This chapter is a little more angsty that the first few. My reasons? Well, duh. I'm trying to tell a story here! Seriously though, I have always held the opinion that one can only know true comedy through true drama. So, if we can get through this chapter (and part of the next one is a wee bit angsty as well--but more comedic) then we are all good to go. Sound good? I promise you, there are some (I hope, funny) and interesting moments coming up in the next few parts. Really, I swear. It's not my fault if Mulder tends to get long-winded. I keep telling him to stay focused, stay on topic. But Mulder doesn't ever listen to me.
All disclaimers and headers in part one
PART FOUR: (1/2) HOW I SLEPT WITH MY PARTNER WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
By Jaime Lyn
Mulder and Scully
IV: How Princess Scully Got Her Crown
(and her man)
And the Prince Chased Aliens
WHEN HE TURNED THE RECORDER OFF
"Hey," I manage, rapping softly on the bathroom door. "Scully? Look, just... at least let me know if you're alright."
I poke my toe at a white-ish stain marring the beige carpeting by the wall. I bet you that's toothpaste I think, trying to take my mind off the twisted, coughing, wheezing sounds coming from inside our hallway half-bath. Scully's been huddled in there for about ten minutes, retching into the toilet.
But, you know. I'm sure she's fine. She always is.
I keep staring at the circular spot of white on the floor, focusing on memorizing its exact shape and texture. The carpet fabric is a bit crunchy and matted around the edges of the stain--- Yes. Definitely toothpaste. Most likely my fault. One of my worst habits (or so Scully says,) is that I can never stay in the bathroom when I brush my teeth. I have to constantly move around, turn on the TV, turn off the TV, set the alarm clock... THAT, Scully once said to me, is repugnant, If you're going to foam at the mouth, do it over the sink.
Scully's just... well, she's a very neat person. She has drawers and cupboards for her drawers and cupboards. She organizes her organizers. That kind of thing. I don't think she even had any stains on her carpet before I moved in. Typical, right?
Damn it Scully.
The coughing fades in and out, loud then soft, then nothing at all. I lean my hand against the door and press my ear to the wood, trying to discern whether she's even still breathing. I can't help but stand here and worry about her. I can't help but think that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. I mean, she's SCULLY for chrissakes. She's MY Scully. I'm sure there are other people in this world who have a "Scully," and I'm sure I'm not the first person to pace back and forth in front of a bathroom door.
"Do you need a glass of water?" I ask, not knowing what the hell else to say. "Asprin? Do you want me to call the doctor? Scully?"
Nothing. Not even a whisper.
I suppose that investigating strange phenomena over the years has left me wary of almost everything: air vents, trips to the forests, voyages out to sea, pharmaceutical companies, hurricanes, cats, sewers, sky-lifts... Flu-like symptoms are no exception. As a matter of fact, getting sick is probably the worst of all the unexpected miseries I've encountered. Illnessess are like silent, meticulous invaders who are virtually impossible to stop. Scully knows this better than almost anyone. I listen to her pained gagging and I think about her faded cancer, an unusual kind of cancer that formed in her nasal cavity and grew and grew until she was no longer a person to the invader, but rather a host for an unstoppable monster.
I can't see her like that again. Sick and withering away. I just can't. Fuck. What is going on in there? People don't just get violently ill like that.
I take a deep breath, my ear still pressed to the door. For a few moments I hear nothing; a silence that nearly undoes me with its endless possibilities. Then I hear the reassuring sound of rushing water from the faucet. A few splashes interrupt the steady streaming sound and I pull my head away from the door, readying myself for whatever comes next.
Mulder, my nose is bleeding.
Mulder, I feel dizzy.
Mulder, my pulse is thready and there's a funny taste in the back of my throat...
The door opens slowly into the hallway, a small stream of yellow light expanding over the carpet. Scully straightens her gray shirt and stands with her back to the light, one arm perching against the sink, the other arm wiping across her reddened cheeks.
"Sorry, Mulder," she whispers, averting her eyes, clearing her throat and side-stepping past me into the hallway.
Oh, no no no no no---
I frown, shake my head. This is not okay, I decide. Normal, healthy people don't just act fine one minute, throw up the next minute, then walk away like nothing happened. What the hell just happened here?
With a deep breath I kick the bathroom door closed with my foot, take a few steps into the hallway and wrap my fingers around Scully's upper arm. She turns her head and looks up at me with wide, shining blue eyes. Oh christ. She doesn't look sick anymore, she just looks... sad. Very sad.
Scully smiles crookedly, touches the back of her hand to my face. "We have an interview to finish. Let's just keep going," she says, a slight tremor underlying her soft, calm voice. "I'm alright. Really. I probably ate some of that bad yogurt you were talking about."
The strange, nameless emotion still hovers in her gaze, her blue irises shining at me, almost as if she's thinking about something she doesn't even want to examine on her own What is it, Scully? I wonder. What has you looking like the world is about to end?
Man, talking to Scully sometimes makes me feel like a passenger on a crashing airplane. The supporting engines have just gone out, the landing gear isn't working, and the pilot's come over the radio to tell us that everything's fine. Not to worry.
A half second passes in which neither of us says anything. Scully's breathing sounds even and normal, which I suppose is good, and the olive color has seemingly drained from her clear, ivory face. I guess she's alright. But I really don't know.
"You sure you don't want to lie down?" I take her hand and intertwine our fingers so that both our hands are pressed to my cheek.
"I told you, Mulder. It was a fluke, that's all. You can turn the recorder back on now." Scully pulls her hand back down to her side. She clears her throat again and walks away, patters on her bare feet into the living room.
I nod and watch her go, flashing in my mind to a few years ago: Scully lying in a hospital bed right after the cancer started spreading. I see wires extending from her arms and her nose, black screened monitors bleeping beside her bed, and the startling color of her red lips against her eggshell colored cheeks.
Beep... Beep... Beep... I'm afraid visitng hours are over, Mr. Mulder.
