Sarah Jamison walked numbly through the hallways of the theatre’s upper level. Her long dark hair trailed behind her and she twisted a strand around her fingers. Oftentimes she did this; walking, drifting, floating through the mezzanine sections as if on a cloud. The walking gave her time to think and reflect. The lights were dimmed in the soft after hours of the evening, and the rest of the crew was away for dinner. Sometimes there was rehearsal, sometimes there wasn’t. Tonight, there was not.
So she walked, paced, crept to the last seats on the level, then walked back. Her fingers were nibbled around the edges and her hands were raw. Her head felt flooded.
There was no doubt in her mind, at least, no doubt since last week, that Amanda Carson was capable of murder. That was quite evident. Amanda was certifiable, willing to do anything and everything to get her way. Even if it meant killing someone at the most, or blackmail at the least, especially when it came to Sarah. And god, how that scared her.
Sarah shook her head. She knew she should have kept her past more tightly guarded, should have been more careful when talking to her grandmother on the phone, especially with that nosy Amanda looking to undermind her at every turn. She knew it could be dangerous, to discuss what her grandmother had warned her about, she KNEW, but she had been… had been… what?
Sarah sighed. She had been SO stupid, that’s what she had been. Plain, damned, stupid. God, what had she been thinking? Amanda, after all, had eavesdropped on her conversations before. She had come into her room, taken bits and pieces of jewelry, stolen papers, although Sarah could never prove it. She wasn’t THAT stupid though and she knew who had been stealing. Amanda, of course. Only Amanda would have snuck into her room. Amanda was crazy.
Sarah’s brow furrowed. More people dead today, she thought. That elevator accident that she knew had been no accident. There would be more danger, more insanity ahead. More damned murders that made her heart hurt and her head pound. My fault, her brain screamed, my fault, mine mine mine….
Sarah’s fingers trembled at her neck. They fluttered there for a moment, reaching for an item of jewelry that wasn’t there anymore. A delicate ruby that held on a string of gold, the one item her grandmother had given her before she left. The one item that might never be hers again. Something else Amanda had stolen in return for Sarah’s silence and obedience.
Sarah’s teeth chattered.
Amanda had all the power now, all the strength, and more would surely die before Sarah could regain control… if she ever did. God, the thought made her shudder.
Mulder shook his head and crossed his legs, balancing a folder in one hand, his lap top bag in the other. Setting the lap top down on the desk, he dropped the file to the floor and stared out the window. His brain was still swimming in circles from the events of this afternoon. Events that were still confusing him, even now.
Two of Scully’s classmates dead, he thought, nervously. Two graduates of Roosevelt High’s class of 82’ dead. Both grisly deaths. Both apparent accidents. Or were they?
He was almost positive now that they weren’t.
Not that Scully was willing to listen to his theories, of course. But then, to be fair, it wasn’t like she was in any mood to, anyway. After exiting the theatre, she had merely shied away from him, vacantly staring out at the street as he raised his arm to hail a cab. It had bothered him somewhat, that she put distance between them when she hurt, but if Scully was going to be distant, he had thought, then it was better not to pry… well, at least, not yet..
Thus, he had tactfully decided to refrain from asking Scully about her connection to the girl who had died in the elevator, and she had not been exactly forthcoming either. Other than a brisk “yeah, I knew her once,” in response to Amanda Carson’s question, Scully had shut her mouth, clamming up and away from him… again. Again being the understatement of the century. So, like always, Mulder had backed away. Giving her space. Consenting to letting her be alone with her thoughts. He had spoken to her only once--- to ask her if autopsies were going to be needed. And to that she had only declined, telling him that the cause of death was pretty obvious. Although she DID want to examine Jennifer Green’s body first thing in the morning.
Something just didn’t fit, she had told him, as she watched the local PD clean away the disaster. Then she had murmured something else that he couldn’t hear, and Mulder had said nothing then, merely agreeing with her and settling a hand at the small of her back.
He pretended not to notice when she descreetly shrugged him away. Not that his heart was going to let him forget, but his brain was trying to rationalize it.
