“Scully, it’s me,” the voice on the other end rang out as soon as she picked up the receiver. She can hear him moving about, a flurry of commotion muffled in the background. He’s packing, and she knows it, but she asks him what going on anyway, in hopes that this will be the one time he tells her something different. He does not, but she can dream, if nothing else. “Pack your bags, Scully. We have a case in beautiful upstate New York, where you and I have an appointment scheduled to meet a spry, old woman to hear her recount stories of her son going off the deep end after her daughter got abducted by still unknown assailants.”
She glances at her clock. 7 am. She blows air out of her mouth, steeling herself for the 5 plus hour drive. “Fine. I’ll be ready in 30 minutes. And bring coffee.”
“Already on it, Scully. See you in a bit.” The line goes dead, and she groans into her pillow one last time before throwing her legs over the side of her bed and shuffling to the bathroom to get ready. She's dressed and made up in 15 minutes, leaving an extra 15 minutes to check the weather for upstate New York and pack her go bag accordingly. It's late October, the dead middle of a perfect New England autumn with temperatures in the 50s for the whole week. Regardless of whatever wild goose chase Mulder is bringing her along for, at least the weather will be nice. She's packed and out the door with one minute to spare, and she stands outside her apartment, searching and waiting for a government-issued sedan to come racing down the street. She checks her watch - 7:30am - and glances up to see a sedan turn the corner onto her street. She can make out Mulder's face in the slight tint of the windshield as the car approaches. Right on time.
She steps off the sidewalk and reaches for the back door handle before tossing her bag into the backseat and taking her place in the passenger seat. Her coffee is at the ready in Mulder's hand as she settles in, and she takes it, her fingers grazing his for the slightest of moments, and drinks a hearty gulp. She hums happily, and she’s glad Mulder has the right mind not to say anything before she took her first sip. “Morning, Scully,” he greets, quickly making their way to the George Washington Parkway.
“Good morning, Mulder. Thanks for the coffee.” She raises the paper cup and takes another sip. “So, upstate New York? How upstate are we talking about here?”
“Never fear, Scully,” he starts, pointedly ignoring the small snort of laughter she lets out, “I am taking you to residential New Rochelle, New York. Population of approximately 70,000 people with almost 3 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline for your seaside pleasure.” He quickly glances her way with a smirk on his lips, like he’s won something for taking her to place with a waterfront.
“New Rochelle in the middle of a perfect New England fall? if I were a betting woman, Mulder, I’d say you have something up your sleeve.” She raises the coffee cup to her lips, hoping to hide the teasing smile forming, and eyes his reaction. He licks his lips and fidgets slightly in his seat that she thinks he’s trying to play off as him getting comfortable, but it’s a nervous tick of his. And she somehow just noticed that he’s not wearing a suit, but jeans and a sweater underneath his heavier jacket. Now she’s the one who’s nervous. “Mulder,” she admonishes, setting her coffee back in its right place in the cupholder, lest she drop it after whatever bombshell Mulder is planning on dropping her in this car. He recovers quickly, but that slight slip of his demeanor worries her. “Where are you taking me?”
“Scully, it hurts me,” he raises a hand to his chest for further effect of feigned wounded shock, “that you doubt me. Honest, I’m taking you to New Rochelle. No games.”
She raises her eyebrow and offers him a short hum of indignant acceptance. We’ll see, she thinks, we’ll see.
Nearly six hours later, they pull up to the driveway of a beautiful two-story house that looks like it came out a brochure. The front porch spans the width of the house with two chairs on either side of the front door, which is painted a beautiful deep red. A large oak tree stands proud and tall to the right side of the house, branches framing the top of the house like a painting. Scully is seriously considering a lifestyle change to even afford a house like this, which she, no doubt, knows costs a pretty penny. While she admires and stares at the house, she doesn't even register that Mulder has both of their bags in his hands until they start walking up the paved pathway to the front door.
“Mulder?” he remains silent, striding closer to the door. “Whose house is this? We’re not staying here, are we?” He drops the bags at his feet to fish out his keys.
