Summary: Earth to Scully.
Key Words: Mulder/Scully UST
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to a bunch of guys in suits, not me.
Archive: Gossamer, please. Email me before archiving elsewhere. I don’t see why I’d refuse.
Notes: Thanks again to Vickie for a great beta! She helped me see the distinction between UST and friendship.
Also, more thank yous to Circe, for the beautiful web page she’s created for me.
“Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,
And yet, methinks, I have astronomy…
…from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art,
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
Thy end is truth and beauty’s doom and date.”
– From Shakespeare’s Sonnet XIV
Bloodless. She looks bloodless.
Scully stares at her reflection. How can her skin be so pale, when her eyes are streaked with crimson? She pinches her cheeks and bites her lips, but all she can manage is a faded pink. The colour of an old rag, or a worn paving stone.
She tries to giggle, but can’t even crack a smile.
So she pouts instead. Her dry lips crack and begin to ache. Fabulous.
As a last resort, she attempts to smooth the bags beneath her eyes, but they just get more pronounced. They’re so dark, she looks like a battered wife. People will stare pointedly at Mulder.
As she brushes her teeth, Scully consoles herself with the thought of Mulder, who isn’t doing much better. The two of them are quite pair at the moment. Despite all the time they’ve been spending in the sun, they look like a couple of vampires
Scully is starting to wish for constant night. Her sunglasses itch, and leave red indents in the skin of her nose. Her sunscreen is dry and flaky, and smells like ripe bananas.
She wants to curl up in a gloomy cave somewhere and hibernate through the summer.
What is it with these brutal cases? They’re always committed at the worst times, in the worst seasons. Scully recalls the Gregor murders of the previous winter. In unrelenting sleet, and seriously
underdressed, they had somehow solved the crime – even with the evidence all but destroyed.
This case couldn’t be more different, but it’s just as uncomfortable. It is sticky, blistering and boiling. It is summer, in Arizona.
Exsanguinated bodies are being dumped on the harsh, cracked earth of the desert outside Phoenix. Two murders, every four days.
That’s right – double murders. One pair was a husband and wife; another was two schoolboy chums. Another was a single-mother and her teenage daughter.
All pairs were the closest of friends while alive. Now they are nothing but inanimate piles of flesh and bone.
As usual, Mulder is conjuring vaguely plausible theories about the perp’s motivations that will probably turn out to be true. Mulder is picturing a man or woman so torn up by grief and left so barren, they want to make the world as desolate as they feel. They want to steal what’s been stolen from them.
Mulder keeps quoting W.H. Auden, and is calling the case “a continuation of a cycle of death.”
Scully often thinks of the whole world as a cycle of death.
But although she allows such thoughts, she doesn’t like to delve into the semantics of this case. She’s doing the autopsies and trying to solve the puzzle, but she isn’t getting too involved.
It’s not that Scully doesn’t want to think about the case. She simply can’t. This is the first case, in her seven years with Mulder, that she literally can’t contemplate.
Right now, it’s five in the morning and Scully’s pulling on her shoes, getting ready to visit another crime scene. Five a.m. is bad for her body clock but good for her sanity. This time she won’t be melting in the brilliant sun, trying to see past hundreds of swarming flies to the corpses’ wounds. Instead, there be cool night air and the scent of desert scrub.
“On a dark desert highway…” Scully sings, tunelessly, “…cool wind in my hair / warm smell of colitas / rising up through the air / up ahead in the distance / I saw a shimmering light…” She smoothes on lipstick and straightens her collar, skipping to the last line of the song. “…you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”
“You ready to go, Scully?”
“Almost,” she calls.
She can hear Mulder through the flimsy door. He’s pacing impatiently, speaking rapid fire into a cel phone.
The door is another door in another ramshackle motel. Symbolising another extended period of dwelling on the fringe, in bug-infested rooms with yellowed sheets and peeling wallpaper.