Scully turns her head, an amused looking smile creasing over her pale-pink lips. She pushes an orange lock of hair out of her face and stares at me with expectant, bright eyes. "We only have another hour," she says. "If you want any royalties at all from this book, you'll want to come in here. Oh and hey, you know what? Since we're running out of time, I think we should talk about Will. Why don't you tell the one about the ah," she snaps her fingers as if trying to remember. "You know, the ah..." She frowns for a second, then stares up at the ceiling like she's debating something to herself. Finally, she grins a wide, knowing grin at me. "The stories you tell the baby when you think I'm working on my laptop. You know, the Princess Scully stories. I just can't get enough of those, Mulder."
I blink to try and clear my brain. "Oh, I'm sure," I say, trying to be nonchalant about the situation. "yeah, okay. Just give me a second."
TAPE RECORDER ON
I never told Scully how I came up with the idea for “The Princess Scully Chronicles.” (Shut up. That’s what I call them and Scully loves them and William loves them, so don’t fucking laugh at me.)
Honestly, I didn’t want her to know how it all came to be. I’m not a very openly emotional person; I don’t cry, I don’t have long, intimate conversations with Scully about my insecurities and I don’t take romantic strolls with her through the park. We're very utilitarian, Scully and I, and we rarely exchange words that aren't practical and necessary for the duration of our conversations. For Christ sakes, it took us seven years to even admit to each other that there was a mutual attraction between us. It took us another month and a half to make love, and a year after that to find the courage to see each other outside of work without it being "wierd." We would never say "I love you." We wouldn't even try. At least, not for the longest time.
Which is why, a month after the baby was born, I spent half my Friday night driving through downtown Washington D.C, wondering how in the world I could ever equip myself to settle down and raise a son, when over half my life I’d avoided committing to any one thing.
During my adult years, I spent most of my time feeling restless, moving from one case to the next with an urge to constantly keep up with the next big thing. Often, when I failed to find that “big thing,” I got discouraged with my work, with my sources, or with myself, and the darker side of me emerged. Either I took my anger out by running myself ragged, or by punching the furniture, or I took it out by ditching Scully, leaving her behind because she wasn’t moving fast enough for me.
Of course, no good ever came of going out alone. I usually ended up dicking myself over, finding myself in a shitty situation that Scully would certainly have found a way to avoid. And besides hurting myself with my arrogance, I hurt Scully. I hurt her a lot. Sometimes, I hurt her when I thought I was helping her, when I thought I knew better than she how to handle her own problems. And with a baby now in the picture… I was terrified of fucking the kid up, or fucking Scully up, or the two of us fucking the kid up together. How could I do that to her son – to OUR son?
After an hour and a half of driving, I finally found myself sitting on a bench in front of D.C’s historic Washington Monument, desperately praying for some hope or inspiration or SOMETHING. I shook my head and stared at my palms, my left hand on one knee, my right hand on the other. I was torn between two seemingly impossible extremes: should I stay with Scully, move into her apartment, uproot my life and help raise our son?
Or should I get back in the goddamned car and just keep on driving? Get a new apartment, look for a new job, be Scully’s best friend and bring the baby teddy bears on the weekends.
Maybe I just loved Scully too much. Maybe I loved her the way I loved my sister Samantha. My darkest moments always seemed to surface when the circumstances surrounding Samantha’s disappearance turned grim, or when Scully’s life was threatened. Sometimes I just didn’t like the man I became when I loved someone too much.
When my father died, I felt as if the world had imploded and left me at its empty center. I went after Alex Krycek with a gun, convinced in my self-righteousness, in my single-minded attempt at vengeance. I wanted blood. I wanted my life made right again. I went after the men who had led to my father’s destruction; I chased endlessly after the ones who had put that vacant, distressed look in my mother’s eyes.
When Scully disappeared, I imagined crawling out onto my ledge, feeling the wind hit me as I fell forward and dropped like a leaf to the street below. I imagined what the end of a rope would look like dangling above my head, how frayed and torn the edges would be. Finally, when there was nothing left to imagine, I chased down the cigarette smoking man the way I’d chased down other men before him, my life like a string of failures in front of me. I was like a missile going headlong into a submarine. I didn’t care what happened to me. I just didn’t CARE.
Letting myself love someone to the point of insanity had made me a dangerous man, a man I wasn't even sure I recognized.
I would have killed for my father. I would have killed for Samantha. I would have killed for Scully. The idea that I was even capable terrified me.
"You're not the savior of the world," Scully once said to me. "Sometimes it's impossible to even save yourself, let alone everyone else. When are you going to forgive yourself for your shortcomings, Mulder? For your sister?"
Back when I was a child, I had a sister, Samantha, who I loved very much. Even though she was just this annoying, mud-covered urchin in pigtails who followed me around the house, she was my only little sister and sometimes, my only friend. Samantha was good at board games. She was a great stickball playmate. She was mom and dad’s little princess, even when she threw tantrums because I won the spelling bees, and the math tournaments. Sam was always laughing, always running after me and yelling, "wait up Fox! You buttmunch, wait UP!"
Sam was always happy. She just was.
Then one evening Sam was torn from my parents and I, ripped out of our lives in a flash of mysterious light and broken glass. I’d tried to save her, tried to bring her back, but I couldn’t. I'd been assigned to watch her that evening and I let her down. I let her slip from our lives like water from between my fingers.
My parents didn't know what to think.
"What happened, Fox?" my mother asked me, her arms wrapped tightly around my middle. She rocked us back and forth, over and over, but I couldn't speak. I couldn't move. "Please, baby. Tell me what happened. Did you see anybody? Oh God--"
My father stood with his back to us. He set his hands on his hips and stared for the longest time out the broken living room window. He didn't say a word. Not one word.
"I don't know, Mommy," I finally cried, over and over. "I don't know I don't know..."
Years passed us, the memory of that night growing foggier with each moment. We all went on with our lives and made the best of what we had, as people often do, but always in the back of our minds was the pain of Samantha’s absence.
