Disclaimer: His, theirs, not mine. No infringement intended. You know who I’m referring to: CC and 10-13.
Author’s Notes: They’re not mine but they’re not his either. They belong to themselves, they deserve that much. Send all comments to XScout@hotmail.com I love feedback!! Sidenote- this is a rewrite of something written years ago that I felt needed refining.
December 7, 1993
The two federal agents walked into the motel’s reception office, their coats flapping in the wind and the taller of the two fighting with the door. They managed to make it inside and shook flakes of snow off their trenchcoats, the small white chips melting immediately on the thin carpet. A young woman, more of a girl really, greeted them sweetly, her huge doe-like eyes and easy smile making her seem as though her only goal in life was to please the customers.
“Hello and welcome to the Bayside Bed and Breakfast. My name is Brandy, how can I help you?” she asked brightly, eagerly flipping open the registration book.
The tall man with a handsome face and thick brown hair stepped forward. “I’m Agent Mulder and this is Agent Scully. We made reservations for two rooms yesterday.”
The girl’s eyes widened slightly but her expression remained set in one of willing subservience. She stared at the pair in front of her a moment longer then frantically began to search the book in front of her. After several long seconds, she took a deep breath and looked back up at her guests. “Um, are the reservations under the name Mulder, or Scully?”
The red-haired woman leaned over the desk, having to stand on her toes to do so, and peered down at the neat penmanship filling the book’s large pages. “Should be under Scully, Dana Scully. Why, is there a problem?”
“Well,” Brandy hesitated, “it only shows one room under that name.” The girl looked like she had just pronounced the coming apocalypse and expected the news to be taken just as badly.
“No problem, we’ll just get another one,” Scully replied. A smile was upon her face and there was a sympathetic gleam in her eye for the girl who was obviously new on the job.
“But, I’m afraid there aren’t any other rooms available. The Annual Bayside Rodeo Championships are this week and all the rooms are full.” Brandy’s voice raised several octaves as though the thought of failing her customers was terrifying.
Mulder leaned closer to the desk, his loud tie falling softly on the wood and drawing Brandy’s eyes with its intense colors. “Are there any other hotels around here?”
Yes, there are two others but they have no vacancy,” the girl answered right away. She quickly explained, “I know because I called earlier today trying to find rooms for a group of eight. I had to send them to Del Camino, the next town over. Takes an hour to get there but there’s more hotels and probably plenty of rooms.” She raised her eyebrows in a silent query to see if the two government employees would like her to call around.
Mulder turned to his partner, “Scully, that’s too far. We need to be close enough to the police station and the crime scenes to get there in fifteen minutes or less in case they need us on short notice.”
A small whimper issued from Brandy’s throat, her brows knitted together and tears pooling along her lashes.
Scully looked at the girl, alarm on her face as she watched Brandy’s emotional state start to crumble. Pity appeared to make her decision for her. “That’s okay, we’ll take the room. It does have two beds, doesn’t it?”
Relief flooded the young woman’s features. “Oh yes, as well as a mini bar, television, and lots of closet space.” She hastily wiped the tears from her eyes, a flush running across her cheeks, though whether from embarrassment at crying over something so simple or if merely overwhelmed by her relief it wasn’t clear.
Mulder glanced sharply at his partner, tension making sharp angles on his face. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” he whispered.
Scully shook her head, not even looking at the man beside her. “Nonsense. We are both professionals and will both act accordingly.” Now she glared at him as though daring him to refute her statement. Without waiting for an answer she continued, “I know you like to work late but I’m sure I will manage to sleep through any noise you make.”
If she had been looking at her partner she would have found the expression on his face disconcerting. It was a mixture of nervousness and fear. As it was, she missed it and had instead smiled again at Brandy, who had finally pulled herself together.
The young receptionist sniffed deeply and nodded as though she had been asked a question. “Oh, thank you for choosing to stay with us, you won’t regret it. You’re in room thirteen, down the hall just outside to your left. We serve a breakfast buffet in the dining room from six thirty to nine a.m.. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.” She handed Scully the key and made the appropriate notation in the registration book.
“Thank you,” the redhead replied as she took the key. “C’mon, Mulder, let’s get to the room so I can change out of these clothes and get warm.” Her partner followed her out the door, the wind once again attempting to rip the door from its hinges.
As soon as the two agents stepped outside, Mulder looked down at Scully with his eyebrows raised, curiosity overlying the remaining tension that had appeared a few minutes before. “I didn’t think you were the type to give in so easily,” he stated.
