HOW I SLEPT WITH MY PARTNER
(WITHOUT REALLY TRYING)
By Jaime Lyn
Mulder and Scully on Endings
And Each Other
Not a Day Gone By
Once upon a time, I would have done anything for Dana Scully. I would have sacrificed our partnership, our friendship, our status as mere acquantances, if my leaving her meant that she would be happy and safe--that she would be far away from any damage my life or my life's quest might do her. I would have moved out of the state, out of the country even, if I thought my absence would give her the normal life she deserved. Scully had always wanted more normality than I could ever give her. She wanted to stop, to get away, to get married and have a couple of kids, and maybe return to being "the sane and responsible daughter" in her mother's eyes. I remember Scully once telling me that what bothered her the most about her job (and subsequently, our partnership,) was that her family never looked at her the way they used to look at her. Scully's brother thought her reckless; her mother thought her lonely. Only Scully knew the real truth, and she certainly wasn't telling anyone.
Not even me. What does that say about us?
One hour ago I would have agreed that perhaps I was doing Scully more harm than good. Forty five minutes ago I would have agreed that it might be better for her, and for her family, if I left her alone. Scully, I knew, always liked to fight her battles on her own. If she'd only been sick... well, I suppose I figured that we could go back to our old friendly commraderie, and she would do what she needed to do to help herself, and I could be there for her in a non-smothering type manner. I'd never had any doubt about Scully and I finding our way back to each other; reconciliation was inevitable, really. I mean--we had a track record. One of us would have to run, to get away, or to disappear, but we would always come stumbling right back here. Leaving was never really leaving. Scully would always be in my life, be the love of my life, no matter how far I went to run away from her.
Um... That is.... Um...Not that I meant to run away. I don't run away. I'm no fucking quitter. I just... I don't think Scully wants me around all that much anymore.
Which probably makes next to no sense, but...
Maybe I get too protective. Maybe I love her too much. Maybe she sensed the coward in me and decided that she would be the one to break first: So you were thinking of leaving me, Mulder? Well, I'll show you. I'll be the brave one and I'll sever the tie.
William gurgles contentedly in his Vroom-Vroom carrier. He waves his hands at me and smiles, completely oblivious to the fact that his parents may never again reside in the same household. Wouldn't it be nice to be that age again, to look at Scully and I from his baby point of view? All of our problems would go away, all our ridiculous fears and worries and all the gray areas--gone. The only remaining components would be...us. Us from William's perspective. The entity without the complications. The two people who gave William breath, who now take care of him and play with him. Amazing how life is incredibly uncomplicated when looked at through the eyes of a baby.
William, My son. With his big blue eyes and his little tuft of brown hair, sometimes he looks like Scully. Sometimes he looks like me. My son. God, my son.
Scully stares at me with her own clear, blue eyes. Between us is the promise of another life, another child. But both of us are so afraid of what that fact could mean for her, for us--I don't think we can get past it. Will Scully be alright? Will the child be alright? The idea of Scully leaving me terrifies me almost as badly as all the other thoughts about this new baby's origins.
"How?" I ask, without looking away from her.
"We had sex," Scully says.
"Really?" I ask. "So that's where babies come from."
"Christ, Mulder, what the hell do you want me to say?"
"I want to know how it's possible!" I close my hands into fists, lower them to my sides to keep from throwing random objects against the wall. "Just... just tell me how it's possible."
Scully shoots me a look. "The initial..." She swallows. "...the initial....pregnancy... test... was performed twice, just to be sure. It came back positive both times. A few other blood tests were peformed at my request, including one that was designed to check for Ovarian Cancer--or at least a form of it. Since William was born under suspicious circumstances... well, I had to cover my bases. At any rate, the nurse informed me that my ovaries, from what my preliminary tests showed, are in perfect working order. So I asked for another test. And although that test has not been performed yet, I'm sure the procedure won't tell me anything I don't already know."
Scully sounds so detatched, so scientifically sound, as if she was talking about someone else's baby, someone else's body. The monotone sound of her voice makes me nuts. I close my eyes against the drone. "Which is what?" I ask, feeling a sense of deja-vu flit over me. The shift is gone almost as soon as I feel it caressing the back of my mind.
"It's possible that I never lost my fertility in the first place," Scully says, her eyes cast down. She looks ashamed---of herself, of me, I'm not sure which.
"What do you mean?" I run a hand through my hair and turn towards the window, watching gnarled, twisted branches tapping the glass. This is all so fucking crazy I can't even begin to wrap myself around it. "How is that possible?" I manage, "The doctors told you---"
"One doctor, Mulder." Scully sighs. "I never got a second opinion until Dr. Parenti. The doctor who initially informed me of my infertility was Dr. Kristoff--you remember him. He was the same person who referred me to Dr. Parenti. At the time, I...I wasn't looking to get pregnant. I had the test performed twice, but--"
"By the same doctor?"
I close my eyes.
"Mulder---" Scully shakes her head. "Mistakes were made. Bad decisions, yes... by both of us. But I think... the fact of the matter is that it's over. I was lied to--we were lied to. And... while I believe that someone was trying to control the variables, to orchestrate and keep track of exactly when and where I would get pregnant... regardless, we now know the secret behind the miracle. I know the truth. William is healthy. And ever since he was born... well, the universe has been atypically quiet, hasn't it? We can let it go, Mulder. Finally, we can live our lives and let go of the mystery." She looks at me with watery, sparkling eyes.
"Scully." God, this is CRAZY. I rub my hands over my eyes and continue, "How in the world---"
"These men we fought against, Mulder, they know everything about us. I'm sure they knew I wasn't married and that I didn't have anyone...anyone to..." Scully trails off, her voice breaking. "Isn't it possible that these people...whatever organization that Dr. Parenti and Dr. Kristoff worked for.. that they could have orchestrated this deception? Doctored my initial test results? What if they felt that if I was forced, cornered, to try in-vitro fertilization... well, that the pregnancy could be more easily tampered with? A child conceived in a lab would be much more vulnerable to their experiments, to whatever tests they wanted to run, than a child conceived naturally. But in the end my body must have rejected the tampered embryos, or.... I don't know--"
No.... no no no no... if Scully really did never lose her fertility then--Jesus. All that heartache and misery these past few years; it was all for nothing. We were both lied to--not just by the Cigarette Smoking Man or his cronies, but by everyone. Those clones, that doctor Scully consulted with. Lies, all lies. God damn it, is everybody in on this conspiracy but me? Is there a club or a secret hand shake or something, or am I just crazy? Maybe this is all a dream. Maybe--
"--William's conception was natural, and he's fine. This means there's nothing wrong with me, Mulder. Nothing."
