"Nothing is hopeless. We must hope for everything." Euripides
I missed all the obvious clues. That she rarely spoke of her childhood. That her sculptures all looked like oversize origami space ships. That her favorite song was a David Grohl Jr. cover of "Stardust". That she was the first woman I ever dated who could tell the difference between the Gates-Intel Satellite and the planet Venus in the night sky. Hell, the night I met Peaches--that is--Georgia Hale, at the Headlands Center For the Arts Annual Halloween Mystery Ball, she was dressed up as Agent Scully; complete with giant shoulder pads in her alarmingly tweed retro suit, four inch stiletto heels and flaming copper wig. Obvious. Of course.
I was catering that night. In-kind donations like that go a long way in clique-ish Marin County when you're trying to launch a new establishment. I suspect she only agreed to let me cook for her the following Monday (the Tiburon Café is closed on Monday nights) because I told her I was dressed as Lee Harvey Oswald. Georgia has a sweet laugh.
Six months and an engagement later I woke up automatically at five till six. It was still dark and I lay in bed for a while, tracing the pattern of freckles across her shoulder. Georgia sighed in her sleep, snuggling into my chest, but didn't wake. I reflected on my status as the world's luckiest man, and then the day's specials and prep lists began to form in my head.
It was Friday, so the weekend orders would be coming in: twenty-five cases of salad greens (mesculn and watercress), eighteen cases of Yukon potatoes, four whole quarters of lamb, and two cases of beef tenderloin. I brushed my teeth, turned on the shower, and as I swallowed my first aspirin of the day, I could hear the coffee maker buzzing. This meant Georgia was awake, which left me only a few more minutes of undisturbed reflection on food development before I had to behave in a civilized morning manner. I have always believed that formal courtesy between significant others, and soon-to-be-married couples is even more important than it is between strangers. Georgia and I were down to a month and a half. Gifts and RSVP's had been streaming in for weeks.
I checked the Net for local news and weekend weather forecast, waiting for any mention of the inevitable BART-system delay in Novato. Sunny, balmy and neither the Giants nor the Raiders playing? The café would get slammed tonight. I wouldn't be crawling home until close to midnight. That meant I might even meet up with Georgia, crawling home from her studio, a rare occurrence in the past weeks. In classic Georgia form, she had not only the wedding to prepare for, but had scored her first major retrospective at the Yerba Buena Arts Center, and the show was opening in a week.
As I walked down the hill to the San Anselmo BART station, I considered the merits of grilled hamachi tuna livornaise with roasted potatoes and asparagus for the fish special. My overworked grill woman could heat the already cooked-off spuds and the pre-blanched asparagus on a sizzle platter, and the tuna would get a quick walk across the fire. All I would have to do would be to heat the sauce to order. The appetizer special would be cockles steamed with chorizo, leeks, tomatoes and local Chardonnay--a one pan wonder. My garde-manager could plate salads while the shellfish steamed happily on a back burner. By the time I arrived in Tiburon, I had my ducks pretty much in a row.
The evening was drawing to an end, and we had over three hundred dinners under our belts. Not a bad night at all, especially for a fledging restaurant in a super-saturated market. Anticipating Georgia's arrival (she had agreed to cut out from the studio early and let me feed her) I swung through the dry goods pantry, noting that I'd be needing more peanut oil soon and more peppercorns. I was working on the Saturday To Do list, peeling off my fetid whites, groaning like a two thousand year old man as I struggled into my jeans and pullover when I heard the door at the front. Georgia. Probably hungry. And lucky, I thought as I hurried to meet her, because I had asked Claire the bus-girl to lock up when she left for the night. Since I had been alone in the place for a while, she must have forgotten. I never saw them coming.
At first there seemed to be a half dozen or so, all holding me down. I immediately began rattling off the combination to the safe and all of my clearance codes. Anything to get them out before Georgia came. I couldn't understand why they were being so rough, and under the circumstances, I'm not too ashamed to admit I lost control of my bladder when I saw the ice pick. My life history did not run as a movie in my head. In fact I found myself thinking not of Heaven or Hell as the point nudged my skin, but that my assailant's jade colored eyes matched those of my fiancée.
