Rating: pg-13 for a few bad words and disturbing
The fingers of Mulder’s right hand drummed steadily to a beat only he could hear against the dashboard of the car. The knuckles of his left hand were white as he clutched the steering wheel in what was tantamount to a death grip. Scully sighed inwardly as she shifted uncomfortably on the black vinyl seat of their rental car. The humidity was stifling, matched only by the tension that enveloped both her and Mulder like an unwanted blanket on a hot summer night.
Pushing a hand through her hair, she chanced a sideways glance at her partner. Mulder’s profile was set in stone. His jaw clenched tightly, shoulders held stiff and straight, impenetrable. A lock of thick chestnut hair had fallen damply across his forehead. She instinctively wanted to reach over and softly brush it aside but deemed it unwise. His whole body screamed pissed off.
“Mulder,” She began tentatively.
His head whipped around. Eyes so green they rivaled freshly mined emeralds flashed dangerously at her. He raised his hand open palmed in a dismissive gesture before turning back to the road. Anger rolled off him in waves. Scully sighed, aloud this time, and turned to the scenery that flew passed the car. Colors blurring into a mismatched artists palette. She hadn’t questioned him when he had left the main highway and turned onto the coast road. A pissed off and petulant Mulder was not to be reasoned with.
Mulder’s voice, its tone deceptively soft cut through the air as decisively as a hot iron through butter. Scully felt an involuntary shiver pass over her. She knew that tone, it was the one he used when dealing with a particularly recalcitrant suspect and he wasn’t going to brook anything but the truth. She didn’t however, question his query. She knew exactly what he was questioning. Why hadn’t she sided with him on his analysis of the case they had just left? A case he was now fleeing as if the very hounds of hell were pursuing them.
Lying her head back against the seat, she closed her eyes. A kaleidoscope of images ran across her closed lids, her own private slideshow.
Click: Five towns.
Click: Five small bodies. All male between the ages of nine and eleven. Beaten and then strangled. All abducted from their beds while there was a parent in the house. No sign of a forced entry. All returned to their beds, dead, 72 hours later.
Click: Mulder, not sleeping, refusing to eat. Consumed with solving the crime. Exhausting both himself and those around him.
Click: Mulder in tears.
Click: Mulder screaming out into the night as the dreams came.
Click: Mulder finally telling her what he truly believed. Alien abduction.
The local Police had eventually bought into custody a woman who was employed as a maid by a service that all the families used. Mulder was furious.
“No Prints, Scully. No physical evidence at all. That woman is smaller than you. How could she have carried out those boys who weighed about the same as her, through an occupied house unseen? It’s all circumstantial bullshit!”
He had carried on his tirade until he finally fell asleep. Scully had sat watching him sleep for a while, occasionally smoothing the hair from his forehead. When awake Mulder was the personification of energy, all forward motion. In rest he had the face of a sleeping child. Long eyelashes lying low on his high cheekbones, soft full lower lip pouting slightly. While she had to agree that the lack of evidence was troubling, the woman in question had held a key to all five residences, she was definitely a suspect. Mulder was out on a limb on this one. He wasn’t here to profile. They had happened upon the crimes purely by accident. Driving back from a well deserved vacation. Life had been hard on them lately and they had needed time to re-group and re-group they had indeed. Scully allowed herself a small smile at the memory, but their luck being what it was they had happened upon this on the way home. Mulder was out on a limb here, he wasn’t here to profile or investigate.
He was simply here to assist, whatever the hell that meant.
Mulder had been no calmer in the morning and had confronted the detective in charge with his usual take no prisoners approach. Finally, as his rants had approached the sound barrier she had lain her hand on his arm and said quietly,
“Mulder, I think you’re wrong about this.”
His eyes, always a window to his feelings, had registered a depth of pain that took her aback. He had shaken off her hand and stepped back as if she had physically struck him. The detective had a self-satisfied smirk on his face that she had itched to smack off. Mulder strode over to the door, pausing only to throw over his shoulder,
“Be ready detective, because it’s not over. You’re going to lose more.” Before sweeping through the door without so much as a backwards glance at her. His silence was a living breathing entity and had continued as they went back to the motel, changed into travel clothes, threw their bags into the car and
left. Her only attempt at conversation was met with a heated glare, a definite storm brewing in his hazel eyes.