I shake my head, finding that once I've started shaking it I can't stop. "But I was told--"
"I know, Mulder. But it was a lie--whatever they told you. Because I'm fine. Jesus, I'm fine."
Scully's voice, louder, everywhere: "I am not infertile, Mulder. It was a lie."
I think back to the old, kind-faced doctor who'd held the vial of Scully's ova in his hands and told us that a woman whose ova was tampered with in such a detailed way would never be able to conceive. Dr. Kristoff performed all kinds of tests, had come recommened to me by Scully's mother--her own mother! Jesus, the man had held her infertility in his hands! He told me, motherfucking told me... and...and what about all those men in that dark, musty lab? Those men named Kurt who told me the whole story--that Scully's ova had been taken from her---they couldn't have been lying to me. And what about Scully's ill-fated daughter, Emily? Why had she been created? To fuck with Scully's head? To throw her off track? My God, I let this happen. I let her suffer through all of that misery....
"Dr. Kristoff." I frown and wave my arms at the ceiling. "Your mother's doctor friend. He lied to you. This is what you're saying."
Scully says nothing, but her face says it for her.
"You're saying you were never infertile." I start to pace, one foot after the other, right, left, right. The room is getting smaller. I feel trapped, cornered. I'm going to jump out of my shoes and hit the ceiling. Really, I am. "I'll go after him," I say. Right, left, right, left, five steps, six steps, nine steps. "I swear, Scully--" I turn to her and wag my finger. "I'll find this guy and I'll get some answers. I could--"
Scully's firm voice halts me in my tracks. I stop pacing long enough to look at her, at this woman who I've loved forever. "What do you mean, no?" I ask. "These people lied to us, they--"
"I don't want to go after anyone anymore, Mulder." Scully sighs as if this is the end, the end of everything for us. "I don't want revenge. I don't want to find out why I'm fertile when I thought I wasn't. I don't care why. I--I'm having a baby. Why can't I have this baby and live my life? Why?"
She holds up a hand. "Do what you need to do, Mulder. Go after who you need to go after. I'm not going to stop you. I'm just not going with you this time."
I narrow my eyes, baffled by this newest statement. What does she mean, she's not going with me? Where am I going to go? Just because I want some answers doesn't mean I have to go out to the Mohave Desert to get them. I close my eyes, wanting to bang my fist against something. Scully's voice from the tape resonates in my head: I'm going to let him go.
Let him go...
No. Damn it.
Scully understands that I'm way too fucking selfish when it comes to her. She sees the way I look at her, knows the way I touch her, the way I hold her at night is only because the truth is in her. I mean... really. If she doesn't want me to investigate any of this.... well, then I won't. Fine. I love her too much. She loves me. I won't play the game of self-recrimination anymore if I can help it.
Scully stammers, "Mulder--"
"Doesn't matter," I say, and close my eyes. I just want the hurt to go away. Away, away, away...
"What doesn't matter?"
I open my eyes and sit upon the bed by Scully's feet. I don't know if I'm scared or angry. Maybe I'm both. I think I just want to crawl under these covers and sleep the hurt away. I just... I don't understand. There has to be a way, some way that we can have a family, some way that we can be together, that isn't so fucking painful. Not everything has to be melodrama, does it?
Absently, I run one finger up and down the lump of blankets that cover Scully's feet. She closes her eyes for a second that seems to last forever, but says nothing.
"Doesn't matter..." I sigh. "Doesn't matter why. If you don't want me to do anything about this... I won't investigate. But I'm not letting you go. I heard what you said on that tape---"
"Mulder..."she says, her eyes trained on my hand, on my finger caressing her left foot. "I'm not marrying you."
Jesus Christ. She sounds like a child, like a broken CD, saying the same goddamned thing over and over and over again. I'm not marrying you, Mulder. I'm not marrying you. Why does it always come down to marriage? Why can't we just be together and play it by ear? Because we can't. Well, gee, that's great, isn't it? We're in love, we're together, but we can't get married. We can't even discuss the subject. My relationship with Scully is a psychoanalytical nightmare that both of us perpetuate, yet we can never seem to wake from.
I shake my head again. "You're unbelievable," I say, and I lean in towards her, my head pounding, my heart thrumming. "Especially since, as you so astutely pointed out, I am simply incapable of marrying you. Or marrying anyone. What, with the stunning reception that met my first proposal---"
"No. That wasn't a proposal," Scully says, her shoulders square and straight. "However well-intentioned, it was... just. God, Mulder, I don't even know what you were thinking--"
I wave a hand in front of her face. No, I don't want to hear any of this. Why can't we just talk about the conspiracy again? Throw theories back and forth? Lies and deception I can handle. Mysteries I can handle.
I can't handle this.
"Doesn't matter," I say. "It's done. It's over. It won't happen again, I promise you."
Scully leans back against her pillow and bunches her fists. She trains her eyes on the baby. "Don't do that," she says, her voice low. "Don't pretend like we can make this all go away--"
"Jesus, Scully. Is that what you think? That I want you to go away?" I don't know how to look at her. I can't. In her eyes is this... agony. I understand it. A misery shared by two--a twisting, wrenching pain that comes with the idea of seperation. Fuck. Nine years of my life with this woman, this amazing, wonderful creature. How can I let go of that? And why the hell should I?
Scully touches my arm and I lower my head. Her fingers are warm, soft--there one second, gone the next. "You love me," she whispers. "I don't doubt that."
I hold up a hand. "No. It's fine."
Scully sighs. "It's not fine, Mulder."
