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Equilibrium

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She is not built for tragedy. She never has been. She wears tragedy like a child-king in the trappings of state, foisted with something too large, too heavy, too ornate. She feels bizarrely lumbering, the way she felt during her cancer. After her daughter. Not from the weights of pain or grief or pregnancy, but from the awkward, undignified extravagance of being one who suffers.

Her mother always wore suffering well. Her mother has an honorable, old-world sense of hardship, the kind of proud but feeling endurance bred by depressions and world wars. Her mother is not a stoic, but she can accept pain in a way that Scully cannot. Scully, what does she do? She goes on mystic rampages, she believes in visions and homicidal seers, she chases aliens and clones, she gets caught in her partner’s bed in the arms of her partner’s clothes.

Mulder might pull off a certain tormented glamour, but the two of them have always been alike in at least this way. In this almost childish, almost spoiled intolerance for the unfair. It’s an evolved, diverted intolerance, maybe. A sense of justice or compassion, maybe. A courage to disturb the status quo, maybe. But an intolerance all the same. They are bottle-fed, Ben Spock babies and to them it is not merely awful that those they love might be abducted, or killed, or sick, or drowning near Bermuda in search of a ship.

It is unacceptable .

She feels slow. No. It’s everything else that feels slow. She feels impatient. Was the world always like this? Was it always so grim and so stupid and so dull? Were people always this tedious? Were there always this many?

She's made more acquaintances in the last six months than she has in the last three years. She’s seen more of her mother, more of Skinner, more of the Gunmen, more of Chuck fucking Burkes. She wonders how these people even put up with her, how they could even like or respect or help her, knowing that if she had her way she’d be carrying on as she had for years. Speaking to Mulder and not to them.

She suspects, from time to time, that she has probably treated Agent Doggett badly. It’s strange to realize. It’s strange how out of practice she feels at even wondering if she has made some interpersonal error or committed some emotional wrong. She never wondered about it with Mulder. For all his soul-eyed, hang-dog tendencies, Mulder is in fact, in this one particular way, perhaps the least needy person she has ever met. You can betray Mulder, and you can disappoint Mulder, but it is very difficult to mistreat Mulder. Mulder has the integrity of the solipsist. He dreads obligation and affrontation, and so he obliges no one and he takes no offense.

On his own behalf, anyways.

And she loved it; she felt so peculiarly light in their first months together that it almost concerned her. A civil office should be onerous, shouldn’t it? A public service should be serious, shouldn’t it? What responsibility had she deserted that she would feel this darting and this quick? She thinks at last she understands. Mulder relieved her of everything that wasn't duty. Mulder relieved her of politics and preambles and dead phatic weight. Mulder relieved her, in a funny way, of belief. Of the need to play any role other than her own.

Agent Doggett does not relieve her of these things. No. But he does, if she thinks about it, relieve her of something. Forgive her of something. If Mulder forgave her of the selfishness of her own curiosity, then perhaps Doggett forgives her of the selfishness of pain. He understands it. He’d forgive Mulder of it too. Perhaps she wishes he would. She and Mulder have always been too soldierly to forgive it of each other.

She wonders what her child will have to forgive her for.

She’s been thinking about void patterns, about the empty space in a spatter of blood that suggests the shape of the thing that blocked it. Things like a moved body, a missing month, a barren womb. She’s been thinking about the last time Mulder died, when he told her to lie to find the truth. She’s been thinking about the idea that the exception to a rule reveals the rule. She’s been thinking about Samantha (always Samantha), about absence of such mass that it warps the lives of everyone around it. She’s been thinking about how you take Mulder away and it turns out Scully has no wonder after all.

She's been looking at the sky more. She’s been seeing it for the emptiness that it is. She never could look at emptiness long, could she? It was Mulder who was good at it. It was Mulder who could spend twenty years on someone missing, who could deal with the Pfasters and the Proppses and the Roches and the idea that no one up there was looking down. No one but the grey.

She has at times found something even unimaginative about yearning for outer space. Hyperopic. In the pathological sense. Like the idea that the mysterious was inherently more marvelous than the unexpectedly explainable. Like having a box of toys and declaring that you're bored. And don’t only boring people get bored?

