We All Die Virgins
By Jaime Lyn
* Disclaimer and other such information in chapter 1. Enjoy ;)
Early December 28th, 2001
4:30am, give or take.
Hewlett, NY, somewhere on Broadway Avenue
“What’s the matter, Scully? Can’t keep up?”
Mulder, already five paces ahead, turned and began running backwards. He kicked his knees up higher and swung his arms like pendulums. His eyebrows waggled. He was definitely an imbecile. He was an imbecile in a really expensive jacket.
“I’m pacing myself,” said Scully. She shot him a look and her breath puffed out into the evening air. Four thirty am and it was bitingly cold—fifteen degrees with the wind chill, and no sun to warm the pavement. The sidewalk was lined with drug stores, small-town restaurants and tuxedo shops; oak trees punctuated the concrete, tall, dark, towering oak trees that seemed to reach out and grab the sky, unaware that it was cold, too cold for walking and certainly too cold for running.
Of course, trees didn't need sleep or warmth, and all the better for them, Scully supposed.
An hour ago and she’d been fast asleep, warm and content and nicely horizontal in a vaguely uncomfortable motel bed. So why wasn’t she asleep now? She was running on empty for sure; she was jogging and puffing down a cold sidewalk like the little engine that could, like a car chugging dutifully along, depending only on a cup of gas to get it the rest of the way home.
“If I paced myself like that I’d be running backwards,” teased Mulder.
“If you pace yourself in my direction I can fix it so you’ll have a permanent reason to run backwards,” Scully returned.
When was the last time she had fought this hard to stay awake? Struggled to keep up with someone else?
Scully could recall a time back when she was a child, back when she and Melissa would read ghost stories to each other underneath the blankets at two am. She used to see sleep as a chore rather than a luxury. Sleep kept her from the important things in life, the really happening events that her parents always engaged in after she had gone to bed. The adults had all the fun and Dana Scully watched from the top of the stairs, in the dark, behind the banister railings. She hated feeling discarded like that. She was terrified of the world passing her by. For years she had forgotten about that feeling; med school and then the FBI—life snuck up upon her fast, and had snatched away all girlish impulses to stay up late and paint the town red. Working and becoming a grown-up was an exhausting activity. Sleep was a treat, a thing not to be squandered.
But now she felt that familiar restlessness again. Lately, more often than not, she wondered whether Mulder would pass her by if she let him. If she went to bed early and missed the little things in life. If she missed them because she was busy being the practical woman she was, and as the good little scientist she was often blind to Mulder’s “little things.”
“We could head back,” offered Mulder.
“We’re not heading back,” said Scully, through gritted teeth.
The honest-to-God truth was that Scully had many irrational fears concerning Mulder. She imagined him picking up and leaving in the middle of the night, heading out for greener pastures, for bluer skies, for folks more open-minded than she. She imagined him facing the truth alone because he felt she had outgrown her usefulness—or worse, because she simply gave off the air that she was too tired, too beaten to fight. She imagined him being mowed down in his car, imagined him being shot, imagined him being taken out piece by piece by someone he had wrongfully trusted because she wasn’t there to protect him. Of course, there truly wasn’t any good reason for this line of thought. Dana Scully had an overactive mind for the grotesque; she imagined a lot of highly personal, slightly terrifying things. If that made her some sort of jealous, irrational wench then so be it. But the fact was, she certainly didn’t trust anyone but him. And now they were jogging together at four thirty am because….well, she didn’t exactly know why.
“I was thinking of scoping out LaGuardia tomorrow,” said Mulder, puffing harder as he ran at a higher pace. “Since Lily’s staying in close quarters, at least we know she can’t go very far, right? And she can walk us through her story.”
“Assuming she doesn’t change her story,” said Scully.
“You think she’s lying,” said Mulder. Not a question. He sounded vaguely suspicious. Of what, exactly, Scully wasn’t sure.
“I think there’s a lot of things that girl doesn’t want to tell us,” said Scully. “Starting with what happened to her parents. And ending, although not exclusively, with where she was when the fire broke out.”
Mulder raised his arms above his head in mid-stride as if stretching them. He ran easily, gracefully, as if he had always been a track runner and this was just some sort of perfunctory practice ritual. Scully’s legs, on the other hand, were stiff and tired, and when she ran, she ran hard. And yet…yet she still couldn’t run as fast as Mulder. Why was it that Mulder could make everything look so damned easy and she had to work and struggle every step of the way?
“She was asleep,” said Mulder. “And then she crawled out of a window and ran down the street. Isn't that what the neighbors confirmed?” As if this answer explained everything.
