We All Die Virgins
By Jaime Lyn
ALL DISCLAIMERS AND NOTES IN CHAPTER ONE.
*An aside: Thanks to everyone for being patient. Special thanks go out to the Stalkers for prodding me with sticks and being generally wonderful. Don't give up on me. lol.
Early December 28th, 2001
76 Durland Road,
Lily Ann Harbor had ventured downstairs but she couldn't remember why. Each stair creaked like a little old man beneath her feet. It was late and the house was old. Lily was alone.
The old living room carpet was dirty, scattered with bits of paper and hairballs. Lily's newly acquired fortune--her stolen Hollywood magazines--were spread about the floor as if they'd exploded about the room from a cannon. All of the furniture her parents had acquired after grandfather's death was antique, expensive, and carved from cherry wood--not that there was much of it, and every surface in the house was dusty. A month dusty, to be precise. While Lily's mother had used her vast amount of free time to pray for forgiveness and dust the cabinets until the finish wore down, Lily had no interest in cleaning. She also had no interest in prayer or salvation, as both of her parents were dead and buried now, and all Lily knew of God was the end of a long "sin stick" that left bruises marring the backs of her legs and the small of her back.
"No!" said Lily, and she closed her eyes. She refused to let memories overtake her. She was afraid of the dark and had nowhere to go, nobody to hold her hand, but she wasn't going to do this. Wasn't going to let the darkness take her. Every time the darkness took her---
"Oh Mama, please, Mama no--not the stick. Mama I promise I'll not run anymore, I promise..."
Lily never could run fast enough, never could escape the "Men of God" who came by at night to torture her with sticks and needles. Her feet were just too slow to carry her from the restraint of her parents' shaking hands, and after many nights of faltering, she just stopped running. But Kesley... well, Kelsey was faster. Kelsey somehow managed to avoid the men and the "sin stick." Kelsey never met the "Men of God" or "the razor of cleanliness," although she was there in the end to hold Lily's hand.
"No," Lily said again weakly, and she rubbed her forehead.
While Lily screamed for salvation, begged for mercy, for death, for the Grace of angels to come and overtake her soul, because her mother was slashing, slashing again with the razor, slashing deep into the backs of her shoulders, Kelsey would all but disappear until the very end. "Oh Mama," Lily would shriek, "Mama please no, please don't, I promise I'll be good, I promise I'll let the men do the tests, I promise I promise, Oh, please..."
But then again, Kelsey was younger and quieter. Maybe that was it. Somehow, Kelsey slipped away, got under the bed, stayed under the bed, didn't come out for days. For Kelsey it was easy; for Lily, it was not. No matter where Lily ran, her parents always managed to find her. They dragged her out, held her down with strong hands wrapped around her forearms, screamed for the Men of God to cure her. Lily was ill. Lily was ill and bereft with sin, although she never understood how or why God had forsaken her.
"You are soiled," Lily's mother once said to her, the sin stick held high. "And if God cannot help you it is because you can never be cured. You refuse His love." And the stick came down--once, twice, three times, a hundred times. Lily screamed and bled; she radiated anger. An hour later she collapsed upon the sheets, breathing in slow intervals. Kelsey was crying and hiding beneath the boxspring. Lily heard the broken sobs. Both girls waited for the Men of God to come and cure Lily. But the men never came, not after that night, and soon Lily's back scabbed and Frank and Alice got sick.
Lily's mouth scrunched and she screamed this time, her fist hard and solid against the banister. "No!" The magazines at her feet scattered, blew from the center of the living room as if taken by a powerful whirwind. The pages fluttered obscenely and ripped like the crackling of flames. The spines of each magazine slammed into the wall, thud by thud by thud, while Lily covered her ears and shrieked, over and over. "No, no, no..."
Early December 28th, 2001. 1:54am.
Holiday Inn Express,
The sheer depth of Fox Mulder’s concentration was mind-numbing, among other more appropriate adjectives.
Scully herself had managed to go a few hours doing a useless second background check on Lily Ann Harbor and Kelsey Liz Harbor. And when that background check hadn't turned up any new information to disprove Mulder's V.C Andrews-like plot scenario, she’d done a follow-up on Alice and Frank Harbor. Both of whom, after several checks and re-checks--and a fruitless phone call to the CIA-- still did not exist, much to Scully's dismay. With that in mind, Scully checked her watch. And then she played solitaire. And Free-cell. And something called “Tunnels.”
But while Scully was disappointed at having come up mostly empty, she’d at least known when to quit. After all, it was nearly two am, and there wasn’t much she could do at the moment, especially with the lack of evidence that a crime had, in fact, even been committed.
But Mulder, of course, had problems with the issue of time.
For the last half hour, Scully had been sitting in the easy chair next to the window-table, her elbow perched on a paisley placemat, her chin suspended by the heel of her palm. She was too tired to net surf and too bored, at this point, to care. Mulder sat in the center of her bed, his legs restless and trembling as he perused several typed out police statements. Stilled camera photos from LaGuardia’s main terminal fanned out beneath his long legs, a few photos dangling off the comforter, the rest spilled onto the carpet beneath him. Mulder had been reading and staring and chewing on his lower lip for hours.
Just reading and staring and chewing on his lower lip.
His lower lip, his lower lip, his lower lip.
Scully bit her fingernail. Mulder's tongue darted out from his mouth and smoothed the skin he'd been chewing on. Ah yes. That was nice. Mulder's tongue. He had a fairly full, long tongue. Pink, and of nice texture, from what she could see from across the room. If Scully had to investigate that tongue more thoroughly, she might say that Mulder's tongue was average, but slightly rounder, thicker than other tongues she had encountered in her lifetime. Lapping up water would not be difficult with Mulder's tongue. Licking an ice cream cone would not be difficult with Mulder's tongue. As a matter of fact, Mulder's tongue would probably feel really nice if it flicked out once or twice and conected directly with her--
"I must be losing it," Scully muttered, and she shot a sidelong glance at the man with the nice tongue. If he heard her talking to herself, he gave no indication of it. With a groan, Scully closed her eyes, shook her head, and bit down so hard on her knuckles that she almost yelped in pain. Mulder's tongue. Oh, for the love of God. What in the hell was she doing thinking about her partner's tongue? Was it stress? The New Year? Lack of really good, mind-numbing sex? Or had the blood vessel of common sense in her brain simply exploded?
