The Opposite Side of the Moon,
By Jaime Lyn
When Scully awoke the next morning, her eyes felt heavy and hot-- as if she had been hibernating for a million years and was only now rising in the dead of winter. When she opened her left lid, pain exploded behind the right, and when she opened the right, pain exploded behind the left. So she groaned and turned over, licking dry, chapped lips, shutting both eyes tightly. Her cheeks were salty and her pillow was salty and everything was salty, and it was then that she realized she had fallen asleep to the sound of her own tears the night before. Choked up breaths hitched in her throat.
Don't wake up, she thought miserably. Don't wake up. If you just sleep till tomorrow, it will all be alright. Everything will be fine with more sleep. Everything.... But Scully sighed, then swallowed at the idea. She remembered how, back in high school, she used avoid her life by lying to her teachers about going on vacation so she could get her work early. Then she'd feign a fever for days, locking herself in her room, doing nothing but homework and sleeping. The only one who ever bothered to call her was Sylvia anyway, so she figured that if she fell off the face of the Earth, nobody would notice she had been gone. Nobody important, that is.
Scully opened her eyes again. The pain was not as bad this time.
Mulder would notice, she thought to herself. Mulder always notices... Then, on the heels of that was, I'm not the same girl anymore. I'm not, not, not...
Such ideas permeated the surface of Scully's subconscious, playing over and over until finally, she stared at the ceiling. Mulder was worlds away now, miles from her bedside, eons from stroking her cheek, kissing her brow, telling her that it was alright so long as they had each other. And that, she knew, was partially her own fault.
"Delusional," Scully finally muttered to herself, throwing the covers off. "I'm delusional..." When she at last looked at the clock it read 8:30. Not that Mulder would ever say anything like that to begin with, she thought, staggering into the bathroom with a fog around her head.
When Sarah arrived at the theatre, a full dress rehearsal was already underway. Colorful extras and theatrefolk of the like mingled back and forth, pushing past each other, sometimes stopping to talk and sometimes not. It was crazy and busy, the hustle and bustle of stage people, and it was the life of the theatre. It was the life she had come to love ever since her relocation to the city.
Ben Plunket came striding from the orchestra pit, chewing something that looked like it could have been bubble gum. He buttoned up the top of his uniform, a light blue, velvet overlay, and he smiled from the first row of stadium seating. Sarah smiled back.
"Hey yourself," she said, moving out of the way to allow for Ed, the lighting guy, to wander past her. "How's the rehearsal going?"
Ben let out a snort and shrugged. He gestured for Sarah to sit.
"Alright," he said, taking a seat near the aisle.
"Only alright?" Sarah asked.
The plush velvet groaned and squished beneath Ben's weight. "Well," he said, "Amanda was late, as usual, and Jordan had a fit of course. He told her that she needed to start coming on time or he was going to cut her. Personally, I don't care what he does. Maybe he should throw HER off the balcony, you think?"
Sarah stared at Ben with an expression of horror and leaned back into her soft red seat. "Are you crazy?" she said, "why in the world would you say such a thing to me?"
Ben shrugged. "Sorry," he said. "Just trying on a little morose humor. Guess it didn't work, huh?" Then he leaned forward on his haunches and went on, "Say, did you hear what's going on with those two FBI agents?"
Sarah licked her lips and shook her head slowly, trying desperately to clear the image of Amanda falling from the balcony to her death. It was a horrible, gruesome image filled with all kinds of inconcievable reparations and yet... and yet a thrill rushed through her. Amanda deserved to die after what she had done, after what she had stolen, Sarah thought vindictively. Amanda needed to pay for that somehow... didn't she?
