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The Fox Mulder Phonetic Alphabet

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She brings her lunch from home most days. Well-balanced, just as he’d expect— portions of protein, fruit, and grains—while he grazes a bit less elegantly on a plethora of offerings from the upstairs vending machine.  

She packs an apple once, eats it right in front of him.  Red and juicy, but not nearly as red and juicy as her lips, or at least the way he’s imagined her lips to be after nearly seven years of imagining such things.  He wonders whether, if he ever works up the nerve to kiss her, he’ll taste her on his mouth afterwards, the way you taste an apple—tart and sweet and lingering there.  

He realizes he’s staring, goes quickly back to his bag of Funyuns (Onions, Scully! They’re vegetables!). Later, when she throws her apple core in the trash, he feels a sudden urge to retrieve it, as a reminder of things he wants but probably doesn’t deserve to have.

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She beats him at basketball one day. Unbelievably. Finds him in the gym one evening after an endless day of seminars. She knows how to find him the way a dog finds its bone—even when he’s buried, even when he’s mangled and chewed-upon and disgusting.  On this day though, he’s none of those things; instead he’s just plain bored.

In her black suit and heels, she stands out like a sharp smear of ink, poignantly distinct amidst the wooden floors and the bleachers. He doesn’t expect a response to his hey Scullz, wanna go one-on-one?, but she lifts her eyebrow in challenge and slips off her blazer.  The tank top hidden beneath is tight and it’s blue (and made of a soft, shiny material his fingers ache to touch).  

He could say he lets her win, but honestly, imagining that mystery material sandwiched between his palm and her skin leaves him much too distracted to pay attention to the game.

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He’ll forever associate candle-light with her pale and trembling back.  With a maroon satin robe and hair that curls up sweetly in the rain (she’d never allow that now). 

Before that night, the only candles he owned were a melted-down cluster from some birthday or another, remnants of a relationship he’d rather forget. He owns an assortment now though, scented and not, but all at the ready should the opportunity arise.  His greatest want is to see the rest of her body lit by that warm, amber glow, to trail his fingertips across more than just her back, to chase the soft shadows around her curves as her breath hitches with desire.

He and the candles are prepared; they’ve been prepared for seven years now. She and her curves and her shadows? He thinks they’re getting there. He hopes anyway.

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Her first name is a secretive, foreign thing to him these days.  Scully is Scully—strong, competent, loyal.  But Dana is an enigma.  He catches glimpses of Dana sometimes—a woman, a girl—and he wonders whether she’s fighting to break free.  It saddens him to think he may have stolen that girlish part away from her, filed her inside a metal cabinet down in a basement office like everything else that crosses his path.  

Sometimes he whispers it and it gives him a small thrill, like there’s a hidden part of her he has yet to know.  He imagines saying it intimately, with his mouth pressed to her ear, but can’t decide whether it feels terribly wrong or perfectly, undeniably right. He only know that his lips are ready, should he ever earn the chance to try.

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He almost buys her earrings once. Foolish, really.  But while waiting for a watch battery to be replaced, he can’t help but browse.  The sapphires would match her eyes so stunningly.  Has he ever seen her in anything but small diamond studs or pearls?  Anything but a business suit or hotel room pajamas? He wonders whether she likes dressing up, whether she stands before her mirror and admires herself, deciding between this evening gown or that one, holding earrings up next to her cheek.  

He stands at the counter and looks at the earrings for ten minutes, picturing the delicate arc of her neck and the auburn of her hair and those earrings sparkling between.  He’d be lying if he doesn’t also admit to imagining his tongue tracing around them and his teeth scraping against them and the moan he’s sure would slip from her throat while he plays. 

A pushy saleswoman interrupts his thoughts, asks “For your wife?  Girlfriend?”

He shakes his head, “Neither.”

He leaves with a hard-on and a working watch, but the earrings stay behind for someone with a little more courage.

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They use the term friends sometimes.  Usually it’s partners, occasionally colleagues, coworkers, but really, none of those words does their relationship the slightest bit of justice.  He couldn’t define it to a stranger (should one ask) if he tried.  Hell, he can’t even define it to himself.

How do you define someone so ingrained in your bones, you taste marrow at the back of your throat each time she walks away?  Webster would be hard-pressed to condense that into a single word, he’s sure. Even best friend feels trite and inadequate where Scully’s concerned. She’s not just a friend, not just a partner, not just a lover (even in his most daring of fantasies)—she’s not just anything. 

She’s Scully, and she’s everything.  

