The X-iles

Random Priorities

Sweeney Todd Review
NonEssential and NonExistent's NonsEnse
Push's Pad
Xtreme Unction's Labor of Love
Sacred Heart's Ambry
Satchie's "On the Safe Side"
Site Correspondence
Aye, There's the Rum


By Xtreme Unction


DISCLAIMER: This work was for love, not for profit. It is intended as an homage, not an infringement.

NOTES: Winner of the Mulder's Refuge November 2003 Contest.  Thanks to Sixth Extinction for all the insights and the extraordinary "beta."  Dedicated to T, who laughed when I first told her I was writing fanfic, but then promptly demanded a "proposal fic" if I was wasting my time anyway. <g> 

Part I - "Oh, my God!" 

I woke up with the mother of all headaches in an unfamiliar hotel room.  I have no idea how I got here, but right now I really don't care. 


I tried to ignore the shooting pain centered in the area between my eye sockets as I stumbled into the bathroom to take a leak.  Through squinted eyes I noted the strong steady stream banking off the side of the bowl and sighed deeply.  God, it feels good to pee.  You know that feeling of finally emptying one's bladder after holding it for too long?  Physical satisfaction of the purest, most basic kind. 

Why do I always raise the toilet seat, I asked myself irritably.  And why the hell do I always put the seat down, despite the fact that no woman ever uses my bathroom?  Except Scully sometimes, but those times are few and far between.  I know it's the polite thing to do, basic good manners my mother hammered into me, but why do I waste the energy when there is no one around to notice?  All I do is put it up again the next time I need to go.  And then, like a fool, down again.  Up, down, up, down...whoa, that's making me dizzy and nauseous. 

I caught myself staring open-mouthed into the mirror, dick still in hand, when I realized something.  I was thinking along these lines because the toilet seat was ALREADY UP when I came in the bathroom.  What the hell?  I'm too fucking polite to leave the seat up -- I think we've already established that -- so someone else must have. 

Why can't I remember anything about yesterday? 

I flushed (and put the seat down despite myself), then sat on the edge of the tub to figure out where I was. 

First of all, this is a huge tub.  With Jacuzzi jets and gold fixtures.  Since when do I stay in hotel rooms with bathtubs built for sex?  I'm sure accounting will have a cow when they see this on my expense report. 

A quick look around confirms my suspicions: a glass shower enclosure in the corner, thick luxurious bathrobes on marble shelves, a large basket of bath beads and lotions on a pedestal by the door.  Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. 

Lightning bolts of memory flashed through my head painfully.  A dark, smoky bar.  Kissing the silky curve of skin from her neck to her shoulder.  But who is the woman? 

At least I hope it was a woman, as I glance nervously at the toilet seat.  God forbid, I had a one-night stand with a man.  I blanch at the thought, before saying out loud, "No way I'd have done that."  I don't feel, er...sore...down there.  Or squishy from lube.  But that just means I wasn't, you know...a "bottom."  Who knows if I was "pitching" instead of "catching" in that ballgame? 

I pondered that concept for half a second before slapping myself back into reality.  What the blazing hell was I just thinking?  I am NOT going to speculate on this topic -- not unless I have more to go on than just a stupid toilet seat's position.  Jesus! 

I grab my head with both hands and try to shake loose more memories.  Not the best method, some would say, but I was desperate. 

Just as I was giving up, another bolt of recall ripped painfully across the arid desert of my mind, leaving me shaking.  Red hair and sparkling wine.  The smell of gardenias mixed with something deeper, more primitive.  Come to think of it, I can still smell that intoxicating mixture of her scents.  It's on my hands, my face, and all over me. 

The flashes of memory were coming faster now.  A confused look crossing her face, then her mouth dropping open in shock as I took...liberties.  Oh, my God. 

Did I just say, "Oh, my God"? 

No, I am remembering HER saying it. 

I am remembering Scully moaning, "Oh, my God." 

What have I done? 

 * * * 

 Part II - "Things Torn Asunder" 

I step out of the bathroom hesitantly, almost afraid of what I might find. 

The hotel room is mercifully empty.  My clothes are strewn around the floor, but my gun, my wallet and my keys are all neatly placed on top of the dresser.  I have no luggage, which seems odd.  I also do not seem to have my cell phone. 

A piece of black fabric in the tangled mess of white cotton sheets catches my eye.  It's a pair of women's panties. 


