imagine: mulder & scully get assigned to go to an amusement park to try to track/catch something or other and while they're there scully tries to stay be focused and mulder's just acting like a little kid and dragging scully on all the rides (BONUS: a prize for one of the game things is a giant blow-up alien & mulder really really wants it)
Lakemont Place is a self-proclaimed “thrifty” island amusement park. Scully slides sunglasses down her nose and pedantically explains that there are no islands in the middle of Pennsylvania. The park whirs and hums and twinkles in early evening light, with the last late-season stragglers making their way out of the front gates. From somewhere to their left, carousel music.
“It’s a figure of speech,” he says.
“I’d be interested to hear the genesis of “island” as a figure of speech as opposed to a geographic location.”
Scully marks something on the notepad she’s balancing over a folder. Talks without looking up. There is a fine coating of festival dust layering her black blazer. Sometimes, he’d like to kiss that smart mouth.
“Later. We’re on a case. I don’t have my projector with me.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “You should quit trying to distract me. Really unprofessional, Scully.”
He feels her look up, the twin quirks of the corners of her mouth like hitting the top of one of those archaic light-up tests of strength. And you get a prize.
“My apologies. I didn’t realize your BS came with slides.”
“When hasn’t my BS come with slides.”
She laughs, an escaped, unexpected sound and he forgets that they are looking for what the park’s proprietor had simply called “white bigfoot.” Scully had gently asked if he’d heard of the Abominable Snowman. He wants, suddenly, to win something for or from her or some strange combination of both.
He checks his watch. “We have about an hour until it gets dark enough for it to come out.”
Under her breath: “It.”
“Should we look around? Try to win our weight in cotton candy?” He bumps her shoulder.
“Really unprofessional, Mulder.” She bumps him back.
“Your policy on the high striker?”
She’s leaning against a building with cream slats and green siding. Her pathologist fingers, the same ones that have plucked seriously at intestines both small and large, are picking at the remains of a pink cotton candy. The white stick is beginning to show through, like the spinal bones of some fluffy neon skeleton. She licks sugar off her thumb and considers him carefully.
“Egomaniacal and inherently designed to boost machismo.”
He nods. Fair enough. ”And shooting galleries?“
She pushes her sunglasses up so they hold her hair back like a headband, all wisps and the unexpected Catholic school girl sweetness of her face. It feels like five years ago, before nosebleeds and small graves.There is cotton candy on the side of her mouth and she deals with it quickly, thoughtful. ”My policy is that my aim is better than yours and you know it.”
“Ooh, Scully. Better put your money where your trigger finger is.”
She beats him 9 to 7, scrunching up her nose to keep the setting sun out of her eyes. A rifle hiked up against her blazer makes him lose his focus, or something like that. Calamity Jane with a cross necklace. She brushes off the proffered prize and he whirls on her.
She closes her eyes and holds out her hand, resting the other on her hip. He’s not sure where the folder or the notes went, but he hasn’t seen them in at least half an hour. She was full of tricks, which is why he thinks she preferred long sleeves - better for hiding them in. “Fine, Mulder. Pick for me if you care so much.”
He signals one of the late-shift park workers, a thin-faced man with an absurdly cliche mustache, to pass him the decently-sized alien that hangs above floppy dogs and an obscenely large Miss Piggy puppet. He puts it into her arms carefully and whispers, “Evidence.”
She opens her eyes and grins, runs the back of her hand absentmindedly down its soft head and says, “Green, huh?”
In the center of Lakemont is a sleepy old death trap called the Twister. True to its name, it’s a sharp corkscrew of wooden slats, a roller coaster that’s only mechanism is the screaming logistics of free fall. It is three minutes to sundown, and Scully had leaned back off a carousel horse and said, “Do you think we’d be able to see the whole park from the top? Like a crow’s nest, maybe.”
He’d hummed without agreeing. She’d turned fully toward him and said seriously, “We’ll be able to see white bigfoot easier from that kind of angle.”
That’s when he knew he had her. In the late August shimmer, just off the nauseating carousel turn. She’d said the words “white bigfoot” without a hint of irony and pointed to the top of a sure-to-be-fatal amusement park ride, and he had her. Or vice versa. Or something like that.
At the top, there is no sign of “bigfoot but, like, if he was bleached,” but they can see over the pastel expanse of the crooked little park and the dark green sway of the trees and towns beyond. And neither of them says it - but it does feel like an island. Like a figure of speech. Like they’re alone, surrounded by air and wind and the crash or something as steady and urgent and unstoppable as the sea.
He takes a shuddery breath and Scully turns to look sharply at him.
“Are you scared?” She laughs it out of her open mouth, everything but unkind. Her breath still childhood sweet from the cotton candy.
He shrugs back. She raises her eyebrows in something like giddy surprise or quiet revelation.
“You’re scared,” she says, taking his hand between both of hers like an agreement or a blood pact. And still laughing, “Oh, Mulder, you’re scared.”
He is and he isn’t. It fluctuates based on the creaking, ratcheting height they’re approaching and the honey-sweet sound of her voice. She holds his hand against her chest so he can feel the machine gun pump of her heart. It seems like she’s been laughing for so long he can’t imagine her stopping.
He says, “Yeah, I am.”
She looks like she might say something like Don’t be or I’ll protect you, G-man or just like she might laugh again. But the creaking stops and the air moves and there is a moment of silence and they’re on an island. They’re at the top of something, and there is a sureness to every movement they make that is not unlike the tide.
He’s scared and she’s laughing. He’s not scared and she’s still laughing. They fall.