by Jaime Lyn
All headers and disclaimers in part 1. This is part 6.
The U.S/Canadian Border
They had passports made with their pictures on the front and false names stamped on the inside. Mulder wasn't quite sure how that came about, but A.D Skinner had dropped the forged papers into his hand, along with an envelope--cash in there, lots and lots of cash, although where that kind of cash came from, Mulder wasn't sure he wanted or needed to know. Skinner told Mulder to just go, to not ask questions, to take the passports and the money and Dana Katherine Scully and get both of them the hell out of Dodge, just make like a tree and leave for Canada.
So it wasn't exactly the most glamorous of vacations or one-way trips, and they'd had a few pit stops along the way, but he would get them there. He'd keep her safe, maybe even find a little out of the way cottage, a house by a lake or by a set of rolling hills, with a wrap-around porch and an oak tree out front...or something. Anything, really, so that at least they'd finally, finally have their own bed to claim sides to. The chints and the paisleys and the mold smell of motel comforters had begun clogging his sinuses. He wasn't sure what Scully was looking for, whether she wanted a house or a flat or a studio or a teepee or a mud-hut or something, but whatever the case, he'd live in an oversized lincoln log so long as it meant he'd wake up next to her.
But they were almost there, almost free, almost done. As the week had progressed nicely, and the weather actually cooled off the farther North they got, he could honestly say that things were looking up. They now had a respectable collection of bath accessories; Scully had cut her habit down to a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of lotion per room, but she still stacked the garbage and she still turned down the ugly bed sheets even though she knew the maid would do it for them. She'd stolen his picture of William again, but this time she set it on the base of the dashboard with a piece of scotch tape, so both of them could see the photo over the speedometer. Mulder never said anything to her, but secretly he liked that the baby picture was no longer just in his bag, or in her bag, but on the windshield of their car where they could both see it, at least until it could sit in a nice frame on a table or a mantle somewhere.
Somewhere. At least somewhere was better than nothing. Somewhere was something.
To be honest, he'd never actually been to Canada, although he'd heard lots of stories from informants and from random newspaper clippings he'd collected throughout his years on the X Files. He'd learned a little bit about the area--or the territories, so to speak. Canada didn't have states--it had territories. Beyond that, he knew there was a lake by the Ontario border that was said to be haunted by the ghost of a lake monster, shot back in the 1800s. And there was a ghost town up by Montreal where tourists were said to have vanished, disappeared without a trace. He'd have to mention that one to Scully. Disappearing tourists. Might be interesting: ghost towns and lake monsters. He should get her a t-shirt that says, 'been there, done that.'
They were approximately five minutes now from the border crossing; he'd seen a sign a few miles back.
Squinting against the glare of the sun, he reached into the cupholder and pulled out a sunflower seed, popping it into his mouth, biting off the shell, and spitting it out the half-opened window. He glanced at the photo of William that sat on the dashboard, thought again how the baby's blue eyes reminded him of Scully's. With a half smile directed at no one in particular, he flipped on the dial to the radio, feeling restless. He'd not been able to find many good FM music stations or even AM talk-radio stations up this way--it was mostly country music, much to his disgust--but he turned the dial anyway, feeling suddenly antsy. Not that he or Scully listened much to the radio, but the border was only a few miles away and he wasn't sure how he felt about all this, leaving the X Files and Washington and the U.S behind so completely. He had to wonder what Scully felt about it. If she was thinking of the Sunday morning paper, of jogging past the Hoover building on a late-night-office-break-run, of turning her car up towards the capital, of him picking cherry blossoms out of her hair when they sat by the reflecting pond, arguing about nothing.
Finding something he finally found respectable, Mulder fiddled with the volume control, and then the bass, and then the treble, and then he removed his hand from the radio completely. A few strains of piano found him, filtering through the car, and he bobbed his head, watching the road. He turned to Scully for a moment and found she was bobbing her head as well--only a little bit, almost imperceptibly, but she was doing it all the same. The back of her copper hair rustled as she bobbed, as she gazed out the passenger's side window, bobbing. But just a little.
Mulder turned back to the road. Another mile marker: the last one between the US and Canada.
He sighed, and then frowned when he heard...was that humming? He stopped chewing on the sunflower seed, brows converged, confused for a moment as to where the noise could be coming from. Scully didn't hum. She just didn't. He glanced back at her, but saw she was still not facing him. But now...now she was humming. Yes, she was definitely humming.
He grinned. Scully humming--this was new.
And he started humming with her. And soon they were both humming, heads bobbing--but only a little. Really. Seriously. Nothing that could compromise either of their egos.
They drove like that for another minute or so, humming, bobbing.
Scully's head perched on her hand, her eyes focused on the window opposite him, she started, in low singsong, "And the waitress is practicing politics, as the businessmen slowly get stoned. Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness--"
"But it's better than drinking alone," he finished, amused.
Huh. Scully. Singing. Well, not really. She wasn't singing, just more or less saying the words in time with the radio.
