Rating: Perfectly decent. :)
Keywords, declaration of contents, etc: Why bother? It's so short.
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Comment: I became sort of fascinated with the NEVER AGAIN episode just after I had got my own tattoo (a black cat on my left shoulder, in case anybody wondered), though I manage to avoid any references to Scully's beautiful Ouroborous in this little vignette. Fact is, I always wanted to extrapolate on the ending of that ep, since I first saw it. This scene starts a little before NEVER AGAIN leaves off, and continues a little past. With reservation for not remembering all lines verbatim.
Just one more thing, lest this introduction grow longer than the story itself: I don't write X-files stories. At least I try very hard not to. That said..
"All this just because I didn't give you a desk?"
Of the two of them, Mulder was the psychologist; he knew this couldn't be about a desk, but he had to start somewhere.
Scully's discontent was seeping off the walls in their small office by now, it had been tangible enough for days before she left. Before she left to 'live her own life' in the midst of an X-file, to pick up a lunatic off the street who wound up trying to murder her.. Mulder swallowed, he wasn't going to dwell on that. She had ended up in hospital, and he had been to see her - of course. She had seemed relaxed enough then. So it had to be something about this office.. not to cause her uneasiness, but to set her off. The place was rather cramped. But, another desk would only make it more so. All the same, she did exhibit some of the characteristics of a caged animal.
"Everything isn't about you, Mulder."
Ouch. And it wasn't even the first time she had said it. Was he really that egocentric? True, he had been calling on her all hours of the week, including weekends, to keep up the work he felt - knew was as important to her as it was to him. He had called her because he needed - wanted her at his side. He had thought - obviously mistakenly - that she wanted to be there too.
He got up and began to rummage in one of his old-fashioned file cabinets, just so she would not see his face right then. His world was falling apart - again - but he'd be damned if he'd show it. She had said a lot of things lately that were all like so many bayonets to his heart. Several of them right before his enforced vacation, just as he was leaving.. Why had he told her that crap about making a personal, soul-searching journey, when all he was planning was an aimless trip to Graceland for want of anything better to do? A trip during which he had kept calling her.
He had thought the trip would prove mildly interesting, as well as good for keeping up the incongruous redneck splotches of his motley image, while he was proving to all and sundry that forcing a vacation on him was a waste. Not that Elvis didn't fascinate him. He had really looked forward to seeing all the tangible, glaring evidence of an insecure mother's boy, prevented from developing a personality and instead forced to cover it with an inflated ego, blown out of all proportion. Something like Ludwig II of Bavaria, except that Elvis had not even been given the chance to develop true madness.
The trip had felt like the self-imposed exile Mulder supposed it was. And he had kept calling Scully, more to hear her cool, soothing voice than because he had anything to tell her or to check up on. Cool she had been, but not exactly soothing. One of the first things he had learnt was that she had a date. Again. Not that it happened often, but whenever it did, it left him blindly trying to scoop up the shards of his shattered heart. And yet there wasn't really anything he could say about it. But why the hell did she have to pick up a raving madman? Wasn't that just a little desperate? Then again, that was what people said about himself too - maybe Scully went on best with raving madmen..
He was not about to fall into a bout of self-pity here. He had no cause. He sat back down again, intent on keeping his face in check. If Scully wanted to go picking up lunatics in her spare time, that was her prerogative. After all, it was her life.
"It's my life."
If only she hadn't echoed his thoughts. The thoughts he had arrived at with such emotional effort. His heart a raw wound, he started to speak before he thought, "Yes, but it's.." His voice gave out even before his lips closed silently on the treacherous 'm'. He looked away, and sat like that until he heard the door close behind her. Then he collapsed across his desk of contention, and finished the sentence, over and over, like a mantra: "It's my life too!"
Scully slipped back through the door, not bothering to knock this time, as she was only just about to pick up her forgotten car keys without ruining too much of her recent sortie. She never forgot her car keys, she must have been more upset than she thought. Still, there was nothing for it, she needed them. She had to sneak back in, regardless of whatever snide comment.. She paused, wishing she had knocked after all.
He was still at his desk, his upper body stretched across it, his head on his arm, rocking from side to side.
"It's my life too! It's my life too!"
She could always step back out, wait for a while, and then knock.. but he would hear the door close, the click would be quite audible.
"It's my life too! Scully, don't take it from me! Please don't - leave me!" And he burst into tears.
That settled it. Leaving the door ajar so as not to startle him, she took the few steps over to him, to sit down on the desk beside him. Was this how he had reacted to her abduction? Small wonder then that her mother had still seemed a bit haunted when she said Fox took it quite hard, you know, Dana. Don't be fooled by his apparent flippancy, he was just overjoyed to have you back.
He had quit sobbing. He was aware of her sitting there, but he would not look up at her. Shaking her head, she began to run her fingers through his hair, gently but persistently. "Your control will be the death of you yet, Mulder", she said softly. "You know that?" Or of me, she added in her thoughts. She sighed, finally resigning herself to her own will, choosing her deepest desires over her need for rebellion. "Don't worry, Mulder. I won't leave you. Not really. Not ever."
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