Title - Meeting Charlie
Summary: Just who is this invisible brother?
He turned as the phone rang, but Scully was at the desk and closer so he turned back to the file. "Scully." There was silence for a moment and for some reason Mulder turned back to look at her, it was as though he could hear her heart rate increase.
"Oh my god...No, I'll be on the next flight. Tell her I'm on the way."
The universe had shrunk to the size of the chair she was sitting in and the receiver in her hand. There was nothing else in the world.
He shoved the drawer shut and moved toward her. "Scully? What happened? What's wrong?" He was kneeling beside her but she didn't seem to hear him. He put his hand on her arm; she was cold. He looked more closely at her. She was going into shock. "Scully, can you hear me?"
There was a spot of warmth in the universe. She looked down at her arm trying to focus. A hand, his hand. She was able to draw a breath then. There was warmth in the universe again. "Mu...Mulder."
"I'm right here Scully. What's happened?"
"Mom...Mom's in Ohio, visiting Charlie and his family. There's been an accident."
"Scully, is she..." He stopped, not sure what to say.
She shook herself; his touch had brought her back. "I need to get out there. She's in critical condition and Will, my nephew, is in bad shape too." She rose from the chair. "I need to make some arrangements, talk to Skinner."
"Let me take care of that. Columbus, right?" She nodded, already moving. "Why don't you go splash some water on your face. I'll call the airport."
She looked over at him; his concern for her was plain on his face. She didn't need him to look after...oh hell, shut up Dana! She nodded and he seemed to relax a little.
He was hanging up when she returned; at least there was a little more color in her face. "You're all set, Skinner wants you to call him when you know anything." She nodded and reached for her keys. "Leave your car here Scully. You shouldn't be driving anyway."
"I need to stop by my apartment, throw a few things in a bag."
"It's on the way." She gave in, she didn't have the strength to argue with him right now and, even if she didn't want to admit it, she probably wasn't able to drive. And part of her wanted him to look after her. It was just a little part but...
His hand was on her back, leading her to his car. She tried not to lean into him, but when he removed his hand to open a door the fear and cold returned. They were both quiet on the way to her apartment. She obviously had no details to share and he respected her silence.
At the airport he pulled into the long-term parking and she looked over at him. "Mulder? You don't have to park, just let me out."
"I'm going with you Scully."
"What?" She just looked at him, not attempting to get out.
"You're not going out there alone."
"Mulder, I can - "
"Would you let me go alone?" She looked down, "I didn't think so. It's not a problem, Scully. I want to be there for you." She turned away then, to try to hide the tears that had formed in her eyes.
Rather than comment, he exited the car and got both of their bags from the trunk, grateful that he hadn't bothered to unpack from their last trip. She allowed him to handle the arrangements, and let him lead her to their seats.
"Why don't you try to get some rest Scully?" He lifted the armrest between them and pulled her gently against him. She accepted his comfort and closed her eyes.
"Dana?" An attractive man, about his height approached her. "Dana Scully?" She nodded. "I'm Tom Chambers, I work with Charlie. He asked if I could pick you up and take you to his house."
"I need to get to the hospital. Do you have any news?" She didn't move toward him, almost afraid of any news he might have.
"I haven't heard anything. Are you sure you don't want to go by the house for a moment?" She shook her head and he took her elbow. The heat of the stare from the tall man behind her startled him. Maybe she felt it too because she turned toward him.
"Tom, this is my, this is Mulder."
So they were together. 'My' what? Charlie hadn't mentioned a husband, but then he was pretty out of it. He held out his hand to shake with the fully confident man. "Tom Chambers." Mulder took his hand but his look did not become any friendlier. Then he placed his own hand on Dana's lower back and moved her toward the entrance. Tom took Dana's bag from her hand and realized that he'd actually looked up at the man for approval. The thing was, he got it - a quick nod. Then they all moved toward Tom's car.
Tom placed their bags in the trunk as Mulder let her in the car, then climbed into the backseat himself. That almost surprised Tom, that he would let her sit with him.
At the entrance to the hospital he parked the car illegally and started to get out. "Tom, would you mind taking the luggage to the house." Mulder spoke quietly, but Tom knew his presence was no longer needed.
