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Peonies

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Subconsciously, she’s been avoiding May.  April left quietly over the weekend, yet the calendar remains unflipped. All thirty-one boxes lie empty, not a doctor’s appointment nor a salon visit in sight, not even her bi-annual pathology conference on the twentieth.  The upcoming month instead is scheduled through post-it notes, hanging from the edges of April for dear life.

Five days in though, and she can no longer avoid it. She turns the page.

April showers give way to May flowers, and the gay peonies that decorate the new calendar page mock her when she finally allows them to shine.   Look how lovely we are, they seem to say.  Look how lovely things are in the month of May.

She tries not to look but her eyes find it anyway—the second Sunday—swollen and throbbing right there on the white of the page.  She can’t ignore it any longer.  She’s proud of herself when she’s able to hold back the tears.  

At least most of them.

….

She hasn’t mentioned it.  Of course she hasn’t.  She barely mentions things she’s happy about; she certainly doesn’t mention those that make her sad.

But he can always sense her sadness.  He can feel it in the vibration of her steps echoing down the hallway, just the faintest bit more downtrodden.  He can see it in the sky blue of her eyes, shadowed just slightly by clouds.

He can always tell.

And the thing is, he’s sad, too.  She’s not the only one who lost something that terrible, terrible day.

….

Come that second Sunday, her mother is in California visiting Bill. She’s relieved. The day will be hard enough alone.  Pretending to celebrate would be torture.

For the rest of her life, the second Sunday in May will represent failure, heartache.  

She isn’t expecting his knock at the door, isn’t happy to hear it. She sucks at hiding her emotions, especially from him. Whoever coined the phrase misery loves company was an asshole.

When she opens the door and sees the pink blossoms, layers of petals tripping over themselves in order to be the fullest!, the lushest!, the most beautiful!, she wants to gag.  They’re the same damn peonies from her calendar.

He sets the flowers on her kitchen table, and the unspoken words that go along with them lie there as well.  She wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck out the decorative “Happy Mother’s Day” pick, placed there innocuously by some bored florist, because who in their right mind wouldn’t be happy on this glorious day?

“I…ummm…” He’s embarrassed.  He’d known flowers weren’t the right way to handle this, but really, what would have been?  

“I know,” she murmurs.

Sitting on the couch beside him, she immediately regrets not turning on some music, the television, anything not to be consumed by this awkward silence.  With each heavy heartbeat, they’re reminded this should have been a day of celebration.  

And so they sit.  It’s suffocating, having him there, the knowledge of why he’s there hanging over them like an anvil.  Just his presence brings emotions she’s been trying to repress to the surface, brings the threat of tears to her eyes.  Without him saying a word.  He’s sort of magic in that way.  She can’t decide whether she loves him or hates him for it.

“Scully, I…,” he states quietly, but she can’t right now— can’t hear his apologetic tone, his pity.  She especially can’t hear his own sadness.

“I know,” she cuts him off before he can continue, her voice choked.  The tears she’s been fighting all morning finally break free, sliding slowly down her cheeks.

He tugs her close, pulls her to rest her head against his shoulder.  She didn’t want to do this today— didn’t want to think about it or dwell on it, didn’t want to share it.  She doesn’t need him to rescue her.

But his warm shoulder and his lips in her hair make it hard not to give in.  In fact, they make it easy to try and forget.  She finds herself leaning into him, pressing her temple further against his lips, following them.  And as unnoticeably as day slides into night, his lips are there, at her cheek, along her jaw, then softly against her mouth.

Slow, unhurried, so, so soft—his palm cradles her neck as their lips explore.  For just a moment, the ache of the day subsides, and all they’re left with is each other.  Which is really how it always ends up anyway, isn’t it?

He wonders whether this is smart, but her sweet little hums are so encouraging.  The arch of her neck into his hand is so inviting.  They’ve done enough these past few years to earn some happiness, haven’t they?  

He shifts so he can pull her closer, and she surprises him by sliding into his lap, straddling him, gripping his jaw between her fists and murmuring against his mouth, “I just want to feel happy.  Make me feel happy, Mulder…,” and God, he wants her to feel happy, too.

He’d do anything to make her feel happy.  Especially this.

She’s perfect.  He knew she would be.  He knew her kisses would bring him to his knees, he knew her breasts would be breathtaking held in his hands , he knew her hips would arch at an angle that precisely met his tongue.  He knew he’d fit inside her so exquisitely, it would make him weep.

And she knew, just as surely, that he could make her happy, at least for now.   He makes her so happy, she’s intoxicated with it.  She sighs and she moans with the happiness of his body heaving above her.  Finally.  After so many years.  After everything.

He makes her so happy, she forgets the whole damn month, much less the day.

….

While he’s in the shower after, she surveys her apartment.   Somehow the place that felt so suffocating this morning now feels just a little lighter, a bit more hopeful.  The pink peonies are still holding competition over on her kitchen table.  She drifts over, giving them another perusal, and awards a pretty one in the front the coveted Most Beautiful.  They really are lovely flowers, she thinks.  

She stands before the calendar and runs her fingers across those dreaded letters: M…A…Y.  Maybe she owes the month another chance.  

The water shuts off in the bathroom.  She ducks her head and smiles.

Mentally, she makes a note to tear out and save the photo of the peonies, once they’ve moved into June.  

She thinks it would look nice framed in her bedroom.  

She thinks it might make her happy.