My mother grew more and more absent minded, especially during the holidays, and it was almost as if she was floating in a world of her own making, a place where Samantha thrived and never grew older. She kept old pictures of all of us up on the mantle and on the wall, and she never updated the faces. She'd say things like, "yes, that's nice Fox," and, "Oh isn't that lovely," before she left the room without saying goodbye. Sometimes I wondered if she even heard me.
My father grew into a stern but worrisome man, distracted but controlled. Sometimes he'd walk over to the living room window and look out onto the grass for hours. He'd say things to my mother that had no meaning for anyone but him.
"Fox is a good boy," he said, after my high school graduation, "a good egg. I always knew he had the most smarts in this family. It's important for the boy to have a good head on his shoulders. He has things to do. Big things, Teena. Remember I saw it first.".
I was only a teenager when I decided, once and for all, that Samantha’s disappearance had been my fault. And none of the hugs from my mother or proud pats from my father could make me feel whole in their eyes. It was as if I had seen the evidence, examined the situation, and with the glaring stupidity of youth, I determined that everything had been my fault. I had single-handedly lost my sister.
The knowledge of my ineffectuality haunted me for years. It haunted me until I let the numbness drown me, and I vowed I would make right what I’d allowed to go wrong. I went into regressive hypnosis. I pulled up memories of aliens and bright lights, my sister floating through the window: things that made no sense at first. Then I immersed myself in anything I thought would help me find Sam: UFO sightings, government conspiracy theories, poltergeist research… After having read the literature, I was positive that something unnatural had stolen my sister and I needed, more than I needed anything else, to sew back together the tear her disappearance had created in my life.
"What are you doing, man?" my friend Llyod asked me once. "What is up with you?" We were walking back from high school on the last day before finals. Llyod had a bottle of soda in one hand, an apple in the other. I had a stack of dusty books in my arms, some with yellowed papers dripping out of the sides and from the binding.
"Research," I said.
"For what?" Llyod asked. "The year's over. School's done. Let it go."
"For myself," I said, staring up at the trees. I nodded to myself and watched the clouds drift across the sky like globs of white paint on a blue dropcloth. "You wouldn't understand."
I went away to school, determined to find a career that could equip me with the necessary resources to find Samantha. It was all I thought about, all that mattered to me. Falling in love was never high on my priority list. As a matter of fact, I had made it my goal to prevent encompassing emotions from distracting me. I didn't care about love and I didn't want to fuck myself over, lose track of what was really and truly important.
I attended college at Oxford University in England, forced myself to get the best education. I lived in a dorm room with two guys who had never been with any women, (not that they told me this, but I could tell,) and I never skipped class. Not ever. I needed to be at the top of my game, ten steps in front of everyone else.
Then one day, as I sat doing my homework in Advanced Calculus Class, I glanced up into the eyes of a fair skinned, brown haired woman who had twisted in her seat to face me. Her name, I remembered, was Pheobe. Pheobe-something-or-other. The professor had called on her the other day and she'd skipped to the front of the room to answer the question.
"I'm sooorry to bother you," she said in a suave, accented voice, "but I seem to have forgotten my number two pencil today. Would you have one by any chance?"
I cleared my throat, my heart racing. "I ahh--"
Pheobe frowned, cocked her head to the side so that her shiny brown hair slipped over one shoulder. "Is something wrong with you? Are you ill?"
"No," I said, unable to take my eyes off her. "I just mean--that is, I have two. Two pencils."
At that she smiled, eyeing me with a practiced stare. "All the better."
Pheobe Green whipped herself around me like a hurricane; she was tall, beautiful and clever, and she loved herself almost as much as she loved falling in love. And maybe, at the time, that was what I needed.
I’d liked Pheobe, and I liked the way she made me feel. When I was with Pheobe I was free from myself. I was a kid out having fun, belonging to something, being with someone. For the first time since I’d been a boy playing out on the Vineyard with my little sister, I was full of energy and exhilaration. Pheobe gave that to me. And I liked that. Plus the sex was good, and she often concurred with my beliefs and my theories, made me feel I was headed on the right track with the search for my sister.
But in retrospect, I suppose it wasn’t love: not real, true love, the kind that sets your head spinning.
My love for Pheobe manifested from loneliness, the desire to be accepted by someone who could assure me that I was doing the right thing…I’d loved the habit of Pheobe, the idea of her. I was in love with something that didn’t exist in her angular, cat-like face. I was in love with a woman who existed only in my imagination.
Two years into our relationship, Pheobe left me for a Law student. She just up and went.
That night I drove out to Downtown London, drank until I couldn’t see straight. I took a walk into the woods and watched the trees coverge and dance over my head. Then I collapsed under a large, dying oak, muttering to myself. I tried to imagine a bolt of lightning hitting the tree, scorching the leaves to ash and sizzling me where I sat. I wondered what my parents would say if they saw me.
“God damn it, Fox,” my father would have said. “Is this what I’ve sent you off to college for? Screwing around? You’re better than this, son. You’re smarter. Either shape up or don’t do anything at all.”
I turned over and cried, balled my fists up and banged them against the trunk of the tree until my knuckles were shredded and bloody.
Some of my friends found me two days later, disoriented and mumbling to myself. When I had sobered, they told me what they’d heard me blubbering.
“She left me,” I said, over and over. “Samantha. She left me. Help… someone… drowning…”
For a few years afterwards, there was nobody. I made sure of that. I stayed behind and studied, or else I went out and played pool with the guys I knew would never get dates. Then I graduated Oxford and I discovered a sure-fire way to find my sister. I joined the FBI, at first working for behavioral sciences, hoping that maybe the bureau’s high connections could get me started.
When I stumbled over the x files one day, those strange, dusty files in an old, abandoned basement storage closet, I was ecstatic. Finally, I’d found a route that might lead me to Samantha. For the first time in forever, I felt the energy to keep on moving, to keep on working, to go out there and find "the next big thing."
I was so head-over-heels flipped out, that while rushing down to photo-copy one of the vampire cases, I ran headlong into a tall, sly-looking brunette woman with a straight back and an endless quirk of her upper lip.
