So, I haven't written X-Files fic in more than a year. I haven't seriously wrote for the fandom in about five. For some reason, my muse has fallen deeply back in love with my all-time favorite show and I can't stop my fingers from typing out several different stories. This is one. A reimagining of an old high school AU that I wrote back when I was seventeen. It feels weird to write high schoolers when I am days away from twenty-six but this story lives vibrantly in my head and my fingers demand to tell it to the world.
Thanks, as always, to Lily for inspiring me in everything I do. I love you, Pingwing.
Disclaimer: Not mine, not yours, unfortunately Chris Carter's
And if you're still breathing, you're the lucky ones,
'Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs,
Setting fire to our insides for fun,
Collecting names of lovers that went wrong...
-Youth by Daughter;
She was six chapters deep in her anatomy textbook with stacks of notes and flashcards surrounding her when the first pebble struck her bedroom window. A smile formed quickly and without her permission even as she rolled her eyes; of course, she knew exactly who it was – only one person had ever thrown rocks at Dana Scully's bedroom window. Closing the text, she made her way to the window and opened it before he could throw a third. She leaned her head out and looked down at the teenage boy gazing up at her.
"You do realize that if you crack my window again my dad is actually going to kill you?" She asked with eyebrow arched toward the heavens. "You could have just used the front door, you know? It isn't that late."
He shrugged. "Well I'm here now so will you please come down."
"I'm studying," the seventeen year old said with the shake of her head. "Anatomy midterm tomorrow."
"You've been studying for weeks now," he whined. "Before you even had anything to actually study you were studying. Take a break and come down."
"It's worth twenty percent of my final grade."
"Please?" His voice was quiet, almost lost in the wind before reaching her bedroom window. "Dana."
She exhaled slowly and relented with a nod. "I'll be down in a minute. Meet me on the porch."
Fox Mulder had been her best friend since she was four years old and, in the past thirteen years, she could count on both hands the number of times he had called her by her first name. She closed the window and pulled her leather jacket on over her pajamas, untucking her long red hair from the collar before letting herself out of her bedroom and making her way downstairs.
Her parents were on the couch watching an old western with her younger brother, Charlie, asleep across their laps. William Scully turned his head to look at his daughter when she reached the landing. "Where are you off to at this hour, Starbuck?"
"The porch," she explained. "Mulder needs to talk for a few minutes."
The look in her father's eyes was one that could only come from years of raising teenage daughters. "Keep it short, Dana. You've got school tomorrow."
William Scully smiled. "And tell Fox that if he breaks your window again with his rock throwing that I'll forcibly enlist him."
She laughed as she reached for the front door. "Aye, aye, Ahab."
Mulder was sitting on the porch swing when she stepped outside. The late October air was chilly and she wrapped her jacket more tightly around herself before taking the leftover space on the swing, facing him with her back to the armrest and her knees pulled up to her chest.
"Hey," he greeted her as he pulled his denim jacket more tightly around himself and Dana wedged her bare feet under his khaki clad thigh.
She grinned. "Hi."
They sat in silence for a long moment; the only sounds filling the night air were the distant train chugging its way across Lambert's bridge and the flutter of bats making an exodus from the attic next door. She had learned long ago to ride out these silent moments, he would clue her in on his thoughts soon enough and in the interim she observed his body language. He appeared to be relaxed and open, less filled with anxiety than she had seen him in awhile.
"Fall break starts on Wednesday," he told her quietly and she nodded. Saint Thomas Senior High School had the next two days dedicated to midterms and then a five day weekend was before them, a holdover from the days when children often had required a break to help with the harvest in the farm town. "We should go on a trip; just you and me and the open road for five days. We've been talking about doing it since we got our licenses and we haven't done it. We graduate in May and then who knows where we're going to end up... When are we going to have a better time than now?"
"Sure," she told him. "I'm in but I thought you were going to the Cape with the Fowleys?"
"I was," he told her. "But that would be a bit awkward now that Diana and I have broken up."
Her jaw went slack. "Oh."
"This morning," he explained. "We had the kind of fight that you don't come back from."
A sympathetic smile spread across her face as she took his hand in hers and he leaned over to rest his head against her knees. Her free hand came up to run through his dark locks and she scratched gently at his scalp. "You okay?"
"Sometimes I just... The only thing that makes sense to me is you and me." He curled his hand around her lower thigh and hot tears dampened the blue plaid flannel of her pajama pants.
"Did you fight about Samantha?"