"Who are you to make that decision?" I ask, pointing a shaky finger at her. I bang my fist on the bed and Scully jumps. I feel like ripping the mattress to shreds. My teeth gritted, I manage a tone that resembles growling. "Who are you to tell me it's not fine?" Scully's mouth opens, but nothing comes out. She wrings her hands in her lap, her thumbs running back and forth over her knuckles. "Who are you to tell me?" I ask again. "Who are you to decide that this partnership is going to end? I'm not running away. I'm not going anywhere. Who are you to make the decision that I should? Who, goddamn it?"
Scully's cheeks turn pink, dark, hot scarlet, her lips trembling and pale. "I'm...." she takes a breath. "I... I don't know how to... how else... I don't know!" She turns her head from me, and I can see the bump in her throat as she swallows. "But if you think this is fine--"
I bury my head in my hands. "No. You're right. It's not fine." A few deep breaths. "This really isn't fine. Neither of us is fine."
A hitched sob wells up from Scully's end of the bed. The mattress creaks as her legs shift and her body weight turns in my direction. Then Scully's hands are in my hair, her fingers tousling and tickling each lock. Her touch is a wave of sanity tossing me back to shore. Look at me, her fingers seem to beckon; look at me, Mulder. Please.
I raise my head.
Love is always the first thing I feel when I look at her. My brain tells me that this is Dana Scully and Dana Scully is the woman I love, the woman who changed my life. Shortly following love comes a barrage of other emotions: resentment, surprise, sadness, anger. I want to wrap Scully up in a blanket of technicolor dreams and protect her. I want to fold her up and put her in my pocket. I want to make her run as far away from me as she can get, and then I want to bang my head against the wall because she decided to leave. I want the truth for us. I want the truth to be us.
"It was always you, Mulder," she says, as if she's speaking from another lifetime. She puts two shaky fingers to her lips as if to calm herself. "When I closed my eyes, when I opened them-- Everytime, it was you. Please don't doubt that."
My voice, somehow steady: "I don't doubt that it was me, Scully. But it's not me anymore. This is what you're saying."
"No," she says.
"Then what?" I ask.
She says nothing.
"You know what, Scully?" I brush a lock of hair out of her face and over her ear, by habit really, and she pulls back from my touch. Her eyes focus on her hands. Not knowing what else to do, I stand up. I need to move, need to do something. If I sit here any longer I'm going to shake her, or else I'm going to make love to her until she comes to her senses, and neither of those are viable options.
"What?" she asks.
I move from the bed, turn, take five steps to the left, five steps to the right. Then I'm at the bed again, then away from the bed. I take another six steps and wring my hands, glance at the baby carrier on the floor. William's asleep in the carrier. My baby. Her baby. God fucking damn it.
Scully watches me pace, a wary expression on her face. Her arms folded across her chest, she again says, "what?" her blue eyes accusing, stinging. Her shoulders square. She looks as if she's about to pronounce sentence.
The air crackles with potential energy, with the pulse of worry and fear. I don't know what Scully's thinking, but I can feel her, in my heart, in my head; I can feel her everywhere. Scully's always in my thoughts, always warning me or helping me make the most rational decision. She's the only one who'd tell me the truth, who'd tell me that I was being a complete asshole--
We never talk about these things, Mulder.
I hear Scully's voice in my head: a memory from months ago.
We never talk about these things....
The dark room. Her hand on my arm, her legs crossed right over left. She and I had been sitting on the couch, watching Casablanca. William was only three days old. We never talk about these things, she'd said, and I nodded, not really paying much attention to anything but the images on the screen, the sound of my own breathing. I needed to relax. After all, I had just been fired from my job, had just been relieved from the X Files, had just been ripped from everything I had ever known about searching, hunting for the truth...
We never talk about these things, Mulder....
Oh my God. Is that what this is about?
I turn to face her, my eyes hot. We never do talk about these things, do we, Scully?
I touch my hand to my forehead. "Fine. That's it. I give up."
Silence for a moment. Then:
I spread my hands wide as if to explain. "We're at an impasse here, Scully. Talking in circles. Going nowhere fast. You made a decision that I don't agree with. Fine. I obviously can't change your mind about leaving and nothing you can say will change mine about wanting to stay. So let's just not talk about it. Let's watch some TV."
Scully's eyes widen, her lips turn down, confusion masking her features. Slowly, the confusion turns to a watery-looking sadness; her chin juts, the stoicism returning. She glances at William, then at me, then at William again. She shakes her head and again asks, "What?"
"What," I say, " is such a great word. But let's try another one, Elmo."
Scully touches my arm. "Are you alright, Mulder?"
I shrug, sit back down on the bed. "Who, me? Fine. You want to order pizza or something?"
Scully shoots me the raised eyebrow expression, screwed up mouth and all. I could have a geranium growing from the top of my head and I think I'd get the same reception. She stammers out a response. "I--pizza? I think... I think you've absorbed a lot of information today and... I think you need to lie down."
Turning towards the wooden table beside the bed, I yank up the oversized remote and point it towards the TV. With a backwards glance at Scully, I force a grin that makes me feel constipated and I waggle my eyebrows. If this doesn't work I am screwed. Very screwed.
"I think I have a better idea, Scully. Springer's on. You know what channel?"
Scully slides over to make more room on the bed. Her eyes dart quickly about blankets as if she thinks the mattress is about to spring to life. "I umm... I don't... don't know...Mulder?"
"What is this? What are you doing?"
Another channel flip. "Setting up camp."
I can hear Scully's voice: We never talk about these things, Mulder... Her eyes half hidden by the shadows of the unlit room, the flicker of the blue glow from the TV. She looked ethereal, as if she wasn't really with me. Maybe, in some way, she really wasn't. I should have listened to her. I should have paid closer attention. I shouldn't have been so focused on work, on things that had begun to mean less and less to me anyway. Damn it.
We never talk...
"Oh yeah," I say. "Didn't I tell you the object of this game I made up? It's called 'We're not going anywhere.' The rules are pretty obvious, though I'm working on a catchier title."
Scully's voice, skeptical as always: "What in the world are you talking about?"
