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Only One Choice, Part One

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She sits on an overstuffed chair in her childhood bedroom, avoiding the mirror. There is much she has to be grateful for; that they hadn’t yet sent out invitations when she convinced Ethan that a small, backyard wedding was more suitable than the full affair at church; that Charlie was already ordained after marrying some friends last year, and agreed to do the honors; that she wouldn’t have to risk bursting into flame as a priest presided over their nuptials, her infidelity scorching her white dress like a scarlet letter. So much to be grateful for and yet she feels everything but gratitude. She made her choice; honor her commitment and lock away her indiscretion with Mulder in a secret bank of memories only she and Missy know exists. It is the right thing to do, the right choice. Doing the right thing was never meant to be easy, and it’s not.


There is a gentle knock on the door and Bill pokes his head in, looking sharp in a black suit and blue tie. 


“Ready?” he asks with a nervous smile, and her belly does a sickening flip. 


She nods tersely and stands, smoothing out the fabric of her simple white dress. Nothing fancy, nothing bridal. She does not deserve a beautiful perfect dress. She doesn’t even deserve Ethan, but here she is. 


Bill takes her elbow and guides her carefully down the stairs where they fall in line behind Missy, Ellen, and the two of Ethan’s friends who make up their small bridal party. Missy gives her a sad smile and she pulls in a deep, shaky breath to try and calm her nerves. 


Canon in D begins and she feels her mind go blank as the bridal party disappears from before her, trailing out and down the porch to the small altar Ethan and Charlie constructed together. She just has to get through this, to come out the other side and build a life with Ethan. Something new, something better. To Ethan this is a continuation of their last five years, but for her it is a blank slate, a second chance. This time she won’t mess it up. She can’t. 


Bill guides her down the hallway and out the back door to where Ethan stands in his suit and tie, beaming at her under the sun of an unseasonably warm day; the perfect day for an outdoor wedding. She feels her mouth form a smile back at him, her heart willing her body to be here, to be present. To move forward, and never look back. How lucky is she to be able to take this second chance? 


They arrive at the altar and Bill gives her a hug and a kiss on the cheek before she steps forward to join Charlie and Ethan. Charlie moves through the ceremony they mapped out together, but she doesn’t hear a word he says. She keeps her eyes locked on Ethan’s, on the loving gaze of the man who will be her husband. His lips move as he commits his life to her and the knot in her stomach grows firmer, tighter, threatening to steal her breath. She breathes slowly in and out; she can do this. 


“Dana,” Charlie says her name and she looks at him for the first time. “Do you take Ethan to be your husband? To love, honor, and cherish him, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?”


She swallows and looks at Ethan. His eyes are wet with tears of joy, his hands gripping hers fiercely as though he never intends to let go. 


‘I-” she starts, then pauses. She feels a little bit dizzy. 


The right thing. The right choice. 


“I-” she begins again, forcing the image of Mulder out of her head, of his crooked smile and his confession whispered against the flesh of her belly. 


She closes her eyes. 


“I do.”