Title: Dandelions on the Wind
Author: Jaime Lyn
Keywords: Mulder/Scully romance, Mythology
Category, S, A, R
Archival notes: Anywhere you may like, just email first. Of course though, you may want the first story to go along with this. If you don’t have it, just ask. I’ll be glad to provide it…
Author’s note: First, let me just say that if it weren’t for all the wonderful volumes of email from all of you out there, this story would never have come into being. The vignette that preceeded this, ‘Dandelions for Luck,’ had been a standalone story originally, with only the barest hint of a back story. But when I got all those emails begging for a sequel, I thought, hey, what the heck. And then when I started actually writing it, the whole thing just poured right out of my fingers. I warn you, it’s long.
Also, let me warn you this: much of this is told from a very different point of view. It’s also written in a sort of flashback form, with Mulder telling us a story, so get ready to journey into where everything all began. Also, get ready for some angst, for most of this is not cutesy or cuddly. Beware for lots of angst. Don’t say I never warned ya!
And for those medical and technical buffs out there, my knowledge of genetics and pregnancy and all that stuff is VERRRRY limited. So if you find that, through the course of this, you have to suspend some belief, please bear with me. Just think to yourself, this IS the X Files, this IS the X Files…
“Shiver Me Timbers” belongs to Bette Midler and I have no idea how old it is. I made up the age of the song. :o)
For Nickie. I miss you, and I can’t wait to see you. How many times are we supposed to see the Phantom Menace? Ha ha.
Here we go:
The secrets that we shared,
The mountains that we moved,
Caught like a wildfire out of control,
Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove.
And I remember what she said to me.
How she swore that it never would end.
I remember how she held on, oh so tight.
I wish I knew now what I didn’t know then…
Against the wind.
We were running against the wind.
We were young and strong,
and running against the wind.
------------------ Against the Wind, Bob Seager and the Silver Bullet Band
Dandelions on The Wind, Part 1: Shattered
By Jaime Lyn
---- 1 -----
Anonymous Journal Entry:
Cook County Hospital:
There is little that I remember these days, although sometimes it’s easier than others. Some mornings I’ll wake up, thinking that I need to be somewhere, sweating and anxious, but always I’ll recognize the walls around me; the white and sterile air. I’ll sigh in resignation and fall back upon my pillow, drowsiness and fatigue overcoming my senses. If I could find the strength to wash it away, to brush back the exhaustion that so often plagues me, I would do it. But nowadays, it seems as if that’s all I feel, as if sheer lack of willpower is all my body is capable of. I feel so heavy sometimes, so drugged and manipulated, I feel as if the puzzle before me is being shattered, scattered at my feet, but I can never put my finger on why or how.
Though sometimes, late at night, when there is no one hovering over my bed, no nurse waiting to feed me painkillers or sleeping pills, I’ll close my eyes and dream. I’ll feel the fog around me lift, the haze muddling my brain disappear, and suddenly I’ll be somewhere else. Somewhere important, someplace where the key to the rest of me lies. It’s always the same place, the same feeling, and I can never quite remember how or why I’m there. I just know that I am, and that I need to be.
I’ll be standing on the edge of a great cliff, staring down at the sea below, watching it lap against the rocks and shoreline, a great calm filling me. I can sense that the water calms me almost instantly, that I am placated by the comforting sound of the surf and the sea, though I don’t know why and I know I should be scared. But I’m not and I feel claimed. Claimed and calm, like the clouds.
But then in the background, always before I prepare myself to jump into the dark, navy blue depths, I can hear crying behind me that stops me. They are always the loud, wracking sobs of a man I can’t see, and when I turn around, his cries are all I hear, echoed against the calm of the incoming tide. And always I think that I know him. I understand with a fevered certainty that I know him.
I kneel to the ground then, gathering in my hand a flower nestled in the soft earth, and my head picks up at his hitched breathing and occasional gasps. Somehow, from deep within me, from every ingrained fiber of my being, I know that I belong to him---that I need him just as deeply and as surely as he needs me to find him. So I look and I look, searching desperately for this man who cries beyond my reach, and somehow, I know he cries for me. I know, and I feel a heaviness clamp over my heart.