They seemed satisfied when I began to bleed. There were only two of them. The one who had stabbed my arm hauled me to my feet and in a brusque, rasping voice said, "So glad to finally meet you Mr. Baldwin." He had iron gray shoulder length hair, shot through with white streaks and held back in a perfectly groomed ponytail. He shoved me against the bar, and one of his hands seemed different, harder somehow. I was automatically observing these details- for the police report I guess, and wondering why he had learned my name. It didn't seem like typical petty criminal behavior.
The other one had moved away, but now came back into my line of sight. He was slightly taller considerably more stocky, resembling the actor, Sir Eric Stoltz. Probably a redhead when he was younger too, now balding. "Area secured," he reported in a militaristic fashion.
"What do you want?" I demanded. "The money's in the safe, please just take it and go! The Tiburon police always patrol here along the waterfront on weekend nights, they'll notice the lights on late-"
"Sorry, son," said the second man. "We've got to see our girl and straighten out a few things first." He started back to the entrance.
Georgia. Oh god, he meant Georgia. As if on cue, the front door opened and my love stepped though, dark curls gone to frizz in the damp. My chest swelled with panic for her until I could barely breathe. "Peaches!" I called out. "RUN! GET OUT!"
"Lucas?" She asked. "What's wrong?"
"RUN! God please, please don't hurt her!"
Then she caught sight of the man coming toward her and stopped dead still, as though in shock. I could feel veins bursting under my skin.
"Uncle Charlie!" She cried out and launched herself at her would be attacker, throwing her arms around him. He laughed and lifted her up like a child, bussing her on the cheek enthusiastically.
The man holding me stiffened. "Charlie! Georgia! SOP! NOW!" He barked.
The man Georgia had addressed as "Uncle Charlie" set her down and the two of them pulled away from each other sheepishly, as if painfully aware of having violated some basic protocol. Georgia fumbled in the pocket of her long green velvet coat and pulled out a twin of the ice pick used on me earlier. I had never seen it before, and I watched in horror and disbelief as she pushed up a sleeve to bare her forearm and used the point to open her flesh enough to bleed a few drops. Charlie had also produced a blade and done the same. They stood watching each other warily, dripping on my clean Saltillo tiles and the three of them released a collective breath.
"Has he," Georgia nodded at the man with me, "been out of your sight since your last check?"
"No hon," said Charlie.
"Good enough for me," she replied and embraced him once more.
I couldn't stand the weirdness of the situation another moment. "Georgia?"
"SOP-Standard Operating Procedure, Lucas. Something you really ought to be familiar with, that is, if you're really going to marry our Georgie."
"And hello to you too, Alex." She said. "I'll thank you to unhand my intended now. Why do you always have to act like such a damned thug anyway? And a bully! God, he's still bleeding!"
"And you," Alex returned furiously, "you weren't going to tell him, were you? You've never even tested him! Fucking Christ, Georgie Baby, he could have-"
"Don't Georgie Baby me! You promised to stay out of my life! All three of you and your fucking quest-"
I had had enough. "What is this? What the hell is going on?"
She seemed to see me again, and shook her head sadly.
"This," she gestured to the man at her back, "is Uncle Charlie. And this, my love, is Alex the Seal, one of my biological fathers. And the fact they're here, I'm afraid it means we may have to post-pone the wedding." Her tone wavered, forlorn. "And oh, damn it, I really wanted a June wedding!"
"Georgie, you're being disgustingly melodramatic," snapped Alex impatiently. "Look, I need to know where your mother is. We've had reports of activity all over the Northwest in the past two days. He may be back."
"Alex the Seal?" I asked, breaking into the conversation. "Like Mac The Knife? No wonder you said you were an orphan! I forgive you for lying, Peaches. My god, your father's a gangster!"
Alex rubbed the bridge of his nose with a thumb and middle finger. "The mouth on this guy...he never shuts up. Awfully familiar. Your Electra complex is showing, Georgie Baby."