God, she is bored. She is too heavy and she is too light and she feels too little and she feels too much and she is utterly, appallingly--bored.

*

Fox Mulder, denizen of the in-between, is a new face in Limbo. He used to wonder why ghosts were so incoherent, communicating in cold drafts and falling books. They couldn’t all be Christmas Eve jokesmiths, as if you get a sense of humor when you incorporeate the way you get hot when you undie. But he gets it now. To be dead is to be in a kind of dream. To think aphasic, Limbic thoughts. In death there are no words, nor theories, nor appearances to keep. You simply Are. You simply Feel. You have no mouth. You simply Scream.

He misses it, in a way.

He’s been thinking about that dog of hers. How it used to make him edgy. Partly because it was frilly and obnoxious in a way that made him doubt his entire assessment of her taste, but mostly because of the face-eating. It reminded him to be a bit afraid of her. Dogs and their owners resemble each other, after all. Dana Scully could be a perfectly affectionate person, but one nonetheless never really wanted to know just how little she’d hesitate to dismantle your body if you had the misfortune to be dead in her vicinity.

He hopes she cut him up. He hopes she enjoyed cutting him up. He hopes his body gave her some delight one final time. No, he doesn’t. He hopes she rooted around inside his skull and was horrified by what she saw, for once. He hopes there were tangles of plaque, mad-cow sponge, a lifetime of perversions preserved in thoughtograph on the backs of his sockets. No he doesn’t. He hopes she stole his brain off the autopsy table, put it in a cooler, took it home, stuck it in a blender and drank it down like a NutriShake. She likes that shit. Probably read some Women’s Health article: “Daddy’s Brains Are Good For Baby.” And they think he’s the zombie.

No. No. He doesn’t hope anything.

He is, of all things, reminded of her illness, when he’d be randomly assaulted by the knowledge of her dearness to him. Mugged by it, really. Picked clean. Cornered with the switchblade of her abrupt and lacerating beauty. The poetry of her beauty’s proximity to death somehow nauseating, offensive to him. She wasn’t a coke-brained musical genius. He didn’t agree to sacrifice her for poetry .

Before her illness, there had always been something charming about her association with the mechanisms of mortality. The at times unseemly energy of her interest. The strange comfort in the way that it disturbed him. He was also a person possessed of impolite fascinations, after all. It made him trust her. The funny irony of the fact that devotee of the unknown though he was, it was only she that had an interest in the biggest unknown of them all.

But he lost his taste for it. He could handle her loving death so long as death didn’t love her back, and who wouldn’t love Dana Scully? He should have known. He found himself checking her collars for drops of blood and her suit for the hint of a cytotoxin’s perfume. He would close his eyes and see them in grainy, telephoto congress, her and Death, eight white limbs all entwined beneath a black, reaping cloak. I’m finally leaving him , she’d whisper, desperate with passion. This time I’m really leaving him.

Well she’s got another lover now. Not fucking Doggett. Not fucking Skinner. Not a damn EBE or a tech from VC. Just life. She’s all filled up with Life. Making life, giving life, living life. And what business does he have competing with life? He puts the dead in deadbeat, that’s what he does.

He’s been running through his mental DSM lately. Through the existential psychoses. Cotard Delusion and Alien Hand Syndrome. Capgras. Somatoparaphrenia. Whatever he has, they need a new name for it.

He doesn’t quite think he’s dead, and he doesn’t quite think he should be dead. But he doesn’t feel alive either. He feels bisected, bilocated. He feels like he stuck around after a play was over, like he’s in a museum after hours, like he’s woken up with a hangover in the middle of the afternoon, like it’s 2 AM and he’s opened the door to his parents’ bedroom, and in the quiet moment before he speaks he knows he is in a place that he is not supposed to be.

What do you call Amputee Identity Disorder when it’s your entire life that should be missing?

He feels like what he is. A tortured, battered man. A prisoner of war still rank and wasted from captivity, sitting on the padded seat of a rescue plane as the attendant puts her clean and lovely hand upon his shoulder and asks if there is anything that she can get him.

Would he like a blanket, sir? A Coke, sir? A lobster dinner and a bottle of champagne, sir? Would he like to lay his head upon her young and fragrant breast and weep for a hundred thousand years? Sir?

Would he like to be a father, sir?