Title: My Motherís Words
Classification: Post-ep, S,A, some humor
Spoilers: Major ones for "Arcadia", "Two Fathers/One Son" and "The Unnatural", tiny ones for "Christmas Carol/Emily" and "War of the Coprophages".
Summary: Set during "Arcadia", Scully ponders the events of the recent (and not so recent) past.
Disclaimer: Donít own Ďem, just playing. However, if Chris Carter, 1013, or Fox would like to pay me for writing, I would be more than willing to take their money.
Feedback: Positive feedback can be sent to me (Annie) at AnnieW177@aol.com.
"Admit it.......you just want to play house."
His words cut me to the quick. How dare he insinuate that I wasnít taking this case seriously? That I was looking at our Ďcoverí as a way to play house?
Problem is...........he was right.
The house was beautiful, three stories of immaculate white carpet and walls and shiny hardwood floors, expensive furniture waiting to be set up in any way I wanted. To someone who moved every four years for most of her life, a house was never a home. But this big, beautiful house was my opportunity to create the home I had always wanted-a veritable Dana Dream House.
Not that I would ever admit as much to Mulder. He would laugh and make some crack about getting all Ďgirlieí on him. This from the man who screamed upon his first sight of a praying mantis. Dana Scully, girlie? I think not.
The doorbell rang before I could reply. "Woman, get back in here and make me a sandwich!" he said as I moved toward the door. Fighting back a smile, I took off my latex gloves and threw them at him, hitting him square in the nose.
"The thrill is gone."
If he only knew.
As I lay in bed, I realize: being in such close proximity with him is driving me crazy. Being mad at him is difficult enough without him being all touchy-feely like he has been. Thereís a part of me that actually enjoys physical attention from him, but that part is currently being overruled by the rest of me, which is positively fuming at him.
He betrayed me. He put his.......whatever......for Diana above his trust in me. He broke his own cardinal rule: trust no one. He should really amend that: trust no one but Scully, and even then, trust her only when it suits my purposes. Thatís really how he feels. He trusts me when itís convenient. When he needs someone to cover him, he trusts me. He trusts me with the story of his sisterís abduction, his horrible childhood, his past with Phoebe. But if I so much as question Diana Fowley........the words Ďtrustí and ĎScullyí no longer exist in the same universe. I know I sound bitter........maybe I am.
However, he is making it damn hard to stay mad at him. Thatís one thing about Mulder; he can make me so mad, angry to the point that I am seeing red, and yet he always manages to make me feel bad that I am mad at him.
Take this afternoon, for example. Weíre sitting in Gogolakís living room, and he had his arm around me. For a brief moment, I forgot that I am supposed to be mad at him and enjoyed the feel of his arm around me. The heat from his hand radiated through the sleeve of my sweater. It was comforting, familiar. I even held his hand. And then that tiny voice in the back of my mind reminded me that I am supposed to be mad at him so why am I holding his hand? And enjoying it? So I moved my hand, immediately missing itís warmth, and wondered if being mad at him is really worth it. Without hesitation, my mind screamed "YES!"
I turned over in the big bed, hoping that sleep would come quickly, wishing that I werenít alone.
The drive to San Diego is long and beautiful, and finally I have some time alone. I listen to the radio stations I want, instead of the horrible heavy metal Mulder likes. I promise myself that today is a day for me, a day to adjust and steel myself against the man-child that awaits me at Ďhomeí, to regain my equilibrium and my clinical detachment so that I can deal with Mulder on a purely intellectual basis. As a part of this decision to regain my clinical detachment, I have decided to test myself-I am having dinner with Bill tonight.
I drop off the samples at the police department, and they tell me to come back at three. I look at my watch and see that itís just after ten-thirty. I have a whole Mulder-free day to myself.
I spend a good part of the day just walking around town, ducking into small shops and boutiques. A shop catches my eye; Mulder would call it a head shop. Intrigued, I step inside and stifle a laugh-this shop screams Mulder. Pictures of little green men abound, as do books of Elvis sightings and Star Trek memorabilia. I pick up a book entitled ĎHow To Become an Abducteeí and laugh as I read the flaps. Mulder would appreciate a book like this. I proceed to the cash register when that little voice pops up again.
