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Part 2: Bill Jr.'s Story
By Jacquie LaVa
I've been walking around outside the front of the church for about...forty-five minutes, I suppose. I should go in. I should walk in the damn door and face the music. I should go in the door, walk up to my sister, kiss her cheek and tell her I'm happy for her.
Then why am I walking in the opposite direction?
Well, other than being stubborn -- and an occasional asshole, according to my wife -- I can't pretend to be happy, not even for my sister. Not for the sake of my adorable nephew, either. I know the little tyke needs a daddy. His daddy. And I know his father loves him; I've seen them together. Mulder worships Will. Will worships Mulder right back. It's never been a question of love.
It's a question of safety, a question of assuring that safety and a question of maintaining said safety. In a truly unsafe world I need this kind of assurance. I've been the protector of my family for years now -- ever since my father died. Of uppermost importance in Dad's responsibilities as head of the Scully family was the safety of his loved ones. When he died, I watched it all unravel, helpless to do anything about it. First, my dad. Then I lost Dana to shit-knows-what -- I still don't fully understand, even after all these years. Then Missy was brutally murdered, and the one person who seemed to be nearby when all these events were happening...was Mulder. The father of my nephew. The lover of my sister -- Christ give me strength -- and soon to be her husband.
Look, I'm not saying he caused my father to die of heart complications. I'm not saying he pulled the trigger that fatally wounded Missy. I'm not claiming he was responsible for Dana being taken. What I insist -- have always insisted -- is that Mulder, by association with those goddamn “alien” windmills of his, couldn't help but toss my sister, and consequently some of our family, right in the path of harm's way. More so than she would have put herself, regardless of her need to work for the FBI. I never approved of her decision to join the Feds, any more than Dad approved. I always thought she'd be safer, happier and more successful as the doctor she was meant to be. And I was always proud of her accomplishments, though I know she thinks I'm not.
I just wish those wonderful deeds could have been the result of anything other than co-chaser of UFOs and cohort of Fox Mulder, profiler of the paranormal.
My mother defends him. Charlie warmed up to him the first time they met. My wife gives him hugs and my children crawl all over his lap like little monkeys, calling him “Uncle Fox.” And Dana stares at him with glowing eyes filled with love.
Maybe in another life, beyond all of the events that led up to the world as I know it today, just maybe, I could have found a friend in Mulder. As much as it pains me to say it, in many ways Mulder and I share some similarities. We're both in love with my family, both wanting just the very best for them and for their futures. I know Mulder has more or less adopted us, with no surviving family of his own; I suppose we're all he has left beyond those three nut-bird friends of his...and his ex-boss Skinner. He loves my mother. He dotes on my kids and he's sweet to Tara. He worships Dana.
Sometimes I want to punch his pretty face in.
I find myself pacing around the outer vestibule, outside in the deserted gardens that used to be so colorful in the summertime. I remember the way the nuns used to toil in here, planting marigolds, roses and begonias. Maybe a few other kinds of flowers whose names escape me now. Missy would have known the name of all those flowers, would have been able to point at them and rattle them off. Missy loved flowers... I wish I’d have sent her a bouquet or two more often...on her birthday or on Valentine's Day. I sent them to her on the day of her funeral, wonderful brother that I am...
Jesus, I'm an asshole. Thinking about death on my sister's wedding day. Tara would be pissed to the max if she knew my thoughts. Well, actually, she's already pissed at me; this can only add to the joy, so to speak. I'm on her shit list because this morning I was moving particularly slowly, not wanting to face the day, and she planted her hands on her shapely little hips and glared at me across the room.
She was already dressed and ready to go. I was still in my skivvies--
"BILL! Get some damn clothes on! Dana is getting married in three hours and we are *not* going to be late. What's the matter with you? I thought we talked this all out." She'd tossed me my dress shirt and added, "Your sister is happy, Billy -- please don't be anything but happy for her in return." A gold and onyx tie-bar in a little green velvet box was chucked at me, landing in my lap as I sat in my easy chair in our living room and stared at her mutely. Tara turned from her task of lacing up Matty's shoes and glared at me again.
"Billy, so help me..."
I jumped to my feet, spilling the shirt and the little velvet box to the floor. I stood my ground and glared right back at my wife.