“Umm,” he stalls with an embarrassed chuckle, inserting the key into lock and twisting it counterclockwise twice until he hears the lock give way. He opens the door, bends down slightly to pick up their bags and takes a tentative step inside. She has a hand on her holster, just in case, because despite being in abnormal situations 95% of the time, this is a different kind of weird, even for them. Before she could even unbutton the leather strap holding her gun in place, she hears someone call his name from the top of the steps.
“Oh, Fox!” Scully's eyes go wide in shock, and she looks at Mulder, pleading for answers on their exact whereabouts. And then she hears it.
She turns around to face the street to hide the shock on her face, mouth gaping open like a fish out of water. That bastard. She fucking knew it. She mutters oh my god approximately twelve times under her breath before turning back around to see Mulder and his mother in an embrace. Scully plasters on a polite smile on her face at the exact moment his mom opens her eyes and sees her over his shoulder.
“Oh, how rude of me,” she apologizes, stepping away from Mulder. “Hi, Teena, so lovely to meet you.”
“Uh, hello,” she manages to choke out, taking Teena’s proffered hand to shake.
“Mom, this is Scully. Scully, my mom.”
“Ah, the infamous Scully. I've heard a lot about you.”
She catches the twinkle in her eye and wonders what exactly Mulder has told his mother about her. She chuckles uncomfortably. “All good things, I hope. Please, call me Dana.”
Teena looks at Mulder for guidance. Scully imagines that whatever Mulder has told his mother, “Dana” isn’t part of the equation. Mulder smiles, and Teena releases her hand. “Well, Dana, come on in from the cold. I’ll make you a cup of tea.” She smiles at them both before turning away to the kitchen. Mulder closes the door, and when Scully is sure Teena is out of ear shot, she gives Mulder a hard pinch on his arm. He jumps slightly and yelps, rubbing his arm.
“You brought me to your mother’s house?! Mulder, I cannot even begin to fathom how inappropriate this is. You lied to me.”
“I didn’t exactly lie to you. I just… wasn't very specific, but we are in New Rochelle!” he says excitedly, as if being in the same exact city as he intended them to be in was enough to make it better. “And we are meeting a spry, old woman - my mother - to talk about her son going off the deep end - me - after her daughter - Samantha - got abducted!”
“Oh, my god." This man really is something else. "I can’t believe this.”
“Come on, we don't have time for this. My mother is going to wonder where we are.” He walks down the hallway and makes a right at the doorway, and she hears them chatting away. She takes a deep breath to calm herself because she’s in it now, and she can’t turn back around. She turns the corner to the kitchen, and Teena is already fixing Mulder a plate of food while he gathers mugs and tea bags for them.
“Grab a seat, Dana. I’m just heating up some food for you. I’m sure you’re famished from the long drive from Washington.”
“Oh, you don’t-“ she begins to protest, but Teena isn’t having it.
“Nonsense. It’s no trouble.”
“Thank you.” She takes a seat at the short end of the rectangular kitchen island, which has a beautiful gray marble counter top, facing the stainless steel refrigerator. The counter begins to its right, forming an L shape that ends at the exact same point as the island. The kitchen isn’t too big or too small, just cozy enough, and it reminds her of home. “You have a beautiful house, Mrs. Mulder.”
“Please call me Teena, dear. Mrs. Mulder makes me feel old,” she says with a laugh. “Fox, would you mind getting some utensils?” He follows his mother’s instructions, and Scully smiles. She wishes Mulder would listen to her like that. It’d save her a lot of trouble and a lot of headache. “I’ve had this house for over 30 years. We used to come here every so often, but never lived in it, long term, of course, but after my husband passed away, I figured it was time.”
“Jasmine tea still your favorite, Scully?”
“Hm, yes, please.” Mulder places a white mug with a single tea bag in front of her before taking the kettle off the stove to pour into her mug. He asks if she wants honey with her tea, and she shakes her head. “Thanks.” He repeats the same for him and takes a seat next to her at the same time Teena announces the food is ready.
