The thing is -- in the end of course, when everything is boiled down to the bare bones and differences, when you strip away years of denial and mud and hard earned bruises and sporting stripes -- the thing is, that Mulder just wants to believe.
He wants to believe and he does. In complexity, simplicity often tips the scale. Makes the difference. In the breakdown one finds beauty, and in beauty one finds a breakdown. In perfection there are cracks and in disgrace and disfigurement there is genius.
In Mulder there is a brilliant agent, a mastermind, a trench coat and a simple, unending, unshakable, indestructible desire and will to believe.
He wants to believe Samantha is out there and whole. He wants to believe that there is intelligent life above and beyond him. He wants to believe in the unbelievable.
It begins with his sister, it begins with the unanswered and it begins with matching DNA. It ends with his sister, it ends with unanswered questions and it ends with the loss of a matriarch.
For a while.
And in the end. In the end he does what he never does, because hell, his world has been turned upside down and it only makes sense in the way nothing does.
So Agent Fox Mulder finds himself sitting in a bar on the side of the road, sitting beside a guy in a leather jacket, drunkenly singing along to Joe Cocker and can't find, for the life of him, a single thing wrong with that.
His phone has rung several times and he knows without looking that the caller ID will reveal Scully's name in little digital letters but he knows as sure as he knows everything (or nothing) that he can't answer her right now. He has nothing to say.
In his mind instead of wants, he now hears wanted. Past and past and past. There is no Samantha, she is resting and gone and no longer his. She never was, she was always out of reach and maybe, maybe it's guilt that he couldn't save her from everything.
Mulder is composed and dry and full of facts he shouldn't know and always, always pushing when he should yield.
Fox is a mess and drunk and full of nothing but cheap liquor, not knowing the correct lyrics to Unchain My Heart and he's gone enough to laugh at it. It's a dry laugh, but Mulder has the choice to laugh or cry and he can't do the latter in a bar.
Maybe, maybe if he picked up his phone and pressed answer he could sob his heart out and pour out his woes to his partner. Scully being Scully would listen and be there for him and everything would be - exactly where it was.
Complexity, Simplicity. Mulder can't put any of that on her, not now, not here in the end of all things. Some would say the beginning, he has closure and can now go on.
Mulder won't answer that phone and he won't stop slumping down in his stool and he won't cry because to do so would be taking a step to move on.
"I have no intention of moving on," It takes him a long moment to realize he's spoken aloud and by then he doesn't care. The phone in his pocket seems to ring louder in protest and without a slur Mulder continues, to the unusually interested and depressed looking face across from him.
He recognizes the man from earlier, with his brazen "That's not fucking Cocker, you asshole" but at that point he had been knee deep in the analytical aspect of putting your long dead (he won't choke, he won't choke) sister on a pedestal too high to ever reach to retort. Mulder licks his lips and leans forward, not all surprised when Mister Leather Jacket leans too.
"I'm not going to move on. I can't move on. It doesn't feel as though I should, I've invested my entire life into finding Sam--" Mister Leather Jacket jerks as if struck by lightning and his expression matches and Mulder slows but doesn't stop talking "-- only to find. Here at the end. That she's. That she's. You understand?"
Leather Jacket nods slowly, jerkily and as though he wants to bolt or buy another drink or something. He speaks and the lowness of his voice surprises Mulder too. His head is starting to clear, just enough that he knows what's happening here.
"Yeah," Rough, rough and rumbling and how old is Leather Jacket? "Yeah, I understand."
They're scooped together in the back and Mulder sighs, deep and long and full of built up pain, and thinks.
He thinks that not a single drunk in this bar has seen what he's seen, done what he's done, he could bet not one of them has anything more than a shotgun at home under their beds, and certainly not a glock tucked safe and neat in their cars. He's not stupid enough to wear a gun while drinking, especially not -- not when -- Scully made him promise that too. But the fact is, he thinks not one of them carries one around on a usual daily basis. Fires them often either.
Is this the life Sam would have wanted? Is this the life his mother wanted for him? And Ouch. ouch. Mulder barely notices Leather Jacket when he waves another two drinks because the thing, the thing he's been hiding with Samantha for the entire evening comes crashing down on him with a single thought 'mother'.
He shakes his head and Leather Jacket gives him a strange look but, fuck. Is this the life his mother wanted? Is this the life she couldn't... she couldn't handle herself? He wonders what secrets she was keeping. Wonders how she kept them so well. Wonders when the hell he lost his footing so badly that he can't even stand up.
His phone isn't ringing anymore and he suddenly, desperately wishes it would.
Leather Jacket is pushing a beer across the table now, clearly for him and Mulder blinks up at him and says in a voice to match Leather Jacket's own low grumble.
"I wonder if it's even Sam that I'm mourning. It's over. She's gone and I can't do anything about it anymore, I tried. I really tried, but chasing my little green men and things that go bump in the night never really -- I just. She called me right before. My mother. Rang before I --" He cuts himself off, because he's not spilling his life to a stranger in a bar and he licks his lips again.
Leather Jacket is staring at him in a way he can't quite interpret. Like he wants to lean over and shake him, like he understands, like he's there. Mulder holds out his hand and says "Mulder."
