::Such a perfect, tragic cliche,:: Fox Mulder mused, heading east out of Bloomington on a small Indiana byway. His thoughts were as dark and clouded as the day. Their most recent case had been as surrealistic and convoluted as a Tim Burton opium nightmare--and simultaneously, as stereotypically predictable as a paperback gothic novel. The hideously scarred monster with the soul of a poet, driven to dark and desperate acts by a cruel and uncaring world... "That was me back there, Scully," he said softly, addressing his partner, who stared pensively out the passenger window at the gray November landscape sliding by. "That boy. The Great Mutato. He was me." "We never even knew his name." Dana Scully turned slightly in her seat, casting him an oblique look. Her fathomless eyes were troubled. "The ending was all wrong. That isn't the way it was supposed to end. There should have been a happy ending, Scully. *Someone*, somewhere, deserves to have a happy ending for once." "I'm not sure there is such a thing, Mulder. Can you really be happy about something *ending*?" He considered. "Major surgery. Hemorrhoid attack..." He trailed off, sighed. "I know what you mean. Still...Do you think there can ever be a happy *anything* for someone like that?" "You mean for someone like you. And the answer is yes. Yes, I do, Mulder." Mulder was sinking rapidly back into the depressive morass of his thoughts. "He has nothing. No family, no friends, no partner. He's alone, endlessly seeking that which he cannot find--that which may not even exist..." "*You're* not alone, you know." "No." He pulled his gaze from the road unrolling before them, turned to look at her. "No, I'm not. Not anymore." "Not for a long time now. And never again." "I want the happy ending, Scully. If not for Mutato, for me. I need it. I don't think it's too much to ask." "I heard you whispering to Izzy, about how you thought the story should end. What's your idea of a happy ending to this, Mulder?" He coasted the Taurus onto the shoulder and turned to look at her, sliding his arm along the back of the seat. "I envisioned...the townspeople putting aside their torches, their prejudices and fears... seeing simultaneously the angel in that boy and the devils within themselves. And then...then I imagined the whole town taking the boy to a concert--" "A concert?" "--A Cher concert. Front-row seats for you, me and him. I could *see* it, Scully--see the joy on his face as he looked at his idol, his fantasy of love and acceptance come true. She would sing right to him, step down off the stage and hold out her hands to him, lead him onto the stage and dance with him. And then..." Scully looked at him, breathless, expectant. "And then...?" "I--no. Never mind. You might shoot me again." "Try me." He cleared his throat. "And then...Then I would hold out my hand to you, Scully, and you'd take it. I'd sweep you into my arms and we'd dance together. *That* would be a happy ending." "Mulder." She reached over, laced her fingers through his, waited for his eyes to lock with her own. "If we danced together? That wouldn't be a happy ending." "No?" She leaned forward, smiling, to brush her lips lightly across his. "No. That would be a happy beginning."
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