“Mulder,” she tried, her hand over her eyes. “Have you come up with anything?”
Mulder grunted that he’d heard her, but said nothing. He didn’t even look up. A few bedsprings shifted beneath him and the bed sagged as he moved. He hummed something under his breath and stared at the contents of a light blue folder. Scully blinked. Two am, two am, Good God it was really two am. How long could any one sane person stare at photographs and police statements for that long and not see little dwarves popping off the paper? Christ.
Two. Fucking. Am. This was all Mulder's fault, really.
An extended brunch had turned into an extended lunch, which had turned into a few badly organized games of one-on-one "street basketball" with Mark Guinness. "Oh, Come on, Scully," Mulder had said. " I haven't seen the guy in years. And we can't do anything this afternoon anyway. When do I ever get opportunities like this? You once said you would cover for me if I wanted to go out..."
"That was six years ago," Scully had said. "After the Jersey Devil case. And it wasn't an open ended invitation."
But of course, Scully gave in. Scully always gave in. A prime example of her inability to say no to Mulder was the huge, gaping bump on the top of her head. Mulder and Detective Guinness had somehow coerced her into playing a basketball game called HORSE--- a move that had been a huge mistake on her part, as she had been fairly uninterested in playing in the first place, lost miserably, and got hit in the head with the basketball. Twice. For the rest of the evening, Mulder wouldn't let that one go. "Can't Score Scully," Mulder had teased, over and over. Even after she threatened to shoot him in the foot. Even then. He just didn't stop.
Upon checking into the motel hours later, she and Mulder had eaten take out Chinesse, taken a few short breaks, gone out for a quick tour of Lily's neighborhood, made a few jokes about the weather and the lack of nearby coffehouses, then returned for more work. The problem was that, without having actually investigated anything yet, and without an actual case file or some subtsantial, actual proof of an actual person to actually be missing, there was really nothing to be found. Or at least, that's what Scully thought. But then again, there were a lot of things that Scully thought that Mulder simply could not find within himself to agree with.
Scully opened her mouth to voice her discomfiture when Mulder began to sing under his breath. Scully’s chin dipped towards her neck and her eyebrows rose at least an inch. Well, this was new.
“And the world discovers as my book ends…” Mulder indifferently picked up another piece of paper and squinted at the words, as if muttering song lyrics under his breath wasn’t just slightly south of bizarre. He frowned, turned the paper upside down and right-side up, and began again. “And the world discovers as my book ends…” His brows scrunched and his knees folded in towards the comforter. “And the world discovers as my book ends…” He bit his lip.
Fearful he would repeat himself again, Scully finished for him, “how to make two lovers of friends.”
Mulder finally glanced up and raised an eyebrow. “Why Scully,” he said. “I didn’t know you cared.”
Scully rolled her eyes. She fought the instinct to hurl left-over Chinese Food cartons at her partner like a five year old with water balloons. “It’s close to two am,” she said. “If you don’t have anything substantial then I really think we should call it a night.”
“Doesn’t make sense,” Mulder muttered. He shook his head at one of the many photographs laid out on the bed like a full-house of cards. He hurled the photo off the bed and the glossy paper fluttered to the ground like a bird gliding to a perch. “I feel brain dead, Scully.” He rubbed his thumb and forefinger across his forehead. Scully smiled sardonically and opened her mouth to--
“Shut up,” Mulder added, and he flopped onto his back. The mattress bounced, and the rest of Mulder's photographs pitched off the bed and scattered to the carpet.
Scully's smile disappeared. It wasn't like Mulder to give up so easily without at least postulating some sort of outlandish, circus-esque theory. Giving up without even bothering to argue was simply not his style.
"What's the problem?" Scully asked.
"Don't know," Mulder said. He stared up at the ceiling with an unreadable expression, rubbing one hand over his chest as if he had a stomach ache. "Don't know, don't know, don't know. Maybe my heart's not in it. Maybe I'm tired. Something about basketball that reminds me of the good old days..."
Scully frowned. It wasn't like Mulder to behave in a sentimental manner, either. "Good old days?" she asked.
Mulder turned his head on the comforter to gaze at her. "High school," he said. "Or the academy. Being around Mark reminds of certain things...I had friends once, you know. I played a little ball, went out for a drink every once in awhile. It wasn't much but it was something. A life."
Scully let out a soft chuckle. "Wait," she said. "I'm processing that one."
"I'm serious, Scully."
Scully's eyes clouded with concern. "You are," she said, as if the idea would have never occured to her otherwise.
Scully remembered an old conversation she once had with Mulder. She'd told him how she thought about quitting, moving away from the bureau, getting out of the car, so to speak, and carving out a life for herself that didn't so closely resemble a Die Hard movie. After nearly eight years (six at that point) of working so closely with the paranormal and with Mulder, and after having grown so attached to him and to the process, Scully knew without question that she wouldn't have been able to just quit and leave everything behind. The familiarity of Fox Mulder was like the familiarity of the sun coming up every morning. She knew he'd be there, expected him to be there, and understood with a tinge of fear that she just might go crazy the day he wasn't there anymore.
So perhaps her pipe-dream of a normal life was just that-- a pipe dream. But Scully never actually considered the idea that Mulder could feel the same way she did. That with all his talk of the quest, and the X Files, and finding the truth being the only thing of any importance, Scully never considered that anything else would one day take precedence. That Mulder might feel he missed something along the way, or that perhaps he considered that there was more to life than The X Files and the memory of his sister, Samantha. But then again, assuming that Mulder had no regrets about the path he'd chosen was foolish and inconsiderate. Everyone had regrets, roads not taken. Even Mulder.
"You saying you want to quit?" Scully asked, a tinge of uncertainty worming its way into her words. She pursed her lips. "Go home? You certainly didn't seem to want to quit during the drive over."
