Disclaimers: © CC, 1013, FOX.
Spoilers: Some for Redux; but this little story about Mulder could happen any night… after The Red and the Black.
Summary: Mulder finds out watching TV really can hurt.
Rated: PG maybe. Well, it’s not NC or anything; in fact, nothing happens at all (damn.)
ANOTHER NIGHT ©1999 by CINZIA SALA
And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it’s over
I just don’t wanna miss you tonight.
(Goo Goo Dolls, “Iris”)
A night like so many other nights. Lonely night. Nothing to watch on the TV. No new book to read.
No will to work on his computer. No e-mail, no message… nothing at all.
No one to call.
No place where to go… where to want to go.
Settled on his couch, before the lighted TV screen, audio off. Thinking.
A sly-looking row of videotapes is watching him from the wall shelves, near the couch. Big, fat flashing triple Xs all over the place, like a not so subtle in-joke.
He gets up, heading for his desk. Bottom drawer, on his right. Hidden. Underneath some cloth, to protect it from dust.
From anything, anyone.
Black videotape, like any other recording videotape. No case, no label, no band whatsoever.
Tape from a camera.
He looks up at the ceiling, an involuntary reflex. But there is nothing there, now. No eye watching from above stares back at him; so he lowers his eyes again, onto the tape in his hands.
He turns it over. Again. And again.
He wants to put it back away. His fingers clench tightly around the cool, stiff plastic edges; his feet bring him in front of the muted TV.
Kneeling down on the rug, his face only inches from the dark screen.
Darkness. Snow. Nothing.
Then, suddenly, there is light.
Dim, blurred light: a closed circuit surveillance camera kind of light. A little like watching, through a glass, into a strange fish tank.
A fish tank. Empty. A TV set. Off. A desk… a messed-up desk; a chair, a coffee table. A leather couch. A shadowed room. Familiar.
A man lying on that couch, in that room that’s this room.
He’d taken all the tapes he could find in Ostelhoff’s apartment, and examined them all, tape after tape, before he left and went to Scully’s. That hopeless night so long ago.
Tape after tape, he’d destroyed them.
Not this one, though.
Almost a year ago, now.
No label, and no dates in the film. Nothing that could clue him in to when the recording dates back.
When it happened.
A night like any other night.
He patiently waits, not bothering winding it up fast; he watches himself sleep.
And it happens.
A night like any other night.
Faint light, from outside the vision field. Filtering. Light from the outer hallway.
Someone’s just opened the apartment door. Someone is walking in.
Audio off, but he can hear inside his head the soft sound of the door opening, the door shutting again.
The approaching footsteps.
The man on the couch goes on to sleep, unaware.
A memory: his heart pulsing in his throat, first time he saw those images.
Fear. Horror. Feeling of danger – inconsistent, in the actual time.
It’s not possible. It can’t be.
Not here… not him.
It couldn’t have happened. It couldn’t…
… he couldn’t have slept on.
He had been there.
Suddenly, out of nowhere.
A night like any other night.
Shadows, then pale phosphorescence of light; shadows again.
In front of the couch.
In front of him.
Quick look around the room, profile captured for a moment by the secret eye, unmistakable.
Stiff arm against the left side, as the man bends to kneel down on the rug. Leather jacket. The tight curve of pale jeans, stretching on the man’s thighs when he bows over the couch – and its occupant.
He couldn’t have slept on.
He couldn’t have noticed it not.
That face so near his own face.
Out of nowhere – a night like any other.
He couldn’t have not felt it… him.
The man’s hand – the man’s only hand – brushing back his hair. His face; his sleep-relaxed lips.
Softly; almost like…
His chest, covered with a white T-shirt and faintly glowing in the dark.
… like a caress.
The well-outlined contour of that one hand. Over his stomach, then further down, trembling maybe, ever so slightly.
Pausing a very long time.
Over his groin, enclosed in his buttoned jeans.
The hand pauses – a long pause – then goes on. It slides lightly onto one of his hands, hanging by one side.
The intruder looks up, checking he’s still asleep.
With his face, the man follows down the curve of the sleeping man’s thighs. Down to his knees.
Face pressed against the nearest knee – the mouth.
And he – for the nth time – can’t help it.
Closes his eyes…
… and hears it.
It can’t be, he can’t hear it, there’s no audio… still, there it is.
The intruder stays like that for a time that seem too long to be just moments. Then he moves, settling down more comfortably – shifting, sitting down on the rug at the foot of the couch, back resting against its leather cushions.
His head almost brushing the sleeping man’s hand.
The intruder closes his eyes.
Mulder knows the tape will last still three, maybe four whole hours. It’ll last until the first pale rays of dawn – of some dawn – are just starting to graze the dusty glass panels of the closed window, barely visible in the background.
Only then, Krycek will open his eyes again. He’ll get up.
And walk away.
The man on the couch will move, his lips moving in his sleep – maybe he’s saying something.
As if he’s noticed something’s changed around him.
He hadn’t noticed when Krycek arrived.
Mulder will see himself open his eyes.
The tape’ll end.
He’s watched and watched it a thousand times, already.
Many of those times he did more than just watch.
That profile not even shadows and night can mistake to his eyes.
Those long tanned fingers brushing his face, playing – gently – with his hair.
Following his chest outline, tracing his stomach lines.
That long pause.
That hand between his legs – gentle.
Mulder’s hand trembles.
And slides under his trousers; inside his boxers.
That hand on his hand.
The warm sigh stifled against his jeans, the impossible whisper devoured by the shadows. Wet breath of fire.
The whisper he can hear.
At the beginning, he’d tried to.
I don’t want – don’t want – don’t.
Why had this happened?
When had this happened?
Soft lips against his knee; soft lips against his cheek. In his darkened apartment. Hot… they’d been so hot, they’d burnt him.
And were burning still.
Acknowledgement. Awareness. Recognition.
Hurts, it hurts. It hurts a lot. Inside.
Why, when, did that happen – when, did he begin wanting to hurt? Longing for it.
Next to him.
All night – some night.
When, did he realize he could do without it no more?
Tonight – a night like any other – it happens again.
Eyes fixed on those two figures in the shadows, so near to one another.
Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking.
Together. A whole night – a night like any other – in peace.
Mulder’s had to kill a man, to be able to find it out.
He feels it so well.
Eyes fixed on those two figures, those two men; but it doesn’t seem to him he knows them, not really. Neither of them.
Like watching through the glass wall of a strange fish tank. Watching something happen in another world, another reality… a parallel dimension to this, where things have a different value, are differently meant.
Where past never existed the way his mind recalls it, and a night like that could happen.
Watching something that can happen.
That happens again and again, every time he wants it – every time he inserts that tape – and repeatedly goes back to happen.
But not in this world.
It’s not possible – yet it has been; it’s happened.
Alex rests his head near Mulder’s hand.
Images tremble before Mulder’s eyes, lose their focus.
When, did Krycek become Alex?
Tears slide slowly down Mulder’s cheeks.
If it happened in another dimension… he couldn’t bear it.
And if it really did happen in this one…
Sig Sauer, cool, aimed at his throat. Lips breathing fire on his cheek, through his skin, and deeper in.
Branded with fire.
If it really did happen in this one…
Mulder slides forward, resting his forehead against the screen.
Against Alex’s bent head.
It’s the cruelest thing his ex-partner, his enemy, has ever done to him.
A night like so many other nights – like all other nights since he, for the first time (unaware, helpless), inserted that tape into his VCR, pressed Play.
Tears burn his eyes, his soul. Another pain, another whole new agony to shape his life with.
Another night without him.