TITLE: San Diego (1/1)
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere
SPOILER WARNING: Through Season Six.
RATING: PG-13
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSM
CLASSIFICATION: VRA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully married.
SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully visit Bill and Tara in San Diego. Sequel
to "Laughlin."
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.

San Diego
By Shoshana

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
June 29, 1999, late afternoon
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The welcoming committee was ready for us at the airport. My brother
Bill, wife Tara, and their little son Matthew greeted us before we
even had the opportunity to claim our bags. Tara was radiant,
Matthew was fussy, Bill was morose. Why wouldn't he be? His
precious, but disaffected F.B.I. agent sister had just arrived with
her loathsome partner after six months of virtual neglect. I had
seen them all at Christmas time, and had exchanged a few calls and E-
Mails since then, but with my gut injury earlier this year, and
getting the X-Files back, I had seen contact with Bill dwindle down
to nothing these last few months.

I felt dreadful about that and that was why we were there. Since we
were on the West Coast, Bill was on shore, and we were on vacation, I
wanted to see my nephew, my sister-in-law, and maybe even a little
bit Bill, too. I wasn't expecting him to be civil to Mulder and I
wasn't expecting to stay very long, but it was part of the non-
negotiable items I demanded of Mulder before I consented to say 'I
do'.

We had no intention of letting it slip that we'd gotten married
yesterday, since we weren't planning on telling anyone at home for
quite some time. I knew it would be difficult for us to ignore one
another, but we'd just have to get used to it. After all, we'd be
going back to work soon, and this would a trial run. We'd always
been adept at maintaining a professional facade in the workplace,
aside from those all too frequent times when one of us was missing or
injured.

Even then, I remembered few times when I'd seen Mulder or I cry in
public or make overt displays of affection, other than those well
within the bonds of partnership. At least, I supposed so. I'd never
observed our behavior from outside that silky cocoon we so often
wrapped around ourselves. We'd be so totally absorbed in solving
cases or deciphering evidence, that we'd be oblivious if there were
sidelong glances or gossipy chatter around us.

We proceeded to the baggage claim after an emotional exchange
between Tara, Matthew, and I, balanced out by a barely civil one
between Bill and Mulder. I was now even more convinced that there
was no way in Hell I was telling my brother that I had just married
the man whom he blamed for all the misfortunes of my recent life,
including my gunshot wound in January.

The E-Mail Bill had sent me, questioning whether Mulder had gotten
me shot again, was inexcusable. He knew I was partnered with a
younger, inexperienced agent in New York City. If anything, Mulder
would have prevented that misfortune from ever crossing my path. I
knew it was useless to argue with my brother and I had just ignored
the message and sent one back wishing Tara and Matthew my best.

The tension in the car was palpable between these two alpha males,
playing a subconscious game of male assertiveness, punctuated by
steely glares and raspy throats. Although I knew Mulder was part of
our family now, my big brother wasn't going to discover that till at
least Christmas, if I had anything to say about it. And the big
showdown would no doubt take place at my mother's house, with even
more spectators in the audience. Delightful. Right now, I was just
praying to God that we'd make it through the next couple days.

Long enough to enjoy the baby, have a few home-cooked meals, and
visit Emily's grave. That was another priority of our visit, one
that I had yearned for. I wanted to include Mulder in my grieving
process. I had shut him out before, and had barely mentioned her for
the past year and a half. He deserved better than that, particularly
if we ever planned on adopting our own. Emily's loving memory would
be preserved by both of us, in the spirit of our recent vows. I
didn't want him shouldering any more personal guilt about her, my
ova, my grief.
      
We arrived at their home on the base and settled into our dinner
seats for an early repast. And no surprise here, things took a turn
for the worse. After conversation strayed from family business and
all the new words Matthew had managed to acquire lately, Bill leaped
right into the fray, "So...Mulder...what unspeakable danger have you
dragged my sister into lately?" Mulder, somewhat startled by the
kamikaze attack, was determined to maintain composure. He grimaced
painfully and ruefully shook his head, declining the bait for now.

I decided to referee if I could and interjected, "Bill, Mulder
doesn't drag me anywhere; we're equal partners, and pursue cases that
we've been assigned by our boss. Any 'danger' we encounter is shared
equally, as are any of our other duties as Federal Agents."

"So how come you are the one whose life is endangered most? How
come you get shot in the gut, while he's sitting at home?"

"First of all, I was partnered with a young, inexperienced agent in
New York. The guy had barely been out of the field office and he
made a stupid, stupid mistake. Second of all, Mulder was helping me
solve that case by remaining in constant communication with me. And
if our suspect hadn't disconnected my cell phone, I would have
arrested him immediately, based upon information Mulder found for me
in the F.B.I. archives. Instead of giving him a hard time, you ought
to be thanking him, for once again trying his best to keep me safe."
I looked over at Mulder, knowing that this would embarrass him, but I
said it anyway, "I'm very fortunate to have him in my life."