“She was about to have a breakdown, Mulder, I couldn’t let her cry over such an insignificant mistake. Besides, it’s the logical decision. Just think how much we’ll save the Bureau; Blevins might overlook the fact that this hotel is twice as expensive as your usual... establishments.” The way she said ‘establishments’ expressed her serious doubt that their previous lodgings would rate such a title.
Mulder made a face at her before walking through the door she just unlocked. He deposited her suitcase on the bed nearest the window then tossed his own belongings into the open closet. Scully shot him a disgusted glare that seemed to communicate every single woman’s incomprehension of how men could live out of a suitcase.
He just flashed her a grin and set his briefcase, which he had been carrying tucked under one arm, on the table and popped it open. After rummaging around in it for a few moments he let out a small grunt when he found what he was searching for and pulled out an inch thick stack of papers.
“Here it is,” he announced as though he had just found a diamond amongst coals. He removed his jacket and laid it over the top of one of the chairs at the small table, Scully following suit but toeing off her shoes as well. He settled into the cushioned chair and she pulled her own seat closer to him so that they could see the information at the same time without one of them having to read upside down.
Flipping through the first few pages, Mulder removed them from the stack and set them aside, as they were the usual Bureau coversheets. “There have been three murders in the past two weeks, all committed within the surrounding five miles. Each victim was gutted and then strung upside down to drip dry. Like in a butcher’s shop.” He pursed his lips in distaste. “I’m sure there’s a cannibal joke in there, but I can’t find it.”
“Where is it?”
“Where’s what?” Mulder’s confused tone matched the look on his face. “The cannibal joke? I said-”
“No, I’m talking about the unexplained phenomena. What makes this an X-File?” She looked as though she were waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“It’s not an X-File. We were called in on this one as a favor for Bill Patterson. I’m supposed to write up a profile and you get the enviable job of performing the autopsies. At least the main incisions have been done for you.” A smirk spread across his face but didn’t reach his eyes.
Scully brushed aside his inappropriate joke, knowing it was only an attempt to distract her. “Bill Patterson? He’s the head of the Behavioral Science Unit out of Violent Crimes. I’ve never met him but I have been to a few seminars he’s taught. Smart man,” she commented.
“Mmm,” Mulder agreed vaguely. “I suppose the fact that Bill called *me* could make it an X-File, if you feel the need for it to be grounded in something phenomenal. Anyway, we meet the agent in charge, Darryl Avon, tomorrow morning.”
Scully must have heard something in his voice when he mentioned Patterson because she didn’t press the matter. “So there’s no UFOs, ghosts, monsters, religious mysteries, or demons at work?”
He was shaking his head as she spoke. “Nope, just your average boring serial killer. Of course, some would argue that any person able to inflict such horrors on another human being is more of a demon than an actual person.”
“Well, Mulder, I’m surprised. I didn’t think you would be willing to work on anything unrelated to the X-Files. Especially when I saw how territorial you were when Colton’s investigation crossed with ours.” A tiny smile of satisfaction turned up her lips at the memory of Tom Colton’s spluttering when she and her partner solved the Tooms case for him.
“Five years out of the ISU and I’m still paying dues.” It was the only explanation he offered.
Scully knew when to let it go. “So, what have you come up with so far?”
They had discussed the case for several hours, Scully constantly amazed at her partner’s skill in profiling. He was able to describe the killer’s emotions and motives, his upbringing and social life. At first she was skeptical, but as the night went on she was able to see the logic involved in each intuitive leap.
She had heard he was good but she had no idea he was *this* good. The profile he’d written on the Brad Wilcek case was nothing compared to this but she finally understood what Jerry Lamana had meant when he’d claimed Mulder had solved all the cases and he, Jerry, had just tagged along. Mulder’s talents were being wasted on the X-files; at this rate they’d catch the perp by tomorrow night. She would have brought that fact up but Mulder’s previous comment about paying dues reminded her that perhaps he had a good reason to leave the ISU. Whatever the reason, she was glad he was so proficient and that this was going to be an open and shut case. She had only been working with Mulder for a few months, but in that time she had been challenged more often than in her previous two years with the Bureau.
Not that she minded, it was a nice change from the monotony of autopsies. She shook her head at the irony of that thought and bent her head back to reviewing the files. The sound of Mulder’s pen scratching notes was a soothing drone that soon she could hardly keep her eyes open. It wasn’t until she had read the same sentence three times before she realized she was nodding off.
Mulder must have noticed as well, because he laid a hand on her shoulder, “Scully, go to bed, you’re going to be in no shape to work tomorrow if you don’t get any sleep.”
“Huh, what?” she asked groggily.
