Enders Switch: Day Two
by Lynn Gregg
Frohike, Byers and
Langly appeared mysteriously around two o'clock of the
afternoon following the night before, a trio of malignant genies bearing an odd
assortment of fulfilled wishes. I can only assume Mulder called them that
morning while I was showering; I was half afraid to ask. But they arrived, just
as we were clearing away the remains of a late lunch, stalking in with muttered
greetings and arms overflowing with boxes, papers, file folders and sundry other
bits of miscellanea. Frohike dropped a box onto the swaybacked credenza, rooted
around in it, and then presented me with my laptop, with all the ceremony of a
vassal presenting tribute to a conquering king.
"How did you--"
I began, and stopped myself. His eyes were like thunder clouds
in his gnomish face. "I take it back. I don't want to know. But thank you."
He grunted and made
for the door, leaving me to wonder why no one had ever
bothered to tell him that fingerless gloves had gone out of fashion in the 80s.
"I'm not even going
to ask how you two got yourselves into this predicament,"
Byers said, in tones of freezing disapproval. Langly chimed in, seconding the
"Dude, you are way more trouble than you're worth."
with another armload, which he deposited none too gently on
"You skulk off in
the dead of night and then the very next morning we get a
wake-up call from East Bumfuck Arkansas and a 'Hey, guys, if it's not too much
trouble, could you drive six hours and bring me copies of all my case files from
the last ten years?' Jesus H Christ on a skateboard." He shook his head at the
indignity of it all.
Mulder endured the
triune tirade, obviously not the first such he'd ever heard,
with folded arms and a faint smirk. When they had exhausted themselves with
bringing things in and bitching us out, he spoke.
"We really do appreciate this, you guys."
"Yeah, right," Langly snorted. "So did they can your asses or did you quit?"
he informed them, "but drafting our letters of resignation is
tops on this evening's agenda. Make yourselves comfortable and we'll tell you
all about it."
And we did.
"You're gonna owe
us *big-time* for this," Langly said darkly. "I'm talking
forever and ever amen here, my man."
"Fine--whatever--so long as we can count on you."
Mulder, looking for all the world like a rat terrier
squaring off against a Doberman. "Say it," he insisted, glaring.
The look on my partner's
face resembled that of a mutinous child forced
to eat a double helping of cauliflower. He drew a deep breath and growled
those little words Frohike longed to hear:
"Your kung-fu is the best."
"And don't you forget it, punk-ass."
The troll departed,
dragging his constituents with him.
"Would you mind telling me what that was all about?"
Mulder peered at
me over the top of a file folder. "They're just pissed off
because I dragged them out before they'd fulfilled their morning's quota of
bong hits. They'll get over it. This is the most excitement they've seen in
"Too much excitement,
if you ask me. Mulder, we can't just stay holed up
in here forever--we need a plan of action!"
"That's what I love
about you, Scully; you're so direct. For your information
I am formulating a plan of action, even as we speak."
"How wonderful for you. Care to fill me in?"
"All in good time.
I've got more research to do first. Could you pass me the
With a combination
of judicious engineering and what could only be
described as sorcery, the Gunmen had managed to establish an Internet link for
us through my laptop. A small flatbed scanner and a portable printer rounded
out our electronic arsenal. Per Frohike's terse instructions I logged on under the
unlikely name of "She-Ra, Princess of Power" and went about my assigned task
of setting up web-based e-mail accounts for us. Once I had them established,
I added our various other addresses (my two and Mulder's six) so that we could
pop messages from the respective servers.
"How many ridiculous e-mail lists are you on, anyway?"
He looked up at me. "Are you reading my mail, Scully?"
I value my sanity too highly. But combined, from your
six accounts, you've got one thousand, three hundred and ninety-two messages.
I presume the ones designated as being from lists called 'sexdog' and 'lick' can
be dismissed as having no bearing on the present case."
If I were a lesser
woman, the smile that spread across his face then would've
rendered me unconscious. As it was, I merely raised an ironic eyebrow and
awaited the inevitable quip, which was not long in coming.
"Actually, I'm not
on either of those lists; they're invitation-only. Think you
could put in a good word for me?"
"I can think of
a lot of words for you, Mulder, but I'm not sure I'd classify any
of them as 'good'. Do you want to come take a look at these?"
He abandoned his paper
chase to come stand behind me, one hand on my
shoulder, reading over the top of my head. His other hand closed over my right,
guiding the trackball, rapidly marking messages to be deleted unread.