Mulder and I exchanged liquid glances for a few seconds, then his
eyes veered downward, mournfully studying the edges of the
tablecloth. He never enjoyed being the center of attention,
particularly such unwelcome attention. Bill, still absorbing my
previous statements, made things worse by scrutinizing his reaction,
interpreting it as evidence of a guilty conscience. He had no idea
how many trains of thought were ripping through Mulder's mind at that
very moment. I knew he must feel an uneasy combination of remorse
and pride. Remorse that I had to stick up for him in an impossible
argument; pride that I would do so with such obvious admiration and
support.

Bill wouldn't drop it. "Unfortunate is what I say. I wish you had
stayed in medicine, Dana. The F.B.I. can find other lives to risk."

"I AM in medicine, forensic medicine, Bill. And I don't see Tara
grousing about your profession being hazardous or taking you away
from your family for months at a time."

"The fact remains that you are constantly endangered by your job.
You are constantly on the road, you never date, you don't have a home
life, you can't, can't even have kids anymore..."

This was just too much, too much for Mulder to endure. He was
already doing a slow burn, managing to deflect other insults Bill had
slung at him today. Bringing up my infertility, taunting me about my
inability to have my own biological children, this was just too much.

He lifted his head, locking steely eyes with Bill's pale blue ones,
and rumbled, "Don't ever speak to Dana that way again, Bill, or so
help me God..."

"What are you, her husband?" Bill retorted.

Mulder and I looked askance at one another, shocked that Bill could
be so close to the truth of the matter. Mulder shook his head in
disbelief and growled, "If I were, I certainly wouldn't want my
brother-in-law to belittle his sister in such a cruel way."

Bill cowered at that, glancing downward, realizing just how mean-
spirited his words had been.

Bill muttered, "Sorry Dana, that was a low blow. I lost control.
I'm very sorry."

I glanced over at Mulder, still wound up, ready to pounce on the
next insult thrown my way. I gave him the strongest smile I could
muster, and he returned it wistfully, relaxing his jaw and releasing
tension between his shoulders. He realized how proud I was, how much
I loved him for defending my honor.

I'm sure Mulder was aware how close we had come to blowing our
cover. We were keeping this marriage a secret, but I would have
taken great zeal in informing my obnoxious, idiotic brother that we
were planning on adopting a whole brood of youngsters in a couple of
years. It would have shocked him, put him in his place, and probably
caused us untold difficulties when he called up the F.B.I. and
spilled the beans to Skinner. Not that we thought we'd have a
problem with our A.D. More likely, it would be the official nature
of Bill's complaint that would complicate our situation.

So I maintained a fragile composure, turned to Bill, and said,
"Apology accepted, brother." I smiled at him weakly, trying to
maintain a tenuous peace, for everyone's sake. I also started
pondering how to abbreviate our two day stay without insulting my
entirely innocent hostess.

Tara brought the ominous tension, still clinging between the two
men, to an abrupt end, suggesting, "Bill, why don't you help me read
a story to Matthew before bed?"

Bill obediently rose from the table and followed his wife up the
stairs to their son's bedroom. Before leaving, he gave Mulder a dark
look that said 'I'm not through arguing with you, asshole' and
directed a repentant one toward me, still ashamed of his crass remarks.

Mulder crossed to my side of the table and sat beside me, taking my
hands in his. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. Maybe we ought
not stay for two days, Scully..."

"Yeah, I was just thinking that. Maybe we can come up with a work-
related excuse. Don't worry about me, Mulder. I can take it from
him. It's actually easier to take it from him than a stranger. It's
not the first time I've heard those accusations. It won't be the
last. At least until we reveal we're married."

"Someone knows about your infertility?"

"I don't know how they found out, but someone has spread the word
around the Hoover building. No one would ever say anything to my
face. It's all just dribs and drabs of conversation I overhear.
Don't worry about me, I can take it."

"But should you even have to, especially from your own family? I
don't particularly like it when he attacks me, insults our work,
gives me grief. But I don't know if I can handle any more remarks
like that. If he wasn't your brother, I would have beat the shit out
of him by now."

I raised my eyebrows, posing an unspoken question. "No, Scully. I
won't go nuts and decimate your brother's face. As long as you stay
in the same room, that is," he said with a quick smile.

"You'll behave Mulder, or we'll be heading up to Reno for a quicky
divorce, O.K.?"

"Message received, loud and clear." He gave me a quick kiss and
pulled me close for an affectionate embrace. The sound of Tara's
footsteps drew us apart.

"Dana, why don't I get you settled in the guest room. Fox, I'll get
you some pillows and blankets for the sofa bed in just a minute,
O.K.? Um, Bill, um, Bill has a headache and is going to bed early.
So you two can stay up and watch T.V. down here, if you like."

"Thank you, Tara. We won't be up too late. We've had a long day."

So I followed my very contrite sister-in-law (although I in no way
blamed her for my brother's words, she seemed to suffer unexpressed
pangs of guilt, or maybe it was sympathy for my situation, I'll never
be sure), and changed into some cotton pajamas and a terrycloth robe.
I was relieved that Bill had gone off to hide in his bedroom. I
needed some time alone with Mulder, to relax, to shake off the
unpleasantness of this evening's events.