<But Dana, youíre mad at him.>
Sighing, I stop, turn around, and put the book back where I found it. I walk out of the shop without even looking back. No more Mulder today, I vow. Not even a little.
At 5pm, I pull up in front of Bill and Taraís small, cookie-cutter base house. I have lived in houses just like this one in port cities all around the world, and I am infinitely thankful that I have that beautiful house to return to tonight.
I knock on the door, and Tara answers with a huge smile. "Dana! Itís so good to see you," she says, enveloping me in a warm hug.
"Itís good to see you, too," I say, returning the hug. "Something smells good."
Tara ushers me inside and sits me down on the sofa. "How have you been? Youíre in town on a case?"
I nod. "Yep. Murder investigation. Pretty routine." There was no way I was going to tell her what was really going on. Sheíd tell Bill that Mulder and I were Ďplaying houseí and all hell would break loose. As mad as I am at Mulder, I donít want Bill to break his neck-I want that privilege all for myself.
Matthew begins to cry, and Tara runs upstairs to get him. I look around the room, noticing the pictures on the fireplace mantle. One of Bill, Tara, and Matthew, taken at Christmas. One of Mom and Dad, one of Taraís parents, one of us four Scully kids taken at Charlieís first Christmas. I stop myself from thinking of Christmases past, knowing that my memory will take the inevitable turn to Emily. I was so caught up in the photos that I hadnít even heard Bill open the door.
"Earth to Dana," he said, poking me in the side like he did when we were kids.
Involuntarily, I laugh. "Ow! Stop."
He swoops me up into a bear hug. "Itís good to see you again. Howís Mom?"
"Pretty good," I reply. "I know sheíd like to see her grandson more often." I give him the look, and he smiles.
"Did she tell you to give me the guilt trip?"
"You know it."
Tara comes into the room with Matthew in her arms. Heís gotten so big, even in the two months it has been since I have seen him. "Na-Na," he says, reaching his arms out to me.
"Hey there, big guy," I say, taking him from Tara. His arms are like a vice around my neck, and he places sloppy wet baby kisses on my face. I feel a slight pang of sorrow and jealousy: no matter how much I love my nephew, he will always be a reminder of the little girl I never got to know. I place a kiss on his forehead and give him to his father, looking away before Bill can see the tears in my eyes.
"I was surprised to hear from you," Bill said to me, spooning mashed potatoes onto his plate. "You never call when you are here on a case."
"I had some free time today," I reply. "I had to bring some evidence down to the local P.D., and I thought it would be good to see you." I take the bowl of potatoes from him, and thatís when he notices it: the diamond ring on my left hand. I pray that he wonít say anything, but I know my brother a little too well to believe he would leave it alone. Sure enough, he canít keep his mouth shut.
"Whatís this?" he asks with a smile, taking the bowl from me and taking my hand in his. After a moment of careful scrutiny, he says, "Is there something you would like to tell us? Is this the reason youíre here?"
I took my hand back. "No."
I could practically see the wheels in his head turning. His face clouded over as quickly as a summer storm, and his eyes turned accusing. "Is it him, Dana?"
Taraís voice was sharp. "Bill! Itís Danaís business, and if she wants to tell us, she will."
Billís cold gaze never left mine. "Please tell me that this is not what I think it is."
"Itís not what you think it is." My voice was even, but anger boiled just beneath the surface.
"Then what is it?"
"Bill!" Tara reprimanded him. "Leave her alone."
I sighed. <Clinical detachment, Dana> I reminded myself. <Stay calm.> Taking a deep breath, I said, "Mulder and I are here undercover as a married couple to investigate some strange murders. Weíre living up at the Falls at Arcadia."
"So you arenít really........with him? Itís for a case?" Bill was somewhere between anger and relief.
"Yes," I replied calmly.
"Thank God," he said. "For a moment there, I was afraid youíd gone and fallen for that sorry son of a bitch."
And with that, my clinical detachment went right out the window.
"Why do you hate him so much?" I ask angrily. "What has Mulder done to you to evoke this kind of hatred?"
