baby mantises

Fic:  Things That Never Happened

Mulder told her once that he was afraid of fire.  She isn’t sure if L’Ively’s accelerated flames broke him or cured him.  He seems startled when the book catches fire in their hands in the cemetery, but not terrified.  The flame in the oil field doesn’t leave him shivering, despite the stress of his Russian adventure.  They sit in their unremarkable house in front of the fire, and his chest rises and falls steadily under her cheek.  

He told her that he hated insects.  She sees none of if while they’re gardening.  Mulder picks slugs and caterpillars off their plants with ease, tossing them into the bucket he uses to collect fish bait.  They even have a few baby mantises one summer, lurking under the tomatoes, and Mulder doesn’t flinch.  Maybe he doesn’t see them.  Maybe one praying mantis epiphany is enough for a lifetime.

The Gunmen told her he couldn’t see color.  They told her that’s why he was immune to the subliminal messaging that invaded her brain, flickering in through the cones of her eyes.  But she remembers him talking about the green liquid the doctors took from the subjects in the train cars.  She remembers the flick of his gaze over her red suit.  When he buys flowers, they never clash with the red of her hair.  She recalls, dimly, that color-blindness may be a barrier to passing the FBI physical.  But if anyone could talk his way through that, it would be Mulder.  

She wanted once to celebrate his sister’s birthday with some small gesture, but there were two different dates in the files.  Samantha Mulder is, to Scully, little more than a collection of tightly-wrapped mysteries, the least of which is her date of birth.

In the drawer of her desk, there are two coins fused together.  She spins them with her fingertips and thinks she should remember.  But she isn’t certain what it is she ought to know.  Another X-File, unexplained, inexplicable.  She keeps the coins.

They kissed in Oregon, in the pouring rain, by the grave of the young taken untimely.  (They never kissed until the turn of the century, the ball dropping, the date flipping, but she remembers it anyway.)