'I'm not sure, Mom,' Scully called from the kitchen. Surrounded by trays of finger food the caterer delivered fifteen minutes ago, she finally felt happy with all the preparation. Turning to face her mother, Dana considered the question carefully before answering, 'maybe in the upstairs bathroom? At least that's where I asked Mulder to put the box. There have been so many people trying the help us unpack in the last two days, I'm really not sure where anything is.'
'Dana, for the last time, will you go upstairs and get ready,' Ellen demanded. She'd been sent to locate the cable ties to attach the flowers to the banister rail for the upcoming wedding. Sighing as her long-time friend once again perused the kitchen, Ellen handed Mrs Scully the required item. Appealing to Scully's good sense, she stated, 'your mom and I can make sure everything's ready down here.'
'Go, Dana,' Maggie agreed, looking as harried as she sounded. Standing with one foot on the bottom step, a bouquet of baby's breath in her hand and a blue ribbon in the other, she attempted to secure the flowers. 'Fox will be here with William any minute. I still don't know how Harold and your soon to be husband managed to get that child released from the hospital. We both know he's not ready to be discharged until after the weekend.'
'A very large donation to the new adolescent ward,' Scully scowled, not impressed with the sudden change in plans. William's unplanned arrival, a typically thoughtless yet poignant Mulder surprise an hour before their wedding had thrown the Scully women's last minute plans in to chaos. He'd considered it a bridal gift, ensuring the whole family could be together for their special day, one he saw as the official start of his family.
Charlie, Bill and their dependants had taken over the two guest suits on the second level and were now getting dressed. It left Maggie, Ellen and Dana to finish most of the last minute preparations. Chloe, attempting to ready her three children with Charlie promised to help. Three year old Jamie had dented those plans by attempting to change is sixteen month old sister's nappy and getting himself covered in the contents while his parents coheres his older sister into her flower-girls gown.
The guests would start arriving at about the same time the groom completed the return journey from the hospital. Maggie had insisted neither bride nor groom should see each other before the ceremony and had charged her two sons and Harold with keeping Dana and Mulder apart. Getting Mulder into his suit if Scully didn't hurry would prove impossible. The thought brought a frown to Maggie's features.
'Just like a man,' Ellen couldn't help the smile in the attempt to break the descending mood, 'come on Dana, you have to admit it's truly romantic. The man of your dreams making a last minute dash to the hospital to ensure your entire family witnesses your marriage.'
'I guess,' Scully didn't sound so sure, 'and hiring one of the most reputable neo-natal nurses for the day belayed Dr Matheson's fears,' Scully continued as she wiped her hands on the dish cloth beside the stove. Glancing around the kitchen, everything seemed to be under control for the moment. 'Beside, he's only here for three hours before we have to take him back. I just hope this sojourn doesn't affect William's discharged on Monday'
'I know you wanted all you children in the wedding pictures, Dana,' Maggie still didn't look impressed. Cursing under her breath, she couldn't make the arrangement in her hands do what she wanted.
'Mom,' Tara took the last of the decorations from her mother-in-laws hands. She'd silently descended the stairs, waiting for the opportunity to help out. Twisting the bouquet easily into an arrangement, she secured it to the banister with ease. 'Let me finish this up. Chloe will be down in a minute and she can help me with the rest of the flowers in the living room while you help Dana get ready for her big day. If the pair of you don't get a move on, Father McCue will be here and the ceremony will start without the bride.'
'Or the groom,' Scully retaliated, understanding Mulder's appalling timekeeping. He'd barely have time to get to Georgetown and back again by four, considering the Friday afternoon traffic attempting to escape D.C.
'I don't think you'll have to worry about your fiancée arriving in time,' Ellen attempted to stop the giggle escaping as she exchanged an amused glance with Tara. 'I can see it now, everyone seated and waiting, while the two of you discuss the semantics of the situation,' Ellen teased.
Failing to hide their mirth, both Tara and Ellen broke into a soft, amused laughter. They'd all witnessed the way the engaged couple melded seamlessly into a tight family unit. The addition of a two week old requiring three hourly overnight feeds didn't seem to strain the relationship. They'd kept up their silent communication, interrupted by the occasional bout of good natured bickering. The sentiment brought a smile to Maggie's face.
'At least,' the mother of the bride, first to curb her enjoyment, added, 'we don't have to worry about the groom seeing the bride before the ceremony. Fox may keep us all waiting, but he does show up eventually.'
'Tara,' Scully turned her attention towards her sister-in-law, now three months pregnant with their second child, 'where's Sophia,' she asked in a strained tone. The joke hit home as she remembered all those times Mulder had ditched her for an X-file. He'd needed rescuing. Not wanting to think about it, Scully realised her tactic to change the focus of the conversation had succeeded.