"I don't want to quit," said Mulder. "You know I don't. It's not a matter of quitting so much as it's a matter of distraction." He turned to stare at her... The strangest look crept into his eyes. Scully said nothing for a moment. She was afraid of classifying the intensity of 'that look.'
"Fox Mulder? Distracted?" Scully smiled, trying to alieviate the roiling mess in her stomach by making a weak joke. Mulder still gazed at her, still searched her face for something. "I could make it worth your while, Mulder. I could put on my alien jumpsuit and shine a flashlight through the window."
That got a laugh out of Mulder, and he finally rolled back to stare at the ceiling. "So that was you all those years," he said. "Well, that's a relief. I've always wanted my own red-headed martian. Goes with my order of brain-dead FBI agent." He sighed. Rather melodramatically at that.
“Oh come on.” Scully re-crossed her legs in the easy chair. She folded her hands neatly in her lap. She didn't know whether she felt like screaming or passing out. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Wildcat.”
“Ugh,” Mulder called from the bed. “Don’t call me that.”
“Why not, Wildcat?” With her hands still gripping the armrests, Scully pushed herself up out of the chair. In less than a minute, she was standing at the foot of the bed and peering down at Mulder, who had folded his arm across his eyes. One knee had been drawn upwards and the other dangled off the bed. He looked like a sleepy toddler who had been given too much ice cream. Scully cocked her head to one side and smiled. So comfortable it was to be standing here with Mulder. Just...standing here with Mulder. He didn't even need to speak. He didn't even need to move. Scully could stand there for hours, just staring down at Mulder and smiling. There wasn't anyone else in her life she was this comfortable with. Not anyone.
With a shake of her head, Scully bent her right leg back towards her spine, pulling off one of her navy blue pumps by its heel. Her feet throbbed with hurt. She'd made six jumpshots in her heels that day and, after the fact, realized exactly why people did not wear heeled shoes while making jumpshots. Her nose scrunched, Scully let the shoe dangle off the edge of her finger and drop to the floor. She repeated the action with her left leg and placed her palms on the blanket. She felt good, suddenly. Giddy. As if she and Mulder had been given --under the guise of a fairly superficial X Files-- the opportunity to interact, to really talk. Squandering that opportunity would be something akin to blasphemy.
“You know," said Scully, "withholding information is dangerous, Wildcat, not to mention a potential breach of trust on your part. And a partnership based upon lies and misdirection cannot survive.”
Mulder snorted and peered through the cracks of his two fingers. “That’s the biggest load of bureaucratic, sanctimonious bullshit I’ve ever heard.”
“Yes, well—“ Scully folded her arms across her chest. “After eight years of being manhandled by your vaguely sentimental ‘one in five billion’ speeches, I think I reserve the right to paint you into a corner.”
Mulder seemed to have nothing to say to that. He blinked a few times and pressed a finger to his lips. Scully wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but in the midst of his silence, she noticed that his hair had gotten longer. His sideburns were a little out of sorts. When the heck had that happened and why hadn’t she noticed sooner? The general unkempt-yet-perfectly-kept spikiness that Mulder called his hair was almost brushable now, a few stray locks dripping into his hazel eyes. Mulder used to wear his hair like that a long time ago. Their first year together, actually.
“Fine,” Mulder finally said, and he pressed up into a seated position. He rubbed his fists over his eyes and slid down the side of the bed until he hit the floor.
76 Durland Road.
Early December 28th, 2am.
Lily's throat hurt. She couldn't find the strength to keep on screaming. Kelsey would probably tell her that she was being melodramatic and self-pitying anyway, but then again, Kelsey wasn't here. Kelsey was gone. Oh Jesus, Kelsey was gone.
Lily flipped on the light switch for the living room. It was late and dark and the room smelled of mold and lost chances. Lily missed Kesley. She missed Kelsey so badly that even breathing hurt. Blinking hurt. Existing, walking, even sobbing over Kelsey's loss--everything was wrong, and everything hurt.
"You're supposed to be with me," Lily said out loud. She received, of course, no answer. Her shadow cast a dark, oblong, twisted version of herself across the carpet. "Oh, Good grief Kels..." Lily walked the length of the room. She needed to escape. She needed to forget. In the corner, behind her mother's Cherry breakfront, was her new salvation; her and Kelsey's prized television set.
Shortly after the death of their parents, Lily and Kelsey decided that drastic changes would need to take place; both girls were frightfully ignorant of the world, and both girls were desperate to become a part of what they'd grown to longingly call, 'out there.' But 'out there' was vast, far away, scary, and above all else, filled with the monsters, degenerates, and evil sinners their parents had warned them about for years upon years. And besides the danger of people, there was the danger of daylight. Both girls were deathly afraid of sunlight, as neither of them had ever been out in it. "The Devil's light," their father had called it. "And the very touch of sunlight on pure shoulders will burn, burn you to death."
Thus, the precious gathering of Lily's Hollywood paraphinalia had been obtained during the cover of night, and in secret. Since Kelsey seemed to have a knack for entering and exiting houses without leaving behind a trace of herself, Lily came along to speed up the process. Together, Lily and her sister brought back objects they'd never seen before: magazines, television sets, a computer, stuffed animals, board games, books of every type, and video tapes.
All of Lily and Kelsey's discoveries were special, of course, but the TV was their favorite. Through the magical discovery of TV, Lily and Kelsey learned all about the world they had missed. They learned that sunlight was indeed, not evil, but that many people were burned by it--as their father had warned-- so that was still frightening. They learned that something called the ozone was disentegrating, and that this was mostly the fault of a female product called hairspray. They learned that good guys always won and bad guys always lost. They learned that women with special powers were either called witches or genies, and that witches were only evil some of the time. Genies were never evil. They learned that men and women met, fought, and fell in love despite initially resenting each other.
Love was, of course, the biggest one; Lily had never heard of this phenomenon before, as nothing in her parents' bible had ever really alluded to love.
