Dana Scully watched him from across the room, her eyes angry and hurt, her shiny red hair glinting beneath the low restaurant lighting. Common sense told her that of course, there was probably a very good reason Mulder was eating with that girl, that Sarah girl. Most likely, he was trying to pump information for the case, trying to work his profiling magic on her to break whatever it was he thought he saw, wide open. But the way he was holding her hand, the way Sarah had looked at him… Well, Sarah was certainly beautiful. Scully was sure Mulder had noticed. And of course Mulder himself was no slouch. He was a damn fine looking man. And when he wanted to, he could be compassionate, gentle, wonderful. He could be the most wonderful man Scully had ever known.
Damn myself for thinking this, Scully thought.
Apparently Sarah had noticed Mulder--- in more ways than one. She was completely transfixed. The way she was looking at him, as if he had all the answers. Like he’d known her face, her love, from another life or something.
No. I am not jeaous, Scully thought. But she was. She was and she knew she was. And more than anything, it irritated her to know that she was irritated. That she hated anyone looking at Mulder the way she looked at him. She hated that she felt jealous even though she knew that there was no good reason for it. She hated that she felt desperate longing for Mulder even though she’d wished their relationship away. But more than that, she hated herself for wanting him and not having him. At this point, she wasn’t even sure whose fault that was.
Dana Scully turned at the sound of her name, finally breaking Mulder’s gaze. She was met with Marcus’ large serious eyes, his brows furrowed, his expression curious. All at once she felt guilty and sad. Guilty because she was having dinner with a nice man that she didn’t want despite his good looks and inherent good nature, and sad because she knew she could never want him the way she ached for Mulder, even though she knew such feelings were dangerous and wrong.
“Sorry.” Scully smiled weakly and brushed a thin lock of copper out of her eyes. “I just… I was surprised to see him---“
“Your partner,” Marcus answered for her. His tone sounded deflated and sad. “You’ve certainly mentioned him enough times tonight.”
Scully’s bright blue eyes flashed in surprise. She began picking at her cloth napkin. “Have I?” she asked confused. But I’m mad at Mulder, she thought. That’s why I’m here with Marcus and not with him. Why would I be talking about him? Scully sighed. She was so tired and worn out at this point, she honestly couldn’t remember what she’d been talking about. It could have been the weather, for all she knew.
Marcus cleared his throat and picked at his salad. Scully paused and waited for a response, for something that signaled Marcus had understood how tired she was, but he said nothing. Obviously, Marcus’d gathered that whatever had happened between herself and her partner, it was not up for intimate discussion. Had she really given off that air? She couldn’t seem to remember. Damn it, why was her head so fuzzy? Had she really slept that little?
“Mulder and I, we ah,” Scully looked up and met Marcus’ eyes above the breadsticks in the center of the table. “We just spend a lot of time together, that’s all. We’re both more inclined to work than to spend leisure time at home. So I see a lot of him.”
“I understand,” was all Marcus said. He reached over and grabbed a breadstick, tearing off a small bite in his mouth.
“It’s complicated,” Scully said, not really understanding why she was saying it or why she felt the need to justify the relationship. “Our work is complicated.”
Marcus smiled apologetically and nodded. He really is such a good looking guy, Scully thought. Really, he was. The way he smiled, the way his hair shone in the light, the way he carried himself and talked about his nieces and nephews and how he loved children … Fuck, what is wrong with me? Scully wondered. Why can’t I bring myself to want him again? I wanted him in high school. I ached for him in high school.
“But what about your off time?” Marcus asked, munching on the same breadstick. The garlic odor began to waft its way across the table.
“I really don’t have much of it.” Scully speared a cucumber with her fork and sliced it with her knife. Long way, short way, in half and in fourths. She didn’t eat it.
“Surely you must have some.”
“So then you’re completely adverse to enjoying yourself.”
