Summary: Post-ep for "Theef." "Big magic... only needs to believe in you. And trust me, it believes in you."
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Author's Notes: Part of Khyber versus S7. Thanks to Cathryn F. and Samiam for editing duties.
"Mulder, it's me. I got a cab. I'll meet you at the airport."
"No problem, what's up?"
"An hour of concentrated retail therapy."
"All right. Did you take your luggage?"
"Yeah, I've got it. Thanks."
LIL ITH she knew.
SA MA EL she didn't, though there was a vague creep of familiarity from something she'd read in Mulder's apartment at some point.
She stepped careful-casual around the pentagram anyway.
"Got something else you want me to take a look at?" the shopkeeper asked as Dana tried to look businesslike, holding a large manila envelope.
"Yeah, it's... evidence." Dana busied herself pulling an unlabeled evidence bag out of the envelope, a bundle of brown burlap inside it.
"No, it's not," the woman extended a hand to take the evidence bag. Dana stood immobile, looking at her, glancing down at the ragged little item in her own hand. The shopkeeper raised an eyebrow, beating the younger woman to it.
"You're learning fast," she said with a teasing note of approval. "It's okay, you don't need to worry about me. That stuff's not my game. I can probably tell you some things though." She paused. "Your call."
Dana considered for a moment, then handed the package over, Peattie's poppet face-down in its ziploc bag. The older woman turned it face-up, one hand stroking it gently through the plastic.
"Wow. This is powerful stuff, girly-girl." The younger woman's face clouded over even more, her jaw setting hard. "Sorry. That's bad, right? I got a flash there. Happens." The shopkeeper held the bag for a few moments, her eyes closing. Her voice slowed, became less nasal.
"Man's magic, learned from a father, a death charmer, healer gone very, very wrong. Oh, this is... wow." The closed eyes twitched as if she'd stubbed her toe. One painted thumb ran over the poppet's blank face, its nailpunched eyes.
"Someone very close to you, loves you, broke the hex. He's powerful too - not everyone can just do that. You spilled the hexer's blood."
"Okay." She shook her head once, clearing cobwebs. "Wow. Oh yeah, this is yours." The older woman's voice resumed its smartass tone as she handed the plastic bag back to Dana. "Yours like very few things are."
"What do you mean?" Dana asked, more quietly than she'd intended.
"This is a charm... a powerful, powerful charm. There is so much power bound up in that thing now. That hexer, he can't hurt you again, ever." The shopkeeper shrugged. "I doubt anyone walking this earth these days could, not with a hex or a curse. I wouldn't jump in front of a bus if I were you, but magically speaking, you are covered."
"You said that charms only work if they're important to the bearer, if someone believes in them."
"Then why are you here?" The shopkeeper smirked at Dana. "Besides, big magic's not jealous like the Nazarene. It only needs to believe in you. And trust me, it believes in you. Think of your little buddy there as a flu shot."
"What am I supposed to do with it?"
The occultist walked over to the low wooden desk to Dana's left. She lifted a small stack of hand-sized cards off the face-down deck.
"Don't carry it," she replied. "You're practically glowing. You'll attract all kinds of attention that way." She picked up another stack of cards, slowly shuffling them together, face down.
"What kind of attention?"
"Things that look for power. My advice?" She faced Dana again, tapped the stack of cards on the counter to line up the edges. "To really tie up the knot, I'd give it to that lover of yours, the one who broke the hex. Have him know it's yours, keep it safe for you."
The woman suddenly flipped over the stack of cards in her hands, as Dana swallowed her defensive answer. Why the hell does it matter what this lunatic urban gypsy thinks?
"It's all the same to the cards." The card topping the deck showed two medievally-rendered bodies, nude and entwined. "They're not much for technicalities. More... big picture. Interpret as you will."
Or what her cards think, fine, whatever. Dana turned to leave, voice cold.
"Thank you very much for your advice."
"Speaking of which," the shopkeeper said to Dana's back, "want me to do your cards? On the house." Dana's steps stopped abruptly, just short of the wheel painted on the floor. "With that around, I bet I can tell you the name of your son's first girlfriend and what color her eyes will be. I'm good with eyes."
"No, thank you." She waited for the tiniest second, then stepped discreetly around the circle and out the door.
"I kind of figured that," the shopkeeper said to her empty shop.
42 Hegal Place Arlington, VA
He expects the knock; she'd called to see if he was home. He hadn't heard heels in the hall, though. Suspicions are confirmed when he opens the door and he's looking right over her head. She's wearing off-duty canvas sneakers so she's tiny, off-duty almost-no-makeup so she's pale and young-looking. She's carrying a shopping bag from a shoe store at the outer range of her salary band. Her eyes stay slightly downcast.
"Hey, Scully, what's up?"
"Mulder, I need you to do me a favor." Ah, a practiced speech. He almost only ever gets to hear the first line of these, but appreciates the effort nonetheless.
"Sure, c'mon in. What's going on?" He moves aside, nodding to beckon her in. She doesn't move.
"Thanks, I... I can't stay, I just needed to ask you to do something for me." Right, Scully, he thinks, you don't even go out to buy lettuce without at least an inch of heel. This was a dash, something you felt in your belly and barely had the nerve for.
"Shoot. Hey - sure you can't stay? My TV comes with wiseass commentary." Ahh, he knows this look, jeans and fresh face and sneakers and ruffled hair. It's not a common one, and he generally only gets to see it on days when she's put keeping herself together ahead of putting herself together. He'd seen it for better reasons a couple of mornings, a couple of years ago, misses it suddenly and desperately. "Okay." His voice softens, not wanting to throw her off her plan any further. "What do you need?"
"I, uh, I have something here that I want you to hold onto for me." She lifts the bag, handing it to him. He peeks inside, sees Peattie's small Scully-manikin of rough cloth in its plastic envelope.
Keep surprising me, he thinks.
"You beat me to it," Mulder says quietly. "I was looking for this two nights ago up at that cabin. I thought it might be important."
She still doesn't meet his eyes, glancing down the hallway of his apartment building as if she's afraid someone's going to come with a butterfly net and a new wraparound coat.
"I just need you to, uh, keep it safe."
He reaches into the bag, takes out the soft package. We're casting a spell, he tells himself. We're throwing a big ol' half-, maybe three-quarters-believed-better-safe-than-sorry invisible pentacle around Scully.
A brief moment of vaguely uncomfortable silence is appropriate, and Mulder's mind goes on a free-associating rampage. Spellcasting Scully, a fine small finger, no, two, drawing practiced symbols in goofer dust, finishing a glyph with a sideways stroke of her thumb. A Minoan snake priestess, blue-eyed like no Cretan woman would be, red-haired, bare-breasted and sea-powered.
The moment passes. Sunday-night-in-DC Scully is in front of him now, looking for acknowledgment and a silent promise that this will join the ranks of things that Will Not Be Spoken Of Again.
"Yeah. I will. Don't worry, no shoeboxes. You... it'll be safe."
"See you tomorrow," he says as she walks away down the hall, glow invisible in her silent footprints.
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