Ignoring him, she turned to me. "Actually it's from the old pop song-you know- "Our Lips Are Sealed"? When I was a kid I thought they were saying, "Alex The Seal", and the rest of the lyrics seemed to fit the context. He was my Dad's informant-"
"I thought you said he was your Dad."
"No. I said he was one of my biological fathers. There's a difference."
Charlie broke in, "Oh Georgia, I know you wanted to be free of us, but you should have at least told Lucas some of it! It isn't fair to ask him to be involved if he doesn't understand! And now that there's a chance they may have returned Mulder-"
"Yeah Uncle Charlie," she said, "I've heard it before. Heard it almost every other week when I was a kid. Dad's coming back to us! They're letting him come home! But it never happened, and it isn't going to happen. Mom needs to just deal with it!"
"You've spoken to Dana?" Charlie asked quickly.
"No, not since before the funeral. She didn't even come. Too damned covert to show up to her own mother's funeral. And you two!" Her voice rose with renewed vexation. "Where were you guys?"
Alex slipped an arm around her shoulders. "You know we wouldn't have been welcome, Georgie."
I was losing it. Fast. "Georgia? Please?" I was begging. Make this make sense...
She closed her eyes. "My parents, Lucas. This is about my parents. EVERYTHING is about my parents. I've told you a pack of lies." She exhaled loudly, arms crossed, head down, not looking at me. I pushed past Alex The Seal and took her hands. She was shaking. "You see, Lucas, my parents are Fox Mulder and Dana Scully."
I had never suspected my Georgia was delusional. Artistic temperament, sure. Imaginative, creative...of course. But crazy? This had never occurred to me. Not that it mattered. She certainly wasn't a danger to herself or anyone else, we could get help for her. I'd always thought people who went to shrinks should have their heads examined, but watching those tears creeping down either side of her nose, I knew I'd do anything to make it better for her. Anything at all.
"Peaches," I said softly, trying to avoid being heard by the other two, "stop it. Your reasons are totally excusable. The inconsistencies in your life story have never bothered me, because I don't care. I just want to live with you and hold your hand and hear you snore at night. Now that this guy, Alex the Seal, is your father, sure. You've got his eyes and his nose, and by the way, they're a damn sight more appealing on you. Whatever he's gotten you into, we'll fix it somehow, I promise."
"You're not listening to me! You're as bad as the rest of my family, treating me like a child!"
"Then stop acting like a child!" I answered, grinding my teeth rather than raise my voice. "Mulder and Scully aren't real. Everyone knows they were constructs of TheMagicBulletDotCom, metaphors created for the purpose of criticizing the excesses of U.S. Government Black Ops prior to the Oh-Six Pandemic. Every kid in my school was into TheMagicBulletDotCom and AmazingStoriesDotCom. It was a great site-god-I ordered my first Sea Monkeys off that site! My first Secret Squirrel Decoder Ring! But Peaches, those Sea Monkeys were brine shrimp, and the adventures and essays of Mulder and Scully was one guy writing each story from two points of view- one analytical and one intuitive."
Could Georgia be suffering from some kind of delayed post-traumatic stress syndrome? Many children lost family members in the Pandemic. Often these children were found to have transferred their affections for the dead to Net and TV characters, as a way of coping with the extremity of the loss. Perhaps it was easier for Georgia to think of the brilliant but fictional Special Agent Dana Scully as her mother, instead of accepting that her mother had gotten sick...
"Lucas!" Georgia was pulling at my arm; I had drifted. "Lucas, I know you don't believe me-"
"Peaches, lots of kids wanted to believe. Don't you remember all the "Inside the FBI" shows when you were a kid? Remember how they always ended with, "Well folks, here's the basement and as you can see, there's no X-Files Division, but you never know, THE TRUTH MAY BE OUT THERE!"
"Georgie," Alex said, gesturing towards me, "evaluate as honestly and objectively as you can, baby, will he be able to deal when the time comes?"
She stood between us hyperventilating.