He nodded. "It started there. My mother thinks it is time for a headstone in the family plots and my father agrees. She wants to do it next month when he gets back from his next trip to Washington and before the ground gets so frozen we have to wait until next year. Said they think it will help me have closure."
"Oh, Mulder." She curled his hair around her fingers. She knew full well that he would have no closure until his sister was legitimately found.
"I was pissed," he told her softly. "Went to Diana's to vent. She agrees with them and we fought about it and everything kind of unraveled from there. I'm a crappy boyfriend who spends too much time with his female best friend who doesn't like my girlfriend and I'm not any fun at the country club parties anymore... So we're done."
"Well," she sighed. "I have never hid the fact that I'm not Diana's biggest fan." He snorted and she pinched his ear in retaliation. "I have never been Diana's biggest fan but I am sorry that you're hurting."
"Thank you, Scully."
She unfurled her legs and pulled him into a proper hug for a long moment. "So where do you want to go on this epic trip of ours?"
"I was thinking about Salem," he told her. "We could crash at Missy's in Boston if she's okay with it. That way your parents don't have to worry about me corrupting their angel."
He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and she slugged his shoulder. "Shut up."
She smiled and he smiled in return. "Yeah. I'm game but let me run it past Ahab and mom before you go packing any bags."
"Deal." He stood up then. "I should let you get back to studying before it gets too late."
She nodded and stood to hug him once more. "I'll see you in the morning?"
"Bright and early." He kissed her forehead for a moment before stepping away and making his way off the porch to his car.
She stood on the porch watching his taillights until they disappeared around the corner two blocks down. Looking up at the clear night sky, she watched the stars overhead for a long moment as she thumbed the crucifix around her neck; her eyes fluttered close as she said a quick prayer, a prayer she'd been praying since she was eleven years old and Samantha Mulder had went missing from her living room where she'd been with her big brother. When she was finished, her fingers brushed over her chapped lips before she raised her palm to the heaven.
Back inside the house William Scully sat alone watching the nightly news. He looked up as his daughter stepped inside and shed her coat. "Your mother took Charles up to bed. How is Fox?"
"He had a rough day but he will be fine," Dana told him as she tossed her coat over the arm chair and took her mother's spot on the couch next to her father. "He did have an idea that I wanted to run past you."
"And what is that?"
"I know it is awfully last minute but our Fall break starts on Wednesday and we were thinking of taking a road trip. Maybe out to the coast. Up to Massachusetts. We could stay with Missy for a day or two and see the area."
"Dana," William Scully sighed. "I know that he is your best friend but we stopped the sleepovers when you turned thirteen for a reason."
"Yes, sir," Dana agreed. "But if we stay with Missy then I could sleep in her room and Mulder could sleep in the living room. And I could tour Harvard and Cambridge University while we're in the area."
He eyed his daughter for a long moment as he considered this. "Call your sister and run this plan past her. If Melissa can accommodate the two of you and your mother agrees then it's a yes under the condition that you stop to see your brother at Annapolis on your way home."
Dana fought the urge to glare at her father. "You're going to make me subject Mulder to Bill? Do you not remember Bill punching him in the face last Thanksgiving?"
"I am sure that Fox can entertain himself for an hour or two while you have lunch with your brother."
She exhaled slowly. "Fine. I'll call Melissa."
"You do that," he told her as she stood from the couch. "Starbuck?"
"I love you."
She leaned down and kissed his cheek. "I love you too, daddy."
Melissa Scully readily agreed to house her sister and Fox Mulder for a few nights while they explored the area around Boston and Maggie had readily agreed to her daughter's trip once she found out that Dana had promised to stop and see Bill on her way home.
After bidding both her parents a goodnight, Dana Scully retired to her bedroom to finish studying for her midterm exams before bed. She had an exam in Anatomy, Calculus, and Government the following day with Latin, English 12, and Physical Education the day after. She reviewed until her eyesight grew blurry and the church bell in the distance struck midnight then she cast aside her reading glasses, flicked off her desk lamp, and fell into bed where exhaustion rapidly overtook her.