I want to go to him. I want to find him.
I never know why, but I but I feel consumed by him; as if a part of me has been ripped away, and it is really his soul crying out for me, and not his lips.
Then he calls out the word “Scully” over and over again, each time more desperate than the last, and though I never understand what he means, all I know is that I want to give it to him. Whatever a “Scully” is, whatever this thing is that haunts him, I know I would give my very own life to give it to him. I would cut away pieces of myself if it meant I could give them all to him.
The feeling is always so strong, and always I feel consumed by it. I feel engulfed and swallowed.
But then, as always, I wake up. I open my eyes to face the weariness and fatigue that crashes into me, like the waves on that forgotten shore, and he is gone. I am once again, scattered on the wind.
And I am left with nothing.
Martin’s Courtside Café
June May 12th
The café is light and airy today----today as any day, really, but I’m not paying attention. The sun is high and beautiful, casting sparkling rainbow prisms along my clear, crystal glass, but I could care less about that, too. And come to think of it, I’m not all that thirsty. I don’t know why I ordered a drink. There is also, and I say this with regret, because I love them under normal circumstances----an uneaten hamburger---extra lettuce and cheese, hold the pickles---lying by my notepad. My notepad, by contrast, is full and written all over, the page covered with doodles and scribbles and idle etchings. I’ve been sitting here for nearly an hour, not eating, not drinking, not writing, but drawing endless patterns on a spiral notepad as aimless throngs of people walk by.
In all practicality, I suppose I could just quit and let that be the end of it. I could just leave the bureau, leave Ohio, leave HIM and this partnership, but the competitive part of me---the part that used to play baseball with the boys and stickball with the best, refuses to let me. I have been kicked down and thrown aside---shot down and ditched so many times I can’t even count them all, but I will not give him the goddamn satisfaction. Though, I must say, if he hasn’t got a good excuse this time---a reason why he felt the need to run off to some hospital in Kansas City, without even consulting me---I am going to hurt him. I’m going to grab my gun and either shoot him or hit him in the back of the head with it. I am just… I am just SO sick of the bullshit!
I mean, for godssakes, I graduated from the Citadel when there were only four of us women in the class. I finished the academy training at the top of my class, gathering honors, prestige, and the nickname, ‘dynamite’ that made fun of my ability to do ten pushups faster than anyone could breathe. All my life, I’ve prided myself on the self sufficient methods of the ‘take no prisoners’ approach, and thus far, it had served me. Well, as a matter of fact.
But now things have changed. They changed five months ago, actually, and I remember it well---the moment my carefully organized, easily accessable life was turned upside down. It was he day I walked into his office, schedule and itinerary in hand, the words, ‘keep his ass out of trouble,’ echoing in my ears----ears that had heard enough wild stories about him to fill a novel and then some extra volumes.
Now, I am the supposed rational half of a shattered, glued together whole. A big picture that I have been hastily drawn into, a post-haste friendship that was never meant to be. He shuts me out, he runs off, he ignores me, but he is my partner. If you could even call it that.
And for months, I have let him get away with it. I’ve watched over him and volleyed for him. I’ve sat for endless hours under a dark, ominous painted sky, and waited for him to return to me after embarking on yet another fruitless goose chase. I’ve nursed him to health, sutured his wounds, and followed him everywhere. I’ve sat for months, endless, droning months, and I’ve watched a man I’ve never really understood wander the earth with a death wish so fierce I wonder how he ever walks out of anything alive.
And this is besides the fact that I do it all for him—all of it----without reciprocity. I do it with the idea looming over my head that none of it will ever be good enough---that none of it will be enough to fill the shoes SHE left behind for me---shoes that noone could ever fill. In his eyes, I am not her, will never be her, and that is all it takes for me to be discarded. To be tossed aside like a dead rose.
