PART ONE (2/2):
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:
(Or DAMN Those Pesky Intros)
Contrary to what Mulder believes...
Skinner surely thinks I’ve cracked like an egg years ago. Just look at it this way: If everyone thinks Mulder’s nuts for thinking what he thinks, surely they think that I’m certifiable for following him even though I don’t necessarily believe him. What I mean to say is this: I was and am, first and foremost, a scientist. I will always be motivated by the power and philosophy of science and nature. But my time on the X Files? Well, I should only read to you from my case reports: Insanguinated cows, slug monsters, demon babies, telekinetic children…
Sometimes I loved my work and other times I felt like shouting up at the skies until my voice died. What if it’s not a spaceship, Mulder? What if it’s just a hallucination brought on by hypothermic shock? You ever think of that? What if your ghosts aren’t really ghosts at all but tall tales or images projected with mirrors or sheets or… God! Sometimes I felt like Thelma from Scooby Doo except the mystery machine was a borrowed Lexus.
(Or how Meetings with Skinner REALLY Went, MY Version)
“The chickens…” I paused and bit my lower lip. “Displayed signs of sexual molestation suggestive of psychotic beastiality, a known sexual paraphilia. After a thorough interview with Mr. David Lockhart, I concluded that the cause of the event in question was neither supernatural nor spectacular. Mr. Lockhart’s fixated sexual behavior towards animals most likely caused the ah…” I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. “The damage to his chickens. Not ‘alien intervention,’ as Agent Mulder so vehemently suggested.”
Skinner didn’t respond. Rather, he stared at me like I had grown a third arm out of my neck. Beastiality? UFOs stealing chickens? Sure, why not? Five bucks said he had a little button under his desk that ejected crazy agents from the building –a little red button like from one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons. Finally, he managed, “have you anything to add, Agent Mulder?”
I turned slightly in my seat to regard my partner. Mulder’s long, finely tailored pant legs trembled at hummingbird rate, and his right foot tapped patterns on the floor in four/four rhythmic timimg. His head was cocked to one side, his thumb tracing circles on the tip of his angular chin. His green eyes narrowed with a far-away quality to them; physically, Mulder was sitting next to me, but metaporically, he was hundreds of miles away. I hated how Mulder could do that so easily. How he could just sit there and seem like he was paying attention, but in reality, he was off on his own planet, formulating something strange and unusual, existing in a place that was so far removed from my own, serious reality.
It was easy to resent Mulder's ability to remove himself almost completely from any kind of rational seriousness. To be able to have the open-minded sensibilities of a child would be nice sometimes, I thought. Especially when I always have to be the voice of reason, the grounding force.
I supressed a sigh. Once again, Mulder had a restless, energetic look to him, like he wanted to pop right out of his chair like a pop-tart from a toaster oven. All I could think of was that the upholstery in the rental car was totally ruined and I would never be able to look at KFC the same way again. It had not been a real case we'd investigated, I thought. It was a mockery of our U.S tax dollars at work. If I were the A.D, I think I'd throw the book at us.
I might add--
was even more reason for Mulder to back me up, to not to make me look like an incompetent jackass. So long as he could agree with me that the weekend had been a total bust--an accidental total bust, that is-- then maybe the meeting would start looking up, and Skinner would have less reason to consider throwing us both in Georgetown's Mental Lock-up.
Please, Mulder, I thought. Make me sound credible. Make me sound like I did my job correctly. We examined every possible angle and while no aliens turned up, the chickens have been confiscated. Now I can go home and take a nap and you can go do… whatever it is you do with those tapes I didn’t see that you didn’t get off of Ebay.
Mulder turned to face me.
Say something logical, I thought. Oh please oh please, just for the novelty of it. I met his eyes and tried to read him. I think his foot was tapping out “All Along the Watchtower.”
Finally, he spoke.
“Those chickens were probed, sir.”
I coughed, slinking ever so slightly into my seat. Skinner moved his hands from the top of his desk to underneath the surface and he looked from Mulder to me and back to Mulder again. I thought of Willie Coyote and gripped the armrests just in case a spring popped out from the seat cushion.
“You don’t concur with Agent Scully’s findings then?” Skinner asked, the back-light from the window making his big, bald head seem even balder.
