A/N: Oh what a coincidence, the new X-Files movie comes out in my area today. Huh.
Mulder and Scully
Sid sees them together one morning and thinks to himself, Mulder and Scully.
Stella notices him staring, "What's up, Sid?"
"Um..." he's not sure if he should tell her, and he's definitely sure that there's no way he's going to tell Mac, beside her.
If not for the fact that these two will do nothing but scoff at the mere prospect of their partnership extending beyond the boundaries of professionalism and friendship, Sid fears for his dignity.
It would start with a small comparison between Stella and Mac, to the rapport shared by a famous pair of fictional, but brilliant, investigators of the paranormal, but then escalate. And with Stella and that mind-like-a-steel-trap of hers, Sid expects to find himself in a dark room with a light over his head if he ever sheds some light on his own thoughts.
Stella would interrogate him, mostly for her own sick fun, trying to get answers out of him. Like why he's been taking an extra ten minutes on his lunch break every day, why he's suddenly taken an interest in alien life forms and unidentified objects.
And all for the sake of uncovering his deepest, darkest secret. The one part of himself that he both loathes and revels in. The one guilty pleasure he has allowed himself to indulge in so much that it's turned into an addiction.
Sid Hammerback is a closet X-Files fan.
It had all started about three months ago, when he woke up to a stuffy head, nose, and just about everything else that could be stuffed up. When Mac had adamantly refused that he come in to work, Sid had decided to barnacle himself to his generally unused couch and brave the unknown: daytime television. He hadn't anticipated flipping to the Sci-Fi Channel, but was fascinated by all of the defective alien body parts that flashed across his screen.
Then that escalated to taping the episodes. Then buying the DVDs, then extended lunch breaks to watch the DVDs, then online forums, then t-shirts and other overpriced memorabilia... and before he knew it, Sid couldn't even recognize himself anymore.
"Sid?" Stella's voice brings him back into the present, where she's waiting patiently (and Mac, not so patiently) for his answer.
Wait, what answer?
"What was the question?" he asks and ignores the pained look from Mac.
"Did you find anything abnormal in the stomach contents?"
Ectoplasm? Sid's brain screams at him and he buries the thought and promises himself that he'll take an extra forty minutes for lunch today. They'll come back when they need me, it's not like anyone will notice, he tells himself.
"No," says Sid, and he tries a smile.
"We'll be back in a bit then," Mac is gone.
Stella lingers, and Sid tries not to notice as he begins preparing the corpse for another deep freeze. When he no longer has anything to keep himself occupied with, he looks up at her, expecting to scare her with the questioning look on his face. And it's Stella who surprises him, with the sweetest little smile on her face. Sid's heart sinks, She knows.
"Sid," Stella says slowly, "Anything you'd like to tell me?"
But Sid is a master of enigmas, and decides to stick to his original feeling, "Nothing that you shouldn't already know by now."
"Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson," Danny Messer says pointedly to Lindsay who's beside him in the little café, "The eternal struggle between professionalism and sexual tension."
"Oh please," Lindsay rolls her eyes, "Don't you have something better to do with your time?"
"Don't tell me that you don't see it too, feel it, even," his eyes grow bright and mischievous, like a child with a slingshot, "Hear it crackling in the air, suffocating you whenever you're in the same room with them."
Across the little coffee shop, are Stella and Mac, switching between a serious discussion of purple lips and bruised throats and a lighthearted conversation about Irish Coffee. And to Danny who's observing them (because only when they're together do they ever manage to ignore his staring), this hard-to-get game that they play is close to insane.
"They're ignoring what's right in front of their eyes."
"Not this again, Danny, give it a rest."
"They're probably just afraid it will interfere with their work..."
"Well I'm not surprised! Look at how it's interfering with ours!" she holds up the file they're supposed to be proofing.
But Danny's long gone, his eyes transfixed, and Lindsay can't help but smile a little when she's sure he's not looking, because she never knew there was this deep, contemplative side to him that really wanted the best for his friends.
Stella laughs and a small smile appears on Mac's face, and Lindsay knows that he's just made some intelligent joke. They're rare, but when he makes one, Stella lights up completely – partially because of the joke, but mostly because it's a good day if Mac Taylor is feeling loose enough to share some of that deadpan humor of his.
But the moment they stop smiling (they've gone back to discussing the case), Lindsay feels a bittersweet pang in her heart, because she knows it will always be like this. There will always be purple lips and bruised throats, and she doesn't know if the presence of Irish Coffee will do anything to help like it has today. She wants to think that they're doomed like Romeo and Juliet, but then she laughs at herself because, Come on, Lindsay, Mac in tights?
More than that, she knows how that famous story ends, and she shudders at the thought of the same thing happening to Mac or Stella, or any of the others. She hopes that they'll learn to hold hands without shame in this life time, because they're all too much like a pair of star-crossed lovers.
Fated to die, or fated to live a lifetime walking next to each other without acknowledging that ever-present feeling between them.
Lindsay doesn't know what's worse.
And when she's tired of her musings, when she's too close to crying because Mac and Stella are like some forgotten black-and-white movie, she turns to Danny who has (miraculously) gone back to the file.
She pokes his shoulder, "I didn't take you for a Law and Order fan."
"Bonnie and Clyde," Sheldon Hawkes argues, and Sid can hardly believe his ears.
"You heard me. They're like Bonnie and Clyde."
"Mac and Stella?"
"Sheldon," Sid pinches the bridge of his nose as though he hasn't made a ridiculous comparison like that before, "Bonnie and Clyde were public enemies. They masterminded bank heists, carried out a string of petty thefts and robberies... Clyde was accused of killing nine police officers. Nine!"
