I generally can't/won't write other people's characters in first person, as it just doesn't feel right to me to be in their heads, but since we never saw Charlie, I felt comfortable with this. I hope it makes you laugh, thanks for reading, and please review!
I love my big sister, but she isn't the most talkative person in the world. Though the silence at her kitchen table was almost peaceful, not oppressive. Still, my mother couldn't let it last long, and chattered away to both of us happily. This is the first time she's seen us together is over a year, maybe even two. And, today it was just lucky.
We were floating in the Atlantic when the engine started squealing, and the engineers couldn't figure out what was wrong. The Captain radioed in our problem, and replotted our course for Maryland. It was like Christmas on the ship after that. Unexpected leave time, even if was only for a day, was precious. Most of the guys ran off to get drunk and laid, but I called my big sister. She almost squealed, and my sister does not squeal.
She called Mom, of course, and I'd spent most of the day with them. It was nice, but by eight, we seem to have run out of things to say to each other. Except for Mom. Dana had always been a little introverted though, even more so since joining the FBI. Not secretive per say, but weary about releasing too much information. I can't really blame her, Mom is well, Mom, and Bill is just plain over-protective. If it had been just the two of us, she would have said more.
There was something I wanted to ask her about though, which I'd been good and resisted all day. "Dana, Mom said you were in the hospital a couple weeks ago?"
She inhaled sharply. Her work is a bit of a tense topic in the family, especially when she gets hurt.
"Yes, I was. But, as you can see, I'm fine now." Her jaw was tense. I've known that look since we were teenagers. Don't fuck with me, I'm tougher than you.
I'd never disputed that, though Bill has sure as hell tried. I'm pretty sure my petite sister could whup his often arrogant ass too.
"What happened? A case?"
She sighed. "I don't want to fight, Charlie."
"I'm not Bill, I won't give you a hard time. And, I assume Mom already knows." I turned to our mother.
"None of the details. You know how difficult it is getting information out of your sister." She gave Dana a pointed look.
"I thought Skinner told you?"
If I remembered correctly, Skinner was Dana's boss, and usually the one calling Mom when she and her partner got into trouble.
"He only said that you and Fox suffered some bad chemical burns, and were being quarantined until you detoxed."
"Dexoted?" I asked, trying hard not to grin. I would have paid good money to see my normally stoic big sister high as a kite.
Her jaw shifted, and hardened again, then she sighed. "Fine. I was nearly devoured by a giant mushroom."
I chuckled. "Cute Dana, now what really happened?" Giant mushroom, my ass.
"Just what I told you, Charlie." There was no trace of a joke in her eyes, and I couldn't believe it.
"You're really serious? A mushroom?" She nodded. I turned to our mother, who didn't look terribly surprised. "You knew this?"
"I've learned not to be surprised by your sister's job." She patted Dana's hand, and my sister actually looked gratefully at her. Killers, drug dealers, kidnappers, even genetic mutants, I could stretch my imagination for...but a murderous mushroom?
I looked between my mother and my big sister, the woman who raised me, and the woman who'd used me as a reluctant life-sized doll. Never let Dana near a can of hairspray, it does not end well. At least, it didn't for me.
"A mushroom?" I repeated weakly.
Dana inhaled sharply, "I better make coffee."
She popped out of her seat, and began maneuvering around her kitchen, pulling out coffee and filters and what have you, leaving me to digest the idea that my big sister battled carnivorous fungus.
I was shaking my head when we all turned at the sound of knocking on the door. I waved Dana to finish with the coffee, and went to answer it myself, figuring it was one of her friends.
It was not.
I wished I was armed. Some beaten-up vagrant was outside my sister's apartment door, hunched over, and holding his stomach. It looked like someone worked him over, and judging by the dirt on his clothes, he spent a while on the ground. The jeans and gray t-shirt were both ripped, and smeared with dried blood. Around one eye was purple and swollen, blood up at his scalp, caking his brown hair, his bottom lip was cut, and his nose had definitely been bleeding. The poor son of a bitch could barely hold himself up. What the hell kind of neighborhood does Dana live in?
"Can I help you?" I asked, a little unkindly.
He looked up at the sound of my voice, and was surprised and confused. Why? Who the hell are you that you'd expect anyone else at my sister's door?
"Looking for Scu-Dana," he said, coughing violently.
