Title: Mulder's Creek: 11. Flowers and Felonies
Rated: PG
Category: C
Keywords: XF/Dawson's Creek crossover. Mulder/Scully romance. Alternate universe.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to the characters, except those I've created, as they belong to Chris Carter and Kevin Williamson

Summary: Valentines' plans are hard enough to deal with since Scully's still ill and Skinner's heartbroken by his breakup, but tension grows when an ex-boyfriend stalks Doggett's older sister. Will anyone have a happy holiday?


Opening Scene-

Mulder is sitting at his desk, draped over the chair. Music plays softly in the background as he talks to Scully on the phone.

"I can't believe you're not here for movie night. You're always here for movie night!"

"I wasn't last week," Scully points out.

"There was no movie night last week. You were near death, so exceptions were made."

"So make another exception," Scully suggests.

"Two weeks in a row without movie night is unacceptable!"

"Look, yes I'm home now, but I still can't go back to school, and Bessie won't let me leave the house. You can cancel movie night, have it without me, or bring a movie over here to watch."

Mulder frets to himself, because he doesn't like any of the choices. "We've never had movie night anywhere but here before..," he says doubtfully.

"I know that change is your least thing favorite thing, but you're a brave boy, and you can handle it."

"Why are you making fun of me?" Mulder asks petulantly.

"Because you make it easy," Scully says.

"Enough," Mulder says, hanging up on her. He shakes his head, picks up the video and heads down the stairs.



Theme song -"Stranded" by Plumb

Friday lunch time, Capeside High-

Doggett and Reyes are sitting at lunch with Mulder while Skinner goes up to the lunch counter to buy a juice.

Reyes sighs and watches him from a distance. "So, he and Ethan are officially broken up now. I feel so bad for him, but I can't help thinking that maybe this was meant to be, because I don't think things were ever going to work out between them."

"It's unfortunate that so many things that are for the better are so painful." Mulder remarks.

Reyes nods. "Needless to say, I don't think Skinner is going to be celebrating Valentine's day this year."

"Speaking of Valentine's day," Doggett says," Are you going to ask Scully to the Valentine's day dance?" Mulder shakes his head. "Why not?"

"Because she just got home from the hospital is why not. I don't even know if she'll be back in school by then..."

"That's too bad. Will you still go?" Reyes asks.

"I doubt it. I don't much like dancing any way," Mulder says as Skinner sits down with his juice.

"You're talking about Valentine's day again, aren't you?" He accuses his sister.

"Yes..."

"I hate Valentine's day," Skinner says, glowering at her. She shrugs.


Saturday morning, Leary home-

Mr. Leary opens another can of mint mist paint and stirs it while Mulder stands on a stepladder to paint the wall near ceiling. Mulder grimaces when paint splatters onto his cheek again. He's wiping his face with the back of his hand when Mrs. Leary comes into the room.

"Oh, this looks so nice already! I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's done. I wanted to let Mulder know that a letter has come for him, and let you both know that brunch will be ready in fifteen minutes."

Mr. Leary smiles at Mulder and says," I think this is a good time for a break. Why don't you go wash up? I'll cover the paint."

Mulder washes his hands and takes his letter up to his room. It has a California postmark, but no return address, which intrigues him. Before he opens it he's already sure it's from Arden, and he's not disappointed. He sits on his bed and reads:

Hi Mulder,

Hope that things have been going well for you, too. I've been busy at college, of course, and that's sort of why I'm writing to you. When I got back to school I did a search of some of the old news paper archives from Massachusetts that the school has access to and found something you'd find very interesting, I think. I hope this is helpful.

Love,

Arden

Mulder unfolds another piece of paper, which looks like the printout of an editorial. His heart leaps into his throat as he reads the headline:

The Search for Samantha Leary Halted Abruptly

In an unexpected turn of events, the missing child case involving five-week-old Samantha Leary has been shut without resolution or comment by authorities. Samantha, who was kidnapped three weeks ago from the bedroom she shared with her four-year-old brother, has not turned up, dead or alive, so it is puzzling that the case has been declared closed. Efforts to contact the baby's parents and the authorities have been met with silence. This reporter intends to follow up on this as facts reveal themselves.

