|Title: The Light from Corners
Author: Federal Dust
Category: S/D UT (You can decide whether or not the UT is sexual.)
Spoilers: Not really
Disclaimer: These characters do my bidding -- but they are not mine. They
are the collective property of Chris Carter/1013 & Fox.
Summary: A quirky collection of moments/images. Scully tries to reconcile
residual feelings for/about Mulder in order to make peace with Doggett.
Author's Note: For the purposes of this story: Mulder is still gone &
Scully has miscarried.
Acknowledgements: My deepest thanks to Kate (aka Agent R/Chief Psychiatric
Officer) and Mischa (aka Agent V/Dogship Tailor). Thoughtfully critical
readers and articulate writers both.
When she was 13 and wore braces, Dana Scully took Trigonometry. Everyone
else her age was in Algebra II, where girls drew puffy hearts on the inside
covers of their textbooks. Dana Scully loved Carl Sagan and Ralph Nader,
but she was too embarrassed to write their names. So she spent English
class working AP Physics problems in the margins of her spiral notebooks --
she timed her calculations, raced herself. She thought of a jealous earth pulling a
falling body towards it -- like body and earth were lovers or magnets.
The love-triangle trope is a bad one. Not just because it's cliche, but
because it's almost always inexact. Like this situation, she thinks. There
is nothing angular or clean about it, and everyone involved is Janus-faced.
You can draw an electric vector from Mulder to her, but the line has to
double back. Add Doggett's arrow -- a straight shot to the seat of her
soul. Her eyes send a shameful arrow back to his feet. Energy is power --
it owns people. Energy is absorbed and deflected.
She stopped smiling when she got braces. She learned to watch her hands and
avoid boys. She still has trouble parting her lips.
She can only look at Doggett when he looks away. If she feels his hard eyes
on her, she focuses on something insignificant, like the corners of the
ceiling panels. That's what she's looking at now. The panels were ugly when
they were new, but they're uglier now, the color of bone and nicotine.
There are holes from pencils shot like rockets from Mulder's careless
hands. The corners she studies are hardly corners at all. She thinks:
Dissolve me. There is no math here. This is not the perfect space of
geometry. I am not a poet.
She remembers a story Mulder told her about a ghost ship that sailed for
thirteen years without a crew. She remembers asking the requisite questions
-- how do you know? How does anyone know it was thirteen years? Are there
documents about this? But his belief was white-hot, contagious, alive with
murky imagery. That story -- like so many of his stories -- crawled into a
corner of her brain. Mulder lived in corners, where it was dark. But he saw
everything in the room.
It's like a game. Or a diet. Each morning, Dana Scully allows herself one
indulgent John Doggett thought -- in the same way that she allows herself
200 calories for lunch. Today, she chooses vanilla yogurt -- and his tie.
Her second-favorite tie of his -- the one that is wide and red and glossy.
She imagines herself walking up to him, and it's vivid to the point
of transcendence, so that she can hear his imaginary breathing, but she can
also see through walls. He is shocked into place, and she slowly unfixes
the knot of his tie. She watches his eyebrows as she does it, because his
eyebrows give him away. She undoes the top button of his shirt, careful not
to brush his skin. That would be too much. The X-Files have taught her that
things disappear when you touch them.
It's a shy fantasy, she knows. And odd -- like a German art film. She
wonders what's stopping her from generating more pornographic fantasies. Or
even ones in which her skin touches his. She dares herself to imagine that
-- touching his skin . . .
She flushes so deeply that her collarbone burns.
Mulder feared violation and the loss of privacy. He feared surveillance,
intrusion. His defense was isolation -- that dark corner, that place where
no one could see him, that place where no one else looked. That place was
inside of her -- her life and her body were hosts. He's gone. She's
miscarried. But she still feels pregnant with air, round with the space he
left. She knows the Oprah diagnosis: co-dependency. The term means nothing.
She just wants to recognize herself -- wants her hands and her head and her
legs to feel like her own again. More than anything, she wants to feel
real. She is a ghost ship.
On rolling spring days, she and her father would sit on the porch and
listen to the radio. She still listens to NPR sometimes, because the
nostalgia is like a sedative. She enjoys the stories on This American Life.
Today, she slices red peppers while Ira Glass talks about star worship and
the labour of obsession. The "purity of obsession," he calls it. She frowns
at the radio -- there is nothing pure, she mouths, about obsession.
Obsession is a mess; obsession is blindness. She knows. Because she used to
try to unravel the stories Mulder told her. She looked for hairline cracks
that might indicate the border between fact and fiction. And then she
learned that trying to purify Mulder's stories was like trying to stop
earthquakes. You can find the fault lines, but tectonic plates still shift
and break the earth in unexpected ways. Mulder was obsessed, and his
stories were stratified, unpredictable, dangerous. He dissolved into his
own narrative, became myth.
John Doggett is stubborn, but there are no aftershocks. John Doggett is a
Maybe this is a triangle. The kind that swallows massive boats and kills
There is something wickedly tense about the way that Doggett orbits her
space. She maintains her invisible force field with stern looks and
silence. He presses against it -- gently, with open palms. Mulder tore
She is both lucky and unlucky, because she is wired like a scientist. She
organizes the world without trying. But the unmeasurables present a problem
-- how do you codify feelings? She wakes up at three in the morning and
waits for the world to adjust itself. She takes a piece of paper and a pen
from the nightstand. She will make sense of these men. She will weigh them
against one another.
She writes John Doggett's name without thinking. Stops. And then thinks.
She realizes the implications of writing his name first -- of writing his
name without thinking. Of being able to write his name in the dark. She
lets the thought of him rest beside her, and she forgets about the math.
She imagines, for a moment, that she is 13. She raises her hand to her
mouth to cover the braces that have been gone for two decades.
She will not forget Mulder -- but he is not sacrosanct. He is and always
was a comet -- brilliant and sudden, but distant, too, and ephemeral.
For the first time today, she has deactivated her invisible censors --
internal and external. At eight a.m., she opens the door to the basement
office and welcomes in everything she's kept at the margins. She does not
deflect the energy of her partner's eyes -- she returns his gaze and feels,
for the first time, how anxious he is, how anxious she makes him. She will
stop resisting physics.
Hearts are perfect clocks -- when they move closer to the speed of light,
they slow down. Her partner turns to place a cup of coffee on the corner of
her desk, but she takes it from his hands, and her fingers brush his. It is
a quiet gesture -- but electric. The agents linger; their fingers are
The air quivers.