I looked him over, uneasily. This pathetic creature knew my sister? Against my better judgment, I didn't shut the door in his face. "Stay here."
I walked into the kitchen, my arms crossed over my chests. "Sis, please tell me you aren't dolling out free medical care to the local homeless?"
It would be just like my very compassionate, workaholic sister to take pity on some pathetic soul and use her hard earned medical degree to tend to him. She'd always wanted to help people (hence the medical degree), she was very like my mom that way. I have no idea how we ended up with only three stray cats as pets over the years. My mom saw some scrawny critter, and she was instantly in love. In fact, I was surprised Dana hadn't picked up a stray cat yet...though she did adopt that dog.
Dana hit the button on the coffeemaker, and turned around toward me, as I entered the kitchen, frowning. "What are you talking about?
"There's a guy at your door, someone beat him to hell. I think he's homeless, but he seems to know your name. You have your gun nearby?"
Dana actually rolled her eyes at me, and strode right toward the door. My sister, the fearless FBI agent. I followed after her, and Mom behind me. When she got to the door, Dana took one look at that mess, and stopped short. Then she ran toward him.
"Oh my god! Mulder, what happened!"
Whoa, wait a minute...that pathetic sight is Mulder? Her partner? The man my big brother hates so intensely? Jesus, what the hell did happen to him?
Dana's hand were moving all over him, cataloguing injuries was my guess, though I'm pretty sure she was more intimate than most doctors would be. Her eyes were radiating worry, and I was surprised to see something else there. I turned to my mother to see if she saw it too, but she gave nothing away.
Mulder looked at my sister, then at us, and winced. "Sorry Scully, didn't realize you had company."
"Mulder, what the hell happened?" She ignored the apology, and wrapped her arms around him, helping him inside.
I hadn't seen her go to Mama Bear mode that fast since I was six, and fell off my bike. Dana was nine, and ran off our porch at the sound of my cry, and hugged me. Mom was busy with Missy's Halloween costume (a fairy), so Dana took me into the bathroom, cleaned my bloody scrape and gave me a cowboy bandaid. It looked like Mulder was about to receive the same treatment. Mom and I, of course, followed them to the bathroom; I wanted to know what happened to him.
He still had his arms around his ribs when she sat him on the toilet, and flicked on the light. And shit, he looked about five times worse in the bright bathroom lights. I watched my sister, the doctor, start yanking things out of her medicine cabinet and the one underneath the sink. There had to have been at least seven different kinds of bandages in the pile on the counter. And, no peroxide or alcohol for Dana; she pulled out what looked to be a bottle of hospital grade disinfectant.
Mulder looked at me. "You're Charlie?"
"Yep, Dana's baby brother. How'd you guess?" I figured it was the red hair.
"You look like Bill, except a little thinner, and without the look of distain."
I had to chuckle. My big brother was not really warm and cuddly, though I don't entirely fault him his opinion of the mess of a man in my sister's bathroom. She'd have been a lot safer and a lot happier without him.
"Talk Mulder." She instructed him.
"I was at a bar, waiting for a source to show up--Don't say it Scully, this had nothing to do with the source," he practically growled at the sharp look she was giving him. She softened, and he continued while she cleaned and probed his head wound. "There were these guys up at the bar, hassling this woman, though she seemed to be holding them off fine by herself. After about ten minutes, the source called to cancel, and I was about to leave when I noticed the woman was starting to look scared. So, I figured I'd tell them to back off, and offer to walk her to her car or whatever."
She finished wiping all the blood off his face, and tossed the washcloth in the sink to soak. She opened the iodine, and the smell of iodine filled the room.
"Ow, son of a bitch!" He hissed when she dabbed his head wound with a soaked cotton ball. Then he looked at Mom sheepishly. "Sorry, Mrs. Scully."
"Fox, I was married to a sailor. I've heard much worse," she assured him. He actually managed a slight smile, but then winced it away.
"So these guys at that bar did this?" My sister asked, not so subtly reminding him that he wasn't done explaining.
"Yeah, I walked her out, and she left, but before I could, they jumped me--all three of them." He winced again as she started dabbing at his cut lip.
"Did you lose your gun again?"
"No, I didn't get a chance to grab it." He shot her a dark look. "They saw it ten minutes after they started pounding the crap out of me. That sent them scattering.
