PART ONE (1/2):
HOW I SLEPT WITH MY PARTNER (WITHOUT REALLY TRYING)
Mulder and Scully
(Or how we get by without agreeing on any one damn thing)
I: On the X Files:
(Insert Exciting Introduction Here)
Dana Scully and I have a strange personal history you have to understand. For eight years while we were partners, we investigated a series of cases called X Files, claims of honest to God, substantiated paranormal or unexplained phenomena that other agents would just as soon have tossed aside. These investigations were often intense and dangerous, and during the course of our work together, the situations we were presented with ended up causing Scully and I a lot of personal tragedy. The loss of family members, the loss of friends, the loss of health and safety…
On the other hand, these cases also brought my partner and I closer together in ways that I don’t think anyone else could ever possibly duplicate. For example, I may not necessarily understand where she’s coming from at all times, (I.E: it WAS a spaceship, Scully, and you KNOW it) but we read each other; we communicate without words when necessary. When she’s hurt I know it. When she’s upset I feel it. If something happened to her, if she were…killed… I would feel the pain like a rock in my gut and I’d probably lie down and never get back up. The bond we have is… well, beyond my comprehension.
Not that this bond stops us from arguing about…
(Mulder Always Gets the Shaft)
“This case involves a nightclub.”
Assistant Director Skinner’s arms were folded in front of him, a case file open beneath his knuckles. His face was impassive, his big shiny head as bald as ever. “Three patrons were shot in plain sight and at close range, with over a hundred witnesses in the vicinity. The shots were all allegedly fired on the dance floor, each gun-shot within minutes of the previous, but nobody seems to have seen anything. And moreover, nobody seems to have heard anything either. We have a few leads but only a two eyewitness accounts: similar reports from two separate locations; apparently there was someone at both clubs, a white male, aged thirty to fifty, with a gun in his pants.” Skinner rolled his tongue in his cheek, shooting me what looked like a warning glance, before he went on, “And then he just…vanished. Before the shots, after the shots, nobody knows. And this isn’t the first time. Three other such incidents occurred at four separate cross-dressing themed night clubs in a twelve week period.”
To my credit, I did not make a single crack at that last statement. I sat like a good little agent, my hands folded in my lap, my face sincere with rapt interest. Skinner sat elevated in front of us, his big, bald, head reflecting the back-light from the window behind his desk. As I sat listening to him, I wondered if I could see my face in his forehead if I looked really closely. How shiny WAS Skinner’s head? Like, really?
Scully was, as usual, just as rigid as a board in her seat of choice: the gray, plush armchair facing the left hand side of Skinner’s desk. Her slender hands intertwined neatly and they rested completely stationary in her lap. I glanced at her and I wondered why she always seemed to look like a cardboard cut-out when she thought she was trying to be professional.
She just looked... more real than real?
Scully wore these... gray suits, these drab, formless THINGS, (especially in the first few years) and she never walked with her head down. Not that there was anything wrong with that, of course, but I think that Scully often scared people with her perfect posture. She carried her gun in the holster beneath the shoulders of her boring, gray suits, and she made everyone feel her authority. I mean, people parted for her in the hallways when she left for lunch. They stood at the far side of the elevator if they thought she was looking at them funny. Honestly, Scully was a warm, inviting person. She always has been and always will be. She just....
Overcompensates sometimes. Maybe that's just a 'short' thing, I don't know. Scully's only five foot three. I've been tall my whole life.
Anyway, on top of having the posture of a really mean substitute teacher, Scully was also rigidly scientific. And when I mean rigid, I mean: it's either my way or the highway. Scully didn't meet people halfway. She also didn't take any crap from me that she thought was nonsense. So of course, when she heard the words "vanished" from Skinner, she refrained from asking him any questions. After all, as Scully'd once said to me two years earlier, "time can't just disappear." So I was positive that she felt the same way about material objects as well.
Which left the ‘talking about the unexplained’ up to me.
“Well, sir, if I may,” I said, slightly intrigued, “Although I don’t want to jump to any premature conclusions, this kind of occurrence is not without precedent. Telekinesis, mass hypnosis, both types of phenomena are generally associated with accounts of people and objects vanishing, seemingly into thin air---“
Scully made a sort-of snorting noise. “I’m sure that’s not what happened,” she said, a note of irritation apparent in her voice. Then, like clockwork: “Things don’t just disappear, Mulder. This isn’t ‘The Outer Limits.’”
“Scully, I never said—“
Skinner nodded. “I quite agree with Agent Scully,” he said.
