Mirror'd by Hong Te
by Hong Te
It is happening again.
She can tell from the accelerated breathing and the quick words. The incoherent composition of excitement and apologies he exudes before he even speaks.
She feels her stomach tighten and listens.
To the same old story.
He had found something. An alien life form, buried secrets, DAT tapes. In some foreign place, maybe half a mile away. Maybe a country away. Nevertheless, it's a place where she cannot follow him to.
Again she is kept in the dark, expected to accept his terse, quick explanations and his brisk good byes which he throws like a bone being tossed aimlessly to a dog. Expected to comply with the orders he gives each times he leaves her. There are no please, would you, if it's not too much trouble. Not even a thank you.
That will come later, when he returned. Two hollow last minute words ruined by the failure of their attempts. Often she felt chasing the wind would prove more fruitful than this obstructive game of theirs.
This time, he ask her to cover for him. Tell Skinner nothing about his whereabouts, or if the AD persists, stall him as long as she could. Do the background check on various people and he arranged for her to perform surveillance on the main culprit in this particular case.
She agrees, anger and resentment threatening to burst if she doesn't hang up soon. She intends her good bye to be icy, bitter, a cold finger pointed at him, but he hangs up before she has the pleasure.
It's the click of the cell phone's hood that pacifies the burn in her chest. As always, she will crush down the emotions and do as Mulder has instructed. When he returns, knowing no more than when he left, she will welcome him with open arms and no rebukes.
As any jaded wife or lover that lives among the shadows of their man's life.
And it will happen again.
History always repeats itself.
- - - - -
She can tell by flat, detached way he spoke. Generally, his voice is anticipating, cautious, asking her how it went and what did she learn. When it comes to a new project, he tends to be bored.
He had phone her when she was half way through her paperwork and ordered her to meet him. No please, would you, if it's not too much trouble. But she never longed for them; she knew she was an insignificant part of the project, necessary but easily replaceable.
By instinct, she had left her work as soon as she had hung up and drove over there.
He is smoking when she arrives. He hands her a folder and gives her the instruction, telling them slowly and precisely. Again underestimating her intelligence.
But she doesn't say anything. She never does until he's done.
He continues to instruct but does not tell her what she was doing, why was it necessary to the project, explaining possible consequences. She is expected to accept the orders and not to question them.
Compliance is her best virtue. She does exactly as told without a thought. Being kept in the dark does not bother her. Not knowing what they would do with her when they're finished does not frighten her.
She has no real human emotions or need.
Without a thought, she nods her head and walks out, not feeling the ground beneath her feet. Not wondering how lethal the lies being hidden by folder are. People pass by her, brushing against her shoulder, but she does not feel them and they do not notice her.
She will carry out the deception and then report back to them. Then she will go back UN building and back to her paperwork. Her regular nine to five occupation.
All the while waiting for them to call her for her next assignment.
- - - - - -
They meet in Mulder's apartment.
The blond is there to hand in false information.
The auburn haired has found solace in his living room.
They are surprised to see each other.
Immediately, they sum each other up. The height difference, the styles in clothing, the way they hold out their hands and say their greetings.
The exchange of information is short and professionally done. It is like a script. Both know their lines, and say them correctly without the slightest interest. Their tone of voice and bodily gestures are nearly identical. Coerced.
The meeting is painless, perhaps even pointless; their confrontations usually are, and they both part. The younger one sits on couch and goes back to rereading the events of her stake out. The older one picks up her coat and heads for the door.
But there is something different this time. Both of them feel it. They stop and look at each other. Deep blue eyes against pale blue.
The older breaks the silence. Curiously, she asks why the other woman why cares so much about her partner's work.
The other woman tells her she doesn't. She cares only for her partner.
Her next question sounds almost apologetic.
Does she enjoy her work? This particular aspect of the job?
The response is automatic. An overplayed tape recorder.
It's her life.
Tables are turned and it is the younger one who asks the next questions.
Why was she helping them? Was she working for someone?
No answer but instead another question.
Is Agent Mulder a good partner? Does he appreciate all that she has done?
To the auburn haired's vast surprise, she finds her answering. There is something familiar about the blond. She has seen her blank eyes before.
She tells her she feels invisible half the time.
Understanding flickers in the pale blue eyes.
Now the other woman knows where she saw those eyes. In the mirror. After Mulder ditches her, when she looks at herself over the sink and no longer recognizes the face staring back at her. Those vacant eyes which are no more than clouds of blue.
The blond walks to her and kneels down slowly.