"And, you didn't call the DCPD because...?"
Then he jumped away from her hands. "Christ Scully, that hurts!"
"I don't think you have a concussion," she said simply, wiping up the excess iodine and applying two butterfly closures to the cut.
"They would have dragged me to the hospital, and filed a report, and I'd be forced to explain this to Skinner Monday morning."
She smirked, "Oh, and you don't think he'll want to know why you look like you went five rounds with Mike Tyson?"
"I'll hide in the office, no one ever comes down there anyway--ow, ow! That hurts!" His eyes started watering as she sort of wiggled his nose.
"It doesn't feel broken, but I want you to ice it." She didn't give him time to respond. "Shirt off."
Like a well-trained dog, he obeyed her. Or at least, he tried too. Lifting his arms got a pretty intense wince, but actually attempting to lift the shirt over his head had him panting and doubled over in pain. Dana rested a hand on his back, and crouched down in front of him, the other hand on his face. He looked pale, and she looked worried.
"Please don't make me go to the hospital, Scully," he pled, voice low and soft.
"I can't make any promises until I finish examining you," she said, her voice just as soft. I was struck by the tenderness of their exchange.
He managed a nod, and went back to trying to get his t-shirt off. Dana helped him this time, and they managed to get it off him with a series of strained groans and whimpers. He ended up hunched over, his face red as he clutched his ribs, wincing with every heavy, rapid breath, sweat dripping down his face. Poor bastard. Dana crouched low beside him, one hand on the chair, the other brushing gently through his hair. Their faces were so close, their foreheads were almost touching. It was very, very intimate.
Mom chose that moment to grant them privacy, and had to drag me out of the room, I was still staring in shock. My big sister was totally banging her partner!
"Mom, how long have you known?" I demanded, she seemed completely unbothered.
"Known what, Charlie?" She poured us both coffee, calmly, unaffected.
"That Dana and Mulder were...you know." I might be a grown man, but I still can't say the word sex in front of my mother.
"They aren't, they're just close."
"Please Mom, you saw them in there."
"Trust me, Charlie. They have a very close, special relationship, but that's all." She seemed so certain as she sat there, sipping her coffee. I was about to argue more, when my sister's voice drifted from the bathroom.
"Mulder, you have the worst luck of anyone I've ever known."
"This had nothing to do with luck, Scully. I tried to be nice, and those stupid bastards tried to force my stomach up through my mouth."
"Yes, well from now on, no more playing hero. You could have been killed. Call the cops next time."
"Sur--owgh, ow, oh!"
"I think you've got a few broken ribs. No signs of internal bleeding though."
I raised an eyebrow at my mother, who shrugged and stirred her coffee absently. So, discussing broken ribs and internal bleeding are normal for my sister? Okay then...
"See, my luck's not so bad."
"Sure Mulder, you keep telling yourself that," she paused. "How did you get here?"
"Drove. How else?"
"You what? Mulder, are you nuts? You can barely walk, let alone stay vertical long enough to drive a car! You could have gotten into an accident! And, I bet you weren't wearing a seatbelt?"
My mother and I exchanged looks, Mulder was in deep shit now. I could just picture my big sister, hands on her hips, lips pursed, eyes hard, one brow arching up. I'd been on the receiving end of that enough as a kid to remember it well.
"Calm down, Scully. You're making my head hurt--more."
"Mulder you could have been killed! Or you could have killed someone else!"
"Well I'm not and I didn't, so relax."
I heard her sigh loudly. "Charlie, can you come here!"
My eyebrows rose, what does she need me for? Still, I walked over to the bathroom, and found her wrapping his mid-section with gauze. Why my sister keeps that much gauze on hand, I can't imagine, and I probably don't want to anyway. "Yeah?"
She reached into his jeans pocket while he looked on in confusion, and tossed a set of car keys at me. "Dark blue Ford Taurus, there's a bag in the trunk, can you grab it for me?"
"I don't need that, I'll just wear my clothes home, they aren't that bad," he said quickly.
"You're not going home tonight."
"Oh, come on, Scully! I don't want to go to the damn hospital!"
She barely acknowledged his whine. "You're not going to the hospital, Mulder. You're staying here tonight."
"What?" He and I both said at once. Did she just invite him to spend the night?