"I'd be happy to. They're on the fourth floor. Tell Charlie to call me if he needs anything."
Dana nodded and tried to smile her gratitude. Mulder put his hand on her back again and turned her toward the entrance. Tom found himself taking a deep breath as though he had somehow escaped danger. He shook that off and pulled out carefully into traffic.
"He said fourth floor." Scully was moving toward the elevators.
She spotted Charlie standing at the nurse's station when the elevator doors opened. He must have felt her because he turned and then they were holding each other. Mulder felt himself stiffen. He knew this was her brother, a happily married man, but the sight of his arms around her, holding her, was still hard to watch.
When they moved apart she turned to him, "Charlie, this is Mulder."
Charlie looked up at the taller man and didn't even seem surprised to see him there. "I'm glad you're here." They shook hands and Charlie seemed to sag slightly.
"How is she?" Scully had hold of Charlie's arm now.
"She's in the ICU. We can only see her for ten minutes on the hour. It'll be another twenty minutes." He glanced at the clock over the desk.
The man didn't speak for a long moment. Scully's hand tightened on his arm. "They don't know...they're not sure he'll walk - " Scully tried to stifle her gasp and looked up at Mulder. "Mary's with him now. They have him sedated." He glanced at the door just down the hall.
Scully moved in that direction and the two men followed her. She opened the door and a petite brunette looked up and then reached for her. "Dana. Thank God you're here." She clutched Dana to her and held on tight, fresh tears now flowing down her face.
"Oh Mary, we got here as fast as we could. I'm sure Will's going to be okay. You just have to believe that." Mary stepped back toward the bed and touched her son's face, then looked up at the man behind Dana and Charlie.
"Mulder, right?" She managed a sad smile. "It's good that you could come." Mulder nodded, not sure what to say. Charlie was watching the boy's face, then abruptly turned and left the room.
Mulder glanced at Scully then turned to follow him when she nodded. He found the man just down the hall, his face pressed into the wall. "Charlie."
"I can't...I don't want her to see me cry."
"Why don't we sit over here?" Mulder motioned to a small alcove with a couple of chairs and small sofa. It was empty and Charlie nodded. He sank onto the sofa and Mulder sat beside him.
"It was a drunk. Who's looking for a drunk driver at ten in the morning, you know? He came through the intersection and hit Mom's car head on. She saw it coming; she tried to turn away. That's why she got the brunt of the impact. Will was in the back," he sighed, "to protect him from the airbag. The other driver's dead. I need to be strong for Mary, and I'm caught between my mother and my son. I don't..." He lost it then, dropping his head into his hands. Mulder put his arm around the man and let him sob.
In a few minutes he sat up and wiped his face, accepting Mulder handkerchief ruefully. "It's...it's almost time to see Mom. I should get Dana."
"I'll get her, you should stay with Mary. Charlie, it's okay to let her see you cry."
Charlie looked up startled, then nodded. "You're right." He sniffed a couple of times, then stood. "Thanks."
He had his arm around her as they approached the ICU, not just his hand on her back. The nurse looked up at them. "Maggie Scully please."
"I'm afraid only one of you can - " She looked down at the FBI badge he was discretely holding to his side and stopped, confused. She hadn't been informed that there was any investigation regarding Mrs. Scully's case. But when they both moved toward Mrs. Scully's alcove she didn't stop them.
He was especially glad that he hadn't allowed them to stop him when they saw her. Scully's hand went to her mouth and his arm tightened around her, supporting her. "Oh my God." Then he felt her straighten up and move forward. He glanced at the monitors around the comatose woman; they meant nothing to him, except that she was still alive. Scully touched her cheek and traced the outline of the bandage covering most of her head. "Mom, I'm here. It's Dana, and Mulder is with me. You just rest and get stronger, okay? We'll be here. You're getting the best care and I'm here to make certain of it." She leaned in and kissed her mother's forehead and caressed her arm.
Mulder had moved to the end of the bed and spotted the chart that hung there. She turned to look at him as he picked it up. He opened it, not that it would tell him anything and she stepped closer to him and took it. She scanned it quickly, nodding occasionally.