I never made it back to my room. We dozed off on the couch
together, too tired to care if my brother found us there. The next
morning, when the early light of dawn streamed through the
miniblinds, I woke up to Mulder's embrace and a sweet, chaste kiss on
my lips. Before we could utter a single 'Good morning', a little
voice said, from the bottom of the stairs, "Kiss, kiss." It was my
little nephew, watching us with rapt attention.

"Matthew! You're up early!" I said.

"Auntie Day-na," he spouted, as he ran into my arms.

I picked him up and said, "Let's take you back up to Mommy, why
don't we?"

I turned and gave Mulder a big smile, who returned it ten-fold,
obviously enjoying the interaction with my little nephew. I said,
softly, "Why don't you get cleaned up? There's somewhere we have to
go this morning."

He nodded in agreement and I lugged my suddenly heavy eighteen month-
old nephew up the stairs. I ran into Tara, coming out of the john,
still bleary-eyed. "Dana! I'll take him! Do you guys want
breakfast?"

"Just coffee would be nice, thank you. We have something to do this
morning, in about an hour. We'll be back for lunch. Is Bill going
to work, today?"

"Yes, thank God," she whispered. "Maybe we can keep the two of them
apart all day."

I laughed at her frankness. "Thanks, Tara. I knew you'd see it my
way!" We both chuckled and I went in to use the bathroom. By the
time I was done dressing, Mulder was all ready to go, having used the
half-bath on the ground floor. We had some of Tara's delicious
French roast and assured her we would be back by eleven for brunch.

We drove out to Emily's gravesite after a stop at the local florist.
The yellow roses reminded me of her hair, so I bought a dozen of
them, drawing concerned looks from Mulder the whole time we were in
the little shop. I tried to slough off his worry, but I knew that
this was no time to be heroic. By the time we reached the gravesite,
I knew I was in for a good cry. We both were. But that's why we
were here, to honor my child, our child, and release some of the
demons that made it so very painful to discuss her all too short life
and painful death.

We spent an hour at the cemetery, sitting on the grassy knoll where
she was buried. We didn't need words to express to one another how
meaningful this trip was to us. It was worth putting up with my
asshole brother, just to come here and heal in my husband's arms. I
felt a quiet serenity, reflected in Mulder's pensive, calm eyes.

When we got back to the base, it was still early, only 9 a.m. We
sat with Tara in the kitchen, watching her clean vegetables for the
salad, prepare chicken as the main course. Matthew colored with me
on the floor, while Mulder watched us, half an eye on a muted ESPN.
Tara was so proud of Matthew's new vocabulary words that she made him
say them out loud. Rug, tea, spoon, towel were all pointed out by
Matty, eager to please.

Then he pointed his finger at Mulder and I on the couch and said
"Kiss, kiss. Kiss, kiss," with childlike enthusiasm. We both
blushed beneath our recently acquired Arizona suntans and left no
doubt why Matthew had bestowed those words on us. Tara giggled,
enjoying our reaction, and her son's adorable antics. She said, "I
told you he was a bright young man, Dana."

"Don't I know it, Tara. Don't I know it."

After lunch, we all sipped coffee and Matthew conked out on his
mother's lap. Mulder's cell phone woke him out of his slumber, the
chirp of it foreign to our vacation-sated ears. He answered, raised
both eyebrows, and sat up straight on his side of the couch.

"Hello, sir...Yes, sir...No, sir...Not a problem, sir...It's
okay...We'll use the Bureau credit card...Yes...Yes...Goodbye, sir."
He looked at me apologetically and said, "Um, Skinner promised double
vacation days if we'd do him a favor."

"What did you get us into, Mulder?" I said fondly.

"A headless corpse was fished out of an irrigation canal in Phoenix.
He wants you to autopsy it, and for both of us to pursue the few
leads that the local police have. Sorry, Scully. I should never
have told him where I was. I should have disconnected that cell
phone the day we flew out."

"It's all right. I'm sure Bill will understand. Won't he Tara?" I
gave her a knowing smile and she returned it, relieved that Mulder
and her husband would miss another opportunity to tangle. We made
plane reservations, packed up our possessions and accepted tearful
goodbyes from both Tara and Matthew. I assured her that we'd see her
at Christmas and that I'd write or E-Mail more often than I had.

Mulder took the bags out to the rental and Tara pulled me aside and
whispered, "You'll be sure and tell me if there's any other
developments, O.K., Dana?"

I knew exactly what she was referring to, Matthew having busted us,
and I just smiled and said, "You'll know as soon as I get a chance to
tell Mom."

She smiled sweetly and said, "That's exactly what I thought, Dana.
I know she'll be happy. Don't count on Bill, though. I'll keep
working on him, for your sake."

We shared a good laugh about the futility of that enterprise, and
with Tara's best wishes we headed back to Phoenix, to interrupt our
'honeymoon' with the reality of our lives.

fin

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