The bridge of piano carried through the car, tinkling, filling the cabin with music, with the promise of something. He popped another sunflower seed in his mouth, watched the road flit past. Scully didn't turn to him. He didn't turn to her.
"Sing us a song, you're the piano man," she went on.
"Sing us a song, tonight," he joined.
Still not looking at each other, their hands met in secret over the cup-holder, their fingers grazing, then entwining.
"Well we're all in the mood for a melody," she breathed.
Brake lights appeared up in front of them, and he slowed the car by the border crossing. He finished, "And you've got us feeling alright...."
Scully breezes in through the door, shoving it quickly behind her, shaking off her boots and her coat. It's snowing today, a balmy twenty-six degrees, which isn't bad for late October, but still freezing as hell. She shivers a bit, lingering in a spot between not quite cold and not quite warm, and removes her overcoat, shaking it one last time. Flakes flit drunkenly to the floor. She puts the coat on the hook next to Mulder's and crosses the foyer, spotting him sitting across the room, his back hunched over the desk. He's working on something.
"Hey," she calls, wrapping her arms loosely around herself, crossing the couch in the living room. She'll be warm in a minute, of course. Mulder likes to keep the house just a tad south of warm--like a Hawaiian vacation spot; he mutters frequently about the inconvenience of cold weather, and about the damn electricity bills, which Scully likes to point out wouldn't be so high if he'd just learn to put on a sweatshirt, or use a blanket.
"Hey," he says, and he grabs her arm without looking up from whatever it is he's so interested in, pulls her down awkwardly onto his lap. She smiles, warmer now, much warmer, and touches her nose to his cheek, gently.
"Yowch!" he gasps, jerking his head away. "Jesus, Scully, you really should warn a guy..."
She giggles a soft, breathy giggle, knowing how much Mulder hates the cold--right down to boycotting ice-cubes during winter--and she leans over to see what it is he's so engrossed in.
Mulder likes to keep himself amused with clippings and articles that someone with the email address MJRtruth@hotmail seems to enjoy sending him in volumes. He keeps up with the bizarre goings-on this way and writes back to her, writes frequently, as a matter of fact, and sometimes he even gets email from someone else-- a JDNYPD@yahoo, who says that his fish are fine, and wants to know if, when he's got the chance, could he please postulate a theory as to why some woman's refrigerator might end up in her upstairs bedroom without anyone having been home to move it?
"More refrigerator news?" Scully asks, drumming her fingers on the desk. Her feet dangle a few inches off the floor.
Mulder shakes his head. "No phantom kitchen monsters this week," he says, "Just contracts," as if that explains the whole thing. He squints to read a few paragraphs of fine print on a goldenrod sheet of paper.
"What for?" she asks, leaning farther forward to read the print with him.
"Certification to start a private investigative practice, Criminal," he says, sounding oddly pleased with himself.
For a second, she thinks he's joking, teasing her. He scribbles his name on the bottom line of a document, loops the letters with a flourish, and finally looks up at her, a goofy grin on his face. His back straight, his eyes sparkling, he's puffed up now, rosy, like a kid who's just been given a chocolate bar the size of Lake Ontario.
Scully smiles. "P.I Mulder? You serious?" she asks, snatching up one of the papers from his desk, leafing through the multicolored sheets as if she doesn't believe him. License to carry a fiream, license to practice, license of entrepreuership--it's all here, all real. He's really going to do this. He's serious. She turns back to him, an eyebrow quirked, her lips turned up. "When did you figure all this out?"
"When you were on call," he says, referring to her residental position in the local ER.
Once upon a time, he'd ordered her to leave him, to go, to become a doctor while she was still able. And with the X Files now gone and the bureau also gone, she's gotten that chance back. But she hasn't lost Mulder, not now, not to anything, and she actually smiles at night when she gets out of the shower and finds him in bed, pretending he's not trying to descramble the Spice network by clicking the remote sideways. In a way, she's almost grateful for this strange, new life. At the very least, it's an opportunity to walk a mile in the shoes she once tried on, but never bought.
Of course, some afternoons she sneaks up into the County General nursery to watch life renewing itself, to play with the babies. She can't help the ache that still nags her, still prods at the back of her mind. She wonders if sometime, someday, it will be safe for them to consider a family. She knows the possibility is slim, but she likes to hope. William should be almost two years old by now, probably a lanky little thing with blue eyes and brown hair. She gazes at his baby picture often -- a frozen moment in time, a child who will never age for her -- and she wonders about him. She wishes. She has to think that one day, she will see her son again. That she and Mulder will come to him, and they'll all sit down, and she'll be able to tell him the long, complicated, wonderous miracle that was his birth.
"I thought you told me to go be a doctor," she says, pushing back thoughts of William -- not gone, but down, down to the place in her mind where she keeps him safely tucked.
"I did," he says, rocking them back and forth. "And I meant it. But I'm thinking now that I might need someone with medical expertise who can shoot a gun and keep me from getting myself killed. You know anyone like that? At the hospital maybe? Friends, co-workers..."
She smiles. "I'll see what I can do."
