PART THREE (2/2) HOW I SLEPT WITH MY PARTNER (WITHOUT REALLY TRYING)
(Just FYI: Part Three (1/2) is where "How to Blend in With Normal People" has been placed, just because I liked how it fit in there. So in case you're wondering why it's there, or when the author lost her marbles and decided to link to an already completed story, that's why. I promise you, I'm perfectly sane. -Okay, nevermind, that's a lie..)
More FYI: Slight angst warning.
Mulder and Scully:
III: On Conceiving a Child, Coming Together
And Tripping Into Love
(Or How Love Conquers Most)
There are six months of my life that I cannot account for, this much I know. Three of those six months I apparently spent on a spaceship, or hovering next to a spaceship, or in a laboratory near a spaceship, but I don’t recall any of that. The other three of those six months I spent rotting away in a dark suit, lying inside a very spacious, silk lined coffin. The hair on my chest fell out. My skin turned gray, then blue, then it pulled slowly away from my body, like old walpaper. My heart began to shrivel up and sink into my chest. I was decomposing. I was worm bait. Gone. Kaput. Finished. I was dead according to technical, medical terminology. Alive only because of alien intervention. Or maybe divine intervention. I don’t fucking know.
Again, I have no memory of any of this.
A funeral was held for me in Arlington National Cemetery that, of course, I do not remember. Pastel colored mourning wreaths were placed on easels next to the huge, gaping hole that the cemetery had dug for me. Scully had arranged for the minister from her family’s church to come and deliver the eulogy, since she herself did not feet equipped to do so, and from what I understand he gave a very touching speech. Langly told me all about the experience when he saw me again for the first time. He was very eloquent:
"There were flowers, and this dude from Scully's church," Langly said. "It was a nice service. You would have liked... well. Anyway.."
Mrs. Scully attended, as did Skinner, Agent John Doggett, The Lone Gunmen, half of Behavioral Sciences, Agent John Cromwell, Agent Kamron, Agent Laherty, and even Deputy Director Kersh.
I don’t remember any of their calls to my casket.
I don’t remember feeling Scully’s gaze as she stared down at me for (what she thought was) the last time. I don't know what kind of sound the coffin made when she lowered the lid, or whether her voice trembled when she said her goodbye.
During my stay in the hospital, I had a terrible reoccuring nightmare that haunted me every time I closed my eyes. In the nightmare, Scully stood over my opened coffin, her red lips thinned and twitching at the corners. She was dressed in a black suit with a black shell underneath, and her red hair dripped into her face as she lowered her head. She clutched this big white rose between her thumb and forefinger, and she stared down at me with tear tracks staining her cheeks. Her blue eyes were dark and hard. She looked empty.
"You left me" Scully said, with her free hand rubbing over her stomach in circles. "You weren't supposed to go." Then she'd start to cry, although the emotion never seemed to quite reach her cold, blue eyes. Her voice trembled as she spoke. "You can go to hell, Mulder." Finally, she dropped the rose onto my chest and covered her face with both of her hands. "You can go straight to hell."
At this point I would always wake up, sweating and panting and incredibly angry.
Late Spring, 2001
Scully and I were lounging around my apartment the day I was released from the hospital: me because I essentially had no job and no Driver’s License and no living identity, and Scully because she seemed to be circling around me as if she were half-asleep. She’d said next to nothing during the car ride home, and the conversation we’d had once we walked in the front door hadn’t been fabulous either.
Two hours later, Scully and I had barely moved five feet: the distance it took to walk from the doorway to the couch. Scully had spent all of that time hovering a few feet away from me, almost as if she was afraid to touch me. Or maybe she was afraid to touch the couch. I don’t know. She was the size of a tractor trailer at this point.
“I would like to formally state my objection to the use of the phrase ‘tractor trailer.’ I was not that big. I want that on the record.”
“Duly noted, Scully. I hereby retract the words ‘tractor trailer’ and I officially substitute them for the phrase ‘small, colonial-style house.’ That okay? Oh come on, don’t look at me that way.”
