On this day, this sunny and gorgeous October day with the leaves turning vivid colors, Scully misses her mother. She pictures Maggie all done up in an elegant suit in a soft pastel shade, maybe pink or powder blue. If she closes her eyes, she can smell her mother’s perfume, Chanel Number Five. She imagines her mother nervously fluttering around the room, fussing and chattering about nonsense.
It’s been just over a year and today Scully couldn’t miss her mother more. She should be here today, of all days.
She’s just debating another squirt of hairspray when she hears a knock on the door. For an instant, she imagines it’s her mother on the other side. Instead, Monica walks in, holding two flutes of champagne.
“I thought you might need this, Dana,” Monica says. Monica looks beautiful today, turned out in a burgundy dress covered with abstract black flowers, her face still tanned from a summer of gardening.
Scully takes the flute and allows herself a sip of the sparkling wine. The small bubbles dance on her tongue. “I did,” she says.
Monica smiles. “Nervous?”
“I’m fine,” she says. “I thought I’d feel more anxious about today but I don’t know…maybe it just feels right.” After more than twenty-four years, it should, she thinks. After all they’ve been through, after all the work they’ve done to come back together; if anything should feel right, today should.
“Remember how I was so nervous on my wedding day, I puked in a potted plant ten minutes before the ceremony?” Monica says.
“I’ll never forget. I had to hold your hair.” Good thing Scully had thought to pack tissues and a sample bottle of Scope in her emergency kit for Monica.
“Clarice still doesn’t know I did that,” Monica says, chuckling.
“It’ll be our dark secret forever,” Scully says. That’s the greatest part of having a good friend—all the terrible and hilarious shared secrets.
Monica kisses her on the cheek. “You look gorgeous, Dana.”
Scully turns to look at herself in the full-length mirror on the closet door. “I don’t know about this dress…” It’s a shift cocktail dress, knee-length silk shantung, in a shade of deep blue that stops just short of green.
“I can’t picture you in a big, poofy white dress,” Monica says.
“Not at my age,” Scully says, rolling her eyes. “Can you see me in strapless satin?”
“Sure. With crinoline and hoop skirts.” Monica’s eyes are sparkling.
“And a giant bow on the butt.” She shrugs. “I don’t know. I went to Nordstrom three separate times and this is the only one that spoke to me.”
“Get over yourself, you look amazing. Those shoes are divine, although the heels are frightening me.”
“I know,” she says. Her shoes are nude patent leather Louboutins. The four-inch stilettos cost more than twice as much as the dress did. She’d make out with these shoes if she could. “But I need high heels. It’s that or stand on a box for pictures. I just had to marry a giant.”
Monica takes a step back and gives Scully an appraising look. “You’ve got something new and something blue, but what about the old and borrowed?”
Scully touches the gold cross that always hangs from a chain around her neck. “This is the old. My parents gave it to me for my First Communion.”
Thinking for a moment, Monica finally says, “I’ve got it!” She rummages in a drawer for a minute and returns, brandishing a scrap of black lace. “How about one of Clarice’s thongs for the borrowed? My panties would be way too huge for you.”
“Monica, I am not wearing your wife’s underpants. Nope. Sorry. I love you two but there are limits.” She laughs. “And what’s Clarice doing with a black lace thong? It doesn’t really seem like her style.”
Monica winks at her. “That’s none of your business.”
“Please. If I get two drinks in you, you’ll tell me everything.”
Sighing, Monica resumes going through her dresser drawers. “Aha,” she says, and returns to show Scully a small crystal, clear and shaped like a pyramid. “I had this crystal in my pocket the day…you know, the day you birthed William. For protection. Any time I worried, I gave it a squeeze.”
Tears sting her eyes. That strange, scary and beautiful day in Georgia was more than fifteen years ago. She loves that Monica was with her that day. Sometimes it can feel like William’s birth and her too-short life with him were merely an incredibly detailed dream. But Monica remembers, too, bearing witness to that time of her life.
