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04 January 2014 @ 05:30 pm
Gift for: Bluesamutra  
Title: Of Holes and Monkey Ghosts
Author: Elis@ aka Eleryra / elis_xf
Rating: PG13
Warnings: None
Summary: There was a human-shaped shadow of absence on the sheets this morning, still vaguely warm.
Category: MSR. Vignette
Spoilers: Post-All Things vignette
Disclaimer: mine only in my head.
Note: This was written for xf_santa, as a gift to bluesamutra. Hope you enjoy it! Best wishes for a smashing 2014! A big thank you and a year worth of good karma coupons for estella_c for excellent beta work! That said, any mistakes here are my own.
Email: eleryra AT gmail DOT com

There’s a bullet hole in the plaster of one of the walls in his apartment. It had torn through layers of paint and boards of wood in the junction between the wall and the ceiling.

He spots her sitting on a concrete bench by the WWII memorial, face turned towards the reflective pool. She’s holding a cup of coffee to her lips. It is as windy as it was the night before, and the trees by the pool are shedding leaves easily, consigning them to the zephyr.

He stuffs his hands in his pockets as he approaches her.

“You went a long way, for coffee. I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home,” he says.
He stands by the bench, his coat flapping around his legs in frantic motions.

“You don’t have a twelve-foot statue of Lincoln in your living room.”

“That’s on the list for my next Pottery Barn run.”

She hasn’t turned her head around yet, mesmerised as she seems by the ghostly reflection of the Lincoln memorial on the undisturbed surface of the pool.

There was a human-shaped shadow of absence on the sheets this morning, still vaguely warm.

“Help me out, here, Scully. I’m suddenly painfully aware that coming here might come across as a little desperate. I’m not even holding a casual cup of coffee.” He shuffles forward to catch the expression on her face before rocking back on his heels.

“Of all the times I imagined this, I never thought you’d be the one panicking.”

“You've thought about this?”

She turns to him for the first time, smiling a tight-lipped smile. He thinks he must look particularly amusing. He is hiding his hands in his pockets though it's not that cold. His grip conceals the shakes, coming to meet her in this place, hours after she left his apartment, in the same clothes he’s worn (or not worn, for a brief but blissful interlude the previous night) since coming back from England.

There's a hole in his pocket, too. He plays with it absent-mindedly, to placate his nerves, as he does with everything that's missing or broken or burnt through in his life.

“There was an interesting article on the latest issue of CryptoZoo, this week.”

She smiles, “Yes, I know. You left a copy not so casually on my desk.”

“Oh, you saw that.”

“And another, on the projector.” She feigns annoyance.

He rocks back and forth on his heels.

“Ghost monkeys, Mulder? Haven't you had enough of imaginary beasts?”

“Scully, are you suggesting monkeys don't have souls?”

“The ones that waste my time definitely don't.”

He smiles. This woman, who scares hundred year old hibernating monsters, petrifies seasoned serial killers. She wouldn't believe in a ghost even if it brought her breakfast but is willing to follow a man who believes mostly in things he can't see. This woman who speaks in soft half-sentences, who came into his room last night asking for nothing and offering everything. Now she kept him guessing. And terrified.

“Mulder, stop panicking. I just needed some time alone. Everything is fine.”

“Mind if I sit?” he asks, ignoring her request.

“Only if you don't mention paranormal apes.”

“I can’t promise that.”

There’s a bullet hole in his shoulder. The bullet seared his flesh and muscle lodging itself somewhere in the brick wall behind the building. The hole sits somewhere in the junction between his collarbone and his armpit.

She scoots over to give him some space.

He sits quietly next to her, shielding her from the gusts of wind.
He wants to lean over and brush her hair away from her face, wants to see her thoughtful expression dissipate.

“I’m not sure what to say, Scully.”

“You don’t have to say anything, Mulder.”

“I know that’s what you think, but this worries me. This…this complicates things for you, I know.”
“It doesn’t for you?”

He opens his mouth to talk, forms the beginning of an “I”, closes his lips. Unsure where speech would lead him. There are countless holes in his life. The hole in his family where his sister should have been, the hole in his trust cut by countless friends turned foes, the hole in his confidence battered by years of defeat. The hole in the basement. The gold-rimmed hole of the wedding ring Diana left on his dresser the day she left. The hole in his gut the day he ran into the ICU to see Scully attached to machines, white as first snow.