"Don't push it, Tara. I'm not ready for this. I don't approve of this, and you and Mom know it. Dana knows it. Even Mulder knows it, for crissake. Dana is making a mistake. She doesn't need that wacko to be happy. Will doesn't need somebody like that for a father, either..." My words had trailed off, dried up at the determined advance of Tara, self-proclaimed champion of Fox Mulder. She'd stood in front of me, and I had never seen her so angry -- and believe me when I say in the years of our marriage I have seen this woman angry.
"Bill...shut up. I mean it. Not another word. How conveniently and quickly you forget who saved your bacon just a few short months ago. Who kept us all from perishing. This has gone on long enough, and I should have put the kibosh on it years ago when you first started going off about Fox. Get it through your head, and keep it trapped in the space between your ears: Dana loves Fox. She has loved him for more years than either of us probably know. They have a history together; they share a child. Live with it; be happy for your sister because she has someone who adores her...and GET THAT DAMN DRESS MESS ON, NOW."
My wife then rose up on her tiptoes and brushed a kiss across my gaping mouth, smiled sweetly at me and left the room, dragging Matty behind her. I sank down in my easy chair and clutched my dress shirt in numbed hands.
Tara is a soft, sweet and utterly feminine woman. She can also be a bulldog when she feels passionately about something. Or someone. It's what I adore about her: that fierce protectiveness. And I love that she cares so much for my family, too. She lost her parents at such a young age, and as an only child she had always wanted brothers and sisters to love. Of course I'm happy she loves Dana so much. It means the world to me.
That she has also extended that bullish caring to Mulder...well, I suppose I have to live with it. I don't want to. I want to remain pissed off at him for the rest of my life. I want to blame him still, for everything that's gone wrong. Yes, it's ludicrous and unfair. But I can't seem to stop the way I feel.
Years ago I stood nose-to-nose with Mulder in a hospital corridor and called him a sorry son-of-a-bitch. He'd nodded; he'd goddamn agreed with me. Mulder knew exactly what I was talking about, even back then. He’d accepted my condemnation. But it didn't stop him from yanking my sister right back into it as soon as she regained her stamina and went back to work. That's why I remain set against Mulder to this day. That's why having to stand up with him in church, before God, and watch him join himself to my sister in the eyes of all I hold sacred, really grinds at me.
But I'll do it; I'll be Fox Mulder's best man. For my sister, Dana. For my sister, Missy, who also found a way to believe in the goodness she somehow found in him. For my mother, who loves him, God help me. For little William, who I know needs his daddy.
Mostly for Tara, who would have no conscience whatsoever about locking me out of the house -- and her body -- until I change my frigging tune.
I wander a little bit longer in the garden behind this church, and I notice the way overgrown weeds choke out what flora I see still evident here and there. I also see a bud and a young, strong stem mixed in with the weeds. I liken it to people -- the ones who have survived life as we know it and have popped up undefeated despite the rottenness apparent all throughout the world. Maybe Tara is right; maybe Mulder could be seen as some sort of savior. And maybe that's the most sacrilegious thought I have ever had. Honestly, I don't know any more. I only know that I have been battling for years against a man who in his own way cares for me a great deal. A man who has always been polite to me. A man who no doubt is at this very moment standing at the altar with Father McCue, sweating bullets and most likely trying to imagine creative ways of bashing my face in.
Part of me wants to cheer at the image of an off-balance Fox Mulder...and the other part of me knows that if I don't get my ass in that vestibule damned fast and escort my mother down the aisle, I am going to regret it.
Amazing how quickly a body can move in these damn hot and uncomfortable uniforms.
Three minutes later I am inside the vestibule. My mother is pacing, and she stops abruptly when I walk in and hurries over to me, taking my arm. Her eyes stare up into mine, worried and irritated all at the same time. I meet that stare with one studiously nonchalant, and it doesn't fool her for a minute.
"Bill, where have you been? You need to seat me -- now -- and then go up and take your place next to Fox."
I fight to keep my gaze on my all-seeing and all-knowing mother, not wanting to get into it, again. I shrug and try to control the emotion in my voice.
"I was outside. I lost track of the time..."
Mom's snort of disbelief dries up my excuse in record time. She faces me -- another petite woman with one hell of a determined agenda.