Scully looked up to find Marcus grinning jokingly, dimples gracing his perfect, tanned cheeks. He used to smile that way at me in high school, she thought. She could remember fantasizing about it day and night. How she would have loved to kiss him, to hold him, to have a boyfriend like the rest of the world did. She had imagined them together so many times and in so many ways, dancing and gazing up at each other… Under the moon and for all the stars to see. But of course Amanda had seen to it that Marcus wouldn’t want her, just as Amanda had seen to her misery in most things, during those days.
Scully’s lips quirked at his gentle challenge. “I enjoy myself,” she insisted, watching Marcus with curiosity.
“Really?” Marcus said.
“Yes,” Scully answered. “I always try to make time for…for…” she faltered for the right words. “For dinners and evening activities such as this.” She smiled softly and becomingly even though she knew that underneath, she was lying. “I’m enjoying myself right now, aren’t I?”
Marcus shrugged good-naturedly. “I dunno,” he said. “If you’re having such a good time—“ He gestured to her plate. “Then why is it you’re dissecting that cucumber?”
Scully’s cheeks went red. Her clear blue eyes stared down in astonishment at her plate. “Was I?”
Marcus nodded and eyed her as she took a deep sip from her drink. Scully’s face soured at the sweet taste for a moment, then she took a deep breath. She was going to say something, anything to apologize, but she was distracted by sudden movement out of the corner of her eye. As discreetly as she could, she looked over her shoulder at Mulder. He had gotten up and was heading in the general area of the restrooms. He’s up to something, Scully thought. I know him and he is.
“Must be an occupational hazard,” Marcus said.
Shaking her head, confused, Scully looked back at Marcus. “I’m sorry?” she asked.
Marcus frowned and stared back at his salad. His fingers traced the rim of the bowl absently. It hadn’t taken a rocket scientist to figure out what his dinner date was more interested in. And it certainly wasn’t dinner. Oh well. He sighed and remembered the fifty dollar bill Amanda had slipped in his pocket. I should feel guilty, he thought. He almost hadn’t taken it… Dana was so beautiful, he would have wanted her anyway but… but she was clearly taken by another man. Briefly, Marcus wondered about the FBI and whatever policies such an agency surely must have against the type of longing he’d seen in Dana’s eyes.
“Occupational hazard,” Marcus repeated. He sighed and waved a surrendering hand. “Dissecting the cucumber… you’re a forensic pathologist… nevermind. Bad joke.”
Scully frowned and murmured something that could have been acknowledgement, but there was no way for Marcus to know for sure. She seemed to be on another planet somewhere.
“Dana?” Marcus asked for the millionth time that night. “You ok?”
She didn’t answer. One moment she was sitting, frozen and stoic and oddly preoccupied in her seat, and the next she was up and mumbling soft apologies.
“Be back in a minute,” she said, not even bothering with the cloth napkin that fell from her lap to the floor.
“Mulder!” Scully hissed. She yanked hard on his arm and swung him around to face her. Mulder’s expression was impassive as always, his hands coming to fold defensively in front of him.
“Can I help you?” he said, his tone normal and innocent. He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Yes,” Scully said, her arm dropping back to her side. Her voice was low and dangerous. “You can do me the honor of telling me why you’re here.”
Mulder shrugged. “Working,” he said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “That a crime?”
He gestured over Scully’s shoulder to the nervous looking Sarah who rigidly sat, four tables away, twisting and untwisting the soft napkin in her lap. Her eyes were bright and watery.
“Working.” Scully spat the word softly, as if it was a lie.
Mulder leered at her, a silent mocking in his eyes. “Yes, oh woman scorned. I'm working.”
Scully narrowed her eyes.
“Sarah requested a meeting here, claiming she had some information for me. And I’ll have you know that what she ended up telling me was very interesting. Amazing in fact. Scully—“ A glint lit up in Mulder’s eyes that had nothing to do with his anger at her or at her dinner date. He was excited about something else. “We've got some research to do later---I'd like to get started this evening, if that's ok. It's---this thing that Sarah told me, we need all the information we can get on it. The Araje indians and also some microfiche access---"
Scully shook her head. "Mulder----"
"Old newspapers, New Mexico I think, maybe I should ask again---"
"Scully, this could mean a breakthrough for the X-files, the proof we’ve been looking for to validate us. You, you wouldn’t believe—but I think I’ve got a theory. Sarah said something about a weapon that kills by sheer force of will, it---“
“Mulder…” Scully sighed. Sometimes, she just hated breaking his bubble. “I found this in the dressing room.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out one of the evidence bags she’d been holding. She handed it to him and folded her arms in front of her.
