Charting a Course

"God, this is the life." She sighed, trailing one hand in the warm blue water. "Hard to believe any of the darkness could ever find us here."

"Yeah, I've been meaning to ask you about that..."

"What?" She shaded her eyes to see him more clearly against the glare of the sun on the sea.

"I thought..." he stopped, uncharacteristically unsure of how to proceed.

"You thought...?" she prompted.

"I thought you loved working for the FBI. I thought you loved that job." He had a clear memory of her saying as much. "Don't you miss it at all?"

She raised an eyebrow, then frowned thoughtfully. "No. I don't miss it. I did love it once. There was a time when I couldn't imagine doing anything else. It was an exciting challenge that I enjoyed rising to meet. It was an important job and we were good at it. We helped people. We protected them. I did love that."

"But...what happened?"

"Oh." She looked off toward the horizon and sighed. "You have no idea what those last few years were like. I was ready to leave once before, if you remember?"

"I remember."

"I was ready to leave the bureau rather than leaving you."

"It was the same thing."

"No it wasn't. I was given a choice; you or the job. I chose you."

"I didn't get that."

"Well, you are rather thick, at times."

"So, are you saying you only stayed because I asked you to?"

"No, not at all. I believed in what we were doing. I was happy to be able to stay, then. It was later, after you were taken and I had to carry on alone. I began to lose my appetite for it, then."

"But you stayed."

"Of course I stayed. What better chance did I have to find you than with the resources of the FBI at my disposal? I even had a partner to help me."

"You gave him my keychain."

"It was my keychain. He earned it, just like I did."

"That was a birthday present."

"I would have given more than that to find you. It was only a keychain."

"But that's not when you were through with it."

"No. It took a lot to destroy my faith. The plot to kill you, which drove you underground. The threats to William and my inability to protect him. All of those things served to shatter my illusions about the FBI. But the final straw was what they did to you." Her voice had become flat and steely. "I will never forgive them for that. After all these years, my anger is as deep and as cold as it was during that farce of a trial." She surprised them both by wiping a tear from her eye. "Not even giving up William filled me with the anger and the hate that I still feel when I think of what they had planned for you."

"It's been years," he said softly. "Let it go."

"I can't! I'm Irish. I can hold a mean grudge." She chuckled, mirthlessly. "So no, I don't miss it at all. I believed I was doing good as an agent. I know I'm doing good as a doctor. In the end, all I wanted from the bureau was you."

"I'm glad you're on my side."

"I've always been on your side."

"You were ready to leave me, not too long ago."

"I was only trying to make a point. I was afraid that you would grow to trust them again. That they would regain that power; to take you away from me."

"I didn't know."

"I would give up everything before I would leave you. But you always knew that."

"I hoped but I didn't know."

"I love you way too much for my own good."

"That, I knew."

"Oh don't even start!" she laughed. "You still don't know! How could you? Even I don't know. Every night as I fall asleep, I think 'that's it, I can't possibly love him any more than I do right now' and every morning Bang! I love you more than I did the night before!"

"Jesus."

"I know!"

"At this rate, someday you may love me as much as I love you."

"You think?"

"No. 'Cuz I love you more everyday, too."

"So...do you miss it?"

"Miss what?"

"Good man!" She laughed. They drifted for a moment, enjoying the warmth of the sun. "I probably should have kept that keychain. It was the only jewelry you every gave me."

"Didn't you make those implants into earrings?"

"No!"

"You never really struck me as the jewelry type of gal."

"What other type of gal did I never strike you as?"

"You know, there's a good reason why I never asked you to marry me, again..."

"What do you mean 'again'?"

"I've asked you to marry me. More than once, if I recall."

"When?"

"Do you remember a weekend in Maine? A certain haunted doll?"

"That was on the phone. Phone proposals don't count."

"But we did everything on the phone."

"Didn't count."

"I suggested we pick out china patterns while we were in that sheriff's office, right before I caught you making out with Eddie Van Bl-"

"We were not making out! And that was hardly a proposal."

"Too oblique for you, eh? Ah well. I never asked again because I was afraid you'd say no. A guy can only take so much rejection, you know."

"When have I ever said no to you?"

"You say no to me every day!"

"No, I keep trying but I've never been able to make it stick."

"Law of averages says eventually you'll succeed."

"You're afraid I'll say 'yes'."

"You think I don't want to get married?"

"Do you want to get married?"

"I think it would be nice to make you swear in front of a priest or a judge or whatever, that you'll stop threatening to leave me, yeah."

"And what would you swear, in front of a judge or a priest or whatever?"

"I would swear to never leave you, never stop thinking of you; to always have your back, to go to the ends of the earth for you, no matter the difficulty and no matter how slim the chances of success. Whatever you need; that's what I'll be."

"You have always been just what I need. You know that, don't you?"

"I like to think so but you keep scaring me. I really wish you'd stop doing that."

"Marry me, Mulder."

"Uh...what?"

"I'm asking. Will you marry me?"

"You want to get married?"

"No, I don't want to 'get married'. I want to marry you. I don't care if it's in front of a priest, rabbi, judge or ship's captain. I will promise never to leave you and you won't have to be afraid, ever again."

"I like the sound of that."

"I know you do. You want to be Mr. Dana Scully."

"Mr. Doctor Dana Scully."

"You can be Mr. Doctor Dana Scully."

"Only if you'll be Mrs. Fox Mulder."

"Let's go find us a ship's captain."

"Frohike would be so proud of me."

"Frohike would wonder what took you so damn long."

"Swearing like a sailor! And on her wedding day."

"Row, Mulder. Row."