"Oh Kels," Lily said out loud. "You should have been there today." Lily sighed and thought of that man, that man she met in the police department who had been so handsome and so dashing. Fox Mulder. Yes, that was his name.
Lily swallowed back a fresh flood of tears and turned on the TV. The screen flickered for a moment, throwing blue and white light across her eyes; the glow was bright and Lily turned her head.
"Lily Ann Mulder," Lily whispered as she gazed, glassy-eyed, at the carpet. She smiled and continued a small, elaborate fantasy in her head: "Kelsey, I'd like for you to meet my husband. Fox Mulder. He's the one who found you. And don't you just look beautiful in your green dress. Oh, Fox, doesn't she look beautiful in her green dress?" Lily giggled as if at some inside joke, put her hand over her mouth, and sucked in a painful breath of air.
Fox Mulder would save her; he would come to her, love her forever, and take her away from here. Fox Mulder would find Kelsey for her, and then the three of them together would go to California, where Lily would become a star and be free.
When she could no longer hold it back, Lily began to sob.
Holiday Inn Express,
Early December 28th.
Scully grinned and lowered herself to the spot that Mulder had been occupying. She drew her legs up, Indian Style, and cracked her knuckles. "Alright," she said. "Let's have it, Wildcat."
Mulder let his head fall back to the mattress. He stared at her upside down and shot her a withering look. "You really want to hear this?" he asked.
Scully cleared her throat. "Go on," she said, her index finger and thumb playing at the corners of her lips.
Mulder took a breath and nodded. "Alright." He pointed a finger at her. "But I promise you'll regret this."
Scully smacked Mulder's index finger away. "Quit the theatrics, Wildcat, and start talking."
Mulder dropped his hand to the mattress. Scully leaned forward on her elbows. Both of them grinned, basking in the nearness of the other. The air was thick with comfort and familiarity and a tinge of something new. Something Scully couldn't quite name and didn't want to classify. Perhaps it was better just to exist and not to overanalyze; quit while you were ahead. That was the old adage. Perhaps it was high time Scully starting listening to old adages.
"I was in VCS at the time," began Mulder, "about ten years ago I want to say... or no, more than that. A few years before I met you. And Mark I worked side by side in those bee-hive cubicles. Not a damn bit of privacy anywhere. So ah, Mark, he had a bumper sticker on his desk, something about the Knicks that I can't remember exactly...at any rate, the both of us were Knicks fans. That's the point.
"So there we were one afternoon, both of us working on the same case. I asked Mark if he had gotten the crime scene photos from the local PD--nasty axe muderer with a foot fetish. Anyway, Mark said he had the photos, but he was busy checking the scores and would get back to me. So I asked him about the game and we got to talking, you get the idea. Games on saturdays just kind of evolved from that point."
Scully leaned forward on her arms and propped her chin up with her fists. Her hair fell into her eyes and she brushed a few locks back over her ears. Truth be told, she and Mulder had never talked so personally about anything. Not even about small things, such as the way they liked their coffee or what their favorite foods were. Conversations like this one were fleeting at best, and only occurred after life-endangering disasters had threatened to seperate them forever. What did it mean, then, for them to finally be discussing their personal lives? Suddenly, Scully felt like a ten year old at a slumber party, and she wasn't quite sure how to equate that feeling with Mulder. She certainly wasn't going to ask him to braid her hair.
"So it was just you and Mark?" Scully asked, trying to keep the dark cloud of deep reason in check. Tonight, she preferred not to think in long term.
"Well," said Mulder. He bounced his knuckles on the mattress. "Mark and I were in our prime. Manly men, if you get the meaning. We hung out outside the J-O-B, had drinks, played some ball, thrilled the women-folk." Mulder waggled his eyebrows. Scully pursed her lips and fought back the urge to flick her partner in the head with her thumb. Instead, she absently twined a lock of hair around her index finger and waited for Mulder to continue. Mulder silently gazed at her twirling finger, then at her face, and raised an eyebrow. Scully, confused only for the barest of moments, pushed the lock of hair behind her ear in embarrassment and cursed herself for the girlish indulgence. Damn those ten year old, sleepover-party instincts. She was half tempted to put Mulder's underwear in the freezer.
"So," Mulder went on, pretending as if the awkward moment hadn't happened, "In the office Mark and I made just as good a team. We weren't partners, but together we had a high solve rate. You could probably imagine that lot of the BSU boys weren't so nuts about that. Particularly, there were these two guys in the unit who wanted to cut off our respective nuts and hand them to us in a wine goblet. One agent was Guy Lawton, the other agent was a shmuck you're quite familiar with. Tom Colton."
Scully's eyes widened and she took a deep breath. The tune for 'It's a Small World' started up obnoxiously in her brain. She managed, "Not--"
"Yes," said Mulder, and he glanced up at her. "That Tom Colton."
Scully frowned. "But you never told me," she said, her brows furrowed. Scully wasn't troubled by the omission, not really, but now she was very curious. She had suspected--from her lunch with Colton before introducing him to Mulder, that Colton's feelings concerning her partner's status as an agent weren't exactly respectful. But then again, Mulder had a reputation that preceeded him. Just about every agent in every jurisdiction knew who Mulder was. So why all the secrecy? Colton hadn't mentioned anything about knowing Mulder, either. There had to have been a reason.
"I didn't want to have to tell you the story," said Mulder. "We'd only been partnered together a short time. And Colton probably thought he'd embarrass himself anyway. And it was slightly embarrassing, really, because here I was as your partner and here was this guy you thought was your friend, when really this guy had such a low opinion of--"
"Wait." Scully's waved a hand as she tried to take all of this in. "Back up the train, Mulder. What are you talking about?"
Mulder sighed. He touched the round part of Scully's knee and said, "getting to it."
Scully's knee tickled. Mulder's thumb traced circles on the fabric covering her skin. Scully wished suddenly that her pants were the rip-away kind, which was a stupid thought, a stupid, crazy thought, because she was absolutely not attracted to her partner. As far as the bureau was concerned, Mulder wasn't a man, a handsome man, a deathly handsome man--no, of course he wasn't. He was just another agent. And yet, Scully couldn't remember the last time she'd ever had a thought like that at a slumber party.
