Dana, if, um… early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?
Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day…Well, maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.
Today I apologize to Tolkien (arguably less foreboding than T.S. Eliot) for stealing some of Bilbo’s famous lines. It felt fitting, and I’ll always sneak in a tribute to the great J.R.R. if I can.
I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.
–Bilbo Baggins, Fellowship of the Ring
They’re old. They feel it when dust collects on their files; they feel it getting out of bed on cold mornings; they feel it after a stressful workday, when they fuck like teenagers on Mulder’s dying box springs and their backs ache from being pressed against the headboard.
Scully is relieved to see the crow’s feet around her eyes—she’d never forgotten the final promise of Clyde Bruckman, the countless moments she nearly died but looked away at the last moment. What a tragedy it would have been to stand over the graves of her husband, her children and grandchildren, to live for so long you saw the aging of rock and shift of the continents beneath your feet and to know nothing that is true will remain so.
Mulder takes it a little less gracefully, but that he’s old means he didn’t die young. He can appreciate that, if nothing else. He still protests the wrinkles in his forehead and the thinning of his hair.
They feel old when they move Scully’s things back into the Unremarkable House, grunting and clutching their backs with each piece of furniture they haul up the front steps. They feel old when Scully bakes cookies but rations Mulder’s to keep his cholesterol down.
They feel old when they grumble about Daggoo digging up the garden again, and they have to fill in the little paw-scrapes and massage each other’s joints afterward.
They feel old when they find their son, and he stands a foot taller than Scully and grows a stubble on his chin. And it’s hell at first—they’ve all suffered casualties; William’s adopted family is dead at Spender’s hand and it shatters Scully to know she couldn’t protect him. It shatters Mulder to hug William and then ask him to save the world. It’s unfair.
They feel even older when it’s over. When they fill Spender with bullets and then help William move into his new bedroom like the whole world hadn’t almost gone up in flames. They want him to be a kid for once. He obliges, and they feel old when William asks “what the fuck happened out there?” over pizza dinner.
They tell him everything. They feel old thinking about the Flukeman, Clyde Bruckman (this one gives Scully a pause) and the time they posed as a married couple because back then, they didn’t think they’d live long enough to marry in real life and they certainly didn’t think they would be eating Domino’s with their lanky, eye-rolling teenage son.
Mulder never feels older than he does locking the basement office for the final time. He knows it’s satisfying for Scully to see that door—the door she deserved her name on but never got—closing at last. It means Spender is dead; it means nothing in that room can hurt them anymore. It means they no longer carry the world on their shoulders.
They hand their resignations to Skinner one evening in May, only to find him penning his own letter of resignation and retiring to a beach somewhere. They each carry a stack of case files they couldn’t let go—some of them solved, some of them to be explored if only for the hell of it. They can do that now.
Scully always said the X-files were his ring, keeping them both young but imprisoned. Sitting beneath his tattered poster in the basement office, he was forever the embittered thirty-year-old who trusted no one and lived for the search. (He hesitates for a moment, closing that door. He’s fond of that cracked young seeker of truth. But he’s fonder of the middle-aged husband and father and hobbyist cryptid hunter he’s become.) They watch Fellowship of the Ring that night and he decides he would much rather be Bilbo than Frodo.
Scully feels old when she slices a dead body in front of twenty horrified medical students. Mulder feels old when his students call him ‘Professor,’ but at least it’s better than ‘Fox.’
They crack open a case file on William’s summer vacation—it’s a maybe-bigfoot type of case, deep in the middle of nowhere. They book three plane tickets and break out their flashlights for old times’ sake. William teases them mercilessly and breaks out his phone instead. Huffing and puffing, outpaced by their son chasing shadows through the woods, they feel young again.
And he lived happily ever after, ‘til the end of his days.
Okay, in order to avoid confusion, let me explain a little bit about the graphic novels, what the hell is happening in each one, and why this Audible adaptation is going to be so awesome (in my humble opinion).