"We're not going anywhere," I repeat. "Simple gameplan. We just sit here." I wave my hand dismissively. " At least until I decide that I'm no longer holding you at gunpoint."
An uncomfortable pause follows that last statement. I know Scully wasn't expecting me to say that--which is good. I'm taking a risk by going this route, I know, but I think I can trick her into telling me what she's really thinking. I've known Scully long enough to understand her thought patterns. I think I can wear down her defenses and trick her into yelling at me. Or at least, I hope I can.. If I don't want Scully to leave me, I have to play my cards right. I have to pull out all the stops, be as clever as... Well, Scully's pretty tricky sometimes.
A commercial about hair plugs screetches from the ceiling TV.
"You're holding me at gunpoint," Scully finally says, her voice flat.
I flip to another channel. "Sure, why not?" I say. "I like it here. Good cable. Actually...I think we should move here. I can stay in the other bed and then we won't ever have to sleep together, which should make you ecstatic. Free Jello till the cows come home. Come on, Scully. I know you don't see it my way now, but you'll cave eventually. And until you do, I can hold you here. I've got my gun. I'm sure you don't want to be shot, and... Nurse Carmen can't come after me if I've got my weapon."
Scully sighs. "Nurse who?"
"Carmen," I say, my heart still beating fast. "She's a big Ox-like nurse with a nametag and a clipboard--which hurt like hell, by the way."
God, I hope this works. I need Scully. I need her with me. I need... I need...Rikki Lake. Sally Jessi. Where the heck is Springer? Ohh, Jaws II is on... I could go for that. My back cracks as I shift from side to side. I hit the remote again and again. I feel like leaping out of my skin.
Scully shifts on the opposite side of the bed. "You would actually turn your gun on me to keep me from leaving," she says. "Now that is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard."
I shrug. "Yeah, well, I'm Mr. Ludicrous. Nice to meet you."
Scully touches my arm and I turn to face her, my expression carefully blank. Her brows furrowed, her lips thinned, she looks sympathetic, almost like 'my God, he's actually gone over the edge now and what can I do to bring him back?' Right. This is it. I don't want her to know what I'm thinking... at least, not yet. I still have time to play that last card.
"Mulder," she says, that scientist-Scully tone creeping into her voice, "I think we both know that you are not going to hold me hostage."
"Why?" I ask, trying to appear completely serious. "You don't think I would do it?"
Scully's blue eyes have a bit of sparkle in them again. She looks even temepered and normal. She looks like the Scully I remember. Okay, jackpot. This is it, this is it. Scully's going to realize how crazy this situation has gotten and she's going to bring my face to hers and--
Scully rolls her eyes. She actually rolls her eyes at me. She's not supposed to do that. Hey--
"I will not play this game with you, " Scully says, a neutral expression on her face. "Besides... you could never hold me hostage. Not even if you really wanted to."
Taken aback by this response, I fold my arms across my chest. Okay, no. This isn't right. Scully isn't supposed to call my bluff. I mean... This is how the strategy is supposed to work: Scully realizes how vulnerable and desperate (and really cute) I am. She either yells at me first and wears out all her anger -- or else she hugs me first, then she yells at me.
She's not supposed to laugh at me, damn it. That's not cool.
"Don't mock me." I frown and jut my chin. "I could do it. I would."
Scully smiles, crosses her own arms, and purses her lips. "Never."
My mouth opened in frustration, I point a finger at her and shake my head, my eyes narrowed. My plan isn't going as well as I'd hoped. "Don't underestimate me, dear Scully. I could pull my weapon at any second and you'd be at my mercy."
Scully snorts. "At your mercy? What is this, 1945?"
"I'd take you in a second, Mulder."
"You would not."
"You could never--"
Scully leans back on her hands and slowly pushes herself to her full seated height, her blue eyes sparkling with a playful maliciousness. "Alright, fine," she says, holding her right fist two inches from my chin. "You want to test me?"
I can't help but let out a short chuckle. "What? Are you coming after me, Scully?"
"Are you holding me at gunpoint and asking for it, Magnum?"
The distance between us is no greater than an inch. I could grab her and kiss her and the motion would take less than half a second. Scully looks about ready to pounce anyway. The glint in her eyes says it all. Clearly, she would wrestle me to the ground right here if it meant she'd be proven right.
The old Scully coming back.
Okay. Maybe this means that I'm in. Maybe we're alright. Maybe my plan actually worked on her--not in the way I'd hoped, but in reverse--or backwards or... something. At any rate, she seems to be calmer, more Scully-like. Did I just not see the strategy working?
I lean forward to take the ultimate chance. I whisper in her ear, a smile on my lips, " Ha. You want me. I knew it the whole time. You weren't serious."
Scully matches my grin, purses her lips and whispers back, "Not that badly, dear Mulder. And yes, I was serious."
Her mouth grazes my ear, and then her tongue, and then her nose is against my hairline. I can hear her breathing, slowly, calmly. She sounds so confident, so positive she's got me cornered. Man. That really pisses me off. What the fuck is she thinking? What? That we'll have a last, goodbye fuck right here and she can leave me and I won't object? Everything will be fine?
Scully's nose trails slowly across my cheek until her lips are right up against mine. "Maybe we should talk about this," she whispers, each word punctuated by the press of her lips to the space below my nose.
And something in me... snaps. Hard.
FREEZE THAT THOUGHT!
Back to the editor
Still in the ER
Still with the broken arm, thanks.
"So all I have to do is sign this last bunch of papers?" I ask.
The nurse standing at the desk has to be at least eight feet tall, with the widest girth I've ever seen for a tall person, and this big, ugly bun pulling all her hair back from her egg-shaped face. I'm thinking that if her bun gets any tighter, her face will start moving northwards to the top of her head. Scary shit. I think I've seen her on America's Most Wanted.
"Yez, Meez Moreez. Sign zee papers," Hulk-Hogan the Nurse says, and she throws me a stack of yellow and white papers. Yeah. Great idea. Start throwing things at the woman with the broken arm. Very nice. Very nice indeed.