"Going somewhere?" she asked, her hands on her hips.
I glanced at her and smiled, scooping my papers up off the floor with one hand. "Not really," I answered, shrugging my shoulders. "I just enjoy running around the Hoover building because driving to the gym is too much of a schlep. You?"
"I---" She folded her arms across her chest. "I'm sorry, what was your name again?"
Two days later I sat down with this woman (who introduced herself as Diana Fowley,) to have lunch and to discuss her interest in the paranormal. A week later Diana called me up to consult with her on a case. A month later, she arranged for a transfer to the x files.
Diana was cool and detached, much like I was. She believed in the existence of extraterrestrials, of paranormal activity, and she never stopped me when I ran off to harness these intangible things. Diana believed that the forces of nature were not necessarily relegated to science alone. She believed that finding my sister would help the greater good of the x files, of the universe. Diana had big ideas, but no follow-through.
For two years, Diana and I searched together, almost always coming up drained and empty handed. I had allowed her into my life and into my bed, and I let myself believe that because we were so alike, this euphoric thing I was feeling had to be love. I dreamed that our companionship was the ultimate truth, a truth to give me strength.
In reality, I’d only loved Diana in the way that a person lives his life thinking what he’s looking for is a better-oiled version of himself.
"We're so alike, you and I," Diana said to me once. She grinned and kissed my cheek, whispered into my ear, "we'll do great things together. I'm sure of it."
But if Diana was anything like me, she was like the worst part of me. Diana was single minded, headstrong and self-centered. She flew thoughtlessly headfirst into every case, into every investigation, just like I did. We were heedless, both of us, and we fought about divvying up the work nearly as much as we made love.
About a year into our partnership I decided to propose to Diana, thinking stupidly that everything would work itself out so long as we could marry and put our troubles behind us. I even bought her a ring that nearly cleared out my bank account.
"I can do this," I said to myself, as the jeweler slid my VISA through the credit machine. "This is just the beginning. Diana's an asset. She's a compliment to the work. I can do this. I want to. I do."
That same day I came home to a half-empty apartment, a full-red rose lying on the table and a hastily scribbled note perched on top of the couch:
“Fox – I’ve finally gone and done it. I’ve left Washington behind for bigger places, Saudi Arabia to be exact. I can’t tell you more than that because the assignment I’ve been given is highly classified. I’m sorry. Maybe some day things will be different. – Diana. P.S: I took some of the case files with me. I’m sorry I can’t tell you why.”
After reading the letter I dropped to the floor, disturbed with how easily I’d been duped, how easily I’d been manipulated. I perched against my dusty coffee table, stared at the space on my desk where my computer had been. The wires had been splayed about the table like the guts of a fish, the mouse tossed to the floor.
I'd been played for a fool.
I pulled my government issued Sig Sauer out of my holster, wrapped trembling fingers around it, and pressed the barrel to my head. How cool the metal felt, how right and true.
I was a failure, I thought. I truly was a joke. I had my fish and my fruitless search for the impossible truth, but I had no Samantha. And now I had no ally either. The love I thought I'd shared with Diana was gone. It’s absence had left a hole in my world, a tear right next to the one my sister had created. I wasn’t any closer to anything I wanted or needed. I wasn’t any closer to the truth.
In my mind I said goodbye to my father and mother. I imagined an old, white-haired priest making a speech at my funeral service – the same one who had spoken at my grandmother’s service. I saw the grave that would be dug in Arlington National Cemetary. I saw the dirt closing over me, the light seeping into dark.
“Do something, for once in your life,” I said to myself.
I closed my eyes and desperately prayed for the courage to pull the trigger.
An hour later I dropped the gun.
From that point forward, the x files consumed my life. It was all I did, all that counted for anything. My persistence, I know, didn’t make the top brass very happy. When I was on assignment, the SACs avoided me like I was bad take-out. The directors despised my relentlessness in poking around where I didn’t belong. Chief Blevins, to be specific, found me troublesome and dangerous. He wanted to put an end to my work on the x files, and he felt the best way to do this was to send in a plant, a spy to undermine my work.
Special Agent (M.D) Dana Katherine Scully was Blevins’ “brilliant” solution.
Scully was his plant, his spy, his answer to the “Mulder dilemma,” and she was like nothing I’d ever known.
Scully walked into my mildewy basement office with a purposeful gait and she extended her hand like we were old friends. She was small and impossibly young, yet pretty in that “Marion librarian” type of way, and sure of herself – as if she had all the answers and nobody could convince her otherwise.
“I’m Dana Scully. I’m looking forward to working with you,” she’d said in a friendly yet professional tone.
“Oh really,” I’d said, my voice sweet with distaste. “I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me.”
Scully’s hands folded over her chest in response to my defensiveness. I turned up my nose at her unflagging reliance on science. We regarded each other with a stern, cool air: an unspoken decision that neither of us would ever understand the other.
Our first case together was quite awkward in many ways:
“I’ve arranged for two rooms,” Scully’d said to me, her tone firm and clipped. “Same floor, not connecting. I keep mine locked, just so you know, and you should keep yours locked as well. If you need something, knock. If I don’t answer, ring my cell. However—if you don’t have a problem with it, I’d prefer to keep unnecessary fraternization in the rooms to a minimum. The bureau has strict rules about that sort of thing.”
"I'll do what I can," I muttered, and I grabbed the keys off the counter without looking twice at her. I'd only gotten a few feet away from the front desk when I realized she wasn't following me. I spread my arms wide and turned to call to her. "So, Agent Scully, are you coming or what?"
Scully nodded and smiled at me. "Yeah," she said, scooping her duffel up off the floor. "Wait up."
Despite our differences, it didn’t take long for Scully and I to develop a familiar routine: Scully made it clear that she thought I was nuts. I made it clear that I thought she was completely out of her bounds. We disagreed nearly as much as we rented bureau issued sedans.
Not that I minded as much as I let on.
