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Bubbly Thanks

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They lived in a bubble. They were used to living in a bubble.

The bubble of the basement. The bubble of each other. The bubble of extended absences. The bubble of being fugitives. The bubble of the house. The bubble of estrangement. And finally, the bubble, at long last, was just them. All the bridges burned. All their family dead or elsewhere. It was just them.

Scully remembered the first time she had tried to include Mulder in the Thanksgiving ritual, right after the cancer and right before the discovery and death and Emily. The tensest dinner ever as Big Brother Bill glared at Mulder while chewing on the turkey meat and overly pregnant complained about her ankles and her mother's poor attempts to keep the conversation going with her children, some church ladies, and the ill-placed Mulder clinging to Scully's side.

He disappeared next year, citing he did not want to bother her and disappeared somewhere off with the Gunmen. But she did find a small card with a hand-traced turkey the size of Mulder's hand attached to a 1L bottle of pinot grigio. 'S- Have a gooblely turkey day. -M.' She sipped the wine after she got home from dinner on her couch and admired the endearing turkey token before she folded it and placed it lovingly in her bible next to her bedside.

Things were changing at the end of 1999. They did not talk about it. It wasn't their thing. But they both loved it. Maggie flew to San Diego, as it was Bill's turn to host Thanksgiving and Christmas on the West Coast. Scully declined and cited a case. But she had other plans. He spent the night and they lay caught in a web of naked limbs the next morning. They had a plan to rise earlier, tackle a Julia Child's recipe for a five-pound Butterball turkey and wing it from there. It was what they did. But they did not get out of bed until noon. Somehow, they lingered in her shower for an additional hour, before changing back into pajamas and sweats, collapsing on her couch in a heap, and watching the black and white Casablanca under a warm fleece blanket. They never did make the turkey that year.

The next year, Scully felt empty despite the new life growing inside of her.

They spent the first official Thanksgiving of the new millennium at some chain restaurant in South Carolina. Then they went back to the hotel with a cheap bottle of wine they bought at the 7-11 down the street. The movie was terrible and the wine cheap, but the company was all that Scully could have hoped for as she closed her eyes, resting her cheek against his chest and Mulder flicked absently through the tv channels.

Up until 2006, when they decided to stop running and settle down are a blur. It repeated itself like that first one back in 2001. Fast food, cheap wine, and Casablanca. The small farmhouse in Virginia was perfect. They called Skinner to invite him but he was busy. Scully called Maggie and she came two days later with enough food to feed a small army. She greeted daughter and finally turned to Mulder and embraced him like the long-lost son finally come home.

They enjoyed the small Thanksgiving with Maggie joining them every other year, and when it was them, favored by staying in bed till noon, eating Chinese takeout, drinking cheap white wine from 7-11, and snuggling up on the couch watching the black and white noir Casablanca. Just like tradition dictated.

2015. Mulder drank himself into a blackout with a bottle of whiskey. Scully holed herself up in her new sterile apartment, listening to the drunken voicemail from Mulder in pain as he cried and begged her to come home.

2016. They lived in the bubble of the basement again, but this bubble breathed new life. Mulder and Scully. Chasing monsters with badges, guns, and flashlights. Maggie died earlier that year. Scully showed up without any notice Thanksgiving afternoon with a bottle of cheap wine and a pizza, wearing jeans and an old hoodie. He smiled, let her in, and they watched Casablanca as they always did on Thanksgiving. She did not leave that night.

2017. The bubble of their solemn existence breathed new hope and thanks. She awoke to Mulder kissing her incessantly in the crook of her neck and he gave thanks to her body and then showed thanks again in the shower. She wore one of his sweatshirts and yoga pants while he strolled around in old jeans and a tee shirt. The attempted the turkey that year and it was not a complete disaster. They sat at the table with two additional place settings. One was in memory of Maggie. And another one for their son Will. They still had yet to find him, but they were close. Reyes was invaluable with that, redeeming herself in fake double agentry. They sent her a bottle of wine for Thanksgiving. But they ate the dinner in silence, smiling at each other warmly. Afterwards, they went to the couch and popped in their Thanksgiving tradition DVD. She snuggled up to his side underneath the old fleece blanket from their first Thanksgiving together way back in 1998. She kissed the crook of his necks and hugged him tightly as they settled in to watch the movie.

"Mulder," she had whispered. "All these years, I was always thankful for one thing."

He did not reply. Mulder placed a kiss on top of her red strands.

They always lived in a bubble the centered around their existence to each other and every year, they were thankful for that in some way or other.