I clear my throat, lick my finger, and read over the first page. All this legal mumbo jumbo is wasting my fucking time. I need to get the Hell out of here. I need to find Mulder and Scully. I need some Alka Selzer and some Tylenol, and maybe a shot of Vodka. Tequilla would actually be better, but you do with what you can get.
As I pick up the pen to sign by the 'X', I glance up at Hulk, who's... well, she's hulking. There's no other way to describe it. She's hulking over me like a... well, you get the idea. "You know," I say, taking a deep breath, "You look very familiar. You ever watch any WWF?"
Nurse Hulk frowns. "Vat?" she asks.
I shake my head. "Nothing, nevermind."
The phone rings and Nurse Hulk-Hogan/The Rock looks away from me to answer. I wonder how much training she's had. How hard is it to be a nurse? Like, for instance, if I was fired today, could I go to nursing school and graduate with a nursing degree and work in an ER? I mean, I'd have to get one of those hair nets thingies and figure out how the buns and the little white hats go, but I think I could put bandaids on people for a living. I could take somebody's blood pressure. I could smile at people and say, "yez, sign zee papers pleaze. Right here."
Jesus, I'm going to be living in a box, aren't I?
"Yez," says Nurse Hulk into the phone. "I have Meez Scully'z deezcharge forms right here. I can geeve them to--"
Oh my God. What did she just say?
"Hey--" Trying not to grimmace, I tap scary nurse Hulk Hogan on the side with my elbow, yanking simultaneously on the phone cord with my good hand for her to pay attention. She shoots me a glare and turns her very wide, very white suited back to me. "No!" I manage. "I need to find Meez--" I shake my head to clear it. "I mean miss Scully--is that Dana Scully? Hey. Come on--cut me some slack. Dana Scully? Fox Mulder? Any of these ring a bell?"
Nurse Crazy-Rock-Hogan turns ever so slightly--like the girl from that Excorcist movie---and makes a wierd face--pale lips thinned into one line, her little, gray bug eyes narrowed, her two chins vying for control of the bottom half of her face. That's one angry expression--arguably one of the ugliest angry expressions I've ever seen. God damn. She looks as if she wants to kill me. And judging by the size of those arms, I'm thinking she'd have no problem breaking the rest of me. Oh God, what did I say? What did I do?
It was that crack about WWF, wasn't it? Oh, help. Oh no. She's going to tie me up like a pretzel and roll me down the street. And I thought my miserable job and my broken arm were the worst of my troubles. I'm probably better off living in the box down on the corner, selling my own blood for drug money, than I am asking her about Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
Nurse Scariness leans forward over the counter.
I squeeze my eyes shut. Oh my God, I apologize for all my sins amen Mom I should have called you more and this is what it's like to die--
"You might try zee zecond floor," Nurse 'holds-my-life-in-her-hands' says.
And I'm still alive. Holy shit.
I open one eye and look up at the Jolly Nurse Giant. She still has the phone receiver perched under one ear, the phone cord wrapped around one of her very thick fingers--not my neck. I nod mutely, surprised and slightly terrified at the same time. I take a breath and turn to go, yanking up my discharge papers and throwing them in my pocket.
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are right here, on the second floor of this hospital. The big scary nurse didn't kill me and if I can get those casette tapes back in time, my boss may not throw me out on my ass. Wow. If not for my broken arm and the lack of mind blowing sex, my life would be all set.
Scary Nurse Woman holds up a hand and bellows, "Vait--"
I turn and we stare at each other.
"Are you zee polize?" she asks.
Feeling my first real bout of energy and confidence since this morning, when I found a box of Cheerios I didn't remember buying, just sitting there, waiting for me on the bottom shelf, I puff out my chest and jut my chin. Hands on my hips, I shake my head and take a deep breath.
"No," I say, in a deep, authoritative voice. "I'm the writer."
TRAVELLING TO THE BACK OF
SCULLY'S BRAIN (WATCH OUT
Couches, Talking and Motivations
When William was three days old, Mulder and I spent our first evening together.
I mean... not that we...you know, had sex or anything. No. Of course not. We just spent the night together. Watching TV, mostly.
Basically, Mulder had said that he was tired. I told him I didn't mind if he conked out at my place. Not that I didn't want to sleep with him, or that he didn't want to sleep with me--we were obviously very attracted to each other, but it was just... we were nervous, Mulder and I. So much had happened in so short a time and neither of us knew what to do with any of it. I said that we should probably have a discussion about the situation, about the future of out partnership. Mulder nodded in a vague sort of way, and he said that we should probably order Chinese while we were at it...
"Because it's late and I'm hungry," he had whined. "Oh--and maybe I forgot to mention it, but my TV's broken and the fumigator said that..." Yadda, yadda, you get the idea.
So I grabbed some popcorn for us--well, really for Mulder, since he insisted on slathering a ton of liquidy, melty, repugnant butter all over it, and we sat on the couch, popcorn and two beers between us. Mulder immediately went for the remote with his left hand, for the beer with his right, and he grinned at me between channel flips. He had the strangest expression in his hazel eyes--almost as if he felt he should be watching the TV, but he wasn't sure whether he should be watching me as well. In a way, I felt as if Mulder had gravitated towards another Universe, another time, and he was only shooting back to my living room because the surroundings were familiar.
I picked up a beer with my right hand and tossed it into my left. "Mulder?"
So many things I wanted to tell him, so many feelings and emotions.... I wanted us to recapture every moment we'd missed when he was gone: every take-out night, every late-night conversation, every touch of his hand to my cheek or my wrist or my waist. I wanted to drink him in, to close my eyes and feel that familiar white hot shiver shoot up and down my arms when he pressed his lips to mine.
"Hmm?" said Mulder. He looked vaguely interested.
"Do you ever..." I frowned and stared at the brown bottle in my hands. The silver label glimmered back the word Budweiser from beneath glistening drops of condensation. Odd, I thought. Usually, Mulder bought Busch. Why the new beer? Was it chance? Fate?
Budweiser, Busch, right, wrong, left, right, stay, go...