Early the next morning, she stood on the front porch in her school uniform with her backpack slung over one shoulder and sipping at a mug of coffee as she watched dead leaves fall off the trees that lined the street in waves. Mulder would be there soon to pick her up. They both attended the private Catholic school in the neighboring town that had gone coeducational around the time they entered sixth grade. Mulder was agnostic on his best days but the school seemed to overlook his faith, or lack thereof, in exchange for the donation his parents made quarterly. Their freshman and sophomore years had been spent carpooling every morning with Melissa but the older girl had graduated just in time for them to get their licenses. Most days, she rode in with Mulder because he had his own car and her house was on his way – Melissa had been gifted the old car the Scully siblings were expected to share for her graduation and her father had yet to replace it which left Dana sharing with her mother when Mulder wasn't able to pick her up, which was thankfully a rare occurrence.
The Dodge Charger pulled up to the curb just as she finished her cup of coffee. She placed the mug on the banister and called a farewell over her shoulder to her mother and brother through the screen door before she sprinted down the sidewalk to duck into the passenger side. "My parents said yes!"
"Excellent," he told her. "What are the conditions?"
She laughed as she tucked her rucksack onto the floorboard next to her feet and relaxed into the seat. "We stay at Melissa's. I check in every night at nine. And we have to stop in Annapolis on the way home so I can have lunch with Bill but you are not obligated to see him."
"Not too bad." Mulder pulled away from the curb in the direction of the two lane highway that connected Jasper Hollow to the next town over. "How late were you up studying?"
"Midnight, I think. I just kind of fell face down in bed at some point and woke up when my alarm clock went off."
He laughed and she socked his shoulder playfully.
"Shut up," she ordered. "We can't all have an eidetic memory."
"I'm sorry," he told her unapologetically.
"Whatever." She nudged up the radio's volume while Lou Reed sung about Charley's girl. "You're buying my breakfast."
"Don't I always?"
They settled into a companionable quiet as they cruised down the interstate; Mulder drove with his wrist as he sung quietly along with the radio and Dana set about working her curls into a loose braid before doing her makeup in the visor mirror making sure her lipstick was just this side of demerit worthy.
"She's my best friend," Mulder crooned. "She understands me when I'm feeling down-down-down-down..."
She rolled her eyes. "I am pretty sure Lou was talking about drugs."
"Whatever, Scully," he fired back. "It's our song."
"This is not our song."
Mulder quirked an eyebrow. "And what, dearest Dana, is?"
"I'm the Man by Joe Jackson."
"I have never given you a yo-yo."
She rolled her eyes. "Fine, Hold On by Tom Waits."
"Fine," he agreed. "Or Black Market Baby."
"I have always wanted to be a 'bonzai aphrodite'."
He pulled into the diner down the street from their school and parked. "Whatchya want?"
"A million dollars," she teased. "And a blueberry muffin. And coffee."
She relaxed into the passenger seat and watched through the window as Mulder rushed inside to retrieve their breakfast orders. They thankfully still had twenty minutes before the first bell rang. He emerged five minutes later with two cups of coffee and a bag holding several muffins. He handed them off as he climbed in the car and took off in the direction of the school down the street. "I'll have to work on that million dollar request."
In the senior parking lot, he pulled into his designated spot and flipped down his parking tag as he shoved a muffin into his mouth. Dana laughed and he looked at her. She shook her head. "So attractive."
He opened his mouth so she could see the mushed and slobber covered muffin and she shoved him as she laughed and looked away. He swallowed the muffin with a giant swig of his coffee. "Better get out of my car before the nuns catch you."
"They know we ride to school together," she fired back as she finished her own muffin. "And they've caught me in worse positions before."
He gasped. "Why, Dana Katherine, I never..."
She stuck out her tongue as she grabbed her bag and coffee before slipping out of the car. "Shut your mouth, Mulder."
"Whoa-whoa-whoa," he said as he chased after her. "I need details, Scully. You know if I'm left to my own devices that it's going to become a Penthouse entry in my head."
"I was joking," she told him. "The sisters have never caught me doing anything more untoward than hanging with the likes of you."
"Damn right." He held the door to the school open as she ducked under his arm to step inside.
"I had you," she laughed. "So gullible, Mulder."
"Payback is comin'... Just you wait."
She ignored him as she made her way to her locker. "What tests do you have today?"
"Sociology, Classic Lit, and Earth-Space Science."
"All your favorites." She smiled and shut her locker with everything but her Anatomy textbook, notebook, and coffee inside. "Try not to get in another debate about the age of earth while you're taking your text."
"I am sorry but the idea that earth is only a few thousand years old is complete bullshit," he told her as they moved onto their locker. "I understand that this is a religious institution but you can't use Jesus as a counter-argument for irrefutable fact that the earth is billions of years old."
