Title: October Skies
Summary: "We'll be partying all night long, anyway," says Mulder, planning to take her home as soon as she yawns. "Right?" "You got it."
Comments: At the moment I'm writing a really dark, emotionally draining non-XF novel, and I needed a break. The result was this story. Be warned: it contains graphic scenes of cheerfulness. There may even be some joy. Thanks to Jody for her speedy beta and thumbs up approval! :)
This story is dedicated to Lib, who was in a bad car accident recently and who I haven't been able to get in contact with. She's been a great friend and beta over the past year. Hey if anyone can tell me how she's doing, I'd really appreciate it.
"Well, it's a marvellous night for a moondance With the stars up above in your eyes A fantabulous night to make romance 'Neath the cover of October skies And all the leaves on the trees are falling To the sound of the breezes that blow And I'm trying to please to the calling Of your heart-strings that play soft and low"
--Van Morrison, from 'Moondance'
The leering, gap-toothed pumpkin looks more like a dirty old man than a jack-o'-lantern. Mulder parks his car and stares at it, frowning. It grins at him from the passenger seat, undressing him with its eyes. Maybe he should just leave it here, get Scully some candy or something. But he's already late. He spent three hours on the botched pumpkin, ruining a pair of jeans in the process. It will have to do.
He picks it up, carrying it under his arm like a basketball. When he steps out of the car he almost slips on a slick of rotten leaves, steadying himself just in time. He checks the jack-o'-lantern and takes a breath of relief.
The air is crisp and smells faintly of wood fires. A mauve haze of evening tints the sky. Already there's a group of Power Rangers, Animaniacs, Sonic the Hedgehogs and members of the Simpson family making the rounds. When he walks past they stop and point at him. One of the girls starts giggling and is silenced by an elbow to the ribs. Mulder turns to grin at them as he opens the door, and they run off down the street shrieking, leaving a candy trail.
When Scully looks through her peephole she sees a misshapen jack-o'-lantern grinning in at her.
"Who is it, Day?" Melissa calls from the kitchen.
"Who else?" she calls back as she pulls open the door. Mulder is leaning on the doorjamb, smirking at her, the pumpkin tucked under one arm. With his eye patch, red bandana and hook velcro-strapped to his wrist, there's no mistaking what he's dressed as. His white ruffled shirt is open to his chest. Scully bites her lip and takes a step back.
"Yargh, me hearty," he growls, prowling into the room. "Trick or treat."
"Nice to see you too, Mulder."
"I brought thee this boon, m'lady." He hands her the jack-o'-lantern.
"Thank you. It's a little lopsided," she says, holding it at eyelevel and scrutinising his butchery. "You'll never be a surgeon, Captain Mulder."
"That's not what me first mate said when I sawed off his leg, says I."
Melissa walks out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. "Fox, a pirate at Halloween is such a cliche. I expected more from you."
"It's Mulder," says Scully.
"Captain Mulder," he interjects with a swagger. "And it's not the originality that counts, it's how you do it."
Melissa gives him a once-over and raises her eyebrows. "I can't say I have any complaints." She turns back into the kitchen, untying her apron. "The pie will be ready in half an hour," she calls over her shoulder. "Are you staying to eat?" asks Scully, flopping onto the sofa. "No, it's my gift to you, little sister. I've got to go."
Melissa hurries to the door, applying lipstick with one hand and straightening her blouse with the other. Scully watches with amusement as Mulder does a double-take. Melissa is dressed in a pair of Scully's black pumps and a maroon suit, her hair straightened and pinned into a chignon.
"Wait a second, where are you going?" he asks. "A job interview?" Melissa scowls at him and clacks out the door, closing it with a snap.
"What?" he says, giving Scully a helpless look. "What did I say?"
"She's dressed as a business woman," Scully replies, leaning back against the cushions. "She's going to a big Halloween party on the other side of town, with some people from work."
"Where does she work?"
"Oh, you know. She does tarot readings."
"How much does she charge?"
"Come on, how much?" He sits down beside her. "She ever read your cards?"
Scully rolls her eyes. "No."