“In a house that was decimated, destroyed right down to its core elements,” said Scully. “Lily slept through the inception and crawled out through an open window in twenty degree weather. And then somehow managed to escape with not a scratch on her--confirmed by neighbors who, by the way, would say just about anything to get on the ten o clock news."
"You assuming a cultural stereotype?" Mulder asked. "Because you can't judge a situation that way."
"No," Scully returned. "Just---" She took a hard breath and counted to herself--one, two, breathe in, breathe out. Damn, but she was tired. "Just what I saw, Mulder. The neighbor you're referring to, that older woman in her underwearwho asked me if I was Jodie Foster and ran inside to check her makeup? She started recalling the plot of Poltergeist.."
Mulder frowned. “I admit, it sounds bizarre. But I just can’t see Lily as the mastermind behind this. And I certainly don’t have anything else at the moment. Why? What are you thinking?”
Scully sighed. Her lungs hurt but she wasn’t going to stop running. She’d already told Mulder she could keep up—and she could. Damn it, she could. “Well,” said Scully, fighting the urge to gasp for air, “considering the girl’s records have all but disappeared from the face of the U.S government’s social security system, and considering she was questioned just yesterday about the deaths of her parents—also conveniently disembowled from U.S records, and considering she knew we were planning to search the house—“
“You think she planned this,” said Mulder. “You think she orchestrated the destruction of her own house. Right after she murdered her parents and then murdered sister in a crowded airport.”
“That's not what I'm saying,” said Scully. "Well...not exactly. But I certainly don't think she's a witch."
Mulder pointed an accusing finger at her. “You know, I think you’re a closet believer, Scully. You’re the one who didn’t want her staying with us.” He stated this opinion as if the idea somehow proved her wrong. “You afraid of being cursed? Falling victim to an outstanding telekinetic event?”
“That’s not my reasoning,” Scully muttered, her cheeks reddening. She recalled Lily gazing adoringly at Mulder and Mulder gazing adoringly back, and the thought alone made her want to throw her partner up against a wall somewhere and slug him.
Mulder still ran faster. He was a few feet ahead. “What?” he called back.
Scully swallowed and opened her mouth to breathe better. “The house burning? That wasn’t a telekinetic event,” she said.
“Then what was it?” asked Mulder.
Scully sighed and picked up the pace. Her neck was throbbing and she felt like shivering and curling into a ball, but still she pressed on.
They continued up the bumpy sidewalk and passed a barred-up store called ‘Parrots of the World.’ A cheap-looking, neon globe blinked in blue and white light above the door frame. Scully gazed in the window as she jogged. Two puppies slept side by side in a pile of wood chips and newspaper shavings in the display case. Someone would surely take those puppies home, love them and name them and care for them like they would for children. Scully, of course, could never have any pets, not in her line of work anyway. Queequeg, her old Pomeranian, who died from mysterious circumstances, was clear proof of that.
Oh. Scully felt her throat tighten. Poor Queequeg.
“That’s what lab tests are for,” Scully reasoned, pushing away thoughts of her dead dog. “Forensic analysis will break down the compounds in that ash, right down to the molecular level. Whatever it was that was able to burn so hot and so quickly, we’ll find it. But not through some sort of antiquated, twisted, Salem witch hunt.”
“I’ll tell you what, Scully. I don’t think it’s Lily,” said Mulder, as if he wasn’t even listening to her. “I think her sister is the one…I’m almost positive that either Lily is indirectly and unknowingly channeling her missing sister, who’s genetically predisposed to telekinesis....Or else her sister disappeared on purpose, and she somehow caused the damage through some kind of uncanny ability to channel electricity. Scully, you remember that one case—“
“Mulder…” Scully shook her head as she ran. She wanted to strangle Mulder. She really did. She wanted to strangle him until his head popped off and rolled down the deserted street. “Are you even listening to me?”
Mulder frowned. “You said no telekinesis,” he said. “I just don’t happen to think that way.”
“No,” said Scully. She smiled an ironic smile and closed her eyes. “You just happen to think that Lily Ann Harbor is some kind of innocent witch incapable of any wrong-doing, or else she’s an ordinary girl incapable of any-wrong doing who’s just channeling a witch who may or may not be incapable of wrong doing…” Scully sighed. “Or else you think she’s the girl from Firestarter.”
Mulder’s eyebrows furrowed. “Oh come on, Scully. Lily doesn’t look anything like Drew Barrymore.”
“Mulder.” Scully took a breath. “Can’t you just…work with me a little bit? Look for the simplest answers first instead of immediately jumping to the most extreme possibilities? Can you at least entertain my ideas before discounting them? God forbid consider them as valid?”