"Do you really think you're going to change anyone's minds while you're taking your midterm?" She leaned against the locker next to his as he swapped out his textbooks. "You know the answers they're looking for so would you just give it to them so we can graduate and move onto higher education where they won't use the scriptures as scientific fact?"
"Fine," he relented.
The hallway was beginning to fill with their classmates as Mulder shut his locker and held out his arm to her which she readily tucked under so he could escort her to the science wing before he broke off for his Sociology class. A haughty huff came from behind them and Dana didn't have to turn around to know who was standing there.
"You sure moved on quick enough, Fox." Diana Fowley stood glaring at her ex-boyfriend and his best friend.
Scully looked over her shoulder. "Get lost, Diana."
"Don't speak to me," the girl instructed as she looked down her nose at the shorter redhead. "Skank."
Mulder dropped his arm from her shoulder as he whirled around. "You broke up with me, Diana, so you don't get to play the role of bitter ex. Leave us alone."
"Come on, Fox," she said coyly. "I know she's your friend but you can do so much better than that charity case scholarship kid."
Dana exhaled sharply through her nose as her textbook hit the floor and Mulder caught her around the waist before she could deck Diana like she truly wanted. She wasn't ashamed of the fact that she was on a partial scholarship; her parents did alright on her father's naval salary but they weren't flush like the Mulders or the Fowleys and putting four kids through private school was expensive.
"She's not worth it," Mulder told her softly before he turned to his ex. "She may not have your money, Diana, but she's got you beat in class by spades." A bell rang overhead. "Now if you'll excuse us, we'd like to not be tardy for our tests."
He picked up Scully's textbook and handed it to her before his arm went back around her shoulders and she leaned into him, fully aware that Diana was watching, and curled her hand into the back of his sweater as they made their way through the crowds. He kissed the crown of her head. "You okay?"
She nodded. "I'm fine. I wish she'd go back to whatever level of hell she escaped from but I'm fine."
"Me too," he promised. "Good luck on your test, Scully. I'll see you at lunch and we'll talk more about our trip."
She smiled up at him. "See you at lunch. Now go and try to not get detention."
He mock saluted and she smiled with the roll of her eyes as she watched him disappear into the crowded hall before turning to slip into the anatomy classroom.
At lunch they met under the weeping willow at the far corner of the senior parking lot with their lunches. Dana sat with her back against the rough bark of the tree and her ankles crossed in front of her as she picked at the peanut butter and fluff sandwich her mother had packed for her while Mulder attempted to push himself up onto one of the low hanging branches, a cheese stick hanging from the corner of his mouth. He gave up after several tries and took a seat next to her, nudging her knee with his own.
"How are your tests going?" They traded half her peanut butter and fluff for his turkey and cheddar on rye.
"I'm regretting not spending more time studying for government," she told him honestly as she pulled her flashcards from her bag. "I was so worried about anatomy and calc that I pretty much disregarded it."
"You'll be fine," he promised. "When in doubt, go with 'c' unless that's not an option."
She rolled her eyes. "What are you going to do for study hall?"
Having their midterms split over two days meant they had a left over hour and fifteen minutes at the end of the day that was assigned to preparation for the next day of testing. He shrugged as he finished the piece of cheese. "Eidetic memory, remember? Whichever review session I go to is just going to be full of what I already know."
"Well I am going to the Latin review that Father Patrick is giving so I'll just meet you at the car after last bell."
He nodded. "I'll probably be in the review for Probability and Statistics. If I am gonna struggle with any test it's likely to be that one."
"Should have taken calc with me and I could have helped you study," she told him.
Mulder shrugged. "Where do you wanna go first after we get to Missy's?"
"We'll probably get there late on Wednesday so.. to sleep," she told him with a laugh. "I wanna check out Harvard since we're gonna be so close."
He nodded. "So Harvard on Thursday. Friday we should head up to Salem. This close to Halloween there has to be something going on."
"I..." He exhaled slowly. "I wanna meet up with the Gunmen."
She furrowed her brow. "The creators of that 'zine you read?"
"They're in Boston?"
"Falls Church, Virginia which is pretty close," he explained. "We could check out the Lizzie Borden site while we're there."
"You wanna go ghost hunting and meet those conspiracy theorists all in one day? Are you sure your heart can take it?" She gave him a teasing grin. "Sure, Mulder. I'll meet the Gunmen with you. Call it even for having to stop for lunch with Bill on Sunday."
Crumpling their brown bags in hand, they made their way back toward the school arm in arm as their lunch break drew to a close.