“Go to bed, I can finish the rest of the profile by myself. Get some rest.” He reached over and took the pile of papers in front of her, setting them next to his own.
“What about you,” she protested, “You need sleep too.”
“On the contrary, Dr. Scully, I am an insomniac. Four to five hours of sleep is all I need to be the bright and energetic man you find every morning in the office. That and eight cups of coffee.” He grinned impishly at that. “So, off to bed with you and I’ll try to keep the noise to a minimum.” As though she had already agreed, he turned back to his notepad and picked up his pen.
Scully sighed in acquiescence and pushed back her chair. She stood slowly, stretching out the kinks in her spine. After the last satisfying pop, she went to her suitcase and withdrew her nightclothes, heading into the bathroom to change. Minutes later she emerged wearing a T-shirt and sweat pants, her hair pulled back into a small pony tail. She glanced over at her partner, who was still studiously ignoring her.
Well, what did she expect? The man could focus on a case with an intensity that shut out the rest of the world. With a shrug she pulled back the covers on her bed and snuggled gratefully down onto the mattress. It was freezing temperatures outside but the hotel heater was doing its work and she felt confident that she wouldn’t need any extra blankets.
“Night, Mulder,” she managed to say through an enormous yawn.
“G’night, Scully,” he answered absently.
It only took moments for her to fall asleep, lulled by the scritch scratch of his pen.
Scully shot up in bed, blindly grabbing for her weapon on the nightstand. Weapon in hand, she crouched low on her bed, searching the room for any sign of danger. The only thing the darkened room revealed was Mulder, sitting in the middle of his own bed, the blankets twisted up in his legs and his shirt damp with sweat.
She crawled out of bed, keeping her gaze locked on her partner’s form. He didn’t seem to be aware of her, his body heaving and shivering at the same time as he stared at the space directly in front of him. When she knelt by his bedside she could see that his eyes were unfocused and wild with fear, his face drawn up into such a grimace of anguish that she thought for a moment that he must be in pain.
Laying her gun back on the nightstand, she reached out with her right hand and lightly touched his shoulder. “Mulder?”
He jerked back from her touch and his labored breathing became more pronounced. Then all of a sudden, as if someone had flipped a switch, he turned to look at her, his damp hair dangling in his face. His eyes cleared and he began to take in his breaths more evenly.
“Scully?” he asked softly/
She nodded. “Yeah, it’s me. You all right?”
Fleeting panic flashed across his face before he buried it in his hands, taking a few deep shuddering breaths. “Oh God, I’m sorry,” he mumbled through his fingers.
She reached out to him again but paused, remembering his initial reaction. Instead she set her hand on the bed just next to his thigh. “It’s okay, I-”
“No, it’s not,” he interrupted, lifting his face from his palms, which she could now see were also sweaty. “I should have warned you.”
Scully stared at him for a moment, puzzled by this statement. Then she remembered his hesitancy in sharing a room and realization hit her. “You thought this might happen, didn’t you?”
He answered her by refusing to meet her eyes. “You can condition your body to need less sleep over a period of time until insomnia becomes a natural state.” Mulder’s eyes flicked to hers before darting away to some point beyond in the darkness. “If I don’t sleep, I don’t dream. If you can even call it that,” he laughed humorlessly.
Scully remained silent, absorbing this information. ‘Condition you body...over a period of time’? “How long has this been going on?”
The darkness seemed to lose his interest and his gaze dropped to his hands, which lay limp in his lap. “Since Samantha,” he whispered.
“That was over twenty years ago, Mulder!” She was shocked at how anyone could live and function with a sleeping disorder like that. “How often do you have these...dreams?” She hesitated on the word, knowing it wasn’t the right definition for whatever night terrors he had.
He sucked in a long breath through his nose and let it out slowly. “Every night unless I am completely exhausted. I can’t remember the last real dream I had. It’s always Sam’s abduction, serial killers, my father, a combination of them in some twisted monstrous nightmare that leaves me wondering whether anything I remember from my past is true.”
“Mulder, I...” She didn’t know what to say. It was obvious that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but she knew he would be aware of that, what with his background. She thought about mentioning the option of medication but then remembered the last time she had offered him sleeping aids, just after Jerry Lamana’s death. He had rebuffed her vehemently and refused to listen to any more of her medical advice for a week after that. Maybe a therapist. She doubted he would go for it but at least she could suggest it. “You should talk to someone.”
“I’m fine, Scully, I don’t need some shrink to tell me what’s going on in my own head. I’ve heard it all before and I’m tired of hearing it. Base interpretations straight from college psych with no real depth or understanding are of no use to me and a waste of everyone’s time.”
