Scully sat on what she considered "their bench" by the muddy brown waters of the Potomac. A playful breeze whisked by.
It was the kind of spring day that was always welcome in Washington -- warm and breezy. Soon the warmth would turn to oppressing, wet heat and the breeze would still all together, but, for now, the bright spring sun was hanging comfortably in the sky. While walking down the streets of downtown DC, it was possible to be caught in a shower of pink cherry blossoms. Smiles were easier to come by in this weather.
The warm breeze ran right up to Scully and wrapped itself around her naked face before racing off in another direction, sending her red hair up in a gust. She sat there, enjoying the day.
Mulder walked down the path to meet Scully. He felt giddy with springtime. It was positively strange, the way he felt. He would almost swear he was happy.
Some disjointed piece of verse from his college days broke free from the rest of his cluttered mind to sing It's spring and the goat-footed balloonman whistles far and wee...
"Is this seat taken?" A male voice asked Scully from behind.
"No," she answered smiling, before she had time to realize that the voice was not Mulder's.
A slightly scruffy man sat down next to her. His blue T-shirt read, "I walked my feet off at the nation's capital." Over it he had on a worn tweed jacket with leather elbows that had become shiny with time. He was wearing brand new Nikes, and he cradled a zucchini in his arms. The sunlight glinted off of its shiny green skin.
And it's spring when the world is puddle-wonderful... As the bench came into view Mulder slowed down. Someone was sitting next to Scully. Someone with a very large squash.
"You're beautiful," the man said.
Scully looked up at him. Yes, unfortunately he was talking to her. She had hoped perhaps he was addressing his zucchini. It took every bit of Scully's willpower to avoid scooting over as far away as possible. She compromised with a hint of a smile and the knowledge that she was carrying a gun.
Plus, she thought, Mulder should be arriving at any moment. He owed it to her. She was always pulling his ass out of trouble, the least he could do is show up on time and give her an excuse to get away from the produce enthusiast.
Mulder saw the squash guy address Scully. Scully got a vaguely harassed look on her face, and her eyes shifted from side to side the way they did when she was irritated.
Mulder got a little closer and leaned against a nearby cherry tree. The scent from the blossoms was heady, a few petals broke loose and caught a breeze down to his hair. He reached up to brush them off but stopped with his hand in midair.
Without any further ado, the man with the squash asked, "Will you marry me?"
Scully had spent a lot of time in the company of strange men, Mulder not excluded, but this still managed to throw her. Her immediate reaction was: I'll never live this down.
"Sorry, I'm not going to get married," she said, improvising wildly.
"Are you sure?" he asked, a hopeful look on his face.
"Yes," Scully said, a bit more sure of herself now. She'd much rather be called "Mrs. Spooky" than whatever surname would be cooked up with this one.
"What if I was the last man on earth? Would you marry me then?"
Scully gave him the eye. Zucchini Man knew what he was doing. He was giving her a way out. To him even a conditional yes was better than a refusal. He wouldn't take no for an answer. This was a man with a mission.
"No...I don't think so," Scully said, trying to be polite. This man was probably schizophrenic and delusional, but that didn't excuse his bothering her.
From beside his tree, Mulder watched Scully as her right hand crept toward her waist and the gun that he knew was concealed there.
Smiling widely, Mulder enjoyed Scully's discomfort. It was wrong of him, but he was impressed with the zucchini man's talents. Mulder never got such strong reactions from Scully with his teasing. He annoyed her, that much was for sure, but she never said anything. Scully displayed the patience of a saint.
He often wondered what it would take to get her really annoyed, annoyed enough that she would stop pretending that he wasn't bothering her. Here was his answer: a zucchini.
"You wouldn't even consider it?" The man wiped an invisible speck of dirt off his zucchini and stared at Scully soulfully, his bottom lip pouting just a little.
His tenacity was becoming annoying but also a bit pathetic. And that lip was reminding her of her late partner, who was going to be even later once she got her hands on him. Late in the classic sense. Late as in pick-out-your-headstone late.
Scully fought the urge to whip out her gun and send Zucchini Man running. Show no weakness, she reminded herself. "Sorry." She shrugged.
"Do you want to think about it? I could come back."
"Sure. Why don't you give me some time to think about it," Scully already had the plan for her retreat mapped out. Of course she could never come back here again....
Zucchini Man shifted his squash to get a better hold on it. "All right then. I'll give you some time. But don't take too long. I'm not going to wait for you forever," he said, employing a hard-to-get tactic. Scully had heard it all before, and she knew they were all still waiting.
She smiled encouragingly but promised nothing. The man with the zucchini left. She relaxed, letting her hand move away from where her gun was holstered.
"Is this seat taken?"
Still in the process of understanding that it was Mulder's voice, Scully jumped up and quickly reached for her gun, turning around with an evil look in her eyes. Mulder. She sank back down to her seat.
He came around the bench to sit beside her. With a familiar ease, he stretched an arm out to rest on the back of the bench behind her. His fingertips barely brushed her shoulder.
She waited to see why he had called her there. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. Her "fish-eye look" her father used to call it. She never knew why.
Mulder had cherry blossom confetti stuck in his hair. He looked a Mardi Gras leftover.
Mulder leaned forward into the clean smell of Scully's hair, one sweet-smelling petal falling from his own. "Will you marry me, Agent Scully?" he whispered into her ear.
"What?!" Scully sat up so straight it was like someone had run a cold finger up her spine. "What?!" she repeated, leaning away from him to get a better look at his face, but he was still too close and was looking a little blurry around the edges. All she could see clearly were his eyes -- his bright-green hazel eyes.
Her movement took her farther away from Mulder so he leaned in closer. "I know I don't have much to give you, and lord knows I can't offer you as much zucchini as you deserve--"
"Mulder, you--!" Scully ran out of words to express what Mulder was, but he knew it was something bad, something really bad. Scully's mouth hung open. He grinned shamelessly. That's all it took to make Scully lose her cool: one small zucchini reference.
"So how 'bout it, Scully? You and me and zucchini makes--"
Scully firmly backhanded him in the stomach before he could finish the rhyme.
Mulder fell forward and sideways so his head fell in her lap. He brought his legs up onto the bench. "You wound me, Scully," he said, twisting his head so that he could see her.
"You underestimate me, Mulder," Scully said, turning her face away from the confused look in her lap.
"Scully, what's wrong?" Mulder asked her, a small frown appearing between his eyes.
Scully felt her lips curving up in a wicked fashion. She looked back down at Mulder. "I'm just not so superficial that I'd choose a man based on the size of his zucchini. I mean I've stuck with you all these years."
Mulder's look of concern slowly changed into shock. His frown disappeared; his mouth dropped open slightly. He looked up at Scully who was biting her lower lip and looking quite pleased with herself.
He smiled, his head still resting on her lap. "Looks like I'm rubbing off on you, Scully."
"I hope you don't stain."
"Hopefully only my good parts." Mulder paused and then decided to change the subject, "It's spring, Scully. Isn't it beautiful?" he said reverently.
"Yes, Mulder. It is." She brushed the cherry blossoms from his hair. They didn't want to go and burrowed in deeper. She gave up and stared out across the Potomac.
"Hey, Scully. Wanna go into Georgetown, buy an overpriced pizza, sit outside and stare at the empty canal? I'm buying."
"Sounds good." She yawned. It was warm here, and it was making her sleepy. "Hey, Mulder?"
"Guess what I'm going to get on my half."
Mulder knew that tone of voice. He sat up before Scully could dump him on his ass. The last petal fell from his hair, and he waited for Scully to continue.