Mulder turned to face me with an odd glint in his eyes—an evil glint, like something you’d see in the eyes of the Jaberwocky. “I think Scully’s findings may be…A bit short-sighted, considering. Her theories reflect her autopsy findings almost exclusively and they completely disregard the eyewitness accounts.”
Astonished, I opened my mouth to speak but closed it when Skinner turned his head to stare at me with accusing eyes. On the one hand I wanted to kill Mulder with a large, blunt object for making my job harder than it had to be. But on the other hand I worried over whether Mulder truly did see me as a… as a what? A completely closed minded person? We'd been working together for two years now, bouncing theories off each other in a symbiotic-like co-existence that had, thus far, proven sucessful. Our solve rate was eighty percent, higher than any other working partnership within the bureau.
But still the question remained: did Mulder really trust me to do my job in tangent with his? Or was he still always worried that my scientific tendencies were set as nothing more than booby traps specifically engineered for his capture? I'd hoped that Mulder trusted me with his life, as I trusted him with mine. I certainly had no other ulterior motives for remaining on the X Files as his partner. I believed in our work and I believed that Mulder's quest for the truth was right and just. But he was so unpredictable sometimes, and he also had no problem with completely undermining me, as he did at this meeting. Why he seemed to get a kick out of antagonizing me, I was sure I didn't know.
Plus, I also worried that Skinner thought I’d been utterly unprofessional. Skinner was a tall, muscular guy, an ex-vietnam veteran, and he was not an easy man to work under. He certainly wasn't forgiving when he was sure one of his agents had fucked up; Mulder always broke federal rules and guidelines and fell within that rubric. And I knew that the X Files wasn't high on Skinner's hit parade. I could almost read his thoughts: Agent Scully, why aren’t you working productively with Agent Mulder? Why would you disregard evidence? This isn’t like you and I don’t appreciate it. One more reason to shut down the X Files.
You know, that man has never liked me.
I sighed, trying to rescue myself from drowning. “Sir, David Lockhart is Mulder’s primary eyewitness. He’s also legally blind.”
Mulder blinked expressionlessly and stared at Skinner. “That’s not entirely true, sir. By legal definition he IS blind, but he can, in fact, make out shadows and outlines—which, I might add, is an important factor to consider.”
Silence for a moment.
Again, Mulder sought to prolong the argument. His eyes were an impressive shade of dark green: the deep color of excitement. Sometimes I wondered whether this whole thing wasn't just an excersize in breaking up the monotony. Mulder simply enjoyed watching my belligerent reactions to his "fun little debates." I was almost positive that this was why he argued with me in front of Skinner. What better way to egg Scully on and make her turn that fun shade of red? Nothing else to do today? Why not instigate a fight? Why not, I thought.
Resisting the urge to drop kick Mulder to the floor for playing this ridiculous game, I held back and said, “I’d like to point out, sir, that ‘shadows and outlines’ do not amount to even the remotest type of circumstantial evidence and it neither proves nor disproves anything.”
Mulder snorted and twisted in his seat to face me. “Oh come on, Scully.”
I gritted my teeth to try and control my annoyance. Someone had to bring the conversation back to a level playing field, damn it. Why was it always me?
“This is neither the time nor the place, Mulder.”
Mulder glared at me. “If you would just rely on your instincts for once in your life you would see... " He paused, his eyes darting towards the wall, his brain seeming to search for just the right end to his statement. With a quick glance back at me he finished, "That I’m right.”
I pursed my lips. It was impossible to NOT answer a statement like that. I mean, when someone comes up to you (someone who is obviously driven by nothing more than petty vanity) and says, "I'm right and you're wrong," you have to answer them. Especially if it's impossible to walk away because you're sitting in your superior's office.
So I answered him.
“YOU'RE right?” I asked, wringing my hands in my lap to keep myself steady in the chair. “I’m sorry but I don’t understand the statement. Is this a competition? Because I don’t recall—“
“Forget I said it,” Mulder interrupted, shaking his head. “It’s just…Lockhart’s story concurred with that of his next door neighbor’s. Both men claimed that they HEARD something crash into the trees behind Lockhart’s barn. They FELT the ground shake. We found traces of that not-so-organic-I can’t-believe-it’s-organic-ash in the forest. You don’t need twenty/twenty vision for that. Plus, both men claim that tiny creatures rushed past them and stole the chickens right out of the front yard. Afterwards, the chickens disappeared without a trace for nine whole hours. You can’t discount that out of hand.”
