Solving The Mystery

By Jeannine Ackerson

 

10/15/97

 

Rating: R for language.

Disclaimer: The X-Files belong to C.C., FOX & 1013 Prod. "Building A Mystery" is by Sarah McLachlan. No copyright infringement is intended on either.

Relationship: UST with a dash of MSR and more than a little Angst.

Summary: The past seems to be caught in the words of a song and when Mulder adds the key of his memory into it, there seems to be more to it all than just music.

Hi All! I read on ATXC a while back a discussion about the songs of what artists inspired X-Files stories. Sarah McLachlan's name reappeared a lot in the discussion. So, I decided to take a listen, and found something truly inspiring in this song. A view of Mulder and the X-Files I hadn't seen before. But let's get on with the show. . .

The drive back from Dulles International airport was uneventful and to tell the truth, that was just what Special Agent Fox Mulder wanted.

After the last assignment, all he really wanted to do was forget everything. The fact that they had succeeded in nothing but more futility prickled at his ego. He wanted to forget that, forget his job, his search, himself.

As he let himself think about what he would like to forget, he unconsciously glanced over at the woman driving the car back to their respective apartments. His partner Dana Scully. More than just a partner in some respects he silently acknowledged. They had a relationship that was built on mutual trust and respect. Beyond that, he wanted to believe that they were in tune with one another. What hurt one seemed to pain the other. He'd had more than a few opportunities to see, feel that himself about their situation.

It was one step shy of being something else altogether, he knew. But there always seemed to be something keeping him from admitting the truth of the depths of his feelings for her. Either it was the circumstances, the timing, or just his own fears. Whatever it was, he knew that at least he had her by his side, and that was more than he probably deserved.

He continued to watch her as she steered the car through an intersection and onto the highway. Once she was sailing along, she glanced at Mulder briefly, taking no note of his intent stare and flickered her gaze over to the radio. Bringing her eyes back onto the road, one hand blindly sought the buttons for the stereo and began to flip through the channels.

After about a minute, she reached down and stopped the search. Music filled the car and Mulder found himself listening intently. He noticed that Scully was tapping her fingers on the steering wheel in time with the music and wondered what she was listening to: the melody or the words?

"Damn," she murmured under her breath as the song quickly finished and the disc jockey came on. "Missed it."

Then the DJ announced the singer and the song, and then proceeded to rattle off the next couple of songs that they'd play after the break. Moments later the car was filled with the sing-song tune of a car sales jingle and Scully was turning off the highway to get to Mulder's apartment.

It didn't take long for them to find their way in front of his building. After reaching back to open the back door, Mulder got out and pulled his suitcases from their resting spot on the floor and closed the doors behind him. Before he could get more than a few steps away, she rolled down her window and then honked her horn.

"I'll see you in the office tomorrow morning," Scully announced, making Mulder turn and look at her.

He nodded and gave her a slight wave as he picked up his bags and continued in. Once he was inside, she started off, hoping to make it back to her own apartment before it got too late.

As he watched her go from within the building, Mulder wondered to himself exactly why she had made such a big deal about letting him know she'd be in to work in the morning. Of course she'd be there. Where else would she be, he thought with confusion as he headed for the elevator.

The only reason he could think of for her to make that special announcement was to make him turn back around and acknowledge her. But the why of it he still couldn't understand. Of course, the assignment had been troublesome. Maybe that was the reason she had done it. As a morale booster. A show of solidarity and her belief in the work, even when things didn't pan out.

That was it, he thought as he walked out of the elevator doors and down the hallway to his apartment. No other reason, right?!?

His heart wanted to believe that it wasn't so, but his head was busy reminding him that he had nothing to offer Dana in the way of relationship material. Far from it. And if she could care for him like that. . . well, that would shock the hell out of him.

But then, for a man who believed in extreme possibilities, why was it so hard to imagine that Scully might actually find him attractive or desirable?

With the thud of his suitcases falling to the floor inside his apartment door, Mulder decided to stop wondering. Flopping onto the couch, he settled in to watch some television and not think about monsters or aliens or his partner until he had to.

Somewhere that Mulder couldn't remember, the night had disappeared and been replaced by dawn.

Yawning and stretching, he found that he'd fallen asleep in front of the TV and in his suit shirt and slacks too. Shaking his head in disbelief, he stripped them off as he headed in to clean up and change for the day at work.

It was all he could do to keep himself focused on the day's paperwork and not to think about seeing Scully.

It wasn't too long before he was dressed and out the door. And then he found himself buried under two weeks of back paperwork: requisitions and purchasing requests; inventory and expense reports; case file and personal notes. All of which ended up keeping Mulder glued to his seat and his eyes stuck on either the computer screen or a stack of forms and off his partner.