"She's had good care Mulder. I don't know of anything else I would do, any other test."
"That's good Scully. Now you're here and she knows it. She'll start getting better right away. Talk to her Scully, let her know how much you love her." She nodded and took the seat next to the bed. Mulder moved slightly away to give her privacy but she held out her hand and he took it, standing beside her as she murmured to her mother.
When the time was up the nurse approached them. "We need to run a few more tests now."
"She won't be in the way." Mulder spoke quietly to the nurse.
"Mulder, it's okay. I need to check on Will." He took her arm to help her up and was relieved to get no argument from her.
They found Charlie and Mary in Will's room. Both had obviously been crying, but they were calm now. "How's Mom?"
"There's no change, but she's getting good care. Has the doctor been in here yet?" Mary shook her head. "Why don't Mulder and I get you something to eat?"
"Scully, you stay here with your family. I can get whatever you need." Mulder offered.
"I, uh, I need to stretch my legs. I'll go with you Mulder." Charlie stood and squeezed his wife's shoulder. "You have to eat what I bring back."
"I'll try." Scully sat beside her and looked up at Mulder, nodding as he moved toward the door.
Once out in the hall they both turned toward the elevators. "I need to find a phone. I should check on Sam."
Mulder pulled his own phone from his inside coat pocket. "Where is he?"
"He's with friends. I haven't called for a while, I don't know what to say to him."
"Tell him his brother's getting stronger and that you love him."
Charlie looked up at him and smiled. "Do you have any children?"
Mulder glanced involuntarily back at Will's room. "Uh, no."
Charlie caught the movement and a look of sympathy came over his face. He stayed quiet and they entered the car.
After Charlie spoke with Sam and then the people keeping him, they approached the cafeteria, but after a look at the line took seats to wait.
"Is Bill on his way?" Mulder tried to sound as though it didn't matter, but he wasn't sure what it would mean for his presence here.
"No, we haven't been able to reach him." He looked over at Mulder and kind of laughed. "You don't have to worry."
"Oh, you've talked to him about me?" He kept his face carefully impassive and managed not to look away.
"I've heard both sides."
"Both?" He looked puzzled at that.
"Well, there's Bill's version, and then there's the rest of the family." He managed to grin, "Dana needs you here and I appreciate it too."
It took him a moment to respond, he hadn't known what to expect but he hadn't dared imagine anything like this. "I, I wanted to be here." Charlie nodded.
They took the food back to the room and tried to get Mary to eat a little. "Charlie, you need to go home. Sam needs one of us there. You can relieve me in the morning. See your mother again and then please, go check on Sam. Tell him I love him, and I'll see him tomorrow."
"I'll stay here with you Mary." Scully looked up at Charlie.
"Dana, I appreciate it, but not tonight. I need to be alone with Will. Do you...I hope you don't mind."
"No Mary, whatever you need. I'll leave my cell phone with you, call at any time if you need anything." Mary nodded.
"Mary, don't you want me to -" Charlie started, but she shook her head. "What about something to sleep in?"
"Just some fresh clothes in the morning. I'll be okay. Please, stay with Sam."
Mulder watched the two of them, so close, loving each other so much and both scared out of their minds at what had happened to their family. He wanted to take Scully into his arms like Charlie had with Mary. He wanted to make this better for her. He realized Scully was looking at him, and he held out his hand to her.
To his relief she took it and they stepped outside to wait. After another visit with Mrs. Scully, which Charlie and Dana attended together, thanks to Mulder, they reluctantly made their way to Charlie's car.
The ride home was quiet. The door from the garage into the house opened before Charlie could cut the engine.
"Dad?" Mulder saw the young boy throw his arms around Charlie. This must be Sam; he looked about eight, Samantha's age, and scared to death. "How is Will? And Grandma?"
"They're both sleeping now. Your mom is going to sleep there tonight, so Will won't be afraid when he wakes up."
"When can he, they come home?"
"We don't know that, Honey. Hey, your Aunt Dana came." He turned to let Scully and Mulder precede him into the house.