Mulder’s brow furrowed and he turned the bag over and over again in his hands. He looked at the lipstick inside, then at Scully, then at the lipstick, then at Scully. “So what am I looking at?” he asked.
“The top of that lipstick,” Scully pointed. “It’s covered with a sheen, white powder. Could be angel dust or something similar. I decided to check it out so I bagged it… then I went back into the costume area and I found a bit more on the dressing table right before I came down here. I tasted a bit of it. And I know my narcotics training is a bit rusty but… my guess is that drugs have been involved, Mulder. It’s the only explanation. Probably the whole troupe is in on it, and Jennifer fell because she injested some and hallucinated. Plain and simple. So if I were you, I wouldn’t trust a word of anything Sarah said. She looks paranoid. Probably high or coming down from a high or---“
“No, Scully. You’re wrong.”
Scully shook her head, annoyed. “Jesus Mulder, why do you always say that?” she demanded. “Is it so impossible to fathom that I could be right?”
“No.” Mulder jutted his chin defiantly. “It’s not that. I just think you’re a little biased here, that’s all. You’re looking for excuses to get us out of New York because it makes you uncomfortable to be around your old high school tormentor. It’s not like you to get like that, Scully. We don’t know anything for sure and you're not examining all the angles. That powder, I think I know what it is. Sarah said there was---“
“Godddamn it!” Scully pursed her lips and lowered her voice when a nearby waiter turned to stare at them. “When are you going to stop looking for things that aren’t there? And don’t you turn this around on me just because I might be right about something. I am fine. My personal feelings are not up for discussion.”
Mulder let out a cold, bitter laugh. “Really,” he said, sarcasm dripping off his tongue. “Now there’s a change of pace.”
Scully sighed. “Alright, look,” she said. “This is immature and ridiculous. Closing this case should be our main focus. I don’t know what you’ve been discussing with that silly girl and frankly, I really don’t care. She looks slightly inhebriated for one and---“
“Your manner would suggest otherwise.”
Scully ground her teeth. “You’re mistaken,” she said lowly, and she gestured towards the table she’d been sitting at. Marcus was silently staring at his plate as if it fascinated him. “I am on a DATE, Mulder. A date. It has—and I know you find this hard to believe—nothing to do with you.”
“Really?” Mulder narrowed his eyes.
“Yes.” Scully narrowed hers back.
“Then why were you staring at me that way?”
Mulder leaned in closer until his breath was hot on Scully’s face. His eyes slammed into hers and the space between them crackled, just as it always did when they stood close. Scully’s lips parted slightly and she swallowed, her heart beating hard against her better judgement and common sense. Blood rushed to her cheeks and arms and everywhere, but she hardened her gaze against it. Her legs were shaking, gooseflesh rose on her arms---he was so close. But she didn’t want him to know how she felt—that she wanted to drag him down to her, warp her arms around him and—NO! Damn it! She couldn’t let him know that. They were through. They were over.
“You looked at me,” Mulder whispered, “as if I was the only person in the room.”
Scully took deep breaths. Her jaw quivered. I won’t let this happen, she thought. I won’t, I won’t.
“You’re imagining things,” she said.
“As usual, right?” Mulder’s tone was making her head foggy with excitement, even as it was infinitely infuriating to the point of rage. God, Scully thought. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe with him so close to me.
“I never called you crazy, Mulder.” Her eyes were pleading, desperate. Please, let me go, they said. Let me go.
“You said I was imagining things,” Mulder pointed out. He touched her arm gently. “Do you think I’m imagining the way your arm is shaking? Do you think I’m imagining how afraid you are?”
Scully pointed her chin defiantly. “I’m not afraid of you.”
