the mule in the well

Thanksgiving Fic

At the request of the lovely @2momsmakearight, I’m sharing a Thanksgiving fluff piece I wrote last year. It’s first fic I wrote after a 10+ year hiatus, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Don’t Know Much About History

The door to the apartment swung open to reveal a tired, frustrated, and heavily-laden Dana Scully. A small but stuffed duffel bag was slung over her shoulder; a giant roller suitcase stood beside her in the hallway. She groped for the light switch to the left of the door, then struggled to fit both herself and her belongings through the entrance. She pushed her suitcase in front of her television cabinet, then heaved the duffel bag off her shoulder and over her head. It landed on the floor with a thud. A well-aimed mule kick shut the door behind her.

Next item off was her coat. This she deposited unceremoniously on the side table next to the sofa, not caring that it knocked over a photo frame and crushed her ivy plant. She walked over to the sofa and sank into it with a long exasperated sigh. Her black leather pumps were kicked off with the same lack of concern as her coat. Her head fell back to rest on the cushions. She closed her eyes.

Bad weather had delayed, and ultimately canceled, her flight from DC to San Diego. Her entire family - even Charlie, who was stationed in Japan - was gathering at Bill and Tara’s house for Thanksgiving. It was the first time everyone was to be together since her father passed away five years ago. Not anymore.

She had waited at the airport for over eight hours, watching the flight status screens as the departing flights succumbed one by one to their seemingly inevitable demise: from “on-time,” to “delayed,” to “canceled.” The ensuing chaos had reminded her of a scene from ‘Planes, Trains, & Automobiles,’ in which Steve Martin’s character - after several failed (and increasingly desperate) attempts to make it home for Thanksgiving - finally lost it at a clueless rental car agent.

Unlike Steve Martin, however, she was a seasoned enough traveler to know when to call it quits. The ice storm bearing down on the DC region was forecast to last through Black Friday. Even Baltimore, the next closest airport, was shuttered. Any further waiting could be done in the comfort of her own home. With a heavy heart, she had joined the throng of crestfallen travelers boarding the Metro heading back into DC.

The disappointment in her mother’s voice when she broke the bad news was almost enough to make her turn around and demand - again, like Steve Martin - that she be given special accommodation. But no amount of complaining would change Mother Nature’s mind. She’d be spending Thanksgiving alone and away from her family this year.

A knock at the door startled her out of her melancholy thoughts. Perhaps it was her building super, come to tell her to expect power outages due to the storm. She padded over to the door in stockinged feet and opened it. She was surprised to see Mulder standing there. He held two paper grocery bags, each full to bursting.

“Gobble, gobble, Scully,” he said by way greeting, sidestepping his way into her apartment.

“Mulder, how -”

“TV said all flights out of Reagan and BWI were cancelled,” he answered, pre-empting her question. He was already in the kitchen and was starting to unload the groceries. “I figured you’d come back here instead of fight against the madding crowd of desperate travelers.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be up in Massachusetts with your mother?” she asked, closing the door and joining him the kitchen.

He paused, not looking up from the pile of food on the counter. “I, uh, got tied up at work yesterday, and got a late start,” he said, rather sheepishly. “By the time I got on the road, they’d closed I-95 in both directions.”

She knew exactly what had happened: he’d gotten himself engrossed in a casefile and lost all track of time. She wouldn’t be surprised if he’d fallen asleep at his desk and ended up spending the night at the office. Wouldn’t be the first time, she thought. But why is he here? She wanted to ask him, but caution, coupled with exhaustion, checked that impulse; she was glad for his company, whatever his reasons might be.

Mulder pulled out several plastic takeout containers from one of the bags. Their contents were still warm. Scully could see the condensation on the inside of the containers. They smelled heavenly. She heard her stomach growl. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was nearly five o’clock.

“I wish I could say that I spent hours slaving over a hot oven to bring you this, but trust me when I say that Boston Market’s rotisserie chicken is far superior to turkey à la Mulder. They even threw in some extra corn muffins, in the spirit of the season.”

“Makes you wonder why people even bother to cook,” she quipped.

Mulder grinned in response. He reached into the other grocery bag and produced a bottle of red wine.

“It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without booze,” he said, wagging his eyebrows suggestively.

“God knows I could use a drink, after today.”

His smile faded. “I’m sorry you won’t be spending Thanksgiving with your family,” he said, sounding genuinely sympathetic.