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He used to play a game with Samantha.  Spin the Globe it was called.  They played it when their parents were fighting, when they wanted nothing more than to be far, far away.  He tells Scully about it once, when he can tell she can’t get out of her head.  Luckily, amidst the files and slides and mess of the office, he happens to have a globe.

“Spin it, Scully.  Close your eyes and point, and I’ll take you on an adventure wherever your finger lands.”

She rolls her eyes, but plays along, extending her French-tipped fingernail to land upon the spinning globe.  Antarctica. 

“Spin again,” he murmurs quickly, “That one didn’t count,” but she stops him with a hand curled around his like a comma.

“You found me, Mulder.  That was more extraordinary than any adventure.” 

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Once on a stakeout, he holds her hand. 

Hours in a darkened car breed strange and wonderful things sometimes—discussions and games that only boredom can inspire.  He tells her he can read palms (he’s lying, of course, but at least it’s something to do), and she scoffs, but then surprisingly offers her hand.  It’s really too dark to see, but he tickles her palm and bullshits his way through, blathering about wealth and fate until her giggle makes his heart stand still.

“According to your palm…,” he says softly, “…true love awaits…as soon as you’re ready.”

She’s silent at first, and he worries he’s ruined things— ruined seven years’ worth of things in the span of a minute. 

But then, in a quiet voice he’s never heard before, she responds, “I’ll be ready… soon.” 

He holds her hand until their shift is over.

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Her favorite ice cream flavor is Mint Chocolate Chip.  He knows this (even though she doesn’t know he knows this), and once, during a rough case, he brings her some. He sneaks from his room after dinner, stops at three different gas stations before finding his prize. Sylvia’s Sundries and Smokes perhaps wouldn’t have been his first choice of establishments, but beggars can’t be choosers where ice cream’s concerned.

Surprise in hand, he knocks on Scully’s door and, with flourish, whips two plastic spoons from his pocket.  The nice thing about it?  She doesn’t even pretend not to want it.  She smiles a shy little smile and invites him in.  They climb up onto her bed where they scoop big whopping spoonfuls right out of the tub.  She’s full after only a few bites but sits with him while he finishes, lays her head on his shoulder. They watch the Late Late Show until it’s late late late, until it isn’t even the same day anymore.

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Her suit jackets (he supposes they’re probably technically called blazers) have shrunk over the years.  Dana Scully of the plaid and boxy, of the oversized shoulder-pads, is now Dana Scully of the sleek and fitted, of the black and stylish and sexy.   He finds himself tugging his collar from his overheated neck sometimes. More than sometimes.

He wonders when things changed, because he can’t quite place a pin on it, when she went from a woman he loves to a woman he lusts after as well. Or maybe it’s unclear because he’s always done a little of both where Scully’s concerned. 

She left a jacket (blazer, whatever) at his apartment last year and he keeps forgetting to tell her he found it.  It hangs now in his closet next to pairs of pressed dress slacks.  He catches a glimpse of it sometimes, stands there wondering how soon ‘soon’ will come.

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Back in the 60s, the 70s, when the turn of the millennium seemed ridiculously far away, Fox Mulder fantasized about the future. His comic books predicted: In the year 2000, there will be flying cars, teleportation devices, vacations on the moon and Mars..

He imagined the party awaiting him on New Year’s Eve, complete with robot wait staff and space-age hors d’oeuvres.  Never would he have guessed he’d actually spend the evening in a hospital corridor, arm in a sling, nary a party nor robot in sight.

They were wrong about more than just the robots though, dead wrong, because not a single one of those comic books predicted this:  In the year 2000, there will be Dana Scully and her flame-red hair, Dana Scully and her skeptical sighs, Dana Scully and the world not ending while she presses her lips to his for the very first time. 

To think that at one time he wanted robots and jetpacks.  It’s laughable really, to have ever wanted anything on this earth (or on the moon, or on Mars) but Dana Katherine Scully.

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He arrives earlier than usual one morning, finds Scully’s open notebook lying flat on the desk. The beginnings of a list, he’s sure.  Scully loves lists. Books to Read, Articles to Write, Times Mulder Has Driven Me Crazy… He hasn’t physically seen that last one, but he’s sure it exists, somewhere in her purse or briefcase, or maybe just hidden away in her head.  

A quick glance confirms his suspicions. Personal Goals.  

He’s taken aback; he’d expected something trivial. Pros and Cons of Sunflower Seeds perhaps, but this…

He stalls, waits a minute, maybe two, but in the end is much too intrigued not to peek.  

