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Every Purpose

by cgb

[Story Headers]

On the day after she appears in his life again he's driving home to the tune of that song - the one that says to everything there is a season turn, turn, turn...

It's from the Old Testament (Scully could probably tell him the exact reference. He reminds himself to ask her some time): to everything there is a season - a time to be born, a time to give birth, a time to get married and a time to divide your assets in family court. A time to relocate - pile your furniture into a moving van and go interstate - and a time to take out a mortgage in your old neighbourhood. A time to take a long drink on ice, something with a black label, and a time to get trashed on cheap bourbon and order pizza after midnight. Everything with its place in the grand scheme and no second chances no matter how tall, poised and alluring they look.

And self-assured. She always manages the quality of complete composure even when she is opening up a chasm in his otherwise secure landscape. So completely Diana. He was so astounded by her presence that it didn't occur to him until later to wonder why she was there.

He gets home late. His usual hours are something like whenever to midnight and it's approaching that time now - the perfect time for thoughts of old girlfriends and lost causes. He takes beer and Chinese take-out from the fridge. He lifts the cover and sniffs, counts the days in his head since Scully brought him dinner and decides to risk food poisoning.

He parks on the couch and notes the cushions are sinking lower on one end than the other. A time to get a bed. He had a bed once. A bed in the bedroom. Scully must have thought he had the whole bachelor thing going on pretty satisfactorily until she saw the bedroom. Now she thinks he's a monk, which for all intents and purposes he is but he once had a bed and woman in it. The bed left soon after Diana.

He runs a palm across his face, shifts rice around the bottom of a rice container, and contemplates Gibson Praise.

He puts the tape in the VCR, switches the television on using the remote and watches Gibson cheat death one more time.

The kid is a real show. His move looks completely uncalculated - a fortunate accident, destined to be missed if not for the trained eyes of a paranoid FBI agent. He wonders whether Gibson's comment about Diana and Scully was retribution, designed to cause upset and division where it was most disruptive.

Of course when Gibson told him one of the 'girls' behind him was thinking of him Mulder had been dangerously close to answering, "only one?"

Gibson's puzzle wasn't hard to solve. He know who he was thinking about obviously, while rationalist Scully and her pragmatic 100% cotton underwear was probably thinking about the required evolutionary feat that would render human speech unnecessary.

Which left Diana. Gibson failed to tell him whether the thought was positive so it was possible she was compiling a list of all the reasons she left him in the first place just in case his charm had some kind of memory-wipe effect on her.

Or just as likely: neither of them had anything other than the case on their minds and Gibson Praise has a very strange sense of humour.

A time to forget. He switches from the VCR to the television, flips the channels absent mindedly. The phone rings leaving Kevin Costner playing baseball in "Bull Durham" on the screen. It's Scully. He can tell by the way the phone rings. That and no one else calls this late at night.

"Did you know that the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Council found that 67 percent of all adult Americans believed they have experienced ESP?" He doesn't like to waste time with formalities

"As it happens, yes."

He takes a breath, composes himself. "You're not who I was expecting."

"I couldn't tell. You're little hacker friends still keeping in touch?"

"Langly, Byers and Frohike would never use a land-line."

She laughs. "They wouldn't, would they? I missed them - I missed this place."

"I find that difficult to believe." He pauses, wipes his hand across his face. "It's been a long time, Diana - you don't call, you don't write."

"Neither do you."

You left me, he wants to say. He changes the subject. "Why are you here?"

"I'd been meaning to come back for a while - the sniper gave me an opportunity."

"I'm sure that will be a comfort to Anatole Klebanow's family."

There's a pause, a sigh maybe, difficult to tell while he hasn't adjusted the volume on the television. "How long do you want to do this for?" she says.

"Do what?"

"This thing that you do - where you try to cover your emotional responses with charm and wit."

"I was under the impression it worked."

"Never."

"I'll revise that assessment."

"I was hoping we were past this."

Not today. Not tomorrow either. Maybe not ever if it's all about timing. Time has never been on his side. He changes his tack: "If I were to say we were open minded people, you'd probably agree with me right?"

"We? You mean, you and I?"

