Scully’s day commenced with the notion of at least half a century of living still ahead. All her life ambitions yet to be marked off on the scroll floating around her sea of dreams. How was she to know that before the moon found its way to the pinnacle of the night’s sky it would all rapidly dematerialize and her life would be reduced to one harrowing truth - everyone dies alone.
The case was innocent enough, a decapitated corpse, dumpster diving for body parts with Mulder, an iodine filled bathtub Norman Bates would be proud of, and a man with regenerative powers that was the envy of all the starfish in town. Even Chuck got to play with the splice of life, taking some aura photography to analyze the head’s coronal discharge.
Mulder had been polite and protective of her while on this case, guarding her like his heart already knew what either of their minds were yet to contrive.
It was all fun and games until time came to a screeching halt with one sentence from Mr. Leonard Betts. “I’m sorry, but you’ve got something I need.”
Scully’s body stiffened in shock, her eyes wide with disbelief, her veins flooding with terror. The horror of truth sent her nerves to pins and needles. Luckily her body reacted without the aid of her mind as Leonard Betts attempted to plunge the scalpel between her eyes. With two quick punches and another two kicks she sent him to his knees. She had taken a good blow, and he came towards her once more, but she shocked him with the defib and ended the scuffle. Now she had the time to think, her brain couldn’t do much else.
“I’ll wait in the car.” Scully told Mulder sheepishly and glanced up at him before returning her stare to the black tar of the street. The dark of the night cloaking her inner turmoil from the watchful eyes of her partner.
She allowed Mulder to believe her reactions were from the altercation, but the truth was she didn’t want to talk. This wasn’t a conversation, this was her life. So she waited in the car for his return. With a twist of the wrist she glanced at her watch. The hours were only minutes as the car’s stale air encased her in a coffin squeezing at her existence. She grabbed the door handle and the door creaked open awaiting Mulder’s return. She didn’t want him to leave her and yet she needed to be alone. Their friendship so close yet tonight she made herself a stranger. Perhaps a stranger to herself. Right now she felt cold, inside her bones, her blood. For a moment she imagined Mulder’s strong arms wrapped around her, healing her, warming her, making everything around them liquify. No words, just his arms taking away the possibilities. Her insides hollowed. It was wrong to do that to him. Being the only dominant male figure in her life, her brothers both distant, it was wrong to put that cross on his shoulders. It wasn’t about staying professional, she didn’t question that, it was about burdening their friendship. When he returned he stated the hard facts including Leonard Bett’s mother’s diagnosis.
“Cancer” Scully leaked out in a whisper.
“Yeah” Mulder confirmed still misinterpreting her body language and fears.
“You did a good job Scully. You should be proud,” Mulder reassured her and it only added to her feelings of isolation.
“I want to go home” she replied back. He solemnly nodded an understanding and got in, starting up the car. The seatbelt clicked into place as she stretched it across her. Ironic as it no longer provided safety from that which could take her life. Mulder dropped her off at her apartment and she remained polite mustering a wave. The last thing she wanted was for him to have suspicions.
Finally inside her sanctuary, she quickly got ready for bed convincing herself that there was no proof that she was ill in anyway and cocooned herself inside blankets and sheets, but sleep would not come. Tossing and turning, the time turned 2:08 in the A.M. with a fit of coughs to follow. Two crimson buttons sat buoyantly atop the backdrop of her crisp milky white linen pillowcase. Her finger dipped into one of the pools as she felt a nightmare leak from her nose confirming her fear. Blood.
She had been looking forward to tonight for two weeks. Brushing a comb through her strawberry locks, Scully could already hear the beat of the music, see the colored lights flickering from a strobe. Her clock radio was booming some heavy dance music through its tiny speakers putting her in the mood for fun. Tonight the whole gang would be there. Friends she hadn’t seen in a few years now and she planned on cutting loose. She wouldn’t be counting drinks or thinking about anything remotely work related. In a half-walk/half-dance she trotted from the bathroom covered in her robe ready to decide on her attire for the evening. She heard the distant ringing of her phone over the music and turned it down to answer. “Scully.”
