TITLE: Shared Illusions (1/1)
EMAIL ADDRESS: email@example.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere
SPOILER WARNING: Field Trip
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSR
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully romance.
SUMMARY: Post-ep. Mulder and Scully discuss their respective and shared hallucinations.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
A Friday night, 9:58 p.m.
"Hi, Mulder. You're still awake, aren't you?"
"Only 10:00 o'clock, Scully. The night is young."
"Are you busy?"
"Not at all, just watching the tube. Are you all right? Are those burns still bothering you?"
"Not so much. They're a lot better since last week. I just can't sleep, Mulder. I was hoping that you could elaborate on some of the details. You know, of the report we gave to Skinner."
"The stuff just I hallucinated, right?"
"Well, yeah. We agreed to censor that last hallucination, the one we shared, the one with Skinner? I don't think you need anybody psychoanalyzing why you shot your boss in the chest. Just to prove to me we were still in the cave."
"Yeah, Scully. I can certainly agree with that. I've already provided them with enough real-life psychotic episodes. Why include ones I've only imagined? Anything else you want to know?"
"Well, I know I left out parts of my personal hallucinations, mostly details that I didn't think were relevant to include. I'll share if you will..."
"Oh, stuff. More of the particulars, I guess. Things that would only be of interest to you or I. I'm just curious, you know. I'm not trying to invade your privacy, Mulder. I'm just laying here, wide awake, trying to fill in the blanks. The report was pretty colorless prose."
"I guess I didn't want to display too much of my rantings and ravings to Skinner, and whoever else ends up reading that case file."
"Just tell me a little more, will ya?"
"O.K., Scully. Wallace Schiff was afraid of me, convinced that the aliens had faked those real skeletons we found. He told me his wife was still on the ship. Then we heard what I thought was a spacecraft landing, and Angela Schiff was returned to her husband, in another room of the cave. She seemed to have had a classic abduction experience, bright lights before being taken, being held on a table in a white place. Men performing tests on her, an implant in the back of her neck, just like yours. The only thing that didn't seem right were their skeletons. I'd never seen anything in the literature about fake skeletons or even fake corpses of abductees."
"So, you questioned yourself based on the evidence we found?"
"Yeah, Scully. I didn't have you to point out all the holes in Schiff's story, so I had to find doubt myself. He was like my alter ego, arguing every point with me, the way I might have done with you. He brought up cattle mutilations and I couldn't buy that either. It didn't jive with all the accounts I've read over the years. And then we heard more noise and saw more strange lights at the tunnel entrance. The Schiffs were scared to follow me and I walked right towards the lights. The next thing I remember is being in my apartment, with the Schiffs and a grey alien."
"That's when I knocked at the door, right?"
"It's you, but only my version of you. This was my own hallucination, I'm sure of that. You passively accepted that I'd kidnapped a little grey alien that bore an uncanny resemblance to E.T. You even heard him speaking telepathically. It was actually quite moving, Scully. You seemed so happy for me, that I had finally found my proof. I guess that says a lot about how much I want you to believe in my off-the-wall theories."
A sigh emanated from the other end of the phone. "You know I take you seriously, Mulder. I hope you do. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings the other day when I made your U.F.O. theory sound like crap. But you have to agree that neither of us were right in our initial suppositions. I felt so bad when you left the office. I regret that, you know..."
Mulder heaved an equally contrite sigh from his end before saying, "Oh, don't worry about it. I deserved it. I shouldn't have been such a braggart. I shouldn't have told you that I'm right 98.9% of the time. I'm only ever right with your help, and I should know that by now. I needed a little more humility..."
"No Mulder, I was wrong, too. I was too quick to come up with an explanation. There was one, just not the one either of us originally posited. It seems like the hallucinations fed off our most strongly held views, views that we challenge each other on ordinarily. We would never have made it out of the cave if we hadn't questioned each other's credibility. Even though that questioning happened while we shared a common illusion."
