Welcome To The Harem

A Penny On The Eye by Dryad
Summary: It wasn't fair, that Dana had only to reach out with her fingertips, and there he would be. Note: written for the 'Red Shirt' Lyric Wheel. Maggie Scully.

Disclaimer: Alas, alack, they are not mine. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Title: A Penny on the Eye
Author: Dryad
Rating: PG13, M for melancholy, UST
Spoilers: post-Emily/Christmas Carol
Archive: You betcha. A note where would be nice.
Summary: It wasn't fair, that Dana had only to reach out with her
fingertips, and there he would be.
Note: written for the 'Red Shirt' Lyric Wheel.
Suggested listening: The Cinematic Orchestra/Burn Out/Every Day
Feedback: I like it.

"And everything's a mess," Maggie softly spoke the words in time with
the song, watching the suds slide off of the plate. "and no one likes to
be alone."

No one, indeed, she mused. It seemed like forever since Bill's death,
and every now and then when she looked at the calender she was shocked
to see that it had only been three years. Three years in a empty, four
bed-roomed house, where music from the kitchen radio echoed tinnily down
the halls, where dinner was a solemn affair eaten at the solitude of a
table made for a minimum of six.

She tried to keep herself busy, though. Even with the children grown
and out on their own, she still dusted and vacuumed their rooms every
week, polished the pewter and silver to a soft sheen the first Monday of
every month, hung the laundry out on Tuesdays if the weather was good.

Lately she'd taken to preparing her seedlings for spring. Yes, it was
early January, but Dana's cancer had only just gone into remission, and
it seemed appropriate that Maggie should bring out the seedling trays,
the bags of soil, and the seed packets into the little hothouse attached
to the garage. She'd already drawn up several plans for both the front
and back gardens, although she had yet to choose which ones would be
best. She would make the garden beautiful, she would tend the plants,
nurture them to full health as Dana would not allow her to do.

"It's ugly, Mom," she had said, settling onto Bill's couch with a
blanket over her lap.

In the silence that followed, newly born Matthew fussed loudly upstairs.

Maggie had heard the underlying unspoken self-commentary 'I'm ugly'
anyway. Unable to bite back her own anger, she replied, "You let Fox see."

"Mulder's seen a lot worse," Dana reproachfully muttered.

"Worse?" she huffed, astounded. "What's worse than being awakened by the
touch of your dead husband's cooling flesh? What's worse than having to
decide to take not one, but both of your daughters off of life support?
What's worse than outliving your own child?"

She had clapped one hand to her mouth, mortified at the last sentence.
Dana had said nothing, though, merely plucked at a loose thread on her
shirtsleeve, eyes downcast.

Maggie chewed briefly on her lip, wondering where she had gone wrong
with her children. Billy had turned out the most normal of them all.
Wedded, divorced with an annullment, married again. Free-spirited
Melissa hadn't wanted any family except on her own terms. Who knew
where Charlie was, and as for Dana, well.

Strange to think she wasn't all that close to her remaining daughter.
She'd made many attempts to re-connect after Missy's death, yet her
overtures had been rebuffed. Delia Morrison said Dana would come back
to her once she realized her mother wouldn't be around forever, but
Maggie wasn't so sure.

Even as a child, Dana had been secretive, and as an adult she was locked
up tighter than Fort Knox. Her withdrawal had begun around the time she
realized the Captain wasn't going to stay home, would never stay home,
no matter how much she cried and screamed, how often she ran away and
hid. Out of the four of them, Dana had been the most affected, perhaps
the most scarred, by her father being away so often for so long.

The demented trill of birdsong-by-phone jarred Maggie from her reverie.
Annoyed with herself for following the never-ending train of thought
one more time, and while doing the dishes no less, she quickly dried her
hands and stalked down the hall. "Hello?"

"Hi, Mom."

"Dana! I was just thinking about you," Maggie said, grimacing at the
poor sound quality. "Where are you?"

"Allentown. We're so close, I was wondering if we could stop by?"

"Of course! When do you think you'll arrive?"

"Oh - "

There was brief, muted conversation in the background.

" - about an hour, assuming we don't hit traffic."

"Have you eaten yet? You're not going straight on to Washington, are
you? It's so late..." Maggie forced herself to stop before Dana accused
her of nagging.