"That's not what I meant."
"I hope not. Accusations like that could have serious consequences, you know."
Sheldon is mildly annoyed, "You know, if you weren't as shallow as a spoon, you would understand the underlying struggle and passion behind the otherwise questionable ethics of Bonnie and Clyde."
"Questionable? Don't you mean, completely immoral?"
"And what is the meaning of immoral, anyways, Mr. Hammerback?"
"Grade twelve, Philosophy," Sid glared, "That's a cheap trick, Mr. Hawkes. I expected more from you."
Sheldon smiles because he thinks he has won this argument for now, by rendering Sid speechless, or at least, furious. All this, since Sid is generally an objective, depthless, rock, who thinks of love and emotions the same way he thinks of complex mathematical equations. It takes a special something to infuriate the ME, and Sheldon thinks he's just hit that raw spot.
He decides not to stop while he's on a role.
"Okay, Sid. Which famous couple do you think best compares to Stella and Mac," he smiles and then adds, just in case, "And you'd better not say Brad and Angelina."
"How'd you know?" Sid grins.
"Come on, Sid. Be a sport."
"No," Sid's face darkens in what is almost a blush.
It's a quick, red gradient, but Sheldon catches it before it can drain out of Sid's face, because this job has tuned his visual reflexes, "Oh, well now it's obvious."
"What's obvious? What's obvious, Sheldon?"
"It all makes sense now."
"Damnit Sheldon, just-"
Sheldon grins like the Cheshire cat and replies, "It's nothing to be ashamed of Sid. We all have at least one."
"At least one what?"
"A guilty pleasure. Something that you can't live without, yet it bothers you constantly for indulging in it, burns you to the very soul," Sheldon looks him straight in the eye, and Sid just knows his secret is out now.
"You saw me, in my office."
"For two months straight."
Sid hung his head, "I can't help it!"
"It's okay," Sheldon shrugs, "Who can resist the charm and adventure of the X-Files."
"You can't tell anyone."
"Why?" he laughs and changes the subject, "Let me guess. Mulder and Scully?"
Sid thinks for a moment, finally able to relax now that his secret is out in the open and Sheldon doesn't appear to be laughing too hard, "Mulder and Scully."
"I still say Bonnie and Clyde."
"What? How? Come on, Mulder and Scully worked together for years before recognizing their affection."
"Gee Sid, didn't think you were that far in the series."
"Don't change the subject," his blue eyes narrow, "Mac and Stella are like Mulder and Scully. Two brilliant minds, capable of unraveling the unknown, and yet, can't recognize what's right in front of them."
"You've put a lot of thought into this, haven't you?"
"I take extended lunch breaks."
Sheldon cracks a smile, "Alright, you win, Mulder and Scully it is."
Unfortunately, Adam has something to say about that. In fact, it's the first thing that the quiet lab tech decides to say all day.
"You guys forgot Arkemidus Storm and his lover, Cassie Landlowe," he explains as though it is the most obvious thing in the world.
"Oh yes, can't forget them," Sid replies absentmindedly and goes back to the crossword in his hand.
"Of course you can't, they're classic," a hazy look takes over Adam's eyes.
"Do they have anything to do with your freaky, underground fantasy-comic-book universe," Sheldon looks a little exasperated when Adam nods in reply, "See Sid? There's worse things than being obsessed with the X-Files."
"There's nothing wrong with liking comic books!"
"Of course not," Sid mutters, "I was a big fan too. When I was twelve. What was that one with the big, hairy Canadian? Had something to do with the letter 'x' as well..."
"Wolverine, from the X-men," Adam rolls his eyes, "Mainstream comics are so overrated."
"Yes well, that is to be expected of the mainstream now isn't it?" Sheldon looks over his glasses at the now-irritated lab tech.
"You guys just don't understand."
"You're probably right about-"
Stella strides into the room, her head held high and proud like the landmark for which she has been nicknamed for. As usual, Mac is at her side, muttering about evidence and MO's – trivial things in the eyes of their three observers.
"Wish there was something we could do," says Sheldon, shaking his head, once the moment has passed.
Adam goes back to work in a huff, still upset by their previous discussion.
Sid can only smile.
"We're not watching Titanic," says Stella Bonasera adamantly
Friday night at the lab, and for once things are looking up for her, which is a nice break, since the week has been riddled with nothing but misery and the strange looks she keeps receiving from her team.
"I thought you'd be interested in a great, tragic romance like that?" Mac laughs, the question dancing in his eyes.
"A little too tragic if you ask me. Besides, I'm not a fan of DiCaprio anyways."
Their laughter echoes down the empty hallways, reaching the last person left in the lab as he signs next to the little 'x' in the box that reads Coroner.
"Goodnight Sid!" calls Stella, but she barely looks at him and he knows it's because she has eyes only for one man, and it isn't himself.
Sid doesn't mind too much.
"Good night Stella," he calls, "You too Mac."
Mac gives him a nod before Stella links her arm in his and they leave the lab together. Sid can only shake his head and smile to himself, thinking that they're just so damn reminiscent, so sweet, yet sad at the same time. They're in front of each other, desperate for each other, and they dare to term such a feeling as friendship?
At the same time, Sid can't help but think that they've started a chapter on their own. They have their own legacy, and they're living it out in front of his eyes every single day.
He tucks a season four DVD into his desk for tomorrow's lunch and says as though he were still arguing with Sheldon Hawkes, "Well how about this: Mac and Stella."