She pinches the bridge of her nose to stop the tears. “It’s wonderful, Monica,” she says. “But where am I supposed to put it? No pockets.”
“I’ll carry it for you today. For protection.”
Scully isn’t much of a hugger, but she has to wrap her arms around Monica and squeeze her friend for that.
The door knocks and Clarice pokes her head in. “Everyone’s here now. Are you ready, Dana?”
Scully nods. She’s ready, right? After all these years, she’d better be.
Clarice steps in, resplendent in a crisp, navy pantsuit. “I’ve got your bouquet here.”
It’s a beautiful thing, white roses, gardenia, and orange blossom. “I don’t know. A bouquet feels awfully…bridal.”
“Dana,” Monica says with a sigh.
“It’s District of Columbia law that the bride must carry a bouquet,” Clarice says, her voice tinged with West Virginia. “As a sworn officer of the law, I’m here to ensure your compliance.”
“Fine, fine,” she says and picks up the bouquet. It’s surprisingly heavy.
“There’s our lovely bride,” Monica says, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
“Shut up,” Scully says.
Clarice clears her throat. “Shall we go downstairs?”
Scully’s stomach does a slow flip. She starts to regret the portobello burger she ate with Monica in a yuppie bar after the hair salon. “Can you give me a moment alone? I’ll be right down. Let everyone know the bride hasn’t climbed out the bedroom window. Yet.” She sits at the edge of the bed, her legs suddenly weak.
Monica kisses the top of her head. “Of course.” Both women walk out of the bedroom and shut the door behind them.
She wants to put her head between her knees but the dress is too tight, so she concentrates on slow, even breaths. Funny, she thought this was a piece of proverbial cake. She wasn’t nervous at all until just right now. Her heart is beating rapidly beneath the silk.
She’s getting married. In a few minutes. To Mulder.
It didn’t feel real until just right now. Her hands are shaking.
“You’re being ridiculous,” she tells herself sternly. She’s not a blushing, virginal bride of twenty. She’s a middle-aged woman who has spent half her life loving the man waiting for her in Monica and Clarice’s backyard. She owns a house and a large and shaggy black dog with him. Somewhere out there, probably thousands of miles away, is a fifteen-year-old boy who is their son. So why is she nervous? She knows Mulder, knows every inch of his skin, has memorized his muscles and bones. He is the only one in the world who is able to traverse the vast minefield of her scars and mercurial moods. She is the sole person to whom he whispers his secrets and his fears. There’s no reason to be afraid.
She feels something enter the room, something warm and soft that surrounds her. Oh, it’s them. She’s as sure of it as anything she’s ever experienced. Scully gasps as she feels the spirits of her lost ones—her mother, her father, Melissa—circle her. We are with you, you are not alone, they seem to tell her. We love you and we are here today for you.
She may be a skeptic, the queen of rationality, but she believes in this. They are with her. She smells her mother’s perfume and the patchouli oil her sister always wore. Inhaling deeper, she catches the scent of the cigars her father smoked on special occasions.
Standing up, she smiles at the invisible spirits of her family. “I’m ready,” she tells them. “I really am.”
Somehow, she feels they are pleased.
After another sip of champagne and a quick swipe of additional lipstick, she slowly navigates the steep steps, no easy task in four-inch heels. It would be just her luck to fall down the stairs and break her neck just minutes before her wedding. Over the last few weeks, she and Mulder have been joking that their marriage is sure to be the thing to finally instigate alien colonization.
Safely on the first floor of the house, she walks through the kitchen to the back door, which leads to the deck. She can hear the soft music of the string quartet. This is it, she thinks and finds herself smiling.