Scribbled on the bottom is Arden's comment " Reporter seems to have left paper after this piece." Mulder folds the letter and article up and puts it in his desk before going down to brunch.


Sunday afternoon, Witter home-

Mulder and Doggett are playing pool in the Witter's garage when a car pulls into the yard.

"Going to see who that is?" Mulder asks.

"Nah. It's probably just one of my mom's friends. So, what do you think of this pool table?"

"It's pretty nice," Mulder says, though he can't determine its age.

"I told my dad about how Skinner and I were teaching Reyes how to play, so when he heard that this one was being sold at an estate sale he talked the heiress into selling it to me for fifty bucks. I would have invited you to play when it got dropped off yesterday, but your mom said you were busy." Doggett says, giving Mulder a questioning look.

"Yeah, I was helping Dad paint the nursery."

"Oh," Doggett says, sounding disappointed. "I thought maybe you were over Scully's, asking her to the dance."

Mulder shakes his head. "Your continued obsession with getting Scully and I to date is disturbing to say the least."

"What obsession? I barely bring it up," Doggett protests.

"So you really think that I was going to believe that you had decided to swap around our sleeping arrangement because you were worried the girls would be 'scared'?"

"I thought that was a pretty good excuse, actually. You could have slept in another room, but you didn't, so... and as a bonus I got to spend the nights with my girl. It all seemed pretty clever to me."

Mulder sighs. "You're a twisted man, Doggett."

"I try."

Mulder looks out the window. "Isn't that Gretchen's car?"

"Can't be," Doggett says walking towards him. "She's at school..." He's puzzled when he sees that it is hers after all. "Hey, do you think we could continue this later?"

"Sure, no problem," Mulder says, then heads home.

Doggett puts the balls away before going to the house. He's about to open the door when he notices that he can see his sister and his father sitting in the living room. He's even more concerned when he realizes that she looks very upset. However, before he can put his hand on the knob, the door swings open and Kersh grabs his arm.

"Let's go for a ride, little brother."

"Where to?" Doggett asks sounding bewildered.

"I'll buy you an ice-cream cone," Kersh says, leading him to the car.

When they sit in the booth with their cones, Doggett asks. "Why is Gretchen home? She's not supposed to be home until spring break next month."

Kersh looks unhappy. "There's things that our sister has been keeping from us. The fact that an ex-boyfriend has been harassing her for one. And that she has a restraining order against the guy for another."

"He's still bothering her, then?" Doggett asks.

"He sent her a few very threatening letters before she called dad for advice. He demanded she come home immediately."

"That bad?"

"Worse. She's going to stay her until Dad and the cops at her school catch the guy."

"Poor Gretchen," Doggett says, deciding not to finish his cone.


Monday morning, Potter home-

Scully is surprised to see Mulder waiting on the front steps when she responds to the doorbell.

"Sorry, Mulder, I still can't go back to school yet," she says, pointing to spots on her neck.

"I didn't think you could," Mulder says. "But I was hoping that you could do me a favor today."

"What's that?" she asks.

Mulder pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket. It has a name written on it. " Do you think you could use the Internet to see if you can find an address or phone number for this man?"

"I guess so, but why can't you do it?"

"I don't want my parents to ask questions if they see me doing it. Arden sent me an editorial that he wrote about Sam's kidnapping, and said he seemed to have left the paper immediately afterwards."

"So you're planning to track him down," Scully guesses.

"If he's still alive," Mulder says grimly.


Capeside high school-

Skinner is listening to his science teacher drone on about hydras when there's a knock on the door.

"Please read the next page while I get that," the woman says. She returns a couple of minutes later with a lanky teenage boy in tow. "Class, it seems that we have a new student. This is Reed Lane. Your family moved here from Vermont last week, is that right?"

"Um, yes," Reed says, looking at the floor, which allows his blond hair to fall into his eyes. Skinner wishes he wouldn't because he'd like to get another look at his bright blue eyes. Embarrassed by his thoughts, Skinner tells himself to get a grip.

"Reed, please take a seat." The teacher says, and to Skinner's disappointment he chooses a seat in the back next to one of the most popular girls in class. It figures, he thinks to himself.


Potter home-

Mulder hands Scully a list of assignments before slumping onto the couch.

"You know that your teachers don't really expect you to keep up with your work while you're out, don't you?" Mulder asks.