Her jaw hardened to the point of falling off. It hurt. Her eyes squared off. But her traitorous chest heaved with deep breaths that made her legs feel wobbly and unsteady. She felt so awkward and light and fuzzy.
“I agree,” Mulder said, raising his hand to touch the soft spot just under her chin. “You’re not afraid of me. You’re afraid of you.” He lifted her chin to stare into her eyes. His expression was raw and open and wounded. “And my God, Dana, that scares me more than anything.”
Scully’s eyes began to water with the tears of truth she’d left unshed. Damn it, she didn’t want to cry. She refused to cry. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to be this terrifying, this real, this painful. It wasn’t even supposed to be love, it was supposed to be… to be… what? She didn’t know.
I’m not afraid of myself, she thought. I’m not afraid, not afraid, not afraid, not---
She looked up at him. He angled closer.
And then, suddenly, Mulder’s voice was gone and his soft lips were on hers, tugging, pulling, pleading, ‘Scully please, please, please….’
And so she let him in. Lights exploded and dams burst behind the back of her eyes, her head swam and floated. Everything was Mulder and Mulder was everything. Her head tilted back out of automation and her hand cupped his elbow. His lips lingered over hers, pressing and soothing her possessively. Oh Jesus, he felt so good, so right. He felt like air, like water in the middle of the desert. He was her oasis, her safety. She wasn’t afraid when she was with him, she was floating, she was—
Her head came violently back to her. Her heart slammed back down into her chest. I am not afraid! Damn it, he tricked me! That bastard! I told him no. We’re done. We’re over.
Suddenly her arms went rigid in their embrace, her back went ramrod straight. Her breath stopped in her throat and her lips closed against his. Everything felt so strange, it was if she were struggling to keep her head above water. She had to fight her way up, had to swim to the surface, she had to. She was going to drown if she didn’t.
With a violent force she didn’t know she even had, she yanked herself away from Mulder with a hard, angry shove. Her right hand flew up out of its own accord, almost without her conscious permission, and she slapped him. Hard. Fierce and angry and right across his smooth cheek. The audible SMACK she made was loud and sudden, and it caused several people, waiters and patrons included, to turn around and stare. A few murmurs went up amongst the crowd at a nearby table. A blonde haired woman on the phone halted her conversation. Mulder jumped backwards as if burned and almost fell into the faux wooden wall near the Men’s Room.
Scully’s lips opened in shock and she forced herself not to turn and stare at the tables nearby. Oh my God, she thought. Oh my God. Her hand flew to her mouth, flustered and ashamed. I hit him, she thought. I hit him. I hit Mulder. Oh God, look at him, the way he’s looking at me---oh God what have I done? He thinks I’ve lost it, he thinks… Jesus, he’s my partner, my---
“Oh, Mulder,” she whispered, slowly extending a trembling arm to him. But he backed away and edged around her, watching her strangely out of the corner of his eye. His face screamed regret and sadness, but before she could apologize, his expressionless mask fall back over his face. It was his defense mechanism, his wall against pain. And now, he was using it against her. Because she had hit him. She had hit Mulder. But why? Why had she hit him? Her head was so tired and foggy and swirling, she couldn’t quite understand it herself.
Suddenly, she felt slammed into by a wave of dizziness, as if she were drunk, not in her right mind. She was starting to feel even more unsteady on her feet, more unstable, she was floating, she was----
Her head yelled it at her. Drugged, Dana, that has to be it. You’re drugged! Yes! That would explain her lack of control, it would explain her weak knees, her drooping eyelids. But... how? And when? Couldn't have been too long ago....Knock out drops? Choroform? No, those would work too fast… And besides, she hadn’t passed out yet. She only felt… out of herself. It must have been something—a small dosage of acid? Ecstasy? Something in the soda? Something Marcus did?
Pathetically, she craned her neck to glance at Marcus. Was he still there? Could he have drugged me? Put something in the soda? Something in my salad?
Scully opened her mouth to say something but nothing came out. Her eyes found Marcus. He was, of course, staring at them along with the rest of the restaurant, just as shocked as everyone else. His eyes were surprised and confused. He thought she was nuts. Oh god, oh god.