He did his best to alleviate the ensuing awkward silence by rummaging around in a drawer until he found a bottle opener. He uncorked the wine and poured it into two glasses. He handed her the fuller of the two.

“Take a load off, Scully. I’ll bring dinner over.” He gestured to the sofa.

For once, she didn’t argue. The tedious waiting and ultimate disappointment of the day had finally caught up to her. She made her way over to the sofa and sank down into it. She took a deep sip of her wine. It was luscious; full-bodied and fruity.

She glanced over at Mulder, still wondering at his reasons for being here. He moved around her kitchen with an ease that surprised her, given his infrequent visits. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised, she thought. They’d been spending more time together outside of work the past year. First, it was the impromptu gift exchange early on Christmas morning. Then came an unexpected (on her part, at least) baseball lesson one summer evening. The intimacy of these encounters both thrilled and terrified her. Like a switch has been flicked, she mused, recalling her conversation in a high school bathroom in Kansas.

Now, as she watched him making himself at home in her apartment, she silently acknowledged the truth of the words Phillip Padgett had spoken to both of them a few months before: “Agent Scully is already in love.”

She reached for the remote in an attempt to distract herself from further embarrassing thoughts. She flipped through several channels until she caught sight of a young Harrison Ford dressed in suspenders and a straw hat.

“Ah. ‘Witness.’ A classic.” Mulder joined her on the couch. He handed her a plate piled high with chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans - all covered in gravy. She noticed he’d given her an extra helping of potatoes; he knew her too well.

Mulder raised his wine glass. “To family, both near and far,” he said, clinking his glass with hers.

“To family,” she echoed.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Scully.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Mulder.”

They ate in comfortable silence with their plates in their laps, watching Harrison Ford as he tried to keep a low profile in the alien world of the Amish and fight his growing attraction to Kelly McGillis.

Eventually, Mulder got up to get seconds. She set her empty plate on the coffee table, too stuffed to eat any more. Mulder returned with a full plate and the rest of the wine. He refilled both of their glasses. They continued to watch .

Harrison Ford was in the barn, fixing his broken car and listening to the radio. Kelly McGillis showed up, and Sam Cooke’s ‘Wonderful World’ came on the radio. Then Harrison Ford swept Kelly McGillis into an impromptu dance by lantern light.

“Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be.”

She sensed Mulder looking at her. Slowly, she turned her head and met his gaze. He was smiling at her. He then stood up, faced her, and extended his hand. Another surprise. She took it and allowed herself to be pulled up off of the sofa.

She felt Mulder’s right hand as it came to rest gently but firmly on her waist, his left hand engulfing hers. They began to sway gently back and forth together in a rhythm that seemed as right and as natural as breathing.

Sam Cooke continued his crooning:
“But I do know one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be.”

Memories of a crowded nightclub, Cher, and her biggest (mutant) fan came flooding back as Mulder spun her outward, then drew her back to him, closer this time. Her stockinged toes bumped up against his larger socked feet. She laughed out loud. It must be the wine finally taking effect, she thought. Or maybe it was simply that she was happy.

Mulder laughed with her, the same laugh as when they were swinging baseball bats together. She could feel his grip tighten as he pulled her even closer to him. They were almost embracing now. She hesitated, then gently rested her head on his chest. She could feel his heart beating through his soft cotton t-shirt, against her cheek. She relaxed and leaned into him. He put his head on top of hers.

They continued to sway. The music ended. They stayed locked together.

Her phone rang. She suddenly remembered her mother saying earlier she would call so that she could converse with the Scully clan in San Diego. Slowly, reluctantly, she released herself from her partner’s embrace.

“Sorry. Family phone call.”

“Go and fulfill your daughterly obligations. I’ll clean up.” He gave her hands a final squeeze before bending down to grab the empty plates and silverware from the coffee table.

She picked up the phone. “Hi, Mom.”

She only half-listened as her mother brought her up to speed on the doings of the Scully family. Bill got a promotion. Charlie was deploying in January. The grandkids were getting a puppy for Christmas.

From the kitchen came the sound of running water; Mulder was rinsing the dishes. She was close enough to hear him singing softly to himself as he scrubbed.

“Don’t know much about history…”

She smiled. Thank God for ice storms, Boston Market, and Harrison Ford.


The Brain Scoop:
What is a Species?