Scully shrugs helplessly. "I know that, but...I can't not try to catch up. It's not like I have anything much to do while I get well."

"If you say so...It gets me out of last period ten minutes early so I can get the assignments for you," Mulder says, grinning.

Scully hands Mulder a printout. "It seems that your reporter lives in Boston. I got his address, but his phone number is unlisted."

"Thanks!" Mulder says, suddenly finding himself thinking about the dance. " I thought you had a doctor's appointment today, did he or she give you an estimate on when you'll be fit to return to school?"

"Probably Monday."

"Oh," Mulder says, trying to hide his disapointment since the school is strict about one needing to attend school the day of the dances in order to be allowed to go. "As long as you get completely well, though, right?"

"Sure. But I'm getting stir-crazy."

Mulder notices something in the room and gets an idea. "I bet your sister hopes you get well soon, too. She must be swamped."

"Not as much as you'd think. She's at the Ice House more than usual, but she did get someone to fill in for me temporarily."

"Thanks again for getting me this address," Mulder says, with a plan formulating in his mind.


That night, the Ice House-

Skinner clocks in for his first shift since Scully has been out, and is a little nervous about the rush. He'd offered to come in while she was in the hospital, but Bessie had decided just not to be open then, putting a hand-written "closed due to family emergency" sign in the window. She'd explained that the regulars would understand, but he'd found himself wishing that he could have done more. Noticing the time he quickly put on his apron and ran out front.

Bessie heard his hurried steps and calls " We're over here, Skinner."

Before he has time to wonder who comprises 'we' he sees that Bessie is talking to someone. When she steps aside to point at the cash register he realizes that it's the new boy from school. "Skinner, Reed here has gaciously agreed to work here until Scully is feeling up to being back at work." Maybe longer, she mouths to him when Reed isn't looking.

"Oh, hi," Skinner says. "You're in my science class."

"I know," Reed says, then turns back to Bessie.

Skinner feels a bit put out, so he decides to occupy himself by putting out clean silverware. The night seems longer than usual, because Reed doesn't talk to anyone unless he has to. Skinner finds himself hoping hard for Scully's speedy recuperation, because their banter helps pass the time. Bessie, however, seems to think that Reed is doing a wonderful job, and Skinner worries that she might actually hire him perminently.

The only time during the night that Reed approaches civility is when, as they're closing up, he asks Skinner if he lives nearby. "Yeah, about a block from here. Why?" Skinner asks.

Reed shrugs and mumbles something about trying to make small talk. Skinner thinks of sending Scully a Get Well Soon card.


After midnight, Witter home-

Because he stayed up later than he should, Doggett is only just falling asleep. His thoughts are drifting, and he's drowsly rubbing the toes of one foot against his soft blanket when a sound intrudes on his awareness. The car seems to be driving away when he finally identifies it. He realizes that he's not the only one who heard it, because he hears someone walking downstairs, presumably to the door. The door opens, and he nearly drifts off again, only to be startled fully awake when he hears a surprised scream. By the time he throws off the covers he hears heavy footsteps going down the stairs, which leads him to believe that either his father or Kersh is going to investigate.

Doggett, wearing only a t-shirt and boxers but wishing he thrown on his robe because its chilly, stands on the balcony and looks down, blinking in confusion. It's not until he gets all the way down that he makes sense of what he sees: his sister and father are looking into a box with looks of horror and disgust on their faces. Doggett braces himself, not wanting to look in too, but he's compelled to by some preverse impulse.

The box is an ordinary cardboard one, and tissue paper overflows the top of it. Doggett takes a deep breath and looks inside. He recoils in shock when he sees what's inside: a dead possum, which looks like it met its fate beneath the wheel of a car, lies in the box, partially covered by a note written in an angry black script. The note says " Found you Gretchen. I'm coming for you."

Doggett looks over at Gretchen and is surprised that she isn't crying. Instead there's a hollow look in her eyes. Their father, on the other hand, looks like he can barely contain his anger. Doggett isn't suprised when the man declares that they're going to catch the SOB and bring him in. After he clams down and tries to comfort Gretchen, he demands that Doggett stay awake so he can talk to him. Doggett sits on the couch and waits for his father's return. He must nod off because he feels a not-so-gentle touch on his arm.