RIGHT. SO BACK TO THE STORY:
During my stay at the hospital, I hadn’t really taken the time to look at Scully, like really and truly look at her (mostly because I‘d been put on every kind of sedative imaginable) and that afternoon, for the first time, I noticed how incredibly huge she was. Like, Good God Damn. When Scully sat, her pregnant stomach shifted and settled so that it was hard to see her face if you looked at her from a certain angle. When she walked, she held her back and she very nearly waddled. I couldn’t even begin to understand how Scully moved comfortably with that stomach, or how she slept, or how she even saw her feet beneath the obstruction.
Scully looked at me and smiled a tiny smile. Her face was a little fatter too, I thought. Her cheeks were bigger. Fuller. I wasn’t sure what to make of that.
“You want to turn on the TV or something?” she asked. Her voice was so soft that I almost didn’t recognize it.
“Whatever,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“Mulder.” Scully sighed, almost as if she felt she was addressing a small child. “I know this isn’t what you want to be doing right now, but I don’t see you having much choice in the matter. Now, we can watch TV or we can sit here and get you up to speed on current events, or… or else we can take a walk around the block. Actually, walking is good for healing your cardiovascular system. Getting your muscles flexing and back in shape and breathing in fresh air. As a matter of fact –“
“I KNOW all of this, Scully.”
We stared at each other from across the expanse of an empty couch cushion. Scully fixed me with her eyes, these sad, defeated eyes that seemed to be consistently rimmed with purple and pink. “Okay,” she whispered.
“Right,” I said.
“So,” Scully said.
“Yeah,” I agreed, not really knowing what the hell I was agreeing with.
“So,” Scully tried again. "So.. um--"
“So Bush is president now,” I finally finished for her, staring out the far window, wanting to say something but not knowing what she wanted to talk about.
Scully’s breathing seemed unnaturally quiet “Yes,” she said.
“No.” Scully stared down at the hands folded in her lap. “I forgot to vote that day.”
I looked up for a moment, stared at the splotches on the ceiling, and wondered what she meant by that. “You shouldn’t forget to vote,” I said, a dull edge creeping into my voice. “That’s how morons and monkeys with revolvers get into office.”
I heard Scully swallow and shift her position. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll remember that the next time I see ‘Monkey With a Revolver’ stamped on the ballot.”
I nodded, still not looking at her. “This place is way too clean,” I said, glancing around. “How am I ever supposed to find anything around here?”
“I don’t know,” Scully said, her voice completely flat. “I’m sorry.”
“And you hid my basketball,” I added, nodding my head towards the TV stand, where I usually kept my Sunday morning sports necessities.
“I’m sorry,” Scully repeated, her words barely audible over the whine of a motorized hedge clipper outside.
Irritated with the conversation, I shook my head. “Oh for Christ sakes,” I managed, wiping sweat off my forehead with my hand, “would you please stop saying you’re sorry. I have no idea what the hell you think you’re apologizing for.”
Finally, I turned to face her. Scully’s eyes were wide, her lips parted, her posture slack. She looked floored, as if she didn’t know what to make of me. My heart was beating fast, my nerves about ready to pop. I hadn’t meant to snap at her, but I wasn’t quite used to this soft, quiet person who sat so placidly next to me. Who was she?
“I’m sorr—“ Scully closed her mouth.
I sighed and waved an apology at her, too tired to actually open my mouth and say it the right way.
Scully folded her arms, said nothing. Her lips pursed, her chin jutted out only slightly. Her whole face was set in a pale imitation of what I’d known forever as “Scully defiance.” But it really wasn’t “Scully defiance” because her hands were trembling inside the crooks of her elbows, and her eyes were so damned sad. God, I thought. Six months. SIX MONTHS. I didn’t even know her anymore. This woman wasn’t my Scully. This quiet, tiny woman wasn’t my partner.
“How are you feeling?” I asked, after a bit of time had passed.
“Fine,” Scully said, letting out a small breath. I wondered briefly when she’d begun holding her breath. Was it because I made her nervous? I just didn’t know.
“How are you?” she asked.
How am I? I thought to myself. How am I? I’ve been dead for three months. I have scars on my face that look like cancer growths. I don’t know where they came from. How do you THINK I am, goddamn it?
– I wanted to say that, but I didn’t.
I nodded to myself. “Well, considering all my limbs are intact and the world hasn’t exploded since I last saw it, I’d have to say I’m doing better than expected.”