They are making the adaptation from The X-Files Season 10, written by Joe Harris. That’s this series, published by IDW in 2013, which takes place sometime after IWTB. That’s all I’m going to say about a timeline, because when it was first published, the actual Revival (Season 10 of the television series) wasn’t even being talked about, so IWTB is our only frame of reference in terms of when these events happened. In it, Mulder and Scully are still living under assumed names, but they’re living together. Scully is a doctor, Mulder is still kind of a homebody, and then something happens that brings them back into the search for the Truth. Quite a few of our old favorite monsters, villains, and secondary characters make a comeback, including the Flukeman, the Peacocks, the Long Gunmen, and Gibson Praise. And again, let me stress…Mulder and Scully are STILL TOGETHER ROMANTICALLY:
The above series is NOT to be confused with The X-Files, which is also written by Joe Harris and was published by IDW in 2016. The X-Files, pictured below, is a completely different storyline from the one pictured above. It’s a Revival-era series which takes place sometime after the My Struggle I, meaning that it includes the estrangement. This is a story about Revival-era Mulder and Scully, and encompasses the whole breakup and all that jazz, and THIS is the series that Scully has started to see someone else:
Prompt idea! Mulder (somehow) finds what appears to be a stuffed flukeman for Will and Scully nearly has a heart attack :)
This was such a cute prompt - thank you, anon. I hope it turned out all right.
Scully closed the door to her
apartment, sighing when she saw all the boxes neatly lined up. Tomorrow was the
big day, as she and Mulder had explained to William months ago; moving day. She
had meant to come home earlier today, just to spend some more time in these
four walls that used to be her home for so long. But a class had run late, a
student had needed help with an assignment and she had called Mulder hours ago to
tell him she wasn’t going to make it. Now she was so late that even the coat
rack, which had been right next to the door, was gone.
Somewhere in the apartment, she heard Mulder
talking to himself, or maybe to Will. She sighed again, as if that would summon
the coat rack, before she put it on one of the boxes instead. Scully toed off
her shoes and shuffled into the kitchen to get a glass of water. They no longer
had glasses, they were all packed up, but Mulder had put out some of William’s
colorful plastic cups to use.
“Mommy!” Small feet stamped
through the apartment and Scully just about managed to set down her cup before
the toddler threw himself at her.
“Hey baby.” Scully’s eyes
closed on her own volition as she took in his sweet, clean smell. Mulder must
have bathed him already. She ran her fingers through his hair, which was still
damp, to confirm it.
“You’re home.” The boy
exclaimed and his little fists dug into her back almost painfully. There was
something in his hand, Scully realized, and she gently pushed Will away to look
“I am, baby. Did you have a nice
day with daddy?” Will nodded enthusiastically and grinned as he shoved
something into her hand. Scully stared at it for a moment, wondering, wondering
and then, as realization hit her, bewildered, as she let the stuffed toy fall
to the ground as if on fire. She made a sound she’d never made in her life,
scaring Will into a frenzied crying fit, and kicked at the object repeatedly.
“What the…” Mulder appeared
in the kitchen, ready to fight. He took in the scene in front of him, just
trying to understand it. Will sat on the ground, his new toy forgotten next to
him, and Scully was just standing there. Seeing Mulder let her snap back to
reality and she picked up Will, holding him tightly against her chest, rocking
him gently. He calmed down, wiping his runny nose against her shoulder as he hiccupped
with leftover tears.
“Mulder, where did you get that
thing? Why did you bring it into the house?” Scully kicked the toy again
so that it landed in front of Mulder’s feet. He picked it up and had the
audacity to grin at her.
“Don’t you think it’s cute?”
“Cute? Mulder, it’s a worm!”
“Fluky?” William, no longer
crying, twisted in his mother’s arm, reaching out to get at his new fluffed
friend. Mulder handed it to him and Scully’s eyes widened making Mulder laugh.