Yet the sad truth is that I like the guy. He’s one hell of an insufferable jackass, but I like him. I feel drawn to him. I don’t exactly know why I do, but I do. I like him a lot, actually, which is why I’m sitting here with an untouched glass of Dr. Pepper on my right, and a nonsensical pattern of scribbling on my left. On my lap lies the note he left me this morning----yellowed now, crumpled and flattened out----and I stare at the words, over and over, chasing phrases again and again in my head until the letters stop making sense and my head starts to hurt. He left this for me----a few hours ago----after I chewed him out for what must have been the third time this week.
Well, what can I say? My self control has a limit, after all---and I had just had enough—more than enough, actually. After awhile, I felt as if I could take no more. His always familiar “sorry, I ran out” pathetic bullshit routine drove me over the edge and my ears began to steam with annoyed and frustrated smoke. My fists balled up. For a moment, the world had a strange tilt to it and I couldn’t breathe.
I was THAT angry.
So I told him---in no uncertain terms---that I would leave him. I could take no more, could not stand to watch him walk into the flames of hell and never return---and I was leaving. I was going to do it. I would take my coffee cup, my laptop, and my pride that hung like an overcoat on the door, and I would leave.
I walked out then---turning directly on my heels to keep my emotions from reaching his keen and prodding eyes----the ones that seemed to know everything without even knowing anything at all. I stomped to the bathroom, gritting my teeth into a fine powder, and proceeded to bang my fist on the door with an anger that reverberated inside my head and shattered the left over pieces of my heart. My heart----the part of me that felt so strangely drawn to him, even though I knew with all clarity and melancholy that he was bad news. He was not mine to have or desire. He was the brooding guy with a serious ice chip residing on the shoulders that slumped to work every morning, the man who my father warned me about when I joined the FBI. His soul was already scattered and ripped in two, and I would never be his. I would never know his smile, I would never find his unyielding trust.
But part of me craved him anyway. I don’t know why. And if I don’t ever know why, it won’t surprise me.
Because his note said, “Kate- 9 pm, my place. Let me explain. –F’ and even though I know I should run in the other direction and not look back, I am going to meet him anyhow.
If not for my own peace of mind and my insatiable desire to stick this out---to the bloody end, if need be---then out of my damned curiosity concerning the man who, for the past five months, has been an engima to me.
I want to know who the woman in the picture on the mantle is. I want the whole godammned story, beginning to end, the reasons why he ditched me this last time, and damn it, I am going to get them!
Even if it kills me in the process.
For I have dwindled in the shadow of a ghost for far too long.
Fox Mulder’s Apartment
Just outside Laughton, Ohio
He is finally going to tell me.
For the scientific part of me, that is the first thing that I think of—the first thing that comes to mind as I sit here---in his living room. In his abode. In his life.
He is finally going to tell me.
The tea in front of me remains untouched, black and hot---the way I like it, no cream, no sugar… Ordinarily I would probably find it to be a most wonderful aphrodisiac. Just me and my sweats---one mismatched sock, one ripping, 5 year old bathrobe, one cup of hot earl grey—no cream, no sugar.
He is finally going to tell me.
For the woman in me, however, there is a terrified place in my heart that has opened just for this admission---this mythical story that I had always thought—from the beginning---that I would never hear. There is, of course, the other part of me---that secret part of my heart that he won’t ever understand---that part that wants to believe that he trusts me. That he is telling me because he knows that to be my partner, he must trust me with everything----his life, his faith.
But the again, something I am not, is stupid.
The intelligent part of me---the practical side of that self same heart----the woman behind the woman---understands that I won’t ever be the possessor of things so dully important to him. I won’t ever be the one who will sit here—in my five year old bathrobe and my mismatched scrunch socks, I won’t ever be the one to which he will grant full smiles and gratuitous backrubs. I won’t hear him laugh with me---not in this lifetime, I don’t think.
I am his partner but I am not her.
I have never been her and I will never be her. In his eyes, I am not as beautiful, not as intelligent, not as wonderful, and never as trustworthy. No. Never, ever as trustworthy. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that anyone will ever have his trust the way she had it---the way she possessed it like the key to a safe.
My hair is not her red, my eyes are brown and not her blue, my voice is mine and not hers. My science is biochemistry and not pathology, and I have never in my life worn a golden cross. I have also never been so jealous of a woman I have never met.