When I was in high school, I learned that the definition of a species is two animals that can interbreed and give birth to fertile offspring. Like, dogs are all one species because they technically can interbreed (although, functionally, watching a Great Dane and a Chihuahua work it out might be… difficult), but donkeys and horses are different because – although they can mate and give birth – their offspring (mules) are sterile.

At the time, I thought – well, that’s pretty straight forward. Thanks, scientists, for solving yet another mystery of life. 

Fast forward to a few months ago when I asked one of my taxonomist colleagues to define a ‘species’ for me. The result of that (many hour-long) conversation inspired this video. Turns out, the answer isn’t, at all, straight-forward. 


* triggering content below, proceed to read/reblog with caution!

’ It’s all true. The bogeyman is real and you found him. ’
’ Let me ask you something. ’
’ How come you’re asking me so many jackassy questions? ’
’ You know, the crazy shit you see when you’re driving across the country. ’
’ I don’t drive cross country. ’
’ You little dickens, you. I know what your problem is. ’
’ Ya’ll think us folk from the country’s real funny-like, dontcha? ’
’ Yeah, well saddle up the mule, Ma! Slide me some grits! ’
’ I said, shut your fucking mouth! ’
’ You asshole! ’
’ Listen, you Malibu middle class Barbie piece of shit, I’m tryin’ to work here. ’
’ Work? You ever work? Yeah, I’ll bet you have. ’
’ Our bodies come and go but this blood… is forever. ’
’ I bet you’d stick your head in fire if I told ya you could see Hell. ’
’ Meanwhile, you’re too stupid to realize you got a demon stickin’ out your ass. ’
’ Have you seen this girl in the past twenty four hours? ’
’ The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’. ’
’ You know, I like ‘em with a little more meat on ‘em. ’
’ Yeah, cute kid. Ain’t my type though. ’
’ Come on clownie, just answer the damn questions. ’
’ We ain’t interested in your love life. ’
’ Goddamn, motherfucker got blood all over my best clown suit. ’
’ I said get the fuck off him/her you stupid fucking whore! Fucking slut! ’
’ Oh, really? Are you gonna do something about it? ’
’ I’ll fucking cut your tits off and shove ‘em down your throat! ’
’ Why are you doing this? ’
’ I mean, I couldn’t have asked for a better speciman. ’
’ You don’t know what kind of dry spell I’ve had here. ’
’ This can’t be real, this can’t be real, this can’t be real. ’
’ Oh, it’s real. As real as I want it to be, mama. ’
’ Fuck you, you fucking freak! ’
’ I’m the one who brings the Christmas candy. ’
’ I’m the one who beats you when you’re bad. ’
’ I’m the one who brings the devil’s brandy. ’
’ Who’s your daddy? ’
’ Now tell me, who’s your daddy? ’
’ Come on, sweetie. Give the old man some sugar. ’
’ I’m the one who loves ya when you’re fucking dead! ’
’ We like to get fucked up, and do fucked up shit. ’
’ Take his gag out. It’s more fun with the screaming. ’
’ Please don’t kill us, please don’t kill us. ’
’ That screaming is much more exciting that way. ’
’ Please don’t kill us… nah… please don’t kill us. ’
’ Shut your mouth and get your shit in the box. Get in now. ’
’ Wait, wait, wait… I wanna say goodbye. ’
’ Goodbye, sweetie. We could’ve been great. ’
’ Ain’t we just having a fucking hoot? ’
’ Just let us go, I swear to God we won’t tell anyone. I swear… ’
’ Get your fucking ass up, boy. ’
’ Come on, we ain’t got all night. ’
’ Where does she think she’s gonna run to? ’
’ She gonna run all the way home? ’
’ Where does she think she’s gonna run to? She gonna run all the way home? ’
’ Huntin’ humans ain’t nothin’ but nothin’. ’
’ They all run like scared little rabbits. Run, rabbit, run. ’
’ I hate fucked up families. ’
’ But most of all, fuck you! ’
’ Shit, I can’t do nothing with this now. ’
’ For the lot of me, I do not understand why you hang out with that asshole. ’
’ Well hell, arn’t they all? All they want to do is eat and fuck. ’
’ Well, if you knew him better you might understand his urges. ’
’ You know what his favorite thing is next to whacking his weasel? ’
’ He takes a sharpened pencil, sticks it in his eyeball and twists it. ’
’ He doesn’t hurt himself. He kind of twists it next to his eyeball. ’