William hugged the stuffed flukeworm as if it were the cutest, fluffiest thing
he’d ever seen. Carefully, Scully set her son down and watched helplessly as he
pet the toy’s head.
“Where did you even… how… Mulder?”
“It was a gift,” he explained
to her, putting his arms around her and clasping his hands behind her back. He
leaned down to kiss her lips briefly, a smile ever present on his face.
“The guy’s from evidence gave it to me.” Scully continued to stare up
at him, waiting for more.
“They had it for years,
apparently. Do you remember the flukeman case, Scully?” His eyes sparkled knowing
that of course she remembered it. As if she could ever forget that case.
“A guy made it wanting to show it
to his girlfriend, who didn’t believe a thing like that could exist. He put it
in a box and they would get it out whenever someone new started to work
“I don’t know. To see how they’d
react, I suppose.”
“No, why did you bring it home?
It’s bad enough we had to deal with the actual thing. What is it even made of?
Is it safe?” They both looked down at William, who was lost in his own
little world, talking to his stuffed flukeman.
“It’s made out of felt, Scully. It
was a gift from evidence. To mark the happy occasion that spooky Mulder is
finally leaving the FBI.”
“I don’t care if it was a gift. Mulder,
we can’t possibly let our son play with a giant, blood-sucking worm.” She
whispered, hoping that William couldn’t hear them; the boy didn’t even react.
“Will loves his Fluky,”
Mulder replied softly, “to him, it’s not a monster.” That much was
obvious, Scully had to admit. She dug her nails into Mulder’s arm as she saw
Will leave a big, wet kiss on the toy’s head.
“See? That’s love, Scully.” To
mark his point, he left a kiss on her cheek.
“If he ends up having nightmares,
you’ll deal with it.” Scully told him earnestly.
“Of course,” he promised,
“and just in case you end up having nightmares about our stuffed flukeman,
I know just what to do, too.”
1. Confusion. Midway through the pilot and what is this show? Why is it dark? How did this become iconic? Why are there never any answers? Why is Gillian Anderson a fetus? So many questions.
2. Comprehension. But wait? What happens next? What IS the truth? When will Mulder and Scully finally give into their chemistry? This show is weird but in the best way and I can’t get enough! Look at them!
3. Excitement! Hell yes! More episodes. Waiting a week? Torture! What fresh genius awaits? What body part will Mulder next touch under the guise of “friendly”? Can anything be as gross as the Flukeman? And LOOK AT THEM!
4. Anticipation. It’s coming. That big reveal is coming! And Mulder and Scully will kiss. They gotta. It’s that or aliens invading. It’s gonna happen this year. It has to, it’s what I live for and I need some payoff for sitting for hours in the dark!
5. Disbelief. What. The. Fuck. Just. Happened. Bees? BEES? Fuck bees man And that was a flying saucer Sculls. Just look- no wait what? That was it? And who’s this Fowley? What? No? I deserve better! MULDER AND SCULLY DESERVE BETTER!
6. Heartbreak: No. This is happening. And yet you continue to watch. Mulder is gone. Scully is not allowed nice things. Doggett is cool but… he’s not Mulder. You dream of the glory days. Imagine a future where it all comes out right and everyone gets to live happily every after before tossing what’s left of your dignity on to the funeral pyre of angst and crying into the cruel hardness of your Season 9 boxset.
7. Extremely passive aggressive acceptance. Okay. It’s fine. Well it’s not fine but you know that realistically sitting in front of the TV howling at the menu wont make anything better so you move on with your life. Sort of. You join tumblr and find fellow shells of humans to commiserate with. You read/write fanfic to try and fill the emptiness in your soul. You wish for but are terrified of revivals. You yell at anyone who dares to tell you that it’s not a good show because it’s not perfect but it is YOUR show. And It has ruined all other TV for you so alll you can do is inflict it on your loved ones and wallow in the shared misery of being an X-Files fan - rewatching over and again, praying for a different outcome as you slip slowly into madness, cursing Chris Carter’s name,
They were halfway through their binge watch of The X Files when Rose sighed and announced, “I wish they’d just bloody kiss.”