Mulder lifts up his eye patch to stare at her. "Hey, how come you aren't dressed up?"
What did he expect? Since she came home from the hospital she's rarely left her apartment. She's wearing sweatpants, an XL black T-shirt and no make-up. "It's called post-abduction chic, Mulder," she says sharply. He swallows and looks away. "That's not funny."
There's a pause. Scully looks down at her hands. "So...are you staying for pie?"
"Actually, I was hoping to take you out for a night on the town. But there's always time for pie." He makes a Homer Simpson noise of hunger. "Is it pumpkin?"
"I'm not going out tonight, Mulder."
"Don't hurt my feelings, Scully."
"I don't have a costume."
He shrugs, "We can improvise. You know. Hey, you could always go as a lap dancer. All you'll need is -"
Scully punches him in the shoulder.
"Ow. Hey." He gives her a wounded look. With one eye covered, it isn't terribly convincing. "I'm not going to give you pie if you keep bugging me, Mulder."
"What if I start singing sea chanteys?"
"Then, me hearty," she says, her voice low and menacing, "I'll be sending you to Davy Jones' locker."
They glare at each other for a moment. Then he grins and reaches over, sliding the curved edge of his hook across her cheek. Scully licks her lips, nervous, and he does it again, the plastic cool and smooth against her skin. Something changes in Mulder's eyes, the set of his mouth. Something unexpected, unfamiliar. Dark and glimmering. She stands up suddenly.
"Are you kicking me out?" he asks, raising his eyebrows. He doesn't seem any different. She must be imagining things.
"No," she replies. "I'm just going to check on the pie."
In the kitchen she finger-combs her hair behind her ears, her hands shaking. Her face is flushed. She blames the heat of the oven, where the pie is starting to glaze gold around the edges. It won't be ready for another twenty minutes. She would kick him out. She would, if he wasn't dressed up, if he hadn't brought her that jack-o'-lantern. If he wasn't Mulder. She walks out of the kitchen to find him sprawled on her sofa, flipping through TV channels. "Hey Scully, have you watched Superstars of the Superbowl yet?" he asks. His shirt has ridden up, exposing his navel and the line of hair trailing past his thick black belt. His silver-buckled pirate belt.
That's it. "Mulder, I've changed my mind. Let's go out."
Mulder swallows another forkful of pie and eyes Scully's door. How long does it take to throw together a costume, anyway?
"Your pie's way past getting cold, Scully," he calls. "It's arctic."
"I'll be out in a minute."
Five minutes later, Mulder sets his empty plate on the coffee table, impatiently tapping his feet. Ten minutes later, Scully's door clicks open. He looks up at her.
Fuck, he thinks. Scully is wearing a pleated, knee-length, tartan skirt with a plain white blouse tucked in. Knee-high navy socks, folded over at the top. Polished black lace-up shoes. And pigtails.
"What?" she asks. She seems a little concerned. He wants to reassure her but he doesn't think talking would be a good idea. "It's just my old school uniform. I found it wrapped up at the back of my closet."
He clears his throat. "I just...nothing Scully. Great costume."
Someone has TP'ed the trees in front of Scully's building, the paper draped like streamers over the skeletal branches, the dying leaves. A group of trick-or-treaters stands underneath, laughing. Scully giggles, actually giggles, and presses a hand to her mouth.
As Mulder climbs into the car he remembers peeling up to the curb a few months ago, when the leaves were green. The place was crawling with police cars and there was a splintered gash in her front window. At first he thought she must be dead. "Where are we going?" Scully asks. She's alive, light-hearted, ready for a party. He forces a grin. "What's your pleasure, m'lady?"
"Well..." Scully licks her candy pink lips as she thinks. Mulder pretends he doesn't want to kiss her. "Maybe we could show up at that party Missy went to. I don't know anyone going, but she told me it was casual. There's no guest list, no security."
He pulls out onto the road. "So where is it, exactly?"