"Oh, baloney, Son. Give me a break. I'm far from stupid. Whatever lasting remnants of resentment you may have concerning Fox, I suggest you purge them, now. I will *not* have Dana upset on her wedding day and I won't let you carry this vendetta of yours any further." Mom grabs hold of my arm and briefly allows five of her sharp little fingernails to press into the wool covering my poor bicep. It's a warning, of sorts. I open my mouth to voice one more protest and my mother's frown withers the words in my throat. She turns me toward the wide double doors and urges me forward.
"No, Bill. I don't want to hear it. Don't make me remind you of the way Tara had to defend you to her uncle Mitch on your own wedding day. I for one will never forget it...and neither, I am sure, will Mitch. Think about how wonderful it's been for you, all these years to have Tara. And the children. Dana wants that happiness for herself, and Fox gives it to her. Please, Son...accept it. Accept Fox."
As my mother is lecturing me, she is subtly dragging me down the center aisle in such a way as to make it look as if I'm walking alongside her willingly. Somehow I manage to keep my face expressionless; somehow I put one foot in front of the other as we step down the carpeted walkway. All too soon we reach the small table that holds the Unity candle and Mom stops to light the two side candles assigned to her care. When she is finished, I escort her to her seat.
Now I’m left to walk over with heavy steps until I reach Mulder's side. Damn it all, I hate this...
A funny thing happens when I raise my head and look at Mulder. I see a very nervous man. I see someone who reminds me a lot of what I must have looked like on my own wedding day when I stood in a similar spot and prayed with everything inside my heart that Tara's determination to marry me had not wilted in the face of her Uncle Mitch's dislike and disapproval of me.
In Mulder's eyes I see worry and anxiousness. I also see stubbornness -- no one in this world is going to take away his future. I see wariness when he looks at me and by the set of his jaw I detect anger, as well. He must have really been sweating those bullets, thinking I wasn't going to show.
And a sudden grin breaks over my face as I stand next to my future brother-in-law and keep watch over the back of St. John's. Both of us searching for signs of our women. I catch little William's delighted eyes and wink at him, grinning wider when he erupts into giggles. Frohike, seated next to him, gives me a thumbs-up. Well, what d'ya know, I have passed muster with one of Mulder's nutty buddies.
In some weird way it makes me feel...good. I shake my head slightly at the craziness of life, and out of the corner of my mouth I toss a carefully-careless remark Mulder's way.
"Congratulations, Mr. Mulder." I glance sideways when I hear Mulder's audible sigh of what sounds like relief.
"The name is Mulder, Bill...and thanks. For everything, but mostly for showing up. It means so much to your sister."
I nod, turn just enough to meet his eyes, and I stick out my hand. Mulder stares at it in surprise for a moment, before slowly putting his own out to shake mine. The handshake we exchange is firm and manly and we don't say anything more.
We don't really need to, I guess.
“Knife! Knife!” William points a tiny finger at Bill Jr.’s gleaming dress sword. “Look, Gramma!” He stands on the pew between Maggie and Frohike, eyes round and lips curved into an “O.” Frohike grips the waistband of William’s pants to prevent him from stumbling off the seat.
“Shhhhh,” Maggie hushes her grandson. Her smile is tolerant. It’s obvious she loves this child who looks so much like her own daughter.
“Unc’Bill ouch Daddy?” the boy asks.
“No, Will, Uncle Bill and Daddy are shaking hands.”
“Shake-ands?” The boy looks confused and waggles his hands.
“It means they’re friends,” Maggie whispers. She takes William’s small hand in her own as if they were meeting for the first time and gives it a gentle squeeze.
“Unc’Bill an’ Daddy friends?” William looks to Frohike to see if it’s true.
Frohike clears his throat. “Uh...yeah, right. They’re...um...amigos.”
“Mee-goes.” William repeats, convinced.
Father McCue watches Maggie and the boy, and is glad Bill was able to put aside past hurts and stand beside Fox today. The priest has ministered the Scully family for years and counts Maggie among the most genuine and faithful in his flock. He has listened to her confessions and absolved her of her sins -- not that they were many or severe. Still, he knows her heartaches and has prayed with her. Perhaps today will mark a change of fortune for her. For all of them.
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Go to Part 3: MAGGIE’S STORY by Bonetree