At least... At least she know who she is. But it's more of a question than a statement.
No. Not any more.
The silence is one of expectance. Waiting for more explanation.
Gradually, the younger one speaks. Her words dropping out like stones at first. She has turned into her partner. Confused. Paranoid. Easily deceived. Each day, she watches more of herself die. That old self that was bright, alert, obedient, confident. Everyone she loved and trust was taken away or isolated. She no longer talks openly with friends and family. They no longer understand her and it is more pertinent to believe she never had a childhood.
Now her words are faster, connected. She speaks softly but securely.
Once she was an important part to her partner's work. His equal, his partner, someone to tell everything to do. Now she's a slip of a coverup. She sees less of him every day, and the days she does, he didn't seem to notice her except when he needs comforting and stroking.
She feels like a ghost. The remains of something that was once alive. They know she's there but they don't tell her anything. They make deals about her life behind her back. They keep things from her. They don't listen to her. Her voice, that once spoke of intelligence and authority, now goes unheard. Not long ago, her very presence was enough to hush voices, to turn heads, to rule the room. Now, people ask where she is when she's right there in the corner.
But the real tragedy is, she has lost the will to fight back. She's tired of arguing with Mulder. Tired of demanding Skinner what is happening. Even tired of trying to make herself seen.
It is easier to simply do as she is told. Act as expected, and have no opinion or personalty about it. It makes her less... inconvenient.
A long time ago, she would have told this story with bitterness. Now she speaks in a stoic manner, like she's telling someone else's story.
The other woman listens intently. She understand but doesn't say so. Instead, she tells her how it was like working for them.
How it's like to be nothing more than a pretty face and a great body who's sent out to seduce her way into getting information. Men were so easy. An innocent smile, a quick touch on the arm, a low voice asking what they want. Pictures for the purpose of blackmail will be taken, or she would ruffle through their belongings when they were asleep. Feeling no guilt, no remorse as she did so. Only a deep emptiness like the one she felt when she had sex with them. But did they expect much to come out of it? She was merely an illusion; she wasn't really there. It was like sleeping with a dream; it was right there in your mind, yet in another remote dimension trapped between reality and darkness.
Her life was a like dream. An existence without substance. She has little or no memory about her childhood, her past. She has little or no personality or identity she can call her own. The sole reason they asked her to join them. Because she is so has no personal connections; because she has no morals; because she is easy to train. To program.
She has a photographic memory which served their purpose perfectly. She is given information, expected to memorize them in case someone asks, but never expected to understand. She know and doesn't know what's going on. They tell her when and how, but never why, nor do they carry much regards for her convieniences. At midnight, they phone her and expect her at their office, ready to do business. If she's in the middle of an important meeting, they order her to excuse herself and see them immediately. To them, she was nothing more than a worker.
Or a drone.
Sometimes, she looks at the people she's deceiving in the eye. Trying to see her image in their pupils. But she see only her own eyes. Blank eyes with no reflections in them.
Strange enough, she never feels disappointed. Expectation is an emotion for those who are truly alive.
The room is silent when she's finished speaking. They look at each other in silence for a long time. The ghost staring at the illusion. Something that was once alive gazing into something that never lived.
Nothing looking at nothing.
Again, the younger one breaks the silence. There is no harshness, no exhaustion when she speaks.
Why does she want?
Pale blue eyes blinks in surprise. But the blond knows the answers.
She wants to feel human.
A thin hand reaches out from the couch and tucks some straw coloured strand of hair behind the ear. Slowly, the pale blue eyes closes and the blond leans her head into the hand, the fingers stroking the cheekbones.
The auburn haired feels the face before her. Creamy skin, defined bones, smooth planes. Warm and soft in her hand. This was no illusion. She was indeed living, breathing, flesh and blood.
The blond opens her eyes and reaches out her own hand, stroking fire coloured silk before cupping the cheek in front of her.
They sit there, the cold fingers against warm skin, eyes staring at each other, their breathing perfectly in sync.
Noise move around them, shadows flicker and disappear, dust particles dances in the beam of sunlight that fall through the windows, but they do not notice. Nothing exist except for the silent, unmoving being in front of them.
Finally, Dana breaches the chasm, ever so gently pulling Marita towards her so that their lips meet. There are no smiles, no words, no blushes when they part. Instead, they stand up and look into each other's eyes.
And see their own reflection.
The blond straightens her coat and drifts out of the apartment. On her way to see the smoking man again.
The auburn haired sits on the chair by the window. Keeping vigil until Mulder returns.
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