"Yeah - you and me. We begin with the possibility of everything and we narrow our scope by experience." He pats the couch, feeling for the remote control. He finds it between the cushions and adjusts the volume on the television. "Which leads me to ask, have you ever experienced fate?"

She doesn't answer at first. He remembers that he never found out where she was staying. "It's difficult to say - fate is a concept that can only be applied retrospectively and any experience can be organised meaningfully in retrospect. But I don't have to tell you this because you told me the same thing nearly six years ago."

He smiles to himself. "You were always a good listener."

"But I believe in purpose. Don't you?"

Every purpose under heaven. "I want to know why you're here."

"Ah."

A time to change the channel. "America's Most Wanted" features the usual line-up of armed bandits with blurred faces. He continues idling through the channels and settles on "The Outer Limits". The sound is low enough for him to be aware of muffled footsteps in the apartment above and a keys being jangled in the hallway outside. Urban apartment life.

"You may have noticed this is not the first international incident our department has been involved in. In fact I think there have been several in the last year alone. If you were looking for an excuse you had an abundance of riches."

"It was a confluence of events."

The planets aligning. Jupiter in Scopio. Astrological with an emphasis on 'logic'. "So this is a social call? Catching up on old habits?"

"Something like that - Fox, I did miss you."

"Yeah."

"I want a chance to explain."

Of all the gin-joints in all the world, Diana's determined to walk back into his. He wonders if he's the selfless type who would send her off with Peter Lorre. He wants to be selfish, childlike in the way he clings to his status as the righteous, wounded party, but he understands the gulf between the imaginary and the realised.

"I know," he says. He never wanted to doubt her.

"So we'll talk?"

Thoughts of Diana flicker across his consciousness, like a silent movie reel, but with each scene a contrast to the last: Diana laughing, Diana angry, Diana with her head in her hands and her eyes dark.

"Yeah." He nods and smiles to himself, comforted by the knowledge that she can't see how she affects him. "Yeah we'll talk."

*

A time to survive.

Stopped at al light, he pulls his cell from his inside pockets and calls GW. A woman on the switch takes his badge number and reports that Diana Fowley is in a 'stable condition'. He hangs up, watches the traffic passing in front of him until the light changes and he continues his passage.

As an afterthought he keys Scully's number into the phone. She answers with her usual "hello" although he knows she knows it's him. Scully is a habitual creature. Habitual, predictable and entirely dependable. It sounds like a song.

"I called the hospital," he tells her. "They told me her condition was stable."

"That's good." She says it like she's trying to convince him. "How are you?"

"Not so stable.

"Where are you?"

"North Washington Street - on my way home." He thinks he would like to tell her about meaning and destiny and Diana - the puzzle as it haphazardly presents itself to him. Scully has a reassuring logic, a mast he ties himself to with loose ropes, giving him the ease of movement without letting him wash overboard. She would appreciate the sailing metaphor. Instead he says, "Did Agent Fowley say anything to you - about her motives for requesting assignment to this case?"

"She said she wanted to catch up with old acquaintances - you included, I believe." The tone is faintly accusatory. He wonders what she knows. "You think there was something she wasn't telling us?"

He was hoping for something profound. Maybe this was it? "It's nothing just - covering old ground."

There's an unreadable silence. "Make sure you get some sleep tonight, Mulder."

They say goodnights and hang-up. He pulls off North Washington onto Pendleton Street.

When he gets home he finds his usual position on the couch. He finds the remote control in its usual position, stuffed between the cushions, and flicks the television on, watches Letterman long enough to see the Top Ten. He remembers Gibson Praise's tape is still in the VCR and he hits "play" and "rewind" to watch the dodge once more.

A time for insight.

End.

*

Author's notes:

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season - Pete Seeger (popularised by The Byrds naturally).

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven - *Ecclesiastes 3:1*

This is the second time I've used this quote for an X-Files story. Anyone who wants to accuse me of rehashing can safely do so. I like the song but I think it's the sentiment that attracts me.

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Fandom:  X-Files
Title:  Every Purpose
Author:  cgb   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG  |  het  |  9k  |  02/17/04
Characters:  Mulder, Diana, Scully
Pairings:  Mulder/ Diana
Summary:  "It was a confluence of a events."
Notes:  The End

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