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Chapter 11:

...

There's no taking back, what we've got's too strong,

We've had each others back for so long.

There's no breaking up this time. I've come to my senses

Letting go of my defences, there's no way I'm giving up this time.

~Life Houses, All in.

...

Maggie Scully's Residence

Washington DC

...

Maggie regarded her daughter's expression from across the table.

Scully had shown up at her mother's house half an hour after she had called, obviously upset for some reason Maggie had yet to drag out of her. Maggie Scully knows her daughter well enough to know that she will open up when she's ready to do so once she has been gently prodded in the right direction.

In that respect Dana Scully reminded her mother of no one but William Scully Sr. For Scully had inherited many of her father's characteristics and stubbornness was certainly one of them, not to mention the need to bottle things up inside rather than share your feelings.

Taking a final sip of her tea, Maggie spoke up, breaking the relatively comfortable silence between mother and daughter. She was going to get to the bottom of whatever was up with her daughter and she wasn't taking no for an answer.

"Dana. Are you going to tell me what's wrong, dear", Maggie asked, standing up from the table, taking both of their now empty mugs over to the sink and returning to the table to hear Dana's story.

Scully looked up distractedly to face her mother. "Nothing is wrong, Mom. I'm fine". She smiled faintly before sighing at her mother's knowing expression. Scully knew full well that her mother would see straight through her despite her efforts. It was something she learned long ago and was hard to forget. There was no point trying to keep things from her mother but Scully could at least try to redirect her mother's attention, right?

"Believe me. Everything's fine".

Maggie regarded her daughter sceptically. "Dana, you show up and start asking me about my next door neighbours and our distant relatives, all of which you caught up with last week at the barbecue she not you" She said firmly. "You aren't usually one for gossip, dear. You're trying to distract yourself. Something is up".

Scully sighed deeply. "I guess you caught me out, Mom".

Maggie smiled sadly. "What happened. You seemed so content when I called you with Elaine's new address. Did something happen in Connecticut?".

"It's messy, Mom", Scully said finally after thinking over her predicament with Mulder for a minute. She wasn't about to go into the details with her mother of all people. "Kind of a lapse in communication".

Maggie nodded. She had expected as much. "Between you and Fox, I assume".

Scully nodded, wondering if she really was that transparent to her mother even though to most people she seemed closed off and professional.

"What happened?", the older woman asked quietly, squeezing her daughter's hand.

Scully shrugged in hopes of appearing nonchalant. "Things kind of went south between us after Mulder and I were getting ready to come home"

"I take it things finally shifted between you in Connecticut", Maggie asked in a way that didn't overly embarrass either of them with giving or receiving too much information.

Scully knew that her mother knew the answer anyway but still nodded in confirmation. Despite the fact she was a thirty years old woman, sharing such information with her mother made her feel like a teenager being questioned about her first boyfriend by her parents. Somehow she managed to stifle a blush before ploughing through the rest of the conversation, trying to stop herself feeling so uncomfortable.

"I went to see Elaine and her family alone because Mulder had to meet with his mother's doctors and when I came back something was definitely wrong with him. He's seemed worried and irritable. More distant than I had ever seen him before", Scully sighed deeply before sharing the last part of her story. "On the car ride back to DC we hardly spoke apart from when I asked him what was wrong. After that we started arguing and both ended up agreeing that changing things between us had been a mistake.

Maggie eyed her daughter sadly, She knew Dana was a strong person but she could still see the pain in her eyes. She wanted nothing more than to help her. "And you didn't mean it?", she asked gently.

Scully shook her head, "Of course not. I love him, Mom", she answered quietly.

The older woman smiled. It had been clear to her for quite a long time now how much Fox Mulder and her daughter loved each other.

She had known that ever since she had seen how desperate he had been when Dana had been in a coma. The pain of almost losing her had almost consumed him totally.