This isn’t going to work, was all he could think of the whole way back. I knew it wouldn’t last… Not going to work…
At the sound of the door opening, Mulder turned his head to see his partner shrugging off her coat. She sighed and placed it lazily on the back of the nearest chair, taking a breath and moving towards him. Her chin jutted forward and her fists clenched. She had that determined look in her eye, and Mulder remained silent.
All at once, Scully’s brain began to kick into overdrive, reminding her just how persistent her partner was, how quick he was to catch shit like this, how intuitive he was, and how easily he called her on a bluff. To lie to him or not be open about this would be a bluff, she knew, and she wasn’t in the mood to be called. At least, not now.
So she decided to make the first move. To suck in her dignity and her pride---for the sake of this case, and tell him before he could ask her things she wasn’t prepared to answer. If I can just take control of the situation, she rationalized, then I won’t need to relay certain facts. I won’t feel so… disconnected from him… so… suffocated…
Or so she rationed to herself. Maybe because she needed to…
Scully watched Mulder take a deep breath and force a smile at her, patronizing the situation, folding it up in silence and pretending like it was all ok. Not that everything was ok, not that it was rarely ever ok, but then, it wasn’t as if they both weren’t masters of the art of denial. After all, when all else failed, they could always fall back onto old habits like they were a safety net for underlying fears. Everything was always fine. Just fine.
Scully clenched a tight fist and smiled back at Mulder, thinly. But when he opened his mouth, her words came out before his could even form.
“Alright,” she said, calmly, almost coldly, “we’ll do this on my terms, Mulder. Whatever you want to know is going to be limited to a need to know basis. Whatever’s relevant to this case is fair game; anything I can remember of Jennifer Green, Lisa Ripley, or how they related to Amanda Larson.”
Mulder frowned for a moment, rolling his tongue in his cheek before asking, “ok, I get that but… you’re saying that anything I ask about you, specifically, is---“
“Offlimits.” She pursed her lips, then added, wryly, “Meaning no questions about my social status, and no questions about my---“
Scully rolled her eyes. “Or lack of,” she granted, dully.
Mulder nodded, willing to play her game, for now. “Alright,” he answered, clearing his throat. He leaned forward in his chair, cracking his knuckles. “First is first. Let’s start with Jennifer Green.”
Scully cleared her throat and nodded.
“Ok,” she acquiesced, slowly. “All I remember about her was that she was friends with Amanda. She liked drama and she liked being the center of attention. Her father was a naval officer like mine, and she… God, this is so long ago…”
Scully stared off thoughtfully for a moment, before continuing, “she was popular. Always with the ‘in crowd’ and always with a boyfriend on her arm. She was voted Drama queen my senior year and was also nominated for most outgoing something or other. I don’t remember much else about her.”
Mulder shifted in his chair, grimmacing, and he then leaned back, sighing as he asked, “ok, what about Lisa Ripley?”
Scully closed her eyes and cracked her neck. “Lisa Ripley,” she murmured, softly, a look of hurt crossing her face.
Mulder watched her, sympathetically. It was so hard for him, 90 percent of the time, to keep his feelings for her under wraps, especially when he knew she was hurting. It was just that… he knew her so well. He saw her so clearly. Maybe it was because he knew that under her “special agent” persona, she had the heart of a wounded child… that she liked the occasional rose and the occasional hug…
But in instances like this, he just didn’t feel comfortable invading her space. Scully was a damned stubborn, insanely particular woman, and he knew that she would come to him when she was ready, when she was prepared—or, at least, he hoped so. He needed to hope so. Until then, however, he would wait.
Forever, if need be.
“Lisa was friends with Amanda,” Scully sighed, wearily. “They had been close, from what I can recall, but I think they had a fight at the end of the year that put them at odds.”
Mulder frowned. ‘What was the fight about?” he asked, curious.
Scully frowned back. “I don’t know,” she answered, honestly. “All I remember was that it had something to do with the senior class nominations---“
Scully furrowed a brow. “Come again?”
“For what?” Mulder repeated. “What were the nominations for?”
Scully shifted on the bed and looked up at the ceiling as if it could afford her the answers she was seeking. Mulder watched her and sat on his hands, willing them not to force the rest of his body to get up and wrap around her… No, he thought. She wouldn’t appreciate that.