"So like I was saying," Mulder went on, "Tom Colton and Guy Lawton, they were the new guys. And while both of them hated Mark and I, neither had the mental capacity to get a cup of coffee, let alone solve their own cases. But I suppose this all equated to being my fault, since I had a genuine education and a knack for being a workaholic."
Scully grinned. "You? A workaholic?"
Mulder returned the grin. His hand slipped down the side of Scully's knee and flopped to the mattress. Scully pretended not to notice.
"So," said Mulder, "one day Mark and I were out on the courts, just having a little fun, when who turns up but Guy and Tom, who have apparently just come from the Hoover Building looking smug as all Hell. Colton says that he just got a break on this crime boss thing we'd all been working on--the Joe Corelli case I think it was--and, not only that, but Colton says the deputy director's given him the go ahead to launch some massive, unecessary survelliance operation. He shows the file to Mark and I on the court, probably expecting that Mark and I would just go all weepy and weak at the knees."
Scully nodded. "And?"
"And Mark took the folder from him, read over the details maybe once or twice, and basically told Colton that the suveillance operation would turn out to be a bust. Guy said that Mark didn't know what the fuck he was talking about, and Mark told Guy that he could go show himself a good time, if you get my drift."
Scully breathed a chuckle.
"So then Mark handed the folder to me. There was something in one of the pictures that I noticed, that Colton should have noticed but didn't, and immediately I realized what Mark was talking about. So Mark and I both kept our mouths shut about the finer details, but we basically let Colton and Guy know what we thought of their investigative skills. Colton said he'd show me, but good. I told him to try. I felt like embarrassing the guy. Really embarrassing him.
"So after the game, we got ahold of the deputy director and set up a meeting. It ended up being three of us--Mark, Agent Patterson--who you remember, and myself, in a little room, staring at a few crime scene photos. After an hour, we mutually decided that the surveillance operation wouldn't work. It would be less costly to bring in a witness--some stupid motherfucker who'd left behind a pack of matches, which was what I had seen in the photo."
"So you basically ruined his chances," said Scully with a half smile.
Mulder nodded. "Yeah. So you can imagine what Colton and Guy thought about my interference."
Scully called up the image of Tom Colton's weasly little mouth all bent out of shape. She could see his narrowed brown eyes, his thick brows converged in indignation. Scully knew that look intimately. "Probably the same thing he thought when you swept the Tooms case right out from under him," she said. Alright, so it was fairly obvious now why Colton had disliked Mulder so badly.
"Exactly," said Mulder.
"But what does any of that have to do with 'Wildcat?'" Scully pressed.
"Getting to it," said Mulder, in his normally frustrating, indifferent tone. "So like I was saying, Colton wasn't pleased when the Deputy director called off the little-sting-operation-that-could, and put me in charge of the investigation. Guy went off and got drunk over the loss--I think. I'm not sure and I wasn't there, but Mark told me Guy got caught in the bathroom that night--with another Guy. I could be wrong, but I think there's a Robert Frost poem in there somewhere."
76 Durland Road.
Early, December 28th. 2:15am.
Every night at midnight, Kelsey and Lily had a ritual. They turned on channel two to watch a program called 'The Honeymooners.' Lily liked 'The Honneymooners' because Ralph Cramden made her laugh. Kesley liked it because she wanted to be like Alice. Kelsey thought that Alice was beautiful and strong, and she wanted to be strong like Alice, at least strong enough to make it 'out there.' Kelsey was always strong for Lily, but Kelsey was never strong for herself.
After 'The Honeymooners' ended, shows like 'Extra' and 'Entertainment Tonight' re-ran their daytime broadcasts, and both Lily and Kelsey discussed their dreams of living 'out there' with the beautiful people. Kelsey wanted to find Alice Cramden and live with her. Lily wanted to be a starlet. She wanted to be in movies. Kelsey said that this was alright with her, so long as Lily took her to all the awards shows, and came over every once and while to bake pies with her and Alice.
"Damn it. It's not fair," said Lily, and she slunk down to the ground, slunk down as far down as she could go. The carpet smelled of dead things, dead weeds and dead animals and dead dreams.
'The Honeymooners' was finally over and some talk show program dominated the screen. A lovely woman with long blonde hair and painted lips talked into a microphone, the program logo behind her, and a small box appeared next to her head. The blonde woman had very serious things to say about firemen and public safety, and she spoke at length while the information in the box played over and over again.
In the box, a two story building expoloded in slow motion, the flames eating slowly away at windows and bricks and flailing arms. In another moment, the box took up the whole of the screen, and the blonde woman added her commentary over the fiery wall of flames. A fireman appeared out of nowhere and rushed towards the building. Someone in the frame yelled, "oh my God, what is he doing?" The blonde woman kept talking in the background. When the fireman returned, there was a woman in his arms, and she was crying.
Lily sighed and closed her eyes. She imagined a ladder appearing at her window from out of nowhere. A dozen firemen stood on the sidewalk and cheered. Fox Mulder, her personal fireman, stood at the top of the ladder with a rose in his hand. "Come down, Princess Lily," he said.
Yes. Fox Mulder would rescue her. He would take her away. Fox Mulder was her fireman.
Lily smiled as she drifted off to sleep, although she could swear she smelled something burning. But smoke was quiet and friendly at any rate, and it drifted in like the evening fog and curled around her toes. Smoke whispered in her ear and begged her to rest. Just rest for now, Lily, said the smoke.
So she did.
Holiday Inn Express,
Early December 28th.
Scully wriggled her ankles. The balls of her feet were absolutely killing her. Without breaking eye contact with Mulder, she re-adjusted her body. Her knees slipped beneath her, her legs stretching out with cat-like precision so that her feet rested lightly on one of the motel pillows at the head of the bed. Scully arched her back to get out the kinks, and immediately afterwards dropped back to the mattress. Mulder seemed to watch all this with cloudy eyes, and when Scully finally cracked her neck and motioned for Mulder to continue, Mulder looked momentarily confused. Scully tried to ignore the pleasant hum in her brain. She took breath and said, "And?"