For a brief sliver of a second I pondered over why Mulder had decided on this particular brand of beer. Had his usual store been out of beer, forcing him to try another store which sold the beer, but at an unusually high price, which in turn made Mulder select a different beer, a beer he hadn't thought of buying before? Busch or Budweiser? Budweiser or Busch? Was everything just happenstance, or was there some sort of plan? Or maybe Mulder was the only one with any kind of plan at all. Maybe he had purposely decided on trying a new beer because the old one was so familiar that it had worn out its welcome. Out with the old, in with the new, or so I'm always hearing---
Mulder touched my arm and I nearly jumped. "Sorry," he said, and he leaned in closer.
"Sorry," I echoed, although I don't know why I felt the need to apologize. I just did.
Mulder grinned. "Train of thought derailed. Please reboard at the next stop. Thank you, the management."
I shook my head. "What?" I asked.
Mulder let out a half chuckle, swigged a bit of his beer, and shrugged. "Nothing." His hand still resting on my arm, his fingers drew circles over the planes of my knuckles. "You started to say something and then you just sort of... spaced out there, space ranger."
I couldn't help but grin. "Space Ranger, Mulder?"
Mulder stared at me and blinked, his expression completely blank. "Hey, I have a lot of time on my hands," he said. "Toy Story was on sale. I really dig that Buzz Lightyear." I shot him a raised eyebrow as he added, "Peep was pretty hot, too. You really should invest in some sheep, Scully."
I rolled my eyes. "I am not re-enacting 'Little Blow Peep' for you Mulder, if that's what you're suggesting."
Mulder held up his hands in surrender. "Hey now. I never said that. All I said was that I bought Toy Story. If indeed I do think you'd look good herding sheep topless... and bottomless... I never voiced the opinion, and besides, it is completely beside the point."
I snorted and yanked off the top of my beer, watching from the corner of my eye as Mulder's hand fell back into his lap. His greenish-brown eyes sparkled above the rim of his beer bottle and he looked... alive. More alive than he had looked in weeks. His touch still made me feel as if I could fly.
I took a deep sip of my own beer, felt the golden liquid slide and swish coldly down my throat. "You ever wonder about..." I took another sip."--about what would have been? About how different our lives would be if we had done some things differently?"
Mulder turned back towards the TV, his profile blinking in monochromatic shades of blue and gray. "What things?" he asked, the remote in one hand, a messy, greasy pile of popcorn in the other.
"If we hadn't gone to Oregon," I said, staring not at Mulder but at the label of my bottle. I felt light-headed, almost dizzy.
Mulder narrowed his eyes at the closed captioning. "You mean the first time?" he asked, his gaze never leaving the screen. "Well, that's easy. For one thing, if there had been no Bellefluer case, I would never have gotten a crash course in the kind of underwear you prefer." Finally, Mulder turned to me and waggled his eyebrows. "Talk about an outfit I could see you herding sheep in, Bo Peep." I shot him a pained expression and he grinned at my embarrassment. "And for another thing--"
I waved a hand at him. "No," I said, my fingers tracing over and over the Budweiser label. My pinky was starting to go numb. "I mean the last time. The time before you..." I stopped, tore my gaze away from him. I knew Mulder understood what I was getting at. Even if he tried to go around the question, I knew he was on the same page as I was.
"Why is this important?" Mulder asked, his lips pursed. He refrained from looking at me, and I could see the discomfort rolling off him like a thick fog. We'd certainly done a good job of avoiding the subject completely--at least to the point where it was almost as if Mulder's disappearance need never have happened. What if's were never brought up. Hows, whens and whys were even more taboo. If Mulder was distraught over his loss of memory, or over the lack of information concerning his disappearance, he'd not mentioned his displeasure to me. Not in weeks and weeks. I, in turn, never told him how I'd lived my life without him. How I'd cried over him, and subsequently beaten myself up over the crying, night after night, until my eyes maintained a consistent reddish tint.
But I wanted to tell him. Really, I did. I just didn't think he wanted to tell me. We were both frightened, very frightened.
I sighed and leaned back into the couch cushions. Mulder's beer, I noticed, was more than half gone. "Because we never talk about these things," I said, closing my eyes. God, I wanted for him to tell me what he was feeling. I wanted to hear him say that he loved me, that he'd missed me, that he wished he'd never heard the word 'Bellefluer.' I wanted to hear him ask me to marry him. In the back of my mind I had the silliest notion that I was the most important thing in Mulder's life. I thought that if I tried hard enough, if I could make him love me without exception, I could make him want all the things that I wanted.
Mulder nodded, but said nothing. He took a long, deep gulp of his beer and finished it off.
"Mulder?" I asked.
Mulder shook his head. "I suppose..." He frowned, grabbed another handful of popcorn. "I suppose I wonder if I'd still be working on the X Files." He shrugged and chomped down on a clump of popcorn, tiny niblets shooting out from his hand to land on the floor. "I really miss the work, the anticipation of the hunt. The unknown, the adventure.. Sometimes I think that if I had just been more careful, if I had only been able to resist that temptation to go out one last time, or if I had let you come with me like you wanted..." he turned to me and smiled, thinking, perhaps, that his words would bring me some notion of closure. He shrugged and continued, "maybe I'd still be doing what I love to do. Sometimes I feel restless, like I'll never have that challenge again."
My heart roared in my ears, the sound of my own pulse nearly deafening me.
Maybe I'd still be doing what I love to do... I'll never have that challenge again.
What had I been thinking? The work, the search, the truth. Everything in Mulder's life always came down to his work, to his quest. Of course. Mulder loved being out there; he loved the journey. I knew this. How could I have been so stupid--or selfish-- as to think he would settle, that this new life we were forging together would be enough?
In the furthest corner of my mind I knew, although I refused to fully admit it, that Mulder and I could never really be forever. Marriage, a house with a fence in front, annual vacations as a family--none of these things would ever be options for us. Mulder would be with me, maybe even live in the same house as me, raise William for awhile... but the truth would always come between us. The point was that my search was done, and Mulder's wasn't. I didn't want to let him go but I knew he would leave me... eventually.
"Have you been wondering?" Mulder asked, his eyes again trained on the TV. "Is that why you asked?"
