Title: Like Magic
Summary: Mulder and Scully and the undeniable nature of magic and seasides.
Note:This is Scully POV. She's a POA (prisoner of angst) and that's how we like her!! HA HA HA ! Thank you Jessica, my beta. Thanks to you that shark is being well fed ! < or should I say " thanks to me.."?> On with the story...
I, for one, was not a fan of magic, optical illusions, mind tricks and general hocus pocus. I could always find the trick, spot out the mirror or eye the clear plastic string. I supposed that came from my dear uncle who gleefully dissected his magic routine to show me all of the many prestidigitations at the ripe young age of non-skeptical ten.
Still, it made it no less fascinating to watch.
The only variable that contends with my theory of rational reality was good ol' Mulder, the partner with the love to live by phrases: Trust no one, Deny Everything, and like magic, one day it would all make sense. I have been known to adopt some of those convictions of his at certain times, or to just follow along with blind trust that I was often in need of when it came to all things Mulder. Like this case, he had been following his instincts for half of the game before I'd even caught up with his train of thinking. Once I did catch up though, I tried to make myself invaluable, and left with another solve under the X-Files belt and a reaffirmation in the power of skeptisism.
Now, the question: who was more insane at this point? He, at least, has had a lifetime of distrustful suspicions brewing in his mind. He was always the one with the nose to the grindstone, pointing out the supernatural obvious...I started this game with a clear head and tons of useful resources, such as a firm grip on reality. Now, I wasn't so sure.
The Santa Monica Field office was a little drab, but outside, it was a great day. Lots of California sunshine and a nice blue sky, and I, for once, was determined to enjoy it. He was nice enough to volunteer to do the paperwork, and since that was a rare occurance I wasn't about to refuse. Skipping down the hallway, I'd told him that I would meet him back at the hotel, a two star establishment with the catchy name, "The Sunshine Inn". He'd given me a bright smile and waved, mumbling under his breath halfheartedly about the extreme expense of cabs in California, all things bright and beautiful, home of the Sunshine Inn. I didn't even bother to turn around, in fear that he may recant the offer to fill out form after form of the how and the why two magicians almost duped us.
I smiled to myself after the elevator " pinged" to indicate that I'd made it all the way down, relieved that there was no time for him to drag me back into that office now.
Somehow, we've been granted a special gift: how to have fun. I don't know where it was that we lost track of having fun, or if we ever really had that much fun before. I liked to think that we did, but it wasn't fun like this. I didn't get out of bed with my fingers crossed that today would be another living zombie day, that was for sure.
Regardless of the source and scope of the ambivalence we both have when it comes to working together, I've been having an awful lot of good times on the job with Mulder.
Does a near death experience change all of the people all of the time, or just some people some of the time? In the past twelve months, we've been through two very near death experiences, which, I'd admit, for our track record was pretty good. First him, then me. I try not to think about mine, and instead, I focus on the prospects of good things.
Donnie Pfaster has been relegated to the back of my mind until the guilt is ready to duke it out with my conscious. Mulder has tried everything to make me laugh, to make me not think of things or to brush the hair away from my forehead after a nightmare. Since then, we've been together, he's been the friend that won't leave me alone. I imagined that part of that comes from his knowledge of all things psychiatric, and that you shouldn't leave someone recovering from trauma alone. Bless his heart, he had even confiscated all the knives and heavy narcotics from my house and his, just until I was " feeling better", as he said. I had no choice when it came to staying at my place, mom had convinced me that a fresh coat of paint and some new bedroom furniture would do the place wonders, it would be almost like new, she'd said.
Mulder agreed and used his own form of persuasion filled with comments about the disgusting germs in hotel rooms, and didn't I already stay in enough hotel rooms on the job, and I should really be staying with him, in his safe cozy apartment. After hours of discussion on the endless merits of his apartment versus the Watergate hotel, and a promise that he'd buy a new bed so that I wouldn't have to sleep on the couch and he on the floor, I agreed. Sometimes, with Mulder, there's no use pushing the envelope. I'm sure that if I had decided to stay at a hotel, he'd be in the adjoining room, " just in case."
Driving back to the hotel was hell. The beltway was crowded, smelly, and the weather was much warmer than I was normality accustomed to. Warm enough to have the windows cracked and the breeze let in to be just breezy enough. In comparison to D.C in January, this was a much better place. I looked through my windshield to the vehicle in front of me, an old rusty green car with orange racing stripes. If Mulder were here he would have wanted one for himself....
And this is part of the problem with having fun, it was too much fun to think about it.
You can't go through life waiting for the next humorous moment with your partner. You can't laugh in the quiet confines of your car when a snide Mulderesque comment comes into your immediate range of thinking, and just pretend like no one sees you and that no one cares. They're all watching and laughing at you, and I know that. More than once in the past Mulder has glanced over while driving and caught someone in the throes of a personal sanctity of the car moment, and would deadpan: "Look at her *go*, Scully!"