’ Oh, he’s been putting that pencil someplace other than his eyeball. ’
’ What did you see? Who was she with? Where was she going? ’
’ They was nosing around… asking a bunch of stupid questions. ’
’ I figured, what the hell? Can’t do no harm. ’
’ You can shit ten bricks for all I care. ’
’ You miserable motherfucker, I ought to leap over this counter and bash your fuckin’ balls in! ’
’ Hand over the cash box, and I might leave your brains inside your skull! ’
’ Hey, I know you. You work down at the hardware store. ’
’ They call you ‘Little Dick Wick.’ They even sing a song about you. ’
’ Hands up! Keep your paws where I can see 'em. ’
’ What the fuck is that supposed to mean? ’
’ Well, shit the bed! Howdy folks, come on in! ’
’ I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. ’
’ Cause ya wouldn’t be fuckin’ with me, now would ya? ’
’ Better you leave here with your head still full of kitty cats and puppy dogs. ’
’ 'Shoo, shoo,’ said the maiden. ’
’ 'Come, maiden,’ said the rabbit, 'sit on my tail and go with me to my rabbit hutch.’ ’
’ The doctor is in! Its your ghost host, with the most! ’
’ You like blood? Violence? Freaks of nature? ’
’ Go into the garden and drive out the rabbit. ’
’ You know we like to get fucked up? ’
’ Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey! ’
’ That is it! I’m gonna count to ten and you’re gonna hand over all the cash. ’
’ I’m gonna splatter your grease paint mug across the state line! ’
’ Hey, Poopy-pants. What’s new? ’
’ Is that all? Now, I want you to think really hard. ’
’ There’s cops outside! ’
’ Oh, don’t worry about it! How many were there? ’
’ Fucking pigs always come in packs. ’
’ I’ll go around back and take control like I always fuckin’ do! ’
’ Here take this go down stairs and play nice. ’
’ How? Now, that is a question worth examining. ’
’ Buddy, look around. Would I be surprised? ’
’ How much we owe you? ’
’ Go buy yourself a new name… ’
’ That ain’t gonna break my bank, hon. Here, keep the change. ’
’ If I wanted to listen to an asshole, I’d fart. ’
’ You sure this fella’s supossed to ride with us in this car? ’
’ This just don’t seem right to me. ’
’ Well listen, it ain’t up to us. ’
’ I just hope he don’t get in my way’s all I’m sayin’ all right? ’
’ The guy’s an ex-cop and figures he can be a help some. ’
’ I’d say these kids got a cold six and are out getting shitfaced right now. ’
’ I sure hope you’re right. My guts are telling me different. ’
’ You’re spidey senses tinglin? ’
’ I myself always favored for the hulk. ’
’ Whatever you need to do, you do it. ’
’ If someone needs to be killed, you kill 'em. That’s the way. ’
’ If someone needs to be killed, you kill 'em. ’
’ Don’t scream, don’t move. ’
’ Sweet baby Jesus, girl. What the hell happened to you? ’
’ Oh, there’s a whole bunch of people been looking for your ass, girl. ’
’ All right, all right. Just sit back and relax. I’ll get you to a doctor. ’
’ You gotta have the marshmallows, that’s what makes it fun. ’
’ Ain’t the only thing tasty in this house. ’
’ Whoopy-fucking-doo. ’
’ Hey wanna play a guessing game? Guess what number i’m thinking of. ’
’ Hey wanna play a guessing game? ’
’ No wait please come on stop it! What do you want? ’
’ Please be quiet I don’t wanna slip. Ok one more. ’
’ You get this right, i’ll let ya go. If you get it wrong you are fucked! ’
’ Let me take a guess here, y'all are having a Halloween party tonight huh? ’
’ Well you sure are buying a whole mess of holy water for two people. ’
’ I’m going to cut you like a pig and make you eat your own fucking intestines… ’
’ Why are you, Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this? ’
’ Come on sleeping beauty, time to go to work. ’
’ No please, let me sit this one out. ’
’ You’re the one who wanted to be a photographer. ’
’ The door’s locked. I’ll gotta go around… wait here. ’
’ Christ, you scared the shit out of me. ’
’ You, my dear worm feeder, are about to become immortalized. ’
’ These are all my dolls. ’
’ These are all my dolls. I used to like to chop their heads off and their arms and stick 'em up on the wall. ’

“You all are starting to become real regulars here,” you smirked, jotting down what you needed to on the clipboard before putting it away.

