The Opposite Side of the Moon
* I am SO SO SO sorry guys, about the late updating. I promise you that this story WILL be completed. I have a chapter by chapter outline and everything. My only problems now are work and school. Sooooo... if you'll be patient with me, I promise to keep updating just as soon as I can.
It was freezing when Mulder returned to his motel room.
Not that it hadn't been freezing before-- it had, but he had been outside for nearly half an hour, a long a long, long half hour and now he was paying the price. The wind whipped about his face and hair and he had to take a moment to still his shivering before he could open his door. His legs felt like blocks of ice and his arms felt slow. Everything felt slow. His lips and fingers felt stunted, dry and chapped, and if they really weren't falling off his body, he imagined that they were. Why not, he thought. They were trembling so fast and so hard that they should be.
Scully had left him.
Not that she had left him in the literal sense, because she hadn't. He knew that and in a way, he was grateful. She was still there, still in the next room, still breathing and walking beside him as his partner. She still cared for him and respected him in the most professional, partnerly way possible. She was still Dana Scully and he knew she would be around tomorrow, the day after that and the day after that.
But it wasn't what he wanted. It wasn't enough. Not anymore.
Mulder shook his head and dropped his coat to the floor. Everything still felt slow. He stepped over the coat on the way to the bed and sunk down, staring at the black cell phone lying on the night table. Black, he felt black, the cell phone was black, everything was black, everything was Scully, the cell phone said 'Scully.'
With a deep sigh, Mulder let his head thud against the headboard. Black, he thought. Black, slow, everything.
He ran his hands through his hair, slowly, raking and pulling. He felt every strand pass through his fingers. Slow, everything was so cold and so slow. The cell phone was black. The cell phone said 'Scully.' He shook his head then, clearing it. Fuck, he thought. Fuck, fuck. Scully's cell phone. He still had Scully's cell phone.
"Wonderful," Mulder muttered. The God of irony had shot him in the ass, yet again.
With a final sigh and a look towards the ceiling at the heavens unknown, Mulder gritted his teeth and picked up Scully's cell phone. The God of irony indeed, he thought. Shaking his head, he dialed his own cellular number, remembering how, on the taxi ride back from the theatre, he had asked Scully for her charger. Wordlessly, she had given him the key to her room and wordlessly, he had taken it. His cellular had been in there with her suitcase the entire evening. Idiot, he thought to himself. Stupid, idiot.
Mulder's head rang. His ears rang. The phone rang a few times before she answered it.
"Scully," she said in a tired voice.
"Scully," he said, "look at your cell phone."
There was a pause for a moment, rustling as if she were sitting down upon crinkling sheets, then, "what?"
"Your cell phone," he repeated. "Look at the display."
Another pause. Longer this time. Then there was a barely audible sigh and her voice, "you have mine, I assume."
His answer, "yes."
"You want it back right now?"
His answer, "no, it can wait."
He stared at the wall and imagined her at the other side, staring at the same wall. He imagined that he could imagine the room on the other side. He imagined that he had the guts to imagine her sitting there, pushing hair out of her eyes, chewing her lower lip, waiting for him on the bed.
The vision vanished. No, he didn't have the guts to imagine that.
"Then what is it you need, Mulder?" she asked.
Silence. He thought about the wall some more. He thought about her. He knew what he needed, he thought, though he didn't know what to tell her to make her understand.
"Spoors," he said, suddenly and out of nowhere.
"What?" Scully said.
"Spoors," Mulder repeated. "They um, they were found on Jennifer Green's body, along with some sort of rye grain. Somehow, the local medical examiner thinks they were absorbed through the skin. There's a negative on Lisa Ripley though. A detective--"
"---Laughlin, detective Laughlin?"
"Yeah." Mulder closed his eyes. "He called here looking for you. I ah, I had your phone..."
If he thought hard enough, Mulder could almost imagine Scully closing her eyes and imagining him on the other side of the wall. But was she? Was she really imagining him? He didn't know. Couldn't be sure. Why, he wondered, were there always walls in their way?
"Right." Scully trailed off for a moment. "You think there's a connection here?" she asked. "Between the spoors and the rye grains and the ah, the death?"
Mulder leaned back against his pillow. "I don't know, Scully," he said. "Could be that someone planted some sort of doped up concoction on Jennifer right before she died, expecting some sort of reaction to the chemicals found in the drug--rye can be used as a drug, right? But hey, since you think it's an obvious non-homicide, well then I'd have to---"
"Don't start, Mulder," Scully said, an obvious edge to her voice. "I spoke to the NYPD because I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. I asked for the tox screen because of your hunch, not because I'm subscribing to the claim of some sort of telekinetic spirit avenging my old classmates."
"Did I say anything about that, Scully?"
"You were about to--"
"But did I?"
"Then fine." Mulder ran a hand through his hair for what seemed like the upteenth time that evening. He felt like either strangling Scully or kissing her, though he knew he wouldn't be doing either any time soon . "So tell me about spoors," he said. "What do they do?"
"Generally," Scully said, dully. "They reproduce."
Mulder pursed his lips, annoyed. "Well ok, I knew that, but are there any negative effects?"
"Not usually, " Scully said, "though both you and I have seen some instances that could counteract that statement."
Mulder nodded to himself. "And what about the rye grains?" he asked.