Scully, I realized, was very low-key, and she was as smart as she was controlled. Although we butted heads on a regular basis, she never seemed to lose her temper. And where, in the past, Diana had disappeared to investigate on her own or worse – lied to me – Scully was honest. She was loyal. Not that I noticed such things in the beginning. Not that I wanted to trust a person who was only meant to spy on me.
Finally, at some point during the novice days of our partnership, the shit really hit the fan.
"Is there a point anywhere in this story?"
"Well, you've been jabbering on for about... ten--no, thirteen minutes now, and you STILL haven't gotten around to the baby or to the bedtime stories, or to anything remotely resembling--"
"I'm getting to it, Ms. I-can-spend-three-hours-cutting-up-dead-people but-I-can't-listen-to-Mulder-for-thirteen-damn-minutes-Scully."
"Okay, fine. I apologize. But what in the world are you leading up to with all this insanely long backstory?"
"I'm trying to be thorough, thank you very much. And when I do get to the point, you will be the first to know."
"Looking forward to it."
"Good. Now can I go on?
"Hey- did you know that I stepped on a piece of gum during our first case together? Completely ruined a pair of black pumps. OH --and I think I might have eaten a salad for dinner after examining Billy Miles' dirty feet. You want to back-track and add that in?"
"You are so amusing I can't even tell you."
Scully and I were investigating crop circles in Pheonix, Arizona. Scully wanted to leave; she was disgusted with the lack of cooperation from the local PD, and she insisted we’d had no substantial leads. I disagreed with that conclusion. We debated back and forth until she ultimately asked me to meet her back at the Jack-In-The-Box motel where, she said, “we can discuss our inability to come to a conclusion over dinner. I’ll buy.”
I agreed to this deal with invisible fingers crossed behind my back. If Scully wanted to leave for D.C then that was fine. She could go. I didn’t care. I wasn't ready to leave. I’d been planning to comb the area and interview some of the local residents. Crop circles were always a lot of fun to figure out, I thought, even if UFOs weren't the source of the phenomena.
So Scully and I went our separate ways, she to the local field office to check back in, and me to “the motel.”
Fast-forward to later that night.
Seeing as how the local pub seemed to be the center of all the action, I set my sights there and had a few rounds with the bartender. I interviewed some of the high school students over a game of pool… or maybe two or three or four games of pool. It went something like this:
"You boys ever see anything strange out by the McDougall farm?"
"Nah, just cows and shit."
"How about flashing lights, or lights that seemed to hover?"
"Strange noises at night? Anything at all out of the ordinary? Missing farm animals, maybe?"
"Ohh man, I saw this one chicken once, right, and he was like, flying and shit. And then he crashed into a wall. It fucking rocked, man. Hey-- nine ball, corner pocket."
I didn’t even realize how long I’d been bullshitting around, drinking beer and playing pool, until it was too late to make up for lost time. Nearly four hours too late. Scully would certainly realize how long I’d been gone, I thought, and she’d be pissed.
"Shit," I muttered to myself. "This isn't going to be pretty."
But that was only the beginning.
I drove back to the motel like a mad-man, nearly taking out four cars and a truck when I sped through a red light. (Okay, two red lights and one that was almost red --but it wasn't. I swear.) Then I pulled up to the walkway of the Jack-In-The-Box Motel, yanked the key from the ignition, slammed the door shut behind me and stared around the lot for the extra rental car Scully had sequestered.
It wasn't there.
Shit, I thought to myself for the millionth time that night.. Now I might as well just wait inside and call her cell phone. I'm sure she'll answer and we can figure this out rationally.
Nodding to myself, I reached into my pocket to grab the room key. I fished around in my denim jeans for one second, then two, then three, and then I pulled my hand out empty. My wallet was gone. Scully being gone was bad enough, but now I was screwed. Completely screwed.
"Oh no," I said, searching through my pockets, my socks, and my shoes. I walked up and down the pavement and ransacked the interior of the car. "On no, this is not happening."
Behind the seats, under the seats, between the seats, in the glove compartment, on the dash board, in the trunk. Nothing. My wallet was gone. Totally, utterly gone.
It was then that I saw the hulking, (This guy was huge--like eight or nine feet) bushy-bearded front desk clerk heading up the walkway, a bag of toilet paper clutched in one hand.
"Hey!" I yelled, flagging him down. "Hey!".
The clerk stopped in his tracks, glanced around, then took a few steps forward, pointing to himself. "Me?" He asked.
I ran up to him. "Yeah, you. Have you seen a red-headed woman pass by this way?" I rose my hand, palm down, in front of my shoulder. "She's about this tall, wearing a dark colored suit and ah--" I shook my head and tried to remember what else about Scully (other than her hair) someone would notice.
The clerk nodded. "Yeah, as a matter of fact," he said, flipping the bag over his left shoulder. "She ran outta here like I never seen and asked me for directions to the hospital."
My face paled about five shades. "The hospital?" I asked. "You're sure?"
The clerk nodded.
"Could you ah," I scratched my head, "could you tell me the fastest way to get there?"
It took me some suave finagling, some spare change and a fifteen minute bus ride, but I finally found Scully walking through the hospital parking lot back to the car, a very angry look on her face. Her red hair dipped and settled in curls that bounced against her shoulders and upper back when she moved. She didn't seem to notice the the bus slowing down, not even when the headlights bathed her in a deep, white glow.
So of course, I did the logical thing; I hopped down the bus steps and ran to catch up with her. It took me about a minute and a half of near-sprinting to do, mostly because the bus had turned around and plopped me down on the other side of the lot, but I finally caught up.
"Hey -- Scully?"
Instead of speaking, she threw a slightly mangled, yellow piece of paper over her left shoulder. The half-wrinkled sheet fluttered for a second near her leg, and then she was up and going again and the paper fell to the ground. I snatched it up off the pavement and read as I ran:
“Victim, D.O.A: white male, aged estimated thirty to forty, brown hair, hazel eyes. Name: Unknown. Cause of death: struck by oncoming vehicle. Time of death: eleven ten pm. Personal effects found on body: Wallet, motel room key, driver’s license, insurance card, Visa Card, Mastercard, Federal Badge: owner listed as Fox Mulder. Negative Identification made by Special Agent Dana Scully, badge number JTT10485732. All personal effects for Fox Mulder have been signed over to---“
And I knew I was in serious trouble.
