The Opposite Side of the Moon,
By Jaime Lyn
"Grandma, come on..."
Sarah sighed and leaned against the AT&T payphone in the hallway conjoining the dressing rooms. Her foot kicked at the wall---nervous habit, she supposed. Her eyes shot back and forth anxiously and her tongue darted in and out to lick her lips--another compulsive habit she had developed. Even though she knew that nobody was watching her, that nobody was around, Sarah kept looking, frightened. There's always someone watching, she thought. Somehow... I try not to think about it, but there just always is.
Sarah's eyes kept looking for that someone.
"Grandma, pick up, please..."
The walkway was empty, the majority of the actors having long left their things scattered about for an early dress rehearsal. At her feet was Claire's blue Army/navy duffel bag, her shorts and shirts tossed this way and that over the top. To her left was a small Tigger waterbottle lying on its side and right next to it, a white and blue walkman with headphones. Those belonged to Ben.
Sarah's fingers tapped about the wall, scratching at lumps in the paint, and a few white clumps fell to the floor. For a moment, she remembed something Jennifer had once mentioned to her. Sari, if I had been the one to paint this building, it all would have been pink, she'd said. Sure, Sarah had said, rushing down the hall to her dressing room. A pink theatre, Jen. That works. Jen merely laughed. Well, pink is so happy, she'd said. Everyone would smile. Sarah nodded and waved a hand playfully. She retreated to the dressing room.
Jen had always loved pink, Sarah thought.
But now... now there were no more smiles, and everything, everything was dulled and white.
Suddenly, there was an answer on the other line. "Hello?" Sarah said. "Hello?" For a moment there was silence, then her grandmother's familiar voice.
"Grandma? Grandma it's me," Sarah said. She glanced around the lonely hallway. Still no one. "Grandma, I need to ask you---what... what was that? No, no I'm fine, really, I---yes, that was our troupe. Her name was Jennifer, she died. It was a few days ago I---It was? On the eleven o clock news? My god, I---what? No, no it wasn't. Well--yes Grandma, yes, that's what I have to talk to you about...."
Sarah's eyes darted around her again. This was so dangerous, she knew. She should not be on the phone at all. If her protection officer ever found out she had been making phone calls to her grandma back home she'd be... well, besides reamed out, she'd be picked up and relocated. She'd be snatched and moved without warning, and without her most prized and dangerous possession. And then she'd be screwed, Amanda would win, and everyone would die.
"Grandma--yeah, I um... I have to ask you about that. I just... if what you gave me, if it fell into the wrong hands, if someone else got ahold of it, how would I stop them----what? No, hypothetically speaking, of course, yeah. No really, I'm fine, I was just asking because I don't ever want to---what? Yeah, ok. Go on...."
Sarah tapped her fingers harder on the wall. She bit her lip. Don't let grandma know what really happened, she thought. Oh God, how her grandmother would be so mortified if she found out. Grandma adores me, she only wants to protect me, Sarah thought. But then again, her grandmother, as it was well known back home, also had a vicious temper. There was no telling how her grandmother would flip out if she found out about the mess Sarah had made. But worse than that, if the rest of her grandmother's Araje tribe got wind of what had happened... Well, then her gradmother would certainly be ostracized... and for what? For betraying an old, native secret to protect her only grandchild? I'm an idiot, Sarah thought. This is all my fault.
The line began to break up. "Grandma?" Sarah shook her head. "Grandma, it's hard to hear you now. What'd you---" then Sarah heard her grandmother loud and clear and her blood ran five shades of blue. "You say I'd have to do what?" she asked horrified. "Ki--Ki---Kill them? Grandma, I could never----"
What Sarah didn't notice while she spoke was that the dressing room door at the end of the hall was slightly ajar. It had been the whole time. A shadow flickered across the slightly opened doorway and disappeared just as soon as it had materialized. The door, of course, had been well oiled to prevent squeaking, so when Sarah turned her head and it clicked quietly shut, she never heard it.