1. Call Mom more often

2. Reach out to Bill

3. Volunteer at the church 

They’re all so wonderfully Scully.  He’s not sure what else he expected. Curiosity satisfied, he’s about to turn away when:  

15. Stop being afraid of my feelings

and below that: 

16. Mulder  

He stands stunned. He’s joked about appearing on Scully’s lists, but never like this, never as #16, never as a personal goal.  

He makes a list himself that night, condenses every one of his own goals down into just six letters.

1. Scully

2. Scully

3. Scully…

372. Scully…

1049. Scully…

He types her name until dawn has broken, until the printed ‘S’ has all but disappeared off his keyboard.

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Maybe tomorrow’s the day.  He’ll toss her an innuendo, and instead of just catching it, she’ll throw one back herself.

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, isn’t that how the song goes?  Good things happen in the darkness, too, though—cemetery downpours, X-marked stretches of highway where her hair grows wavy from the rain. He and Scully manage just fine with no sun at all; they thrive in the darkness, no matter what the song says.

He packs up his things on a Friday afternoon, grabs his coat and offers his usual weekend farewell. But instead of Have a nice weekend, Mulder, she stops him, hand to his forearm, “It’s supposed to be beautiful tomorrow… Do you wanna… Maybe…”

Her cheeks are pink as she ducks her chin to her chest, and it’s the prettiest thing he’s ever seen.

“Yeah,” he interrupts quickly, “Yeah, I do.”   He’s a bit too enthusiastic probably, but maybe tomorrows don’t actually happen that often for him on Friday afternoons.  

She smiles, cheeks still flushed, “Okay, then. Tomorrow…”  

On his way out the door he finds himself humming. Maybe the forecast for tomorrow is sunny after all, and not just because a little orphan girl told him so.

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He’s scared of the word no, its finality. No, Mulder, it would never work. No, Mulder, we’re better as friends. No, Mulder, I don’t love… The word no could mean the end of everything. Of all he’s seen, how absurd that two small letters could paralyze him like that. 

He walks through Violent Crimes once, overhears Scully talking to another agent from across the room.  Rick Channing could be a television news anchor—hair coiffed and teeth so white they sparkle.

Mulder rolls his eyes.  Scully doesn’t roll her eyes though; instead, she smiles as they talk. She giggles.  Bile rises in his throat.

No, Mulder, I’ve fallen for someone else

He should leave, but Channing’s next words stop him cold. “How about drinks, Dana? Maybe dinner?”  

She blushes, flustered, before scanning the room, eyes finding Mulder’s despite the way he hides halfway behind a partition.

“Thank you, Rick, but no. I’m already…”  She smiles gently at him—him Mulder, not him Rick— “No,” she says again, then excuses herself down the hall.  

He stands there, rooted in place, decides no is the most beautiful word he’s ever heard.

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His birthstone is opal.  Not that he’d ever have cared, but one Christmas, he and Samantha received birthstone gifts—a topaz necklace for Sam and an opal-inlaid pocketknife for him. He still has that pocketknife, has rubbed his thumb across the smooth, cool handle countless times over the years.

Scully’s skin reminds him of that handle—the soft blue of her veins beneath translucent pink skin. She glows. He knows she’d scoff if he told her that, tell him human beings can’t glow, don’t be ridiculous. But she does—she glows just like an opal.

The pearly finish of his pocketknife is worn-down and soft by now, but her skin, he knows, is infinitely softer.  Her hand, her cheek—the safe parts of her body he’s been allowed to touch—they don’t even compare to the decades-old trinket.  He can’t imagine how much softer the more dangerous parts of her body must be.  The thought keeps him up at night, much more consistently than his nightmares do.

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Scully goes on kicks sometimes—bee pollen, yogurt, one month she sprinkled wheat germ into everything she got her hands on, his coffee included.

Fresh fruit is her latest. Oranges, nectarines, plums, oh, plums. There’s no neat way to eat a plum, though she tries, napkin laid out beneath her at the desk. The juice though. Drippy and sticky on her chin—his eyes try their best not to ogle, but usually fail.  

She walks around sometimes, cupping a hand to catch the drips, and once, as she reaches across his body for a book, a drop splashes directly onto his forearm.

“Sorry!” she exclaims, quickly swiping at his skin with her thumb.  How that same thumb winds up being sucked between his lips is a mystery, though probably has something to do with the way he acts sometimes before thinking. His tongue traces the sweetened ridges of her thumbprint as she chokes out a gasp, half-eaten plum forgotten.  

“No takebacks, Scully,” he mumbles as a joke, trying to laugh it off as he comes to his senses and releases her. Her cheeks stay pink for a good twenty minutes after that, and parts of him stay hard for an even better twenty beyond that.