He nods. "You do that."
She sighs into his neck, and they're quiet for a moment. This...this is nice.
She's wearing a green, long-sleeved shirt, and now it's become cumbersome, thick, uncomfortable; the whole house is just unbearably hot. She could sunbathe on the floor of the living room. She shakes her head, pulls back for a moment, and yanks the sweatshirt over her head, tossing it to the floor behind them. She runs her fingers back over her hair, smoothing down the red strands. She's clad only in her bra now, the lacy black one Mulder seems to like so much but can never unhook without injuring himself. He grins at her half-nakedness and waggles his eyebrows. She smacks him in the shoulder, then leans against him, her nude back to his gray t-shirt.
"So whatever happened to OSS Agent Scully?" she asks suddenly, remembering, for no reason at all, the story they haven't spoken of in weeks--not since that last night, when Mulder broke down in the end and she rocked him quietly until sleep overtook them both. She hasn't brought it up since then, mostly for fear of upsetting him. Lord knew Mulder didn't like looking vulnerable in front of anyone, let alone her. But she'd so enjoyed their little game, their flight from reality, and was upset that it had ended badly. That it really hadn't ended at all. All stories need an ending.
"Did she make it to Skinner with the documents?" she goes on, unsure whether he'll even answer, using 'she' instead of 'I.'. "Did she end up on the Queen Anne?"
Mulder takes a deep breath, probably not expecting this turn of conversation. She's about to tell him that it's alright, that he doesn't have to do this for her, when he says, "She came back to my office to get those papers, to save my files, but she found that someone had burned it all to the ground; the documents were gone, the office was gone. If she was upset before, by my death, this has absolutely devastated her. She thinks about getting out her gun, making it all end...but she can't. She knows I'd want her to go on, to find the truth."
"And I have to do it--for you. So I make it to the Queen Anne," she says, feeling that same mezmerizing hypnosis she used to feel while doing this with him. That the world was disappearing, shrinking down to just the two of them. It's magic they make together, pure, unyielding magic.
"You don't have a choice," he says. "You don't have any proof now, just your word on what you suspect might be going on, and you know that's not good enough. To voice what you've found without actual proof could pit you against the government. You'd be branded a traitor. And now...you're not sure what good it all is, that there isn't anything left for you without me..." Mulder smiles a lopsided smile.
"You sure are full of yourself, P.I," she jokes, tucking her head snugly under his chin. "But I'm despairing, yes. Missing your terrible jokes. I'll give you that."
He chuckles softly, his arms tight around her bare waist, his eyes closed, his lips in her hair. "So you keep it to yourself and you go off to the Queen Anne to protect Thors Hammer, to save the world."
She lets out a contented hum. She could sit here with him, just like this, all curled up in their little house at the end of the road, a mile away from anyone else, and make love to him until the Earth comes screeching to a halt; maybe she will. Maybe this is how it's all supposed to end; she and Mulder against the world, not driving, not running anymore, but never motionless. They will never stop. They will never be still. Not so long as the truth waits for them, hiding just beneath the surface.
"So do I save the world?" she asks, her lashes fluttering shut.
He presses his mouth to her ear, raises the fine hairs on her neck, tickling. "Yeah," he rumbles, a note of wonder in his voice. "You know something, Criminal? I think you do."
And so it goes, it goes.
A few notes of thanks:
To a friend, (also a great beta reader--who I frustrate to no end with all the commas, to the point where she forbids me to ever again read "The Handmaid's Tale") who shall remain nameless (her request, not mine,) who also challenged me to write a fic that included the following:
- Post-Episode (or Post-Finale)
- Mulder and Scully tell a bedtime story, minus smut (Yeah, I know--what fun is that?)
- Bathroom products
I think I fit it all in there. Thanks, girl. You keep me honest.
The rest of this all came from my twisted imagination, where this piece has been lurking for almost a month (since the finale.) So I've taken a break from my regularly-scheduled programming to get it all down. Because if I didn't, I'd go crazy. Seriously. And damn, I can't believe I wrote as much as I did. As my roomate often says, "You're crazy. That's a lot of writing."
Other people: Laura, Tiffany, and Felicia, who keep me from going catatonic. Change is hard, I know. We're all muddling through it right now. Thanks for making life worth the angst.
Other notes: Thanks to Margaret Atwood (who is an incredible writer) for inspiring me to write more Mulder and Scully angst with her two fabulous, angsty yet clever tales, "The Blind Assasin" and "The Handmaid's Tale." My beta just might one day clonk her over the head for her bad influence over me concerning run-ons and comma splicing, but that's okay. :-)
I do not own the following: The Yankees, the Giants, The Knicks, Toyota (although I do own an Echo,) Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Spender, Agent Doggett, Agent Reyes, "The Piano Man," by Billy Joel. I have also never been to Canada, so my apologies if my assumptions about the weather in October are wrong. Ditto for the Southwestern U.S.
Finally, thanks to the stalkers and to all my regular readers, who always send me such fabulous emails. Long live fanfic!