Scully's been to this place before, though not at night. Melissa drove her here on a whim, a week or so after her release from hospital. Mostly the grounds had been left to run wild, weeds and all, but there were manicured paths running to every corner of the property. New Age creations were scattered seemingly at random. Murals, sculptures, rock gardens, mosaics. Pools filled with waterlilies. Definitely Melissa's world, not Scully's, but she enjoyed it all the same. She was disappointed when they didn't have time to explore the house, an imposing mansion she glimpsed a few times through the trees. Melissa told her it had been razed to the ground during the Civil War, only to be rebuilt in the '60s by an eccentric fantasy author. Recently this woman had moved to Florida, donating her property to a New Age company called Mystical Crystal.
"Actually, Mystical Crystal isn't a company, it's a 'collective'," Scully explains. "At least, that's what Missy kept emphasizing. 'These are peaceful, generous people, Dana. Not a corporation. They've been brought together by a mutual love of New Age wisdom. Money has nothing to do with it'." Mulder chuckles, shaking his head. "Does she have any idea how much Mystical Crystal must make in a year? I'm sure money has *something* to do with it."
"Throw away your cynicism, Fox," says Scully, imitating her sister's smoky voice. "The world is a magical place. Being positive and optimistic doesn't equal being flaky."
She turns to grin at Mulder, but he isn't smiling anymore. "How much further do you think it is?" he asks. "I don't know."
They arrived at the address fifteen minutes ago and have spent that time inching along a winding driveway, the last in a build-up of cars. Their route is lined with jack-o'-lanterns casting flickering orange lights into the woods. Aside from this glow it is dark and quiet outside the car. The sky above is satin blue, smooth as a butterfly wing, dark as the ocean. Scully stares out the window, distracted. Everything is beautiful to her, now. Even the black branches outlined against the sky. Even the chill in the air.
Mulder takes a hand off the wheel, reaching over to crank up the heat. She stops him with a gentle press to his wrist. "Leave it," she says. "If it gets any warmer, I'll fall asleep."
She expects him to make some kind of wisecrack--"Wow, Scully, you're such a party animal"--but instead he turns troubled eyes her way. "Are you sure you're up for this?" "Mulder, I'm fine," she says quietly. She puts a hand over his splayed fingers on the steering wheel, and he lets out a deep breath. She squeezes his hand and then pulls away, clasping her fingers together in her lap, staring out the window again.
There's no parking lot, just a wide lawn in front of the house. They pull up in the shadows beneath a clump of weeping willows and hope no one blocks their path. "We'll be partying all night long, anyway," says Mulder, planning to take her home as soon as she yawns. "Right?"
"You got it."
It's hard to navigate through the dark maze of cars, churned-up grass and crowds of people. They're holding hands before they realise they're doing it. Mulder smiles to himself, hoping she can't see how happy he is, how happy it makes him just to stand next to her, to touch this small part of her, to know that she's safe.
There's an unmistakable beat coming from the house and the crowds are singing along, raucous voices raised above the music, "From my laboratory in the castle east, to the master bedroom where the vampires feast, the ghouls all came from their humble abode, to get a jolt from my electrode. They did the mash...They did the monster mash...They did the mash..." "I was expecting a lot of New Age drivel," Scully mutters, "and I thought I was prepared for the worst. But Mulder, this? This is the worst."
"Come on, Scully. It's a graveyard smash."
She groans and shakes her head at him. He wonders what she would do if he kissed her. It wouldn't have to be a passionate kiss. Just a basic meeting of mouths, a friendly taste of her lip gloss. Nothing too personal.
He concentrates on walking, on the freezing night air, on their destination. They're almost at the house. It looks like a mansion from Gone With the Wind, transformed into a haunted castle. The lights are eerie orange, and the porches and balconies have been festooned with black crepe instead of wisteria.
The song changes to the theme from Ghostbusters and he smiles at the lyrics. How appropriate. He leans down to murmur in Scully's ear, "Who you gonna call?" and she surprises him, turning quickly to kiss his cheek.
Her lips burn. He's never touched her mouth before and he didn't realise it would be so hot and smooth against his skin. So soft. She tugs his hand and he follows blindly, letting her guide them through the crowds gathered at the front of the house, letting her lead him through the front door.