"Well, Scully, in my personal hallucination, you so readily agreed with me about the U.F.O.s, the aliens, the origin of those skeletons, I knew something was wrong. You even called the goo on the skeletons 'bog sludge,' dismissing it as irrevelant. Then you really said something strange: 'Mulder, if I, of all people, can believe this then why can't you?' I remember that word for word because it was so bizarre that you agreed with every detail. I found myself compelled to play your part, poke holes in my own theories."
"So I was really spellbound by the grey?"
"You were beautiful. I mean you had a beautiful expression on your face, Scully. It was almost worth the hallucination just to see your face light up that way..."
A pregnant pause, as she took a deep breath on her end, trying to contain that little hitch in her breathing.
"Scully? Still there...?"
"Yeah, Mulder, still here."
"You're not angry, are you?"
"No. Just a little sad that the only time you've seen me deliriously happy was while tripping out on giant mushrooms."
"Scully, I think we should have a moment of silence here for the off-color joke I am not going to burden you with."
"I wouldn't mind Mulder, I'm easily entertained."
"How easy are you?"
"Mulder...," she said with faux anger.
"O.K., I've gone too far. You still wide awake?"
"Not really. I guess I didn't tell you about my hallucinations at all."
"We have tomorrow night."
"Oh, is that a telephone date, Mulder?"
"I guess you could say that."
"Do you think that's proper?"
"I think it's just fine. As long as you don't force me to become your personal 900 number."
"Mulder, I think this conversation is deteriorating fast. You have any final thoughts before I end it?"
"Yeah, Scully. I'm awful glad you were there for me. I'd never have made it out of that cave by myself. You know that, don't you?"
"I know Mulder. I know. Hey, just plan on having dinner here tomorrow night, O.K.? I still haven't told you what Langley wore to your wake."
"That is definitely something to look forward to, Scully. And I mean dinner, not Langley's taste in clothes. Why don't you get some sleep and I'll stop by tomorrow at eight, O.K.?"
"All right. Goodnight, Mulder."
The next evening, 8-ish
They stood and grinned like idiots at each other.
"Scully, if you don't ask me in, your neighbors will talk."
"Well, get in here, Mulder. What's that behind your back?"
"My contribution to dinner. I know nothing about wine. It will make a nice candle holder at the very least."
"I'm sure it will be fine. Sit down. Dinner in twenty."
He removed his jacket, throwing it on the end of the chair and then he sprawled on the couch, obviously relaxed. She made domestic sounds in the kitchen and emerged with a couple of glasses of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers. Mulder cleared space on the coffee table and made room for her to sit, just a few feet away.
They shared a self-deprecating chuckle, raising their glasses in unison, and celebrating some sort of informal toast to the evening.
"Mulder, I'm glad you came over. I didn't want to tell you about my part of the report over the phone."
"Oh, you mean, the skeleton and the wake? They're certainly grim topics for dinner conversation, but I'm truly happy they were only part of your hallucination."
"Well, as you might imagine it's not very pleasant to look back upon. The evidence was even inconclusive. The dental charts matched, but there was no evidence of that gooey substance on your 'skeleton.' That should have tipped me off right there. And also the coroner parroted back my ritualistic murder theory. Though, I really didn't start getting angry about that until the wake, when the Lone Gunmen postulated the same theory, vowing to avenge your death by catching the bad guys. Even Skinner accepted the ritual killing scenario without question. I guess I was more outraged with the guys than Skinner. I would never have expected them to accept the official explanation of anyone's death. They have more conspiracy theories up their sleeve than anyone I know. Even you, Mulder."
"This was where I made my entrance wasn't it? Right after the wake?"
"Yeah. And then we shared the hallucination. Which is still hard to fathom. But I think Wallace and Angela Schiff also experienced the same thing. That's why they were so close to one another in death. They must have sensed something wasn't right and grasped onto each other as the organism disintegrated their bodies."
"Gee Scully, I was just getting hungry and you had to mention that..."