Hmph, I thought—and wanted to say. But I didn’t. Skinner usually agreed with Scully and I knew that. Over the course of two years, I'd come to accept it and be familiar with it. Scully's science was something Skinner could get behind, something he could follow. My theories were often less grounded in biology and more grounded in the less believable (but not less plausible) unexplained. Sometimes, my case reports presented little room for science and the laws of physics. If Scully found me hard to believe, then Skinner, a hulking, ex-army man, held even less patience for my daring, original approach to investigating.
I folded my arms and leaned back into the soft cushion of the chair. Yes, well, fuck you too sir, I thought.
“So, ah, you’re asking us to go investigate this?” I asked, eyeing the file on Skinner’s desk. A disappearance at a night club. A few murders that'd left no witnesses behind. It sure didn’t sound like anything Scully and I hadn’t seen before, but the idea seemed interesting enough and besides…I really wanted a look at those pictures. A cross dressing themed night club, I thought? HA!
“More or less.” Skinner cleared his throat. He looked… anxious. “Actually," he said, "I would like you to go undercover.”
For a moment I had to backtrack the course of Skinner's sentence because I wasn't sure I'd heard him correctly. I'd been so concentrated on imagining whether or not I could spot any U.S senators in those pictures, that I'd nearly missed Skinner's last few words.
“Excuse me, sir?”
“I’m sure you heard me the first time, Mulder.”
First thought that popped into my head: Undercover at a transvestite themed nightclub? What the hell? Second thought: No seriously. What the hell? Third thought: Obviously, when Skinner says “you” he means me. Only me. That much was clear. Especially since Scully would most likely have a problem with the whole “missing a penis” thing.
I stole a glance at Scully. Her long-lashed, light blue eyes were shiny and unfocused, almost as if she was imagining herself resting someplace far away. Her upper back was still as straight as a piece of sheetrock, her shoulders poised and squared, her arms folded loosely in her lap. While she didn’t look at me, and while she neglected to speak for or against the matter, I assumed she was probably picturing me in various forms of drag and a few of her navy blue pumps. Maybe that's where her pretty blue eyes had taken her. To a galaxy far, far away, where Mulder wore evening gowns and everybody knew your name.
“A cross dressing themed nightclub,” I said.
“A predominately MALE cross dressing themed night club.”
I closed my eyes, almost afraid to ask. “And?”
“And,” Skinner went on, the corners of his mouth twitching, “all the victims were described as what one might call… handicapped or mentally challenged. Males. The working profile of this killer would suggest that he's compulsive. He likes to clean the blood from the crime scene, although nobody has specifically seen him do this, and his victims have all been.. lovers, if you will, of the same woman. The possiblity also remains that he has tried to poison this woman, since she turned up in a hospital about two months ago with strychnine poisoning... a Mrs--" Skinner paused to flip through the light yellow, manila envelope. He read something to himself, his lips moving silently as he scanned the page. "Mrs. Grimes. She's been interviewed, as her husband has been, but neither seem to know anything. It’s all in the report I’m sending with you. What I’m proposing, Agent Mulder, is that you pose either as an onlooker or as the next potential victim. Agent Scully will be assisting with the operation in the van. Please note that the last victim was the son of the governor of Georgia. I’ve got a lot of people breathing down my neck about this, Agents.”
Oh dear God, I thought, what did I do that was so terrible?
I paused in my internal cringing for a second, trying to think back to what I could have possibly done to irritate Skinner THIS much.
Well... For one thing, I remembered parking in Skinner’s spot the day before the day before, which, by the way, had been perfectly warranted because Skinner was supposed to have the day off anyway. But since Scully had parked in my spot because I had parked in her spot two days before the day I had parked in the no parking zone, I had nowhere else to go. Really. It’s not like I was the one who towed Skinner’s fucking car.
“Have I pissed you off, sir?” I asked.
“You fly out two weeks from now, agents.”
This time I shifted in my seat to regard my obviously untalkative, still-as-stone Scully: she who never fucking got the orange jumpsuit. How she managed to sit there, perfectly complacent and docile, while she knew my ass was on the line, was beyond me. And the way Skinner looked at her between chewing me out...You know, I think he's got a thing for her, really. I've always thought that. To this day I think that.
Oh come on, I thought. Bail me out here, Scully. I brought you donuts this morning.
I stared at her with the silent plea in my eyes.
But she didn't budge.
She didn't even blink.
Finally, seeing as how I truly was alone in the room, I opened my mouth, speaking as cooperatively and patiently as possible. “There has to be a more thorough and prudent course of action, sir. I mean, there’s no telling whether I’d even be convincing in such an extreme persona. Perhaps another angle of investigation would be more logical. Scully, what do you think?”