"I have no CT scan or MRI, the head wound can be worse than it looks, and I don't want you lapsing into a coma. Your broken ribs are okay now, but shifting the wrong way could cause internal bleeding or puncture a lung." She paused and waited for him to concede, but he didn't. "It's either here, Mulder, or you go to the hospital. Your choice."
That made him go slightly pale. He shot a nervous look my way, before abruptly turning back to Dana.
"Mulder, you've stayed here before, what's the problem?" Hands folded over her chest, impatient frown on her face. My eyes widened. He what?
Either Mom didn't know about that, or she lied to me.
Mulder sent another nervous look my way, and I realized that I was the problem. Well, probably Mom and I. Crashing at your girl's place is one thing, but crashing there when her brother and mother are there is entirely different.
"I don't have pajamas in that bag," he offered meekly, his last ditch effort to fight her.
She sighed. "That's because you don't wear pajamas, Mulder."
"I do so!" He looked positively scandalized--eyes wide, mouth open in shock. I almost laughed.
Dana smirked. "The clothes from the previous day do not count as pajamas, and neither do boxers."
He just stared at her in open-mouthed horror, probably because she was saying all of this in front of me. And, odds were Mom heard too. Dana nodded to me, and I ran out, heading for his car. Poor bastard, now half of our family knows what he doesn't wear to bed.
I wasn't sure how I felt about my sister shaking up with her trouble-magnet partner. Bill would blow a gasket if he knew, but Mom didn't seem to care how close they were. I was inclined to follow my mother's way of thinking; Dana was an adult, it wasn't my place to judge her. But, was this guy really any good for her?
The car and the bag were both easy to find, and I took my time going back into the apartment, hoping they finished discussing his bedtime attire, only to walk into an even more embarrassing conversation. Mom had one hand over her mouth, the other over her coffee cup, and a definite struggle not to laugh in her eyes.
"Mulder, just take your damn pants off!"
Oh good grief.
"No, not happening Scully!"
"I need to examine you!"
"Uh uh, not there you don't!"
"Scully, you can examine any part of my body you want, but not that one!"
"Mulder, contrary to your ego, that is not the part I want to examine! You're leg is bleeding."
"It's fine, it doesn't even hurt."
"Not yet. But, if it gets infected, it will, and you'll be in the hospital again."
"I'm not taking my pants off."
"Why? Mulder, what is the big deal?" She sounded exasperated. Understandable, I suppose she usually got his pants off without a fight. Not really something I needed to know about my sister's life.
They went quiet, and I took the opportunity to deliver the bag and return his keys. Bad idea. As I opened the door, he was very quietly explaining the problem to her.
"Scully, I'm not wearing any underwear."
I wasn't sure which one of us wanted to die more right then, but the way his head fell toward his chest after seeing me, I was guessing him. Dana took the bag and the keys.
"Thanks," she said, and turned to hand both items to Mulder. "You better have some in here."
Then she walked out, and closed the door behind her. She leaned against it, shaking her head, struggling very hard not to smile, and failing miserably. She mumbled under her breath, "God Mulder, you're never boring."
"How long have you two been seeing each other?" I asked.
"What?" Her amused smile morphed into a confused frown.
"You and Mulder aren't dating?"
"What! Of course not, he's my partner!"
If I hadn't been there to see the look on her face, I might not have believed it. My sister, who is not usually naive, looked absolutely innocent. I realized that she and Mulder live in a self-imposed bubble regarding their relationship; it's innocent, friendly, and not at all intimate. Moveover, it wasn't my place to pop that bubble. I sighed and smiled.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to jump to conclusions."
She relaxed the defensive posture she'd taken on. "It's not your business anyway."
I nodded, and held up empty hands, grinning. "Yeah, I think already know way more about Mulder than I ever needed too."
"And, if you're a decent guy, you'll keep this all to yourself."
"What? And, miss our dear brother's head exploding?"
"Kidding Sis, I promise. I don't think your partner would survive a second ass-kicking," I said, grinning.
Dana just rolled her eyes at me, and went back in the bathroom to finish cleaning up Mulder. I returned to the kitchen, where I found my mother sipping her coffee, and giving me a look.
"Are you teasing your sister, Charlie?"
"Yep." I sat down and smiled widely at my mother. She smiled back. There are certain benefits to being the baby in the family.