Scully shook her head. “Mulder—“
“Apparently it’s true, what they say. When you die at the palace, you really die at the palace.”
“Except it wasn’t really much of a palace, was it? It was a space ship or something that looked like a space ship or… you know what? I’m still not real clear on the details. I’ll get back to you when my memory spirals back to me in blinding flash of light and I take a flying leap off the fire escape.”
The word exploded out of Scully's mouth in an angry burst, a loud, familiar kind of burst -- It was the first firm word I’d gotten out of her all day.
“What?” I asked, annoyed. "I was kidding."
Scully turned to fully face me, a movement that took her nearly ten seconds to complete. We glared at each other for a few aching seconds, and then I had to look away. I could barely stand the sight of her. I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to think about having missed six months of her pregnancy, and I certainly didn’t know what to make of being thrown back into the middle of something I’d hardly been a part of.
The last time I saw Scully, she was slender. She was normal looking. She wasn’t waddling around like an egg with feet. And she wasn’t… so weird about everything. I didn’t know what to make of Scully’s furtive glances in my direction, of her looking at me as if I was a bubble about to pop the second she took her eyes off of me. No. The last time I saw Scully she’d been confident. All business. Good lord.
“Do you think this is easy for me?” Scully snapped. “I don’t even know what to say to you, Mulder. I don’t know how to describe what I’m feeling right now, or even what I felt when I thought I would never see you again. Moreover, I don’t know what to say to you about this baby—“
At the mention of the baby, I pressed my head into my palms and closed my eyes. “I would really appreciate it if we didn’t talk about this right now,” I said, feeling helpless, as if I was being tethered to the world as I’d known it by a silk thread.
Jesus, I thought. Scully was having a baby. Where the fuck had normality gone?
“Fine, Mulder. That’s great. When would you like to talk about it?” Scully’s voice shook only slightly. “Or maybe you’d prefer if we never talked about it.”
I picked my head up. “Maybe YOU’D prefer if we never talked about it.”
Scully narrowed her eyes, the puffy, pinkish skin beneath them crinkling to her lash line. “What in the HELL is that supposed to mean?”
I shrugged and stared at her.
It means our partnership has brought us nothing but bad luck, I thought. It means you would have been better off leaving me, getting married and having two kids in the suburbs of Virginia.
I took a deep breath, remembering all the things that had made me apprehensive about Scully’s condition in the first place. For one thing, she’d been biologically tampered with before. She’d had all her eggs removed. She’d been physically violated on more than one occasion -- by these people who seemed to crawl out from under every rock. She’d already mothered a child who wasn’t altogether human. Who was to say that there wasn’t someone else out there nursing plans, waiting for an opportunity like Scully rediscovering her few remaining eggs? What if they chose to strike in the event that Scully became pregnant? What would these shadow men do to such a child? What would they do to it if they discovered the child was mine?
“It means you may not want to hear what I have to say.” I said, and took another deep breath. “My concerns about you being pregnant now, with everything that both of us know about your previous inability to conceive a child. The fact that I was taken right after you discovered you were pregnant doesn’t bode well---“
No.” Scully held up a surrendering hand. “Don’t, Mulder. Just don’t. If you want to talk to me about how my having a child scares you, or how you don’t understand whether you fit into all of this, then fine. Go ahead.” Scully hands bunched into fists and her arms shook. Her round, ivory cheeks reddened and her eyes widened with an emotion I just couldn’t understand, no matter how hard I tried. Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes and a few of them rolled down her face. She looked as if she was ready to break down, right there and then on my couch. “But don’t you dare try and turn this child into an X File. My baby is NOT an X File. Don’t look for a way out like this… you… you and your bullshit talk of miracles.”
And then Scully truly was crying: full, hard, fast tears. So many of them fell so fast that I'm sure it must have taken her by surprise. She flattened her hand over her mouth and turned her head, almost as if she felt she was too proud to look at me.
“Scully,” I managed. “I—“
“No,” Scully whispered, her back facing me. “Just shut the hell up.”
I looked away, stunned by Scully’s words.
Was that was I was doing, I wondered? Looking for a way out? Was I scrambling to find way out of being a father? No, I thought. No. That wasn’t it. It couldn’t be. If I would have known… Oh DAMN IT, if I had only KNOWN before I left!