"Georgia, you are not a fucking civilian! You don't have that luxury and you never will. Now, can he handle it or am I going to have to-"
She stopped crying immediately and her face went completely blank. Serene. In calm monotone, she answered, "He can deal, Alex. Let Charlie do the orientation though, not me. He won't process it if he hears it from me."
"That's my girl," the corners of Alex's mouth twitched upwards, "ice water in the veins. We need to go and contact Scully; Charlie can stay with Lucas and brief him. You need ammo?"
Georgia reached into her handbag and brought out what appeared to be a gun. Which of course was ridiculous. Gun ownership had been illegal in the U.S. for almost fifteen years. My Georgia would not own a contra-band weapon...
"What have I told you about messing with the damned purse?" Alex was scolding her again. "You KNOW you can't reach it quickly enough, you need to wear the holster. I don't care if it does ruin the line of your little outfit; sometimes you've got less than seconds-"
The thing was real. "Shit! Georgia, since when do you own a gun? I've never seen...how did you even get a gun?" I demanded.
"Alex the Seal got it for me. Black-market. My thirteenth birthday, right after Dad left us. Even taught me to shoot straight, fight dirty, and run like hell as necessary. Taught me never to kill if killing could be avoided, but a hundred different ways to do it if I had to. And he made me practice."
I was going to be sick. I hadn't eaten since before noon, but the bile was rising in the back of my throat. These two monsters had done a number on her but good. A hundred ways to kill. Cultists then or vigilantes of some kind. Then, she was kissing me goodbye.
"We'll be back soon, Lucas honey. Listen to Uncle Charlie and try and keep an open mind, ok? I love you so much..."She faltered slightly. "And if you still want me after you know everything-"
"I'll always want you, Peaches! Don't go."
"Got to. I'm sorry. He's right though, I'm not a civilian, I just get hung up on pretending sometimes." She turned and followed Alex into the night, leaving me alone with Uncle Charlie.
As soon as she was out the door I turned on him. "Bastards, what have you done to her?" To my surprise, he didn't protest my abuse, but nodded his head, as though in agreement with me.
"All the wrong things, I think. Sheltered her, over-protected and infantilized her. She has been our ace-in-the hole since she was born, our little princess. What can I say? My sister, Dana, and I; our ancestors fought Indians. We co-opted the Indians and fought aliens."
"You don't really expect me to believe-"
"Look, Mr. Baldwin. Lucas. We had no right to let our Georgia into mainstream society, she's not cut out for it. Volatile at best, like Alex. And she certainly had no business getting involved with you. No, no. don't start yet. Listen first. It isn't that I'm doubting your worth, far from it. You've taken this far better than anyone could have expected you to, actually. The thing is, she really does love you son, I can tell. But that doesn't mean she will always tell you the truth or act in your best interest-"
"That's true of anyone; we're all human," I said.
"Partially true, Lucas. But that isn't the problem. The problem is that if you can't accept our story and our...way of life for lack of a better term, Alex will kill you rather than risk you exposing Georgia to our enemies. You know, I married Alex in Oh-Nine, the month after the State of California said we could legally attempt to make honest men of each other. He is my spouse and I love him more than my own life, but the things he did to the last fool he thought had come for Georgia..." he shivered delicately.
I wasn't buying Uncle Charlie's benign old fairy act for a nano-second. He was giving me good-cop and I couldn't figure out why, though both my fiancé's life and my own seemed to depend upon it. "So you're telling me that Alex really was concerned about shape-shifting alien clones and so forth, and that whole barbarian ritual earlier was to prove we bleed red and not green acid-right?" I remembered late nights during summer break as a kid, eyes red and itching from staring at my Ibook too long, engrossed in stories of mutants and evil smoking men and unrequited...wait a minute. "Charlie? In the Net stories, Dana Scully was supposed to have been barren. Her alien abductors stole her ova or something. And there was never any mention of a daughter in those stories, except for that one that died, and they just ended after Fox Mulder was abducted. I was almost twelve when the MagicBullet site closed, so the timeline doesn't fit."