“It was for the superlatives,” Scully answered, thoughtfully. “It was----“
Suddenly, she stopped and turned to face her partner with a look of dread. He had that look on his face, that look of, “I know something you don’t know,” and she knew that look all too well. She understood that look and the ramifications behind it. Her brain immediately dissected it.
I can just see the insane theories, she thought. The wheels are turning… He’s going to want to look at my yearbook and ask me more questions… More questions to help serve his insane theories….
Scully forced back a sigh. All in all, it was not something she was prepared to handle…
Mulder furrowed a brow. “What?” he asked, confused. “Scully, wha---“
“No,” she said, monotonously. “No, Mulder, I know what you’re thinking.”
Mulder crossed his arms. “No you don’t,” he countered.
“Yes,” Scully rebutted, rising off the bed to cross the room and stand in front of him. “Yes, I do, Mulder. And if you think that this is some sort of murderous plot against----“
“So what if I do?”
Mulder’s eyes pierced into Scully’s, angry and worried, and Scully knelt down in front of him, placing her hands upon his lap. Vaguely, he realized that it was the first time she had allowed herself to touch him all day.
“If you do, then it’s because you care about me,” Scully reasoned, softly. “And I appreciate it, Mulder. I do. But this is all just---“
“Just what?” Mulder asked, squeezing her right hand with his left. “Just a coincidence? Because I don’t think it is…”
Scully sighed. “Mulder---“
He matched her tone. “Scully…”
She eyed him wearily and he looked away for a moment, squeezing her hand. “Just listen for a minute, ok?”
Scully was silent. Her eyes remained skeptical, trained on his.
“What if it’s remotely possible, theoretically speaking, that.. somehow… someone you know is offing members of your senior class?”
Scully took a breath and started, ”Mulder, that---“
But she was interrupted.
“What if this was carefully orchestrated, Scully?” he asked, concerned. “What if these deaths were somehow directly linked to events that occurred when you were in high school? It IS, possible isn’t it? I mean…” he paused, then continued, “Ok, I know what you’re going to say to this, but…”
Scully watched him apprehensively. In her experience, any time there was a but, it was never good news.
Mulder went on, “After hearing what some of the crew had to say this afternoon, I think that it’s… possible, that… Well, that the deaths were…” He paused and forced a smile, trying to loosen her up. It didn’t work. “That they were… telekinetic in their origin…”
Scully’s eyebrows raised to a full 45 degree tilt from her cerulean blue eyes. Her lips pursed and she shook her head as if she did this everyday—which, really, she DID. She sighed, and managed, “First of all, Mulder, the theory of telekinesis, much like the movie Carrie, is pure science fiction. The rudimentary idea of it alone goes against laws the laws of motion. It contradicts what we know of static and kinetic energy.” She pushed a red hair out of eyes and continued, “Second of all, why would a scorned classmate of mine wait 20 somewhat years to start a murderous rampage? And what could possibly be gained by requesting my involvement? The chance to ‘off’ me as well? You can’t honestly believe that, Mulder. This isn’t a daytime television drama. This is reality.”
Mulder sighed and shook his head, forcing back annoyance. “Fine. I’ll say that it’s remote if that makes you feel better, Scully, but the possibility is there.” he licked his lips, a fevered tone in his voice. “And that’s all I’m saying. You can’t discount THAT, can you?”
Scully let her head fall to the side, considering him, and fell silent. Remembering the nightmare she had experienced last night, the images flashing through her mind, she knew that she couldn’t just refute Mulder’s entire theory. The truth was, actually, that it made her fairly nervous.
Mulder’s voice fell upon her ears, soft and tender.
“I just don’t want anything to happen to you, Dana.”
Scully closed her eyes. She knew what it meant when Mulder used her first name. It was like a wounded puppy presenting his injured paw for inspection.
Her needed her and she knew it. He needed her and she had shrugged him away. Why did she have to be so goddamned scared of his feelings? Of her own?
Mulder clenched the inside of his jaw to keep his voice steady and his eyes cast downwards. Scully’s eyes watered, and she leaned forward to kiss the inside of Mulder’s palm. “I’m fine,” she whispered, soothingly. “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”
Mulder didn’t answer her.