Mulder frowned. He patted his leg with his hand and said, "I, um... I, that is. So um, so back to the um... the nickname. Right. " He cleared his throat. "So Mark and I were on our way out from work a few days later. Knicks game coverage on O'Leary's across the street and we were late. Colton followed us out, and we had a confrontation in the parking garage about the case. Colton accused me of having an inside advantage. I asked him what the hell he meant, and he said I should know exactly what he meant. Mark told him to fuck off. I didn't feel like arguing. But Colton pressed on. He said he thought I was full of horse shit. One thing lead to another, and I sort of... Well, I punched him in the head. Hit him so hard that he bounced off one of the concrete piers and rolled right down the ramp. Mark thought it was great. He said, 'God damn, Wildcat. I don't think he's ever gonna get back up.' "
Scully put her hand over her mouth. She couldn't help herself, and began to giggle.
"Is it really that funny?" asked Mulder with a frown.
Scully tried to be serious, she tried to answer--really she did. But at the crestfallen look on Mulder's face, Scully laughed even harder. She couldn't help it. She laughed so earnestly and so honestly she felt her chest tingling. She couldn't remember the last time she had laughed so hard, and she welcomed the sensation as she would welcome the sunrise. "So that's the nickname, huh?" she asked, taking a few deep breaths.
Mulder made a sour face. "That's the nickname."
Scully nodded thoughtfully. "Right hook or left?"
"Right. You're the one with the Left. That's why we work so well together."
Scully smiled. "Ah, I thought there was a reason." She leaned forward and pressed her cheek into her upturned palm. "God, Mulder... You have no idea how many times I wanted to deck that asshole back at the academy."
"Well," said Mulder. He scrunched his brows. "That's the other thing."
Scully frowned. "What other thing?"
"Okay, this is the... "Mulder cleared his throat. He looked suddenly uncomfortable. "Well, the reason I never said anything sooner. And probably why Colton didn't either.. See... Alright...um, not too long after that incident, I got a censure for insubbordination, thanks to Colton. But actually, that censure was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, if you can believe that, because Patterson got so goddamned annoyed with me that I finally got officially tranferred down to the X Files."
"All because you hit Colton," said Scully, amused.
"All because I hit Colton," Mulder agreed. "And...okay, because after Mark left, all my allies disappeared. And it was mutually decided upon by the department heads that I was a general, all around pain in the ass."
"No argument here," said Scully.
Mulder shook his head. "Right," he said. "So now I was working in the basement, and one day I got a memo under my door--unofficial channels, of course--that word had it I was getting a new partner." Mulder gazed up at Scully and grinned. "Dana Scully. A pathologist."
Scully felt suddenly warm. She grinned like a pirate with a stolen treasure in her grasp, and ran her fingers protectively over Mulder's palm. The feeling was sharp, like an electric shock. Scully resisted the urge to gasp for fear she'd misinterpreted the moment. Had she only imagined the jolt? Had she only imagined the affection in his voice? Did Mulder feel it, too? Scully honestly didn't know what to say.
Finally, Mulder swallowed and broke the connection. "So I um, I had the gunmen look you up and they brought me this whole slew of information--you know, pictures, educational stats, references, stuff like that. I called up a few of your old college buddies and employers and all of them had nothing but good things to say about you, which really pissed me off, Scully, because I was hoping someone would have something bad to say, something I could bring to the boys upstairs to discredit you with."
Mulder paused. Scully glanced down at the mattress. Their first year together. Scully remembered the awkwardness, the fear, the resentment on both hers and Mulder's parts. The X Files unit was certainly not where her younger, much more ambitious self had pictured ending up. The head of the FBI pathology unit; that was where she'd pictured ending up. And Mulder, with all of his paranoia and all of his bullheadedness, was certainly not a candidate for team sportsmanship. At first, Scully had been the underdog, the odd man out. Winning Mulder's trust hadn't been easy, but she'd done it. And she suspected Mulder's winning of her trust had been just as much of a challenge for him.
"So," managed Scully, her lashes slightly lowered. She cleared her throat and finished, in a stronger voice, "The truth finally comes out."
"Well," said Mulder. He tapped her knuckles as if making a peace offering. "Back then I wanted to get rid of you. I'm sure you suspected as much during our first case together. But frankly, while I wasn't nuts about having a partner in the first place, I had to admit....you didn't seem suspicious, dangerous, repugnant--you know, the usual suspects. And you were..." Mulder shrugged. "Okay, fine. I thought you were cute."
Scully raised an eyebrow. She sucked in a breath. "Cute?"
"Well, yes, because....Oh, hell. Forget I said it," Mulder mumbled. He cleared his throat. "So anyway, here I've done all this research on you and about an hour before you're set to meet me, I go down to the commissary for breakfast. And...low and behold, I see my future partner eating a bagel on the other side of the room. You looked...well, um, just like your picture except, you know, your hair was a little longer and you were wearing this God awful suit..."
Scully raised an eyebrow and considered a quick rebuttal. Then she recalled the suit in question and flinched. It was god awful, wasn't it? She supposed there was a reason tweed had gone out of style.
"But of course, " Mulder went on, "I have to consider first impressions--And at the time, I was hell bent on scaring you away. So of course, I decide I'm not going to talk to you, since if I talk to you, you'll know that I know about you, and I don't yet want you to know that I know about you because if you know that I know then I no longer have the upper hand--"
Scully put a hand to her forehead. She was sure she'd just popped several very important blood vessels in her brain. "Oh for the love of God," she said. "It's late, Mulder. Have mercy on me."
Mulder sighed. "Sorry." He shrugged. "So... I'm getting breakfast in the commissary, pondering over what deadly conspiracy might be taking place, now that my new partner is here in the building and eating a bagel, and guess who shows up in front of me in line?"
Scully blinked a few times, stifled a yawn, and realized how late it was; two am and all was well. Pondering whether she really should put Mulder's underwear in the freezer, she managed, "I'm thinking....Colton."