"The yellow file, Mulder?"
"The yellow file, one of the things in front of you. Can I have it please?"
Mulder nodded and threw it at her. Scully rolled her eyes, snatched it, and slammed it down upon the counter.
So ok, Mulder was pissed off beyond belief. That much was quite obvious. That much, Scully could handle. But what was even worse than that, what was ten times worse than that, was Mulder's angry, seething quiet. His irritating, agonizing quiet when he wasn't either snapping or tossing things at her left and right.
The fact of the matter was that Mulder had, since lunch, been ignoring her and it was starting to get old. Really old. ---Especially since he was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Dead wrong. Let alone the fact that Scully never needed to ask him why he was so mad because she saw it in his eyes, in his stance, and in the way he had hovered over her all afternoon, on and off, back and forth, like a ridiclulous jealous beagle or an exiled child. His entire demeanor had been ridiculous, embarrassing and insane. He had to know he'd been in the wrong.
"You ever talk to Gracie in wardrobe?" Mulder asked, purposely not looking at her, his head bent over a gray file.
Scully rolled her eyes.
The remainder of their afternoon, after having exhasuted the morning inspecting the balcony rigging (which, like Mulder had expected, was up to code,) following up on witness questioning, and talking to the maintenance man, was spent in the back office of the NYPD, going over autopsy results and the like. Mulder was looking for trace substances, hallucinogens, anything on Lisa Ripley, convinced that both deaths had somehow been set-ups. Scully, meanwhile, had spent her afternoon arguing with the uncooperative PD captain over the arduous task of getting permission to re-autopsy Jennifer Green. He'd said no, she'd said yes, he'd said no, she'd pulled rank, he'd spewed four letter words and threw a key at her. The entire thing had given her a headache to say the least, and many times she had wished that she was at home, lying in bed.
The whole afternoon had only managed to agrivate her; a damnned waste of her time it was. And to think, she didn't even have permission or access to the body until tomorrow afternoon. And then she'd have to come back and cut through all the red tape again, just to do an autopsy on a body that didn't need re-autopsying. It was crazy.
The only bright point of the afternoon had been when her old friend Marcus had come all the way across town to bring her coffee at the precinct. And even that little moment had been spoiled by Mulder's idiotic, petty jealousy.
It's not like I'm interested in Marcus anyhow, Scully thought, he was a million years ago. And besides, it's not like I could love anyone who isn't Mulder, anyone who isn't--
Well, she thought, angrily, I'll just keep that moronic idea to myself.
"I'm working on it," Scully said to him. "I'll talk to Gracie in wardrobe when I'm through with this."
Then she shook her head at Mulder and resumed studying the report lying in front of her, tapping her pen lightly upon the desk top.
Many times that afternoon she had grown weary of her own pathetic, conflicting emotions. She had left Mulder, left him in the romantic sense, and for good reason. For one, it wasn't working out, it would never work out, and two... Scully winced at the thought of number two. That familiar, miserable pang erupted in her heart at the thought of being without him. Without Mulder. It was so hard, so hard not to think of....Damn it. Why is it that a man I love so stupidly has to act like a big fat, fucking piece of----
"When?" Mulder asked. His voice grated through her conscousness like a sharp knife.
Thus far, they had spent nearly four straight hours together, going over statements, materials, and basically driving each other batty. Scully shook her head and swallowed back her anger. She was pissed off just as much as he was, but for different reasons, reasons that just never seemed to change, no matter where they were or what case they had been assigned to.
"I'm on my way there now," she said. Clipped, terse, firm.
"Good," Mulder said, still not looking. And then, under his breath, "Nice to know you're finding time for this pesky case in your busy schedule."
At that, Scully raised an annoyed, auburn eyebrow. And just what do you think I've been doing all afternoon? she thought with a slient curse. Her foot began to tap nervously upon the floor. She sure as hell felt like she needed to do something with that foot or else it was going to wind up lodged it in her partner's ass.