Tara scooped Matthew up, and after shooting Bill a threatening look, took him upstairs.
"What has he done?" Bill was practically shouting. "Where would you like me to start, Dana? Missyís murder? Your abduction? Your cancer?"
"None of those were his fault!" My fists are clenched, and my nails bite into the palms of my hands. But I am determined to remain calm.
"How can you say that?" he replies. "Because of your association with him, our sister was murdered-"
"It was meant for me!" I interrupt him, my calm veneer threatening to shatter like fine Venetian glass. "The bullet that Missy took was meant for me. And donít think that not a day goes by that I donít think about that. But that isnít Mulderís fault. I had something that someone wanted badly enough to kill for. Missy was in the wrong place at the wrong time. " I am fighting back tears now, tears of anger and frustration. "Nothing that has happened to me-to us as a family-is Mulderís fault. I choose to stay at my job. Mulder-he tells me, begs me at times to leave and get a Ďnormalí job. But this search.......itís not just his, itís mine too. I want the answers, Bill........I want to know why they shot Missy, why they gave me cancer. But if I leave, I will never know."
Bill laughs humorlessly. "He has you so brainwashed, Dana. You canít even see it. He has you believing all this mumbo-jumbo about conspiracies and cover-ups. He has you wrapped around his little finger.........he says ĎJump!í and you ask, ĎHow high?í Youíre like a lovesick teenager, following him around on every wild goose chase."
"Itís my job," I reply. "I donít do it because I am Ďlovesickí, I do it because it is my job."
He shakes his head, disbelieving. "He has caused us so much pain, and yet you continue to defend him........and you ask me to believe that there is nothing more than just a work-related partnership there?" His blue eyes are accusing. "When will you admit it to yourself? That this Ďpartnershipí has less to do with work and more to do with your sick need for his approval?"
My hand stings as it makes contact with his face, and the sound is like a shot. I stand up, and with as much calm as I can muster, I say, "If thatís what you want to believe, you go right ahead. But until you are willing to look past your own hatred and anger and grow up..........donít call me."
Tara stopped me before I could make it to the minivan Mulder and I had rented. "Dana, he didnít mean it. Heís just worried about you. Please," she implored me, "donít hold it against him. He loves you. He wants whatís best for you."
I sigh and hug her. "I know, Tara. But he has to accept that this is my job, that Mulder is my partner, and I choose to stay. And until he does.......I donít know if things between Bill and I can be fixed."
Itís 6:30 and I am hungry and upset. I have been driving around San Diego for half an hour in a futile attempt to calm down. Iím mad at Bill for doing this to me, and even more mad at myself for allowing it to upset me this much. So much for my clinical detachment.
I finally stop at a small Italian restaurant, hoping that a big bowl of pasta and a glass of chianti will do me some good. But I sit alone in a big booth, and I feel conspicuous. For the fist time in days, I find myself wanting Mulderís company. He may be a pompous jerk, but heís a good conversationalist.
My cell phone rings, and sure enough, itís the pompous jerk himself. "Scully, where are you?" he asks.
"Iím still in the city," I reply, sipping my chianti.
"Oh." Pause. "When will you be home?"
"I donít know, Mulder. Why?"
I find myself fighting a smile. "So make yourself a sandwich. Thereís peanut butter in the pantry-"
"But you got Jif and I like Peter Pan," he whines.
"There are cold cuts in the fridge, or you could make grilled cheese."
In the background I hear him open the fridge and root around. "No mayo, wrong kind of cheese."
I donít know whether to strangle him or laugh. I opt for a put-upon sigh. "Thereís macaroni and cheese."
"But itís better when you make it." I can see his lower lip sticking out, even through the phone.
"Mulder, itís comes in a box. It tastes the same no matter who makes it." I try hard to be annoyed, but I know that this is his way of telling me he is worried and wants me where he can keep an eye on me. He thinks heís being subtle; in reality heís like a big kid.
I sigh. "Iíll be home soon, okay? And put your dishes in the dishwasher, donít leave them in-"
I am cut off by the sound of a dial tone.
"-the sink." I put my cell phone away with a sigh. So much for my Mulder-free day.