"You are applying it all too literally, Lucas." Uncle Charlie ran a hand over his head. "Let me start at the beginning. I was a colonel in the Michigan Militia when I first met Alex. Since you remember reading the X-Files memoirs, you should recognize the name, Alex Krycek. When I learned of his particularly violent connections to my family, I determined that I would seduce him and kill him in his sleep. Somehow," the old soldier's pale blue eyes crinkled, "somehow I never got around to the killing part.
Dana and I were working against colonization from opposing ends, I never contacted her about it. Too ashamed I guess. I missed almost ten years of her life that way. Anyway, the first time Mulder was abducted in Oregon, Alex asked me to help recover him, hoping my presence would help to win her over. He knew she couldn't make it without support. It almost didn't work. I think for a while she hated me more than she hated Alex...told me I had been gotten to. Well, I had been gotten to. She needed us though, and while hunting for Mulder, we came across a testing facility housing data confirming her worst fears-that Georgia had been engineered in that lab and delivered to her by one Cecil Gregory Bartholomew Spender III; not conceived through sweaty mattress dancing with her former FBI partner. We found the recipe for the genetic cocktail that is Georgia: seven different DNA donors, including Dana, Mulder, and Alex. The other names we didn't recognize."
A cult, I thought. A cult based on pop culture icons from thirty years ago. And they seemed incredibly dangerous. Grief began to settle around me. What help could there be for us? Even with a competent deprogrammer, these people had Georgia from childhood. The thing was, in the end, I couldn't let her go. That innocent wonder, that quick intelligence...best to play along. Whatever they wanted. A Chose Your Own Adventure game with the highest possible stakes. I was always good at games as a kid.
"So...uh...Charlie, you're saying my fiancé was one of those clone/hybrid projects Mulder and Scully were always discovering in the stories? The projects where the evidence always disappeared?"
"Indeed. Spender was dying. By designing Georgia in the way he did, knowing the histories and personalities of the players left on the game board, he ensured his own legacy."
"What was special about the design?" I asked.
"She isn't just immune to Purity, she can control it. If it got into her system, she would have the reproductive abilities of the entire faction of colonists under her thumb. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Mulder was found wandering near the Hoover Building, weakened, but essentially ok. He didn't have what the colonists had been led to believe he had, and they cut him loose. We didn't dare leave him in a hospital, so we essentially had two infants to care for when Georgia was born forty-eight hours later. At some point Alex went a little crazy. He disappeared one night, and the next morning when Dana got up to nurse Georgia, she found her room strewn with emeralds. Thousands of them, covering her bed, the floor, the edges of Georgia's crib. We never could figure out where he got them all, and he wouldn't say. Mulder, of course, was furious and got rid of them-"
"Not all, I guess," I said. "Georgia has this emerald she wears on a chain around her neck. Huge thing. I don't know why it never occurred to me to ask her about it before."
"Anyway, that's how Alex Krycek, the nefarious double-agent, was tripped up. We had been sleeping in shifts so someone could constantly be on guard, and he held her. Held her and was imprinted like a baby duck. I never thought Alex and I would have kids. At that point, I still wasn't completely convinced that I should have even let him live, but then we were all running, baby girl in tow and it didn't matter."
I counted at least a dozen different holes in his story. But then again, the MagicBullet stories were never known for their ability to stand up to nitpicking.
"I thought you said everyone had died that would have been a threat."
"No, Lucas. Spender and most of his group died. You forget the U.S. military was involved. Plus, there were numerous other parties, all struggling for power."
"More MagicBullet stuff," I said.
"That was the beginning, yes. Mulder's old conspiracy theorist friends set it up initially as a vehicle for he and Dana to publish their memoirs while underground. By the time of the Pandemic, the whole world knew the truth."
"But regarded it as fiction." I countered. "Twenty-first century comic books. So the Pandemic was the colonization we were warned against? They only got two million of us, and we aren't slaves. What was the point?"
I hated the sound of my sarcasm. The Pandemic was the greatest American tragedy since the Civil War. Vigilantes with a bio-weapon. Maybe even Gerogia's "family".