The air reeks of incense and cigarette smoke. People mill from room to room, chattering and laughing and swaying to the music, calling out "I ain't afraid of no ghosts". At the end of the hall is a staircase, majestic and old-fashioned, sweeping up to the second floor. Everything brims and gleams with wealth. Mahogany, gold-leaf, glittering chandeliers and velvet-red carpets. But the walls are hung with glossy movie posters instead of paintings. Horror movies, of course. Scully recognises Night of the Living Dead, Friday the Thirteenth and Carrie before a man knocks into her, spilling his drink on her shoes.
"Sowwy," he mutters through a Freddy Krueger mask, his voice a muffled hiss, "deeze gwoves awe umpossable." He holds up his hands, jutting with plastic blades, and strides back into the crowd.
Scully shrugs and flicks the beer off her shoes. It's not as though she'll ever wear them again. "Shall we?" she asks Mulder, taking his arm. He nods and they push their way into a room, the crowd denser here, a mess of elbows and twisting hips.
Inside the room there are love seats, ottomans, high-backed sofas with wooden armrests, spindly tables, a silver harp in the corner. It's full of ghastly creatures getting down to Michael Jackson's Thriller, "...there ain't no second chance to kill the thing with forty eyes, girl..." Morticia and Gomez Adams are making out on an antique armchair. Sleeping Beauty tells a joke to a slasher movie victim. Two Stepford wives are waltzing, men in drag, blonde-wigged and made-up. A group of Ancient Greeks guzzle beer and shout, "Toga! Toga! Toga!", as though they're still in college. Over in the corner an Indian Chief starts flirting with Pocahontas. There are witches and queens, vampires and saints, heroes and dragons. A few aliens, scattered around, including a burly black man dressed as Mr. Spock, ears and all.
"You want a beer, Scully?" Mulder yells over the music.
"Sure," she yells back.
She puts her mouth to his ear and yells, "Sure," making him flinch away. He rubs his ear and shoots her a dirty look before disappearing into the mob.
Scully leans against the wall, tapping her foot to the beat. There must be a hundred candles, thin white wax sticks dripping onto black candelabras, many-armed, strung with cobwebs. She shifts one away from a curtain. The crowd is chanting along with the Vincent Price voiceover, "Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand, and grizzly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom, and though you fight to stay alive your body starts to shake..." "Boo," a man whispers in her ear. She jolts, spinning around. Of course it's just Mulder, an orange plastic cup in each hand, laughing at her.
She snatches the beer away and drains it in a few gulps, wiping her foamy mouth with the back of her hand. Mulder smiles and leans closer, "I'm not sure you've reached the legal age, young lady," he murmurs, as Price breaks out in maniacal laughter.
Mulder drains his cup and she's mesmerised by his throat moving as he swallows. With his eye-patch, his stubble and his candlelit skin, she thinks he's never looked better. Desire rushes through her. There's a smell of sweat, sugar and hot wax in the air. She takes Mulder's hand and pulls him onto the make-shift dance floor, his cup forgotten and crushed beneath a hobbit's hairy foot.
They jump and bump, step and swivel to the Time Warp, then mime along to Sweet Transvestite and laugh so hard they double over. By the time they've recovered an eerie voice is moaning from the speakers, "there's a light, burning at the Frankenstein place... there's a light, burning in the fireplace...". The chandeliers are dimmed and people sway to the beat, waving cigarette lighters in the air. Something in the atmosphere changes, grows warmer. The candles flicker.
Scully raises her arms above her head, moving them to the haunted music. Without thinking Mulder links his fingers through hers, slowly. He doesn't meet her eyes. She steps closer and he isn't sure what to do. She moves his arms until his hands are pressed to her hips. He swallows and strokes his thumbs over the thick wool of her skirt. Dipping his head, he presses his cheek to hers. He can hear her breathing, shallow and slow beside his ear, and she steps even closer to him, his knees brushing her thighs. He wants to say something, to whisper in her ear, but he has to keep his jaw clenched or else he'll start kissing her. The white slope of her neck smells of vanilla. Her shampoo smells of roses. He loves this place where her hair and her skin meet. He loves every part of her.