“Excuse me?” the Doctor asked. She was resolutely not looking at him. He had the sneaking suspicion that she was talking about more than Mulder and Scully.
Still not looking at him, Rose took a deep breath and elaborated. “I wish she’d just put him up against the wall and snog him.” He didn’t miss that Rose’s cheeks had gone a bit…rosy.
“They’re in the middle of an investigation, though.”
“They’re always in the middle of an investigation, Doctor.”
They were silent, watching skeptical Scully and spooky Mulder debate the existence of extraterrestrial life. (Watching these debates usually sent Rose and the Doctor into giggle fits, but this time something heavy and electric seemed to hang in the air. It was nearly suffocating them with awkwardness.)
Suddenly, the Doctor blurted, “It’s not usually to the show’s benefit if the leads get all…kissy. Then they become boring. Case in point: Sam and Diane….Maddie and David…not a good thing. Ross and Rachel? Don’t get me started.”
“Oh, I don’t think it’d get boring at all. If Mulder and Scully finally gave in it would be very…”Rose paused, considering her next words carefully. “Satisfying.”
She said satisfying in a tone of voice that made a zing go up his spine. It made several fantasies (which he had filed away in a mental file cabinet cross-referenced by location and method) come to mind. They were all quite satisfying.
He glanced at Rose, who was gazing at him. He stared at the television as the chupacabra (or flukeman or whatever the inaccurately portrayed monster of the week was) as it tried to snack on Scully. It was suddenly very warm in the room. He opened his mouth to speak and he seemed to be outside of his body as he gave his speech, watching himself spill all sorts of secrets in a metaphorical way. “And if…if they got together it would be like daring the conspiracy or the universe or whatever to take Scully from him. They’d never have a happy ending. Those things never work out in telly.” He was mentally telling himself to shut up but the vocal center of his brain paid no attention. “Or it’s like being a vampire in love with the governess and he’s eternal and she’s….mortal.”
“Dark Shadows. Brilliant show. Very spooky.”
Rose rested her hand on his knee. He covered her hand with his own. His hand couldn’t not be touching hers. He wondered if she noticed he was shaking. “I think it would be worse if they never tried. Then they’d have an eternity….or a mortal life…of regret.”
The Doctor stood abruptly and was across the room in a few quick strides. “Tea and biscuits?”
Rose turned off the television.
“I thought we were watching….”
Rose shook her head. “We haven’t been watching the show for a while now. Or talking about it, for that matter.” She stood and he watched her cross the room, his hearts pounding with a mixture of dread and arousal and want. She joined him, toe to toe. She cupped his cheek gently. “Doctor,” she murmured.
The Doctor stared at Rose, and the words he wanted to say were stuck. They were three small words, too small to encompass the enormity of the feeling. “Rose, I….”he began.
“I know,” Rose whispered. Then louder, “I know. I’ve known for a long time. I think you know too.”
He nodded. “I do.”
“I don’t want regrets. I want a life lived with you.”
Her simple declaration broke through the wall of separation he’d built for himself. It had been maintained for too long for reasons that were no longer important. All that mattered was Rose’s words and the way she looked at him. “How long are you gonna stay with me?” the Doctor asked.
“Forever,” Rose told him. He couldn’t help his wide grin, and he loved how she answered in kind, with just a bit of tongue poking out. (That tongue was the focus of some of the best fantasies in his mental file cabinet.). Instead of leaning forward and bridging the distance, the Doctor backed up closer to the wall. Rose looked puzzled, and just a bit hurt.
In explanation, the Doctor said, “I’m against the wall.”
The moment when the penny dropped for Rose was quite satisfying. As was the next moment, when he found himself pressed harder against it by Rose. But all the moment afterwards were the most satisfying of all.
It was hours before they picked up their X Files marathon.