I’ve never met her—but I’ve seen her—in the reflection of his eyes, in the face of a daughter he tries to shield from the world, and in the photos he keeps—but never lets anyone touch.
They’re like glass framed shrines for my partner’s beloved, red headed, unfortunate snow white.
There are two pictures of her on the mantle, another one on the couch’s end table, and yet another one---facing the door. I assume that the last one’s placement is because there is an unconscious part of him that wants to think she can see him when he walks in. He knows that she can’t, not really, but I think he likes to entertain the notion anyway.
One of the pictures on the mantle looks a little older than the other three---a little more grainy---I think, but maybe that’s just my eyes going on me.
It’s him and her playing baseball in what looks like old Greenway Park----in what used to be DC---at night, and at home plate. His arms are wrapped around her in a protective, mock-tutorial stance, and her fresh, young face is alight with brilliant laughter. There is a red hair obscuring one eye, curled almost into her mouth, and there is a look of determination belaying her delight. The photo has been taken from an odd angle---almost from the ground, it looks like, and if I had to guess, I’d have to say that it was taken by a very short person. –Or, at the very least, from a very small table.
The other one on the mantle---- the one in the golden frame with the trim is the one that fascinates me to no end. The funny thing though is that I have no clue know why. Maybe it’s got something to do with her smile---the way the corners of her cupids bow lips turn up like a secretive Mona Lisa. Every time I see it, it makes me wonder… what was she thinking, in that exact moment freeze framed in time? What did that smile mean to her, painted upon such a mischievous expression?
But maybe it’s not even her---well, not entirely anyway. Maybe it’s him---the way he appears so…aloof. Nonchalant. As if he had inadvertently stepped into a photo he wasn’t expecting, but he put his arm around her anyway, just because he could. Maybe it’s the way his expression screams that he loves her, the way his half grin tells me he needs her, without giving much away at all. Maybe it’s the way his eyes speak to me, telling me that he belongs there---with her. Forever incased in a kodak moment.
Or maybe it’s just nothing and I’m crazy.
At any rate, there’s another one on the end table.
It looks like it was taken about five and a half years ago---or maybe just a little earlier, judging from the size of her distended stomach. Like the mantle pictures, she is smiling here, but there is more maturity in her eyes----more aged wisdom—as if whatever she’d seen, been through, or whatever she’d done since the baseball picture was taken had aged her mentally. She is also about 5 sizes bigger here than she had been in the ones on the mantle---though not dressing any less smartly than she had in the last two pictures. Her white button down blouse and black pants give away her professionalism and her integrity. She seems to exhube it, even though she’s the size of a small house.
He is there too.
His head is against her stomach—hand cupped around his right ear, against her belly, as if he is waiting for her abdomen to speak to him. There’s a faintly amused look on his face, a look of mischief, and underneath that smile of hers, I can see a similar light. She looks as if she’s going to shove him away at any minute---as if she’s taking this photo to humor whomever is standing behind the camera. He just looks pleased as heck.
The one on the counter that faces the door is a very different picture; one that, I assume, he must look at with reverence daily.
It is her by herself, standing in front of what looks like a bush or some very tall flowers. From the way her hair is angled, I assume that there must have been a slight breeze that day. And from the angle of her chin, the direction of her gaze, I also assume that she was not aware this photo was being taken.
Her face is cast slightly downward—her bright blue eyes obscured by thick, auburn lashes that barely brush her faintly freckled cheek. Her scarlet, unpainted lips are slightly ajar, as if she is holding back a giant secret, and her slender fingers are wrapped around the petals of a tiny dandelion flower. She is staring at it as if it holds the ominous secrets of her universe, and her fingers play upon the tiny yellow blossoms like a teenage on the verge of a round of “he loves me, he loves me not.”
He loves you, I silently think to the beautiful woman forever encased under the glass of a picture frame. Trust me, he loves you.
She is his snow white, but she won’t ever wake up.
It is, perhaps, the cruelest twist of fate I’ve ever seen.
I try not to look that often, but sometimes I can’t help it.