The song ends and she steps away, smoothing her clothes. "You want another drink?" she asks, before the next song begins. He nods and she walks away, vanishing behind a woman in a carrot suit and a man in a bowler hat.
Scully ducks into the bathroom. It's full of women powdering and painting, twisting in front of the mirrors, fixing themselves. Woman dressed as cats and courtesans and princesses, women dressed as men. Women cooing about their men. Women jealously admiring each other from the corners of their eyes.
There are only three toilets. Scully waits, looking around at the women, the gaggle of them, pretending she still belongs. This was her, once. Or maybe it wasn't. But she likes to think it was, now, when the opportunity to be frivolous has slipped away. When she passes a mirror she stares at herself over a harlequin's shoulder. Her face is pallid, waxen. With the weight she's gained, her old school clothes don't quite fit. She adjusts them, grimacing. Why did she dress as this ridiculous Playboy fantasy? Not to please Mulder. Maybe to make him feel the way she feels, when she looks at him. To shake him up. Judging by his expression when she walked out of her bedroom, it certainly worked. But it doesn't suit her, she thinks. She wonders what Mulder thinks. At any rate it might have been better, or at least easier, safer, if they'd stayed at her place. Away from the dancing and the beer. Hidden from the crowds of anonymous people who don't care, who wouldn't bat an eyelid.
Someone has written a message in purple lipstick across the stall door. "Don't call me a whore--I'm a prostitute". Scully might have found this funny as a teenager, but now she shakes her head and thinks of the streetwalkers out there in the cold, scraping money together by selling their bodies. She's forgotten how to forget about the less fortunate. She's forgotten how to let go, forgotten how to have fun. She searches her mind for this knowledge but instead comes up with autopsy data and crime scene photographs, and Mulder's face when he handed her the necklace, a gold shimmer clasped in his fingers.
Outside the bathroom the Halloween music has finished and the real party is starting. A conventional pop song, something about seeing the sign, is blaring now. It sounds like Abba. "Life is demanding without understanding...I saw the sign, it opened up my eyes...". Cliches and bad grammar abound, and Scully shakes her head, feeling middle-aged, feeling out of it.
Scully's size is an advantage, for once. She ducks through gaps, under arms, towards the drinks. There's a table stacked with orange and black plastic cups, and she takes two of the blacks, filling them up at the keg. The beer sloshes, froth leaking down the sides. "May I have this dance?" asks a voice from somewhere far above her head. The deep, dark-chocolate voice of a giant. She looks up, craning her neck, and sees Mr. Spock looming over her. His bulk is attractively intimidating and his eyes are gentle, maybe nervous. She nods and sets the beers on a side table. Just one dance. Once again, she's not sure what the song is. A woman moaning, "I'll be your answer, I'll be your wish, I'll be your fantasy, your favourite dish...". Spock is a gentleman, he doesn't touch her. They just boogie, standing close together and shaking their hips. She puts a hand on his bicep to steady herself. When she looks up into Spock's eyes he smiles at her, perfect white teeth. Mulder's grin is slightly crooked. She wonders what he's doing now. She pictures him chatting up some blonde in a french maid outfit, tall and busty, inaccessible to everyone except pirates like Mulder.
Suddenly Scully feels strange and lost, wondering where Mulder is. Her anchor. She looks around for him even though she knows he isn't in the room, and sees Melissa instead, standing at the keg with a couple of friends. Melissa's eyes catch on her and grow wide with surprise. They stare at each other, Melissa grinning, Scully looking uncertain. Then Melissa winks and turns back to her conversation. The Spanish Inquisition will come later.
Spock puts a hand on Scully's waist. He has thick, blunt, strong fingers. He seems like a good man. The kind of guy she might have dated six months ago. Attractive, solid, dependable, healthy. She finishes the dance out of politeness, then smiles, thanking him, and says she has to get back to her friend. He nods, thanking her as well. She hopes he understands. It isn't that she doesn't like him. He just doesn't stand a chance.