"Wake up, Doggett."

"Oh sorry, Dad," Doggett says, stiffling a yawn.

"This is getting to be more serious than I ever anticipated, so I've made a decission."

"What's that?"

"I'm calling your friends parents in the morning, because I think it's high time I teach you kids, and your sister, how to defend yourselves. I'll borrow some stuff from the department and take you all out to my shooting range. I wish I could bring you kids to a real range, but you're too young, so we'll have to make due here."

"Which friends?" Doggett asks in daze, trying to imagine his friends with handguns.

"Mulder, Mr. McPhee's kids, Scully...when that other girl you kids hung out with comes back this summer we'll have another lesson."

"Dad, Scully just got out of the hospital," Doggett protests.

"Is she still on bedrest?"

"Well, no, but she's not well enough to come back to school according to her doctors."

"That's just a techocality to help the doctors and schools cover their backsides. She'll be ok for an hour or so."

"Ok, Dad..." Doggett says, too tired to argue.

"You go on back up to bed, I'll take care of everything in the morning."

Doggett stumbles back up to bed, wondering if his dad has finally gone crazy.


Tuesday afternoon, Witter home-

Sheriff Witter passes out ear protection to everyone after carefully explaining how to aim only at the person-shaped target. He is pleased that the kids seem like natural marksmen, all except Mulder, who instead of shooting the target in the head as instucted, shoots near the waist; and says it was an accident. To his surprise the person with the best aim isn't one of the boys, it's Scully. He wonders if she'd be an even better marksman if she were feeling better.

While the sheriff watches Scully with admiration, and the boys with open envy, Reyes can't help but be concerned about her. Though even Reyes can see that her skills are greater than everyone else's, she also seems to be the only one who notices how tired the effort is making her. After Scully somewhat shakily sets down the gun, Reyes asks her if she'd like to take a short walk to get out of the small stuffy building that the Sheriff's personal shooting range is kept in. Scully flashes her a grateful look.

"So, how do you feel about being better at this than all the boys? They're jealous, you know," Reyes says.

"I know. It sort of makes me scared. Until today I never thought of being in a position in which it'd be important to know how to protect myself with a gun. Somehow knowing that I could makes the world seem like a scarier place all of the sudden. I just keep thinking about poor Gretchen..."

"So do I. Doggett's dad is very unhappy that she refused to come out here with us, since of any of us, she's in the most danger of ever having to put this sort of knowledge to use."

Reyes nods, and decides to change the subject. "So, when are you going to be coming back to school?"

"Monday. It's stupid, though, because I'd probably be fine tomorrow, but doctors' orders..." Scully says, sighing.

"Oh, I guess that's why Mulder hasn't invited you to the Valentine's dance." Reyes blurts out, then mentally kicks herself.

"Yeah, I guess..." Scully says, sounding dejected.

Skinner is right, Reyes thinks, I really don't know when to keep my mouth shut.


5pm, The Ice House-

Mulder is just leaving the Ice House when Skinner gets in for his shift. Since Mulder seems too busy to talk, he waves goodbye, resigning himself to another delightfully taciturn evening with Reed. Skinner sighs to himself when his prediction comes true and no one says a non-vital word for half the night. He tries to fill the void a little by chatting with some of the regular customers, and Bessie when she comes out front from the kitchen, but it doesn't do much to improve his mood. He wonders if Reed has something against him personally, or if he's just sullen by nature.

Before he has time to puzzle out the most likely answer to his musings, something one of the customers says grabs his attention. The person speaking is a young man, who, with a stocky build and an unkempt look seems vaguely menacing to Skinner. The man repeats what he says to someone else, this time at a different table. Skinner's blood runs cold when he is sure he hears the man asking about Doggett's sister. Telling himself not to run, Skinner tries to act nonchalant as he goes out back to talk to Bessie.

Once he's out of the customers' hearing he lets his composure slip a bit. " Bessie, I need to use the phone, it's an emergency!"

"What's the matter. Is someone hurt?"

"No. There's a stranger in the dining room asking about Gretchen Witter. I need to call her dad."

"Oh God. You call him, I'll try to stall him until they get here, ok?"