As I drive back to the Falls, I pass a sign that points to the beach. On an impulse, I turn down the road. Itís not well lit, narrow and bumpy, but it leads me to the wide, white sand beach. I get out of the minivan and approach the sand, taking off my heels before stepping onto the cool, slightly damp sand. Without thinking, I walk halfway to the water and stop, then sit down.
I donít like the way I feel. I know my anger-at both Mulder and Bill-is justified. But being angry at the people I care about is not a feeling I like, no matter how justified that anger is. I know, logically, that my anger is righteous and deserved........but it feels so damned awful.
The voice of my mother chooses this moment to pop into my head, speaking words of wisdom that I thought I had long forgotten. <The people we love are the ones that hurt us the most>, my motherís voice says. <Do you remember the first time I told you that?>
How could I not?
It was the end of my senior year of college, and I was dating a theater student named Seth. We were so different, Seth and I; he was all emotion and feeling, I was cool, clear logic and scientific reason. We fought about everything, from movies to music to football teams, but in the end none of that mattered. He was the first man that I really, truly loved.
Until I found him in bed with one of my roommates.
Call it selective memory.......the only other thing I remember about that day was ending up at my parents house, calling for my mother. "Dana, honey, whatís the matter?" she said as she sat me down on the sofa.
I curled up on my motherís lap and cried like I hadnít cried in years. My mother just let me cry, stroking my hair and whispering softly that things were going to be okay. Slowly, the story came out, in between my sobs and my hiccups.
When she did speak, her words were meant to be comforting. At the time, they cut like a knife, but I learned as I grew older that her words were the painful truth. "Itís the people we love that hurt us the most," she said, stroking my hair. "Thatís the part of love that nobody ever talks about. You see, when we love someone, whether they be a sister or a friend-or a lover-we open ourselves up to them. To love someone is to say ĎI give you myself, the good and the bad, to do with as you please.í We only hope that they treat us with the same kind of love." She turned and looked into my eyes, her expression both tender and earnest. "To love another person is to take a chance, knowing full well that at some point they will hurt us, and weíll hurt them. Itís hard, and it hurts, but some day youíll see that itís a necessary part of love. If you never know the pain of having someone you love hurt you, you can never fully appreciate the joy it brings when they do something because they love you and it makes you happy."
I sniffled. "Never again, Mom. Iíve had it. Iím joining the convent."
She laughed. "Oh, Dana, if I had a quarter for every time I said that when I was your age!" With the tenderness only a mother can have, she stroked my damp cheek. "Some day, when you least expect it, you will meet a man who you will swear you have known forever. He will challenge you, make you think, force you to see things from an entirely new perspective. All at once he will infuriate and intrigue you. And one day you will look at him and realize that you care about each other, even though he makes you so mad you could spit nails. He will hurt you over and over and as much as you will want to be mad at him, you wonít be able to because he will do something so charming and wonderful that you will forget you were even angry at all."
"How do you know?" She sounded so certain.....I wanted certainty like that.
She smiled. "I just do."
The warm tears leaving tracks on my cheeks brought me out of my memories and back to reality. Being as careful as I could to keep my makeup intact, I wiped my face with my thumbs.
As always, my mother was right. I knew that in Billís case, his concern was driving his hurtful comments. I also knew that Bill would call and apologize in a few days, and that I would forgive him. As always.
Mulder was a different story. I knew that he hadnít meant to hurt me, and that the affection he was showing me as ĎRobí was his way of trying to apologize. I would forgive him, eventually, but it would take a hell of a lot more than what he was giving.
Standing up, I looked at my watch-I had been at the beach for over two hours. At that moment, I made a conscious decision: I would be more patient with Mulder. As angry as I was, I didnít have to be bitchy..........and maybe, just maybe, Mulder would come through and earn my forgiveness.
Feeling better than I had in weeks, I headed for Ďhomeí.
A few weeks later, my motherís words came back to me again.
It was a Saturday night, and Mom and I were eating dinner at a nice little bistro on M Street. I had been cooped up inside all day cleaning up Mulderís mess in our basement office, and hoping against hope that nobody would notice the page he had ripped out of the book of archived periodicals. When I had finally arrived back home, my mother had called and insisted on taking me to dinner at Clydeís.
