DISCLAIMER: As we all know, the characters and their background belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, FOX, and a whole bunch of others I'm forgetting. I make no money from my writing and do it solely for my own entertainment.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is just a little something that came to mind while I was sitting in an airport a few weeks ago. Having nothing better to do, I scribbled it down. It's nothing brilliant or thought-provoking, but it might provide a few moments of entertainment. Hope you enjoy.
SPOILERS: seasons 8 & 9, particularly the finale.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Vignette – Coming Home
By ocean gazer


Dana Scully drummed her fingers against the cheap cold plastic armrest, opting to vent her restlessness in that way instead of pacing a circle around the airport waiting area. Mindful of the scores of other impatient people around her, she made the movement as soft and unobtrusive as possible. After four long and frustrating hours of her flight being delayed, she – and everyone around her – was feeling just a touch antsy. It didn't really matter that they were now only ten minutes away from starting pre-boarding.

She forcibly moved her fingers away from the armrest, folding her hands primly in her lap, nobly resisting the urge to return the glare of the man in the faux-Hawaiian shirt sitting across from her. Four years ago, she wouldn't have thought twice about staring him down, confronting his rudeness. Four years ago, she might even have asked him what – exactly – his problem was. Now, it just wasn't worth the effort. He wasn't worth it.

She chuckled dryly to herself, not really caring that she probably looked like an idiot to the people around her. Then again, four years ago, her life had been a lot simpler. She and Mulder had still been working together legitimately. She'd had a house of her own and a nodding acquaintance with her neighbors. She'd had a good relationship with her family. Her life had been complicated in its own way by her job and the conspiracies she and Mulder kept stumbling on as they investigated the X-Files.

But it had been – what she thought of fondly now – a time of relative innocence, a time of relative simplicity.

It was before Mulder's first long-term disappearance, and before she had a child she had to give up for his own safety. It was before the world crumbled around her with her mom and brother pulling away, the FBI pursuing her as a potential traitor, and her all-but-forced decision to head into a desert exile with her former partner. It was before she gave up everything in the world to follow a quest for truth and for answers. A quest which wasn't over for Mulder – would never be over for him – but one that she'd finally had to walk away from.

She sighed heavily, checking her watch. Six minutes to pre-boarding. She was surprised to feel just the slightest bit of anxiety at the thought. When she'd first heard from Doggett and Reyes, via a contorted and anonymous rout of text messages passed from person to person to person, that she and Mulder had finally been cleared by the FBI, she'd felt elation. A weight she hadn't even known she was carrying had lifted.

When she finally – finally! – managed to contact Monica directly, hearing that Skinner and Kersh had cleaned house and gotten rid of those who'd threatened her, threatened Mulder, she'd felt relief. It was like she finally could take a breath of fresh air.

When it really, truly sank in that she could leave her desert exile and go back to the city she loved – and to the woman she'd grown to love – she'd felt stunned. After so many years of secrets, of keeping her guard up, she almost couldn't cope with the possibility of such complete freedom.

It had taken several weeks for her to decide what to do.

It was an especially hard decision because she'd wanted Mulder to come back with her. Their lives had been so intertwined for so long that she couldn't imagine not being around him. She'd hoped that he would be ready to go back, ready to find a new place in the FBI and continue his work. But he hadn't been. He hadn't even considered the option for more than a handful of seconds. He liked the excitement of being on the run, of being outside the system. She shouldn't have been surprised by that, and she wasn't, not really. One part of her had always known that the day would come when they'd hit the proverbial fork in the road and end up going in separate directions.

It had hurt though, more than she'd expected.

Not because she was still in love with him. They would always be close – years of having no one else to trust forged an unbreakable bond. But the thin flame of romance had pretty much flickered out after William's birth – when Mulder held their son and yet chose to go into hiding and continue his search. When he decided anew that his quest was more important than anyone or anything else. She loved him, but realized at that point that they were better as friends, because their lives were on different paths and they wanted different things.

And then, once he'd left, she'd found Monica.

Even now, sitting in the crowded airport, the mere thought brought a smile to her face. She'd felt an immediate connection to the other woman that was too strong to be denied. It was a bond that at first had scared her in its unfamiliarity, but soon had comforted her in its naturalness. She'd been through several levels of hell in the time she'd known Reyes, and the other woman had been there for her through thick and thin. Monica had never once put restrictions on her or tried to hold her back, even when restraint might have been the wisest course of action. Instead, she'd followed Scully into situations where even angels feared to tread, offering unwavering trust and support.