Which from the way that his emotions were leading his head, it was definitely a good thing. Especially when she seemed to glance his direction with some concern and he caught the look out of the corner of his eye.

He didn't know how long he could last just sitting there, so close to her, when finally the clock read 5 p.m. He knew that she'd want to go after such a horrendous day, and she didn't disappoint him.

"I'm going to head home Mulder. Don't stay too late, ok?" Scully said softly, bringing his head up to notice her heading for the door.

"I promise Scully. I'll be at home before the clock strikes twelve," he quipped back.

"That sounds like a good idea Mulder. That way I won't have to worry about coming in tomorrow and finding that you've turned into a pumpkin overnight."

There was a grin that accompanied the comment, but somehow Mulder could hear the underlying worry that laced her voice. Something that he was all too familiar with, and it made him want to smooth it over with caresses and words of caring that he knew he couldn't let past his lips.

It wasn't long after she left that his eyes began to hurt and he laid his glasses on the desk, while his other hand pinched the bridge of his nose. It was time to go home, he concluded. Quickly he shut off the computer and the lights, locked up and headed for the garage.

As he walked from the stairwell of the parking garage to his car, he got the urge to make a detour before he got home. Sliding the key into the lock, he got the door open and climbed into the driver's seat of his car. Slamming the door shut, he then turned over the ignition and headed off into the falling darkness.

He would be home soon, he thought, after he made one quick stop. . .

The sound of keys and shuffling at the door announced to Mulder's empty apartment that he was home. As the door swung open, he made his way inside, turning only long enough to close and then bolt the door behind him. He'd gotten too used to getting the crap beat out of him by the infamous Men In Black even when he had the door locked to forget to throw the bolt.

In his hand he had his purchase from his side trip in a plain brown paper bag. Nothing much to look at, but the contents were more important than the packaging. He hadn't consciously thought of why he wanted it, but something had sparked a recognition of it in his head the day before, and he wanted to see what it was.

Slowly he went to his stereo and opened the CD drawer. Loosening the paper bag, he let it fall to the floor while he fought with the plastic wrap around the CD case. Once it was free, he popped the disc out and into the player. As he walked away, the door silently shut and there was a long pause before he was hit by the words that somehow had struck a chord with him.

"You come out at night

That's when the energy comes

And the dark side's light

And the vampires roam"

He was alive when he was working. There was no doubt that the ability he had was fed by the evil and sick in the world. When he delved into their world, he was one with them. With ghouls and mutants and vampires.

The darkness that scared off so many, he'd learned to embrace. It was hard, he remembered still, to fall into the mind of the deranged. But he had backed away from that. Had chosen the path that seemed to be taking him there again. Along the fringes, but still there.

He walked to the back window of his apartment as he thought and listened to the dark music. As the light slanted through the blinds, he let the tune reach into his soul, his mind analyzing the lyrics.

"You strut your rasta wear

And your suicide poem

And a cross from a faith

That died before Jesus came"

There was a part of him that was vain. He admitted that. He wore the suits to perfection, only showing his style with the non-regulation ties.

And he was wild too. . . enough so that he was probably considered by some in the department as having a death wish.

But the last two lines made him stop short. He recalled wearing Scully's cross when she'd been missing, the cool metal resting on his collarbone under his shirts. He didn't believe in God any longer. But he'd worn it because he'd wanted to believe in something besides himself that would protect her.

"You're building a mystery"

What mystery, Mulder thought to himself. He was sure that his life was an open book to most. How could you hide the pain and guilt every day?

"You live in a church

Where you sleep with voodoo dolls

And you won't give up the search

For the ghosts in the halls"

Instantly Mulder thought of the basement office in the Hoover building. That was the church he lived in. One of faith and belief. In the extraordinary and unbelievable; in aliens and psychics. And he wasn't about to stop searching for the truth that those things promised him.

There was too much at stake. Too many ghosts haunted his steps for him to turn back now.

"You wear sandals in the snow

And a smile that won't wash away

Can you look out the window

Without your shadow getting in the way"

How relentless was that? Was he truly that stubborn in his beliefs? Unable to accept anything that wasn't his version of reality?

Part of him acknowledged the fact that he was often blinded by his own truths and beliefs to accept the "scientific" explanations that Scully often tried to make him accept. And his ego. . . did he really believe the things people said about him? Was that the shadow, or was it really the one that was made out of his faults and misgivings?

"You're so beautiful

With an edge and a charm

But so careful

When I'm in your arms"

An image of holding Scully in the Pfaster family home flashed before him and he closed his eyes at the emotional onslaught. He'd never considered himself beautiful, though many women had approached him calling him such. He did know that he had an edge and charm to him. But it always seemed to be tempered with Scully. With Dana. She was the one woman who gave back to him as good as he gave, even when he left her speechless.