When she excused herself to use the restroom, I checked my messages. There was only one: Fox Mantle, asking that I meet him at the park near his apartment for an either very early or very late birthday gift.
After dropping my mother at her car, I headed for Alexandria. At the park I found Mulder hitting baseballs into the night sky.
"So, uh.....I get this message marked Ďurgentí on my answering service from one Fox Mantle telling me to come down to the park for a very special, very early or very late birthday present," I say, leaning against the backstop and looking around. "And Mulder.....I donít see any nicely wrapped presents lying around, so what gives?" I try hard to be casual, and realize I sound more sarcastic. Oh, well. Not like heís never heard me be sarcastic before.
"Youíve never hit a baseball, have you, Scully?" he asks, his eyes never leaving the ball.
"No, I guess I have, uh.....found more necessary things to do with my time than slap a piece of horsehide with a stick." Although a nice diversion, I am confused. What does it matter if I have ever hit a baseball or not?
Mulder turns to me, with a look on his face that is serious but holds the promise of mischief to come. "Get over here, Scully."
Slowly and with some misgivings, I walk to home plate, taking the bat from him. When he wraps his arms around me, I am taken by surprise, but not unpleasantly. "This is my birthday present, Mulder?" I say with a touch of sarcasm. He wonít get off that easily. "You shouldnít have."
"This ainít cheap," he replies. "Iím paying that kid ten bucks an hour to shag balls." He holds up the bat. "Not a bad piece of ash, huh?"
Slightly amused, I give him the Look.
"The bat-talking about the bat." I put my hands on the bat, knowing full well I look silly. "Now, donít strangle it," he says into my ear. "You just want to shake hands with it. ĎHello, Mr. Bat. Itís a pleasure to make your acquaintance.í ĎOh, no, no, Ms. Scully. The pleasure is all mine.í"
I couldnít help but laugh.
"Okay, now, we want to.....we want to go hips before hands, okay?" His hand hovers above my hip. "We want to stride forward and turn. Thatís all weíre thinking about. So we go hips before hands, all right?" His hand finally rests on my hip, and I feel his body press into mine as we turn.
"Okay." I try to focus on the way weíre moving, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.
"One more time." His hand rests more firmly on my hip, and he presses himself into me even more. "Hips before hands."
"What is it?"
"Hips before hands."
He leans in even closer, and begins speaking into my ear. His breath tickles me and although I want to laugh, I keep a straight face. "Right. Weíre going to wait on the pitch. Weíre going to keep our eye on the ball. Then, weíre just going to make contact. Weíre not going to think. We just going to let it fly, Scully, okay?"
I murmur my assent, trying to keep what he has just said in mind.
His hand moves mine down the bat, and I smack it away. "Iím in the middle," I say, and he chuckles.
"All right. Fire away, Poor boy!" We swing and hit the ball, which goes over the foul line. But we hit the ball. "Ooh! Thatís good!" he says. "All right. What you may find is you concentrate on hitting that little ball....the rest of your world just fades away-all you everyday, nagging concerns."
I laugh as we hit another ball. Somehow, this is more fun than I had imagined.
"The ticking of your biological clock." Hit. "How you probably couldnít afford that nice new suede coat on a G-womanís salary." I am grinning now as we swing the bat together. "How you threw away a promising career in medicine to hunt aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant, partner." I give him that look, but he ignores it and continues to speak as we swing the bat again. "Getting to the heart of a global conspiracy. Your obscenely overdue triple-X bill." I give him that look, then smile. "Oh, I....Iím sorry, Scully, those last two problems are mine, not yours." Hit.
I smile, and I know that it is the biggest, most genuine smile I have had in a long time. There is only this moment, the sound of the bat hitting the ball, the warmth of Mulderís arms around me. The anger I was holding onto ebbs out of me like the tide, and I find myself enjoying the moment. My motherís words come back to me, the truth in them hitting me like I am hitting these balls. Finally, I speak.
"Shut up, Mulder. Iím playing baseball."