She had seen the silent understanding and love between them when she had seen them reunited when Dana had woken up. She knew how much they respected each other, how much they cared for each other's wellbeing.

It was then Maggie had finally acknowledged Fox Mulder as a permanent part of her daughter's life, in what way, she hadn't been sure at the time. Now it was as clear as crystal.

"Have you seen him since?", Maggie asked sympathetically.

Scully sighed slightly, nodding in confirmation. "Yeah, I saw him this morning in that little coffee shop in Arlington".

"And?", Maggie asked, prodding her daughter gently for further information. Sometimes it was harder getting answer out of Dana than dragging a horse through the mud.

"He told me that he loves me and I told him that he needs to go figure things out for himself, that I won't be able to trust him if he doesn't trust me enough to share his problems. There's something wrong and he won't let me help him get through it".

Maggie sighed taking in the full extent of her daughter's troubles. "And now you think that you're have acted rashly, pushing him away before he finds it in himself to let you in".

Scully considered her mother's words for a second. Is that how she felt?

"I didn't feel like that at the time but before I called you I found this", she said, reaching into her Jean pocket and pulling out the neatly folded letter from Mulder. The letter she was never supposed to read. "And now I think you might be right, Mom. I didn't hear him out and now I'm worried about him".

Maggie picked up her reading glasses from where they hung around her neck and began to read the words Fox Mulder had lovingly written for her daughter. She reached the final lines, smiling silently. She had always liked Fox Mulder.

"You know, Dana", Maggie said as she refolded the letter and handed it back to her daughter. "You're father and I went our separate ways for a while two months before we married".

Scully looked at her mother in alarm. She had never heard that before, having always seen the love her parents shared for one another as something invincible, impermeable, unbreakable, untainted and pure. "Really", she asked, shocked at the revelation.

Maggie nodded, chuckling slightly at the memory. "You're father was home on holidays from the navy when we met. After three months together I found out that I was pregnant with Bill". The older woman smiled, continuing on her story.

Scully looked at her staunchly catholic mother who had preached about abstinence in her and Missy's teenage years. Scully was shocked.

"I knew how much your father loved being in the navy and I knew that loved him so much and that he in turn loved me but I feared that being a father at that time would hold him back", she chuckled slightly at her younger self.

" I was so worried about the whole situation myself that I didn't speak to him for about a month. He had thought that I had fallen out of love with him", Maggie said with a chuckle, the memory of her husband bringing tears to her eyes.

"Your father being your father chased after me relentlessly for about a week. He was so stubborn and I was just confused, young and stupid".

Scully watched her mother silently as the information began to sink in. Her mother was trying to teach her a lesson here. A lesson about not giving up on those you love, about not being beaten by your fears and uncertainties.

"Anyway", Maggie said, obviously getting to the end of her story. "Three weeks before he was due to go back to sea I finally got the courage to tell him", she smiled softly. "He was so thrilled that spun me around for a good three minutes until I asked him to let me down because I felt another bout of nausea coming on", Maggie concluded with a chuckle even though Scully could still see the pain in her mother's eyes. You don't just get over losing your soul mate. Maggie Scully was a testament to that.

Scully smiled. It was clear to her now that every relationship has it's rocky times, even her parents'. "Why did you never tell us that story before, Mom?".

Maggie chuckled, her eyes still damp from the fond memory of her husband. "Bill would probably have a hernia if I told him he was conceived out of wedlock".

Scully rolled her eyes despite the fact she too was emotional after hearing about her father. She well capable of imagining her older and very traditional brother's reaction to the story and frankly it would be amusing to see him have a hissyfit at the revelation.

The two woman laughed lightly before Maggie reached out once more and squeezed her daughter's hand. "It worth it all, Dana", she said simply. "The arguments, the fighting, the falling out. When you love someone it's worth fighting for".

Scully nodded, agreeing silently. Her mother was right. Her love for Mulder was worth fighting for as long as he was willing to do the same. "I know, Mom", she said with a final smile before the two woman returned back to more trivial conversation.