Kozik stood at the sudden sound of your voice, “Yeah,” he bashfully smiled, “I’m starting to think that we should just buy out a room.”

You chuckled, “That might actually save the club some money.”

The way he looked down towards you, his long blonde eyelashes brushing against his cheek, hi eyes alone always seemed to make your knees weak.

“Speaking of,” his throat cleared and his face turned serious, “how is Piney?”

You shoved your hands into your lab coat and gestured for him to walk with you, “He’s a strong old mule-”

Kozik chuckled.

“-just as stubborn as one as well,” you grinned at your words. Despite his “moments” you actually really loved the time you did get to spend with that old stubborn mule.
“He’s going to be just fine, just have you and the guys watch his drinking, cut out the hard liquor for a while.”

Kozik chuckled again, “I’ll try, but no promises there doc.”

Keep reading

I just realized who MacCready reminds me of when he’s complaining about me picking up junk. I loaded up Skyrim and my db’s husband Marcurio just told me: “I am an apprentice wizard, not a pack mule! Oh very well, but make it quick.”

Both are guys I paid money to hire to carry all my stuff and complain about it when I do. And they are both nerds whose name starts with M.

I see you Betheseda. 


Finished cleaning up the last of my mule and donkey skulls that I got a while back. Person I purchased the lot from picked them up in a field on a farm near where they lived. 

Not sure if this individual was a mule or a donkey (kinda want to say donkey since it’s such a short, thick skull but it still could very well be mule) but it sure was a beauty! Has some interesting porous areas of bone around the jaws and upper molars. That seems to happen sometimes with younger equine skulls, especially ones that were in the process of losing their deciduous teeth like this one was but it’s odd to see it around the underside of the lower jaws too. 

January 7, 1916 - Gallipoli: Final Evacuation of Cape Helles Begins, Gallipoli Campaign is Over

Pictured - Commodore Roger Keyes on the beach during final hours of evacuation of Gallipoli.

The battle for Gallipoli ended the night of January 7, 1916.  In eleven days 35,268 British and French troops were taken off the beach, abandoning the peninsula to the enemy.  The evacuation achieved a victory of its own in that it did not incur a single casualty, a feat of no small proportion.  Behind on the beaches and the shoreline cliffs they left 1,590 vehicles abandoned, and 508 mules which were shot, as well as quantities of ammunition and materiel. 

Booby traps and jerry-rigged weapons had helped keep the Turks guessing as to when Allied forces were leaving.  These included landmines, dummy soldiers, and “clockwork” drip-firing rifles.  One of the last British soldiers picked up from the beach, a Sergeant Mannion, described how “When we were a mile out from the beach, we were all ordered to go below.  At this moment a big magazine on shore was blown up, and we could hear the pieces of scrap-iron falling on the roof of the lighter.  The sea was very rough and our lighter pitched and tossed about like a cork on the waves.  We were all very sea-sick.  There was a rumour that we had broken adrift, and the sailors confirmed this.  Our cable and parted and we were drifting, in a rough sea, off a hostile shore.  But nobody seemed to worry much.  We had got safely off Gallipoli, a thing which none of us had expected.”

Britain and its allies left behind the graves of their own dead.  28,000 British soldiers died during the Gallipoli Campaign, alongside 10,000 French troops, 7,595 Australians, and 2,431 from New Zealand.  Two memorials, one at Cape Helles and one at Anzac Cove, record the names of those with no known grave.  Thirty-three Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries dot the peninsula now, but for much of the rest of the war fallen Allied soldiers were left unburied where they lay, their bones left to be collected afterwards.  The grave of a fallen Australian bears the following lines:

Brother Bill a sniping fell:                                                                            We love him still,                                                                                          We always will.

The victorious Turks lost more than 66,000 of their comrades killed since April 1915.  These tough Anatolian peasants, who Allied commanders had expected would break easily, had held their ground for months, often desperately outgunned, thanks in part to one of their brilliant commanders, Mustafa Kemal. Their memorial, the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, commemorates today their victory.  On it is inscribed a passage from the Turkish national anthem.

Do not ignore the ground on which you have walked,
It is not ordinary soil.
Reflect on the thousands of people, who lie beneath
Without a shroud.
You are the son of a martyr –
Do not hurt your ancestor,
Do not give away this beautiful motherland,
Even if you have the whole world.