“Hope you like roasted chicken with potatoes and green beans because that’s what you’re going to get,” she offers with a smile.
“Smells delicious, Mom.” Mulder digs right in with zero decorum, and it makes her smile on the inside, to see him so comfortable in ways she’s never seen in him before. She guesses being with one’s parents always brings that out in people.
“Dana, forgive me, but I wasn’t expecting you to come by. I love the company, and quite frankly, Fox was never one to bring home girls - couldn’t really get them, you know - but what brings you here?”
Scully laughs despite herself at the ease with which his mother embarrasses him. Plus, seeing Mulder blush like a child is one she’ll never forget. “Teena, I have to be honest with you, but I’m not sure why I’m here either. Mulder called me this morning at 7am, told me to pack by bags for New Rochelle, and here we are.” She turns to face Mulder with a smirk on her face, ready to take on revenge for bringing her here unannounced. “Mulder, care to share with your mother and me why I’m here?”
He chokes on his food and gulps down his tea, presumably to buy him some time before subjecting himself to interrogation, but what comes out of his mouth is refreshingly honest and quite unlike him that she can’t help but let him off the hook. Well, not entirely, she does have a reputation to uphold here.
“I don’t know,” he shrugs. “I thought it’d be nice, nice change of scenery. We never go anywhere without a case being the catalyst, and I was coming to see my mom anyway, and I thought you’d like it here.”
She cracks a smile, but not before giving him an eye roll because, reputation, and turns back to his mother. “There you have it.”
“Well, Fox, looks like the problem still persists." Scully's eyebrow dances up, wondering what problem she's referring to, but she doesn't have to wonder for long. "How do you expect to find a wife if you just whisk people away without explanation, tsk. I raised you better than that, Fox Mulder.”
“Mom!” Scully snickers in the background. She is going to thoroughly enjoy this trip if Teena was going to consistently provide humor by way of embarrassing and teasing Mulder. “Oh, stop it, Scully.”
“Oh, I’m not doing anything,” she insists, sipping her tea, loving the situation unfold right in front of her.
“I’m telling you, Fox,” Teena chides one last time before rinsing off her cleared plate in the sink. Mulder turns to Scully in hopes she would back him up on this, but she refuses and instead mouths listen to your mother to him. Now it’s his turn to roll his eyes. “I’m not getting any younger, and you’re my only hope for grandkids.” Teena comes around to pinch his cheeks, letting him know that her words are only in jest, but Scully imagines there’s weighted truth in it that Mulder carries with him often. “Take as much time as you need, but you two finish up in here. Holler if you need me, and Fox, I take it that you’ll be a good host and show your guest around?”
“Good,” Teena accepts with a nod. “Dana, again, lovely to meet you, and please reach out for anything you may need.”
“I will, thank you.” Scully watches his mother walk away, and once she’s out of sight, she turns to Mulder with a bemused smile on her face. “Mulder, if I had known your mother was such a firecracker, I would have asked you to introduce us much earlier on in our partnership.”
“You’re just pulling my ear.” He stands to go rinse his plate at the sink. “That was embarrassing.”
Scully follows with her plate and stands next to him. “Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it.” He huffs, and she can’t help but laugh. “You deserved it, Mulder. What did you expect when you bring me here unannounced?” He doesn’t respond, so she decides to drop it and tug on his elbow. “Come on, I was promised a house tour.”
She leads them back to the foyer where Mulder grabs their bags before starting the tour. To the left of the entrance is the living room, where a charcoal gray sectional couch lies firmly in the center of the room, facing the tv precariously propped above the brick fireplace. To the right is the dining room which leads out to a sun room, decorated with ocean themed items and wicker furniture, no doubt a nod to his Martha’s Vineyard upbringing. The dining room also connects to the kitchen they were just in.