Sarah blinked a few times to pull herself back to the surface of the conversation. For a few moments there, the room had gone cold and silent. The world had stopped. And that, Sarah knew, only happened when---
"Oh, yes," Sarah said, shaking her head, straightening her back. Nevermind that now, she thought. "Yeah, I'm with you. Sorry, I was just---"
"Quite alright." Benn grinned softly and went on, "So, like I was saying, those two agents--Mulder and Scully? Well, I heard that they weren't satisfied with something, some aspect of the case or something. Rumor has it that Amanda was late because she received a call from Agent Mulder this morning, requesting another interrogation. I think he's suspicious, of her Sarah. You know what that means, right?"
Sarah shook her head. She looked up at the stage and focused on Claire, the actress playing Juliet's nursemaid. Claire and Jennifer had been good friends once. Sarah remembered the days when they would go out on Saturdays to have coffee together. Mocha frappuchinos with extra whipped cream are the best, Jennifer once said.
"It means nothing, Ben." Sarah turned to face him once more. "It means absolutely nothing. There's no evidence. No proof. There's nothing but a ghost story here. Nothing but a stupid 'understudy' motive that doesn't wash with anything."
"No." Sarah shook her head and stared at Ben with a wistful air.
Throughout all of this, Ben had been her best friend. He had always been her companion in acting, her cohort for ice cream talks, for walks to the Flanagan Deli, and for subway rides to Central Park. Ben always understood Sarah and her dilemnas, her secrets, more than anyone other than her grandmother ever had or could. Ben always made her laugh, made her smile through the pain, made her dry her tears and face the music when she didn't know what to do. Ben made everything all better time and time again, ever since they had started performing at the Rockville Theatre, and now, Ben was the only thing keeping Sarah afloat. He was the only thing keeping her whole. But even so, Sarah knew that he couldn't fix this. She knew there was nothing he could do that would mend everything.
"There's nothing," Sarah finally said, placing a hand on Ben's arm. "You know why I can't say anything. You know why I lied and you know what's going to happen."
Ben just looked at her and sighed.
"I'm sorry," Sarah told him. "You know if I wasn't still in the program, if there wasn't still a possibility of Jack coming back and finding me, I would say something. You know I would. It's just too dangerous. Amanda knows that. She's always known. And now that Amanda's stolen my.... my abilities, she..." Sarah's eyes found the stage again. "Now she's too dangerous, too."
Ben rolled his tongue inside his cheek and watched Sarah raptly, running his eyes over her fair skin and her long, long, brown hair. Sarah pretended not to notice. She always pretended not to notice.
"Then Amanda wins," he said, still staring at her. "They're all going to die."
Sarah sat stationary, staring at the stage, staring at the orange backdrop that served as the sunset behind the windows for the Capulet party scene. In her mind's eye, the orange grew and grew until it spewed out of control, shaping into flames that licked the stage and the sky, whipping the props and eating wood and wardrobe in its path. Then the stage disappeared. The actors disappeared. In the balcony's place, a small fireplace and a light blue, beaten couch appeared out of nowhere. Papers were thrown, strewn, tossed everywhere, covering the cushions and floor, swirling while the fire ate. Screams of revulsion echoed into the fireplace. Smoke rose and choked the night. The chair burned and burned and burned. I have to live, Sarah's mind pleaded, I have to get away, I have to get away, he'll kill me kill me kill me. My mind can make the fire. The Ruby can save me save me save me....
Finally, Sarah turned to Ben with a dead look in her eyes. Her past, she had vowed, would not repeat itself. She remembered vowing that when Amanda found out about her.
"Then they die," she said, gripping the arm rest intensely. "Even if I don't want it. Even if I think it's wrong. If that's what it takes, if that's what that crazy bitch wants, then they die."
Mulder sighed and checked his watch. 8:53 it said. He had been waiting on Scully all morning.
"Come on, Scully," he finally called into her room, pacing back and forth in front of the unlocked ajoining door. They were supposed to be at the Rockville Theatre in fifteen minutes and with rush hour rushing past right now, it was never going to happen. 9:30 maybe, Mulder thought. Yeah, maybe, and that was a big maybe if Scully was still sitting in her room, doing God only knows what for another fifteen minutes more.