“You know what? I’m Sorry Scully,” Mulder said suddenly, not looking at her. “I have to get back to Sarah. I need to go. We need to go. I’ll call you with any new information in regards to the case. This won’t happen again, I assure you.”
Scully’s mouth opened, as if to gasp or cry out or speak, but her hand fell from Mulder’s arm. Her fingers dropped limply at her side and dangled at the base of her hip for a moment. It was if the force of this strange exhaustion had hit her all at once and she couldn’t handle it, didn’t know what to do with it. Her vision blurred with stunted tears and she blinked them away, angrily. She couldn’t speak, didn’t even know what to say.
Fuck! She thought. Now isn’t the time. This is serious. Something’s wrong, very wrong. Oh Mulder, Mulder I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you. Help me please!
But she could not find the words, could not muster the strength to move her lips or her feet. She felt like lying down right there and taking him with her. She just wanted to sleep… sleep… Oh Mulder, damn it! Come back!
But then before she knew it he was gone, out the door and out of the restaurant, gone to God only knew where without her. And with his departure, much to Scully’s chagrin, the rest of the patrons seemed to return to their dinners, eating and drinking and talking as if nothing was amiss. Oh God, she thought. Oh no, I need their attention. I need someone to help me.
On unsteady legs, Scully stumbled towards the nearest door---the men’s restroom stall. She felt like she was floating, flying. She felt dizzy and tired but she didn’t want to sleep anymore, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t fall out of her skin, couldn’t feel her arms… Oh this must be a street drug, she thought desperately. Ecstasy or something equally disorienting and easy to get ahold of. Someone inexperienced did this. Hasty. Slack job. What does it all mean? She couldn’t think. Couldn’t feel. Her knees began to buckle. She reached for her cell phone.
“Mulder,” she said out loud, not even able to remember whether or not she’d dialed his number. Had she? Where was he? Why wouldn’t he kiss her again? Everything was pink and blue and purple and dark.
“Uhgggmmm…” She groaned and slumped to the floor in confusion and sluggishness.
Just then, a strong unfamiliar arm came about her, tight and fast. A sickeningly sweet smell in the shape of a rag was shoved over her nostrils. Chloroform. Oh no, she thought, don’t breathe in. Oh jesus, don’t breathe in. But her lungs burst and begged for air, her chest heaved, and her eyes closed.
But before she slipped into the world of unconsciousness, a voice called out from the darkness. “Nighty night,” it said. And all she could think of before she passed out was that she’d heard that voice before.
“Are you ok Agent Mulder?”
Sarah watched nervously as he walked with brisk, long strides. His breath billowed out into the night air. He looked upset, genuinely upset, but Sarah had the feeling his set jaw had more to do with Agent Scully and less to do with the outcome of this case.
“Fine,” he mumbled, walking faster and faster. Sarah nearly had to run to keep up with him.
“Oh… I—I’m so sorry…”Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah spied a nondescript blue car parked on the side of the road. One of the dirty mirrors was cracked and broken. Her heart beating fast, she touched a shaking hand to Mulder’s arm to turn him around. Her pulse was thundering in her ears, her breathing shallow. He’s so beautiful, she thought. So wonderful. I can’t do this to him, I can’t do this to him.
“Agent Mulder---“ as discreetly as she could, she pulled something out of her pocket with her opposite hand. “I’m sorry,” she said.
Mulder frowned, confused. “What are you sorry about?” he asked. “You haven’t done---“
He didn’t get a chance finish the sentence.
With her left arm, Sarah jabbed something long and sharp into Mulder’s thigh, her face a twisted mask of pain and horror. Agent Mulder gasped in shock and shoved her away as quickly as he could. With one arm he grabbed his leg. With the other, he reached for his gun.
“Ow! What the---“
But then he fell to the floor in a messy, crumpled heap. His gun clattered away into the gutter beside the car and it was all over. His outstretched hand came to rest an inch before Sarah’s feet. Sarah’s eyes spilled over with icy, angry tears and she covered her face with her hands.
“Oh God,” she moaned. “Oh God, what have
I done, oh God oh God…”