"Well," Scully took a deep breath and paused. There was some more rustling and movement. "Rye grains, for lack of stating the obvious, are most common in certain breads and cereals, although they can be used as an ingredient for certain types of dyes, most predominantly, the colors red and orange." She took a breath and continued, "but generally speaking, rye isn't the best grain for that sort of thing because it's not the safest. The alkaloids in concentrated forms of it can lead to Ergot poisoning, causing harmful, sometimes hallucinogenic affects in the----"
Mulder sat upright. "Hallucinogenic?" he asked. His brain was starting to kick back on topic.
"Mulder, you're not thinking---"
"Do you know what I'm thinking?" Mulder licked his lips and felt the need to challenge her, to egg her on. He wanted to hurt her for as long and as badly as she had hurt him. "Do you really know what I'm thinking or are you just waiting to contradict me for your own personal edification?"
"Oh for Christ sakes, Mulder----"
"No!" He banged a fist down upon the bed and stared at the wall some more. The damn wall, he thought. Always a damned wall somewhere. "Just listen for a minute without saying anything and then you can tell me I'm crazy, alright?"
There was no response.
"Alright?" he asked again.
"Scully?" softer this time, but still annoyed.
"I'm here," was all she said.
Angry, he thought. That was Scully's angry voice. He knew it anywhere. She was angry with him but she was listening anyway, and at least she was listening anway. It was all he could think of. At this point, it was all he cared about.
"Let's say," Mulder said, "for arguments sake, that Jennifer Green really was losing her mind, like Ben and Ed claimed, and that she really did just trip and fall to her death. Let's just say that there was really nobody up there, but that because of the angle and the lighting and the screaming, Jennifer was so convincing she made people THINK someone really was up there. That would make sense if SHE, herself, thought someone really was up there and, in self defense, she pushed the invisible person away, lost her balance, and fell off the scaffolding. In Lieu of that, and of what you've alredy told me about ergot poisoning, isn't it entirely possible that Jennifer's insanity, that her death, was carefully orchestrated?"
When Scully didn't immediately answer, Mulder went on, "the cop I spoke to told me that the grain was absorbed through the skin. You yourself told me that rye grain can be found in red dyes, even though rye isn't commonly used anymore."
There was another pause, as Mulder imagined Scully digesting this information, and he asked, "Scully, what color was Jennifer's dress?"
A deep, resigned breath sounded through the phone and Scully answered, "scarlet, I think. So what are you saying? That concentrated rye was rubbed into the dress? Do you think it was rubbed into all of her dresses? And how?"
"I don't know," Mulder said. "But I think that must've been the case, since everyone says Jennifer was going crazy. It would also make sense in light of the 'lead actress having an affair with the understudy's husband' plight. It makes for a wonderful motive, don't you think?"
"I suppose," Scully said. "But what about the spoors?"
"I don't know," Mulder said. "Haven't gotten that far."
"And Lisa Ripley? You told me her tox screen came up negative."
"I don't know that either." Mulder took a breath. "But I'm not getting into that theory again."
"Into what theory?" Scully asked.
"Into what I think of this whole situation, as far as I think you're concerned," Mulder said. "My feelings haven't changed, especially with this new information thrown into our laps. I don't want anything to happen to you Scully, but I don't know how to talk to you when I'm too busy busting my ass, trying to get through that wall you've built."
"I'm sick of it Scully."
There was a slight sigh from her end, then, "Fine. I can't stop you from thinking what you will, Mulder. Seven years has taught me that. All I can do is look at the facts and try to explain to you---"
"I don't want to hear it," Mulder said. "I'm sick of it."
"Sick of what?" she asked, her voice raising in pitch, "the truth?"
"No." Mulder leaned to his left, then reached down and yanked his wallet out from his back pocket. He placed it in front of him on the night stand and opened it. Inside, next to his credit cards and in back of his drivers liscense, was a picture of her; a beautiful picture of a smiling Dana Scully that he had stolen from her brother's house two years earlier. He ran his fingers over it.
"I'm sick of you using big words and scientific distance to run away," he said, staring at the picture. "I'm sick of you hiding behind stoicism."
"Really," Scully said, curtly. "And who, do you think, am I running away from?"
Mulder ran his fingers over and over her picture.
"Me," he said sadly.
"You." Scully took a few deep breaths then, sounding as if, perhaps, she was trying not to cry. Scully neved cried. Never. Mulder could certainly not imagine it.
"Yes," he said. "Me."
"Then what is it you're running away from?" she asked, finally.
Mulder stared and stared and stared. In the picture, at least, Scully was smiling.
"I'm not running," he said, softly. "You know I'm not running from you."
"If that's what you want to believe," Scully said, "then I'm not the only one building a wall."
When the line went dead after that, Mulder
had no answers for her. He had no answers for himself. He had
no hammer and ho bulldozer to take down the wall that divided them.
He didn't even know where to start. As a matter of fact, he had nothing
but the great desire to sleep.. and sleep and sleep and sleep.
In the next room, on the other side of
the wall, Scully's tears ran heavy and fast over her pillow. Her
fingers dug holes in the sheets. And finally, when sleep found her,
exhausted and broken hearted, she closed her eyes with the name 'Mulder'
on the little black nokia under her pillow.
To be continued....