Mulder's leaning against the wall, arms crossed, trying not to look belligerent. Where the hell is Scully?
"Hi there." A woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe is standing next to him, smoking a long black cigarette. She bats her eyelashes. "Care to dance?"
Not really, he thinks, and wonders if he's finally gone insane. What's wrong with him? A tipsy bombshell just asked him to dance and all he can think about is when Scully's getting back with the drinks. "Well?" asks Marilyn, voice husky, sensual. She takes another puff and blows out a perfect smoke ring.
"Sure," he says, smiling politely. Why not?
She leads him onto the dance floor by his hook and then twirls around, giggling. A new song begins, people calling out the lyrics, "Hit it! This ain't no disco. It ain't no country club either. This is LA!"
Marilyn steps close, grooving her hips, wrapping her arms around his neck and pouting up at him with her gorgeous plush lips. He rests his hands in appropriate places and moves with her, trying to remember how this goes. When was the last time he danced? It must have been Phoebe. Where the hell is Scully? He surreptitiously scans the room for her. He sees a gorilla, Robin Hood, Queen Elizabeth and Dorothy. Then someone taps him on the shoulder.
"May I cut in?"
He grins, he can't help himself. Marilyn arches an eyebrow, her pout turning decidedly poisonous. "How about at the end of this song, sweetie?" she says sharply, trying to lead Mulder away.
Scully doesn't look pleased. She's carefully balancing the two cups but beer has sloshed down her arms, splattering her blouse. He meets her eyes and she glares at him.
"Uh...I'm sorry, I'd better help my friend with the drinks," he says, and Marilyn walks off in a huff, swaying her hips as though trying to mesmerise him.
Scully hands him his beer and he gulps it down as they walk off the dance floor.
"So who was she?" asks Scully, sipping her drink, watching him carefully over the rim.
He's gratified to see her blush. "Just wondering," she says. "So what is she, an underwear model?"
"Maybe you should have dressed as the green-eyed monster." She smiles slowly, Mona Lisa-style. The smile of a woman with a secret.
"Nothing," she says, finishing her drink.
"Come on, Scully, spit it out."
Instead of speaking, she turns and waves to a man dressed as Mr. Spock. Big, solid, well-built. Could be a quarterback. He smiles broadly and waves back.
"That guy?" Mulder splutters. She laughs at him, taking his hand. "Let's dance."
They dance to songs from the eighties, golden oldies now, laughing at the tacky synth beats of Soft Cell and the twang of Devo, "When a problem comes along, you must whip it...Before the cream sits out too long, you must whip it..." Everyone sings along to Rod Stewart, Prince, the Police and Bananara. Scully is transported back in time, to a place when hope for the future glimmered in every twist on the dance floor.
Then a hip hop song starts up, something new. Mulder moves behind her, his hands on her waist. He smells like beer and sweat, like summertime. His breath is a heatwave across the top of her head.
"Here I go, here I go, here I go again..." women are chanting with the song. "Girls, what's my weakness? Men! Okay then, chillin', chillin', minding my business. Yo Salt I looked around and I couldn't believe this. I swear, I stared, my niece my witness. The brother had it going on with somethin' kind of uh...wicked..." Scully doesn't know the words but it's easy to sense their meaning. She slides her hands over Mulder's, rubbing her fingers against his skin, impulsively. Warm and smooth. He makes a soft sound, maybe her murmured name, and wraps his arms around her, pulling her body against his. "Oh God," she mouths, afraid to make a sound, afraid to startle him. They're not really dancing anymore. Mulder holds her beneath her breasts, lifting her until she's on tiptoes, ballerina style. His breath is sharp and shallow against her skin, his muscles tensed. If he wanted he could tilt her head over his shoulder and taste her neck like a vampire. Wrong costume, she reminds herself. She's dizzy, overheated, disorientated. What do pirates do with their captured wenches?