I had hugged Scully. I had whispered to her and breathed in her scent and right after I said, “ I won’t risk losing you again,” I went and I left her. I god damned left her and I never knew. I never had any idea that she was pregnant. I had put my arms around her waist, held her as she shivered in her sleep, helped her pull her hair back the next morning when she got sick, and I never fucking realized, never imagined that she could possibly be pregnant. How could I have been that stupid? How in the world could either of us have been that STUPID?
Okay, so maybe she couldn’t have known, couldn’t have possibly thought… but she was a woman. A WOMAN, for crying out loud. Wasn’t she supposed to know these things?
Scully sucked in an especially hard breath and I stared at her, dumbfounded, almost unable to move. My face went slack at the sight of her, at the sight of this woman who I’d worked with and loved for so long. It was as if a wall had grown between us, a hard, cold wall that my disappearance had built. I’d certainly never meant for this kind of pain to touch her. And I HADN’T lied when I told her that I wanted to help her create a miracle. I did want to help her.
“Scully,” I managed, and I scooted towards her on the couch, touched her arm. When she didn’t resist, I scooted forward some more. I wasn’t sure whether she would let me touch her or not, but she didn't push me away. And when I felt her lean slowly into me, I pulled her into my chest as tightly and as carefully as I could, resting my head on her shoulder and closing my eyes.
“You told me not to give up,” she said. “I refuse to believe—“
I pressed my mouth into Scully’s neck and whispered to her. “I would never lie to you. You know that. I know you know that.” I dropped a tiny kiss into the slope of Scully’s shoulder. She smelled like… like Ivory soap-- my bar soap. When had Scully started using my soap? I wondered, but only for the barest of seconds.
I shook my head to try and clear it. “I’m just…confused right now. And angry about a lot of things.” I cupped the back of Scully’s head with my left hand, ran my fingers through her hair. “But believe me when I say I want you to be happy. None of the rest of that shit matters, so long as this baby makes you happy.”
Scully pulled away from me quickly, her eyes searching mine. “That other shit,” she said, her voice brewing on dangerous. “What are you thinking about, Mulder? What is it?”
I cleared my throat, not really wanting to say anything more. I was clearly on very unsteady ground here and I knew it. “I don’t know. I don’t know what I mean.”
“Yes, you do,” Scully said, surprisingly calm for someone with tears running down her face. “I know you’re angry with the world. And because of what happened to you, you think this baby is –“
I shook my head and wiped some tears off her cheeks with the pad of my thumb. “I’m just feeling paranoid. You know, because everyone’s always out to get me. Humans, flukemen, mutants, little green men with pitch forks and blow torches.” I tried on a smile that didn’t quite reach my eyes. “But I don’t know why that surprises you. I just want everything to be alright. I want you to have your baby, Scully, and I want you to be able to have it without worrying about any one damn thing. That’s all.”
Scully’s eyes shined with something that looked like disappointment. “My…my baby,” she said. “You just want me to have my baby.”
“Yes,” I said, frowning at her tone. “I want it to be healthy, and for you to be healthy.”
Scully shook her head, squared her jaw. “That’s not all,” she said. “We both know that it’s not.” Her eyes had that sad look again, that look I’d been seeing constantly now that I had returned, but that I had only seen once before my abduction.
It was the year before.
Scully and I had just made love for the first time, for the last time, and we were lying in bed together. She was the only person on Earth that night, the only real person in the Universe, but I never told her that. I didn’t think that I had to. And I didn’t want her to know how badly I needed to make love to her again. How my whole body felt lighter and higher when she touched me. I couldn’t let her know that. I couldn’t shift the comfortable balance we’d so carefully created in our relationship. I didn’t want to. I was terrified to.
So anyway, it was raining outside, and we were talking about the invitro procedures. Scully was tired and miserable, and the final set of embryos had not successfully taken. She’d desperately been hoping for a baby, and all I wanted was to make her happy. I wanted to see her smile again. I wanted to see her belief in miracles renewed, for one of the things that made Scully truly beautiful was her unflinching faith in the power of miracles, of spirituality. I was terrified of seeing that fire within her die out. So I’d looked at her and told her I would try my hardest to help give her a baby. .