Happily this time.

...

I headed West. I was a man on the move

New York had lied to me, I needed the truth

Oh, I needed somebody, somebody to trust.

I don't gamble but if I did I would bet on us

Like the Dead Sea, you'll never sink when you're with me

Said I was like you're Dead Sea

~Dead Sea, The Luimneers

...

Mulder sat on the couch, eyes wander to and fro from the roof of his living room (where a bunch of pencils were hanging hazardously from the ceiling, ready to drop at a moments notice) to the unopened envelope on the coffee table.

He wanted to open the envelope and put himself out of his misery.

Mulder wanted the truth, the whole truth. Was he dying or had this whole thing been one of the universe's hideous pranks, either way no one was laughing.

His mind briefly wandered to his mother, how she was and where she was and then to his father or at least the man who he always had and always would consider as his father, biology bedamned.

Should he tell his father what he had learned from his mother? Should he tell Bill Mulder that he wasn't actually his son? Had Teena already told Bill? Would it even matter if he, Mulder, was dying.

He wasn't sure of many things anymore but the conversation with Scully earlier on in the day had put one thing in perspective; that even though many things in life are changeable, his love for her was not one of those things, despite what Scully had said.

Dying or not he has been in love with her probably since the day she walked into his basement classroom and told him aliens were a load of bullshit and challenging his every belief since then but never judging him.

Things were darker without her, his touchstone.

The only light he had in in the room was the tall lamp in the corner. It cast a faint orange glow on the room, making the shadows of both Mulder and the furniture long and stretched. Mulder grabbed for the envelope on the table, turning it over in his hands and reached for his landline on his desk, dialling the familiar number. He had to come clean to Scully, dying or not.

He listened to the dialling tone for a few minutes, waiting for Scully to pick up.

She didn't.

Mulder set the phone back on the hook, grabbing his car keys from his desk and his coat for the hangers next to the door. It was time to come clean for both their sakes.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

...

George's town

Washington DC

20 minutes later

...

You told me you were good at running away.

Domestic life never suited you, like a suitcase

Yes there are time when we live for somebody else

Your father died and you decided to live it for yourself

You felt that it was just the right time and for that I'm glad.

Cos you with cats, that's just not right

,...

It wasn't until he was outside her door that was he was doing began to feel real. He was telling her about his possible illness his chances. He was going to tell her that even though he understood if she wanted to run for the hills, he wanted her to be the first to know if the results were positive. If not and the odds were in his favour, well, he would have a lot of explaining to do. Surely Scully would understand that what he had been trying to do had been for her and her only.

Mulder knocked loudly on the wooden door. "Hey, Scully. It's me", he called.

He waited for a moment before knocking once more, the same thoughts whistling through his mind. 'She probably doesn't want to talk to you right now', 'You should give her some space'. Mulder paced slightly from one side of the door to the other, heart pounding. Even if she wanted to talk to him right now what would he say. "I love you but I might die if the results in this envelope are positive'.

Mulder groaned slightly. It sounded wrong even in his head.

Perhaps they were wrong when they had agreed that their meeting was fate that night in Connecticut. Perhaps it was all just a cruel joke fate was playing on them. Either way Scully deserved to know what was going on if not as his life partner but as his friend.

He sighed, stepping back from the door. He wasn't sure if he ever wanted to be just Scully's friend again and deepen down Mulder knew that she felt the same way.

He reached into his pocket, brushing off of the white envelope inside. Damn, he hope his results were negative. He wanted to be able to share good news like that with Scully, the one person he was sure he loved more than himself. Hell, he was certain he loved her more than life. She made him a whole person.

Just then the man Mulder immediately recognised to be Mr Colbin, Scully's landlord passed around the bend in the corridor towards him.

The man trampled down the hallway, wet to the skin in an oversized raincoat, his shoes squeaking on the wooden floor.