And the poor woman, oblivious, keeps up singing or talking to her imaginary friend or laughing, probably about some stupid comment her partner made....well, possibly not.
The traffic report interrupted that thought, one I didn't really need to get in the tangent of thinking anyway, so the diversion was good. The report, however, wasn't ; five miles up the road was a three car pileup, with injuries, and if I judged the situation by the tone of the newscaster, I was going to be stuck here, possibly for days.
That was just great...
Back to hits of the eighties and nineties, not too hard and not too soft either, and I felt that my mind had started to wander in traffic induced stupor. Was Mulder still devoted to the paperwork?. As if on cue my cell phone rang.
"Scully, " I answered.
"I gave up on paperwork."
"So I figured...where are you, Mulder?"
"In a cab, on the road. I thought it would have been rude to call you and ask you to turn around, and come back to the field office, but....this traffic is pretty intense."
"I'll have to agree with you there, Mulder." I picked on the shiny sticker on the rental cars windshield. All movement on the road had completely stopped.
"Do you know a trick to make us disappear from this, Scully?"
"I don't know, Great Muldeni, how about you?" I'd asked, recanting the nickname he'd so humorously given himself yesterday.
"Sorry, I'm all magiced out. No can do. What do you say that I abandon my cab, and we'll go see a movie?"
"A movie, Mulder? I should think that if you were abandoning your cab it would be for some other more important reason.." I was smiling now, damn me. I needed to stop talking to him like we're the best playmates at the playground. An image of Mulder and me in a sandbox filled my mind and I blinked it away...good thing I *wasn't* driving.
"Well, Scully, it was an idea. I don't see you putting any out there." He had the tone of mock chagrin.
"Where are you?" I had suddenly demanded. Close, I could now tell when he was close, which has been a discovery I was still trying to recover from, or not exactly recover per se, maybe just accept.
"What do you mean by that question, Scully -"
"Mulder, I mean, where on the interstate?"
"About four cars behind you, two lanes to the right. Why?"
"I can see you smirking from here...."
"Really?" he asked.
"Well, not really, but I know that you are... all right, come on over." I'd said, my voice still was playful and lighthearted. He murmured some kind of double entendre and then hung up the phone. A week and a half ago he'd given me a book. It was bright yellow and lettered in blue. " Turning Tragedy into a Good Time." He'd handed it to me and looked so solemn that I had to laugh.
"Is this a real book, Mulder? This really isn't funny." I'd been ready to launch into all the reasons that grief was a serious thing, but I couldn't.
"No, Scully." he'd said, plucking the book from my fingers and flipping the pages "look - it even has a section on taking tragic experiences of loss and turning them into your own personal and professional crusade, " he'd intoned without a trace of a smile.
I was grinning at the memory when I felt him tap on the window. I unlocked the door and he clambered in, and tossed his jacket over the seat to rest in the back, in a position that was sure to wrinkle it.
"Remind me again how *you* got the rental car, Scully."
"Remind me again how the paperwork *didn't* get done, Mulder."
We looked at each other in a friendly combative way. I would have continued to hold it if it weren't so intense in this tiny rental car in California in standstill traffic. Or at least I pretended that I would have.
Mulder was scanning the sea of cars, and I'd noticed the slight sheen
of perspiration above his lip.
"Warm for January, isn't it?" I'd asked conversationally, and he had nodded, obviously not wanting to have any type of discussion. I looked ahead, and the traffic had finally started to move.
"Room service or go to dinner? " Mulder called from his hotel room, our adjoining door open and yet proving to still be an effective sound barrier from the bathroom.
I came out with toothbrush in hand and foam around my mouth.
"You pick" I told him, he looked up and at me, and smiled.
I would have smiled back if I didn't need to spit. I looked at myself in the mirror, my face and hair wet from the shower I'd taken ten minutes ago. The white terry cloth robe that I constantly travel with covered my body from my neck to my ankles, leaving nothing but face, hands, and toenails.
Where was the secret? What was the truth? Do I admit to myself that it might be forever again before I take a bath? Or do I admit that I always wonder wether or not it'll take forever to get over something traumatic and I always end up amazed that it can and will heal back. When I was abducted, I thought I would never lose the feeling of being violated. I thought that I might never sleep in my apartment again without waking up to nightmares and memories too fuzzy to recollect fully. And when I'd lost my father and my sister I wondered if that empty space would ever be tolerable. Was the pain of losing my daughter indefinite? I've grown from it all, I've taken steps so tiny that together they've formed the distance I craved but never thought possible. All the pain, all the tragedies, they managed to become bearable. I'd recovered from Donnie Pfaster before, and I knew I would again. I'd hold my gun without fear of my finger, I'd sleep in my own bed without nightmares. The wounds would heal, and they might be a little tender, but the hole would regrow. It would close up and swallow most of the sadness with it.