He walks slowly into the room, rubbing his temple, and smiles an apology. His hair is sticking out at all angles, and there is a slight bit of dark stubble decorating his chin from where I can tell he hasn’t shaved.
I’d brush away that errant hair, but I doubt he’d appreciate it.
“Sorry,” he says, distractedly, dropping something into my lap. “She couldn’t find her teddy bear.”
I nod at him as if I understand the toils of raising a child, which I don’t, but I can pretend, for his sake. I do a lot of things for his sake, actually, but I doubt that he notices. Like I said, I’m not her. I won’t ever be.
Much of him, I think, is somewhere trapped in a strange limbo—wrapped inside a dream where he waits for her. Sometimes, I wonder how long he’ll wait.
Carefully, I wrap my fingers around what he has just handed me. It’s an old yellowed newspaper, still intact, still complete and relatively organized in much the way it had been five years ago. Exactly what he’s doing with a five year old newspaper escapes me at the moment, but that’s why I’m here.
He’s finally going to tell me.
“Tell me,” he says, taking a seat across from me on the opposite couch. “Do you remember that?”
I stare down at the headline and furrow a brow, suppressing a shiver.
Oh god, do I remember this..
I was in the academy back then---mustering through training and hell week, getting by as a young, naïve little urchin, but I don’t think there is any way I could have missed this. There isn’t any way I could have forgotten. I don’t think there is a person in this world who has forgotten about it. We were all affected by it—if not directly, then through the loss of valued economic resources---NYSE headquarters, the hub of modern industry, the white house, the Hoover building. Jobs lost, lives lost…
“Remember this?” I ask, taking a breath. “How could I not, Fox? This was perhaps the most horrific terrorist attack in the history…”
He looks at me as if he knows more than he’s letting on. It’s a look I’ve gotten quite used to in the five months we’ve been partnered. Usually, though, he leaves me in the dark. He lets me sweat. He doesn’t tell me.
Now, he’s finally going to tell me.
‘Four major cities leveled in weekend macabre,’ I re-read, running a finger over the headline. ‘New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, destroyed.’
The words dance a horrific waltz inside my head, bumping and colliding until I am taken back to the day---to the anxiety, the airraid drills---the impassioned speeches by directors who had lost loved ones, trainers who had lost friends, co-workers. The fear and anxiousness. The evacuation of government buildings all over the United States—the president going into hiding, the massive chaos that reigned in front of my eyes from a FBI sanctioned war room. Fire, debris, explosions. Men whose faces we could not see that burned the secure blanket of American innocence to the ground.
I take a breath and stare at him, wondering why he would bring this up. Why this would be important. I read her file—I memorized the facts and I know when it happened. This wasn’t it.
He leans forward.
“What if I told you that was no terrorist attack?”
My breathing hitches.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, confused. He does not answer, merely waits for me to continue my myraid of disbelief over what he believes to be truth.
“They… they caught the guys,” I insist, looking at him, then at the paper. “The masterminds---terrorist faction leaders from Serbia and Yugoslavia, the aftermath of---“
He laughs, bitterly, running a hand through his cropped, chestnut hair. His eyes are mirthless, hazel orbs devoid of any passion except for the work that contains him and the daughter he dotes upon.
Why is he laughing at me?
“What’s so funny?” I ask, straightening my back a little, jutting my chin slightly. I am sick and tired of being pushed around. I am sick and tired of being laughed at. I am sick and tired of being ignored.
I’m sick and tired of being compared to a woman that I can never be.
And, sure enough, he shakes his head, looking at me, admitting, “that’s something Scully would have said.”
I shake my head back at him, anger roiling inside me like a vast ocean during a hurricane. My heart hurts and my head hurts and right now I can’t decide which is worse.
I let my mouth run away with me.
“I am NOT her,” I tell him, low, fevered, “I am NOT Scully, Mulder.”