“Your ideas are valid,” said Mulder. He nodded to himself and glanced back to see where he was going, to make sure he was still running in a straight and forward direction despite his back being turned. He hopped backwards over a crack in the sidewalk. “Wrong, but valid.”
Scully involuntarily gritted her teeth. She felt like screaming. “When the hell have I ever been that wrong?” she asked.
“When the hell have *I* ever been that wrong?” Mulder shot back.
Neither of them answered.
The competition was nothing new.
Lately, the work had become less of a team effort and more of a race. Who could get to the truth first? And who was closer to the truth before the investigation closed? Sometimes they argued like children. Other times they didn’t even speak. A new kind of tension had developed, a pissing-contest of sorts over the X Files, over the investigations, and especially over each other.
Surely, as far as the X Files were concerned, Mulder was always one step ahead. He found the cases, he weeded through the contact information, he decided what would be investigated and what would be thrown out. Mulder gave the orders and Scully followed.
Jesus. Why was that?
It wasn’t that Scully was uninterested in investigation, or that Mulder was her superior—certainly not. She and Mulder were partners, equals, she the proverbial north pole to his south pole. But…this was the way things always went. Mulder kept himself one step ahead; Scully was left to clean up the mess known as The X Files division when they swept through a case and a town like a whirlwind.
They had begun this bizarre dance so long ago, this slow, unending waltz in which Mulder always lead and Scully kept them grounded. But now the dance was becoming faster, harder, closer, and more violently possessive. So which part had she become sick of? She liked the cases. And she liked Mulder. But perhaps that was the problem. She liked Mulder a little too much. Had become a little too dependent on him. And in the process she allowed herself to become subservient in more ways than one, even if Mulder never saw her quite that way.
“Shouldn’t you be asleep?” asked Mulder, changing the subject as he ran. He turned his head back and forth to keep from running backwards into a tree. The lock of brown hair that crept into his eyes all night bounced as he moved. His breath clouded out from his lips, swirling and dissipating into the cold air.
“I should be,” said Scully. Mulder slowed down and Scully sped up. She ran ahead of him and circled him like a prowling animal, like a runner sizing up the competition during a track meet.
“I already told you. We can head back,” said Mulder.
“You think I can’t keep up,” said Scully.
At this, Mulder frowned. His brows scrunched as if he tasted sour cranberry juice. “What does that mean?”
The dance resumed, and Scully completed a figure-eight around an oak tree, and then around Mulder. Mulder turned back to face the way they’d been running. He glanced at Scully and picked up his pace. Scully turned her head and raised an eyebrow in challenge. She matched his stride. They were jogging in tangent, rushing faster and faster, gasping, panting, pushing through the freezing air like two crazed individuals. It was like desperation; it was like a demented form of sex. Scully had to be better, faster. But no, wait. Mulder had to be better, harder. One of them had to be a step ahead, a notch above the other. They were constantly trying to outdo each other—or no, not outdo each other, but out-prove each other. If Scully thought she was right then she had to be so right that Mulder was left in the dust. And if Mulder was right he had to be so right that Scully would eat her own shoes.
“This isn’t a race,” said Mulder, who bent his head to breathe harder and strode ahead of Scully.
“Who says it’s not,” said Scully, who felt a sudden second wind and raced ahead of Mulder.
She flashed back to the motel room, where Mulder had wrapped his fingers around her jaw and kissed her. She had tipped her head and invited him in—not all the way, but only partly. She had dared him, challenged him with her dipped head, with her lowered eyelashes. She meant to be the one to lead, to finally, fucking finally take control of a situation. She hadn’t meant for them to really kiss. For them to kiss so deeply that the world turned backwards and time and space came to a grinding halt.
She just wanted to….to what? To tease? To feel powerful? To pull away suddenly, to tell him no at the last possible second—no, Mulder, I’m not that curious. Now leave me in peace and go masturbate in the shower while entertaining wildly erotic fantasies about me.
Yes, that was actually…that was exactly it. She wanted to walk away feeling as if she had the upper hand…in something. Anything.
Of course, Scully never thought he would actually kiss her. And now it was done with and he was still leading. The dance continued. And she wasn’t sure what, exactly, she was sick of. All of it, maybe.
“You’re annoyed,” said Mulder.
“I’m fine,” said Scully.
“Then why are you running the Boston Marathon in the middle of the night?” asked Mulder.
Scully was ahead now and she liked it. The thought of jumping to the front and leaving Mulder behind….exhilarated her. Scully felt as if she was consistently the one to play the kill-joy, the one to end an investigation, to back away from the arduous task of weeding through the messy tangle of the paranormal. Mulder made the decisions. Mulder decided what would and would not happen without even consulting her. Lily Ann Harbor was living proof of that. Lily Ann Harbor sleeping in a motel room two doors down from her own was an example of Mulder’s inability to recognize Scully as his equal.