“Whatever it takes,” I’d said.
In the end, Scully kissed me for my trouble, kissed me long and hard and with desperation fueling her body. Her hands shook as they cupped my shoulders. I kissed her back and held her close, rubbed her tense muscles until she finally fell asleep. I didn't let go of her, not all night. I didn't sleep either.
I just stared at the ceiling and listened to her even breathing: in and out, in and out.
I never told Scully how terrified I was at the prospect of a child, or at the possibility of having a child under the advice of a doctor that Scully and I barely knew. I never told Scully how I thought it would never work – having a baby… not unless something else, something not quite holy stepped in and made it work.
I stared into Scully’s eyes and saw denial there, a denial that I knew was plain in my own eyes. There was just too much shit. Too much shit and nowhere to put it.
“There’s nothing to tell you,” I said, smoothing down a hair over her left ear. “Why don’t we watch some TV? That was a good idea, Scully.”
Scully breathed in deep, made a shuddering sound that belayed her attempt at calmness. “Yes,” she said, that robot-tone from the hospital entering into her voice. “Why don’t we watch TV?”
“Or we could take a walk,” I tried, feeling as if I had somehow done something bordering on completely unacceptable.
“No,” Scully said, dully. She leaned back into the couch and rested one hand on her distended abdomen. “Let’s just sit for awhile.”
I nodded and pulled away from her. “Okay,” I said.
Scully said nothing.
I stared at her again and bit down on my tongue to keep from saying anything more. This wasn’t how I’d pictured my first day back from the hospital. This wasn’t how I’d pictured my life. This wasn’t how I’d pictured anything. This was all wrong.
Scully was pregnant. She was fucking PREGNANT. I couldn’t believe it. Half of me refused to believe it. When I’d originally told her that I’d help her, I imagined Scully’s pregnancy as an eventuality that would come only when I was ready for it. When Scully got pregnant, I would have some time to adjust. I would have plenty of time to figure it into my life. In time, we would figure it into our work. We’d find out if the baby was healthy and un-tampered with….and then the world would keep on turning normally.
This was just wrong.
How could Scully be pregnant when we still had so much work to do? I needed her focus, her strength, her unwavering professionalism. I needed the Scully who saw that the work came first, and her emotions came second. This distracted, unhappy Scully was not what I needed. Not at all.
I grabbed the remote and flipped the TV on. The NBC symbol flashed briefly in the corner of the screen. Maury Povich was on again: a man and a woman who’d been sown together, another man sitting next to a cow, and a girl with a chicken in her lap. Scully’s voice finally re-emerged from deep within her throat. She sounded lost and very far away. “You remember that case we worked on in San Fransisco? The one with the man who said his wife gave birth to wolf babies?”
I smiled, staring not at Scully, but at the TV. “Yeah?”
“I was just thinking about the way that man went on and on about them –the wolf babies – how he said he would love them even if he had to take them out back and tie them to a tree, fit them with muzzles…” Her voice trailed away and she sighed. “It was nice to see a father so committed to his invalid wife and their mutant wolf babies….”
My brow furrowed, I turned to face Scully, staring at her as if she’d grown a second head out of her arm pit. “Huh?” I asked.
Scully's lips twitched, and she kept her gaze trained on the television set. “You just don’t see enough wolf babies these days,” she continued, as if deep in thought. “And when you do, there’s never a fine man running around with two missing front teeth, ready to jump in and throw caution to the wind, and say –“
I nodded my head, trying to keep the grin off my face. “I’ll be the wind beneath their wings?”
Scully blinked and bit her lip, obviously determined to win this round of 'I can make you crack first.'
“Dogs don’t have wings,” she said evenly.
“Sometimes they do,” I returned, playing the game to win. “My father used to tell me these stories about the Doberman who lived across the street from us. He said that if I didn’t go to sleep when my mother told me to, the dog would sprout wings and fly across the road to bite me in the ass.”
Scully’s eyebrow arched and she glanced at me from the corner of her eye. “Why would the dog have to fly?” she asked dryly. “What, there weren't any rollerskates around?”
I grinned and shrugged my shoulders. “Duh, Scully,” I said, “My bedroom was on the second floor. How else could it get up there to jimmy open the window?”