I spat the toothpaste into the sink and rinsed my mouth.
Mulder was watching me, I could feel him, the pricks of hair on my neck had risen and I just knew. He made a sound before I lifted my head in case I was startled, but I wasn't.
"So what's the plan? " I asked, looking at him in the mirror, and watched him watch me. It was strangely erotic, and that was a whole other problem in itself.
"I ordered Chinese, and I thought we'd go out to the ocean side and eat it. What do you say?" He made it sound like an adventure, just like everything else. Like this case, when he came from his computer four days ago and held up a piece of paper, and said " We're going, Scully!"
"Sounds good, Mulder. You driving?" I asked, keeping my voice playful, turning from the mirror in the too small bathroom as he was stepping forward. We bumped into each other, I shivered, and looked away.
"I am indeed, " he said, as though not bothered, but if I looked into his eyes then I would see it : the unmistakable look of something that wasn't touched upon but entirely felt. I choose not to look at it.
"Give me a second to get dressed" I said, in my no- nonsense tone, ready to focus on the friendship, friendship, and yet more friendship aspects of our partnership.
In times like these, I need to be alone, away from him and in a dark place. I avoid closets as of late but dark hotel bathrooms had done the trick. He was walking away, back into his room, or the center of my room, to wait, I suppose. I wondered if he notices what I noticed, and then again, this wasn't the best time to be thinking of this.
I pulled a gray sweater over my head and jeans, tennis shoes. I looked casual. I fluffed my hair with the hairdryer, cursing Cathy, my normally proficient and entirely skilled hairdresser for chopping it too close to my face. New year, new you my ass. I was sure, in fact, that Mulder actually hated it. He didn't like it all smashed against my head, and frankly, neither did I.
I bounded from the bathroom like a woman possessed to not think of anything but the fraternal order of partnership, and was convinced that the only reason I was feeling so intense about all this is because I was, after all, a sensitive caring person. I was transferring all my emotions to Mulder. I felt that I needed him more than usual because I probably did, and that makes sense. In fact, it might be the most sensible thing I've thought all year long.
"Let's go," I said, grabbing Mulders arm and swinging him around, "did you order the right soup for me, Mulder? You know I hate that egg- drop stuff."
"Scully, I'm shocked. Seven years of countless occasions that were accompanied with Chinese food, and you think I don't know what soup you like."
"Awww, Mulder, you got the wrong kind again? I told you I like Hot and Sour."
"I know, I know, I know. Let's go. I got the right thing. Don't you trust me Scully?" he asked, complete with pouting lips.
Friendship, Friendship, Friendship.
He had gotten the right soup, after all. At least there were some blessings. We sat under the sky, looking at the heavens along with the splashing of the waves against the shore.
"This was a good idea, Mulder," I said, looking into the heavens for shooting stars, eating my soup slowly. It was almost cold, but just tepid enough to still be appetizing. Practically pleasant.
"Thanks. Nothing like solving a case and then eating Chinese food with your partner on the beach."
"Very popular to do, in fact." My voice was even, and I had the corners of my mouth raised in a mocking smile. I caught his eyes in mine in the darkness.
"I actually got the idea from one of those travel guide books." He was already looking away, and I presumed it was because of the same reason that I do it. Safety.
I laughed, and ate a fried noodle.
We ate the rest in silence, only peppered with comments on how good the food was; the background took precedence. It was beautiful here at night, and I could understand why so many people lived here.
"Fortune Cookie?" he asked, and took one for himself, leaving the other untouched. He's always been so superstitious like that, about everything. I reached over and grabbed mine, letting it fall into my lap absentmindedly.
I watched him unwrap and crack the cookie open, taking a small nibble and then looking at the paper. I felt so enthralled watching him in the process that I left mine in my lap, and wondered instead what *he* tasted like, and not just on the surface of his lips, but within..
He looked at his paper a long while, and I took the pause to stop
reflecting on him and opened my cookie instead. The wrapper was covered in tiny Buddha's that looked like babies. It cracked, and I looked up at him, a ghost of a smile on his lips.
"Well, what does it say?" I begged, and he smiled again, wider this time, filling his face.
"The answer to many questions lie in the hands of your partner."
"No!" I felt my lips make a perfect "O", and raised my eyebrow.
"I'm serious. How about yours?"
I looked at the tiny paper in my hands, a rectangle with lucky numbers on one side and I tentatively turned it over, and then dropped my jaw in uncomprehending amazement.
It said, in little fortune cookie letters, "It tastes Sweet."
The fortune cookie actually did exist, and it's currently in my possession. I got it after a delicious meal and couldn't help but laugh hysterically, and wonder what it meant. I thought it would be funny for Scully to receive it. She's just skeptical enough to raise her eyebrow, but she likes to believe in magic ( at least, I think she would like to, had she a choice.) Fate, like so many things, can be considered magic, and in my world, little fortune cookies can be considered fate.