There's a hole in her womb. One he desperately wishes to be able to fill for her. A hole in her life he has been responsible for. He has done this to her. He has turned the bright doctor who walked into his basement cave into into this silent woman, who sits in federal parks, sadly counting the losses in her life as she counts the black stars on war memorials.

“I didn’t think it would be this difficult,” she says.

He reaches for her hand lying limply on her knee. He closes his eyes briefly as he thinks of naked skin. He has butterflies in his stomach and a monumental headache. There's a hole in the delicate tissue of his brain. One which he cannot fix, one which he hopes not to have to ever tell her about. But he his selfish, and there's a hole in his heart, too.

“I worry we're not on the same page, here. I'm not sure we ever were. And it took me seven years, a dead bee and one serious case of frost bite where the sun doesn't shine to realise that.”

He wonders how long he's known about the Scully-shaped hole in his heart.

She turns to him, with grief in her eyes. He is reminded of a moment in a hallway, years before. He is fired by the same need to make her stay. She opens her mouth but he closes his eyes and shakes his head.

The wind is strong and his coat sides are still flapping around, hitting her legs.

“I have followed the unknown for most of my life, but this, this, scares me. I look at you, and you scare me. No one has ever had such influence over my decisions. No one.”

“Samantha does,” she says and he senses resentment and jealousy, perhaps. He is too ashamed to hope, but too vain not to.

He shakes his head. The Samantha-shaped hole in his life has been bleeding continuously. It has stained hers, too.

He had once given up the woman he had thought was his sister in exchange for his colleague, his partner. He thinks about the pact he was about to make with that chain-smoking vulture as she lay on her death bed. He thinks about the snow burning his skin as he ran across the endless white, looking for her, praying to a God he hadn’t believed in. 

How could she not know?

“I still don’t know what your epiphany meant," he says. “Where I fit.”

She smiles at him, “I thought my actions clarified your role in this.”

“Yeah, well. I wish for once you would spell it out.”

“You didn’t give me much chance to speak last night.” He thinks she has managed to make him blush. Him, nearly forty. A grown man with a sizeable triple X collection.

“Mulder,” She grabs his hand and he is assaulted by fear. This, he thinks, this is why we never talk. If we do, one of us could destroy everything.

But she grins at him and his heartbeat slows down.
“You know, of all the reported sightings of the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in D.C., the Lincoln Memorial is never mentioned.”

“So we’re staking out the place 'cause you’re hoping to be the first to spot him?”

She looks down at their entwined hands and squeezes gently.
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

For a moment he is breathless. The Scully-sized hole in his heart burns bright, sucking his universe in like a black hole. He think if he could explain it to her like this maybe she'd get it, finally. Better than a key-chain, or a stoned bedside confession.

“How about ghost-hunting with a brilliant, albeit slightly neurotic man?” he says, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
She looks up at him, bright-eyed and possibly love-struck.

“Monkey-ghosts, Mulder?” And it hits him. How could he not know? He will never question her feelings again. Her shoulder burns him through layers of clothing. Her presence is possibly the biggest thing that could occupy all the holes in his life, until there's nothing left but her.

He wiggles his eyebrows.
“Hovering, red-eyed, fire-spitting monkey-ghosts, Scully.”
asymptote: [xf] not done looking at youtree on January 10th, 2014 08:31 am (UTC)
this is so, so lovely. in the middle i was worried, like mulder, but how silly of both of us. i am grinning like a fool, absurdly happy.
elis_xfelis_xf on January 10th, 2014 09:32 am (UTC)
So happy you liked it! I shared Mulder's worry all through season 7 and wanted to paint a picture of it here :)
maybe_amanda: xmas_ornamentmaybe_amanda on January 10th, 2014 01:26 pm (UTC)
Monkey Ghosts! How else would Mulder talk about relationship stuff? Lovely evocative writing and beautiful imagery. (And it's so nice (and clever!) to have them back at the Lincoln memorial, the scene of so much early XF angst.)
elis_xfelis_xf on January 10th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the feedback! I visited the memorial myself a few months ago, and couldn't stop picturing them! I must say, part of this fic is inspired by the experience. It was during the government shutdown so nobody was around and it was glorious to let my imagination loose :)