"You're looking for Dana, I assume", he asked, observing Mulder, who had been caught mid-pace outside Scully's door.

Mulder nodded, looking between the older man and the door closest to him. "Yeah, have you seen her around?".

Mr Colbin nodded and gestured towards the end of the hallway.

"Yeah. I met her a couple of hours ago on her way out. She said something about going to visit her mother".

Mulder smiled at the older man, delighted on getting some answers.

"Thanks Mr Colbin. I owe you one", he said, hurrying away towards the elevator.

The older man shook his head slightly. He didn't know Mulder very well and he only briefly knew Scully from when he met her once or twice a month to pick up the rent.

To him they seemed to be very private people but even he could see that it was about bloody time.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

...

You said space would make it better and time would make it heal.

I won't be lost forever and soon. I'm gonna feel like I'm haunted

Would you take the wheel. If I loose control

If I'm lying here. Would you take me home

Would take care of a broken soul. Would you hold me now.

Would you take me home.

~Jess Glynn, Take Me Home.

...

XXXXXXXXXXXX

Maggie looked wearily away from Scully (who now looked a lot more content) to the phone hanging on the wall next to the dresser of China plates, cups and dishes.

She was beginning to get a little concerned about Melissa, her eldest daughter having noticed how distracted, withdrawn and irritable she had become over the last few months.

She decided then to bring it up with her younger daughter.

Perhaps Dana knew something she didn't and even though she wouldn't ask Dana to betray her older sister's confidence (if that indeed was the case). Bringing up the topic may put her mind at rest for now for no matter how grown up her children were, Maggie still worried about them.

"Dana. Did you notice something was slightly off with Missy when you were all here on the fourth".

Scully thought about it for a second. It was true, her mother did have a point. Melissa had indeed been acting quite strange for quite a while (even by Melissa's standards).

Scully had called her sister a few times in the weeks prior but unfortunately nothing had come of it. When she had seen Melissa at the barbecue on the Fourth it had been the first time in quite a while.

"Yeah actually, now that I think about it", Scully answered quietly, mind going over the last few time she had seen her older sister.

Melissa had been a little distant at the barbecue and Scully had noticed some weird bruising across her sister's collar which Melissa had stubbornly blamed on a door when Scully had asked.

Then there was the fact that Kevin, Melissa's long term boyfriend had mysteriously not come with her to the family barbecue even though he had been doing so for the last six years.

Melissa had always told Scully that something was missing with Kevin and that she felt that thing didn't feel as they ought to in a relationship but surely any scenario with Kevin as the bad guy was a little too much of a conclusion to jump to. The man had survived William Scully Sr's interrogation for crying out loud not to mention Bill Jr's famous big brother speech.

Surely Melissa would have said something more when asked by her sister if it was serious, right?

Scully's brushed it aside for now, vowing internally to call her older sister when she got back home. The least she could do for now was put her mother's mind at ease.

"I'm sure she's fine, Mom", Scully said in a voice that she hoped sounded confident.

Maggie sighed deeply, her eyes wide. "I don't know Dana. I just have a feeling, call if motherly instinct if you will. I tried to bring it up with Missy when I called her yesterday but she wouldn't budge".

"Call it the signature Scully stubbornness", Scully joked with a unconvincing smile in an attempt to lighten her mother's mood. "I call her when I get home, Mom", she said finally relenting to her mother. "I've been a little concerned too to be honest".

Maggie nodded. "Thanks, Dear", she said with a watery smile.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

...

With every breath that I'm worth here on earth

I'm sending all my love to you

So if you dare to second guess, be assured

That my love is all for you

~Green Day

...

Maggie smiled out the front window of the kitchen when she spotted the familiar car pulling into the driveway.

She turned away from the kitchen sink to face Dana who at the time was setting the table, totally ignorant to her best friend's arrival outside.

For a moment Maggie watched the younger man approach the house before beckoning her youngest daughter to join her at the window.