Mulder takes them up the stairs and leads them to the end of the hall, pointing out the guest bathroom along the way. He opens the door to his childhood room which has since been upgraded to a more adult version - the twin sized bed is long gone and has been replaced with a queen. Opposite the bed is a six drawer dresser with a tv adorned on top. There’s a small wooden bedside table and a white desk in the corner of the room, facing the window, which looks out to the backyard.
Scully looks out the window to see a small allotment garden in the back corner, stems and greenery of all kinds starting to peak up from the soil. Mulder drops both of their bags next to the door, and she whisks away the thought of them potentially sharing this room and this bed for the undetermined amount of time they will be staying here.
“Come on, I’ll show you the back.” He walks away, not waiting for her to follow, and leads them back down stairs. Turning the corner, they walk down the same hallway towards the kitchen, but pass it to reach the back door. There’s a handful of steps leading down to the grass, and the yard is much bigger than she had thought. Mulder points out the garden in the right hand corner, listing out the different vegetables and fruits his mother has started to grow since his father’s passing. He shrugs, not having anything further to point out. The backyard is pretty barren, except for the garden and some orange leaves from the neighboring trees.
“This place is beautiful, Mulder.”
He raises his shoulders again. “Yeah, it was nice. I could probably count the number of times my parents brought us here on one hand. We used to play in the snow, had a barbecue one year. It was nice,” he repeated.
As beautiful and wonderful as this place is, she still doesn't understand why she's here, and she isn’t sure if she could overlook that. She has to ask. “Why’d you bring me here, Mulder?”
“I meant what I said earlier, but-,” he looks down, using the toe of his boot to dig at the earth, “I just wanted to say thank you, I guess. You put up with me a lot, and I thought you, and me to a certain extent, could benefit from a break. I hope you're not upset.”
“I wish you would have told me not under the guise of a case, but,” she sighs, “no, I’m not upset. This was really thoughtful, thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Scully.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but how long are we going to be here for?”
“I was thinking about leaving after lunch on Sunday, so we’ll get back to DC that night, but we can leave earlier than that, if you want.”
She does the mental calculations. It’s Friday afternoon now, so they’ll be here for the weekend. A true weekend trip if she’s ever seen one. She thinks about what she has packed, and she could very well manage with what she brought, but accepting and agreeing to this trip seems like a step for them. In what direction, good or bad, she doesn’t really know. He didn’t take her just anywhere. He didn’t choose a location at random, but purposefully decided to bring her here to meet his mother and show her a part of his past. It feels weighted with emotion that she can’t wrap her mind around just yet, but there’s a pinprick in her mind telling her to take this leap and see what lies at the bottom.
“No, Sunday is great.” Mulder smiles brightly like a kid on Christmas morning, getting exactly what he wished for, and it tugs at her heart. He wraps an arm around her shoulder and motions them back into the house before dropping it and letting a hand rest on her back as they walk up the steps.
“I’m going to grab my bag and stay in the guest room, so you can take my room. I’m sure you want some time to yourself, so you’re welcome to freshen up or take a nap or read. There’s a small library down the hall from my room. I’m going to help my mom with dinner, which should be ready at 6pm sharp. Teena Mulder is a stickler for dinner at 6pm, so don’t be late,” he says with a wink.
“I’m happy to help out with dinner, Mulder.”
“No, please don’t. One word of that to my mother, and she’ll be on my case for forcing our guests to cook their own dinner and being a bad host. And I already had a handful of that at lunch, so don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”
She chuckles at that, remembering the way Teena poked fun at him. “Okay, thank you.”
“Of course. I’ll see you at dinner then. 6pm, don’t forget. My mom will shun anyone who’s late to dinner. I’m warning you now, Scully.”
“6pm, got it. Thank you, Mulder. And I mean it. You didn’t have to do any of this.”
“I know, but I wanted to.” They share a knowing smile, and Scully has to look away because she forgets that his hazel green eyes can have the intensity of a thousand sun sometimes. “See you later, Scully.” With that, he closes the door to his, and now her, room, and she’s left with a nagging feeling that this weekend will push her out of her comfort zone.