Scully rose up slightly to lean over, bending forward on her knees, bracing herself on either side of Mulder’s hunched over form, her hands clenching the arm rests. Her nose brushed his, tickling in a slight eskimo kiss, and then her lips swept over his mouth, once, then twice. Gently. Softly. He accepted the entreaty and kissed her back, pulling her lower lip tenderly into his mouth as she angled her head left, then right. When he released her Scully leaned back, studying his expression.
“You know you don’t play fair,” Mulder mumbled. Scully grinned, enigmatically.
“No, I don’t,” she agreed, and sat back into the plush brown carpeting.
Mulder shook his head and stared at her, the burning question he felt the need to ask bubbling out of him before he even knew it.
“So who else was a senior superlative, Scully?”
Scully closed her eyes and sighed, starting, “Mulder, I don’t want----“
“No,” he answered, seriously. “Just to examine all the angles. After all, there COULD be correlation here so---“
“No. There isn’t.”
Mulder rolled his eyes skyward, “you don’t KNOW that, Scully. How could you possibly know that?”
Scully’s eyes widened as if she had just had her sanity challenged. “I KNOW that, Mulder, because what you’re suggesting is ridiculous. These deaths, though strange in their connection, were accidents. They were coincidences, I’ll admit that, but they were all---“
“Damn it, Scully,” Mulder exploded suddenly, leaning forward out of the chair.
Scully jumped back at the loud echo of Mulder's voice and stared at him with widened eyes. He stared back at her, undaunting. “Can you just pretend, maybe for just one second, that this is a possible scenario?! Can you just stop acting as if I’m going to be more offended by your lack of social status in the tenth grade, and remember that I'm here because of your logic and your science? It's not as if I’m going to pick up and leave if I find out you were teased in high school, or that you were not so popular, so why don't you go back to being the woman who is SUPPOSED to examine all the evidence as my partner? Jesus Christ, high school is OVER, Dana.”
Mulder watched Scully’s teeth grinding in eminent explosion, but he did not back down. Instead, he got angrier and louder. “Fuck!” he managed, throwing his arms into the air, “and why the hell do you have this need to keep everything so goddamned bottled up? Why do you have to make excuses and pretend that there’s no correlation when really, it’s not so much the science that bothers you, but your connection to the case itself? And god forbid you should actually me about it! But no, you won't! So how do you know? How do you KNOW there’s no correlation?? Are you guessing, Scully? Making a rational, logical conclusion, based on scientific fact, or are you just letting your emotions cloud your examination of all the evidence?!”
The look she gave him was positively murderous.
Oh shit, he thought, as he watched the numerous, conflicting emotions wash over her face. Shit, shit, shit….
Scully narrowed her eyes and shot up off the rug like a pop tart.
“Fine!” she hissed at him, narrowing her eyes, “If you really want your god damned, holy truth, then fine. You can have it. Here’s the abridged version. I'll condense it especially for you, my DARLING, WONDERFUL, Mulder!”
Shit. Mulder thought. Her Darling, wonderful Mulder. If that wasn’t sarcasm, he didn’t know what was. His heart began to shatter. Now I’ve done it… now I’ve really gone and fucking done it…
“At the end of the year, there were six senior superlatives,” she growled, menacingly, her voice low and dangerous. “Lisa Ripley was voted most popular, Jennifer Green was voted most outgoing, Claire Wilson was voted most attractive, Casey something or other was voted most school spirit, Karen Larabey was voted most athletic and… most likely…”
Mulder watched as his partner stuttered on the last part of that and finished, angrily, “Most likely to succeed. That was number six…though it was probably the biggest joke of all, since I was the laughing stock of the school at the time—a big fat, giant zero.”
Mulder was silent as her voice raised, becoming louder and angrier. It was rare that he or anyone saw her this emotional over anything, and the fact that she was snarling at him now made him shudder.
“Most likely to succeed was me, alright, Mulder? Poor, tormented, pathetic, no-date-Dana Scully. The ugly duckling who was good for a tutoring session and a kick me sign, but nothing else. It was the glorious highlight of the pitiful social career that was my high school experience. I was laughed at and made fun of, shoved around and picked on, pointed at until I cried idiotic, adolescent tears and ran out of the auditorium when they announced my name. Ok, jackass? Is that good enough for you?”
Then she turned and stalked away, slamming the door behind her so hard
that a picture fell off the wall.