I force my fists to stay still and unclenched upon my lap. His eyes change moods suddenly, at the sound of his last name coming from my lips, and I close my eyes so that I don’t have to look at him. I could say it a million times, remind him till I turn blue, and it still wouldn’t stop him. I could work with him and remain by his side until we’re old and decrepit, until the sun stops setting and the world crumbles. It still wouldn’t stop that brain of his from comparing---from looking at me and seeing a paler, less magnificent version of what once was.
I’m sick of him looking at me and missing her. I am not her.
“Don’t ever call me that,” he tells me, fevered, clenching his teeth until his molars grit and his jaw moves.
I refuse to flinch.
We stare at each other for a long moment.
I remember a time, once, when we were first partnered, that someone told me that he never used to let anyone call him Fox. I heard that colleagues who used the name—often proceeded by the word “spooky”--- would frequently get black eyes and harsh words. Strangers who used it were rebuffed—corrected, frowned at. He despised his first name and so he was “Mulder” to anyone and everyone who ever knew him. He was Mulder at work, Mulder at home, Mulder to the gunmen, Mulder to her…
He’s not Mulder to me.
He makes me call him Fox, though he still hates the name.
Nobody is allowed to call him Mulder anymore.
“So,” I ask uncomfortably, trying to change the subject but still suffering the sting. “Are you going to tell me or are we going to argue all night?”
He sighs, looking older in those intriguing eyes than a man his age ought to look. His face screams of countless horrors he has visited once, when he lived them, then revisited again and again, in nightmares and dreamscapes I couldn’t ever imagine.
But that’s why I’m here.
He is finally going to tell me.
“You may need to spike that tea with something stronger,” he jokes, weakly, trying to leaven the moment.
I do not smile.
“Try me,” I tell him, watching him closely for a reaction. “I want to know.”
His jaw hardens. “First is first,” he manages, softly, then, “How much do you already know?”
A feeling of nausea falls over me and I cross my legs, left over right. I take a deep breath and wait for the feeling to pass, for the nausea to wash away---like it always does when I think about the stories I’ve heard---the horror tales about poor Mrs. Spooky----the tough, stubborn woman who went in and didn’t come out. My predecessor---the woman I am not, the woman I will never be, the woman I am compared to on a daily basis by not only him, but everyone who knew her. The resilient, beautiful red haired woman who was kidnapped by madmen, held hostage, held at gunpoint, abducted by forces unknown, ridiculed for the company she kept—namely, him, infected with Cancer, and always came back fighting—right to the end.
She was like the mythical, tragic, heroine of the bureau. The woman nobody had really known, but who had prompted more stories and tales in every department, than any killer or murderer ever had. Fantastical, crazy stories that went around the Ohio office like wildfire, speculating all sorts of things about the trials and tribulations of poor Mrs Spooky and her renegade partner, “Spooky Mulder” before they had graced the Laughton field office. They were FBI folk tales.
“The higher-ups are trying to placate him,” one colleague had told me once, warning me right before I had met him—right after I had been assigned. “He thinks dangerous things. Does dangerous things. They’re trying to make sure he doesn’t kill himself over her. They’re trying to re-create her with you.”
It was a statement that had scared me more than alien stories and tales of woe and horror for the victimized Dana Scully. It had scared me down to my core. It still does, and I still think it, even now.
It scares me because I know that it’s true.
“I know about the abduction,” I finally manage, setting the newspaper aside. “I was…told… When I asked Skinner… he contacted me… email… he told me everything about her…”
I pause and he is silent.
“Everything but the end,” I finish, “Everything but this, apparently.” I point to the newspaper and he nods, swallowing and shifting his legs. “If they weren’t terrorists, Fox, then who were they?”
He looks down at the paper, licking his lips absently.
There is a part of me that wishes and wants with ferocity for him to heal—for him to let go of her and remember that there are others who care. That I am here and I care. I would look after him. That I want to help him. I wish he would let me.
But, like I said, I am not stupid.
And I don’t care what it takes, but he is finally going to tell me.
“What happened, Fox?” I ask, gently.
He sighs and looks back at me, blinking once before he softly clears his throat. “Alright…the end, it is,” he says, forcing nonchalance, as if I have just ordered a burger and fries, rather than asking him how his world ended.
