Fic: Top Secret part 17/21 (QL/XF/L&C, MSR, Lois/Clark)

Blue Moon Diner
Washington, DC

The first thing Scully saw as she came through the door was Mulder. Not the younger version of her partner who followed her into the diner, but the Mulder from her own time who was acting as her Observer. Her eyes widened as she took in the shirt he was wearing. Well, one thing was sure–with that on, she wouldn’t mistake him for his past counterpart. The hologram winked at her from his place by the jukebox.

I’m going to have to ask him where he got that shirt, she thought to herself as she and Spooky approached the hostess.

“Two?” the young woman in the blue poodle skirt asked them. He nodded.

Scully placed her hand lightly on his arm. “I’ll meet you at the table. I need to take care of something. With another brief nod, Spooky followed the waitress to the table. His future-partner turned and strode purposefully over to the jukebox, where Mulder was waiting for her.

“Nice shirt,” she commented flatly, scanning the song selections with her eyes as she spoke, to reduce suspicions.

“Thanks. I borrowed it from Al. Think I should ask him to let me keep it?” He flashed her his trademark grin.

No wonder the sleeves are a little too short. “I think you should ask him to let you burn it. Unless you’re planning on attending the MTV movie awards any time soon. But that’s not the problem.”

“What is?”

“The fact that your younger counterpart over there doesn’t seem to believe me. Which I frankly can’t figure out. You’re the one who actually goes for all this psychic stuff and such, so why is he suddenly playing the skeptic?”

Mulder studied his partner carefully, seeing the frustration in her eyes at having to act out something she only partially believed in, and that much only because she was faced with undeniable proof. He wondered if she knew that was what was bothering her. After all, the Leaping process did take large chunks out of the time-traveler’s memory.

“It’s not that he doesn’t believe you, Scully,” he replied quietly, wishing for a moment that he could give her a pat on the back or something to reassure her. It felt strange not to be able to touch her, to keep his hand at her waist as if to reassure himself that she was there…real…alive…

It felt even stranger to be speaking about himself in the third person like this, especially since he remembered this afternoon in vivid detail, including what was going through his mind at the time. He tried to catch his partner’s eyes.

“Scully,” he told her somberly. “You were the first person I’ve trusted in a long time, and I don’t know how I knew so soon that I could trust you, but I did. But when I met Carmen Juarez, I didn’t know that she was really my partner, Dana Scully. I didn’t know that I could trust her, so initially, I didn’t.”

She nodded, understanding. The trust they’d built up between them was a rare thing. Their work, and Mulder’s whole life, had shown him that most of the people around him, even people he cared about, couldn’t be trusted. They’d all had secrets to hide, some truth they didn’t want him to discover. Mulder’s trust had to be earned, and it was not an easy task.

Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to earn his trust. She frowned, her hand resting lightly against the glass. She needed something…

Scully’s eyes fell on the song title almost directly below her hand–“Magic” by Olivia Newton-John. She smiled, a vague memory of going to see “Xanadu” as a teenager drifting through her swiss-cheesed mind. Even though she didn’t believe in magic, that had been her favorite song. Almost absentmindedly, she began to hum the tune, lightly dropping a quarter into the machine and selecting it. How interesting that they have this song on here…

“I guess I’ll just have to keep trying. Unless you’ve got any ideas.”

Mulder just smiled. “You beat me to it.”

Scully stared at him. “Huh?”

He pointed at the jukebox. “That song–you played it last time.”

“This song is going to make you trust me?” she asked incredulously.

The hologram of her partner shrugged. “Don’t ask me why; I never did quite figure it out.”

 

Mulder glanced up as Carmen dropped into the booth the hostess had given them, glancing back over her shoulder towards the jukebox, then began fiddling with the beads around her neck as if she weren’t comfortable in them.

Now there’s a thought, he reflected, amused. A psychic who doesn’t feel comfortable in beads.

The song, an old sixties melody that he recognized but couldn’t name, was winding down. Mulder watched the woman across from him warily. “Did you put something in?” he asked, trying to make conversation.

She nodded then spoke, her thick accent making the English words sound exotic. “It should be coming up next.”

Something in her bearing told him she was restless. Probably because he had questioned her prophecy. He wished he could tell her that he didn’t doubt her authenticity, just her honesty…

A wry smile crossed his face. As if that would be very reassuring.

Carmen stood abruptly, moving a little bit away from the booth. “Dance with me, Mulder.”

God! That voice could even make his name sound extraordinary, which was a feat if he’d ever heard one. Reluctantly, he stood and grasped her outstretched hand in his, just as the music began. And in that moment, as their eyes met, he recognized her.