“Scully, it’s me. Mulder. I’m going to need your help.”
And just like that her night changed. Another day she would miss out on the life she had yet to lead. The one she lied to herself and said she would make time for right after this one last case, but the last case never presented itself. Work was all she had and that thought filled her with panic. The days had begun to dissolve into themselves, traveling on perpetual roads, in motels where other people’s memories dwelled, flying into storms of dissociative fugue. As each season dissipated so did her identity, diluted by Mulder’s compulsions that were rapidly amassing, giving into an abyss of paperwork and branching into infinite paths of dissection and analysis. Her fingertips were scraping against the edges of reality and reverie.
The years had flown and her mid-thirties were hastily approaching. If she desired to have children, a family, a husband, some semblance of life, it was healthiest to start now. She already knew of the consequences of waiting until after thirty five. To Mulder, none of that life held any weight. His life was to investigate and expose. Nothing beyond the surface and he was content at that. She had not abandoned the hope of something more as he had. He was smothering her, extinguishing her time, aging her without prospect of creating a history, a legacy for herself, out of her own singularity. She was a bomb about to pop.
Scully fought herself and against her own better judgement cancelled her plans and booked her flight.
“Mulder, it’s Saturday and we’re in Nebraska. Can I at least know what was so urgent that you had to get me out of bed and onto a red eye?”
Mulder played the imaginary keys on the steering wheel and breathed his frustrations out of his nose. He looked over at his partner, her expression wasn’t exactly contempt, but she wasn’t dancing any jigs either.
“Where would be a better place to learn about corn pollination and corn seed germination?”
“But why on a Saturday and why so early in the morning?”
Mulder breathed out another hard sigh. She appeared to be losing interest in their plight. “There are less eyes on the weekends and this was the earliest the horticulturist agreed to meet up. Nebraska can’t be all bad. It was the birthplace of Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, and the famous geneticist George Beadle. Nebraska claims the invention of the Reuben sandwich, McRib, and frozen TV dinners.”
“Ah. Let’s not forget Arbor day. You’re right Mulder, I mean the state drink is Kool-Aid, which I believe you’ve been drinking plenty of lately.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Look, if you wanted to stay home, you didn’t have to come. I could have done this on my own.”
“Thank you for permission.”
Why was she being such a… a.. “Scully what’s wrong?”
“Nothing… I’m fine Mulder…. Just haven’t had a lot of sleep lately. I’m sorry. When we’re done we can hit the air and space museum if you like.”
“Really? What about Carhenge?”
“Yeah. You know, the replication of Stonehenge in England only with cars..” He nodded his head excitedly.
“Sure. Why not?”
Mulder gave her a thumbs up from the steering wheel and concentrated on the empty two lane road ahead unsure of the growing distance between them. It was like she had encased a piece of her heart in an impenetrable wall. What was she hiding? What was she burying so deep inside herself ?
“What if I give half of my vacation days to Scully?” Mulder was fuming. It was a trap to get him away from the x-files because he was closing in on the truth.
“No. It doesn’t work like that” Skinner returned losing patience.
“Who’s going to run the x-files while I’m away?”
“Agent Scully should have no issues carrying the workload.”
“You mean I can’t take her with me?” Not only were they forcing him to leave the office, but they were attempting to keep him away from Scully as well. Mulder mused that it was lucky there was a desk between him and Skinner today or he might be sent to HR over more than just vacation days.
“No. Mulder, go take some time. Think about something else. Try for some introspection. Meet someone. Having a new perspective could have a positive effect on your worklife making you more productive.”
Mulder was quickly becoming enraged. “So, you’re saying that in order to be better at my job I need to get laid?”
“It couldn’t hurt.”
“Great… I’ll get right on that.” Mulder replied sarcastically and stormed out of Skinner’s office. Sulking into the elevator he punched the button to the basement floor. At least Scully would be around to keep an eye on things.