little sister, while all the time he was only doing it to give the little runt a hard time.

There was a trick panel in the back of the closet, and he sat on the dirty floor in an effort to find it. After several seconds, he managed to pop out the loose board and peered down into the shallow depth. Inside Mulder found a handful of baseball cards and a Barbie doll which was missing an arm.

The cards had been a birthday present from Samantha. He could still see the apprehensive look on her face as she waited on him to open them, and the relief that shone when he hugged her thanks. The Barbie on the other hand had been Sam's, only the circumstance's weren't as peaceful. She had driven him crazy, crying about the silly doll. Of course at the time he had been trying to dissect it.

His hand shook slightly as he pulled the objects from their hiding place. A moment later he replaced the board and left the empty bedroom. As he neared his parents bedroom the warmer memories were crowded out of the way by more harsh ones. Mulder recalled being punished for being caught listening outside of their door once the last time they stayed at the summer house before Sam was taken. He had only done it to convince Samantha that everything was all right.

That was the first time he could remember his dad hitting him. Tears had welled up in his eyes at the shock of feeling a hand across his cheek. For a second, the grown Mulder felt as if it had just happened and he raised a hand up to his cheek. However, the only thing he felt was a beginning's growth of stubble along his chin. That had only been a glimpse of what the future was to become when his father sought solace inside an empty bottle of scotch.

Mulder slid down along the wall into a slumped position in the hallway, his eyes unseeing of anything but the past. The first summer after Sam had disappeared, they had once again ventured to the summer house. What little innocence remained in Mulder had evaporated that summer. He had hoped for a reprieve from the tense conditions that had surrounded his family. He had been very wrong.


Maggie Scully's House
Thursday, November 26

By noon the next day, Thanksgiving dinner was ready and the entire Scully family was gathered around the table. Each member took a turn saying the things for which they were thankful. When it was Scully's turn, she cleared her throat. "Let's see . . . I'm thankful for my health, and I'm thankful for my family." She paused, smiling at those gathered around her. A distant look filled her eyes and her smile turned sad when she added, "And, wherever he is, I'm thankful to have Mulder in my life, too." Scully looked directly at Bill as she finished speaking, daring him to contradict her.

"That's sweet, honey," Mrs. Scully said, smiling warmly. "Speaking of Fox, I was hoping he might be here today. How is he? I d know this time of year is hard on him . . ."

Scully sighed, "I know, Mom. I invited him, but he said something about possible plans. I'll give him a call later."

The dinner proceeded in a controlled chaos fashion. Everyone sought to be heard over the din of voice and laughter. All too soon, the meal finished and the dishes were cleared. While helping in the kitchen, Scully found herself eyeing the telephone again and again. After twenty minutes she gave up and reached for the phone. She again got the recording, and hung up the phone. With little hesitation she punched in Mulder's cell phone number. A recording informed her he had traveled out of range.

"Dana? What's wrong?" her Mom's voice caught Scully's attention.

"What?" She turned to look at her mom, and saw the concern in her eyes. "Oh, Mulder's not answering his phone. That's all."

Mrs. Scully paused for a moment, "Could he have gone to visit his mother? She's the only family he has, isn't she?"

"Not exactly. There's his sister, if she really was his sister. But she's made no move to contact him since late last year." Her mom watched as Scully began to pace back and forth across the kitchen. "He could have turned off his phone." Mrs. Scully could see she was trying to convince herself as much as her mother. Suddenly she stopped moving and looked at her mom, "Mom, what's today's date?"

Mrs. Scully looked at her daughter, confused. "The 26th. Why?" She grew concerned when Scully paled slightly. "Dana?"

Slowly, she met her mom's gaze. "Tomorrow. Samantha was taken the day after Thanksgiving. The 27th. The same day as this year." Again she dialed his number. "Damn it, Mulder. Where are you?" she muttered.

"Where do you think he might have gone?"

Scully hung up the phone. "I don't know. Wait . . . Their summer house. He mentioned once how that was the place he felt happiest with his sister." Scully stopped speaking and again looked at her mom. "I have to go, Mom."

Maggie's heart went out to the man she had come to love as a son. "Are you sure that's where he is? It's a long drive to be wrong."

"I don't know why, Mom. It just feels right."

Mrs. Scully nodded. "Then you have to go. Give Fox my love, and be sure to call us, all right?"

Scully smiled. "Thanks, Mom. I will." She hugged her mother and quickly ran to get her keys.