"Ok," Skinner says, though he doesn't really think so. He gets a hassle immediately when he asks for the sheriff, being treated to the usual run around one gets when they ask to talk to someone of importance. Finally he loses his temper. "Look, I don't care how busy he is, I need to talk to him NOW. There's a strange man in the Ice House asking about his daughter, and I'm pretty sure he'll fire you if you don't get him on the phone right this second."

Instead of a reply Skinner hears the phone being dropped on the desk. A minute later the person he was speaking to apologizes. "Officers are on their way there."

"What if he leaves before they get here?" Skinner agonizes.

"Please don't do anything to try to keep him there by force. That'd just make the situation unduly dangerous. If he leaves there's a good chance that the officers will catch him anyway, ok?"

"Ok." Skinner goes back out into the dining room only to see a stricken Bessie. "He left," she says.

"The officer on the phone says they might still catch him," Skinner says, but not with any confidence.


Wednesday afternoon, Leary home-

Mulder hangs up the phone after talking to Doggett. To the Witter family's dismay the man who'd been harassing Gretchen had alluded the police when he'd left the Ice House the night before. Mulder wonders what it was that the man had mailed Gretchen yesterday, but Doggett had told him that he didn't want to talk about it. What could be worse than a dead possum, Mulder wonders. Right before they finished their conversation Mulder offered to come over and spend the night since Mrs. Witter is away taking care of her elderly mother, but Doggett told him that his father was only going to work during the day until the matter is resolved.

Mulder sighs and wishes that there's something to do for Doggett to make him feel better about his sister, but since there isn't, he decides to see what he can do about his own sister. He takes out the piece of paper with the reporter's address on it, and takes a deep breath before pulling out a pen and paper. He chews on the end of his pen for a moment before he begins to write:

Dear sir,

You don't know me, but you might have some knowledge of my family, which could help me. I suppose it's rather bold of me to ask you, a man I've never met, for a favor, but so few people are willing to help me that I find myself needing to reach out for whatever leads I can. You see, when I was four years old, someone came into my room and took my newborn sister out of my life; and no one is willing to talk about it. Most people, my parents included, go about their daily lives pretending that I never had a sister named Samantha. I'm the only one who wants her found, it seems, and from bits and pieces I've learned from my determined, if amateur, sleuthing I'm confident that she is still alive and out there some where. Since you left the paper not long after your editorial on the strange closure of her case, I wonder if you might have been threatened because you learned too much. I don't want to put you in danger, of course, but if there's anything, anything at all, that you could tell me to help me better understand the circumstances of her disappearance, I would be forever grateful.

Sincerely,

Mulder Leary

Mulder puts the letter through the fax copier, so he can keep a copy of the letter for himself with all the other evidence of his sister he's collected. As an after thought he photocopies the editorial that Arden sent him as well so he can refresh the man's memory. When he's through he folds the letter, addresses it, and walks out to the nearest mail box immediately to send it before its discovered or he loses his nerve.


9pm, Witter home-

Gretchen, Doggett and Sheriff Witter are playing a card game when the phone rings. Doggett answers it and listens long enough to realize that it's not for him. He hands it to his father before going back to the game.

"So, Gretchen, do you have any threes?"

"No, go fish."

"Are you sure you're not holding out on me?"

"You say that like I have a history of cheating," she says indignantly.

"You do have a history of cheating!"

"That was a long time ago."

"It was Thanksgiving!"

Their argument is interrupted when their father hangs up the phone. "There's going to be a change of plans. There's been a prison break, and I'm required to go and help out. I'm going to call the station and see if I can have your brother come right home at midnight instead of going out after work, ok? I wish I could have him come home now, but he's the only one scheduled to be in the station right now, and it's too late to call someone in to replace him. You won't be alone for long, though." He concludes, trying to sound reassuring.

"That's ok, Pop. We'll be fine," Doggett says.

"Yeah, we will be, Dad," Gretchen says, going back to the game.

As soon as their father leaves they begin to cheat outrageously, punctuating the game with frequent accusations. By eleven Gretchen notices the time, and suggests Doggett go to be since it's a school night.

"You sound just like Mom. 'Do your homework. Go to bed at a decent hour,'" Doggett complains.

"Poor Mom, she still thinks there's hope than one of us might actually listen to her and do what's good for us. Go to bed."