“Oh…shit,” I managed, and I ran faster to catch up with her.
“Scully?” I asked, out of breath and barely able to speak. “Hey—“
Scully stopped and turned on her heels to face me. Her eyes were a startling shade of blue, a dark blue that sparkled like fire from a blow torch. She looked positively livid. More livid than I'd ever seen her.
“Nice of you to show up,” She said, her fists balled at her sides.
I bent over to catch my breath, placed my hands on my knees and wiped my forehead with my knuckles. When I looked up, I forced a smile at her, hoping I could win her over. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I was just—“
Scully waved me away, her jaw working and her nostrils flaring in a way that lit up her whole face with fury. “I don’t fucking care,” she spat.
THAT got me standing in an upright position, although I still wasn't breathing normally. Had I really just heard Agent Scully curse? MY partner, Agent Scully? Dana Katherine Scully of the FBI and of the x files?
“Wha… what?” I asked, still taking deep breaths.
“You heard me,” Scully snapped. “Whatever you’re going to say, you can save it.”
I shook my head. “Scully—“
"I said DON'T!" she exploded. Her breaths were short, deep and even, as if she was fighting to regain control of the situation. Scully, I knew, always required herself to remain in control. Being professional at all times was a big deal for her. She waved her finger at me and shook her head.. “You had no right to go behind my back like that,” she said.
I folded my arms across my chest, looked her up and down with a critical eye. Who was she to tell me what to do? I thought. Who was this woman to come into my life --uninvited-- and order me around? I was so self-assured, so arrogantly positive that I was right and she was wrong, that I said perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever said to Scully in all the years I've known her.
“I run this unit,” I replied. “You don’t have the jurisdiction to chastise me. I have every right to conduct myself as I see fit. You do what I say we do.”
To that fine example of teamwork, Scully’s mouth dropped open and a small, shaky puff of air came out. Her fists shook at her sides and she took three small steps towards me, her blue eyes narrowed and unblinking. “You,” she started, her reddened face only inches from mine, “Are the most reckless, thoughtless person I have ever met.“
I never saw it coming. All I know is that her left fist came out of nowhere, smashed me in the face, and I tripped backwards over my own two feet, landing square on my back. It was one of the most painful, horrible, debilitating left hooks I’ve ever been on the receiving end of. She nearly took my face off.
I stared up at Scully from the ground, my eyes wide in shock, my hand covering my right eye. Her image swam in my brain till there was two of her, then three, then two, then one again. Then she was blurry, even though there was only one of her, and her body hovered over me in black and white.
“Son of a bitch!” Scully cursed, her right hand cupped protectively around her left elbow. She shook out her left hand and stomped her foot, groaned for another second while she flexed her fingers. Then she turned and made her way to the car, reaching it in five large strides. She yanked open the driver’s side door and slammed herself down onto the seat.
Anyway --Did I mention.. OW? And on that note... OW? It took me a good five minutes to peel myself off the ground and make it over to her.
After one solid, silent half hour of driving back to the motel, Scully muttered an apology and took us to the gas station. She bought me some ice, a box of ziplock bags and a small towel, and she made me promise to keep my eye cold. She told me she'd inspect it the next day, and if it didn't look good, she was going to watch over me herself. I told her, through the cloth covered ice pack on my face, that this was fine with me. We finally made it to the motel and said our goodnights and that was it. We never discussed it further.
"I'll see you in the morning," Scully managed, and then the door was closed.
Around three am that evening, I overheard something strange coming from Scully’s room. It sounded as if she was gasping for air, hiccupping and wheezing abnormally. At first I didn't get it and I went for my gun, ready to bust down the door if she was in trouble. But then the truth hit me like a knife to the stomach and I dropped to the carpet.
Scully was crying.
I could hear her clearly on the other side of the wall, almost as if she was sitting against the paper-thin stucco and pressing her face to the walpaper: Wheeze, gasp, hiccup, wheeze, gasp, cough.
I figured she was crying over what she’d done this evening, over having lost her professionalism in such a precarious situation. I imagined what it must look like from her side, how fruitless the progression of our partnership must have seemed. And for that I felt… like the lowest person who had ever lived.
After all, I’d probably had it coming.
The funny thing was, I’d never heard Diana cry, not over me, and certainly not during the years we were together. Hearing Scully cry threw me for a loop. Did this mean that she cared, that she had a strong moral conscience about our professional and personal relationship? I didn’t know. I wasn't even sure what to make of Scully, or how to treat her as a friend. I'd certainly never had many friends. But I wanted to start fresh with her, I thought. I definitely wanted to start over.
Shaking my head, I put my hand to the door and tried to imagine touching her face, wiping her tears away. Scully really was so earnest looking, so lovely and strong in a soft sort of way. She was a good, caring person. She deserved a second chance, I thought. Maybe even more than that.
I concocted an apology in my head and I wondered what she would say to me.
Screw you, Mulder.
Go to hell, Mulder.
I quit the x files, Mulder.
“God, I am so sorry,” I whispered to the door. “I am so sorry I made you cry.”
I closed my eyes and pictured her. Burnt orange hair dipping to her shoulders, blue eyes that looked greenish, almost sea-foam to me. Scully had such beautiful, pale skin, and I couldn’t imagine her cheeks being marred by the annoying presence of tears. It occurred to me then that I couldn’t recall ever having thought about her as a beautiful woman before. But she was, wasn't she?
In the end I never went to Scully to apologize. I never brushed her tears away. I just couldn’t bring myself to admit that she’d gotten to me. I didn’t want her to get to me in THAT kind of way. But I did promise myself that I would never lie to Scully again. Even if I decided to go off on my own, even if I had to leave, I would make sure to get a hold of her and tell her… somehow. I wouldn’t keep things from her. I would never make her cry again. Never.