She thought she’d gotten used to bad accommodations and lousy sleeping hours. But she can’t remember the last time her morale sunk this low. Arcadia maybe, but that was for different reasons. At least in Arcadia she’d slept in a cushy bed. And at least in Arcadia the case hadn’t given her vivid nightmares.
These aren’t just nightmares though. They’re the kind of dreams that could be used to torture people, because they make her ready to admit anything.
She often feels like Mulder has dragged her straight into hell. Once upon a time, she was in a comfortable place, safe and relatively stable. Now every day she’s burning up over something. There are so many different hungers in her now, each one clamouring for attention. So many fears too. So many demons.
So much to suppress, and so much she now has to accept.
But she can’t imagine ever being happy without Mulder.
Or is it that she can’t imagine living without Mulder?
The drive back from the crime scene is silent. She stares out her window at the stars, admiring their simple beauty and their permanence. Nothing will ever mar the stars. They can’t be broken, bloodied or sullied. They’re burning diamonds, floating far off in space. She’ll never reach them.
She’s stuck down here with Mulder. Researching zombies, vampires and ghouls, and surviving the gory, mundane details of Planet Earth.
Tonight, it was two corpses. Facing each other this time.
Scully shuts away images of the murder. Two women in their twenties. Two women with their hearts cut out and their blood drained. Scully focuses on the stars, and starts to pray. But she doesn’t know what she’s praying for.
When they reach the motel, she steps out of the car, still gazing up at the stars. She walks forward a few steps, absorbed in their light, and pretends the dusty parking lot is just an illusion.
Peripherally, she notices that Mulder’s come to stand beside her. “Earth to Scully,” he whispers. He’s close to her, leaning towards her a little.
She sighs and turns to meet his eyes. For once, it is he bringing her back to reality. Not the other way around.
“Mulder, what are you thinking about?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve been unusually quiet tonight.” As she speaks, she feels absurdly like leaning into him and letting him support her weight. She wants to feel his heartbeat against her ear. Standing beside him, in the darkness beneath the sky, is not enough for the here and now.
For a moment she forgets what they’re talking about, but then he speaks.
“I’m being enigmatic, Scully,” he says.
“But I’m the enigma here, Mulder.” Her mouth briefly lifts at the corners, but then she frowns. “Seriously. I want to know if this case is affecting you too much.”
“Scully!” he exclaims, in mock-horror, “Have you ever known me to get too involved in a case?”
Scully wishes she could smile about this, or that he was being serious. “Mulder, don’t get me started.” She sounds unusually weary and upset, like she’s on the verge of hormonal tears. It’s to be expected of course – she’s been having nightmares, suffering from insomnia, eating badly and staying out in the sun too long.
“Scully…?” He’s at a loss. “Scully, maybe you’re the one being affected by this case.”
She meets his eyes, dead on. “Don’t even suggest that I pack up and leave you here.”
“I wasn’t going to,” he says softly, and she’s surprised by his tenderness. “I think we should get through this together. Scully, this is a difficult case for both of us. It would be a difficult case for anyone.”
“Because everyone has a best friend,” she says, then adds, “or had a best friend.” These last words curl in her throat, like a dry leaf. She can hardly get them out of her mouth.
“Yes,” he replies. A simple answer, for once.
Then he does what she’s been wanting him to do. He literally gathers her up in his arms. She feels like a piece of material he’s bunching against himself. When she wraps herself around him, he crumples in return. Soon they are an origami creation of clothes and flesh, standing still and quiet in the parking lot.
“The stars seem unappealing,” she whispers, “in comparison to you, Mulder.”
The song Scully sings briefly is ‘Hotel California’, by the Eagles. According to a flashback in ‘Christmas Carol’, Scully was a teenage Eagles fan.
Also, my mention of W.H. Auden is in reference to his very poignant poem ‘Song IX’ (it begins with the words ‘Stop all the clocks…’)