It just wasn't like his partner to take this long for anything, anything at all, and Mulder was beginning to get a little nervous. --Especially since lately, Scully was doing a lot of things that defied what he had always known as gold to be her type of logic; Scully logic. But where, he wondered, had the Scully logic gone since they had arrived in New York? Where had the open minded woman gone?
Carefully, Mulder considered the other night and waking to Scully's piercing screams, waking to her thrashing arms and unyielding terror from whatever nightmare she had experienced. Never in all the years he had known her had he ever seen her like that. Not ever. And afterwards, of course, Scully had pushed him away, refusing to talk at all about it when he had insisted. She had broken his heart, stepped on his soul because she KNEW there was no other way to shut him out. She knew that.
I'm not letting this go Scully, Mulder thought, still pacing. In his mind, whatever it was that had happened in her dream must have been what had thrown her over the edge. It must have been. Because she WAS over the edge now, Mulder realized. He saw the fear every time he looked in her eyes. He saw the unstability. And he knew, for whatever reason he could not put his finger on, that Scully's escalating strangeness related somehow to their case. It related in a way that he couldn't exactly decipher and that terrified him down to his spine.
The door creaked open and a tired looking Scully popped her head out.
"Sorry, Mulder," she said, running a hand through her hair. She was perfectly groomed of course, looking beautiful as usual of course, but there was something very wrong.
"Scully," Mulder said, venturing a step towards her, "Is everything---"
"Fine," she said, with a dismissive wave of her hand. "I just didn't sleep well."
Mulder's eyes connected with hers and he rocked back and forth on one foot, uncomfortably. Although he hadn't slept well either, he wondered if their reasons for exhaustion were even remotely similar. The thought that Scully had tossed and turned all night due to heartbreak over him, although flattering, seemed implausible, seeing as how this was his partner he was talking about. But then again, he also knew how Scully felt about him. He knew that the need and love he saw in her eyes wasn't entirely imagined, because he certainly understood the look of someone who ached everywhere at once. But today... today Mulder was almost positive that the look of exhaustion he saw in her face was caused by something else entirely.
"We leaving?" Scully asked, moving briskly past Mulder to the door. She grabbed her heavy coat and turned to face him.
"Yeah," Mulder said with an edge of sadness. "Come on, we're already late."
Amanda Carson stared at her watch impatiently and tapped her foot. 9:31 the silver and gold read. The numbers were screaming angrily from her wrist that No-date-Dana, the wonderful FBI wash-out, was late, late late.
"Mandy," Joe the Grip called from stage left. "You're on in about five minutes you know, pay attention."
Amanda gritted her teeth until she heard a low grinding noise. Then her hands began to shake and she had to hide them in the folds of her gown. God, how she hated when people beneath her told her what to do... especially when things were running late.
"I know when my cue is!" she said, snapping her head around to face Joe. "I'm not stupid you know."
Joe opened his mouth. "I didn't say---"
"Shut up!" Amanda rolled her eyes and began to pace back and forth. "Just shut up and do your stupid job. Go... go grip something or whatever it is that you do with yourself."
She waved an errant hand at him and took a deep breath, stopping her forward motion, leaning heavily upon the far wall. Joe walked past her with a dissaproving look and she was sure she could hear him muttering something under his breath. Something about that crazy bitch. Normally if such a thing occured, she would throw something back but today.... today she didn't really care.
"Goddamn it," Amanda said to herself, peering out the side corner of the curtain.
Amanda now had four minutes till her cue and she knew that if Dana didn't arrive soon, if she didn't walk right into the trap that had been set, then everything would be ruined. All of Amanda's carefully orchestrated plans for today... all of her ludicrously intricate attention to detail, it would all be ruined. "Come on," she said impatiently. "Come on, come on, come on..." Her eyes fixed upon a fairly good looking young man, standing center theatre, thirty-something-ish, also staring at a gold-plated watch. "Come on..."
If he sees me before he sees her, Amanda thought, then he'll leave. He'll leave before the games begin...