"Dana. It's for you", Maggie told her happily. She felt a sense of almost motherly pride in Fox when she spotted him outside for even though things were uncertain between him and her daughter at he moment, he was already her favourite son-in-law.

Scully approached the window cautiously, now standing next to her mother. She knew from the expression on Maggie's face exactly who was outside. That knowing but encouraging smile was one Scully would recognise anywhere.

Maggie nudged her slightly. "go and talk to the poor boy, Dana. You two should clear the air".

Scully sighed, rolling her eyes slightly at her mother's description of a thirty three year old man as a boy before heading for the front door.

She wasn't entirely sure if she wanted to talk to him just yet. Scully hadn't been expecting to see him for at least a few more days.

She felt the dread settle in as she neared the door. What if whatever was wrong with Mulder was actually something serious.

Could she forgive him for keeping something like that from her when it was clear how much they both valued their mutual trust and honestly.

Scully sighed, pulling herself together and opened the door to reveal Mulder. He hadn't even knocked yet, having been psyching himself up for the conversation as much as Scully had.

"Hey, Scully", he breathed out upon seeing her.

Their eyes locked and for a moment it felt like all had been forgiven.

Scully felt herself drop into his hazel eyes but quickly pulled herself out. Now was not the time or place for such things. They needed to talk first.

"is everything okay, Mulder", Scully asked, clearing her throat.

He nodded, seemingly dazed for a split second before he too pulled himself together. "We need to talk, Scully".

She nodded "Yes, we do" but didn't move to let him into the house. As much as Scully loved her mother this was a conversation between her and Mulder only and not something that she wanted anybody else to be privy to. She shut the door behind her and followed him out on to the garden path, sitting down on the bench under the living room window.

Mulder sat down next to her, not saying a word for a moment and pulled out the white sterile looking envelope from the pocket of his leather jacket. He passed the envelope from one hand to the other, not sure what he wanted to do with it yet.

Scully eyed the envelope and Mulder. She noted his expression, one of pain and one of worry. Her heart ached for him.

Scully reached out to grab one of Mulder's hands that were still holding tightly to the envelope. "Mulder, you're scaring me", she told him, eyes wide.

Mulder looked up eyes meeting her's, his heart sank at the pained look on her face. He was beginning to regret keeping this from her even if it had been for only a few days. The results that lay in that envelope would affect her almost as much as it would affect him.

He gulped down any remaining hesitation, he had to do this if he ever wanted to have Scully's confidence again. She deserved to know the whole truth as to why he has been acting as he has for the last few days especially after all they had gone through together.

"You saved me, Scully", he started simply. "As frustrating as it is sometimes, your strict rationalism has saved me a thousand times over. You kept me honest, made me a whole person. I owe you everything, Scully and you owe me nothing". Mulder stared squarely at her, neither of them moving or saying anything for a moment. He tried to keep his emotions in check but in reality, he couldn't have been more raw. Every word he had said had been the God's gospel truth and it fell between them gently and settled on them like lead. The truth.

Scully looked at him seriously. "You know that isn't true, Mulder. I may have made your life better but have done the exact same thing for me".

Mulder sighed, handing her the envelope. If anyone should do the honours of holding the outcome of the rest of his life in their hands it should be her because she did so already anyway.

"What's this Mulder?", Scully asked quietly before moving to open in, sliding her fingers under the seal.

Mulder reached out to stop her. "Not yet, Scully. I need to explain everything first".

Scully nodded, setting the envelope down on her lap. The weight of it suddenly seeming heavy. Whatever was coming was not going to be good, she could feel it and hoped otherwise. "Alright, Mulder. Fire away".

"The day we left Connecticut when you went to visit your friend and I went back to the hospital the doctors asked to run a test on me because the disease my mother is dying of is in most cases...hereditary". Mulder paused for a second to gauge her reaction.

Scully felt her heart contract painfully, already dreading the worst. Scully knew what was coming, she could see the dread in his hazel eyes.

