by JHJ Armstrong
Content: Angst, bits of story
Summary: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.
Distribution: Anywhere's fine, but please link to my site:
Notes: Thanks to Alanna for being online, and to Virginia
for just always being there.
Mid-April, and assorted Hoover's boys were talking about
ERAs but not the Constitution. Scully arrived just in time
to hear Mulder tell Kittridge, a rabid White Sox fan, that
David Wells was a fat fuck who didn't know a fastball from
fast food. She towed him out into the day before blood was
Lunch was sandwiches in a nearby public park, hers tuna
(light mayo), his BLT (double B), with communal chips
(baked not fried), eaten while sitting on the same side of
a sun-warmed granite table. They watched twentysomethings
play Ultimate Frisbee; idly, Scully wondered when the gene
for hips had disappeared from the human population.
A dog, a scruffy mutt type, raced by on the walking path,
and Scully laughed softly, sympathizing with the girl
being towed along behind it.
"Did you ever have a dog, Mulder?"
"Yeah. Chocolate lab named Cookie." He cocked his head,
remembering. "Samantha named him; she was two, and the
first word out of her mouth when Dad brought him home was
'cookie'. He died my senior year of high school. Old age."
"Mmm," she said, chewing and swallowing. "Nothing since?"
"No, I seem to be a one-dog man. But there were, oh, six
turtles, a Chia Pet and a frightening number of fish." He
squinted at her. "How about you? Ever thought of getting
"I miss Queequeg sometimes," she said. "Not because he was
especially lovable, or even obedient, but because he was
there when I got home."
Mulder gave her one of those looks where she thought he
might be able to see her heart flutter inside her chest.
But he just looked, he didn't speak, and another moment
when something could have been said passed by in silence.
If the world was just and right, no child would ever be
hurt, and those who were would have safe places to go with
no questions asked and love freely given.
But the world was full of wrong, and in the afternoon
Scully carved into a battered 15-year-old boy, gangly all
over in the way boys are when their bodies grow faster than
their coordination. Still, he was probably a basketball
player, wingspan and big hands helping when spider legs and
bigger feet got in the way.
She imagined Mulder at 15, and then herself, and wondered
what the star athlete and the shining pupil would have
thought of each other. Probably not much.
"Got a cause yet?" The grown-up Mulder's tie was askew,
and if her hands hadn't been covered in latex and blood
she would've reached up to straighten it. So she looked
at it, and he did it himself.
"Basal skull fracture with associated brain trauma, most
likely caused by repeated shoves into a wall at high
velocity. Just because the body stops moving doesn't mean
the stuff inside does."
He nodded. "Call me when you're done and we'll get dinner."
She nodded back, and they gave each other a half-smile,
a promise with no words.
After he was gone, she returned her attention to the
dead boy, twice the hurt at less than half her age. She
catalogued a crooked rib, noting not for the first time
that, when broken, humans will heal and be stronger than
they were before the break.
No kidding, she thought. Mulder and I ought to be made of
fucking titanium by now.
Scully wanted chocolate, but she was grumpy and there were
people in the break room laughing hard enough to expel
dentures. She didn't want to ruin the mood.
She sat on a chair in the hallway and dialed Mulder,
wanting him, his voice, but getting voice mail. "Mulder,
it's me," she said. "I'm done." She slipped the phone back
into her pocket and rubbed her temples, the boy's face
with its peach fuzz and acne scars large in her mind.
Every so often this happened, this inability to put death
back in cold storage. She supposed she should be thankful
for the proof she was still a person before she was a
doctor or an FBI agent, but it always made her feel weak
and that wasn't something she ever wanted.
Did profiling make Mulder feel this way? Did the motley
faces of suspects, of victims, ever surge up from the
depths of his psyche and threaten to drown him?
"Scully, you okay?" Her partner's baritone dared her to
tell him a fine lie as he crouched beside her chair. The
hyenas tromped past them, oblivious.
She looked at him, eye level for once, and decided it was
time somebody said something.
"No, I'm not."
Back in her apartment, he heated soup while she selected
music. She pushed play, and chamber singers filled the
air with words it seemed like she'd known since birth.
Her brain translated the Greek into English out of habit.
"Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy)...Christe eleison (Christ
Mulder brought soup, crackers and juice on a tray. "That's
pretty." He handed her a napkin and a bowl. The soup was
soothing, but as its steamy warmth seeped into her flesh
she wished heartache could just evaporate, too.
"I loved to listen to the choir sing this at Mass. First
and last time I ever sang along in church," she said, not
trying to be funny. Just trying.
He settled on the couch next to her, slurping for a few
minutes, and she thought maybe she was trying too hard
until he put his bowl back on the tray and sat sideways,
facing her, with his head leaning on his left hand.
"When I was little," he said, tracing a blue stripe on the
couch with eyes and fingers, "I would listen to the cantor
and even though I didn't understand everything he said, the
purity and conviction in his voice was something special,
something holy. Something...higher." He picked up his glass
of juice, wiping the condensation on wool trousers before
it dripped on the couch.
"My cynicism grew with me, but I never was quite able to
shake that sense of awe I felt as a boy in temple. To this
day, I still feel it whenever I see or hear beauty."
She would not cry. "Hard to find beauty when you have to
look at beaten and dead children."
He sipped his juice and nodded. "Yes, it is." Then he put
down his glass, took her soup away and held both her hands
in his. "But I am in awe of you every day."
She smiled at him, accepting his kindness, and he squeezed
her hands before handing her back the bowl of chicken and
-- 30 --
thanks for playing in the sandlot with me
N.B.: I find it interesting that the happier our heroes
are on the show, the more angst I want for them in fic, and
vice versa. Argue/agree at firstname.lastname@example.org.