Leather Jacket lifts his own, takes Mulder's and shakes it, firm and strong the way it should be and murmurs "Dean" as though he's not used to saying it. Mulder nods and lets go of his hand, slides back against his seat and doesn't drink anymore.
Leather Jac- Dean stands suddenly, adjusts his jacket and Mulder thinks for one brief second that the jacket looks too old for him, it's taken him a while to place it but it looks as though it doesn't quite belong to him yet. The next second he's being hauled to his feet, looking down into glassy green eyes and wondering if he's in the right place.
"My brother --" Dean is starting and Mulder is attentive. Dean is quiet, mutters and swears and drinks and has secrets Mulder has been ignoring so that he can feel better about drunkenly baring a soul that's newly born. Now he's listening. Now he needs to listen because it takes his mind of the fact that his mother killed herself and Samantha is dead.
"My brother, Sam."
Mulder blinks hard and everything suddenly shifts into clear, sharp focus. Dean doesn't need to say anything else, not a single thing because Mulder gets paid to read people like him, gets paid to read situations and emotions and he knows.
"Mother?" Mulder says, succinct and to the point because Dean is clenching his jaw tight and Mulder knows a breaking point when he sees it, he's there.
"Dead. Father. Dad is, Dad was. Forget it"
Mulder nods and doesn't push.
He thinks about his sister, the last clear image of her face he can remember. He thinks about his mother and how she tried to reach out to him, how she hid things. How she's gone and he doesn't have an elaborate excuse to hide behind anymore. He feels as though he has been snapped in half and not glued together right and he's standing in a murky bar with a boy who looks the same.
He wonders if there is something deeper in the fact Dean only has his last name and he only has Dean's first.
Mulder puts a hand on Dean's shoulder and steers him towards the door and the second they both step outside a gush of reality hits them hard in the face, pushing away the vestiges of drunkenness. Mulder knows he's still too drunk, but he feels aware in a way he hadn't been. Aware enough to turn to Dean, to push him against the brick wall and growl.
"What happened to your brother?"
Dean looks too young and too old all at once and if Mulder were a different man he'd want to cradle him and trace the line of his jaw, to close those eyes before they saw anymore, to keep him above the water. Mulder isn't a different man and so he's silent, waiting.
"He left. Went to Stan-- he's just gone. Left me and Dad and we're all we have. I tried to make him stay, see that we needed him but fuck, how can you keep someone from life, how can you keep someone from having what they want just because you can't live without them?"
Mulder understands but is still quiet, thinking, turning it over in his head because Mulder once wanted to believe in a lot of things but a constant, a constant he can't ever replace is in people and need. He nods. Once. It's all Dean needs, he's already looking as though he wants to punch Mulder and run, act as though he hadn't said what he's said but then he surprises Mulder by throwing another question into the wind.
"You said, Sam?"
"Sister. She's --"
Beautiful. Abducted by aliens. Experimented on by humans. All I have left. Was never mine.
Dean snaps fairly in half and before Mulder can figure out which way to swim he's tasting whiskey and betrayal. Dean kisses like he has everything and nothing to lose, like he isn't thinking about it at all, like he might be thinking about it too much.
Mulder gets an arm around his shoulders, blunt nails scraping against the jacket he's been thinking about since he got into the bar, licks into his mouth and swallows the wet sounds Dean makes when he shoves him back hard into brick.
Dean has two handfuls of Mulder's trench coat, slides one up to his jaw, into his hair and clenches, desperation and companionship and Mulder only pulls his mouth away to suck red marks against his throat. Dean groans low and deep and Mulder lets his teeth sink faintly into skin, rough and wanting.
He hasn't paused yet to think, he's too afraid that when he does, that when he does --
Dean drags his face back up to his and kisses him, deep scorching and searching and Mulder wants to know why he finds himself pressing his palm hot and urgent up against this virtual stranger from a bar but doesn't question why the sound of harsh breathing in his ears makes his heart stutter in his chest.
Things move even faster after that and Mulder is panting by the time he has Dean in hand, jerks him off with quick, even strokes and loops an arm around Dean's waist to hold him up as he comes, half sobbing and biting down whatever name he wants to say but can't.
When Dean's got his bearings Mulder pushes both of his arms up above his head, keeping him from returning the favour and kissing him, slower this time, languid, comfort without simply giving, taking his own. He's starting to think about the ramifications of this now, and he can't do it with Dean standing there, looking broken and half put back together. He kisses harder, presses his teeth against a swollen bottom lip, and drags softer kisses along a jaw.
"Dean," Mulder says, voice rougher, hoarse "Get up. You can get up. You're not leaving him behind if you move on." He wants to say more but his heart as stopped all together, his chest constricting and crushing and the look in Dean's green eyes is too much to stand.
He drops his arms, turns around and walks away, coat billowing behind him and doesn't look back.
-- that when he does, he'll be stuck in the beginning. In a place where truth and fact are less important than the realities that a person can make. Where a man can lie to another with the same truth he himself needs to hear. The words don't sink into his head, they don't stay and they don't help.
He walks away and sobers up and there isn't anything else, just the knowledge that Dean and his leather jacket get up and drive out of that parking lot and keep moving.