TITLE: Across the Distance
AUTHOR: LostinOblivion
E-MAIL: xphileinoblivion@yahoo.com
DISTRIBUTION: Archive freely, but please let me know.
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully Romance
SPOILERS: Eigth and Ninth Seasons
Disclaimer: The X Files belongs to Fox and 1013 Productions.

SUMMARY: Thanksgiving story. Set in season 9, Scully gets a much needed surprise at her family's dinner.

Author's Notes: Don't usually write ones like this (at least for the X Files), but uh, this is what came? As much as I'm not crazy about the last two seasons, Gillian Anderson just rips my heart out in some of those scenes. What I'm thankful for--her acting skill kept those seasons from being a complete bust. :)

Scully stared off toward the street, watching a naked tree shake in the cold breeze, it's last orange leaves fallen weeks ago. It was a cold Thanksgiving, in the upper thirties, but her mother's living room was warm and smelled like the Yankee Candle version of apple pie. She watched her family through a fog of turkey-induced sloth, smiling at the thought that for once, there had been no fighting. Surely, it was a record.

Of course, Scully was no longer a field agent (mostly), and Mulder was gone, as far as her brother was concerned. Bill had no reason to glower anymore.

William's happy gurgle drew her attention to the big armchair where her mother sat playing with him. From her position on the edge of the sofa, she could just barely see her son's toothless smile. Somehow, even though he was all gums, his smiles still looked like Mulder's--without the suggestive leering. She assumed their son would develop that trait in time.

"Ban-ay." Scully looked down at the sound, to her two year-old niece, Alexa, who was brandishing her blond pig-tailed dollie (a doppleganger for Alexa). Her chubby little finger was pointing to the fresh 'sutures' Scully had made in the doll's left leg, after an unfortunate incident involving Charlie's family dog.

"Oh dear, did it come off?" She pulled Bill and Tara's little girl up into the seat next to her, and proceeded to exam the doll as if it were a real patient.

Alexa had been inconsolable earlier, and only Tara suggesting giving the doll to her Aunt Dana, the doctor, for emergency medical care stopped the flow of tears. After securing a needle and thread, Scully made a big show to the toddler of carefully stitching up her doll and apply a bandaid--to prevent infection of course.

She had instantly become Alexa's favorite aunt.

"Well Alexa, this seems to be healing nicely, I think she'll be fine without the bandaid for now." The child offered a big smile, and squeezed her doll, before jumping off the couch to resume her play.

Four year-old Mathew was playing with a couple matchbox cars, challenging five year- old Katie, Charlie's daughter to a race. The freckled red-head jumped at the opportunity, reminding Scully all too much of herself at that age. Katie was very much a Scully.

"So, how have you been managing, Dana?" Charlie looked up at her from his spot on the floor, where he was helping his daughter pick out a dress for her doll.

"It's taken some adapting, but the new work schedule has helped." She struggled to not sound defensive, she knew that Charlie didn't mean anything by it. "And, Mom." She added, shooting a grateful look at her mother.

"Of course, my other grandbabies live far away, it's nice to finally have one close by." She never even removed her eyes from William.

"I don't know how you're doing it, Dana. I had Charlie, and I was still close to losing my mind with Katie." Angie shook her head in wonder.

Scully shrugged. "William is a very easygoing baby, most of the time."

She chose not to mention that he had ways of keeping himself entertained. Bill would throw a shit-fit if she mentioned that trait. As it was, Scully was very grateful that William hadn't decided to show his grandmother his neat little trick. After the first couple times she'd gotten used to it, and now she almost smiled. Once he got past all the ugly conspiracy-related ramifications, Mulder would crow with pride.

"You got lucky," Angie assured her with an affectionate glance to her daughter.

"Yes," Scully agreed. "Yes, I did."

"What time is it?" Maggie asked, finally looked away from her grandson.

"Quarter to seven," Scully answered, after checking her watch.

"I better get the coffee started. Bill, take William a minute." The room seemed to go silent, as the eldest Scully child complied without argument, but also without any real enthusiasm. While he spared his sister any disappointed lectures, he still had difficulty accepting her child.

Catholicism frowned on unwed mothers, and moreover, Bill frowned on any child with Fox Mulder's DNA. But, he still handled the baby delicately, and even with affection, as any experienced father would.

"I've got to grab something from the car, I'll be right back." Charlie startled them all, and disappeared out the front door.

Scully could feel that little bit of nervous tension disappear from her body, as she watched her big brother bounce her son in his arms. He was even smiling at William.

Charlie came back through the front door in a loud whoosh of cold air the same time Maggie breezed back in from the kitchen. She immediately relieved Bill of the baby, and began making funny faces at him. William loved it.

Scully was surprised when Charlie laid a package in her hands. It was a slim box, and small, but too big to be jewelry. Scully offered him a puzzled look. "What's this? You already gave me things for the baby."

"That's not for the baby, and it's not really from me. I'm just the delivery boy."

At that every adult in the room offered the youngest Scully sibling looks of either complete confusion, or in Bill's case, suspicion. One doesn't grow up with siblings without constantly suspecting pranks.

Scully looked at the box, which appeared to be wrapped in Sesame Street paper. Cookie monster, actually. She shot another puzzled look at her brother, before surrendering to her curiosity. She pried at the wrapping paper more delicately than she might ordinarily, to reveal the box underneath.

"You better hurry up with that, Sis." Charlie was watching her with an amused smile on his face.

"Why? Is it rigged to explode?" He chuckled at her retort, and nodded for her to continue.

Beneath the lid, and nestled in a bed of cottonballs was a cell phone. It was a cheap- looking flip-closed model, and explained absolutely nothing to her. But, it did make her blood run cold. "Charlie, who is this from?"

Anonymous gifts, especially cell phones, were not to be taken lightly. Not with her history.

He glanced at his watch, and then back to her sister's impatient face.

"It will ring at seven. You've got a couple more minutes. I got it in the mail last week with a note begging me to bring it to you tonight." He sighed. "I'll be honest Dana, I wasn't sure I wanted to, he's brought you an awful lot of hurt. But, I remember what it was like when Dad was out to sea, and I think something like that would have done Mom some good."

Scully felt her mouth drop open, but was too busy trying to keep breathing to close it. A thousand thoughts seemed to race through her head all at the same time. Did she hear him right? Did he really mean what she thought he meant? She swallowed, her throat convulsing with it, as she continued staring at her baby brother, who might have just given her one of the best gifts she'd ever received.

She didn't notice Bill's relaxed face turn into his typical glower, or the looks her sisters- in-law were shooting each other, or even her mother's open-mouthed surprise. Scully was almost too afraid to let herself believe that Charlie had really said what he'd said. The disappointment if it weren't true, might just kill her. The botched return home was painful enough as it was. She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of the phone ringing. With shaking hands she picked it up, and pulled it open, holding it up to her ear. Her voice was high, and cracked when she spoke. "Mulder?"

"Hey Scully."

"Oh my god." She clamped a hand over her mouth to cover the sob that wanted to come out, her eyes were already filling up with tears. And, there was William, turning his head to look at his mother, as if he knew who was on the other end of the phone.

Her mother stood up, and place William in her arms, before motioning the rest of the family to move to the kitchen. Scully grabbed Charlie's arm as he was leaving, and mouthed a teary 'Thank you.' He nodded and squeezed her hand.

Scully held William, who was being surprisingly quiet, against her chest. She sniffled and let a tear slide down her face, her voice cracking as she spoke. "I miss you."

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