"Would it be all right if we stayed over? If not, we could always - "

"Dana Katherine Scully, what kind of mother do you think I am? I'll
have your rooms ready by the time you get here."

"Thanks, Mom. We really appreciate this."

"I'll be glad to have your company," she said. "I'll see you in a little

"Okay, bye."

They probably hadn't had more than a few bites to eat for dinner, maybe
stopping at a fast food restaurant, so Maggie threw together some soup
with the leftovers from Sunday's roast. She fixed it up with some good
beef stock and a cup of pearl barley, a couple of tomatoes that were too
soft to use in sandwiches, a thinly sliced carrot, and a finely chopped
potato. Once the soup was bubbling away on the stovetop, she put the
oven on low heat and put in a loaf of foil-wrapped garlic bread to warm.

When the doorbell rang she raced down the stairs, eager to see if Dana
had gained any more weight since the holidays. She opened the door and
drew her daughter into a tight, welcoming hug. Of course she was also
surreptitiously feeling for bones, but Dana's layers of suit and
winter-weight woolen coat were too thick for her to tell if she'd been
eating. Fox loomed in the background, nervous intensity coupled with
great weariness and a slight smile.

"God, don't let me keep you out there, come in, come in," she said,
standing back to let them pass. "Your drive was all right?"

"It was fine, once Dana could reach the pedals," Fox answered,
rebalancing an overnight bag on his shoulder and looking at Dana with
fond smirk.

Dana raised one eyebrow. "Ignore everything he says, Mom," she turned
her attention to Maggie. "Mm, something smells good."

"That would be your dinner," Maggie said, shooing them forward. "Which
you get to eat as soon as you freshen up. Dana, I put you in Bill's old
room, Fox is in Charlie's. Why don't you two get settled and I'll put
your meal on the table. Should I make any coffee?"

"Not for me, thank you," Fox replied.

"Me neither," Dana said, turning and heading for the stairs.

Fox followed, saying - just loud enough for Maggie to overhear, "I think
I'd rather be in your old room, Scully."

'"I like him."'

That's what Dana had said of Fox all those years ago, her forehead
creased, one corner of her mouth upturned, a quizzical expression on her
face, as if he was a puzzle she couldn't quite figure out. The Captain
had eloquently indicated his displeasure by immediately introducing the
next subject, Bill and Tara's impending marriage.

How he'd liked Tara. The feeling had been mutual. After the walking
disaster that had been Julie - four months and three days of the Captain
saying "That woman is ruining my son" and "God's grace, don't let them
have children" - she too had welcomed Tara with open arms.

So at least Bill would be taken care of when she joined their father.
Fox would be there for Dana, too, but for how long? It wasn't that she
didn't like him, she did...she just didn't understand why Dana had a
blind eye towards a more available man. A woman of her age should have
a husband, children. And no matter how adamant Dana was, Maggie refused
to believe all hope was lost. She just needed to find the right man,
and nature would take its proper course.

She set the table, then sat and sipped her tea while they ate. Although
their conversation was low key and pleasant, with no discussion of the
case they had been on, Maggie could see regret and guilt haunting their
expressions, plus something she couldn't identify. It wasn't
hopelessness, exactly, so much as. . .what? She couldn't think of the
appropriate word. Lethargy? Stupefaction? Apathy? Not even in the
depths of despair had she seen either one of them in this frame of mind,
and as callous as it sounded, she didn't think she wanted to know what
could have made them so...withdrawn.


No. Her children were strong. Dana had survived being abducted. She
had lived through cancer, if only through the Grace of God. Charlie,
too, was still alive, despite his attempts to the contrary.

She didn't think any of them realized how weak she was without the
Captain. He had been her strength, only the knowledge of his eventual
return keeping her from crawling back to her own mother in fright every
time he shipped out. She remembered shaking in terror the first time
she had to apply for Navy housing. So many forms to fill out, with the
of getting something wrong. Bill had left behind a copy of his shipping
orders and a list of instructions for what else needed to be done.
Moving day ineveitably found her in the bathroom, trying to muffle her
vomiting and pathetic whimpers.

San Diego.


Great Lakes.
New London.

The final move to Baltimore when Bill had retired had been a balm to her
nerves, and for only the second time in her marriage had she felt she
had his full attention. How she had reveled in it. She sighed and
stared blankly at the small hand covering her own.