Scully opened her eyes as she heard Mulder’s tersely muttered, “Fine.” Rolling her shoulders to try and ease the tension gathering there, she cranked open a window. The salty tang of sea air assaulted her senses but bought no relief from the humidity. The breeze that washed over her was far from refreshing, more like a blast from a furnace. Black clouds were gathering on the horizon and the closeness of the air was suffocating, dusty and thick. All the ingredients of a summer storm and the surf in the cauldron of the sea roiled wickedly. She clutched wildly at the door handle when the car lurched suddenly to the right as Mulder skidded to a halt on the sandy verge at the side of the road. He was out of the car and headed down the dune to the beach before she could form a question. Scully was torn, he probably needed some time alone but the man she cared so deeply for was obviously in pain and the need to help him was physical in its intensity. Her decision made, she bolted from the car and scrambled down the bank after him.
The breeze took her words and mockingly threw them back at her. Waist high sea grass snapped unforgiving at her bare arms, driven by the rising winds.
She flung at his retreating back. Running full out she caught up with him and reached for his arm.
Spinning around he glared at her.
“Go back to the car, Scully.”
“No,” she countered.
His arms folded protectively across his chest and in his eyes she saw the walls come up.
“Mulder, please listen to me.” Her hand reached for his face and he jerked away.
“You saw the evidence,” he growled. A flush of temper tinting his cheekbones. Her own temper answered.
“What evidence, Mulder?” She snapped out.
“There was no blood, no fingerprints. Nothing was disturbed at all. No evidence, Mulder. There was nothing!”
“Exactly,” he said softly.
Frustration raced through her, “You’re seeing things that aren’t there, Mulder.”
His intake of breath and the paleness of his face told her the mistake.
“Seeing things, Scully?” His baritone voice taking on a dangerous, honeyed cadence. “Like maybe, little green men? Ghosts, perhaps? ‘Spooky’ things, Scully?”
“No!” His voice was rising now, fingers running distractedly through his hair and pacing in his
agitation. “After all these years and all the crap we’ve seen, it’s still not enough is it?” His tone dropped a level and his shoulders sagged in defeat.
“After all that we have become to each other, Scully. Why is it easier to believe that your partner has finally lost it than it is to see the truth?” His hands came to fall loosely at his sides, palms turned up as if in a question of their own. His wind ravaged hair had fallen into his eyes, eyes that were now downcast as he distractedly sucked on his lower lip.
Scully reached for his arm slowly, so as not to startle him. A fat drop of rain falling onto her hand as she did so. Vaguely she registered the roar of thunder. Waves crashed violently upon the sand, accompanying the distant rumble. A gull screeched harpy like above them. All around them was a veritable symphony of nature.
“Mulder.” She spoke very softly. No answer from the man in front of her. The cacophony surrounding them registering with him not at all. Placing two fingers under his chin, she gently raised his face to hers. Deep hazel met blue and the tears that had been threatening for a while now finally fell as his voice cracked, “They’ll take more, Scully. Why the children? Why do they hurt the children?” He fell heavily to his knees and Scully fell with him gathering him into her arms as the storm broke literally and physically.
Rain fell onto her back soaking her thin white tee shirt as she rocked him slowly, gentle hands running through his soft hair. Moving her hands to his taut shoulders she felt the sobs wrack his body as the storm around them grew in power, lashing them both with driving rain and soaking them through. His tears ran warm down her neck as his fingers fisted into her shirt.
“You did your best, Mulder,” she soothed. Finally resorting to comforting crooning sounds of the sort that seemed to pull him from even his worst nightmares. The sand beneath them dug grittily into her knees even through their denim covering, her hair whipped across her face as if snakes from Medusa and she gave no thought to moving. Mulder clung to her as a child separated from his mother might when finally reunited.
These cases exhausted them both. Cases with children always affected them both deeply. Cases where the children had been physically or sexually abused crucified him for reasons that Scully wasn’t sure she was ready to explore. What felt like eons after they had fallen to the sand, she felt him shift against her and his crying slowed to a hitch in his breath now and then. Mother nature seemed to be somewhat pacified too, the pelting rain having tapered off to a soft drizzle. Mulder finally raised his face to hers.
“Hey,” she whispered. The anguish and angry fire in his eyes had been replaced by a gold flecked hue of complete emotional depletion.
“You’re all wet, Scully,” he stated simply, raising a hand to run his knuckles gently down her cheek.
“It’s raining, Mulder.” She smiled softly.
Getting to his feet, he helped her up and pulled her into the circle of his arms as if to shield her from the rain.
“You’ll catch cold,” he murmured into her hair.
“It’s a warm rain, Mulder. Summer storm.”
His head was lowering slowly down to hers. She still had questions and he still needed answers but right now she had all she needed right here. He was safe and relatively whole. His firm chest pressed against her, the heat of him relegating everything else to secondary status.
“A storm that needed to break.” She spoke softly against his lips as the tip of his warm tongue ran across her lower lip and his mouth captured hers.