DREAMS IN BLACK AND WHITE
An X-Files story
by Rachel Smith Cobleigh
Scully woke up. She opened her eyes and waited for them to focus on the shadows stretched across the ceiling. The stark contrast of black against white made her blink, once, twice. A flash of a wise-looking pig crossed her mind and she frowned. A pig?!
That dream was one...too...many, she thought, letting her eyes trace the edge of the dancing shadow right above her. A dance floor... She shifted thoughts and fixed on another wispy shadow, letting the surreal flood of images parade through her mind.
Violated frying pans
Izzy...or Issy? or Izzie? or—
A magnified disfigured fly...legs growing out of—bleh.
Peanut butter sandwiches.
She didn't even truly like peanut butter sandwiches. She considered them an improvement on peanut-butter-and-jelly, because the jelly wasn't there to soak through the bread and make things a big soggy purple mess when she pulled it out of her lunch box and her friends had those little cracker-and-cheese packages to eat instead of big soggy purple—
Scully turned her head and looked at the window, with its blinds halfway drawn, the streetlight outside pouring in through the cracks.
Fire licking through the boards...burning barn, Mulder frowning.
Scully closed her eyes, remembering waking up on a thin rug—it was a different rug than the one she fell asleep on—with a huge Christmas tree looming over her and Mulder, whose face lay about three inches from hers—
She opened her eyes again. The shadows swayed back and forth gently on the ceiling. She frowned and shook her head. They righted themselves and stretched out, still. Her feet were so warm, but—
Scully groaned and pushed herself up on her elbows. The alarm clock shined 4:56 at her, and she let her head tilt back against the pillow, her chin pointing at the ceiling. Flashing lights...Cher... dance floor—
She was suddenly very warm, and she pulled her head back up, swallowed.
Pushing the covers off, she slid her legs over the edge of the bed and planted her feet in the rug. This one is thicker than that one...
"No more milk," she pushed herself upright, "after midnight."
She stood up, weaving a little. Mulder was having trouble standing up. You look like a bum— His shirt is untucked and he keeps backing into that stupid stove. Why are you holding that pan out to me?
She padded over to the kitchen—well, she tried to, anyway. Except the doorway wasn't there. It was a wall, a peach-colored wall that smelled funny, now that she realized her nose was pressed against it.
Waaait a second. This isn't my bedroom.
Scully came fully awake then, turned slowly around, taking in her surroundings; the shadows stretched across the ceiling, the suitcase lying open on top of the oversized armoire standing across from the bed she'd just gotten out of.
Oh...dear. A hotel room. Another one.
She found her bearings and padded over to the bathroom door, turned the knob, tried to push it open—nope, she had to pull it open, so she did, and stepped right into another door. This door bumped open slightly in front of her, after she'd pushed her nose into it. She reached up and rubbed her nose, trying to understand why there were two doors to get into the bathroom.
No, actually, it was another hotel room, a mirror image to the one she was just in. How could she get into another hotel room? She didn't have another key. She put her hand against the door and pushed it open further, her hand pressed against the cool surface. Her eyes were perfectly adapted to the darkness, and she immediately saw a glittering off to her left. She spun, her hand automatically flying to the back of her right hip—no gun, her mind said mechanically.
Her heart dropped down to somewhere about her knees and she raggedly let out her breath.
"What are doing sitting in the corner in the middle of the night?"
"I'm an insomniac, Scully. What are you doing leaping into my room in the middle of the night?"
Oh. Right. This is his hotel room.
"Uh..." He left the connecting door open, her mind observed belatedly. "I...was...am...what are you doing sitting in the corner like that?"
"I couldn't sleep. Why are you standing there with your hand on your...hip?"
Scully dropped her hand to side, now conscious that both of her hands were hanging at her sides, and she felt distinctly odd. She put both hands on her hips, then decided she must look too authoritarian and crossed her arms, instead. Mulder's eyes glittered from where he sat on the floor in the corner, his arms around his knees, watching her.
She sighed and dropped her arms to her sides again, looked down at the floor, and wiggled her toes in the thick carpet. Light from the window was streaming between her legs and sliding down the side of the bed between her and her partner. She raised her head to look back up him, felt his dark eyes tug at her chest. After a moment of indecision, she padded around the end of the bed and slid down to sit on the floor next to him in the corner. She pulled her own legs up and wrapped her arms around them. The light from the window was shining over the edge of the bed, outlining the rumpled blankets.
"Same." Scully leaned her head back against the wall. "Was it...Samantha?"
Mulder was silent for a long moment, and then he shifted slightly and leaned his own head back against the wall. "No. I haven't had a dream about her for almost a month, now." His voice sounded strangely calm, light. "You?"
"Ohh, just...things. Weird. You wouldn't want to know."
"Oh, but I would. I'm a psychologist, G-woman. I want to peel away the veil of normalcy and expose the naked soul within."
"Really," Scully answered dryly.
They were silent for moment. She tilted her head sideways and looked at him from the corner of her eye, from behind the curve of her hair. She could see the edge of his mouth turned up, his dark eyes laughing.
"You!" She elbowed him and quickly pulled her arm back, wrapped it around her knees, smiling.
"You know, Scully, if I didn't know better, I would say you're flirting with me."
"You know what the Bureau says about male and female agents consorting in the same hotel room."
"Agents' Code of Conduct, section thirteen, paragraph six: 'Field agents shall not consort in any way deemed inappropriate by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, engaging in any form of non-work-related functions, and/or social function not sponsored by the Bureau. Refer to section twenty-eight for FBI policy on sexual harassment in the workplace.'"
"You and your memory."
"Quoting the handbook, that's work-related, right?"
"You pull anything on me, Agent Mulder, and I'll refer you to section twenty-eight."
"So...let's have it."
"Your deepest secrets and the 'weird' dream."
"Is it getting a little bit warm in here?"
"Well, is it a little bit warm for you?"
"I dreamed about pigs and goats and violated frying pans and mad scientists and...and Cher."
Mulder was silent.
"I can't wait to hear your analysis of this one," she said, turning her head to look at him. He was frowning and staring at her. "What?" she asked.
"'Violated frying pans', you said?"
"And Cher. And peanut-butter sandwiches."
"And a man with two faces?"
"Yes—" Scully froze. "Wait—I didn't tell you..." she whispered, swallowed, staring back at him. The question how did you know that burned through her mind, her chest, but she couldn't make her throat say the words. Unbidden, the last few moments before the whole dream had ended rose up, and she squeezed her eyes shut. No! her mind screamed.
She stood up. "I have to go back to bed. Try to get some sleep."
"You'll be all right?" His voice sounded rough.
"I'm fine, Mulder."
She cringed at those mechanical words, but couldn't retract them. She walked around the bed the way she had come, then reached out and pulled the door closed behind her—but left it open just a crack. Silently, she pulled her own almost closed, and she stood in the darkness, her forehead against the cool plane of the door. After a long moment of fighting back tears she hated to acknowledge were even there, she heard a soft sound that speared through her chest.
"Good night, Scully."
Quietly, she padded back to the bed, climbed in, and closed her eyes.
November 30, 1997
Copyright 1997 Rachel Smith Cobleigh