"Mom? Are you all right?"

Maggie shook her head, pasted a smile on her lips. "I'm fine, Dana.
Would you like dessert? I think there's some ice cream in the freezer."

Dana looked at her for a long moment before replying. "No,
no...we're..." she glanced at Fox. "We'll clean up and load the
dishwasher, why don't you go to bed?"

With a single nod Maggie agreed, abruptly exhausted. Ordinarily she
loved her daughter's company, and would give anything to spend even an
extra five minutes with her, especially taking the past year into
consideration, yet now all she wanted to do was sleep.

Later on she came to herself, staring wide-eyed at the rose on the
ceiling, holding her breath and listening hard for some sound. A low
moan brought her to full awareness. And then another, choked off as it
began to rise. What...? Why, it almost sounded
like -

Surely not.

They wouldn't, not in her house, not in the room next to hers, not in
her very presence.

After hearing a couple of dull thuds on the wall and a few muffled words
Maggie sat up, flinging the covers off of her legs. This was
unconscionable, that they should disrespect her in this way. Discovering
Missy half-naked in the garage with that boy had been bad enough, but
Dana was going too far.

She didn't bother with her bathrobe or slippers, storming out of her
room instead with the firm intent of giving both of them a piece of her
mind. She came to a halt in front of Fox's room, arm raised, closed
fist ready to knock.


Confused, Maggie did a doubletake as Dana strode down the dark hallway,
ghostly in pale satin pyjamas. "I thought - I heard..."

Dana grabbed Maggie's arm and pulled it back. "He's just having a

And how do you know that, she desperately wanted to ask. What,
precisely, is the nature of your relationship? Why is he the one you
run to, the one you follow? Do you love him? Is that the great secret?

"You don't have to come in," Dana eyed her for a second, then opened the
door without knocking. "Mulder, it's me."

Maggie followed, turning on the little lamp on top of the dresser next
to the door. Fox lay still in a tangle of blankets and white sheets on
the single bed.

Dana approached him, whispering, "It's just me."

He twitched towards her when she perched on the edge of the mattress.
"Don', don', 's not safe," he muttered.

"Mulder, you're dreaming," Dana said. She stroked his hand gently.
"You're all right, I'm here."

Fox sat up so suddenly that Maggie took a step back in surprise. He
clutched Dana's hand between both of his own. "Scully, Scully."

"You were having a nightmare," Dana said, glancing at Maggie as if she
expected a reprimand.

"He had Emily, and he was making her do things to those women, and I
didn't know how to stop him. You weren't there. I couldn't stop her,
Scully. Her skin burned my hands."

Dana was silent after this terrible recitation.

"I tried to save her, you have to believe me," Fox continued, voice
cracking in his sincerity. He sounded like he was on the verge of tears.

"I know, Mulder. Why don't you lie back down and get some sleep, okay?"

God, why couldn't Dana give him what he needed the most, a simple hug?
Could she be more stubborn? Maggie pursed her lips and approached the bed.

Fox did a double take, then looked back at Dana. "Scully, am I going
mad, or is your mother in the room?"

Even Dana couldn't resist a smile at his words. "She's really here."

"Oh. Hi."

"Fox, it's late. You need to rest," Maggie said. He stared at her, and
in the gentle light she saw what Dana refused to acknowledge in front of
her - wet eyes and a trembling chin. Unlike her daughter, she couldn't
resist the little boy in him, and held her arms out. She was
immediately enveloped, his grasp tight, his breathing shaky.

While she had noted he wore only pajama bottoms, it hadn't occurred to
her that his skin would be furnace-hot, like silk under her hands, her
chin. Smooth muscle rippled under her palms. He smelled of shampoo and
perspiration and clean masculinity. The urge to suckle on the area
between neck and shoulder was almost overwhelming, so with a final
squeeze, she pulled away and stood up. "Well. Good night. Don't let
the bedbugs bite."

Watching him lie down again, for a moment she was fiercely jealous. It
wasn't fair, that Dana had only to reach out with her fingertips, and
there he would be, while she remained a widow, doomed to never share her
bed with another man.

Guilt immediately washed over her as soon as she left the room. But it
was true! Maggie had no doubt he would do whatever Dana asked, as Dana
did for him. She little envied her barren, unloved,
works-with-dead-people daughter. Maggie had done what was required,
marrying, raising children, burying family, serving the church. Her
life was full.