“I’m running because you asked me if I wanted to run with you,” said Scully in between hard puffs of air. Running gave her stamina, drive. Her red hair bounced up and down against her shoulders, whipped back and forth. Her feet hit the ground hard, kicked back up instantaneously. Her body was warming despite the cold. The breeze whipping by felt almost good—almost.
“You never come when I ask you,” said Mulder. His strides filled out and he ran faster again. Mulder always had to run faster.
“I know there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere,” said Scully.
The edge of the store-lined strip was approaching. Beckman’s Deli and then they were on their own, three blocks out of their way. Either they crossed the street and kept on running beneath the grafitti-ridden overpass, or else they headed back to a warmer climate—namely, the motel. Scully was exhausted and had a decent idea about which choice seemed more logical.
But logic was the impossible choice right now.
Two more pad-locked, blacked-out stores to go and she could beat him at his own race. The sidewalk got bumpier; the concrete cracked beneath her feet and jutted out farther. She would make it to the end of the sidewalk, God help her, and she would make it there first, if she had to crawl on her face to do it.
“You should come more often, Scully,” said Mulder, who was never one to back down from a morally degenerate conversation. He was two strides ahead now. Just two strides. His head turned towards her, the left side of his face lit from the brakelights of a passing car. His jaw was red, and then orange, and then dark again.
“With you?” said Scully, and she snorted, smiling with the double entendre despite herself. “What makes you think I would come with you?”
She ducked her head and propelled herself onward once more—just once more. A second, painful burst of energy and she caught up to him. They gazed at one another with glinting, dangerous eyes. He would be better—or no. She would. They could outdo each other, could out run each other. She needed to beat him to the end of the block. She didn’t know why, but she had to.
“You could just come under me,” said Mulder. “That would work.”
Scully passed him—finally passed him, and she turned to run backwards as Mulder had when he ran in front of her the first time. The street was unbearably dark. None of the streetlamps worked properly. Two or three poorly maintenanced bulbs flickered on and off, making the deserted strip of stores up and down Broadway Avenue look like a scene from a 1920’s flick picture. Mulder was black and gray and blue—monochromatic and beautiful, like an oil painting. Like a work of art she’d stared at so hard and for so long that each detail’s meaning and purpose was clear to her, and yet overall so ambiguous that her eyes watered in concentration every time she tried figuring him out.
“Who says I would be the one underneath?’ challenged Scully, and she smiled dangerously.
“Touche,” said Mulder, and he nodded his head as if tipping a hat to her.
A small victory, if only in the innuendo department.
The tendons in Scully’s legs were burning. They were on fire. She needed to stop, needed to breathe. But she couldn’t bring herself to do either. Something was very wrong with the reasoning center of her brain. She was so tired she was alert, as if every sense in her body had suddenly sizzled and come to life because she knew she wasn’t going to get any sleep. And in a way, she welcomed the non-sleep. She welcomed the opportunity to prove she could keep up. Or no—not keep up. She wanted to outright beat Mulder. She was angry with him, annoyed with his complete and utter disregard for her professional opinion. She wanted to out-do him, to be the fastest, the best. She wanted to run five million circles around him until they both collapsed in hideously miserable gasps and pants. Until he vomited into the gutter out of exhaustion and turned to her and managed, ‘God, Scully, next time slow down.’
She wanted to hit him.
She wanted to be right. She wanted to be so right that her unquestionable rightness proved a victory for scientists everywhere.
She wanted to scream.
She wanted to stop.
She wanted to press Fox Mulder down onto the ground and feel him dancing their dance beneath her, slick and hot with sweat.
And the most demented part was that she wasn’t sure any of these things were mutually exclusive.
Mulder glanced down at his legs, grunted, and bent his head as if willing himself to go faster. Scully grinned. She didn’t mean to grin at Mulder’s frustration, but she did. She liked it. There was something powerful about being the frontrunner that made her blood pump faster. Like when she was a young girl and she beat her brothers at Bee-bee gun target practice. She had to be the most fantastic shot. And when she was in high school and the teachers picked her papers out of all the papers in the class to read out loud—she had to be the most articulate writer.
Scully ran faster and faster, despite her throbbing legs, despite her back facing the end of the block, despite Mulder, despite everything. Everyone knew the truth; Dana Scully was the smartest. Dana Scully always came out on top. Dana Scully—
Dana Scully had just tripped like an elephant on roller-skates over a deep crack in the sidewalk.