Mulder doesn't kiss her. They sway to the music like it's a slow dance, people bopping around them to the tempo. Scully closes her eyes and listens to the lyrics, "You're a shotgun--bang! What's up with that thang? I wanna know, how does it hang? Straight up, wait up, hold up, Mr. Lover. Like Prince said you're a sexy mutha-", and she laughs, shaking in Mulder's grasp, her head bumping against his shoulder. He steadies her in his arms, shifting her body to a more comfortable position, and then she feels him, hard against her leg. Hot. He gasps and she slides out of his grip, slipping to her feet. When she spins around he avoids her eyes. She opens her mouth to tell him it's okay, that this is what she wants, but finds her voice muted by arousal and surprise. The music is too loud, her head is buzzing. She doesn't think she can stand up without his support. Mulder says something about getting more beer and turns away. By the time she thinks to reach out, to pull him back, he's already gone.
Outside the air is sharp and cold enough to burn his lungs. Mulder hugs himself, shivering, wishing he'd brought a jacket. He walks to the edge of the porch and looks out across the car-smothered lawn. With the jack-o'-lanterns and the churned-up grass, it's hard to believe that the gentry once played croquet here. He stares up at the sky. The stars are brilliant, glittering. An gaudy harvest moon hangs over the horizon. Everything is silent and still. Beautiful, but it isn't enough to occupy his mind. He can hear the song finishing, muffled through the walls, "shoop shoop-ba-doop...", and the sound of laughter and cheerful voices. Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he concentrates on the cold. He recites the multiplication tables to himself, up to six times seven. But he's still burning inside, still aroused. When Scully brushed against him it actually hurt. He wonders if she'll ever touch him again.
He shakes his head to clear it and starts going through the Greek alphabet. He's up to upsilon when he hears someone calling his name. His first name.
"Fox! Hey, Fox!" It's coming from the dark porch beside him. He isn't alone out here after all. There's a group of maybe ten people, sitting in the dark, passing something around that, as a Federal Agent, he'll pretend is a cigarette. They're all laughing and one of them is calling out, "Fox!", in a stage whisper.
He walks over to them and catches Melissa's eye. She elbows the woman beside her, who's giggling helplessly, and hisses, "It's really his name. I'm not joking!"
They all look at him expectantly.
"Yeah, it's my name," he says, and of course they keep laughing. "What's up, Melissa?"
She pulls herself to her feet and takes his arm, leading him away from her friends.
"What are you doing out here all on your lonesome?" she asks, her words a little slurred.
"Freezing my ass off."
She glares at him and he wonders what she'd do to him if he told her the truth.
"You know, Fox, you can really be a pain in the ass. You brought my sister here for a reason, didn't you?"
He's not sure what to say to that. What's she getting at?
"Well, didn't you?"
"Melissa, we came here to have a good time. That's all."
"Exactly. I think it's really important for Dana to get out of her shell. After what she's been through, she deserves to live a little." To his relief, Melissa sounds a bit more like her normal self. But then she winks. "Melissa -" he starts to protest.
"Look, I know it's none of my business -"
"Well, that's certainly true," he mutters.
The door opens and they both turn, startled. Scully's standing there, outlined by the light behind her, her hair fiery for a moment. Then she closes the door and tucks her hands under her arms. "Fuck, it's cold," she mutters, before catching sight of the two of them. She walks over, her eyes on Mulder. He winces and looks away.
"Hey Day," says Melissa, then, "I'd better get back to my friends. You kids have fun, now. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"Yes mom," Scully replies automatically, and Melissa walks off, smirking. At least, Mulder imagines her smirking.
"Mulder, it's colder than a snowball in hell out here. Let's go back inside."
"You're mixing your metaphors, Scully." He stares at the moon, too much of a coward to even glance her way. "I needed some air. And I think..." he shrugs. "Well, I think we'd better go home."
"You know, you can look me in the eyes. It won't kill you."
He turns to look at her and finds her glaring at him. "It just might," he replies, hurt despite himself. He hadn't expected anything different, any other reaction, so why does he feel like this? "Look Scully, I'm sorry about...I mean, I don't think -"
"I think you'd better come back inside with me," she says sharply, seizing his hand. Her touch passes through him, an electric jolt, stunning him for a moment. Is she saying what he thinks she's saying?