"She and Fox are very close, and they're a little sensitive about that."
"They ought to be, I think they can be fired for how close they are."
"Charlie! Really, you're as bad as your brother."
"No, not nearly. Bill would pound him into the floor if he heard what I did today."
"He gets that from your father." She blew on the coffee and took a sip.
"Yeah, Dad would have definitely have a shotgun on Mulder right now."
Mom glanced away from her coffee to give me an angry look. She knew I was right. Dana was always his favorite, even after she joined the FBI, and her partner half-naked in her bathroom, planning to spend the night, that would have pissed him off. No matter that Dana insisted on it, or that she hadn't been a virgin for over a decade. His Starbuck deserved Prince Charming riding in on his white steed and sweeping her off her feet (but not before asking Dad's permission), even if that idea would make Dana vomit.
No, Dana always went for the guys who could get her into the most trouble. At least Mulder was close her age, and not our parents, that's an improvement. Besides, he treats her more like an equal than Jack or Daniel ever did. She was their protégé; young, beautiful, and smart, the kind of women guys like that seek out. They had egos, and Dana fed that, but she was never their partners. I hated both of them; Bill and I were very keen on the idea of beating them within an inch of their lives.
"You like him?" I asked her, curious.
"I don't think he'd make anyone a great husband, he isn't that kind of man. Not that your sister will ever win any Housewife of the Year awards. But, I think Fox is a good man, who cares very deeply for Dana. You know she does things her own way, as complicated as that may be, and this is one of those things," she paused, seeming to struggle through a her feelings on the subject. "I think Dana and Fox understand each other in a way no one else ever could, and I think they need each other. So, I do like him, and I'm glad they found each other."
"Very diplomatic, Mom." I grinned. She shot me a look. Then our attention returned to the bathroom.
"Bed Mulder, now."
"I can't, I shouldn't--"
"I'm not giving you a choice."
"You have horrible bedside manner, you know that?"
"Never had any complaints before."
"Yeah, cause all you're patients are dead."
"You aren't, though sometimes I wonder if that's your goal."
"Very Funny...well, as you're sole living patient, I reserve the right to critique your bedside manner, and I say it sucks."
"And I say, there's a Russian nurse at DC General that has been deprived of your company for far too long."
"I would, she's a very good nurse, Mulder."
"Natalia is terrifying, Scully, and she has no understanding of modesty."
"Says the man who walks around without underwear."
"I'm going to shut-up now."
"Good idea, Mulder."
Dana came back into the kitchen then, as Mom was resting both our coffee cups in the sink. She reached into her freezer and pulled out a few ice packs, and wrapped them in a dish towel.
"Dana, I think we'll get going now, it's getting late, and you have your hands full."
She frowned, but didn't argue. "Alright, sorry for the unusual end to the evening."
Mom smiled. "Not at all. Tell Fox I hope he feels better."
I resisted the temptation to make a dirty joke.
"I will, thanks Mom. Hey, why don't you both come by tomorrow morning? I'll make breakfast." Her face instantly brightened up, and I knew what she was thinking.
"Probably not as good, but I think I've got the recipe right." My sister, ever so humble, is the only one of us that managed to figure out how my father's mother made the best pancakes in the world.
"I'm in, what time?" When you're out to sea nine or more months in a year, home cooking is worth more than gold.
"How about ten?"
Mom smiled. "We'll be here."
I hugged her after Mom, and was reminded just how tiny my sister was; she didn't even come up to my shoulders. I wondered if the man in her bedroom realized that, considered that when he dragged her all over the country to battle shit like bloodthirsty mushrooms. I figured not, or my delicate, petite sister would separate him from a beloved part of his anatomy.
We showed ourselves out, leaving her to take the ice packs, a glass of water, and tylenol to her battered partner. Just before I closed the door, her voice carried from the bedroom.
"Mulder, why are you out of bed? Back in, now."
I chuckled. He better stop screwing around, or tonight would be hell. I had a feeling, that dating or no, my sister wouldn't be bringing any guys home to meet the family so long as Mulder was around. I could live with that. He was a damn sight more entertaining than her previous boyfriends. And, I think my mom was right, they need each other.
Yeah, I'm okay with the trouble-magnet FBI agent that sleeps in his clothes and doesn't wear any underwear.