Charlie sighed and suddenly seemed very old. "Here's the blasphemy, son. Here's where Dana and I part company. I never liked Mulder; his tiresome obsession with Alex, his insistence on being everybody's personal lord and savior. Dana learned to at least tolerate Alex because she could see his single-minded devotion to our girl. My spouse doesn't love many things, but when it comes to Georgia, he borders on maniacal, as does Dana. They have that in common."
"What does that have to do with the Pandemic?" I was growing impatient.
"I was getting to that. The thing is, Mulder always had to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. He loved Georgia, but not the way Dana and Alex did, or I, for that matter. To Mulder, she was a great symbol; this delicate flower of humanity and hope. Georgia adored him, worshiped, but Mulder was mostly incapable of reciprocating...too damned philosophical. When colonization began, we were incredibly close to a working vaccine, and failing in that, we had Georgia."
"The colonists didn't know?"
"No, and that was the problem. Mulder insinuated some of Georgia's banked blood (don't look at me that way son, we ALL banked blood. Standard Operating Procedure) into his system to trick the colonists into believing it was he who could control Purity. Actually, with the infusion, he could, for limited periods. Without consulting any of us, he took off for Oregon and walked into the light again and miraculously, the Pandemic ended."
"But if you had the vaccine-" I began.
"Yes, exactly. Mulder jumped the gun."
"So the man abandoned the supposed love of his life and his daughter?" The thought made me angry. Fox Mulder was one of my childhood heroes. How could he hurt Scully? God, the reality - if it was reality - hit me. How could he hurt my Peaches that way? I needed a drink, and damn it, if my beloved could play 007 (or Agent Scully Jr. in this case) then I could at least be a good Bond girl (Boy. Whatever.). I allowed some of my ire to surface.
"What in god's name was that jackass thinking? Look, Charlie, I make a mean martini, are you game?" He nodded and I moved behind the bar. As I dug for the olives, Charlie continued his narrative.
"In the years I spent with him, Mulder became increasingly fascinated with the study of diplomacy. I think he honestly wanted to negotiate with the aliens, not kill them. He frequently spoke of the tribal tradition in Papua New Guinea. When warring factions made peace, they each exchanged a "peace" child. The children would grow up with the other's tribe and if, in the future, conflict threatened between the tribes again, those children would be sent to negotiate."
Something twisted in my gut. I set the shaker down loudly on the countertop. Georgia. God. "How many of those 'peace' children do you think ended up in the soup pot down there in the South Pacific, Charlie?"
"That's why I like to think he chose to impersonate her rather than send her. Mulder was egotistical, not a monster."
I poured the drinks. "Yeah, but...poor Scully. She lost him and got him back and lost him again. And his little girl..."
"For Georgia it gets even worse, Lucas. Little girls don't want noble fathers, they want living ones. Georgia has never had anything of her own. Even her name is a feminized version of one of Mulder's old aliases. Dana just shut down inside after he was gone. She was always so much like our father, a little soldier, Ahab's daughter. She drove Georgia constantly. Had her main-lining Latin, calculus and quantum physics long before she ever needed a training bra. Dana's determination to recover Mulder was the only other thing in her life. Alex and I did our best to help, but our hands had been tied early on, and even that became a problem. The four of us were living in Monterey; a hellhole, but extremely safe for reasons I won't go into now. We were safe enough in fact, that Dana allowed Georgia to attend a party of one of the girls in the neighborhood near our compound. The freedom was unprecedented, and Georgia came home very drunk that afternoon, and climbed into bed with Alex during his siesta."
Charlie stopped, and watching me, cautiously sipped his drink. I didn't want to hear anymore. It was too horrible. But I had to know.