Mulder snapped his fingers and winked. "Hey," he said. "You're good."
"I know," said Scully. She blinked slower this time, and her head leaned more heavily on her palm.
Mulder continued as if he hadn't noticed. "So Colton's got some friends with him, and they're all laughing about something. And I ah... I accidentally eavesdrop and overhear the conversation. It's about some woman sitting at one of the tables, and how Colton used to know her at the Academy, and wouldn't it just be a riot if they each bet fifteen dollars that he could get her to blow him in the bathroom before his lunch ended. It's not until Colton's right about to go up to this poor woman that I hear the name 'Dana Scully,' and I realize he's been talking about my new partner."
Scully's eyes widened. Suddenly, she felt a second wind. "You're kidding."
Scully shook her head and tried to remember the date in question: Her first day in the Hoover Building. She'd had a meeting with Section Chief Blevins and she was early. She went to the commissary to grab breakfast and a copy of the D.C Post. She was sitting there, reading and munching on a bagel when... nothing. Absolutely nothing. She finished breakfast without running into anyone she recognized, and then went upstairs to get her new assignment.
"Mulder," she said. "You know...If what you're saying happened actually happened...I would have handed Colton's testicles to him on a napkin, gotten kicked out of the building, and I never would have made it to the assignment meeting."
Mulder pursed his lips and nodded. "Well, yes, I know that now."
"But as it stands," Scully went on, " I don't remember even seeing Colton in the building that day. Are you sure you're remembering this correctly? Because he never--"
"No, he wouldn't have."
Mulder sighed. Suddenly, he wasn't looking at her anymore. "Because I deliberately ran into him from behind and knocked over his tray of hot coffee. He turned around and when he saw it was me, he nearly let me have it. He called me a motherfucking loser or something. So I kicked him and his burning crotch towards the general direction of the men's room, and I said---"
Scully let out a low whistle, a buried memory creating a crease in her forehead. "A motherfucking loser with dry pants," She finished. "My God, that was you?"
Mulder laughed. "Yeah, that was me."
"Well, that part I certainly remember," Scully said. "It was my first day in the Hoover Building, and I think I got there about twenty minutes early for the meeting. So I decided to get a little something to eat because I was... well, I was nervous. Then I'm looking over my summons from Section Chief Blevins when I hear someone yell, 'a motherfucking loser with dry pants.' And then there was some sort of scuffle, but by the time I looked up, whoever it was that had screamed was gone. I remember thinking, does this go on every day? And suddenly I wanted to go back to Quantico."
Mulder turned to face her fully. His expression spoke of uncertainty and gratitude, as if all the years of partnership had suddenly been stripped away and he was looking at her new. "But you didn't go," he whispered.
"No." Scully touched his hand and their fingers intertwined. "I didn't go. Something made me want to stay. I think it was the guy with the dry pants."
The cocky grin returned to Mulder's face. "Are you saying you would have left me if I'd come into work with wet pants?"
Scully shook her head, amusement stark on her lips. "I wouldn't have left, but I might have bought you some training underwear."
"Oooh. What kind?"
"Oh, I don't know. The kind with little Choo-choos."
"Alright, Scully, now you're just throwing yourself at me."
Scully giggled at that last part, her chin bobbing up and down on her elbow. She nearly rolled off the bed, what with her stomach lying flat against the mattress and her free arm dangling over the side of the comforter. Mulder was laughing too, and his head pressed against the mattress just below Scully's face. Something sharp and crisp shot up Scully's back at the lighthearted intensity of the moment, at the high level of affection that fairly radiated from her partner like the glow of a flashlight. Mulder turned his head and started, "Now are you sorry you asked--" at the same time Scully lowered her head to meet Mulder's gaze.
The room fell silent.
Scully's smile disappeared as she stared down the long slope of Mulder's nose. His face was close, very, very close. Too close. He smelled like sweat from the basketball court, Egg Foo Young, and some sort of coconut lotion. Not like sunblock, but like something else. Concentrating on the scent of the coconut, Scully gazed at Mulder's lips--for a second really, only for a second, couldn't help it, of course she couldn't help it, but she prayed Mulder hadn't noticed. If he saw her looking, if he caught her distraction, then that was it. They were both finished.
But as soon as she regained eye contact with Mulder, she knew he had, without a doubt, noticed. His eyes were dark, serious, understanding. He saw her break. He did. Scully took a breath, gazed at his lips again, and murmured the words, "distraction. I know what you mean."
Then, as if afraid of the moment disappearing forever, but more than that, desperately seeking to appease a long standing curiosity, Scully bent closer. What would Mulder do if she tilted her head that way? Would he move back? Would he follow in suit?
Scully held her breath to keep from thinking too hard. She lowered her lashes out of instinct.
Then, slowly, as if taking a cue from her forwardness, Mulder's head tilted in the opposite direction of her head, and he crept closer. Scully opened her mouth. She didn't know why she opened her mouth. Mulder was obviously not going to kiss her. There was just no way he was going to kiss her. It was too unprofessional, too dangerous. Something would happen to distract them. One of them would come to their senses, one of them would realize the consequences. Her pulse beat out a frenetic drumbeat in her neck. Something was happening here, something warm and deep and...not healthy. This couldn't be healthy. It was just...They were both tired, they were both stressed, the new year was coming, they were getting older, they--
Were kissing. Very much kissing. Oh. Dear. When had that happened?
Suddenly Mulder's hand was on her cheek and his mouth was on her mouth, and Holy Mary Mother of God, sure, okay, his tongue wasn't anywhere to be seen--er--felt, not now, not yet, but never had there ever been any contact so electric in the history of the kiss. Scully rolled onto her side, her face tilting to Mulder's out of some sort of sexual instinct she never knew existed within her. Her hands shook and she brought them up to Mulder's shoulders to steady herself. Mulder's weight shifted signifigantly and suddenly he was taller, his lips coming at her from a steeper angle, a diffrent angle, and one hand was buried her her hair while the other cupped her cheek. His lips were wet and her lips were equally wet, and something was going on that should not be going on, should NOT be going on, but oh, oh, oh, what did any of that business matter?