I nod and he starts, slowly, “About five years ago, we were on a case---Scully and I---that is, but it wasn’t an X File. We were just assisting a friend of hers. Some guy whose name I don’t remember—Scott? Steve? Was that it? Steve something or other…” His voice trails off and he waves an errant hand. “Not important… anyways, we stopped off at some McDonalds somewhere and ah… it was hot—outside… I think… The beginning of the end of the beginning….”
Aproximately five and a half years ago
Local Mc Donalds
“Oh, real attractive… thank you…”
Mulder chewed and chewed, swallowed, then sipped his drink before exclaiming, “ahhhhh…” to his partner like a cheesy coke commercial.
She wrinkled her nose in response.
“Mulder, that shit is going to clog your arteries.”
He took another sip.
Two finely manicured fingers poked at the red box on his tray in disgust, stabbing at Mulder’s food and grabbing part of his lunch in distain. Then, as if to further illustrate her point, she rubbed a particularly soft french fry against a napkin to produce an offending grease stain. She held it up and displayed it to him.
Mulder only grinned and grabbed another bite of his triple cheeseburger----gobbs of ketchup and mustard oozing out the side like primordeal slime.
“Yes,” Mulder managed between bites, swallowing, “Yes, true, maybe so BUT…” He shot her a waggled eyebrow. “where is your sense of adventure, doctor Scully?”
Scully rolled her eyes.
“I must’ve left it at home with my light saber,” she answered dryly, poking a fork at her limp salad.
Mulder reached over the table to yank a tomato off her fork, causing an offended, “hey!” before he deposited it in his mouth with a self satisfied smirk. She glowered at him, weakly, trying to suppress a grin.
“Too bad the force isn’t with you,” Mulder joked, smirking, chomping noisily on her last tomato. “Or else you would have seen that one coming.”
Scully rolled her tongue inside her cheek and grinned, mischievously, leaning over the table, closer and closer, until she was inches from his face. His eyes fell upon her lips and she opened her mouth, in a low voice starting, “you are one fu----“
A nervous, male voice interrupted them.
Flustered, Scully nearly banged her head against the overhanging lightfixture as she moved away and fell back against the seat. Mulder did his damndest to suppress a vicrorious grin.
“Can we help you?” he asked the young, nervous agent, while lifting a fry to his mouth.
The agent watched them for another moment longer, biting his lip before managing, “we need backup. Our man was spotted about four blocks away. Larren just called me from his cell. There was gunfire—we think the guy’s in there.”
Mulder and Scully eyed each other for a moment, then pulled themselves to their feet simultaneously. Scully straightened out her jacket, self consciously, and her hand automatically fell to her side to feel the protective bulk of her gun, nestled underneath her jacket. Mulder tossed his trash into a nearby receptical and eyed his partner again. She nodded at their wordless exchange and looked at her friend---poor, nervous, Pete Barker. He was a new agent and as a result, he was always so timid when it came to things like this. She felt almost sorry for him… well, almost…
“Pete, “ she said, authoritatively, “I think you should stay here. Call the SAC, apprise him of the ah, the situation. Agent Mulder and myself will be able to provide adequate backup. Just let us know where we’re going…”
Back to the present:
Mulder telling his story:
I wrap a finger around the handle of my mug of tea and watch the last puffs of steam rise up and disappear into the air. It’s been sitting here for nearly ten minutes now, probably longer than that, and I have not touched it. Whereas once I had thought I wanted it, I am now as far from thirsty as a person can get. Go figure.
My gaze rises and captures Mulder’s, our eyes connecting. My breathing is almost non-audible and my lips silent as he continues the story I feel I have been destined to hear. I have been sent to him to help him, I think, or at least I hope. But to what end I can offer that help, the parameters of that pledge, it is all still not clear to me. I’m hoping that it might be---after tonight.
“So anyways,” he says, folding and unfolding his hands in his lap, “ we went down to the scene. But by that time, the guy had wasted his entire clip, thankfully not killing anyone, and Larren and Mathews had already had the guy holed up. They just needed us so that they could safely make the arrest, make sure there were no surprises waiting—stuff like that, you know, same old drill.”