Scully’s arms pinwheeled and her knees buckled. A breeze whisked through the trees lining the sidewalk and suddenly she was cold all over; the chill penetrated her winter coat, the layers of sweat. Her legs—Jesus. Her legs were like jelly and her ankle stung all the way to her kneecaps. She wasn’t going to be able to keep herself upright. Crap. She was going to fall right into the concrete. “Oh, Shit—“
“Scully!” Mulder pitched forward like lightning, like mercury; his body was there in front of her as if from out of nowhere. He grabbed her upper arms to steady her just as she tripped over her newly injured ankle and lost her balance. “Jesus,” he said. “Are you alright?”
Scully grimaced and sucked in air through her front teeth. In her mind’s eye, she was kicking the crap out of herself with a large blunt object. “Fine,” she said, her palms flat against Mulder’s chest. “I’m fine.” She tried to push herself away while standing on one leg; the last thing she needed was to be physically dependent on Mulder. She’d already let him kiss her. She’d already let him see her in an emotionally defenseless moment. She would not do so again.
“You’re not fine,” said Mulder, and he motioned with his hand towards her ankle. “Looks painful.”
Scully squeezed her eyes shut as a deep stab of pain blocked out her other senses. The throbbing was tight and hard and steady. Her ankle hovered about a half a foot above the ground, her leg shaking.
“I can walk,” she gasped out.
“Please.” Mulder cleared his throat. “I doubt you can even hobble.”
“How do you know whether or not I can hobble?” The words sounded ridiculous even as she spoke them. She closed her eyes and sighed. Great.
“No, you’re right,” said Mulder, still gripping her shoulders. “It’s much better for you to walk on a twisted ankle and make yourself totally useless for the remainder of the case. Hell, maybe we could get the bureau to spring for one of those Hover-Rounds. You could get one and I could get one and we could race all the way back to D.C.”
“I can make it alright, Mulder.” Scully glanced up. Most likely, she’d only sprained a muscle. It sure felt like a sprain—if not a bad one—and she was positive that nothing was broken. And yet they were still two blocks from the motel and the sidewalk rippled like nicely paved hills up and down all the way back. She’d have to crawl before she’d be able to walk. Well done, indeed. Christ.
“Just give me a minute.” Her foot was immobile and her muscles stung all the way down to her instep. She took a breath and tried moving the injured ankle. Pain ricocheted all the way up her leg and she gasped, grasping one of Mulder’s shoulders with her palm for balance.
Mulder wrapped an arm around her back to steady her. He felt warm and comfortable—a little too comfortable, actually. He was just a little too close to her, in every sense of the word. “I could carry you,” he offered with a lopsided smile.
Scully’s pursed her lips and she shot him a withering look. She forced a smile. “And I could kick you in the head.”
Mulder snorted. “Moot point,” he said, pulling the majority of her weight against his chest. “Didn’t you ever hear about the one legged man in the ass-kicking contest?”
Scully’s eyebrow raised. “What about him?”
“He lost,” said Mulder.
The street was still dark and Mulder’s face was blue. Blue and gray like winter and the bite of cold cutting through her coat and sweatshirts.
Mulder shook his head. “Look, seriously. Why don’t I just carry you back?”
Scully narrowed her eyes. She forced herself to grin through her pain. “Why don’t I just shoot you?”
She sucked in another gulp of air as the feeling of a million needles poking her overtook her ankle. Mulder crouched to pick her up, but paused in a bent-knee stance to gaze once again into her eyes. Scully's eyelids fluttered open and she shook her head at him. Both of them opened their mouths at the same time and said, “You wouldn’t dare.”
Mulder laughed. Scully blushed; she didn’t know why, exactly. He was looking through her. He always did. His expression said, “You’re full of shit, Dana Scully.”
“Mulder,” said Scully, “You carrying me back is just as ludicrous as me walking the distance myself. Just let me use you as a crutch and I’ll be fine.”
Mulder seemed to consider this idea. He stood upright again and nodded. “Deal,” he said, and maneuvered to Scully’s left hip in order to give her room to move. He wound an arm around her lower back and rested his fingers at her right hip. “Good?” he asked.
Scully grunted an assent. Her entire leg felt as if she’d slammed herself into a brick wall. Her knee was stiff, her shins throbbing with tension. Two days before New Years and she’d managed to successfully render herself disabled. That was absolutely priceless. And all because she felt as if she had to prove herself to the one man she’d never wanted to have to prove herself to.
“God, Scully,” said Mulder, and he let out a short chuckle as they walked slowly back up the street. “Next time, slow down.”
And what was worse, she never wanted to slug anyone so badly in her life.
End Chapter 8