So why did she feel like a traitor, thinking shameful thoughts about Fox

Morning brought no respite. After a night spent tossing and turning,
Maggie rose with before dawn. She watched Good Morning America, made
coffee, inspected the cut crystal for smudges and cracks. She read the
paper, consulted her diary for the day's events, said five Hail Mary's.

She insisted on feeding Fox and Dana before they left, because justice
didn't run on coffee alone.

"I wouldn't be too sure of that, Mom," Dana replied, picking up her
overnight bag.

"Scully, I'll be out in a minute," Fox said, fiddling with something in
his jacket.

She looked at him curiously, then looked at Maggie. "I'll call you on
Friday, okay?"

"Sure," Maggie accepted a one-armed neck hug and a peck on the cheek
before turning to Fox. "Have you gotten everything from upstairs?"

He waited until Dana opened the front door before answering. "Mrs.
Scully. . ." he paused, chewing momentarily on his lower lip. "I realize
I'm overstepping the bounds, but I couldn't leave without giving you this."

Maggie looked at the business card he drew out of his pocket and handed
to her. "I already know the office number, Fox."

He regarded her uneasily, shifting from foot to foot. "My home number is
on the back. I just wanted you to know that if you ever feel the need
to talk to someone, I'm available."

Unbidden, tears sprang to her eyes.

"Day or night, it doesn't matter."

She could only nod, not trusting herself to speak, barely able to handle
the intensity of his gaze. Outside, a horn beeped twice.

"Sounds like Leadfoot's getting antsy," he said with a smile. A second
later it dropped away. He reached out and touched the back of her hand.
"You're not alone, Mrs. Scully. Don't ever think that."

Maggie nodded again, wanting him to leave so she could continue falling
apart in private.

He seemed to take her silence for assent because he turned and left,
closing the door quietly behind him.

Once again the bathroom was her refuge. She didn't cry, but she wiped
away the stray tears and blew her nose without once looking in the mirror.

On her way back to the kitchen, she stopped in the hallway and carefully
transcribed his number into her day planner, and tucked the card away
safely in her wallet.

There was so much to be done. Dishes, starting the seeds, picking a
garden plan. She ought to stock up at the grocery store, or maybe go to
Filene's Basement, see if there were any bargains to be had for Matthew.
The vacuum needed more bags, and you could never have enough toilet
paper, so maybe she'd stop at the grocery store, too.

She had hours yet before she could luxuriate in his gift, before she
could scrutinize what it meant. Yes, she had accepted him as being part
of her extended family years ago, but that wasn't the same as being a
part of his extended family. The card, though, that was something. A sign.

Maybe he was right, maybe she wasn't really alone after all.

Author's Note: Oh, I'm not happy with this piece, but I can't quite put
my finger on what's wrong with it. I hope it's enjoyable nonetheless.

Obviously I've never been around any Navy people, so I'm sure what I've
described here is probably faaaaaaaaaar from the reality of living in a
Navy family. I have no idea if a Captain/Commander would be moved
around frequently, but I'm going to pretend that Bill and Maggie were
married at a very young age, yadda, yadda, yadda. And yes, I've only
just realized that it makes far more sense for Mrs. Scully to live in
Bethesda or Annapolis than Baltimore, but for the purposes of this
story, she's 'up north'.

Lyrics courtesy of Jamwired:

If you're interested in listening to an audio sample of the song, one
can be found at http://shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=product&id=1921870341
(it's number 4).

"I'm With You" by Avril Lavigne

I'm standing on a bridge
I'm waiting in the dark
I thought that you'd be here by now
There's nothing but the rain
No footsteps on the ground
I'm listening but there's no sound

Isn't anyone trying to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home
It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won't you take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
but I...I'm with you

I'm looking for a place
I'm searching for a face
is anybody here I know
'cause nothing's going right
and everything's a mess
and no one likes to be alone

Isn't anyone tryin to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home
It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won't you take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I dont know who you are
but I...I'm with you

Oh, why is everything so confusing
maybe I'm just out of my mind

It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won't you take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
but I...I'm with you

Take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
but I...I'm with you
I'm with you

Take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
but I...I'm with you
I'm with you
I'm with you

http://www.puritycontrol.co.uk - XF rec's at The Grove, updated 8/15/02