"As you may have guessed, Dana had forbidden us from explaining our connection to Georgia, except through me, her uncle. Oh, our little miracle of genetic engineering understood what she was in scientific terms. She understood more at five than I do now. Georgia became Dana's lab assistant as soon as she could be trusted not to put anything in her mouth, but she never saw that list of DNA donors. Don't worry, I'll answer your question now, Lucas. Alex isn't a monster any more than Mulder. He held her and cried told her everything, I was there. I left the room when I was sure she was going to be ok, but I suspect she knows things now that even I never pried out of him. His early days with the Consortium, certainly. His complex relationship with Mulder. His last memories of her aunt and her grandfathers. The dark stuff. The amazing thing is that she forgave him immediately, but it took so much longer for her to forgive Dana. And she had lost her trust in all three of us. It was Alex who finally convinced Dana to let Georgia have a sabbatical, go to college, be a normal girl for a while. He even supported her decision to go to art school instead of MIT, told Dana she'd be safer not drawing attention by earning her Ph.D. before she hit twenty. It was understood that Georgia would come back underground if Mulder returned, and with her gone, Alex and I went to work on some projects in the Far East. We haven't seen or heard form Dana in a while."
Charlie and I had gone through almost three drinks each by then, and I was longing for the soothing of the gin buzz, but it wasn't happening. "And now," I asked, "Mulder's back?"
"The truce is over? We're back to war with an alien race intent on enslaving us all?"
"This doesn't change anything. I won't give up on Georgia."
Charlie cocked an eyebrow at me. "It's possible we may need to disappear tonight. Are you ready to disappear with us? Leave behind everything you've worked so hard for here? On the word of a couple of crazy old fags and a woman you've barely known six months? A woman who carries a gun? Lucas, are you sure?"
I was sure. I leaned against the back of the bar and grinned. "She has to carry a gun, Charlie. How else can she defend my virtue from crazy old fags like you?"
He raised his glass to me, and I mirrored the gesture. As the rims clinked, Georgia and Alex the Seal burst in. The three of them quickly went through their SOP routine. Watching them still left me queasy.
"Uncle Charlie, she'll be at the dock in five minutes," Georgia said. She glanced at me, and in a casual tone asked, "Coming with us, Lucas?"
"Anywhere you go, Peaches." I was doing my best Sam Spade.
I never considered the meaning of the word, "patrician" until I saw Dana Scully striding across the deck of her hydro-craft. It was this moment also, in which I fully grasped the concept of "matriarch". We waited, supplicants on the dock. She came to us, a tiny ageless fire; red braid flying out behind her as she moved. They performed the SOP for a third time that night, and I began to wonder why Georgia had so few scars. Charlie embraced Scully first. I could only think of her as Scully at that point, because in seeing her, I could no longer doubt that she was the great heroine from the stories of my childhood. It was like meeting Wonder Woman.
"Hello, Scully." Alex The Seal bent careful, as though wary she might bite him, and kissed her on both cheeks. Georgia gave her a quick, formal half-hug, then took me by the hand.
"Mama, I want you to meet my fiancé, Lucas Baldwin. Lucas, this is my mother, Dr. Dana Scully."
I managed not to faint. I held my breath and Scully smiled and it occurred to me that she had an infinitely kind face. A terrifying face. She turned to my love.
"He's the one, Georgia?"
She turned back to me and held out her hand. "I'm pleased to meet you. Congratulations."
"Thank you." What do you say to a fictional character, who has proved to be a real person after all? Gosh, what happened after Episode...? I started to help the others load their gear, but she stopped me.
"Once aboard, you're committed, Lucas. Not just to Georgia, but to all of us, this twisted scandal of a family. Georgia is our center. Will you fight for her if necessary? Will you lie for her, love her-and let her love you?"
The full force of her quiet words hit me. So much for the ceremony at Old St. Hillary's. The wedding was now.
"I will," I answered.
"Welcome aboard, Lucas."
"Thank you, uh..."
"Thank you, Dana," I repeated. Then my wife was in my arms and she was laughing and we were sailing out onto the Bay. San Francisco glittered in the fog, an heiress wrapped in furs and jewels. I kissed Georgia for luck under the Golden Gate, wondering how I would fit into this scandal of a family. Well, even heroes have to eat.
End Notes: Gee, I guess I should have mentioned who was and who was not mine for the save of legality. Oh well, I've got no money for 1013 to sue me for anyway. Betas, thank you all:Summer, Nikki, & Kristin. Story inspired by the mis-heard lyrics website and of course RH.