"Excuse me?" she said, trying to re-extract Mulder's hostile words.
He ignored her. "You leaving Scully, or what?"
Ok, fine, she thought. That's fine. You want to play hardball?
"Is there something you want to say to me, Mulder?" Scully asked.
Mulder finally looked up from his file and blinked. The expression on his face was one of complete and utter indifference. To anyone else, it would have appeared as if Mulder really and truly had no problems with the situation or with her. But to her, the woman he cared most about---
"No, nothing," Mulder said. She saw right through him. "Oh, Scully---" Mulder threw her another indifferent glance before tossing the gray file to the table in front of her. "Before you leave, I want to go over what you'll be asking Gracie. I made some notes for you to follow."
Scully's mouth opened in a slight 'o' of shock. Both eyebrows raised this time and, tongue rolled inside her cheek, she crossed her arms. Never, in all the time she had been partnered with this man, had he ever managed to find the gall to physically question her methods or to give her a cheat sheet before talking to a witness.
"Ok, Scully?" His shoulder brushed hers as he passed. The motion made her weight shift and her feet slide upon the hardwood floor. So Mulder was pulling rank on her, was he?
Fine, Scully thought. Two can play this game.
"No," she finally said, the sound low and dark in her throat.
"No?" Mulder raised a suspicious eyebrow.
"Yes, Mulder. No."
"Yes, no?" Mulder shot her a sarcastic looking smile. "I don't think that's correct english Scully. It's either yes or--"
"Stop it, Mulder. I'm handling this investigation my way."
"Your way?" Mulder snorted. He settled down into a chair and leaned back, nonchalantly shoving his hands behind his head. Scully pursed her lips in indignation and her eyes became dangerously angry. "Why Scully," he said. " I thought you were under the impression that there was no case here, let alone a reason to investigate one."
"You know what, why don't you go call up that guy instead--what's his name, Mark? Marty? and take the rest of the day off. I can handle Gracie. You go take some time and---"
"Fuck off, Mulder."
"You heard me," she said.
If, before, it hadn't been blatantly obvious that Mulder was still stewing and licking his wounds over being "dumped"---- figuratively speaking, then it was more than obvious now. And since Scully was still annoyed over Mulder's disgraceful territorial conduct as of earlier that afternoon, she was in no mood to play this ridiculous game with him. And as a matter of fact, Scully was so sick and tired of playing games that she would have flown out on the first plane headed for home, if not for the fact that she refused to give him the satisfaction.
"You know, I am sensing some real hostility in you, partner." Mulder scribbled something down on a notepad, his tone light and condescending.
Scully narrowed her eyes and pitched forward, circling his chair like a swooping vulture with clenched claws. "Fine," she said. "You think what you think. You do what you do. Just don't bother me with this alpha male idiocy, lugging your testosterone over me like a trophy. "
"Murray.. was that it?" Mulder furrowed a brow as if deep in thought. He seemed not to hear her and that only infuriated her more. "Was that his name, Scully?"
"Mulder, could you possibly get any more immature about all this?"
Mulder considered that for a moment. "Well," he said, his voice getting sharper and angrier, "I could sew 'property of Fox Mulder' into your underwear like my mother used to do with mine, but I don't think you'd---"
"I'm leaving." Scully interrupted. She turned viciously on her heels before he could finish, fists clenched, teeth grinding. "I'll type up a formal statement and email it to your lap top. Then I'm phoning Skinner with a status report. But before I go--" She turned once more and fixed upon her partner the deadliest glare she could come up with. "I have a date later. I'm leaving directly from the theatre. I'm turning my cell phone off. Don't wait up."
The look in Mulder's eyes turned fiery, hot and acidic. "Fine," he said. His tone indicated that he was anything but.
"Fine," Scully said. "Have a productive afternoon." Her words were quick and tight. Then, with a pain in her heart, she slammed her way out the door without another word.