I nod and he continues, “so it was more a matter of backup than life or death. All we had to do was stand there with our guns drawn. Easy enough…”
Ten minutes later,
“How long have they been in there, you think, Scully?”
Scully looked back at her partner and glanced briefly at her gold tone watch, making sure to stay straight and textbook against the wall with her gun.
“Five minutes, maybe” she answered, distracted, her eyes darting around.
Mulder pursed his lips, letting out a slight sigh as he glanced around.
Scully licked her lips absently and turned her head left, then right.
‘So, Scully…” Mulder said casually, or---as casually as he could say anything while standing outside a warehouse with his gun drawn--“ What were you going to say when Steve—“
“Pete” Mulder ammended, “Right. Sorry. When Panhandle Pete--” he paused to watch her reaction and almost smiled when she suppressed an enigmatic grin. “Interrupted…”
“Interrupted…. what, Mulder?”
She was battling harder to force back her smile, and he bit his lip and continued, “So… when he came in and----“
“GOT EM, AGENTS! CLEAR?”
The yell came from inside, and Scully yelled back, “CLEAR!” as she lowered her gun. Mulder followed suit and caught her gaze, briefly. She finally smiled. He smiled back. Soon after, Agents Larren and Mathews exited with a very pissed, very dirty looking Darren Walter---accused bank robber and little known car thief. They nodded their thanks to Mulder and Scully and hurled him away—as he hurled obscenities in every which direction. Scully shook her head and proceeded to put her gun away in its clip, turning away from the arrest. She was busy struggling with a non-compliant, stubborn holster when Mulder opened his mouth, about to make his usual smart assed comment. She shot him a warning look before he could even breathe to get it out, and his phone elicited a very loud—very whiny, high pitched squeal.
“Saved by the bell,” Scully muttered, still yanking on her apparently stuck leather holster. Mulder shrugged and turned in the opposite direction, looking for a better reception as he cursed himself for not re-charging the damn thing. He clicked it on and barked, “Mulder.”
“Agent Mulder,” Pete Barker’s voice sounded, nervous as always, “How’d it go?”
Mulder fought down a thin smile and rolled his eyes, entertaining the notion of telling Barker that the impending arrest had ended in a shootout and a bloodbath, resulting in the deaths of five civilians and several housepets. A picture of the guy having a heart attack inside McDonalds crept into his head, and he nearly snickered at his own silent joke. “It went fine,” Mulder finally decided upon, glancing at his watch, impatiently. He and Scully had baseball tickets for a game that started at four, and it was going to be an hour drive…
Mulder paced forward, “Look, Pete, they’ve got Walter in custody right now, if you want to contact Mathews or---“
Mulder swiftly turned his head at the sound of the gasp to see Scully, hunched over and gripping her ankle in annoyed, dulled, pain. Oblivious to the concerned voice of Pete Barker on the other end, Mulder lifted the phone from his ear and eyed Scully, concerned. “You ok?” he asked, leaning closer.
Scully did not answer for a moment, merely rubbed her ankle, scrunching her face in pain and confusion. “It… Ow… ow… fuck…I think…” she started, her voice breathless, “I think something… stung…ow… me…”
Mulder furrowed a brow, flashing back to another time something had “stung her.” She had uttered those exact words to him, and he remembered it all too well. It had been in his hallway----during one of the most important, sensual moments of his life… with his hands caressing the nape of her neck---her hairline, that place between her cheek and her jaw… Her arms around his neck, her eyes half closed in barely hooded need… he had been about to kiss her… about to tell her…
And then she’d been taken from him.
Mulder shook off the disturbing thought, pushing it back into the recesses of his mind. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar he told himself, watching her closely.
“But you’re ok?” he asked again, stepping closer to her, eyeing her ankle. “Right? Scully?”
Finally, she looked up with a slight grimmace and nodded, “Yeah…” Her back straightened and she nodded again, looking up to catch Mulder in the eye with a clouded gaze. “I’m ok,” she breathed, softly. “I’m…fi----“
Then her eyes rolled up into her head and her body fell forward….