So many visual references to DC were lost later in the series, I thought it would be nice to remind them of a special place for both :)
.:Diva DestruKtion:. ®: .:Look Up M&S:.the_red_diva on January 10th, 2014 05:34 pm (UTC)
Love it! Well-written and stays true to M&S. I could hear them talking in my brain spot :)
elis_xfelis_xf on January 11th, 2014 04:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, I love that, thank you! I hear them talking in my brain spot all the time! (slightly creepy, I know.) :)
peace like the ham in a sandwich: floweridella on January 10th, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC)
I love this! It's fun and funny and achey and just lovely. And so very much both of them. Wonderful work.
elis_xfelis_xf on January 11th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
thank you so much for the feedback, i'm really glad you enjoyed it! :)
Dora Solo: [xf] mulder lookdorasolo on January 11th, 2014 02:26 am (UTC)
I've always wondered what happened after all things, and I really like how your Mulder can't get his head around what's been there forever until after they've (allegedly) consummated the relationship. Lovely :)
elis_xfelis_xf on January 11th, 2014 04:40 pm (UTC)
I have mixed feelings about All Things, and I never really thought I'd write a post-ep vignette for it but, who knew! It was quite a lot of fun to write! Thanks for the feedback!
pat_cordy69: MS Caringcordy69 on January 12th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)
I love the location, took great photos there, and their difficulty to share a meaningful conversation works so well with the actual location: superb work!

I really liked the meandering of the discussion and his feelings and thanks for making it a great ending!
elis_xfelis_xf on January 12th, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the feedback! I'm really happy you liked it! And I think the ending was the first part I wrote!
estella_cestella_c on January 12th, 2014 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thousands cheer the ghost monkeys. Good for you! (I actually distrust monkeys; whether they are ghosts is immaterial. They know too much.)
elis_xfelis_xf on January 13th, 2014 09:24 am (UTC)
ahah! They do, indeed. Thanks so much for your help!
bugs: MulderScullybugsfic on January 13th, 2014 08:25 am (UTC)
I tried to explain what a vignette was to a friend who's just starting to read XF fic and this is a perfect example. Lyrical, evocative, and with a strong sense of theme. What an utterly lovely piece.

But at the same time, I have such a sense of a definite moment in the characters' lives. As much as I love a smut biscuit, this is an extremely satisfying post-all things fic, because I can so perfectly see it and yet 'nothing happens'.

And I've always believed that Scully would be the one who'd have an hard time adjusting to a relationship, as dysfunctional as Mulder can see. It just felt so right, in mood, tone and characterization.
elis_xfelis_xf on January 13th, 2014 09:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I am glad it does what it is meant to! I have a tendency to fill my writing with unnecessary stuff and to not make anything happen, although I think the second quality sometimes can work quite well. :)

For some reason I always saw Mulder as struggling with what happened in All things, so much of Scully's epiphany he just wasn't part of. That's a lot of change to take in :)
bluesamutrabluesamutra on January 13th, 2014 01:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you elis_xf, for this beautiful, evocative story. What a delight it was to read. Thoroughly enjoyed x
elis_xfelis_xf on January 13th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
my pleasure! I am glad you enjoyed it! x
xfdryadxfdryad on January 15th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
He plays with it absent-mindedly, to placate his nerves, as he does with everything that's missing or broken or burnt through in his life.

THIS. Mulder, right there in a sentence. Forget the aliens, and government conspiracies, and black oil. That sentence, right there, says everything you can't actually put into words.

Well done, you.
elis_xfelis_xf on January 15th, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
Aww thanks :) I liked the mental image :)
Audrey: surf's upaud_woman_in on March 4th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
God, this is beautiful. And not just your language, which is spare and evocative, but how you wind so many threads from the complicated web of their story together:

There’s a bullet hole in his shoulder.

The hole in his gut the day he ran into the ICU to see Scully attached to machines

There's a hole in her womb. One he desperately wishes to be able to fill for her.

There's a hole in the delicate tissue of his brain.

He thinks about the snow burning his skin as he ran across the endless white

A pleasure to read!
elis_xf: pic#104326994elis_xf on March 9th, 2014 01:31 pm (UTC)
You're very kind :) thank you, I could have only hoped to receive such lovely feedback. The whole fic, actually, came out of that first sentence you quoted. I'm so glad you liked it! :)