I took a breath and faced Mulder fully. I wondered, spitefully, how any one person could retain the logic of a five-year old and still be licensed to carry a gun. “I can when Mr. Lockhart’s next door neighbor has a blood-alcohol content of .546 percent," I said. "The man was… he was tripping over his own shoelaces, Mulder. He asked me if I was Lucille Ball.”
Skinner cleared his throat. “Agents—“ he began.
“Oh come on, that’s not so bad,” Mulder said, squinting his eyes, “I do see the resemblance.”
“I think you’ve got some explaining to do, Scully.”
I pursed my lips. All I could think of was that I was going to kill him, goddamn it, if it was the last thing I did. In a brief flash, I remembered something my parents used to say to me when I was little: "Dana, if we could only tape-record the things you say and play it back for you, you'd laugh because you'd see how unreasonable you were being."
Gripping the armrests, I suppressed a sigh and leaned in towards Mulder like a parent towards an unruly child. “That’s enough,” I ground out. “I think this conversation has gone well beyond the point of--”
Mulder held up a surrendering hand. “Okay, so he was buzzed. I’ll give you that, Scully. But the point I’m trying to make here is that inebriation is no reason to ignore a man’s testimony and automatically reduce him to a stereotype. If the world were to look at you and assume you were Lucille Ball simply because you had red hair we’d all be reducing you to a stereotype. But I won’t do that, you see, because it’s narrow minded.”
I shook my head. Mulder’s logic was astonishing in its ridiculousness. I was about to open my mouth and tell him exactly that when ---
Something slammed hard on Skinner’s desk.
“AGENTS!” he damn near bellowed.
Both Mulder and I turned sheepishly in our seats.
Skinner cleared his throat. “Are the both of you quite finished?” he asked, annoyance clear in his voice.
For the briefest of seconds, I turned to face Mulder. His cheeks were red and flushed with excitement. His green eyes were dark, bright and luminous. He had that dark hair dripping into his eyes again -- so damned attractive on him, and he was biting his lip. He'd turned to look at me like a child staring at a Three Musketeers Bar in a candy store. For Chrissakes, he was enjoying this. He was actually getting a thrill out of arguing with me, as if it lit him up from the inside.
And the sad thing was, I was getting a thrill out of arguing back. Mulder's intense eyes, the way his cheeks flushed, the way he pointed his chin just so... I was angry at him for fighting with with me, but I was exhilarated simply by sitting in the same room as him. If being his partner out in the field wasn't physically exhausting enough, just talking with him was emotionally debilitating.
God damn you, Mulder, I said to myself. If you didn’t have such a nice ass I’d punch you.
I shook my head. “Quite finished,” I said. And to Mulder: “I’m not arguing with you on this matter. My findings were my findings. It’s all in my report.” I returned my head glance to Skinner. “Sir, I think you can plainly see that—“
“—Agent Scully and I have differing opinions. Not that this scenario is anything new. However… my conclusions for this particular investigation may be slightly more thorough.”
Tension sliced through the air between Mulder and I. It was almost a palapable heat, something dark and crackling. We glared at each other, facing off for a second under the hard stare of our superior. I rolled my tongue in my cheek. “Sir,” I said, turning back to the Assistant Director, “I think the autopsy data and the interview material speak for themselves.”
“I think Assistant Director Skinner can draw his own conclusions.”
“Please refrain from interrupting me, Mulder.”
“I think I need a glass of water,” Skinner muttered. He wordlessly got up and moved to the shelf by the door. He poured himself a glass of what looked like water from a bottle of what looked like Absolute Vodka. Mulder eyed me speculatively, gesturing with his head towards Skinner’s back. I shrugged my shoulders at him and took a long breath. Skinner downed his drink in one large gulp. Both Mulder and I kept our mouths shut after that.
"I'm not a nutcase with a gun, Scully."
"Did I say that? I never said that."
"No, but--- I never said that shit about the chickens and the front yard and Lucille Ball with your hair and --"
"Really. If you didn't, then why I do remember it exactly that way?"
"I don't know. Maybe you're the nutcase with the gun."
"Nutcase with a gun. Flattering, Mulder. Thank you."
Go To PART TWO: Stakeouts Are More Fun With Mustard