Dana Scully smiled demurely as she descended the front steps of her church, the bells ringing on the crisp early-February air.
Across the street was her partner, leaned against the side of his car. He was dressed casually, jeans and a light sweater, a comfortable pair of boots and that sexy, black leather jacket. He was giving her the little half-smile of recognition and fondness that always comforted her.
He pushed away from the car and walked toward her once her feet hit the sidewalk. She met him at the curb.
“I feel like I’m in a Molly Ringwald movie,” she said, looking up and up at him.
He smirked. “I’m no Jake Ryan.”
Of course he picked up on which one.
She leaned around him to look at his car. “And that’s definitely not a red Porsche.”
“And I’m not wearing a sweater vest,” he grinned.
“Thank God,” Dana said, her eyes taking him in, head to waist. His coat hung open and she reached and tugged at the zipper tab. “You look better than Jake Ryan,” she flirted, shamelessly, despite the parishioners milling about.
He laughed and she smiled up at him.
“Not that I’m complaining but what are you doing here?” she asked, curious. He had never showed up at her church before. In fact, he tended to avoid churches altogether unless a case or research was involved. “Did we catch a case?” she asked.
“I thought I’d take you to lunch,” he said and she raised an eyebrow at him.
It had been a week since they’d done anything remotely personal together, not since their walk on the National Mall. They’d had one case out of town but otherwise, he’d been giving her space to deal with the fallout of the failed IVF, which she’d appreciated, and to think about them.
She’d missed their personal connection and now here he was, unexpectedly, his very presence delighting her and her warm, playful welcome clearly affecting him similarly.
“That’s sweet of you,” she said, “But–”
“–I’m with my mother,” she said on the tail end of her mother’s greeting.
Her partner looked a little crestfallen, but he was gracious when her mother joined them. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek and received a kiss in return.
“Are you here to take her away?” her mother asked and it wasn’t an accusation.
“No, I’m actually here to take her to lunch,” he said and did that smooth little stammer that people often overlooked when he added, “Both of you, if you’d like to join us.”
Dana smiled up at him. He hadn’t really wanted to invite her mother but he was, despite what people might believe, a gentleman when it came to social niceties outside of the FBI. Especially with her mother.
“That’s very sweet of you,” her mother said.
The near-echo of her words amused Dana, and Mulder, although he also looked a little nervous and she knew why when he spared a slight glance in her direction.
He thinks I told her. And he looked on the verge of blushing. She gave a little shake of her head to let him know she hadn’t and watched him relax.
“It will be my pleasure,” he told her mother.
“It would be mine to accept, but I’m afraid I have plans,” her mother said and Dana looked over at her in question. She wasn’t aware of any plans. In fact, her mother usually tried to include her in any after-church plans.
Now her mother cast her a little glance and she fought the urge to roll her eyes.
And she has her matchmaker hat on today.
Dana supposed she shouldn’t complain. Her mother had at least stopped inviting her to Sunday dinners with eligible bachelors from the church – of course she hadn’t done that in years. It was a relief, too, to know that her mother continued to support Mulder’s place in Dana’s life and acknowledge that far more than a job lay between her and her partner.
“But you and Dana should go,” her mother said.
“You’re sure?” Mulder said, all politeness. Relieved politeness.
Her mother reached up and touched his cheek affectionately. “Yes, Fox,” she said then looked at Dana and repeated the gesture. “Enjoy your lunch, Dana.”
“I will, Mom.”
Dana watched her mother go then glanced up at Mulder.
“She knows,” he said.
“She suspects,” Dana corrected. She would know if her mother really knew. “She’s suspected for years.”
Mulder almost looked dismayed. “Years?”
Dana shrugged with a smile.
“So where are we eating?”
His smile returned.