"Hey, are you Mulder?" The boy's eyes were round and large.
"Uh, yes." He held his hand out and shook the boy's. He spotted Scully's smile and winked at her.
"Don't I get a hug?" Scully spoke to the boy. He turned and threw his arms around her. "That's better."
Charlie had moved into the kitchen and was talking to a young man and woman and a boy about Sam's age. "Dana, Mulder, this is Carrie and Matthew Snyder and their son Chris. They live just up the street."
Greetings were exchanged and after the boys left the room, updates given on the condition of both of the patients. Carrie hugged Charlie, "Listen, I'm not going to call Mary tonight, maybe she'll get a little sleep, but if you talk to her tell her not to worry about anything. There's food in the refrigerator and I made up the rooms. Sam's more than welcome to stay with us whenever you need it, you know that."
Charlie nodded, but didn't speak. Carrie looked over at her husband and they said their good-byes, calling Chris as they moved toward the door.
Once they were alone, Charlie went upstairs with Sam to get him ready for bed, leaving them downstairs. "How you doing Scully?"
She shook her head. "I can't think about it right now."
He nodded, "Why don't you get ready for bed?"
"I don't think I can sleep."
"I don't expect you to, but a bath usually relaxes you."
Her eyebrow went up, "How would you know that?"
He smiled at her then. "I've stayed in enough sleazy motels with you to know." That admission didn't exactly lower her eyebrow, but she managed to smile at him.
"I haven't seen our bags." She looked around the living room.
Charlie heard her as came down the stairs. "Your bags are in Mom's room. Carrie fixed it up for you."
She nodded and headed upstairs. Mulder watched her leave, then realized that Charlie was watching him. "Where, uh, where's my bag?"
"In Mom's room."
Mulder blinked at that. "Your mother's room? With Scully?"
At that Charlie straightened up, "Oh god, you mean after all these years...I just assumed, as close as you two are...I don't have anywhere else to put you." They both turned as they heard Scully on the stairs. She'd obviously overheard their conversation; her cheeks were stained red.
"Listen, I'll get a room. It's not a problem."
"Guys, I'm sorry. I...it just never occurred to me..." He moved toward the stairs, leaving them alone.
"Its okay Scully. There's no reason to be embarrassed or..."
"I'm not embarrassed, I...I don't want you to leave." He glanced over at the two love seats in the living room. He might be able to make do on one of them. And if she wanted him here, he'd be here. She glanced over at the short sofas herself, "Mulder, you could stay upstairs. We've shared rooms before, it would..."
"Are you offering to share a room with me Scully?" She watched his face for a leer or a smirk. There wasn't one. She swallowed and nodded. A shy smile finally appeared on his face. "Thank you." She looked up at him puzzled. "I want to stay with you. I want to give you what Charlie gives Mary." Her blush grew then.
"You already do." It was only a whisper.
His eyes widened slightly and he moved closer to her. She leaned her forehead against his chest for a minute, then looked up at him. He leaned down and kissed her forehead, then turned her toward the stairs. "Go take your bath. I'll be up in a little while."
She moved upstairs and after a few minutes, Charlie made his way back down. "Mulder, I'm sorry. I never meant to - "
"Don't. It's okay, it's better than okay that you, that you would..."
"That I'm not Bill?" Mulder nodded sheepishly. "I'm not, Mulder. We're entirely different people. I know you're good for Dana. And I'm beginning to understand why Mom thinks she's good for you too."
Mulder's mouth dropped open slightly. "Your mother...?"
"Look, I'm in no shape to be rational about this tonight, and I'll probably deny saying this tomorrow, but I think you should go upstairs and nail her until you scream for mercy." Mulder's eyes were wide with shock. "Of course she's my sister and I can't think things like that, but the two of you...Maybe I better go to bed. I'll ask for your forgiveness tomorrow." He headed back upstairs without another word. Mulder watched him speechless.
Mulder wandered around the downstairs, trying to calm down and also trying desperately to put Charlie's words out of his mind. This was ridiculous. He stopped in front of the liquor cabinet and struggled with deciding whether or not to take a drink. Finally he shook his head, after seven years he could handle this. It wasn't like it was a completely new idea.