"Well?" "Yes ma'am."
Hours pass of drinking and dancing. They sway to the music, rarely speaking, holding onto each other for support. At least, that's what they tell themselves. Really they can't keep their hands off each other. "Look at us," says Mulder, at one point, nuzzling her ear. "Agents Mulder and Scully, two of the FBI's finest. A pair of crusaders fighting for justice. We're like Watson and Holmes... Batman and Robin...Rocky and Bullwinkle -" "Sonny and Cher?" she whispers. He isn't making sense but she doesn't care.
"I get to be Cher," he responds, laughing.
"Then I get to be Batman."
Scully's had enough beers to numb the tip of her nose and the pads of her fingers, and now everything is nice. Everything is perfect.
The party is winding down into slow dance time. Right now the singer is crooning, "...When the night falls on you...you don't know what to do...Nothing you confess could make me love you less...I'll stand by you..."
"This song is giving me a tooth ache," Mulder grumbles in her ear. "Shut up," she replies affectionately, running her hands over his back. "I think it's a nice song." He makes a gagging noise and pulls her a little closer, resting his chin on top of her head. She's in the right position to put her lips to his neck, so she does. She hopes he'll do something in retaliation but he just gulps and makes a low noise in his throat, so she kisses him again.
"...Let me come along, 'cause even if you're wrong...I'll stand by you..."
"You taste nice," she whispers, and he slides his hands down the small of her back, down further until his fingertips are brushing her thighs. She shivers.
"I think maybe we should leave before we turn into pumpkins," murmurs Mulder, kissing the curve of her ear.
"I think maybe you should kiss me before we turn into pumpkins."
"I am kissing you," he replies. He nips her earlobe. She giggles and he bends to kiss her neck. "No, I mean, really kiss me."
"Dr. Scully, I'm confused." His tongue flickers against her skin. "Why don't you demonstrate?"
"Well..." she tilts his jaw until he's facing her. "First, we pucker our lips."
Mulder sucks in his cheeks until he looks like a goldfish. "Like this?" She gives his ear a sharp tug and he pouts, sticking out his lip. "That's better. Second," she continues, "You bend down slightly and pull me closer."
He doesn't take long to comply.
"Third, I get up on my tiptoes." She moves as she speaks.
"And then?" Mulder whispers, his hot breath on her mouth.
"Then -" He kisses her.
And now for something completely different.
Linus: "Here we are, Snoopy, sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Every Halloween the Great Pumpkin flies through the air with his bag of toys, and just think...if you and I sit here all night, we may get to see him! "I really appreciate you sitting out here with me, Snoopy...I must admit, however, that I've been wondering why you're wearing those dark glasses."
Snoopy: "There are certain times when you prefer not to be recognised!"
--from 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown', by Charles Schultz
The songs I quoted were, in order:
The Monster Mash (Bobby Boris Pickett) Ghostbusters Theme (Ray Parker Jnr.) Thriller (Michael Jackson) Over at the Frankenstein Place (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show OST) The Sign (Ace of Base) 100% Pure Love (Crystal Waters) All I Wanna Do (Sheryl Crow) Whip It (Devo) Shoop (Salt'N'Pepa) Stand by You (The Pretenders) Just in case you're concerned, this does not reflect my taste in music (or what I believe Mulder and Scully's taste in music would be)--I tried to choose songs appropriate for the era. Many of them were released in 1994 or thereabouts. If I've messed up somehow, it's probably because I turned nine in '94. Yep, if I lived in the U.S. I'd be one of the trick-or-treaters at the start of the story. The one dressed as the Warner sister, Dot.
Also, I realise that, according to the show's timeline, Scully was still in hospital during Halloween '94. However, there are so many inconsistences in the timeline that I don't care. I mean, what happened to the month of quarantine Mulder and Scully supposedly underwent after Firewalker? And how long, exactly, does it take to get back to work as an *FBI Agent* after waking up from a serious coma after being missing for three months? Surely more than a week or so. Hmph.