Acidic anxiety eats away at my stomach lining as I sit wondering if I raped Scully.  I am not capable of doing such a thing, I tell myself over and over.  I would never hurt her.  There are a million possible alternative explanations.

Goddamn it, I wish I could remember what happened.

The panties are stained, I note with interest.  On the outside, a drop of what smells like dried semen.  And lots of something else that smells entirely female on the inside.  A grin spreads across my face of its own accord.  I can't help it.  Man, I am pig, aren't I?  Or is it "amn't I?"  Grammatical dilemmas aside, I am somewhat relieved, since I know this can only mean something good happened before the panties were ripped off. 


And lots of it. 

As fascinating as it is to ponder that, my mind insists on a tangent. 

This is a priority:  WHY do I always sniff at stuff I cannot identify?  Why do I bring stuff right up to my face which could be dangerous, or even deadly?  Not that these panties look the least bit dangerous -- not in the traditional law enforcement sense of the word.

"Am I a pervert?" I ask myself aloud. 

No, definitely not.  I am pretty certain that 9 out of 10 heterosexual men, if presented with a pair of panties recently worn by a woman they find sexually attractive, would take a reverent whiff.  Oh, yes. 

I am impressed by how easily I can justify my perverted actions with some bullshit statistic. 

Nevertheless, I have been known to stick my fingers in bile secreted by monsters.  I have tasted red syrup masquerading as blood on a dead evangelist.  And that's not even the half of it.  So what the hell is wrong with me?  I should know better.  I am a pathetic excuse for a paranoiac. 

Tangent over, I quickly bring the panties back up to my nose and sigh. 

I really need to get psychotherapy. 

 * * * 

 Part III - "When Poetry Is More Than Art" 

I was lying crosswise on the bed, legs hanging over the edge and arms akimbo, staring at the crystal chandelier in my hotel room.  I was contemplating how to kill myself in order to end the jackhammering in my head, when my stomach let out a loud grumble.  I considered eating my gun, but only for a moment, and ordered breakfast from room service instead. 

I'm at The Plaza.  That much I figured out when I picked up the phone.  It's 7 p.m., but I ordered eggs and toast.  And lots of coffee.  The guy at the front desk confirmed that I checked in yesterday and paid in advance, in cash.  It sure would be nice to know what the hell is going on here, I mused.  I continued my wary examination of the room.

An empty bottle of Cristal and two champagne flutes sit on the round table by the window overlooking Central ParkInteresting.  Well, if this is just a hangover, I'm never drinking that expensive shit again.  I know I do all kinds of stupid things to impress Scully, but I have to draw the line.  It's Andre Cold Duck all the way from now on, damn it.    

Ah, it hurts to laugh at my own lame jokes. 

I brought my hands up to massage my temples but got distracted by Scully's scent.  I think I've watched too many MasterCard commercials.  Bottle of Andre Cold Duck = $4.99.  Bottle of Roederer Cristal Rose '95 = $299.99.  Bottle of whatever it is I'm smelling on my fingers and all over my face = priceless.  Wait, that's not how the commercial goes.  But who cares?

Okay, I am definitely a shithead, but I can't help smiling at the thought.  I wish I could remember what happened, but barring that, I am exquisitely happy just to have all this circumstantial evidence around me.  Snazzy kung-fu profiling FBI agent that I am, I can deduce what took place here.

Then, I noticed there was a thin book lying on a nearby chair.  I stretched and reached for it clumsily, almost falling off the bed.  When I realized what I was holding, I actually did fall.  My ass hit the floor with a quiet thud that jarred every last nerve ending in my head, but I'm proud to say I did not puke.  It wouldn't do to have the room service people find me in a puddle of my own vomit, now would it?   

Lying on the carpet, I thumbed carefully through what appeared to be a first edition of Leaves of Grass.  It was one of the few that were self-published anonymously, before Whitman got up the nerve to sign his name to it.  Why some writers are hesitant to acknowledge their own work is beyond me.  [*wink*]  Sure, this book was considered pretty scandalous by 1855 standards, but give me a break.  Poetry is art.  Wasn't it Whitman who said, "The poet judges not as a judge judges, but as the sun falling around a helpless thing"? 

Thank goodness he changed his mind.  This turned out to be his best work.  Just reading it now, I can feel the way it transforms me from a profane, perverted smartass to an introspective, romantic fool.  It's one of the few books that can flick that switch inside of me.