"You heard me crying, Mulder?"
"And you sat in your room and listened to me."
"While I cried."
"This is what I'm saying."
"Oh.... Christ, Mulder...I was very young, you know. And fairly naive. I wasn't thinking clearly and I would never--"
"Even still...I'm sorry."
"Why are you sorry, Scully?"
"I---I'm not sure."
"It was a long time ago."
"I know that."
"Hey... Are you sure you're feeling alright?"
"You look tired. Exhausted."
"It's nothing. Keep talking... Please."
SO BACK AGAIN
As the years past, Scully mentally kicked my ass many times, although she never again punched me. While she was loyal, she was not an “easy” person to get along with. Dana Scully had her “just so” way with investigating cases, and she made me look for my answers. She made me think.
Soon I started noticing “new” things about Scully: I noticed the way her eyes turned a darker shade of blue when she smiled, the way her hair curled around her ears in ringlet-fashion when the weather was misty. The way she walked fascinated me, the way she tapped her pencil on the desk when she was nervous, the way she read case reports straight through a six hour flight, and only gripped the arm rests when the plane warbled violently.
Every aspect of Scully was something new to study, to wonder about. How could any one person be more beautiful to me than anyone else in the world? What made her so staunchly loyal? Why was her faith in religion boundless, yet her life rooted in science?
The funny thing was that I wanted to know the answers, but I was afraid of them. I didn’t want to be attached to Scully romantically, didn’t want to fail her like I felt I’d failed at all the other relationships in my life. Plus, I didn’t want to put either of us in a situation that could be detrimental to both of us. Makes sense, right?
Well, it did at the time.
So I told myself that I just wanted to love her. I wanted to admire Scully, even if only inside my own head. I wanted to hold her close to me, as close as I could without dragging her down, and I wanted to keep her safe. Scully deserved at least that. And by protecting her, I was also protecting the x files. The x files needed Scully as much as I needed her, and I refused to lose my focus, my complete and unwavering desire to discover the truth about what had happened to my sister. Loving Scully on a physical level could only be a distraction, just as loving Diana had been a distraction, and I refused to subject myself to that kind of hurt. So I loved Scully without really loving her. I loved her so much that simply being in the same room as her made me feel safe, and wanted, and so much greater than myself.
And for eight years, it was all I needed.
Until one night, two years after she discovered she could never have children, Scully came to me and told me that she’d been seeing a fertility specialist. She said that it was possible for her to have what she’d wanted more than anything, a baby… but she needed my help. She needed a father.
I spent the entire day deliberating over that, agonizing over what the repercussions could mean for us. I mean, a baby? How was I supposed to give anyone a baby? How could Scully and I live with a baby between us, work together professionally? It could never be done, I thought. Never. I can’t give Scully a baby. I mean, a BABY. Jesus.
I went to her apartment that night with every intention of saying “no.” I even rehearsed the speech in my head:
“The work we do is dangerous, life threatening. You know this as much as I do. How could we ever hope to keep a baby safe, knowing what we know? We couldn’t, Scully, and if this baby had… complications, like Emily did, how would that affect you? How would that affect the baby? I’m afraid for you, and I’m afraid for myself. What if we tried this and it didn’t work out? I can’t see placing that kind of pressure on you, or on myself, and I don’t want to hurt you by failing you. I would never want that. And I don’t want things to change between us. I’m just not prepared for something like this. I can’t give you a child. Anything else, Scully. Anything but this.”
I was prepared to the letter. I had it all figured out.
But when I got to her apartment and I looked into Scully's face, her eyes were glistening with unshed tears. She looked up at me as if I was her last hope, her last chance at anything true and real. I remembered all the times she'd saved my life, kept me going. I remembered that night from six years earlier, when I'd sat by the wall and listened to Scully sob because I'd failed her.
I can't deny her this, I thought. I can't deny her anything.
“The answer is yes,” I’d said.
We made love only once; joined in a burst of light that seemed to emanate out from every pore in every part of both our bodies. I don't know why we chose that night, or how something as simple as being in love transformed into a miracle greater than both of us. It just did.
Nine months later, Scully had her baby: a perfect little boy named William.
And a month after his birth I found myself sitting on a bench in front of the Washington Monument at one am, staring up at a brightly lit, phallic looking white structure, wondering how I’d been lead to this point. Trying to figure out how in the world I could tell Scully the truth; I was in love with her and I wanted to be more than just the guy who donated his sperm. With the x files gone and the FBI gone and Samantha finally gone, there was nothing left to stop me. There was only Scully and William and the promise of a life that could be wonderful… if only I wasn’t so afraid of losing them, or of ripping open a new hole inside of myself. Maybe Scully and William would just be better off without me, I thought. But would I be better off without them?
I sat pondering these things, the directions I seemed to have traveled, when someone came and stood in front of me.
“This seat taken?” a deep, gruff voice asked.
I looked up and saw Assistant Director Skinner towering over me, his broad shoulders hidden beneath an expensive looking brown trench-coat, his big, bald head shiny against the light from the monument. I blinked up at him and frowned, puzzled by the intrusion but not necessarily angered by it. I wasn’t conducting a top-secret mission after all, just thinking to myself. And I probably needed the distraction. Even though I wasn’t sure why Skinner had decided to hover by a D.C landmark at one o clock in the morning…. I was sure I didn’t really want to know the answer to that. I had enough shit to deal with.
I shrugged and said amiably, “be my guest, sir.” Skinner wasn’t my superior or even my coworker anymore, but I couldn’t bring myself to call him Walter, or even “Mr. Skinner.” That just sounded silly. Walter Skinner was a former army man, a commanding, serious figure, not a buddy. To me, Skinner would always be “sir.”
With a swish of his perfectly pressed pants, Skinner sat beside me on the bench and stared up at the monument. He refrained from looking at me as he got right down to it and asked, “How’s Scully?”
I leaned back and watched the evening fog play shadows on the large, marble plaque that described the history of George Washington. “She’s doing well,” I said, folding my hands behind my head.