He turned off the lights and headed upstairs. In the bathroom he spotted his shaving kit on the counter next to her makeup bag. The sight of those two items, sitting beside each other as though they belong together, a set, warmed him incredibly. Damn Charlie anyway.
He got ready for bed and carefully entered the bedroom. She'd left a light on for him and was lying with her back to the door. He quietly stripped down to his shorts and slipped into the bed. "I'm not asleep." She turned toward him and stopped, her eyes widening.
"What? Is something wrong?"
"Uh, no. No, nothing's wrong."
"Scully." He wanted to touch her, but that would probably be a terrible idea right now.
"You...you're not wearing a t-shirt. I just thought..."
"Is it a problem? I was a little warm, but I could - "
"It's fine. I'm just on edge." She also didn't know where to look, his eyes were too knowing and his chest, well the pattern of his hair was too disturbing right now. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
"Roll over." Mulder turned her away from him and pressed his thumbs into the fleshy part of her shoulders. She moaned lightly and he knew part of his anatomy was profoundly affected by the sound. He moved slightly farther from her and continued the massage until he felt her relax beside of him.
"No problem." Well except for the depth of his voice, but she didn't seem to notice. "Try to sleep Scully." She nodded and kept her back to him. He turned away as well, lying with their backs to each other. Just before he fell asleep himself he felt her scoot closer, their buttocks pressed together. Rather than analyze it, he gave in to sleep.
That's how they fell asleep, however he woke to find that they had both turned toward each other. She was tucked under his chin, her breasts pressed against his chest, and one of her legs insinuated between his. No way she was going to be able to ignore that when she woke up. He tried to move away but she followed him.
"Scully, wake up. Scully?" She stirred, stretching against him. Oh god. She opened her eyes and knew immediately where she was. She pulled back from him and he released her, but the bed wasn't big enough to get completely away from each other, not right now.
He wondered if you could get a stroke from blushing. "It's okay Scully."
"Mulder, I'm...I'm sorry, I - "
"Scully. We shared a bed, drew some comfort from each other. Nothing's wrong, nothing needs to be apologized for. Well, you did take more than your half of the bed, but I'm not really angry about it." That startled a quick laugh from her. "I think I should take a shower, you have to make up the bed." He slipped out, keeping his back to her and made his way to the shower.
She wasn't in the room when he returned so he headed downstairs toward the smell of the coffee. Scully and Charlie were at the table, a third cup was there waiting for him. He filled it with coffee and joined them. "Any news?"
"No change for Mom, which they tell me is good news. Will woke up a couple of times during the night. They're going to be doing some tests this morning. I need to get down there." Scully rose to get a second cup of coffee and Charlie turned to Mulder.
"Listen, I owe you an apology for last night." His voice was low and he glanced over at Dana.
"Hey, don't worry about it."
"No, I was out of line. I was...I was caught up in wasted time and missed opportunities. But I shouldn't have..."
"Don't think about it. Hell, you may have done me a favor." Charlie's head went up at that and a grin began growing on his face. He nodded and stood, clapping the man on the back. "You know, you'd make a hell of a brother-in-law."
They both looked over at Scully as she began to cough uncontrollably. Mulder stood and patted her on the back as Charlie took the cup from her hand. She was watching them both and when she got her breath back, turned to Mulder. "What were you two talking about?"
"Nothing, Sis." Charlie answered before he could. "I'm gonna go get ready. Oh, Sam's already over at Chris's house. He was up and out first thing." He turned to leave.
"Hold it! What's going on?"
"Just guy talk, nothing big." Charlie responded and Mulder nodded, throwing her that fake innocent smile. Her eyes narrowed but she wasn't going to get anything else out of them. Charlie winked at Mulder and left the room.
"What the hell is up with you two?"
"You worried because you have one brother that doesn't hate me?" She growled at him, but left to finish getting ready.
They sobered as they neared the hospital, becoming quieter, more reserved. She again allowed him to lead her, leaning on him as they approached Will's room. The boy was awake and even though scared, glad to see his father and Dana. He was as fascinated to meet Mulder as Sam had seemed and Mulder made a note to find out exactly what Charlie was telling them about him.