"I'm sorry, Mulder, what did you say?" Scully shook her head strangely and stared at her partner. He stared back, just as strangely. They had been standing at the entryway to the main threatre itself, Mulder detailing the investigation, for nearly five minutes now. Apparently, this fact had escaped Scully's attention.
"I said," Mulder started, annoyed, "that you might want to talk to Gracie and ask her a few questions. We need to know about the wardrobe room. Who had access and when, how the uniforms are stitched, etcetera, etcetera... I just have this feeling---"
"Oh my goodness, Dana?"
It was a strange sounding male voice that had interrupted Mulder's speech, and he turned around slowly, feeling the insane urge to punch whoever it was that was standing behind him, speaking. Like it wasn't bad enough that he had to fight for Scully's attention on his own, Mulder thought. Of course someone else had to call out her name and distract her even more. And the use of her first name, Dana? What was that all about? Who the hell would call her...
From the corner of his eye, Mulder could see Scully turning her head, frowning at the informal sound of her first name. While on a case, she was rarely called anything other than Scully. She must have been thinking that same thing. Then, when he saw all the blood drain from her face; something that just didn't happen often with Scully, Mulder's lips turned into a frown. Then he frowned even harder when Scully's mouth dropped open slightly and her weight shifted from one foot to the other, nervously. Her hands fidgited. Her entire demeanor, in the space of five seconds, had suddenly become completely Un-Scully and it scared him.
"Scully?" Mulder asked.
There was no answer and Mulder, for a moment, considered pulling his gun out and shooting at the ceiling to regain her attention. She was still figiting, still staring at the man who had interrupted their conversation. Mulder didn't recognize him, but he was tall and fairly handsome, athletic looking and with green eyes that sparkled at Scully in a way that Mulder definitely did not like. All at once a feral, primal possessiveness swept through him.
"Wow," the unnamed man said, smiling and looking at Scully from head to toe. "It IS you. I'd recognize that red hair and those blue eyes anywhere. You look incredible, Dana. Not that you didn't before."
Scully swallowed once more and managed to stammer out a "th-thank you," while she focused upon the floor as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. Then she raised her eyes and smiled lightly at the man, stepping towards him, all at once seeming to forget about her partner. Once again, caveman like feelings of possession ripped through Mulder, and he resisted the urge to draw his gun.
"What are you doing here?" unidentified man asked, a sick little smile still plastered on his face.
"An investigation, actually," Scully said, pulling out the badge beneath her coat. "I ah---you must be confused. See, I almost went into medicine but the FBI seemed like a challenge..." She smiled again and displayed her credentials to unidentified man, not recoiling even once as he leaned forward and ran his fingers over her picture. Mulder imagined breaking every single one of those fingers one by one.
"You're FBI?" the man asked incredulously. At that, he tipped his head to the side and grinned wider. "Wow, Dana. That's amazing. I mean, I always knew you'd be something amazing but----"
"AHEM." Mulder raised an annoyed eyebrow and shot a look towards his gooey, unrecognizable gushing teenager of a partner. "Scully?"
At the sound of his interruption, Scully finally caught her partner's gaze and for a moment, their eyes held. I don't like this one bit, Mulder's mind said to hers. Scully's eyes glinted. And almost as if she had heard him say the words out loud, her eyebrow raised as if to reply, too bad. She practically screamed it with her mind. Too fucking bad.
"Goodness, I'm sorry," Scully said, but not to Mulder. She gestured to her unidentified friend and said, "Marcus Welsch, this is my partner, Fox Mulder... We're both in the FBI, ah---" Mulder's eyes shot fire at her when she justified the term. "He's my professional partner. We're investigating a death...." When she trailed off, Mulder extended a forced, obligatory hand to the man he now knew as Marcus Welsch.
"Nice to meet you," Mulder said, smiling as warmly as he could manage. But what he really wanted to do, with a passion that felt stronger than anything else in his life, was shove his fist fast and hard down Marcus' throat.