The dichotomy within most men is a curious phenomenon.  I am a gentleman in every important respect, and yet, let's face it, I am also a total male pig.  I'm just as likely to be found reading Playboy as Proust.  I can pick an excellent wine, but I can also burp and fart with the best of them.  No sense trying to deny aspects of my personality; there is only so much a guy can do to repress his uncivilized maleness.  A man's only hope is to find a woman who can set aside any unnatural expectations she may have of men's behavior based on what she's read in romance novels.  Those Bronte sisters are gonna be the death of my gender. 

At least Scully knows both sides of me.  She makes fun of the videotapes that aren't mine and swats me with a rolled up newspaper whenever I do something gross.  It's like I'm in puppy obedience school with her.  Except puppies get cuddles and treats from their mistresses.  I could use some cuddles, but right now I'd settle for puppy treats.  I wish my breakfast-slash-dinner would get here already.  I'm so hungry that in ten minutes I'll be gnawing on the pillows for sustenance.

My mind drifts back to the slim volume of poetry in my hands.  I wonder where I got it.  It's not the kind of thing you find everyday. 

It's from Christie's, according to the invoice with the certificate of authenticity I found tucked into the protective jacket.  Looks like I went through considerable effort and expense to obtain this.  But why? 

A memory shreds fresh wounds across my mind, leaving blood and raw emotion in its wake. 

"Mulder, I can't accept this.  It's too much." 

I was standing there mutely, stunned that she would turn away my gift.  Didn't she realize this was my version of a diamond engagement ring?  Granted, it is an unconventional gesture.  But when a man gives a woman an extremely valuable present like this, it's supposed to mean something, even if you can't wear it on your finger.  I guess I was counting on her to appreciate its significance. 

Well, maybe she understood perfectly and just didn't want it. 

That thought was almost too painful to contemplate. 

Stinging from her rejection, I struggled to maintain my composure.  Staying calm was an immediate priority.  

Then I blinked and the memories started coming, like an avalanche down the jagged slopes of my mind. 

 * * * 

 Part IV - "24 Hours Earlier" 

I was standing at the bar in a new charcoal gray suit, with a black dress shirt open at the neck.  No tie, of course.  I had to buy the designer suit off the rack (something I would not normally do) because I couldn't wait the week it takes to have one custom made.  At least the shirt was hand-tailored and perfectly pressed.   

Fortunately, there is no shortage of finer clothing stores for men in New York City.  I sipped at my single-malt and discreetly adjusted a cuff.  I haven't felt the urge to go out and purchase a new suit in a long time, much less ask a woman out on a date.  I have been, shall we say, a little preoccupied with my work these last couple of years.  I've had my priorities all mixed up, I realized and shook my head regretfully. 

But now I am ready to turn a corner.  

I knew I looked decent for once, as I avoided the appreciative gaze of a couple of women at the end of the bar.  I am flattered, but I have no interest.  There is only one woman at the center of my universe.  No galaxy, no constellation, nor even the brightest supernova could hold a candle to her in my heart.  Wish she were here already, I murmured to myself.

The gleam of my freshly shined black leather shoes matched my belt, my wallet, and my ankle holster.  Even my gun was all black, a SIG P228 9mm.  A civilized man's accessories always match, I thought with a wry grin. 

My hair was cut and styled this afternoon, but the best part of all was the shave.  It was so close that I could slide my cheek up a woman's silk-stockinged thigh, all the way up, without snagging a single thread.  Wishful thinking, Mulder.  But, I told myself, it never hurts to be prepared. 

The attendant at the salon teased me as she was trimming my cuticles and buffing my nails smooth.  "Who is this lucky woman?  Is she worthy of this effort you are making for her, like a fine gentleman would?"  I nodded, but kept mum.  Frankly, I was surprised to find myself here.  Manicures aren't exactly my thing.  "American women don't always know a true gem when they see one," she commented in a lilting French accent.  I smiled wistfully and told her, "The woman joining me tonight for dinner is the true gem.  I'm the lucky one."  That seemed to please her enormously. 

As I was leaving, she gave me a specially formulated hand lotion for my calluses.  "Use this before you touch her, Monsieur.  Unless, of course, she wants to be touched with rough hands.  Sometimes that is what excites the blood, no?"  She winked knowingly while I did my best to hide the blush creeping up my neck. 

Lotion or no lotion, I know my hands will never be the soft, genteel hands of a pianist or a librarian.  No, my fingers and knuckles bear the unmistakable appearance of a man who is capable of beating the hell out of someone, if necessary.  Staring down at my palms now, I frown at the thought of the violence of which they are capable.  Of which * I * am capable, I correct myself. 