Suddenly feeling tired and very peripheral to the conversation, I stared down into my brown bottle. Busch or Budweiser? I thought. Old or new? Known or Unknown? The truth or a white whale? Apparently, small things mattered very much.
"No," I said. I ran my finger around the tiny opening at the top of the bottle, around and around, again and again. "No, of course I haven't."
BACK TO THE PRESENT
Snapping on Impact
I thought I wanted to leave him. I really, truly did. I thought everything would be alright if I could let him go and watch him hunt for the truth. I didn't think he'd put up such a fight to stay, or make such a big deal out of us being... well, us, just not the romantic us. After all, we'd done the friendship thing before. We did it for eight years, as a matter of fact. I didn't think Mulder would act this way. I had no idea he'd be so... so...
I don't know. Maybe I think too hard about unimportant things. Maybe I should just shut up and let him love me.
My nose trails across his cheek. Mulder's breathing is fast and hard, and his eyes are closed. His skin is soft, and he smells so familiar. I love the scent of him, the way he feels when I kiss him. Oh sweet Lord, I don't really want to leave him. If he wants answers, if he wants the truth, I'll be there. We don't have to travel all over the world, do we? We can figure out a way. "Maybe we should talk about this," I whisper, wanting more than anything to kiss all the hurt away. We can make this better. We can make it work. Maybe I should just marry him and--
Mulder leaps from the bed like he's on fire. My arms pitching forward, I have to grab the matress with both my fists to keep from falling forward. What the hell--.
"What is it, Scully?" Mulder yells, his arms flailing. He looks possessed, running from me like a chicken running from the cutting block. "First you say that you want to leave me, that you're going to let me go, but then everything turns in a new direction. You tell me to go and search for the truth by myself, as if you have the right to make that decision for me, as if I would even have the desire to investigate a mystery without you by my side, but I know you don't really want me to go. You tell me you don't want to marry me but ...Jesus Christ, Scully, I know that you're in love with me. And I'm in love with you. I have been for what seems like half my life. So tell me what to do. Do you want fucking roses and, and--" Mulder waves his arms at me like he's playing some twisted version of charades. "All that wierd, superficial shit that was never important before? Do you want me to go get down on my knees and tell you I think you're beautiful? That, by golly Ms. Scully, your apple pies are the swellest apple pies on the whole block?" Mulder shakes his head and pauses, runs his hand through his hair. "Or... or how bout that all you have to do is smile at me and you remind me all over again why we didn't kill each other after that first case?"
Mulder's pacing like a madman, wandering all over the room as if he's got rocket-boosters attached to his feet. My hand over my mouth, I have to bite down on my lip to keep from laughing. My Goodness. We spent so much time tiptoeing around how we felt, save for the occasional "I love you," that I think we forgot how... how normal being in love actually was. Our silence and our... unwillingness... to acknowledge the next level has driven us both to the point of insanity.
I've finally driven Mulder insane.
Maybe the bottom line is that Mulder and I aren't the same people we used to be--and neither of us knows how to reconcile with that fact. Somehow we'd fallen into the role of husband and wife, mother and father, but we never discussed the transformation. And my God, I've been so afraid of losing him, of being that family with him, of being so normal and so ordinary together, that I've pushed him away. Wow. My fear isn't that he'll leave because he's bored. My fear is that we'll fail at this---that this new, domestic life makes us somehow less than we were.
Holy shit. What have I done?
We're not less than our old partnership, are we? Maybe seperate we're less, but together we're so much more. Why the hell didn't I realize that when Vicki told me I was pregnant again? All of those other things, drawing out the conspiracy, puzzling out the mystery of my infertility, all of the hurting and running away--my God, all of that's over.
I don't have Cancer. I have a baby growing inside of me. Jesus, we don't have to be afraid anymore. The truth that was once out there, that we once sought is now... right here. Mulder doesn't want to be hunting anymore. I don't want to be hunting anymore. We've both been wanting the same things and I've been pushing him away.
I take a breath and watch as Mulder's pacing picks up speed, his arms flying faster, his speech tumbling out fastest. "What else do you want me to say? That I think you're the best competitor at water gun tag? That nobody else picks a lock like you? That only you could make the most out of a flooded bathroom? That you deserve more than a cramped apartment, more than me, but that I'm so selfish all I can think of when I see you 'is thank God she's here because I don't know what I would do otherwise.' Do you want me to tell you how in love I am with my son? How incredibly grateful I am for you, or for this pregnancy, because even when you're acting all motherly I still want to screw your brains out right there on the floor, and I didn't even think I liked kids until I started having yours?"
My eyes widened, my hand still over my mouth, I nod mutely. I don't know what to say to him. I'd already said "no" once to marriage. He asked. I declined. End of story. But of course, I also didn't want an insincere, rational, "this is what I have to do" marriage proposal from a man who didn't really want to be married to me at all.
Mulder throws his hands in the air and lets out an exasperated sigh. "No, you know what? I'm not going to say any of those things." His chest heaves, his nostrils flaring, cheeks flushed. "I'm not going to tell you any of that because you'll obviously never believe me. I... Damn it! That's it! I'm leaving. Leaving, Scully--you got that? I am gone. Gone. GONE!"
Mulder spins around in a wobbly circle as if he's looking for something. He eyes the far wall and the two wooden doors. "You let me know when you've figured something out," he says, rushing forward and grabbing the handle of one door. "Because until then, I'm done. I'm just... I'm done, Scully. Gone." Then Mulder grumbles something else, yanks open the door and flies through the doorway like a man enraged. The slam echoes loudly behind him.
Now this... this is a marriage proposal.
I nod to myself and fold my arms over my chest, staring at the door Mulder shoved himself through. Should be any minute now--
"Damn it." Mulder's words echo from the other side of the door. He sounds as if he's under water. Suddenly, the door slams back open, the hard wood shuddering against the white, stucco wall. Behind Mulder, I can see a tiled floor, a curtain of some sort, and a wall.
Mulder shoots me a look. "Bathroom," he grumbles.
I nod. "Right."
Mulder shakes his head and points a finger at me. "This time I'm really going."