The Mulder's Summer Home, Quonochontaug
Friday, November 27

As Mulder sat in the hallway, time passed ever more slowly. He couldn't have re experienced the events any more clearly if there had been a projection on the wall.

The time had been growing late, and as the minutes stretched into hours he again felt exhaustion seep into him. Too tired to move, he curled up on the floor, still clutching Samantha's Barbie doll. Moments later, he was sound asleep.

Again it was a nightmare that woke him. He remembered visions of his mother's sinking farther down into her prescription stupor, and his father's long reach. However, it was Samantha's disappearance that taunted him this time. It was her rejection of him in the small diner. The smug look on Cancerman's face as she fled back into his car.

Managing to straighten up into a sitting position, he stretched his arms over his head and was rewarded with several cracks from his back and shoulders. Leaning over, he retrieved the childhood mementos from where they had fallen while he was asleep. Standing, he slowly made his way toward the upstairs bathroom and when he was finished, he walked downstairs.

There was nothing in the kitchen cupboards. It didn't matter, anything would have long since gone bad and Mulder's appetite was nonexistent. Not even Scully's voice could penetrate his subconscious enough to entice him to be hungry. Instead, he decided to go for a walk around the property. Pulling the back door shut behind him, he walked aimlessly but eventually stopped in front of the family swing set.

Mulder ran his hand along one of the metal posts that supported the swings. Scratched into the surface were notches he had made to mark how much Samantha had grown each year. It had started out as a joke, but ended up more as a ritual. Every summer, it was one of the first things Sam wanted to do.

Sitting on one of the child-size swings, Mulder gazed vacantly off into space. Oblivious to the cold, Mulder's mind drifted. Twenty-six years ago, to the day, he had witnessed the start of his world's collapse. It was rare, during his life that Mulder was not moved by or reminded of his sister's loss and its results.


The Mulder's Summer Home, Quonochontaug
Friday, November 27

Scully pulled up to the deserted house, parking beside Mulder's car and found herself holding her breath. She had been on the road for hours, and was relieved to have her intuition proven true. Turning off the car, she climbed out and crossed the lawn to the building. Standing on the porch she knocked on the door and waited for Mulder to answer. Her apprehension growing, she tested the door knob and the door opened slowly.

Peering inside the house, it took a few moments for her eyes to adjust to the dimmed interior. Calling out Mulder's name, she cautiously walked through the living room and into the kitchen. From the kitchen she could see the yard that stretched out behind the building. Off to the end of the yard sat an old swing set. The sight of Mulder sitting on one of the small swings made her heart constrict.

Before she had time to think, Scully had opened the back door and was walking over to Mulder. As she neared him, she could tell he was lost far away. Scully had seen many emotions fill his expressive hazel eyes, but never quite the mixture of loss and uncertainty that seemed to emanate from them. She doubted he had even noticed her presence when she kneeled down in front of him and placed her hand on his knee.

At the contact a flash of recognition crossed his features. Coming out of his daze, Mulder struggled to process the fact that Scully was there. "Scully?" His voice was harsh from crying and not speaking. For her part, Scully only nodded. She knew it was important for him to make the first move if they were to talk about what had driven him away.

After a few moments of silence, Mulder cleared his throat and spoke, "What are you doing here, Scully?"

Scully sighed. "I called your place, but you didn't answer. Then yesterday Mom said something that made me realized you weren't answering."

Mulder closed his eyes, striving to find the right words. "Sorry 'bout that. It's just . . . After everything that's happened, I needed some space."

"Why didn't you say anything? Why do you always have to disappear?"

Shrugging, he replied, "I didn't think I'd be missed."

Scully stared, open-mouthed at Mulder's statement. "You thought you wouldn't be missed . . ."

"No one ever seemed to take notice of when I took off as a kid, and instinct kicked in. I don't have any real family left, and this place," he gestured to the house, "is a link to what little I have once upon a time." Mulder paused, stopping to truly consider the fact that Scully was there. "Speaking of family, you should be with yours. My miserable excuse for an upbringing shouldn't ruin both of our holidays."

"Mulder," Scully shook her head sadly, taking his hand in her own. "The only thing that might ruin my holiday would be to know you were alone and upset. Besides, I am with my family, are a part of my family, too."

"Really?" A glint of hope flickered in his eyes.

Scully laughed. "Yeah, I'd say you're stuck with me."

He laughed with her, the noise carrying along the wind. "Cool."

The End


Kalynn's Fan Fiction Homepage (XFiles and Profiler): http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/5579 Always remember to forget Those friends that proved untrue. But never forget to remember Those that stood by you. --- Irish Blessing

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