They say looking at a man's hands can tell you a lot about him.  Scully is the one person in this world who knows me best, but that doesn't mean she knows everything she ought to know.  I hope she looks at my hands and sees in them the lengths to which I would go to protect her.  I would go to the ends of the earth for her.  And I have. I hope she doesn't focus on their sometimes brutish strength, but rather, on their gentle reverence when I touch her: the way I hand her a cup of coffee, the way I help her with her overcoat, and the way I guide her lightly through open doors with a hand on her lower back.  I wonder if she ever notices these things.  I feel the energy pass between us, electrifying me whenever our hands brush, even after all these years as her partner.  Yet she seems so unaffected. 

I shake myself out of this reverie and look at my watch.  It's half an hour past the time she said she would meet me here. 

It's not like her to be late, and I'm starting to get worried.  But then again, this isn't work.  This is "a date," I thought with a goofy grin. 

She can keep me waiting for as long as she desires. 

 * * * 

 Part V - "A Date" 

When I called and asked her to meet me in the city for a "date," she let out a deliciously surprised laugh.  I expected to have to explain myself at length, but there was no need.  She was quiet for a few seconds, and then she agreed.  My heart immediately started pounding.  I've been on pins and needles ever since, anxiously anticipating this evening.  "Do not screw this up!" was my mantra. 

The seconds and minutes seemed to drag on so slowly.  I just want her to be here.  Now that I know what I want, I can barely wait.  I decided to call her cell from a phone in the lobby. 

I nodded politely to the reservation clerk behind the desk as I walked by.  The chief concierge remembers me by name, from all the times my family stayed here when I was a child.  Though not obsequious, he and his staff treat me with a special level of deference reserved for what they call "old money."  It always makes me sad.  What they see in me is someone so far removed from the real Fox Mulder that it's damn near laughable. 

They still think of me as the quiet, well-behaved little boy holding Teena Mulder's hand as she crossed the huge lobby after a day of shopping on Fifth Avenue.  I look pretty good on paper, but it's entirely misleading: the combination of my Oxford education, the impeccable manners, the inheritance I almost never touch, the clothes, the perfect posture, and the prep school vocabulary.  If they only knew what a disappointment I turned out to be. 

For starters, they would shake their heads in disapproval if they learned I was still in the Bureau after all this time.  It's socially acceptable for a smart young man to work for the government for a couple of years, to get his feet wet in the so-called real world.  But by now, I should have been long gone -- off to bigger, better endeavors.  Instead, I was working in the basement on cases no one else would deign to investigate.  I snorted in self-derision. 

I have no idea why Scully hasn't left the X-Files.  I hope that it's because she doesn't want to leave me.  Leaving the X-Files would be leaving me, unless we had some other...connection. 

Last week, I "accidentally" saw a letter she received from Quantico, offering her a huge promotion and a pay raise to teach at the academy. 

Okay, I admit I was snooping. 

My mother always told me it was unwise to snoop, especially among a loved one's things.  "Be careful or you might find what you hadn't bargained for," she'd warn. 

"But the truth will set us free!" I always countered. 

"Not all truths, Fox," was all she would say. 

Now, many years later, I finally have some inkling of what she was trying to tell me.  It's funny how that happens. 

That letter has been weighing heavily on my mind ever since I saw it.  After much soul-searching, I realized I want her to take the job.  I think it's what she would prefer, especially now that she is undergoing fertility treatments.  It would be much easier for her to conceive without the stress of being a field agent.  I know it means the X-Files will suffer, but that's all secondary.  The most important thing to me now is Scully's happiness.  Don't ask me when that shift in priorities occurred.  I just know it has. 

So, it's time to establish that other...connection.  I think I can live without having her for a partner, as long as I can still talk to her everyday.  I can manage to get through the days if I know I'll be coming home to her every night.  And, although I am a self-admitted pig, this is not about sex.  It's about a connection between us that transcends everything else.  Saying I love her just doesn't convey the breadth of what I feel.  She is what makes my life worth living. 

Tonight, I plan to ask her if she will be my wife.  

If she ever gets here, that is. 

I look at my watch again. 

 * * * 

 Part VI -- "Nothing Important" 

I tried to open my eyes, but found the effort almost too much to bear.  The heavy weight on my eyelids felt like twin anvils, pushing down on my retinas, applying deadly pressure to the fine sheet of nerve tissue lining the inside of my eyes.  I could almost feel my corneas tearing. 