Scully turned her face and regarded me with an expression of mild amusement. Then, as if remembering the game, she immediately pursed her lips and squared her jaw. “The dog jimmied open the window, too? Without opposable thumbs? How’s that, exactly?”
I leaned back and folded my hands behind my head. “He flew with a crowbar glued to his hand.”
“You mean paw.”
Scully smiled, her eyes sparking in a way I hadn’t seen them sparkle in a long time. “And where’d he get the crowbar?”
“Same place he got the glue.”
“And where’s that?”
“The Flying Dog Hardware Store.”
“Ah, I see,” Scully said, and she shook her head. “It all makes sense now.”
We grinned at each other, content for at least the moment, to be in each other’s company and to be talking the way we used to talk. I liked this part of knowing Scully, of having her in my life. I enjoyed the comfort level that came with having a friend who understood your motives so completely.
"Ha. You lose," I said, pointing my index finger at her. "You broke first."
"I don't know what you mean," Scully said, all innocent sounding and still grinning at me. "We're both smiling."
"No," I said, spreading my palms wide as if in explanation. "I'm talking about before."
I leaned forward and nodded my head towards her. "Crowbar. You broke on crowbar, Scully."
Scully clucked her tongue. "Oh, I don't think so, Mulder. That wasn't a smile. That was the baby kicking."
I waved my hand at her and shook my head. "Bullshit. I distinctly saw you--"
"Meaning," she went on, "that techincally, you broke first."
"I did not! When did I break?"
Scully folded her arms lazily across her chest. "Man with missing teeth running around," she said smugly.
"Ohhhhhh.... You lie, G-woman."
Scully shook her head, her expression conveniently blank. "I never lie, Mulder."
To that I snorted and shook my head. "Cheater cheater pumkin eater," I muttered, and I saw her break again from the corner of my eye.
Scully cleared her throat and glanced away, her smile fading all too quickly from her still lovely face. “So, um…Do you want to watch this fine example of quality programming or do you want to watch something else?”
I turned my head away and stared out the window, or what I could see of the outside world as obscured by mini blinds. “It doesn’t matter,” I said, distracted.
“I think the news is coming on,” Scully muttered, as if talking to herself.
“That’s fine,” I said, and I kept my gaze fixed upon the window.
The sill was clean, dusted, as if someone had come in here every day with a thin feather duster and a can of pledge and scrubbed it clean. The desk was also impeccable; I’d even opened up the compartments earlier. The drawers were organized by size of writing utencil and size of office tool, the shelves stacked neatly with books that were organized according to the alphabetical placement of each author. The clothes in my bedroom had been folded and put away – in color order, the carpets vacuumed, the cabinets in the kitchen stocked with cans of soup that were stacked according to size and brand name.
In my mind’s eye I saw Scully wandering listlessly around my apartment, making her way from room to room, arranging and rearranging my sock drawers, feeling useless and totally out of control. Scully hated when she felt her life was spiraling out of control. I imagined her sitting on my couch, looking around the living room with a restless expression, and realizing that there was nothing left to do. The fish were fed. The clothes had been put away. The windows and tables and shelves and even the walls had been dusted. She’d done everything she could possibly think of to do. She’d explored every avenue she could have explored to DO something, to be IN control…to find me.
I imagined Scully sitting here, staring off into space as she was doing now, watching the VCR clock blink the minutes on and off as they passed. “What’s left?” she said in this vision I had of her. “What now?”
“Are you sure you don’t have a preference?” Scully asked, remote in hand.
“No,” I said, and I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. Scully closed her eyes, her lashes fluttering shut as if I had kissed her lips. She smiled.
“Okay,” she said.
I nodded. “Okay.”
"I... I don't think---"
"I feel kind of....ohh...oh God--"
"Woah--Scully, sit down. Here. Right here. Hey, what's wrong? You look--"
"I'm not feeling so great."
"No kidding. Talk to me."
"Give me a minute..."
"Did you eat that yogurt or something?"
"The one in the back of the fridge, the one from last month? It's been sitting in there, collecting mold since---"
"I'm going to--"
"Turn the tape recorder off!"
"I said turn it off!"
Keep on Reading...