When it got close to time to see Mrs. Scully, Dana and Mulder left to take the visit. Scully was pleased with her vital signs, but he could see the fear in her expression at the continued lack of consciousness. When time was up they returned to Will's room and visited until the doctor arrived.
Mulder stepped outside to give them more room. The other three remained with the boy as Mulder paced outside. When the door opened Scully emerged, tears in her eyes but a huge smile on her face and threw her arms around him. "He has feeling in his legs. Mulder, he's going to be okay." He picked her up and hugged her. It felt so right.
When he looked up he saw Charlie watching them. He'd obviously been struggling with tears himself, but was smiling now and nodding. "Mulder, could you take Mary home for a little while? She's exhausted and I don't want her driving."
"Charlie, I'm fine. I don't want to - "
"No arguments. I bet you didn't sleep ten minutes in a row. Let him take you home for a while. You can take a shower, get a little nap. I'll be here, Sweetheart. Come on." She leaned against him and closed her eyes. A wave of envy broke over Mulder and he had to fight to keep from pulling Scully even closer against him.
Charlie and Mary kissed then Charlie turned back to Mulder. "Take care of her, okay?"
"You bet. And you have custody of Scully." He ignored the look she sent him and took Mary's arm. "Come on, Charlie's right, you need some time off." Mary nodded and after kissing Will goodbye allowed Mulder to drive her home.
She came back down to the kitchen in her robe following her shower and took the coffee Mulder offered her. "How you doing?"
"Better. Much better now."
"I don't think you should go back yet. You really could use some sleep."
She nodded, "I'm very glad you came with Dana. She needs you, your strength. If Maggie..."
"She's going to be okay. She's a Scully. How strong can you get?" Mary smiled at him then. "Go on, take your nap. I'll hang out here."
She nodded, "When we go back I want to take Sam."
"Good idea. Now rest." He watched her make her way back upstairs and felt a part of things in a way he couldn't remember ever feeling before. This was a feeling of family. Charlie had entrusted his precious wife to him, something Bill would never do. They'd shared their joy at the wonderful news about their son. And Charlie had said things to him that, that he'd never thought to hear out loud.
Sam was more than anxious to go with them when they returned to the hospital. The comradeship in Will's room was outside of anything Mulder had experienced, much less ever been a part. Listening to them tease each other, hearing embarrassing stories about Scully's childhood made him feel so included that when Charlie suggested he and Sam go with him to get some snacks, he wanted to refuse. The fear of walking out of the door and never experiencing such inclusion again frightened him more than he thought possible.
Charlie and Mulder took a seat in the cafeteria while Sam explored the video games across the hall.
"You doing okay Mulder?"
Mulder looked up surprised. "Yeah. Don't I look it?"
"You look a little culture shocked to be honest."
Mulder shrugged, "Maybe a little. I know Bill, this isn't what I would expect with him."
Charlie chuckled, "The Scully's are split down the middle on personality types. Bill and Missy were fine with moving, look at their lifestyles as adults. Me," Charlie shook his head, "Mary and I bought the house before she even got pregnant with Will. And if you notice, we probably couldn't be any farther away from an ocean. I'm a staid professor at a university and Bill's out on a ship somewhere in the middle of nowhere."
"Scully doesn't seem to fit either way."
"She's torn. I think she craves the stability thing, but to want that would seem disloyal to Dad in her eyes. She already has the guilt over the change to the FBI. To become completely stable," He shook his head slightly, "I wish it didn't frighten her."
"Scully could never be disloyal." Charlie looked up at him and after a moment, smiled.
"Maybe she needs to hear you say that. You're about the only person she ever listens to."
Mulder's mouth gaped open at that. "You think she listens to me?"
"Well she quotes you often enough and always has a story for the boys when she calls. They eat those stories about you up with a spoon."
Mulder was completely speechless at that, which elicited another chuckle from Charlie. "And I thought you knew her so well. Turns out you're both just a man and woman about some things, huh? You'll never understand that part of her, but don't feel too bad - after twelve years of marriage, Mary still manages to throw me for a loop every so often. You might as well lean back and enjoy it."
