copyright infringement intended.
Summary: All those posts about Mulder's Thanksgiving got me to thinking and produced this.
"Last chance, Mulder," Dana Scully's voice echoed in the quiet room from the answering machine. "I'm leaving in an hour."
Fox Mulder paused, listened to his partner's voice but didn't bother to pick up the receiver.
"OK, if I don't see you here by 11, then I'll see you tomorrow," Mulder heard the phone hang up.
He looked out the window. Gray clouds hung in the air and wind had blown the remaining leaves off the trees. City crews had already hung holiday decorations from the utility poles on the main road at the end of the block.
Mulder had considered Scully's invitation to join her family for Thanksgiving.
"You're welcome to come," Scully told him two days earlier. "Mom always makes too much and besides, she said to ask if you were busy."
"What did you tell her," Mulder asked, leafing through the sports section of the Post.
"I didn't tell her anything," Scully said. "Don't worry, I didn't make any promises that you'd show up."
Scully put down her pen, stared at the paperwork a moment longer then looked over at Mulder where he sat, leaning back in his chair, slouched down with the posture her father always scolded her for.
"Thanks," he said.
"You don't have to come," she told him. "But you should know that you don't have to spend the holiday alone either."
"Scully, what makes you think I don't have any plans for Thanksgiving?" Mulder folded the paper in half, put it on his desk. "I *do* have a life, >after all."
"So you've said," Scully picked up her pen again, studied the paper one last time and signed her name at the bottom. "I just wanted to give you another option."
Mulder stared back at the answering machine again, then walked to his bedroom, grabbed a sweatshirt from the dresser and reached for his running shoes. He loved running in the cold, the cool wind pressing in around him.
He opted for the neighborhoods around his apartment rather than the track.
It wasn't that he didn't enjoy the company of Scully and her family, Mulder told himself as he headed down the steps. He'd grown close to Margaret Scully during the time his partner was missing. But families had their own customs, their own nuances. He felt out of place.
He was over the self-pity. Mulder had given up mourning his own divided family, his lost sister at every holiday. He was past that, he reminded himself.
He'd accepted a few holiday invitations in the past, but each time found himself straining to smile, to laugh at the family stories and avoiding the polite questions about where he came from, what his family did for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
The last time he'd accepted a holiday invitation he found himself with a family that went around the table asking what each person was thankful for. Mulder had gotten by with a quip about being glad he wasn't a Buffalo Bills fan.
Mulder turned the corner, slowed his pace as he faced into the wind, zipped his jacket up a little higher.
He checked his watch as he made the final turn toward home. 11:12. Time for a long, hot shower, a pot of coffee and then the pregame show. Football was the best thing about Thanksgiving, he'd decided. There was a frozen turkey dinner waiting in the freezer for later in the day.
Mulder checked the answering machine after he got out of the shower, coffee out his favorite mug. There was a new message.
He rewound the tape, heard Scully's message again, then a short, restrained one from his mother.
"Just wanted to tell you happy Thanksgiving dear," she'd said, along with the information that she'd be going out for dinner.
Each holiday she'd call and every birthday she'd send him a card always the touches that society expected from a good mother. It was the latest role she'd given herself, the loving mother, her way of proving herself blameless for Samantha's loss.
Mulder felt no connection to her new persona. He took no comfort and issued no blame. Everyone handled Samantha's disappearance in their own way. Hers was to put up the perfect disguise as a concerned and caring mother.
His was that basement office at FBI Headquarters.
He erased the messages, flipped on the television and settled into the easy chatter of the announcers.
The office was nearly empty the next morning. Most people had taken the day off and the few that were in the building were still in a state of over-stuffed, holiday relaxation.
Scully got there a little before 8 a.m. Mulder already was there, his suit
coat hanging over the back of his chair, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows.
She plopped the brown grocery bag on his desk in front of him.
"What's this?" he asked, taking off his reading glasses.
"Leftovers," Scully took off her coat, hung it on the rack. "I told you Mom always cooks too much."
"And what makes you think I don't have a refrigerator full of leftovers already?" he asked, peering down into the bag.
"Since when does a Swanson dinner come with leftovers?" she teased. "Come on Mulder. You've got to help me out. I can cope with a sandwich or two, but Mom sent a half a turkey and a whole pie home with me. Take some off my hands, OK?"
Mulder closed the bag, tried to think of a cool place to store it. At least he wouldn't have to think about what to have for dinner for a couple of nights.
"OK. So how was Thanksgiving at the Scully's?"
"Pretty good, up until the time my nephews decided to have a food fight. I think they're still under house arrest." Scully went through the mail on her desk.
"Oh yeah, and my Mom wants to know if you're busy for Christmas," Scully smiled to reassure her partner. "Don't worry. I didn't make any promises for you."
Mulder nodded, turned back to the report on his desk.
"Hey Scully," he finally said. "Thanks."