So much for the
boundaries of personal space.
Mulder has kissed me in the past, before last night.
After I was diagnosed
with my cancer, Mulder the obscure metamorphosed
overnight into the most effusively demonstrative of men. For awhile there he was
petting me and kissing me even more than my mother--but unlike with my mother
I couldn't read the intent underlying his caresses so easily. At the time I was hardly
in a position to subject his behavior to much analysis, preoccupied as I was with
the business of dying. During the months between my initial diagnosis and my
final hospitalization, the number of his casual touches nearly quadrupled from the
average. Not a day went by that he didn't find some opportunity to smooth my
hair, stroke my arm, rub my aching shoulders, squeeze my hand. He called me
constantly when we were apart, ostensibly to reassure me of this whereabouts--
but I suspected those calls were even more designed to reassure him, as my words
never did, that I was fine, still alive, still with him. He dropped by my apartment
often, in the evenings and on weekends, and never took his leave without embracing
me, sometimes dropping a kiss on the crown of my head or my brow as well. He was
marginally more circumspect around the Hoover Building, but not by much.
During my last hospitalization,
it seemed all the barriers dropped in the face of
what then looked inevitable. Following his ironic resurrection from the "dead", he
was in my room more than he was home or in the office--that is, when he wasn't
out beating the bushes for the key to my cure. Upon arrival he would seat himself
on the edge of my bed, enfold my hand in his, and kiss me--on the forehead, hand,
cheek, wherever. He did so in front of my mother, my brother, my cousins and
grandparents, friends and neighbors, God and the saints and Skinner. No hesitation,
no diffidence; he clung to my side like a burr and I clung to him like...a lifeline. He
*was* my lifeline, in those dark days, far more so than any of the machinery of
preservation that urged my failing body onward.
I couldn't help
wondering, somewhere in the back of my mind, what all these
overt displays of affection meant; but there was never a right time to ask, and
after the chip was implanted that gave me my life back, I was too busy coming
to grips with my own resurrection to care. As I regained my strength and life
began to resume its routines, the professional distance began to reassert itself
between us, and our shared caresses became fewer. By the time I noticed the
passing of our odd intimacy, it was impossible for me to move to regain lost
ground. By that time I had discovered, and lost, my daughter, and in the
aftermath I found myself helpless to stop the walls from rising anew, separating
me not only from Mulder but also from myself and a life, so hard won, that had
begun to hurt unbearably.
It had been so long
since I'd felt Mulder's lips on me that I...Hell, I'm *still*
lying to myself. I'd never forgotten what they felt like; I'd only *tried* to forget,
just as I'd tried to stop myself wondering how those lips would feel on my own.
I found out last
night. Now it was just a matter of wondering what it meant.
How many, I couldn't tell you; the natural progression of time
ceases while you're net-surfing. Between us we must have sent out a hundred
e-mails, to sources within and without the government, the medical and psychiatric
communities, and of course, to that paranoid underground with which Mulder was
so deeply connected. We accessed databases beyond number, pored over abstracts
of arcane research until the letters blurred and danced before our eyes, downloaded
articles and charts, graphs and scans, stuffed our brains until the information
fairly leaked from our ears.
Mulder shoved away from the makeshift workstation, frustration
writ large in every line of his face. "We're not getting any closer like this." Taking
off his glasses, he scrubbed the heels of his hands over his eyes before plunging his
fingers into his hair, gripping his head as though trying to keep it anchored.
"It's him, Scully,"
he went on, head hanging, speaking into his chest. "Gibson is
the key. We *have* to find him."
Moving to where he slumped, I placed my hands tentatively on his
shoulders, kneading the knotted muscles there. With a groan he went boneless
under my hands, rolling his head from side to side before throwing it back, resting
it against my belly. My hands stilled, then moved up to work the sinews of his
neck, his temples, pushing the thick hair away from his face. I gazed down,
seeing his familiar features oddly and intriguingly inverted. "I know, but there's
nothing more we can do tonight. It's late, Mulder; you must be exhausted. We
need to rest."
His eyes flickered
open and found mine, the golden glints in them flashing in the
inadequate light like koi darting amongst leaves in a still autumnal pool. He reached
up, took my hands from his head, caught them in a clasp at the base of his throat.
Just for a moment, I almost forgot how to breathe.
he murmured. "It's late." He stood, and turned, and looked
"Come to bed, Scully," he said.
I stopped breathing