"Mulder, now seriously. Doesn't it mean something to you that we had to cooperate to solve the case, to save our lives?" Her clear, blue eyes implored him to agree with her.
"We've been doing that for seven years, Scully. We always annoy the hell out of each other by arguing our respective points of view. But no matter how fervently you or I support our own beliefs, we can only solve cases by using all our resources, scientific or otherwise. Anyhow, if you hadn't sent that sample to the F.B.I. Lab right away, before you came out to the site, we would have been goners. All in all, I'm just glad we both made it." He gave her shoulder an affectionate squeeze, smiling at the thought that they had once again eluded death.
"So what does the noted psychology major Fox Mulder say about the hidden meaning of my personal hallucination? Why do you come up with little grey aliens and U.F.O.s and I kill my partner off?"
"You're tired of my half-assed jokes? Seriously, Scully, maybe you're just worried about losing anyone you're close to and I was just convenient to you on the trip to North Carolina. If it had been your brother, you might have imagined his death just as easily."
She paused a beat, cheeks flushed with the audacity of her own thoughts, soon to be revealed to Mulder as well. "I don't think you're right at all. I don't know my brothers that well anymore. I don't have the sort of relationship with them that I do with you. And I most assuredly would never mistake you for one of my brothers."
"Well, I certainly hope not," he said, abashed by her statement, eyes cast downward to the wooden floor.
Scully noticed his ruffled feathers with tenderness, swiftly directing the argument elsewhere. "You think it's some kind of telepathy?"
"Scully! What's gotten into you? You're suggesting a paranormal explanation for our shared hallucinations?"
"Mulder, I hope you're just being flippant. I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, just like you asked me to do before we started this case. I'm not as inflexible as you may think."
"Promise? That's always a great asset in any relationship," he said with a gleam in his eye.
She smirked now, challenged by his smartass remark. "Oh, Mulder. Not another fine product of your lecherous imagination."
"My lecherous imagination! What about that crack about not mistaking me for your one of your own brothers!?"
"I was just checking to see if you were paying attention."
"Scully," he said gravely, "I always pay attention to you. You don't have to shock me to make me listen to what you say."
"You shock me. All the time. Am I too fragile for an off-color remark?"
"Yes. Well, no. What I mean is that I don't expect it from you. At least not when we were trying to have a serious discussion."
"Which you regularly peppered with innuendo?"
"It just sounds different from you. I just don't expect it."
"Well, there's a great deal you don't know about me, Mulder."
"Well, get over it. You know, I really thought this case was a turning point for us. We've both had to make major concessions to one another. To admit that we need to hear the other's viewpoint on each and every case we go out on. If you were right 98.9% all the time, you wouldn't really need me to contribute a damn bit of scientific expertise to our work."
"And I have already apologized for that remark. I need you desperately on every single case. I was just seeing if YOU were paying attention, Scully. So often, you dismiss my theories outright. It does hurt my feelings sometime," he said, looking genuinely wounded.
"I don't mean to," she said, quietly.
"I know." He gave her a broad smile.
"Why don't we call a truce," she said, "I think our minds are way too foggy for critical thinking right now."
"Fair enough. I think the evening's been revelatory enough."
"Oh, it has? Well, that's a matter of opinion," she said, an elusive smile on her face.
"Didn't we just agree to stay out of all matters of opinion for now?"
"There are some matters of opinion that have nothing to do with work, Mulder..."
"Please tell me this has nothing to do with your relationship with your brothers, Scully?"
"No, it doesn't."
"Well, then, what does it have to do with?"
He thought she might just be acting coy, gently ribbing him for sport. However, in the back of his mind he sensed that she might be asking for more, more than either of them had ever been willing to reveal, prior to tonight. He wanted there to be no mistake, no doubt that she was in control of the conversation. He certainly didn't want to take the heat for any more inappropriate remarks.
So he remained silent, silent till she spoke to him in no uncertain terms... "Get over here, Mulder. I think we can create better shared illusions than giant mushrooms and Brown Mountain U.F.O.s..."
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