Mulder looked at this man and felt a longing almost as strong as the one he had for Scully. He wanted to be part of this man's family; he wanted to be able to call him brother. Not exactly the way he felt about Bill.
Their ten minutes was almost up. He could detect no change in her condition though the doctors acted encouraged. He was going to keep his mouth shut and let them talk. Scully had moved closer to the opening of the alcove and Mulder stood over Mrs. Scully, looking down at her.
It almost didn't register when her eyes opened. It was so unexpected that he could only blink for an instant. "Fox, you're here." She spoke just above a whisper. Her hand moved and he took hold of it. The others converged on the bed and she smiled, then was asleep again.
Scully was staring at him, a shaking hand over her mouth. "Oh my god. She knew you. Mom knew you!" Then her hands were on his face bringing it down to her and she met his lips with her own. His own arms closed around her, holding her as tightly as he'd always wanted to.
"You two need to take this outside. We need to examine your mother, and you probably want to bring your family up to date."
"Oh, uh yes." Scully was obviously embarrassed, but Mulder just grinned, leading her toward the door.
He was taken aback when Mary also threw her arms around him, after kissing Charlie and hugging the boys. It was more of a feeling of family than before. Even the boys included him.
The hospital relented and allowed everyone, except Will, in to visit briefly with Mrs. Scully before clamping back down on the rules again. Mrs. Scully was more alert each time. Scully was incredibly delighted that it was Mulder she had recognized first.
At dinnertime Mary shooed them all out, demanding that they go home and eat the meal that Carrie had prepared and celebrate for her. She would be spending the night again. Mulder could tell by looking at her that she'd get more sleep tonight.
Dinner was festive, just the family since Carrie refused to stay. Charlie was liberal with the wine, even allowing Sam one small sip as they toasted the health of the family.
While Charlie got Sam ready for bed, Scully and Mulder cleaned up the kitchen. As they finished up he put his hand on her shoulder. "You need to go on to bed, you've got to be exhausted."
She nodded, "Too many emotions." She took a deep breath. "Let's go to bed."
Let's? As in 'let us'? Could he have possibly heard her correctly? He looked up to see Charlie in the doorway, grinning. He winked at Mulder and disappeared back out of sight.
"Yeah, okay." He trailed her up the stairs.
She took the bathroom first, while he tried to figure out exactly what was happening here. He made short work of getting ready for bed himself and found her in the bed waiting for him, but this time facing him, not turned away.
He crawled in beside her but didn't get too close. "You okay Scully?"
She smiled broadly, "Mom's going to be okay, Will's coming home in a few days. Yeah, I'm okay." He wasn't used to such a smile from her and matched it with one of his own. "Mulder, what were you and Charlie talking about?"
The question caught him off guard and he could feel the heat on his face. "It's not - "
"Important or my business?"
"That's not what I was going to say."
"Really? You say I have one brother that doesn't hate you. We can debate the wording later, but how does feel Charlie about you?" Mulder looked away as though contemplating escape. Her hand on his chest curbed that impulse.
"I think Charlie's a great guy Scully. I like him. I like the way he is with his wife, his kids. I envy him. I don't know what he thinks of me, but he hasn't thrown me out of his house and he did put us in this room, together." Her cheeks pinked slightly at that.
"It's not that big a house Mulder." His gaze didn't waver and she had to look away.
"I'm not complaining Scully." His hand grazed her cheekbone.
She seemed to hesitate for an instant, then brought her lips to his again. When she broke the contact she smiled again. "I'm so glad you're here Mulder. I didn't know when I got the call whether I was facing a tragedy or not, but to have this - Mom's going to be okay, she knows all of us; Will's going to walk, and...and you're here to share it with me. Right here to share with me."
His eyes widened slightly, "I'm beginning to like Charlie more by the minute."
Author's Note: It's me - I've always been intrigued by Charlie, the stable one with family and kids. That's why he figures so prominently in the After The Future series. Just couldn't resist this one for Thanksgiving. Enjoy...