She tried to hold herself together for him though. She had to be strong for Mulder, he deserved that much.

"The doctors ran tests on me for early signs of Padgett's Carcinoma and for the gene that I would have inherited from my mom if it does run in the family. I got the results back today", he finished my gesturing towards the envelope. He knew it was best that he started with the facts, Scully would prefer it that way.

She held up the envelope, her voice quiet and her eyes a little glossy. "Have you read these yet?", she asked.

Mulder shook his head. He hadn't.

"Then why are you acting so sure about this. You could be fine, Mulder. Why did you try to push me away", Scully said her voice now rising. She tried to be reasonable for his sake but she couldn't. "Why couldn't you have let me fight whatever this is with you because that's what I want to fight for, Mulder. You and me"

"Scully", Mulder said gently. "Even if I'm not dying myself right now I could still get this damn thing in the future. If it's inherited I would never be able to give you the things you want and deserve in the future. We wouldn't be able to ensure our kids health. We would spend a life living in fear. You deserve better than that, Scully. I love you too much to risk your happy future".

Scully sighed angrily. "Dammit, Mulder. You could have let me make my own mind up about this instead of making my decision for me. Yes, I do want a future but I want one with you . Would you leave me if our situations were reversed. If I was the one who's future was uncertain?".

Mulder shook his head. "Of course not, Scully".

"Then why would you expect anything less of me, Mulder. I love you just as much as you do me", she said voice coming back to normal even though her eyes were still steely.

"Why would you jump to such a rash conclusion if you didn't even have all the answers", Scully felt tears beginning to well up in her eyes but she pressed them back. She couldn't loose Mulder and crying about it would only make it too real.

"I can't loose you, Mulder", Scully said so quietly that Mulder wasn't sure if she said it at all. "We can't admit defeat". The original words slipped out against her will and she hated how vulnerable they made her sound. They were true though. Scully was certain that she couldn't loose the man sitting beside her.

Mulder wrapped his arms around her body and pulled her against his chest. Scully sighed against him, breathing in the scent of leather, day old aftershave and something else that was entirely Mulder. It was soothing and Scully began to feel her heart rate return to normal.

"I can't loose you either", Mulder said softly, dropping a kiss on the crown of her head, inhaling the smell of her shampoo and the remainder of the freshly ground coffee that she had been drinking with her mother. He felt totally at peace here with her in his arms. There was no other place that he would rather be than here with her.

Scully pulled back and looked up at him, her strength found once again. She stretched up the last few vital inches and merged their lips together, gently tugging his larger bottom lip.

Mulder sighed into her mouth and wrapped both arms around her back. They felt themselves relax for the first time in the last couple of days, back with the other half of their souls, things falling back into place like missing jigsaw pieces coming back together.

They pulled back after a few moments and Mulder reached down to pick off the envelope that had fallen on to the pavement from Scully's lap. He offered it to her with a half smile for now he realised that together the two of them could overcome anything.

"Last chance to run for the hills", Mulder said jokingly for the both of them now knew where their loyalties lie, with each other.

Scully smiled, taking it from him. She hesitated for a moment, biting her lip. "Are you sure that you don't want to do it".

Mulder nodded, closing her grasp over the envelope. "There's is no one else that I would trust enough to have the outcome of my life in their hands", he told her genuinely.

At this Scully looked at him still uncertain even though she could see the sincerity in his eyes. Mulder really wanted her to do this. "You sure?", she asked.

He smiled affectionately. "It effects both of us Scully, either way".

Scully smiled. "I'm glad that we're finally on the same page", she said, tearing open the envelope and unfolding the results inside. She scanned through it quickly before looking back up at Mulder, her eyes bright with relief.

"It's negative, Mulder. You're okay".

...

My beating heart belongs to you

I walked for miles 'til I found you

I'm here to honour you

If I loose everything in the fire

I'm send all my love to you

~Green Day,

...