It then occurred to Scully that Mulder must have, at some point, seen the Bureau psychologist. More than once, apparently. It made sense, considering his reputation in the ISU and the basic tests all applicants to the FBI had to take. But Mulder had his own Ph.D. in psychology and knowing just how brilliant his mind was, there was little doubt that he outmaneuvered the Bureau shrinks and passed all his tests with flying colors.
Mulder must have read the expression on her face and known what was going through her mind. “I’ve been living with this for a long time, there’s nothing to worry about. I’m sorry I woke you, you should go back to bed.”
She could almost hear the gates slamming shut and the walls being erected brick by brick. Knowing there was little hope of breaching his defenses, she just nodded and moved back to her own bed.
Pulling the covers up to her chest, Scully chanced a look in he partner’s direction. He was already lying down, his back towards her in a silent statement of rebuttal. She sighed quietly in disappointment and settled down in her pillow, knowing it would take time for sleep to take her.
This time Scully awoke to the sound of someone thrashing about. She rolled over to see Mulder still asleep, tossing his head, his legs churning among the blankets. He was mumbling something but she couldn’t hear at this distance. Sliding out from between the sheets, she stole a bit closer until she was but two feet from him. She felt as though she were eavesdropping, but her morbid fascination overpowered her moral sense. She wanted to know what haunted his dreams.
For a second she thought he had woken up and was apologizing for disturbing her again. But his eyes were closed and she could see rapid movement beneath his eyelids.
“I tried to save her... I can’t remember... please... don’t...”
His last words were terrified and he began to shift more frantically, as though trying to get away from something. He raised his arms halfway and flinched, attempting to ward off some unseen attacker.
Her heart twisted in response to the torment Mulder was experiencing and she knew it was time to stop this. Her arms were halfway raised to shake him out of his troubled sleep but she fell back in surprise when he cried out.
“No, stop! I’m sorry... please... Dad... don’t!”
Oh God. She rocked back on her heels, bile rising in her throat at the implications. He was dreaming of his father, who must blame him for his sister’s disappearance. Apparently Bill Mulder had taken his out his anger physically. Suddenly a lot of Mulder’s strange behavioral idiosyncrasies were explained - his inability to trust anyone, his wisecracking emotional barriers, his aloof demeanor, and his overdeveloped sense of guilt. But maybe she was jumping to conclusions. Perhaps, as often happens in dreams, one thing was just a representation of another. It was possible that his father’s anger and blame was interpreted as a physical attack in the dream world. And maybe pigs could fly.
Any other thoughts she might have had vanished with the strained cry that erupted from her partner’s throat.
“NO!” This time he jerked violently and sprang up, instantly awake. He fought of the dream haze with a shake of his head and look guiltily around him. His tear stained face and heaving chest were the only signs of the nightmare. Surprise crossed his face when he saw his partner kneeling next to him.
She could see the walls crumble slightly as regret and sadness washed through his eyes, followed by a sort of panicked angst. “Jesus, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He scrubbed his face with his trembling hands and leapt to his feet. “I... I have to go.”
He managed to untangle himself from his sheets and put on the running shoes that were on the floor by his bed in less than a minute. He was moving towards the door, snatching up his jacket from where it had been thrown over a chair, before Scully was even able to process what he was doing. Then he was gone in a blast of frigid air, leaving Scully where she was, on the floor next to his bed, her eyes fixed on the door he had just gone through.
She made to follow but stopped in her tracks, halfway across the room. What was she doing? It was obvious that Mulder didn’t want company, wanted to deal with his demons alone. And really, what business was it of hers? Yes, she was his partner and it was her duty to make sure his was fit for his job, but he had been performing far above standards for years all the while living with this... sleeping disorder. And while they had grown closer over the last few months, baring one’s deepest darkest secrets was going to take a level of trust that they hadn’t reached yet.
Perhaps, one day, but not yet. Having made her decision, she moved towards the bathroom. There was no way she was going to be able to go back to sleep, so she might as well get ready for the day ahead. And when Mulder returned he would find her the consummate professional, ready to work and without a hint of disapproval of his behavior. She would make no mention of the past few hours and would not discuss his sleeping habits at any time in the future unless he specifically brought it up or it was a danger to either of them. She was his partner and she would support him when he needed it, but there was little she could do to soothe his demons - real or imagined.
This thought settled like a stone in her stomach and she knew there was a sense of falsehood about it. Would his demons keep eating away at him until there was nothing left or was there a chance she might be able to lift some of the burden from his shoulders?
Possibly, someday. Only time would tell.