A delighted smile crossed the younger woman's face. From the moment Bill Scully Jr stepped into the house, Sophia abandoned her father in favour of Scully's older brother. The somewhat grumpy, arrogant man with a military bearing attempted to keep his distance from the little girl, just six weeks younger than his son, Matthew. Scowling hadn't worked neither had removing himself from her immediate presence. Sophia demonstrated a determination to rival that of Mulder on the most trying of X-files. She's taken a liking to Uncle Bill and like a limpet, had attached herself firmly to his side ever since.
'Bill's just finished bathing her and Matthew in the same tub,' Tara laughed openly. The eleven and a half month old had managed to temporarily heal the breach between Mulder and her husband. 'It really was a sight to behold. The poor man didn't quite know what hit him. I just hope our daughter can wrap him around her little finger like yours has, Dana. I didn't think I'd ever see my strong, conceited Navy Captain capitulate so easily before. He's like putty in her little hands.'
'I'll admit,' Scully tried to keep the scowl from her face, 'it's dissipated the tension I expected in the house.'
'I haven't been looking forward to my husband and yours under the staying under the same roof for a few hours,' Tara readily agreed, 'let alone the entire weekend. After the way they behaved the Christmas before last, when Emily…'
Nodding, Scully fixed her face in a determined expression. Not wanting to break down in front of these people, even though they formed her most intimate family, she hurried up the stairs. She let her sorrow out in the privacy of her en-suite bathroom shower cubical.
'What did I say,' Tara looked at Maggie with sorrowful blue orbs, 'I didn't mean to upset anyone.'
'Emily,' Margaret answered slowly, 'should have been here with her brothers and sister today.'
'Emily's father…' Tara couldn't bring herself to complete the sentence. Her hand clapped over her mouth as the implication hit her. 'Oh Dear God, did he know at the time? And the way Bill acted towards Mulder, forcing him to stay at a motel. I knew Dana and her partner were close enough that she wanted him…'
The look passing across Maggie's expressive face answered all the questions Tara's mouth had become to parch to ask. 'They only found out the paternity of Emily with the documentation for these children,' Mrs Scully pursed her lips. 'Today is a celebration for Dana, Fox and their children becoming a real family, no matter how this came about.'
Determined to make this the most memorable day of her daughter's life, Maggie set her face into a happy expression. She'd need it for the calamity she found at the top of the stairs. Bill, standing in the entry to the master bedroom, had finally cornered his little sister after trying for the last twenty four hours to get her alone for a private discussion. At his right leg, a little mini-Mulder made happy sounds while clutching her uncles right pant leg.
'Dana, get this child to leave me alone,' he protested, attempting to remove the small body from his person, 'because I want to talk to you about going through with this farce of a wedding.'
Loosing every last shred of dignity after an almost sleepless night, Scully exited the bathroom clad only in the expensive lingerie purchased for the expressed purpose of exciting a groom on his wedding night. Caleb, use to almost instantaneous service from his trained nurse carers in the NICU, had demanded the same level of devotion from his mother overnight. Scully had become adept at waking at her sons' almost silent first cry for attention. That, combined with the stressors of the day before, most notably the show down with Diana Fowley and the thought of Bill and Mulder under the same roof even for a night, had left Scully fatigued beyond endurance.
Uncaring of her state of dress, she stood to her full high of five feet three inches. 'That child,' she spat both the words and fire from her eyes, 'has a name. My daughter, for some reason known only to herself, adores you William Scully. You are one of the few individuals she trusts in this world, take it as great compliment, considering half her genes are derived from Mulder.' Turning to the wedding gown hanging on the door to the bathroom, Dana slipped the dress over her head. 'I'm marrying the man I'm in love with today. I'm pledging myself to the father of my children. It's time you understood this is my life, Bill. Now help me by zipping up this outfit,' Scully demanded.
Shocked to the core, Bill obediently obliged his sister. Still gobsmacked at the skimpy lace and satin, he attempted to close his open mouth. Taking the tag in his hand, the sound of the metal teeth meshing together as he aided his sister into the gown his soon to be brother in law would take off her, he tried to form a sentence in his overwrought mind.
Brushing past him, Scully scored the final point in the very one sided argument, 'now you'll have to suffer the agony of knowing what Mulder will be getting tonight,' she managed in a tight voice before stepping into a pair of three inch pumps and slamming the bathroom door in his face.
Still too stunned to talk, Bill turned to find his mother standing stock still in the hall. 'You've been asking for that,' Maggie lightly rebuked her son. 'Now you have to live with the image of your sister as a fully grown woman able to make her own decisions in life. Please take Sophia down to the living room with the other children. Caleb should be awake any moment and I want him ready when Fox comes back with William so we can finally get these two married.'
Nodding mutely, Bill wondered if he'd ever be the same again. Something in this world you're just not meant to see, he berated, like your baby sister all grown up and looking good enough to model for Victoria's Secrets. If that didn't bring home the message, I don't know what would have. I might hate the guy she's marrying, but I finally understand how much she loves him in spite of all the pain he's put her though. Or maybe it's because of it.