Monica held her when she cried, picked her up when she fell, and almost unobtrusively stepped in to take care of William or help with household chores – never once asking for anything but friendship in return.

Of course Dana had fallen for her. How could she not?

She'd never before acted on her bisexual nature, though she'd been aware of it since high school. It had always just been so much easier to be with men, especially since her field of work left her surrounded by them. Until she'd fallen for Monica's kindness, sensitivity, and sheer simple beauty, she'd never felt like she was missing anything. Now, having known the other woman, she couldn't imagine being happy with anyone else.

She pushed out of the uncomfortable plastic seat, hefted her small carry-on bag, and walked through a maze of people to stand on the fringe of the queuing area. Not that it was her turn yet to board the aircraft – they'd just started the boarding for those traveling with children and those needing a little extra time. Still, with the prospect of a couple hours cooped up in a small seat, she relished the chance to stretch her legs for a minute.

At first she'd been hesitant about returning to her former home, even after realizing that Mulder's quest was no longer her own, even after deciding that she'd played her part in uncovering the truth and concluding that all she wanted now was a little bit of peace. If it had been just about that, there would have been no hesitation, even given the uneasy state of affairs with her family.

She'd been hesitant because she couldn't quite tell how Monica felt about it.

Before all hell had broken loose, before she actually left with Mulder, she'd had a long talk with her would-be lover. She'd explained that while she loved Monica and wanted nothing more than to explore a life with her, she couldn't yet abandon her former partner. The other woman had assured her that she understood, had given her carte blanche to do whatever she needed to do, even as she'd also said that her feelings for Dana couldn't make her hold off on living her own life, whatever that might lead to.

She had not been entirely sure, when she finally had the freedom to call Reyes from her desert home, what the woman would say about her coming back. She'd steeled herself for the likely announcement that Monica had moved on emotionally in the fourteen months she'd been gone, that she'd found somebody who could jump into a relationship and give body, mind, and soul.

It had come as a shock – albeit a pleasant one – when Monica had said simply, "You're still the one I want to be with. I'd love it if you'd come home."

Given the woman's non-pushy and follow-your-own-path nature, it had been the most demanding thing she'd said to Dana in the course of their friendship/quasi-relationship. And that simple semi-demand had warmed Scully more than she ever could have imagined.

Hearing the slurred drone of the overhead PA system, Dana looked down at her boarding pass and realized her row was being called. She patiently waited as two huge family groups literally elbowed in front of her, apparently under the impression that the airplane seats would somehow disappear if they didn't get on board that very instant.

It was a little weird to be going back, to think about seeing the city through new eyes, and to realize her house had long since been sold. It was also a bit odd to know she would essentially have to start over and completely rebuild her relationships with her family. The closeness they'd once shared had been torn in half by her giving William up for adoption without forewarning them, and then had ripped completely to shreds when she'd gone with Mulder. She'd insisted on stopping at a pay phone to call her mom and her brother, wanting to say good-bye, and when she told them she couldn't be in touch and couldn't tell them where she was going, she could sense the final estrangement in the silence on the other end of the phone.

Still, she'd nervously called her mom once she'd decided to return, and while the conversation had been more than a little awkward, she'd heard the genuine love and relief in her mother's voice. As she'd listened between the lines of the actual words, she'd come to the conclusion that Doggett and Reyes – in addition to smoothing things over with the Bureau – had also done a little mending of familial fences on her behalf. It sounded like the duo had explained to her family just what she'd been working towards, why it was important, and how serious the threats against her and her son had been.

She hadn't realized how weighed down she'd been by the fear of never again having any kind of relationship with her family. Now, though she knew all too well it would be a long road back to some semblance of normalcy, at least she knew it was possible. She owed John and Monica a huge debt of gratitude, one that she had no idea how she could possibly repay.

She moved slowly along with the line, fiddling with the strap of her carry-on bag so that it stopped digging into her shoulder, and handed her boarding pass to the ticket agent. Returning the man's polite smile, she made her way on to the jetway, walking slowly so as not to run into the people in front of her.

She'd had a long and hard journey to get to this particular place in her life. But it was worth it all for this moment. In two hours, she'd climb off the plane, make her way through the airport, and see Monica's face. In two hours, she'd once again be with the woman she loved.

They say home is where the heart is. They also say home is where people love you and care about you.

By either measure, Dana Scully knew without a doubt that she was going home.

The End

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