Black Hole Season
by Penumbra (
Rating: PG
'Orison' post ep
Summary: Mulder muddles through the aftermath of Orison.

Black Hole Season

'Black holes are where God divided by zero.'
- Steven Wright

Nearly eight years of monster-mashing and here you have two
people who can still barely look each other in the eye and
say 'you're it for me, you're the one'. Love is slow but
death is tracer-fast, a missile below the waterline. Love
is bled out in its bath like an Aztec virgin bringing up
the sun. One more dance with the devil.

Here, see if you can take this. Her head smashed into a
mirror. She's got such a serious little head. She thinks
about stuff like Level 4 hot agents and red shift and
strontium 90. Hit her again. Can you take that? One more
straw on the camel.

I am the edge.

I saw that tagged on a boxcar once, ripping past a railroad
crossing. Nebraska evening, the sky bruised and sagging
with snow, and the train rocked past, one of those freight
trains a couple of miles long and full of sorghum or sugar
beets. Maybe Scully and I could grow sugar beets, when we
finally throw in the towel and move to Home.

'I am the edge', it said, flashing through the headlights.
Scully was beside me, perhaps she saw it too. We were both
glazing over, locked in train-hypnosis, unaware of waiting

That is me, I thought, an edge, a corner; an obstacle
things have to navigate or come up against. Everything
knocks into me and leaves their greasy fingerprints. I am
an edge and I'd rather be in the middle.

Scully is another fringe-dweller, pushed to an extremity.
We live on the edge - we're edgy. We've been kissing each
other too, lately, but that's getting off the subject.

Like the world snake sloughing its fragile skin, I rendered
her pajamas to ash in my basement incinerator. And as per her
request, I poked the snake to see if it was dead.

She cut her hands on the broken mirror.

The train comes through like a knife through the land, and I
am the edge. We were two for two with Donnie Pfaster, and
this time Scully closed the case. Homer invented blank verse
when he could not think of a rhyme for 'orange';
improvisation should always be an option.

There was an interesting blurb on Czechoslovakian crop
circles in this month's SETI newsletter, but he could not
focus on the words. He pictured Scully in riot gear,
unlimbering a rifle. He once saw her jam a Leatherman into
some guy's trachea. She was tough and capable in her job
and he had no right to wish she was in a less dangerous
line of work. This must be why the Bureau frowned on one
becoming too attached to one's partner.

In the other room she yelped in her sleep and Mulder
lurched nervously. He was definitely not going to be
getting his beauty rest tonight. He tried to relax in the
leather armchair, stretching his legs. Scully had
showered the requisite two or three times of the rape
victim, then bundled herself into his freshly changed bed
with her hair still wet. As he closed the door she pulled
the covers over her head.

Her Smith pricked the air and she got a few grains of
gunpowder embedded in the side of her hand. She was
bleeding from the left nostril again. Blast
concussion hurts worse than zombie bites - they'll
probably both be deaf for a week. He thinks that he is out
of shock, that Scully saw something worse in Pfaster than
would have come to light in a court of law. That he won't
allow Scully to stigmatize herself.

He tilted his head, listening to her fighting
Pfaster in her sleep. He got up and put his head in the
bedroom door. She shifted under the comforter.

"Scully, it's me," he said in an even tone.

She went still, then sat up in the middle of the bed.

"Dreaming," he said, from the door.

She held out her hand to him, raking her hair back into
shape. There were tear streaks under her eyes; he thumbed
them away.

"I'm not crying," she croaked, her denial somewhat
marred by the punctuation of a sniff.

"Sshh...just in your sleep." He felt huge and oafish,
looming over her, yet she submitted trustingly to his
touch. Her pajamas looked about three sizes too big. "At
least you can sleep," he said.

"I don't have to let this affect me, Mulder," she said

"Of course it's going to affect you," he whispered. "I
know it's certainly affecting me."

Scully lay back into the pillows and sighed. "Was it bad
for you too?" she asked.

"I can't believe you have to ask that."

She searched herself. "I don't. I don't," she said.

He offers, shyly, to rub her back, and to his surprise
she acquiesces, rolling over with her cheek on her folded arms.

Under his hand her back is selectively ribby and softly
curved - new tactile grist for his Scully erotikon. He has
never had such license to touch her; the small of her
back holds him rapt.

He lets her come to him as he would have tamed the
beast-woman, a slow, cerebral wooing. Scully can be
brittle and insular, but she knows him better than
anyone else on earth. He touches her, and finally
remembers to breathe.

The second time was to win an argument, a few weeks after
the first time on New Year's Eve. Mulder had to admire
how effectively it shut him up. They were in a crowded
fern bar and the last thing he expected, while he was
holding forth on something called demiurges, was for Scully
to get up and grab his shoulder and press her warm and
sulky mouth to his. It was a fleeting, electric kiss; they
both sighed whilst pretending it hadn't happened.
Mulder completely forgot about demiurges, small evil beings
of the underworld, and stared hazily out the window while
Scully went to pay the bill.

Evolution is an incremental process.

One evening they are standing on the sidewalk outside
a jumping night club, waiting for a cab after an
encounter with another of Mulder's 'informants', a
schizoid millennarian with a jar of ectoplasm.

"I wish I had gotten that jar," Mulder confides to her
as they wait. He shifts rhythmically from foot to foot.
Inside the joint, Louie and the Horndogs are swanking
through 'Blue Moon'. The doors are open and he's had a
beer and so has Scully, and he has a self-destructive
urge to ask her to dance.