You have to believe we are magic
Nothing can stand in our way
You have to believe we are magic
Don’t let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Destiny will arrive
I’ll bring all your dreams alive
For you

The words of the song fit perfectly with the strange feeling that was stealing over the agent. Nothing about the woman before him had changed, but in that brief meeting of eyes, something about her had struck a familiar chord in him, something he couldn’t explain. All he could think of was an old cliché–“the eyes are the windows to the soul.” Crazy as it seemed, he felt like he’d recognized the psychic’s soul, and it was a soul he knew well.

Maybe we knew each other in a previous life, he speculated. Whatever it was, there was a strong connection between them, one that somehow shattered the wall of distrust he’d built around himself over the years, reducing it to dust every time their eyes had met during the dance.

“You guys make a real cute couple, y’know?” the waitress, who had approached the pair as soon as they sat down, remarked with a smile.

“I guess I must be a gypsy at heart,” Spooky quipped in response, reaching for the menu. Apparently the song had worked, because he seemed much more relaxed now.

Scully stifled a giggle. I wonder how he would react to that if he knew who he was really sitting with?

Misinterpreting the Leaper’s reaction, the waitress smiled knowingly at her. “So, what’ll y’have?”

Spooky opened his mouth to order, but a sudden idea prompted Scully to hold up her hand to silence him. “Wait. Let me.”

Turning to the waitress and closing her eyes to find the memory, she spoke slowly. “For him…a cheeseburger and an iced tea. And if you have any, some sunflower seeds. I’ll have a root bear and…a grilled-cheese sandwich.”

Normally she would have ordered a salad, or something equally nutritious, but she couldn’t afford to act too much like herself–Mulder was sharp enough that he might figure it out, especially since this was after they’d met Sam and Al the first time. (It was funny–with everything she’d forgotten–that she had suddenly remembered after she Leaped. Swiss-cheesing had a strange effect on hypnotic suggestion.)

When she turned back to Spooky, he was staring at her wide-eyed. Well, if he wasn’t convinced before, I think he is now.

“Have we met before in a past life or something?” he asked, only the mischievous twinkle that always lurked in his eyes when he was joking belying the serious expression on his face.

She laughed softly. “In a way…yes we have. It was a past life for me, but this one for you.”

Instantly she knew she had said something wrong, because his face drained of color.

He thinks I’m someone he lost a long time ago, she realized with a certainty that surprised her since she couldn’t remember who or why.

“I’m not Samantha,” she blurted out quickly, her face tightening into a frown the moment the words were out of her mouth. She turned to him with a puzzled look on her face. “Who is Samantha?”

“You don’t know?” he asked, half taunting, half surprised.

“No…what I know…is like a memory suddenly coming into your mind that you had forgotten. Like amnesia–words, names, phrases…popping into my mind, but I don’t know why they’re important.” And that was the flat truth of the matter, even more so than her words implied.

His face softened. “Samantha was–is–my sister. She disappeared over twenty years ago.”

And he’s been looking for her ever since, the tiny part of her mind that did still seem to retain the memories the rest of her had forgotten spoke up quietly. A sharp pain shot through her heart with that recollection, and with it a sense of horrible familiarity, but the reason for it remained elusive. Nevertheless, it strengthened her resolve to convince this past version of her partner that his life was in danger.

“Then that’s why you have to trust me, Mulder,” she told him softly. “Because if you die tomorrow, you will never have the chance to find her.”

“Is she still alive?” he asked, a sudden hope coming into his eyes that tore at her heart.

What can I tell him? Give him possibly false hopes by saying yes, or destroy his hopes forever by saying no? “I don’t know,” she finally replied honestly. “I can’t see that. But a dead man can’t find out.”

“What about Scully?” he asked unexpectedly.

She met his eyes again, surprised. “What about m–her?”

“Is she in danger too?”

Scully laughed. “Not physically, no. For once you actually did–do–spare her by running off on your own.”

“What do you mean, ‘not physically’?” he asked then, frowning.

She shivered, suddenly overwhelmed by once-vague memories of a recording of her own voice telling her things she could not have believed or grasped coming from anyone else. It was as if the close the moment of Mulder’s possible death came, the more real that alternate timeline became in her mind. Gripped by a sudden horror, she glanced back towards the jukebox. She closed her eyes in relief when she saw the Mulder from her own time still standing by it, watching the exchange between his past self and present partner with a mixture of curiosity and…embarrassment…on his face.

“If you die, it will change her forever, and not for the better. She will become like you, only worse, and lacking the balance she now provides for you, will eventually earn herself the nickname, ‘The Exorcist’.”

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