Doggett grumbles and complies. Gretchen turns on the TV for company and pulls out some of the books she needs to research a paper, and settles into formulating a paper about Chopin's The Awaking. A few minutes later she thinks she hears something and jumps, then she realizes its only the chime of the clock in the kitchen. Thinking of the kitchen makes her hungry, so she decides to get a snack to help her studying.

She toasts an English muffin and pours herself a glass of milk. She laughs silently to herself that she's using a plate, because both of her brothers would have just carried the English muffin into the living room with their bare hands, shuffling it from hand to hand trying to avoid the heat from hurting one hand more than the other.

In the living room she's just taken the first bite when she hears the door in the kitchen open. "Do you want me to make you an English muffin too, Kersh?" she calls to him. He doesn't answer right away, which worries her.


Though she's still frighten, she can't help but feel pity when she sees him adopt a typical macho pose leaning up against the door like all the bad guys who break into homes in horror movies do. "Gretchen," he says in a husky voice. " So we meet again."

"Spare me the theatrics. What are you doing here?"

"I think you know," he says, leering.

"I think you're going to have to enlighten me." She snaps at him.

"You belong to me."

"Even if it once was true, it no longer is. We broke up, Chad. You need to move on."

"But I can't. If I can't have you no one can," he says, lunging at her.

"Could you be any more cliché? " she asks scornfully, but she leaps back with a shout when she realizes he's actually holding a knife.

"While my methods might be a little pat, I think we'll find they're efficient enough," he says, stepping closer while she flinches backwards.

"What's going on?" Gretchen whips her head towards the stairs, and her heart squeezes when she sees her younger brother standing there, rubbing his eyes with one fist. Until that moment she'd forgotten how young he was, since she was used to thinking of him as another adult.

Chad takes one look at Doggett and growls. "This doesn't involve you, Kid. Go back to bed."

Doggett runs to Gretchen's side, and says, "Since it involves my sister, I think you could say it does involve me."

"That's cute," Chad remarks, noting that he has six inches and fifty pounds on Doggett." The pup is going to defend his sister. Were you planning to use your bare hands?"

"No, I thought I'd use this," Doggett says, leveling one of his father's pistols at the man.

Chad sneers at him. "You wouldn't have the guts to use it."

Doggett tries to calm the tremor in his hand, because he thinks that Chad is right. No part of him wants to actually fire the weapon, but neither can he stand by and let his sister be harmed. "I'll do what I have to," he says as bravely as he can manage.

"You're bluffing." Chad says, raising the knife and tensing to spring forward.

The front door opens with a slam, and someone shouts " Drop your weapon!" Chad hesitates for a fraction of a second, but then continues to advance on Gretchen and Doggett. A shot is fired and Chad crumples to the ground. At the sound of the gun, Gretchen and Doggett scream and run towards the staircase. Chad's knife drops to the floor with a thud, as he groans and grabs his leg.

Kersh cuffs Chad, then calls dispatch for an ambulance. He checks on his siblings, and finds that they're sitting on the stairs looking shocked. "Are you ok?"

Gretchen says she is, but she's going to bed. Kersh then asks Doggett again since he's still sitting there.

"Um...I think so," Doggett says shakily.

"I'm proud of you, little brother. You did a brave thing tonight. But no more guns, though, unless Dad's around, ok?"

"Sure. I promise not to ever touch a gun again until the next time someone is trying to kill us," Doggett says, smiling weakly. Kersh ruffles his hair and grins.


Valentines Day, Capeside high school-

Skinner scowls and folds his arms across his chest, looking disdainfully at all the paper hearts that fill the room. It looks like someone threw up streamers, he thinks, noticing that they're a most unfortunate shade of pink. He still can't believe he's at this dance.

He'd been prepared to dress in black and spend the night listening to singers bewail their own ended relationships in such black terms that his own break-up would seem like a walk in the park by comparison. Then, as always, his sister got involved. She insisted that if he really wanted to get over Ethan, spending the night in mourning would be the worst way to do it. For a second or two her arguments must have clouded his judgment, because he found himself agreeing to go to the dance.

Now he stands against the wall, daring anyone to call him a wallflower, and wishing he'd stuck to his original plans for the evening. If he wasn't feeling bad enough about this wasted evening, he has to be in sight of Reed walking through the gym doors. To his dismay Reed is walking right towards him. Now my evening is complete, he thinks to himself.