"Yeah, it would go nicely with your monkey's paw and that
guaranteed authentic Mars rock," she teases him.

He looks at her, his eyes crinkling with condensed
happiness. "I don't have a monkey's paw, Scully," he says,
feigning scorn.

She scrapes one of her obnoxious shoes over concrete,
sending a salacious shiver to his soul. "Oh, don't you,"
she says meaningfully.

She is openly flirting now, he thinks; she looks up at him
through her heavy lashes, her hands in her pockets,
swinging her foot.

She's just bored, waiting for a cab, he reasons. Scully
reaches forward with her seriously sexy shoe and
steps on his foot, as if to ensure his full attention.
Mulder muses that if nothing else, she is probably going
to drive him to a garden-variety shoe fetish.

"No, but I'm not without my charms," he tells her,

She tips her head back, wryly amused. They stand toe to
toe, their hands in their coat pockets, eyeing each other
in challenge. Prickly Scully - she gives love a run for
its money with her fuck-me clothes and her fuck-you
demeanor. Yet at times she makes him feel that he is
finally getting something right in his life.

"Want to dance, Mulder?" she asks, with an inscrutable

"I thought you'd never ask." But they don't dance, they
just stand there on the sidewalk and hold onto each
other, the city weltering around them. He drops his head
to her shoulder and she turns her face to his and he
feels the heat of her breath. They go into some kind of
stasis then, noses touching, eyes closed, breathing
shallowly. She clasps the back of his neck. They are
oblivious to pedestrians and sirens and the bouncer
smoking in the doorway, and their cab has to honk to
get their attention.

And Mulder sits shellshocked beside her in the cab and
can't believe he didn't kiss her.

After a respectable respite they find themselves holding
hands one afternoon under the table at a briefing (pure
insanity), and it ends in a breathy, jostling moment in
a descending elevator, with Scully thieving a kiss while
paradoxically disengaging his hands from her person.
They hit the parking garage and Mulder is abruptly alone,
left rumpled and hyperventilating, and feeling the world
has dropped from under his feet.

This is now, his life with Scully, her tympanic pulse,
the crush of her hair as he massages her scalp. And what
if that dank sexual predation tempers her feelings for
him? What if she identifies sexual deviance in him as
well? Talk about ruining bondage for life, not to mention

Scully rolled over and he moved back politely, still propped
up on his elbow. She started to tell him what Pfaster had
done, how he had choked her, hit her, thrown her against the
wall. She spoke in her familiar measured tone, touching
Mulder's hand to some of the spots, her throat, her wrists; eradicating

violence with his touch.

He pressed his anger down, mentally removing himself from
the image of Pfaster holding her face down on the floor.
He felt sickened when Scully put his hand over her mouth.
He had been the one who put out the lighted candles in the
bathroom. He had already called Scully's mom and arranged
to have her help him clean up the apartment tomorrow. He
would do the heavy stuff but he didn't feel right about
going through Scully's things in the bedroom. He didn't
want Scully to see her apartment again until it was back
in some semblance of order. He had been shocked by the
wreckage of the place, by the amount of fight in her.

Scully went fetal in the night, and he was heartened by
the way she came back to the sound of his voice, shaking
weakly under his hand.

"Damn it, Mulder," she muttered.

"I know," he said. They listened to each other breathe.

"You're still here?" she asked.

"No, I's' just checking on you. I'm ridin' the couch."

"Don't go," she said.

The absence of loneliness is a presence in itself, and
he luxuriates in her proximity. She is Scout and he is
her basement-dwelling paranoiac. "This is how it is on
Earth," she says at one point, addled with dreams. Her
live weight arm is flung across his. "Sleep, Earth Girl,"
he whispers to the ceiling.

We both jumped awake when the Sunday paper hit the front
door. She arose and ghosted to the window in full Morning
After mode. Obviously she wished I'd disappear into a
portable hole instead of wallowing in her bed in all my
macho glory.

In the chilly living room I was hunched on the couch
rubbing my head when she came to the doorway.

"Mulder, I must have been in shock last night," she said

I kept my head down.

"That, or post-traumatic stress is the only fathomable
reason I would have requested you stay with me - I
don't need protecting, Mulder, I don't require a
champion, I don't need anything right now but to go home
and restore my equanimity."

I've never known anyone who speaks as Scully does; she
recites from an endless formal script in her head. She
sounds like someone who has read a little too much Jane
Austen and not enough Hunter S. Thompson. It is a truth
universally acknowledged that any colloquialisms she
may emit are tendered merely for humorous effect.

Such antiquated speech is by nature pedantic and
long-winded; fortunately, I am versed in a novel yet
effective method of shutting someone up.

"What are you doing?" She asks warily. I wrap her up
tight and simply let us float for a moment, one of my
bare feet cupping the top of hers.

"I think you should climb back in bed before your feet
get any colder," is all I say.

I make coffee and fetch in the paper and we turn on the
lamps in the winter light. And the newspaper drifts in
sheaves as we sit in bed together reading and she doesn't
even want the sports section but we vie for the forum and
she starts the crossword puzzle and I finish up a corner
of it and I spill coffee on the classifieds, and I tilt
her chin and kiss her briefly and she smiles because the
world hasn't ended but it moves, oh, it moves.


scripsit January MM