"Open your eyes, Mulder.  Please open your eyes."  Scully was whispering in my ear. 

I blindly reached for her hand and held on for dear life. 

"Scully," I rasped, "will you marry me?" 

"Mulder, wake up!  Snap out of it." 

I propped one eye open upon hearing the panic in her voice. 

One look around and I realized I was on the floor of my living room, with the coffee table upended and popcorn everywhere.  There was some kind of fluid in a puddle on the floor.  I stuck my finger into it and brought it up to my tongue. 

Goddamn it!  Didn't I just say I wasn't going to do that anymore? 

It wasn't bile or fake blood.  Just Shiner Bock. 

I think I remember what happened now.  Here and now, I mean.  We were watching a movie.  I spilled some popcorn butter on the floor but didn't mop it up.  (Mopping it up would mean admitting to Scully that I snuck butter into the popcorn, which I cannot do.  She'd kill me.)  Then I got up to get more popcorn and slipped on the slick spot, knocking the coffee table over, spilling the beers and sending the popcorn flying.  Serves me right, I suppose. 

Scully was carefully palpating the growing lump on my head.  I groaned. 

"You okay, Mulder?" 

"I think so.  I just had a very vivid, very detailed dream.  I think my life flashed before my eyes." 

"You were hallucinating.  I was worried about you.  You took a really hard blow to the head and kept muttering stuff." 

"Like what?" 

I remember asking her if she'd marry me.  I remember it clear as day. 

"Oh, just random words.  Nothing important," she said. 

"Random words.  Nothing important," I repeated softly.

I guess Scully has her priorities, too.

I struggled to maintain my composure, just like in the hallucination.

 * * * 

 Part VII -- "The Taste of Tears" 

Later, after we had righted the coffee table and cleaned up the mess, we were back on the couch.  I laid my head in her lap as she watched the rest of the movie.  Her fingers were softly running through my hair and her thighs were warm beneath my head.  I must have died during that fall.  This must be heaven.  I prayed that the movie would never end. 

"I meant it," I said softly, out of the blue. 

She was silent for a long time.  I was thinking perhaps she didn't hear me. 

"I know," she finally replied. 

Breathe, I instructed myself. 

I reached for her hand gently.  "Say yes, then.  Make me the happiest man that ever lived, Scully." 

I watched tears brimming in eyes, threatening to spill over. 

"You need a CT and an MRI scan for that head injury."

"Say yes, Scully.  I love you with every molecule of my being.  And I've been in love with you for years..."

"Mulder, settle down.  You're scaring me with these outbursts."

"I want to spend the rest of my life with you."  I continued, heedless of her protests and my own pride.  "I want you to be my wife.  Please say yes."

She stared into my eyes for a long time, speechless.  I thought my heart was going to break. 

"I will," she whispered at last.  "But you have to ask me again when you don't have a concussion, Mulder."

I shut my eyes gratefully.  Continuing to breathe was a definite priority now.  It's a good thing I was already lying down.  I felt lightheaded. 

"I'm not hallucinating, Scully."

She smiled.

"No, you're not."

When she leaned over and kissed me softly on the forehead, I reached a hand up to pull her down for more.  I've had enough of the forehead kisses.  I want more -- so much more than I can ever put down in words. 

Our lips met, hesitantly at first, barely touching behind the curtain of her red locks.  She seemed almost afraid.  I slid my tongue lightly across her lower lip before deepening the kiss.  I heard her moan, felt her abdomen tense, and then her thighs shifted underneath my head.  This immediate physical reaction nearly undid me.  It was confirmation of something powerful I was worried only I could feel.

Too soon, she broke the kiss, leaving me trembling with a sense of Whitman's "sun falling around a helpless thing."  I felt her lips move to my temples, where she was kissing away my tears and telling me they tasted like eternity.

I wasn't even aware I had been crying.

 * * * 

 Part VIII - "Post Script" 

Middle of the night, note to self: 

Must call jeweler a.s.a.p.  Move ring to the top of my fucking list of priorities. 

The Walt Whitman idea in my hallucination was very romantic, but some things have to be done conventionally, even by unconventional guys like me. This time I am definitely going to get her a ring.  I'm going to get down on one knee and offer her what little there is left of me that she does not already possess. 

But first I have to get a stupid CT and MRI scan.  She needs objectively verifiable scientific evidence that I'm lucid. 

That's my Scully, my perfect other, the yin to my yang. 

I'm going to love being married to this woman. 

 * * *

To read more about the unsigned first edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass: