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New York In Autumn

Title: New York In Autumn Author: Verona Rating: PG-13 Category: M&S RST Spoilers: none Summary: M&S have been sent to the FBI offices in New York for reasons they're still not quite clear on, but they've got something even bigger to think about....:) Author's Notes: Normally, I'm not a fan of non M or S narrators but I ran this by a few people and they liked it, plus I think this view point gives a nice fresh look to M&S and the relationship. Also, the title was NOT taken from the new Richard Gere/Winona Ryder movie "Autumn In New York." I started this before it came out and when I first saw the preview I wanted to stand up and scream "Theives!" Anyway, kudos and love to Frankie and Nat for reading this over and over and giving me some great feedback. Archive: Anywhere, just as long as this header stays attached. Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully and the rest of the gang belong to CC, 1013, and Fox. I also do not own the Galaxy Diner; it's a real place and it has great food and nice people and I highly recommend it. The apartment on 71st and Park also exists, but it belongs to a friend of mine so I guess I'll disclaim that just 'cause. The only character I do own is Alexis Hopkins. Feedback: PLEASE! This is my first fic and I'm working on part 2 right now, so I'd really appreciate any kind of response or ideas. New York In Autumn Penn Station is the filthiest place on the face of the planet. I made this decision as soon as I stepped off the escalator from track East 10. It smelled. I smelled. I had just gotten off of Amtrak train 284, the Northeast direct from Boston. Dana had better be grateful. But there was no way I was going to miss her wedding. I told her on the phone a few days ago, that I'd walk from Boston see that chick in a white wedding gown. She laughed and called me a bitch good-naturedly. She laughed. This guy must be something special. The Scully's are friends of my family, and Dana's always been like a big sister to me. Taking me out for lunch when she was in town (which is rare, she always seems to be flying all over the freakin' world). I sometimes crash at her place in DC for long weekends, when my parents are off skiing or something. When she called three months ago, and told me she was getting married and asked if I would be a brides maid, I couldn't believe it. Trust me, if you knew Dana Scully, you would know that she is not the marrying kind. I couldn't remember her dating anyone (she's definitely not the dating kind). She giggled (!) for a minute solid and then said: "Date him?! That would be….bizarre." "Oh, but marrying him, that's totally normal. I mean why bother getting to know him?" "I know him better than anyone." Silence. "You are so weird." "Gee, thanks for your support! Why am I so weird?" "He could be a lunatic!" "You watch too many movies." "Yeah well, you don't watch enough! Dana, this is spooky!" She burst into laughter, told me I'd love him, and said she see me in two weeks. So, I stood in the middle of Penn station, and seeing no sign of her, sat on my suit case under the sign of train departures, wondering why she hadn't met me at the track like she said. A few minutes later a deep questioning voice pulled my head up from the book in my lap. "Alexis Hopkins?" Startled, I looked up at a tall lanky 30something guy. He had chestnut hair and hazel eyes. He wore boot cut jeans a gray tee shirt, a Kenneth Cole-ish black leather jacket, and a lopsided grin that immediately brought out the New Yorker in me. "Do I know you?" I asked, trying to sound crisp and not taken aback by the fact that a gorgeous guy in a black leather jacket was smiling at me like he knew me. "Not really. I saw you once. You were nine." He said smiling broadly. Suddenly the gorgeous guy idea was blurred by the psychotic murderer concept. You don't approach a 16 year old girl in a crowded train station and tell her you saw her once when she was little, smile at her, and expect her not to freak. Especially not me. Screaming is generally not something I have reservations about . But before I did, he caught the alarmed expression on my face and quickly said: "I'm a friend of Scully's." I raised my eyebrows. "All of them?" He chuckled. "Dana." He extended his hand. "I'm Dana's fiancé. My name's Mulder." If my eyebrows could have gotten any higher on my forehead, they would have. What kind of name is Mulder? "Mulder?" I tentatively shook his hand. He laughed again. My jaded Manhattan brat impression was not taking effect. "Fox Mulder." I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. Too perfect. "Scully asked me to come get you. She's uh-" the boyish grin returned to his face "She's getting a dress." He smiled at his hands a little bashfully, then looked back at me and picked up my suitcase. "And I'm supposed to deliver you to the dress shop pronto." We walked out the exit on to a bright and windy 7th Avenue. "Great. Well, uh, thanks for picking me up…Mr. Mulder" "Just Mulder, Alexis." He said smiling as he hailed a cab. And I decided I liked him. "Just Lexi." ******************************************************* The dress shop was on the west side near where Mulder told me he and Dana's new apartment was. As it turned, out he told me, on the cab ride that cut through a leaf littered Central Park, they'd both been old romantics about New York (“Ever since ‘Annie Hall’…”). They transferred here when the DC offices basically told their boss, Skinner (that's his real name, I'm not making this up), to fire Mulder or he'd lose his job. I knew a little about what Dana did. I knew she dealt with weird cases and unexplainable circumstances. I always teased her about it because she'd launch into these scientific shpeals every time someone mentioned aliens or the supernatural. "Damn, what did you do?" It was a joke, but he looked at me, then turned back to his window, exhaling loudly. "Beats me, kid. Sure as hell beats me. But I'm willing to bet that the F.B.I. was not alone in it's decision." "Huh? You lost with the symbolism." He looked at me with a sharp stare, like he was trying to see if I could be trusted. The moment quickly became all too serious. I'd hit a nerve and I was sorry. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say-" "No, no, don't worry about it. I'm just saying…. The work that Scully and I do, is not appreciated by everyone. The directors of the New York offices don't seem to mind us too much." He released a small chagrined laugh. "We even have an office on the main level." "Okay." I scrambled to think of some way to smoothly change the subject. "You a Yankee fan?" ******************************************************* Mulder and I walked into the large carpeted dress shop, continuing a heated recount of our favorite Yankee games of the season. A few of the ladies who were waiting to be fitted looked up at us. A woman who was dressed like a cream colored powder puff scurried over and asked briskly if she could help us. "Yes, actually we're here to see-" "Lexi!" Dana appeared from the doorway to a dressing room. She was wearing a simple but stunning gown that scooped broadly beneath her small shoulders and swished around her ankles in a delicately beaded empire waist. "Dana, oh my God." She laughed and pulled me into a quick tight hug, then held me out at arms length. "You look great Lex." "You look great! I can't believe I'm seeing this." I heard a small "Wow" behind me and turned to see Mulder standing in the doorway, awkwardly still holding my suitcase. Dana, still holding my hands, looked over to him and a wide smile lit up her face like a thousand watt bulb. "You like it?" "Uh, yeah." "'Uh, yeah'? That's it?" She replied in mock offense, but she squeezed my hands in happiness. "It's- you're….amazing." He said in awe. She released my hands and stepped toward him chuckling. "You're such a cheese ball." She kissed his smiling face, which took a second to respond. This was definitely a twilight zone moment. But a really sweet one. She pulled away from his goofily grinning face and gestured to the dress raising her eyebrows at me. "So, this is the one? You like it too?" "Yeah, it'll do." "Oh, alright smarty, as long as you approve." She whacked my arm with the back of her hand. "Glad to see that school's made you such a gracious young lady." "She was just darling when I met her at the train. 'Do I know you?'" "Lexi!" "Well, come on! I barely remember meeting him, and that was like 7 years ago!" "You were about to scream. I saw that look on your face. Trying to dupe me with that snotty little tone of voice." "Please. You were-" "Great, well I'm happy to see you guys have hit it off so well." Ten minutes later, after buying the gorgeous dress and deciding where to go for lunch we left the cream puff lady's store. Dana pulled me over to her and whispered: "So you like him? Do you approve?" "I think he’s great, Dane." I glanced warily at her, “But what does Bill Jr. think?” ******************************************************* Who knew the FBI paid so well? The new apartment on 74th and Park was not glamorous considering the neighborhood, but the large windows, spacious bed and living rooms, and breathtaking balcony view of Central Park more than made up for it. I walked into the guest bedroom and dropped my suitcase (finally) on the floor. We ate at a kitschy little place near the theater district called The Galaxy Diner. Personally, I think that Mulder got a little too much of a kick out of it. I mean we all snickered at the menu, which featured dishes such as “The Celestial Sundae”, “The Extraterrestrial T-Bone” and the “Out-Of-This-World Burger” (highly recommended), but Mulder got more than a few strange looks when he greeted each passing waiter in fluorescent green uniforms with a half laughing grin. The man may be a seasoned FBI agent but he’s no New Yorker, and I seriously doubt that these kids were serving “Sci-Fi Salads” to express their belief in extraterrestrial existence. The walk back to the apartment had been a long one, but I’m a suburban brat; I love walking in the city. New York has got to be the most utterly romanticized city on the planet, and I swear to God, this time of year, all the Woody Allen idealisms come true. You could tell that the charm hadn’t really worn off Dana and Mulder yet. They were kind of mushy, y’know? How you get when something happens that you imagined a billion times and in reality it’s even better? It was great to see Dana romanticize anything. Before I saw her with Mulder, I’d always kind of suspected that she never really had anyone to have fun with, besides her family and me sometimes. She’d been extremely passionate about her work, but even a passion shouldn’t be so draining. She would come home on holidays looking wane and strained, especially in the past 5 years. I’d wondered what had kept her so driven. Especially after she had gotten sick and we all had pleaded with her to move, leave the FBI, do something else, I had thought that she couldn’t be going on work ethic and ambition alone. Now seeing her with Mulder, I saw a part of her I hadn’t known existed. This was their life. She’d visibly brightened. She looked healthy. She laughed out loud sometimes. And Mulder was just a good guy. I’d met him less than 12 hours ago and I knew that. I shrugged my coat on to the floor and collapsed on my back on the bed, sinking into the mushy down quilt. Dana appeared in the doorway and pursed her lips into a knowing smirk. “I told you it was a long walk.” “Yeah, yeah.” She walked over and nudged me over (“come on drama queen…”), sitting back into the pillow next to me. She gestured around the room. “So, what do you think?” “About what?” “This. Me living here. Me and Mulder.” “You know I like Mulder. And I’m thrilled you’re so close to us. Now I can harass you guys all summer.” A slow smile spread across her face. “We would love that.” “But it’s just, you know, this is really very sudden. It’s just kind of very not like you.” “How’s that?” “You’re not one to just jump into things.” She sighed. She knew I’d bring this up. “And I certainly didn’t jump into this. New York….that kind of thing can happen with the FBI. And Mulder…” “Yes?” “After all we’ve done and accomplished together. We’ve had a common goal and focus for so long. We shared a life in every way. It seemed natural. I couldn’t picture myself marrying anyone else.” Silence. How do you respond to something like that? “I see.” She let out a frustrated breath and looked my square in the face. “It’s….When you’ve been close to someone for so long. And they’ve seen you change, and let you change, and they’re still there for you afterwards, and respect you more for it, they become a kind of home. And you’re already in love with them.” A momentary smile flitted across her face. “You’re stuck….does any of that make sense.” A serene, contented look that I’d never seen before settled on her face. She didn’t need my approval. She was gloating in her own enigmatic way. She’d never been so absolutely happy. “Hey, whatever, it got me out of school for two and a half weeks. A minor miracle.” “Yeah, that Dean of yours was a tough cookie. But I explained that a was a ‘serious family matter.’” I could just picture Dana pulling the G-woman bit on Mrs. Gillstone. “Shit, she’s going to call my parents!” “Can’t reach them now. They’re still in London.” My father’s a corporate lawyer. He’s always flying to London and Hong Kong for meetings or conventions and things. My mom goes with him when I’m at school and it can be hard to keep track of when they’re even home. Frankly, I think it’s ridiculous. “Oh yeah. Did they happen to tell you when they’d be back?” “Day before the wedding.” She got up and brought my suitcase over to the dresser. “Looks like your stuck with us ‘til then.” I woke up the next morning to the sound of an ambulance screaming down the street. I rolled over under the large quilt and caught a glimpse of the digital clock on the bedside table. 5:46 AM. I squeezed my eyes shut and stuffed my head between two pillows. A bus screeched to a halt at the stop across the street, braking loudly. This was obscene. Deciding that if I was going to be awake at this ungodly hour I had better find the coffee as soon as possible, I padded through the carpeted living room toward it’s adjoining kitchen. Tangerine stripes of light crept across the floor from the balcony. I poked around different cupboards full of condiments, snacks (“What’s with all the sunflower seeds?”), and a discouraging lack of coffee, when a loud gurgling noise startled me, and I whirled around. The coffee was percolating. Sweet. I didn’t ask. I grabbed a mug and poured a teeming cupful. The balcony was now washed in an orange radiance, and I walked out on to it, the sun warming my feet. The tops of the trees in Central Park were glowing a deep orange and occasional streaks of pink light slipped between the buildings of the East Side. A breath of Hudson River air shook the leaves brief as a shiver and a few began an achingly slow and silent descent toward the morning traffic and unaware commuters. You can say what you want about New York being loud and harsh, but moments like these make up for it entirely. I stood on tiptoes, following the leaf down past the building until it was a floating auburn spot, an outstanding shock of crimson against the drab concrete, unaware of the 60something feet between me and the pavement. “Don’t jump.” I yelped and spun around, my coffee sloshing violently over the side of my mug. He was standing in the doorframe, coffee mug in hand, in sweats and a gray tee shirt reading “FBI” across the front. “Don’t do that!” “Sorry.” Not likely judging by the smirk on his face. “Couldn’t resist.” He gestured to the coffee dripping of my hand. “Thought you were going to drop your coffee.” “Never.” He walked out on to the balcony running a hand through his sleep- disheveled hair. “Funny, I had you pegged as a late sleeper.” “Can’t sleep in this city. Too damned loud.” “Yeah. I haven’t quite gotten used to it yet either.” “I guess you set the timer on the coffee maker?” He nodded, took a sip from his mug, and looked out at the park. For a very long minute or so, neither of us spoke. Suddenly, this situation became too personal and….quiet for two people who’d met less than 24 hours ago. I took a noisy gulp of coffee, but before I could launch into a getting-to-know-you conversation, Mulder abruptly said, “You’ve known Scully for a long time.” It was a statement that implied confirmation. A buffer, the way you give an introduction to a complicated question. “Yeah. Since I was little.” “So, you’d say…I mean you really know her.” “….Yeah.” He drained his coffee and squinted at the space in front of him. “Does she seem happy?” I was completely befuddled and astonished at the same time. How could I tell him, what words did I use to emphasize that he was engaged to the happiest most jovial Dana Scully there’d ever been. “Yeah.” My complete lack of articulation forced him to finally look at me with a stare of both frustration and beechen. “I mean yes, she’s happier than I’ve ever seen her.” I suppose that response was more to his liking because he looked away again, nodding faintly, and drained his mug. He nodded a little more, then gave me a smile, and even though I hadn’t known him as long as I’d known Dana, I was sure that he’d never been happier either. He drew his face back into a smirk and gestured into the apartment. “Hungry? I make a mean ham omelet.” “You cook?” “Uh, no.” He chuckled. “No, but I am an avid watcher of the Food Network.” Figures. There was egg everywhere. Everywhere. The oven was covered in hardening puddles of yolk. The counter was a runny mess. The floor was spotted with sticky yellow dots, making us skid around to avoid stepping in it, only causing us to drip, spill, and spread more egg puddles around the kitchen. Mean ham omelet, my ass. “No, I really think they need to cook for more than 30 seconds.” “Sooo….we….” He raised two slimy hands in inspiration. “We turn up the heat.” “You’re going to poison us!” He ignored me and continued to push around the completely inedible mess in the frying pan. “And where is this alleged ham?” “Fridge.” “Ah, yes.” I managed to open the refrigerator with my left pinkie and right elbow, the only non-eggy limbs left. From inside I could here Mulder changing the radio station from the news. He ran through clips of Saturday morning song countdowns and teeny bop crooners, finally landing on an oldies station playing the opening chords of Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and turning it way up. When he started humming increasingly loudly along with the lyrics, I looked over my shoulder and saw him playing air guitar and whacking the eggs with the spatula in time with the music. *The FBI agent is grooving with a frying pan.* I dug the ham out of the meat drawer and started belting along with the chorus. “Sweeeeeeet home AlaBAMA” I diced up the ham into awkward square chunks. The pan began smoke. “Where the skiiiiiiiies are so blue” Mulder poured in more Olive Oil in an attempt to calm to the odious swirls rising from the pan. “Swweeeeeeeet home Alabamaaaa” Oil sizzled and popped out of the pan. We dumped pepper over it. “SwwweeeEEEEEEt home Ala-“ Click. Dana stood in the doorway, eyebrows approaching her hairline, black power chord dangling from her hand. I looked at Mulder whose mouth was shaped in a small questioning ‘O’. We stared in silence for a brief moment, then “Morning.” “Eggs?” ************************************************************ Part 2 is coming soon! 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