Mulder sets his hands on his hips and narrows his eyes. "Fine," he says. With a last look back at me, he makes his way to the door on his left, grabs the handle, and turns the cold metal rung . I can hear the familiar sounds of the hallway as Mulder cautiously peers out of the room. I roll my eyes--I can't help it. This is all very ridiculous.
After a second or two in which Mulder appears to establish his surroundings, he clears his throat, straightens his shoulders, and exits like a king making his way from the throne room. This time the door closes softly--and regally, behind him.
With a glance over at William, who seems to have fallen asleep through all of this, I stretch and push my legs up and over the side of the bed. I touch my palm to my stomach. "Time to go get Daddy," I say to the baby in the carrier, and to the one who is still growing inside of me.
The hard carpetted floor chills my bare toes, and a shiver runs up my back. My legs feel slightly wobbly at first, but they grow stronger as I pass by the chair against the far wall. Amazing how things get easier after the first few steps.
I creep over to the door and pull open the handle.
I'm not too surprised to see Mulder, his shoulders slightly slumped, standing on the other side, facing the opened doorway. For a second he seems flustered. Then he covers up with his usual lack of expression, and he folds his arms across his chest. "What are you doing out of bed?" he asks.
With a sigh I lean against the doorjamb. "I'm pregnant, Mulder. I'm not dying."
Mulder nods thoughtfully. "Yeah well..." he gestures towards me with one arm. "All this stress can't be good for the baby."
My eyebrow raised, I rest my hands on my hips. "Really? I thought you were--" I mimick quotation marks--"Gone, out of here, and didn't care about such things."
Mulder narrows his eyes. "I don't."
I narrow mine back. "Then leave."
I point to his feet. "You're not moving," I say, forcing myself to keep the smile off my face.
Mulder looks down at his shoes. "I know," he says slowly. "It's... it's a funny thing, or maybe not so funny, depending on your point of view, but my feet won't move."
I shrug, resting my head against the door hinge. "Then stomp on them and get the blood circulating again."
Mulder looks at me with sincere hazel eyes. His long lashes flutter as he blinks--I love the way he does that.
"That's not what I mean," he says.
I take a deep breath. You can do this Dana. You can. I gesture towards Mulder with my right arm.
"I'm sorry," I manage.
Mulder eyes me warily. "For?"
As I look at him I realize that I've never in my life loved anyone like this. All the hurt, the disappointment, the anger; I only wanted for us to be real, to leave behind the uncertainty and agony of our quest together. But I think the truth is that our quest is ongoing. So long as Mulder and I are together, we will always be searching for something.
In the back of my mind, I can hear Mulder singing in my ear, his arms tight around my waist as we sway back and forth in the dark: Sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time, wasting time...
When I was a little girl I envisioned my wedding the way any little girl would: the big church on the hill, the hundreds of flowers, the white, beaded dress... But for all the fantasizing, I never envisioned a love like Mulder's love for me. During my search for normality and stability, I somehow overlooked what was right in front of me. I forgot about all our late night talks concerning the validity of Big Foot claims, the impromptu waltzes to Jim Morrison when Mulder finished researching a case. All the kisses and looks from across the room, all the mornings Mulder fed William, sat with him and made up silly stories.
I shake my head, tears in my eyes. "I thought you would get bored without the work. I was... I was ready to stop searching. But you... You're not like that, Mulder. You always needed the work, the quest. I didn't want to trap you--or myself. I thought--I don't know. I suppose I didn't want you to leave me first. And when I saw the uncertainty in your eyes, I knew we were both thinking the same thing and...I wanted to be the one. I couldn't let you beat me to the punch. "
Mulder raises his eyebrows at that. I smile, glancing down at my feet. "The whole situation is utterly idiotic..." I shake my head. "But the bottom line is that I don't want you to go anywhere, Mulder."
At that, Mulder laughs. "I'm not a wild rabbit, Scully. If I didn't want to be with you, I wouldn't hang around so much and eat all your food."
I can't help but roll my eyes. "You've always hung around to eat my food."
"You know what I'm talking about."
A pause. Mulder reaches for my hand and encloses it between both of his. We pass our fingers back and forth, twining and untwining each digit. For the first time in what seems like forever, everything is actually alright. The future is going to be okay. I think it really is. With all the unhappiness and stupidity behind us, Mulder and I can do anything. We can have a family. We can be a family. My God.
I take a deep breath, my heart beating faster, faster. "I can still beat you to the punch," I say, a queasy knot forming in my stomach. Mulder cocks his head to one side, confusion evident on his face. I lick my lips.
"Say Mulder," I start, "Do you think you'd still be interested in--"
The sound of pounding footsteps, a long, loud squeak, and what sounds like the Xena battle cry breaks the mood.
"AHA! I found you!" comes an alien voice.
Both Mulder and I frown and turn, and suddenly I'm aware that someone is flying towards us at the speed of light, her legs tripping one over the other, her right arm flailing wildly, the other hung in a large cast. Her clothes are ripped and dirty, her light brown hair askew, and she looks like a crazed homeless woman. If I didn't know better I'd say it was--
"Ms. Morris?" Mulder asks.
"Slippery!" Ms. Morris manages, her legs unable to stop their forward motion. "Slippery!"
A few feet behind Ms. Morris, in a dark corner right next to the elevator, a plastic yellow sign reads 'wet floor.' Oh dear. This is not going to end well, is it? Mulder blankly glances at me, then at Ms. Morris shooting down the hall like a comet. My God, she's going to break the other arm.
My mouth hanging open, I somehow manage, "Mulder. Do something. Go catch her before she--"
"Oh my God!" Ms. Morris shrieks, her knees separating, her widening stance turning her fumbling feet inwards as she twists and spins on the wet floor. She looks like a crazy wind up toy barelling out of control. Mulder nods at my request but he doesn't move. His jaw drops.
"Somone fucking catch me!" Ms. Morris cries. Her sandal-ed heels scrape against the floor as she desperately tries to right herself, her good arm flapping up and down, but it's too late. She's already... already...
My eyes widen. Mulder grabs my arm. "Scully, watch out--"
And we all fall down.
WATCH OUT FOR THE EPILOGUE....