For once Reed has a fairly pleasant look on his face. "You here with anyone?" Reed asks him.

"No. I'm only here because my sister misguidely thought it would be healthier than spending the night alone."

Reed nods sympathetically. "So I guess that means you don't have a boyfriend either," he says, causing Skinner to look at him, stunned.


Potter home-

Bessie hands Scully a dress and demands she got get dressed.

"Come on, I'm not going to let you mope around the house tonight. It's just a dance. There will be other dances. Tonight you, Alexander and I will go out for a nice dinner and try to be happy, ok?"

"But I'm not sure-"

"Sweetie, if you're going to ask me yet again if you look ok to be seen in public, I'm going to have to ignore you. The spots are all gone, and you look fine. Alexander and I are ready and just waiting on you. Now go get dressed!"

Scully goes to her room and puts on the dress that Bessie gave her that morning. It's white and silky, and to her surprise it fits her perfectly. She thinks that Bessie must have snuck a look at the tags on the dresses in her closet. A couple of minutes later there's a knock on the door. "Can I come in?" Bessie asks.

"Now that looks wonderful on you. I knew it would as soon as I saw it. Is it ok if I do your hair?" Scully submitted to the brush, knowing that Bessie could do wonderful things with hair.

As soon as she's done she tells Scully she'll be waiting in the kitchen while she finishes getting ready to go. Scully is slipping on her shoes when she hears the front door open. Bessie calls to her " Goodbye, Scully." Then the door shuts.

Scully figures that it's a tactic to get her out of her room faster, so she hurries up. She's confused when she hears the car drive off before she's halfway to the front door. Mulder is standing at the table, putting two long stemmed wineglasses on the table, with a bottle held under his arm.

"It's not really champagne," he tells her when he notices her look. "It's sparkling grape juice, but it has the requisite bubbles so we can pretend."

"You set this up," she says, figuring it out.

"I did. I knew that you couldn't go to the dance, so I dragged Bessie into my little scheme, so don't be mad at her, ok?"

"Ok," Scully says, still a little surprised.

"She's right, you know, there aren't any spots any more," he says, looking at her in a way that almost makes her wish that the dress wasn't so low-cut. Almost. "You look gorgeous in that dress. It kind of makes me glad that all the boys at the dance won't see you." He grins.

"You don't look so bad yourself," she tells him, thinking that it's been a long time since she's seen him in anything but jeans and a sweater.

"I let mom dress me. It made her happy. Oh, that's for you. Open it please." He says, pointing to a large white box on the counter, which until then it'd escaped her notice. She opens it, to reveal a dozen long stemmed red roses nestled in pink tissue paper.

"Mulder... I don't know what to say."

"Say you like them."

"I love them," she says, gently touching the soft petals of one of them.

"Good. Bessie said there's a vase under the sink, why don't you put them in it," he says, disappearing into the living room.

She hears music pouring out of the cd player as she joins him. He holds out his hand to her. "May I have this dance?" he asks her. She smiles and accepts the invitation. Somehow dancing in the living room seems less silly than wonderful.

"I've been thinking," he tells her.

"About?"

"About you, actually. You see, I've thought about it long and hard and I've come to a realization: I love you." He pauses a moment, trying to read the look in her lively blue eyes. "Maybe I've always loved you, but have just been too dense to realize it until far too recently, but that's not what's really important here."

"And what is important?" she asks, surprised that she can breathe.

"What is important is I need to know if you too feel that maybe, just maybe, that we could be good for each other. "he smiles when she nods against his shoulder. "In that case...Scully, would you...would you go out with me?" he asks in a nervous voice.

Scully throws her arms around his neck. "Of course I will."

A look of perfect happiness shines on his face. "I'm so glad. There's something I've been meaning to do since New Years..." he says, letting his voice trail off so she'll look at him. Before she can ask what it is, he wraps his arms tighter around her and kisses her.


Credits

Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile

< Voice Over>

This episode of Mulder's Creek featured music from:

Marry me Jane ("Secretly Waiting")

Possum Dixon ("Holding")

And

Nina Gordon ("Tonight and the Rest of my Life")

Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek


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