She walks through the open door and stands there for a moment, frozen in place. Everyone is here, standing in the yard, which is bright with colorful autumn leaves on the trees and strewn about the grass. Monica, grinning broadly, and Clarice, who is holding Mulder and Scully’s excitable dog, Nora, on a short leash. The Lone Gunmen, decked out in their geeky finery. Byers has brought a date, she notices. Ellen, her husband, and their daughters. A few friends from Richmond days and a couple of fellow agents. Bill (glowering only a little bit), Tara, and the boys, young men now. Charlie and Timothy, his partner.
Maggie, Ahab, and Melissa are there, too, even if only she can see them.
Skinner stands at the end of the aisle, looking appropriately ministerial with his gray beard and stern, but kind face. It somehow feels right and proper to have their long-suffering former boss officiate their wedding.
The breath catches in her throat the moment she sees him, walking across the yard in long strides to meet her.
Oh, Mulder. There you are.
Her mind flashes back to the first time she met him, down in the musty basement office nearly a quarter century ago. She was so innocent and eager, he young and arrogant. On that day, she had no idea of the long, twisting journey on which they were about to embark. She couldn’t possibly comprehend the horrors and joys they would face. She had no way of knowing that it was all leading to this October day.
Twenty-four years ago, she didn’t understand her own capacity to love. Today, she does.
He’s wearing a new black suit, a crisp white shirt, and a black tie crisscrossed with thin lines of white. The suit is Hugo Boss, of course, the official designer of Fox Mulder. Mulder’s beard is neatly trimmed, touched with gray at each side of his chin. She likes to complain about the beard but she secretly loves it. It makes him look like a lumberjack turned philosophy professor.
It doesn’t surprise her that he still has the power to take her breath away. He always has.
Mulder walks up the deck’s steps to her, seemingly as casual as if he’s heading to the kitchen to fetch another beer, but his eyes give him away. His eyes tell her everything about how he’s feeling about this day. His laugh lines deepen when he smiles at her.
She smiles back, feeling strangely shy.
He bends down to kiss her cheek. “You’re beautiful,” he whispers in her ear.
“So are you,” she whispers back.
Scully nods. She’s never been readier in her life.
Mulder offers her arm to her and she takes it. The string quartet notices the cue and begins the song they’ll walk down the aisle to. It’s a lyrical, sweeping waltz—beautiful and a little haunting. Very few of their guests, save the Gunmen and Clarice, recognize the song as the Roslin and Adama theme from Battlestar Galactica. Mulder wanted little to do with the wedding planning but he insisted on this song.
Nobody is giving her away today. She doesn’t need it. Instead, they walk together down the aisle as they always have, side by side. They walk at a slow, stately pace, as if they have all the time in the world.
Skinner stands underneath a leaf-covered chuppah of sorts, one of Monica’s crafty ideas. They end their walk before him. For a moment, Scully imagines Skinner upbraiding them for blatantly ignoring at least half a dozen Bureau regulations and it makes her homesick for the old days.
Scully hands off her bouquet to Monica and turns to Mulder. He takes her hands in his. His hands are soft and warm. Hers are sweaty. She looks up at Mulder and his eyes are serious and tender. She feels a tear slide down her cheek.
“Dearly beloved,” Skinner intones in his deep, authoritative voice. “We are gathered together today to celebrate the marriage of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder.”
Oh, yes. Today is the day.
“And if I may be so bold,” says Skinner, “I would like to add that it’s about damn time.”
The guests laugh.
No one but the two of them can possibly understand. It took twenty-four years to get to this point because that’s how long it needed to take. They had to face injuries, illness, abductions, deaths, separation, and reconciliation to come to this perfect, shining moment. Only by enduring those difficult life events, along with the joyful and loving ones, were they able to become the two people standing together right now, about to say their vows to each other under the eyes of God and Walter Skinner.
She looks at Mulder again and she can see their long history written on his face.
Scully smiles and squeezes his hands. He squeezes back.She takes a deep breath and waits for the moment, only minutes away, when their long journey will take yet another twist, this one in the direction of eternity.