Both Skinner and I looked pointedly at Scully. Her face was its usual mask of seriousness and steel--really, really cute seriousness and steel. Her hair was especially flippy that day, and while I swear I never truly noticed those kinds of things, I did appreciate the way her auburn waves framed her face.
Scully cleared her throat. And with her statuesque expression: “I have no doubt that Agent Mulder will be quite convincing as a mentally incapacitated transvestite—“ She paused, her mouth not even twitching as she added, “sir.”
Oh for the love of God, Scully, I thought. I took a slow breath and tried to figure out what I’d done to royally piss her off, too. She was my partner; she was supposed to be on MY side, right?
It was a conspiracy, I decided. It had to be. Scully and Skinner had planned a late-night rendevous and had decieded that putting me in a dress would be the answer to all their problems. Yes, that had to be it.
I supressed a sigh and tried thinking back to that morning. Scully'd mentioned something about me parking in her spot again and how she’d been relegated to park at the Starbucks across the street. She said that a car had splashed water all over one of her non-descript gray suits, and now she would never get the stain out.
But you know, I don't think that's the whole truth.
See, Scully really likes coffee (she likes a lot of coffee) and so I’m sure she wasn’t FORCED to park by the Starbucks. Besides that, I brought her donuts. The crème filled ones she loves so much. (She says they have a lot of fat in them but you know, she sneaks them in when she thinks I’m not looking. You should see her when she gets a little dollup of filling on the corner of her mouth. If she’s working on something, she’ll forgo a napkin and just… okay, off topic.)
Right. So I think Scully’d also mentioned something about blah de-blah, expense reports from last week, blah de blah, I’m always the one, Mulder you suck, blah de blah, crazy, unfeasible, you’re wrong, blah de blah, you’re still wrong, blah…
(Please note that I DO listen to Scully. When we're on a case, I rely on her brilliance like I rely on oxygen. And honestly, Scully IS brilliant. She's the best pathologist the bureau has ever --and will ever -- see, bar none. Plus, she can shoot a dime off a cola can at twenty paces --which is unbelievable--I've seen her do it at a bureau competiton. AND, she could probably beat the crap out of half the men in this agency. That alone is scary, but also somehow alluring in a nutso type of way.)
Anyway, my point is this: While I need Scully by my side for almost all things, sometimes she talks too goddamned much. Really.
Sometimes I have to tune her out just to keep from popping asprin all day.
"I beg your pardon, Mulder?"
"Okay, so maybe I phrased that a bit--"
"I talk 'too goddamned much?'"
"Well... not in so much the sense that--"
"I do NOT talk too goddamned much."
"Okay, what I meant is that--"
"And if I DID talk too goddamned much, which I DON'T, I certainly wouldn't have wasted my rational arguments on someone who, as you so blatantly put it, needs to 'tune me out.' I'm a highly trained specialist, Mulder. I work hard and I'm good at what I do. I may not always believe in some of your more outlandish theories, but I don't appreciate being ignored as blatantly as you're suggesting in your story. I'd honestly rather not know that you.... Mulder? Mulder are you even listening?"
"No, seriously. What?"
"Never. Fucking. Mind."
"Ohhhh kay... So ah, anyway, moving on---"
BACK TO THE STORY:
Skinner looked over at Scully and I swear something passed between them that had “conspiracy” written all over it.
“It’s settled then,” Skinner said.
And so there was nothing left for me to say except, “don’t I get a say in this?”
Both Skinner and Scully looked up at me with odd glints in their eyes—evil glints, like something you’d see in the eyes of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters. They answered me in tangent. “NO.”
Then they glanced at each other and quickly looked away.
And I was left in the orange jumpsuit holding the bucket.
"One last thing, Mulder--"
"I don't understand. Did I say something wrong?"
"And when did I ever look at you with an 'evil glint' in my eyes?"
"I think, Scully, that the question should be when have you NOT?"
"Oh, please, Cinderella."
"I'm just telling the truth."
"You know, for someone who talks volumes about searching for the truth, I have a hard time believing that you'd know it, even if it came up and bit you on the ass."
"The truth always hurts the one you love, dear Scully."
"Oh, BROTHER. That's not how our meetings with Skinner usually went and you know it."
"Alrighty then. Know-it-all. How DID they go?"
"I'll tell you how they went."
"Well, alright then, you tell me."
"Alright, I will."
Go on to SCULLY'S VERSION of a Meeting With Skinner