Scully tried to breathe out through her nose, to let out the deep breath she'd been holding since Mulder had turned to look at her, but instead of exhaling the oxygen, the exhale turned into a whimper. She actually fucking whimpered into Mulder's mouth. Stupid, stupid goddamned mistake. Stupid. But wonderful. No, not wonderful, but yes, somehow wonderful. Gradually, the whimper turned into a moan, and the moan inadvertantly opened her mouth, and the tongue, the tongue Scully had earlier been studying, that tongue took the opportunity given it and began to launch a thorough study of Scully's own tongue-- Scully's traitorous, miserable tongue that she'd not given permission to... well, to suck on the tongue it was sucking on. But of course, her own tongue seemed not to care about the dichotomy of what she wanted versus what she did not, could not have. And Mulder deepened the contact; he kept shifting and pressing and oh, that tongue. It occurred to Scully at that moment that she was the ice cream cone. The one she'd thought about earlier. She was the ice cream cone. Dear God. She was the ice cream cone.
Mulder finally pulled away to gaze at her at the same time Scully pulled away to gaze at him. Scully fought to catch her breath and her sanity, wishing she could erase the last twenty seconds of her life while at the same time wishing Mulder would just climb on top of her and pull off every stitch of clothing she had on. Oh God. This was not good. This was, in fact, extrordinarily bad. What had they done? Her hair was a tangled mess around Mulder's fingers and his lips, fuller and wetter from having gotten a bit of exercise, now sported Scully's favored coral lipstick. Half of her lipstick decorated the space between his nose and his mouth like a stain of red Koolaid after a drinking accident.
Mulder's eyes widened. Scully looked down at the bed. Ah yes, the comforter. Pretty squares. How many of them occupied the span of a foot? Counting the squares, that might be helpful.
Mulder's drag on the bed lifted, and Scully knew he had walked away before she saw him move. She wanted to jump out of her skin, but instead settled for counting the squares on the comforter. One, two, three, four...
"Well," said Mulder flippantly, as if he had just a devised a new filing system and not made out with his partner of eight years. "I've never done that with you before."
Scully glanced up. What did he just say? She had no idea. Her mind was a blank. A haze of sexual, personal and professional frustration. She took a deep breath and mentally reminded herself that there would be some serious banging of the head against the wall in about twenty minutes. With sweaty palms, Scully pushed herself into a seated position and forced a neutral expression to her face. She called this "neutral expression number five," and shook her head, her chest still heaving despite her valliant effort at trying to remain calm. "Well," she said, her eyes wide, her voice breathless. "I think we're done for the night. How about you?"
Mulder had his hands in his pockets. He was pacing back and forth like a five year old on crack. "Oh, we're done," he agreed. "Unless you have anything to--"
"No. I mean, I'm finished. I mean--"
Mulder turned to face her. His eyes were wide and desperate. He looked pained. "We can just--"
"Get some sleep?"
Mulder nodded. Then his eyes went wide again. "Not together. I mean, not with you. I mean you know what I--"
"Don't worry." Scully shrugged, waved a hand at him. "Doesn't matter."
But it did matter. In so many ways, it mattered.
"Right," said Mulder. He took a few steps forward and stopped, rocked back and forth on his heels.
Scully nodded one last time. "To bed," she said out loud, in a rather high voice. "And tomorrow morning we can just meet up downstairs, say around, oh I don't know, I don't know, say, seven thirty or eight or eight-fifteen ish--" Her eyes strayed downwards, past Mulder's shoulders and past his chest and ever so slowly, ever so innocently down to, well she was curious and why shouldn't she be? So she let her gaze drift further and further and...
Scully's eyes widened. Her breath caught somewhere between the middle of her esophagus and her tonsils. Mulder, he was... he was... Well, to be precise, his jeans protruded at his crotch like a denim tent being pitched by the boy scouts, and that of course meant that he must be... Well, at the very least he was... he was aroused. Sexually aroused.
Scully blushed. Oh God, she couldn't even use the word 'hard' when the word 'Mulder' was in the same sentence. She swallowed. She kept staring. At Mulder. Hard Mulder. Oh dear God---No. Stop. Hard Mulder. Damn it, she thought it again. Hard Mulder. Now she couldn't stop thinking it. Hard Mulder, hard Mulder. damn it, Dana. Stop!
Mulder's gaze clouded with confusion for about half a second. Then he grimaced as if in pain and finally looked down. Scully said nothing. She couldn't even blink. She couldn't even breath. Mulder stared at himself, his entire body rigid--for lack of a better word--for a terribly long period of time.
Finally, Scully allowed herself the freedom of breathing. Mulder, his cheeks beet red, his feet cemented to the floor, looked up at Scully, then down, then up, then down again. He seemed not to know what to do. He turned in a mindless, frantic half circle for about a second, then made a clumsy dive for the bed. He nearly tripped over his loafers in grabbing the pillow Scully had been using for a foot rest.
Scully, her mouth hanging open and her brain growing dizzy with incomprehensible, Kama Sutra like ideas, simply stood and stared. She didn't say anything. She didn't move.. Mulder wasn't even in the space she was staring at anymore, but she stared at it anyway, as if an imprint of his arousal had been left behind for her to gawk at.
Mulder pressed the pillow to his groin and without a word, he rushed towards Scully like a linebacker. With his free hand, he grabbed her shoulder, turned her around, and pushed her lightly towards the doorway. Scully couldn't even blink. She had forgotten how. She just kept seeing Mulder's jeans, his bulging jeans, his very very bulging jeans, everywhere she looked. The walls were gone. The door to her room was gone. The image of Mulder's excited crotch was in the way.
"Okay, then, goodnight, goodnight Scully, goodnight," said Mulder, and suddenly she was standing on the other side of the door. The closed door. Staring still at Mulder's excited crotch.
It occured to her a second too late that Mulder had kicked her out of her own room.
End of Chaper 5. To be continued in Chapter 6.