“Good. And the baby?”
“Also doing well. Healthy and normal, which is the most important thing.” I sighed and looked down at my shoes. “Good looking kid, even if he is bald.” I smiled ruefully and shook my head, remembering how tiny his hands were, how soft he felt when I held him. He was beautiful and perfect and I’d help create him. “He looks like Scully,” I murmured, picturing my son’s face in my mind.
Skinner shifted his weight. “That’s wonderful news,” he said
I nodded my assent. “Yeah, it is.”
“So,” Skinner turned to me, his thick glasses reflecting the light from the streetlamp. “Has she decided on a name?”
I nodded again, dropped my hands into my lap. “William,” I said. “She named him William.”
“I see.” Skinner paused a beat. “After her father?”
He nodded. “Ah.”
“Mulder, I believe you’re familiar with my ex-wife Sharon. Did I ever explain to you our situation?”
I frowned, confused by this sudden turn of the conversation. Walter Skinner rarely offered up any personal information, and definitely not as small talk. He was a great ally and a good leader, but we were not friends in the widely understood definition of that term. We were barely acquaintances. Only the most unusual of circumstances (and our affection for Scully) had forced a bond between us.
“No, sir,” I said, folding my hands beneath my chin. “I don’t believe so.”
Skinner nodded and his head raised aristocratically, as if this admission would somehow demean my perception of him. “Sharon wanted children.” He licked his lips, a faraway look in his eyes. “I had a career with the bureau, and her goals had separated from mine. She was a… a handsome woman. I wasn’t surprised when she eventually found someone who could give her the things I was incapable of providing.”
Baffled by this, I blinked and furrowed my brows. “Sir?”
Skinner fixed me with a steel gaze. “I have no children, Mulder. And I will most likely never have children.”
Oh great, I thought, as I sat watching Skinner watching me. The man’s having some kind of mid-life, nervous breakdown and he’s got a spare firearm in his jacket holster.
“Sir, I don’t –“
“I do have a point,” Skinner interrupted, fixing me with a hard glare, “if you’ll let me get to it.”
Remembering that firearm, I shut my mouth.
“Did you know that I was the only person to see Agent Scully in the hospital the day after you disappeared?”
I shook my head.
Skinner nodded stiffly. “She had... collapsed... in the lone gunmen office while monitoring our trip to Oregon. When I got back and discovered she’d been taken to the hospital, I decided that the best course of action would be to visit her and simply tell her the truth. That you were gone and I’d seen a light I couldn’t deny. But when I told Agent Scully this, she said she already knew. She told me that she was determined find you, and that the reason she’d fainted was because she was pregnant. To be perfectly forthright, this admission shocked me. Especially knowing what I know of Agent Scully. Besides that, there wasn’t much for me to say to her. She was… She had an empty look in her eyes, Mulder, as if she felt she was truly alone in the world for the first time in her life. I’d never seen that look on Agent Scully before, and I wanted to help her. I promised her that I would assist her in any way that I could. I’ve kept that promise to her and I refuse to break it now.”
I nodded my head to this, now not only confused but perhaps a little bit scared, too. If Walter Skinner was about to tell me that he was in love with Dana Scully, only one of us was going to leave this bench alive.
“My point,” he continued, taking in my blank expression, “Is that Agent Scully deserves to know she’s not alone in this world.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Sir, I don’t know what you’re insinuating, but I can assure
Skinner pursed his lips, anger flickering in his gray eyes. “It’s not good enough, Mulder. Whatever excuse you’re about to hand me, it’s not good enough.” He leaned back and examined me thoroughly, almost the way a father would sum up the worthiness of his daughter’s new beaux. I opened my mouth to try and defend myself, but Skinner stopped me before I could speak. “I signed divorce papers and let Sharon walk away. That was my choice as much as it was hers.” He cleared his throat as if to shove down his emotions. “You could fall off the face of the Earth and Scully would fight til her last breath to bring you back. She very nearly did. Don’t be an asshole and sign that away.”
Skinner pulled himself to his feet and stared down at me, his hands balled into stiff fists at his sides. I still had no idea why he’d come to the Washington Monument at one am, or even why he’d suddenly decided to stop and have a conversation with me. It had been weeks since I’d talked to the man. But I suppose none of that mattered in the face of the moment.
“Agent Mulder,” he said, addressing me stiffly by my former title, “You may not have the X files to propel your life’s work anymore, but you have a second chance. You have a son. And you still have Agent Scully.” He breathed in deeply. “But if you’re going to love her, then Jesus Christ, love her already. And do yourself a favor: get your ass off this bench.”
Skinner said nothing after that, just turned and walked away as if all that needed to be said had been said.
In the end I was left sitting alone on an old bench, an astonished expression on my face.
Five minutes later I pulled a piece of paper out of my pocket and fished a pen out from my leather jacket. I’d thought and mused long enough over my life. I certainly had enough material, didn't I? Maybe Scully wouldn't fully understand, but I could tell her. And I could tell the baby.
So I began to write something, a confession that seemed all the more easier to make to my son. It started with “once upon a time…”
Then I scratched that shit out and started over. My life was definitely not "once upon a time."
"I can do better than that," I said to myself.
"Scully? .......Scully?..... Hey--you still with me? This is mission control, over."
"You spaced out there for a sec."
"You were gone. Totally gone. Where'd you go?"
"Nowhere. I was listening to you."
"Then what did I just say?"
"You said 'then what did I just say?'"
"Okay, I walked right into that one, didn't I?"
"So, did Skinner really say those things to you, Mulder?"
"He told you to get up off your ass?"
"He probably would have shot me if I didn't. He didn't look very happy."
"Skinner never looks very happy."
"No, he doesn't."
"I'm glad you got off your ass."
"And I'm glad you're feeling better."
"Look, could we please not discuss that? I'm fine. Really."
"Fine. Give me another subject if you don't want to talk about it."
"You want me to, then I will."
Coming Next week, Part (2/2)