And it was true. He was genuinely careful of her. Because he valued her above all things.

"'Cause you're working

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you're working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully"

These words rang true, Mulder realized. He did keep those inner thoughts to himself. Holding on to the past and holding in his feelings. Building a mystery of his life and his reasons.

But he didn't know if he chose carefully. He often felt that he was being radical in his choices. Taking too many risks or not doing enough research before jumping head long into a case. All because he wanted the answers.

Wanted to solve the mysteries. . .

"You woke up screaming aloud

A prayer from your secret god

You feed off our fears

And hold back your tears"

Was Samantha *his* God? It seemed like the memory of her, the high regard he had her in was like deifying someone. And in his nightmares he would see her like that sometimes. The nightmares, he thought as he made his way closer to the leather couch that stretched along the wall and doubled as his bed. The always shook him to his core. Even after all this time, his subconscious still hadn't healed.

Maybe that was why he had chosen the FBI. It was a place where he could channel his feelings of inadequacy and use them to his benefit. He was good at what he did. Sometimes too good. He understood too well, and that seemed to be his downfall.

He had to keep the professional distance, lest his emotions overtake his reason. . . just like he did with Dana.

"Give us a tantrum

And a know-it-all-grin

Just when we need one

When the evening's thin"

How many times had he taken on the powers that be to keep the X-Files open? A dozen? Two dozen? More than that? The moral high road was what he'd chosen to defend. He'd angrily told off senators and directors alike. He'd happily smile when he got reamed for telling the truth and trying to uncover the conspiracies. Because he knew he was right. In a time when the common person, his sister, the people who *knew* needed a champion, he seemed to fit the bill.

"Oh you're a beautiful

A beautiful fucked up man

You're setting up your

Razor wire shrine"

Fucked up. . . well, if the phrase fits Mulder, he silently told himself as he nearly collapsed on the couch. The words were cutting deep. Almost as deep as the "razor wire" that seemed to surround him. The wire that kept people away from him.

Everyone except Dana, that is.

"'Cause you're working

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you're working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully"

There was a knock at the door as he pondered those lyrics again. He didn't want to get up and answer, but he knew that he'd have to, or they'd knock again. As he threw the bolt, he heard keys starting to jingle on the other side of the door. Only two people had keys to his apartment, and he was sure that his landlord wasn't dropping by for a visit. Hurriedly he undid the locks and threw the door open to gaze on the face of his partner, Dana Scully.

Behind him, he barely heard the last two repeats of the chorus of the song that she'd introduced into his consciousness and focused his mind onto. How was he supposed to concentrate on anything when she stood there before him: red hair tied back and dressed in her casual clothes. How was he supposed to deny how much he wanted her?

Scully looked at him and processed the scene, sound included. Without waiting to be invited in, she walked past Mulder's frozen form and came inside, turning around to study him.

"Ooh, you're working

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you're working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully

Yeah you're working

Building a mystery

Holding on and holding it in

Yeah you're working

Building a mystery

And choosing so carefully

Building a mystery"

When the song ended, she pressed the stop button on the CD player and silence reigned in the room. When her eyes came off the stereo, she found that Mulder had moved from her spot at the door to beside her, staring slightly down at her face. For a second Scully was startled, but she recovered quickly, putting a hand to Mulder's shoulder.

"You hadn't heard it before?" she asked quietly, realizing that this was the same song that she'd caught the tail end of on the radio the day before.

"No," he admitted, bowing his head at the feeling of being scrutinized by her in this way.

"I think about you every time I hear it," she said as she made herself meet his eyes as his head jerked up at her pronouncement. "But there are things about you that aren't a mystery to me Mulder. . . There are things that I *do* know."

As he grasped what she was telling him, his mouth opened slightly in surprise. Had she known all along how much he needed her, wanted her, loved her? And if so, why had she kept silent?

"I don't under. . . " he began before her hand moved from his shoulder to cover his mouth.

"I know how you feel Mulder. How could I not?" she questioned him as her other hand came and clutched at his waist, holding him to her. "How could you think that I would miss seeing the love in your gaze when you look at me when it's always been reflected back at you?"

His breath caught then as he felt for the first time, saw for the first time what had been there all along. Scully, Dana loved him. And she didn't just love him *with* his faults and fears. She loved him *for* them.

With understanding coming to both of them, Scully moved her hand to cup Mulder's cheek as he leaned into her touch. It was more emotional than either of them had thought it would be. After Mulder got his wits back, he pulled her into his grasp, holding her tightly and she returned his embrace, resting her head on his chest. He had her now, and he wasn't about to let go any time soon.

It was time for him to stop running from himself and build a new mystery with this partner of his soul.

-End-

Well then, there you have it. Another 'lyrical' offering for all of you out there. Hope you enjoyed. J.

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