The Eye of His Hurricane

By aka Jake

Rating: R (Violence, Adult Themes)
Classification: Post-Ep for “The Truth”

Summary: On the run at the end of Season 9, Mulder turns to Scully to help him battle a lifetime’s worth of trauma.

Disclaimer: The characters Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are the property of Chris Carter, FOX and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement intended. This is for fun, not profit.  

Author's Notes: There have been quite a few fics (including a couple of my own) that center on the hell Scully went through over the years. There are not quite so many that focus on the hardships Mulder has endured, especially in Seasons 8 and 9. Those experiences, plus Mulder's childhood trauma, would crush the spirit of a lesser man. This short story is about Mulder as events push him to the breaking point.

Scorched desert sands, craggy mountaintops, endless, undulating prairies. Daytime distractions. Mulder is grateful for the constant change of scene. The car, a beater they bought in Shiprock for $500 cash, eats up the miles between New Mexico and Montana. They stop only in tiny towns with crappy motels and greasy spoons and gas station minimarts. In another hour, they’ll cross the border into North Dakota. Late day heat gives way to an evening chill, hazy blue deepens into dark violet as clouds spread across the eastern sky like a fresh bruise.

The AC gave up the ghost two days ago in Cheyenne. Wind now whips through the car’s open windows. It carries the acrid odor of chemical fertilizers from the acres of farmland that border Highway 5. A thunderstorm creeps closer, bringing low rumbles, flashes of lightening, and the tang of ozone. When the rain begins, it strikes the windshield like a slap to the face — an unexpected assault that makes Mulder’s skin crawl and his nerves smolder.

Driving, driving, knuckles white on the wheel, Mulder presses the accelerator to the floor whenever he can. But he’s careful. They don’t want to draw unnecessary attention, even out here in East Bumfuck Nowhere. He fiddles with the radio. Bypasses fire-and-brimstone preachers, indignant talkshow hosts, and twanging country guitars, landing with relief on a classic rock station. The music from his childhood…before Samantha went missing. Lyrics about free love, flower power, and the search for a communal utopia fill the car and crowd out unwelcome thoughts.

When the rain becomes biblical, they are forced to roll up the windows. Car exhaust seeps through the rusted chassis. There’s nothing to be done about it.

Scully rides shotgun, a partially folded map rustling in her lap. Mulder tries to think about where they’re headed, not where he's been. He aims the car in a northeasterly direction with no set destination, and pretends he’s living a different life. Scully is his wife. William sleeps in a carseat behind them. They are on their way to a family reunion or a picnic by the sea. He avoids the rearview mirror; he doesn’t want to see there is no cooler of food, no beach umbrella, no little boy in the back seat. But he can’t stop himself. In the end, he glances back, breaks the spell. His fantasy disintegrates.

On a curve, the car hydroplanes and Scully gasps. Mulder chuffs a nervous laugh when the wheels finally grab the pavement again. Life is full of close calls. What’s one more?

“Up ahead on the left. Might be a good place to spend the night,” Scully says. “The weather’s getting worse and you’ve been driving for hours.”

Hours. Days. Weeks. A lifetime.

“Okay,” he concedes and slows the car. He sizes up the Star Lite Motor Lodge. Pulls into the parking lot. He dreads another night recalling the details of the last two years, trauma that caps decades of disillusion and hurt. He knows he is teetering on the edge of an emotional abyss, a mental breakdown, but there are more immediate concerns. And he's too goddamn exhausted to face the past just now.

Escape! his brain screams. Run, run.

To that end, they changed their appearance early on, back in Utah. He wears his hair cropped close to his scalp, military style, and has grown a short beard, which he keeps neatly trimmed. She’s bleached her hair blond, her skin too pale to make a convincing brunette. She allows her natural curl to go wild; no more hot brushes, flat irons, and anti-frizz products. She travels light now. They have to be prepared for quick getaways.

They make a mad dash from the car to the front entrance and check in at the shabby reception desk. They use fake names, which they change often. Today they are Betty and Barney Bruleb from Arizona. Her choice. Not for the first time, he worries what they’ll do when their cash runs out.

Soaking wet, he sets their go-bags inside the door of their room, drops the car keys on the scratched bureau, and scans for intruders and hidden cameras. She locks the deadbolt, draws the curtains, and places her gun on one of the nightstands. He tucks his under his pillow, taking the side of the bed closest to the door. Only then do they turn on a light. This is their routine now.

Mulder uses an index finger to dig rain water from his left ear. Scully tosses him a towel and he scrubs his head. When he’s finished, she’s peeling off her wet shirt. She catches him staring. She pauses.

“Don’t stop on my account,” he says.

She huffs, but seems pleased. “Some things never change.” She shakes her head.

“If you don’t want my attention…”

Her eyes lock with his as she removes the shirt and let’s it fall to the floor. She takes her time unfastening her bra, teasing him.

His mouth fills with saliva, his cock with blood. “C’mere.” He reaches out, hooks a finger into her waistband, and pulls her to him.

They make love like a tempest, all tumult and turbulence, as if the world is ending and it’s their final hours on Earth. The world isending. Mulder feels it in his flesh and bones, feels it like a vivisection. He has experienced that particular horror aboard an extraterrestrial spaceship…the godawful pain of a scalpel slicing a line from his gullet to his groin. Awake. No anesthetic. Like being autopsied alive.

No one should ever see their own intestines, lungs, and beating heart exposed beneath the glare of too-bright lights and alien stares.

Not to say that’s necessarily the worst thing that’s happened to him. He’s also learned firsthand what death without an afterlife feels like. Three months in a coffin buried beneath six feet of North Carolina soil taught him a lot about fear and longing and hopelessness.

And as if that weren’t enough to strip him of his sanity, Mulder knows more than most about torture at the hands of human monsters. The thunderclap of a baton on bone. The fog of sleeplessness. Battered. Browbeaten. You're a guilty man. You entered a government facility illegally in search of non-existent information. You failed in every respect.

It’s hard to keep those memories at bay in the dark, even after he’s worn himself out with sex. Scully sleeps soundly beside him but he is fitful. He tries to focus on the future but it’s as impossible to pin down as a nor’easter.

When he does finally drift off, he’s assailed by nightmares. They come at him like katabatic winds, as hard-hitting as a hailstones. His prison cell at Mount Weather, the alien table where he was pinned like an insect in a kid’s bug collection, the pitch black box of his coffin…they all bleed together. The worst part, what he dreads most, is the loss of Scully. In his panic, she’s missing, always missing. Like their son. He thrashes. Screams her name.

“Mulder,” she says, waking him, her murmur sounding like a far-off bell buoy riding the swells.

He feels tossed by crashing waves until her sea-blue eyes grab his attention. “I want him back, Scully. I want William back.” His voice breaks. Tears sting his eyes and their fiery trails scald his cheeks. He can’t breathe.

But like the welcome beam of a lighthouse, she guides him to safe harbor. He rolls into the sanctuary of her embrace.

He wants to be a husband, a father, a protector. The hero of his own story. And hers. But he feels he is none of these things. He is the cause of their problems. He has always been the headwater of her heartache.

Still, in her arms, he finds respite. She calms his frayed nerves, chases away his demons.

Tomorrow they will return to the road where they will continue to flee the men who hunt them. Mulder will once again try to outpace his misgivings and unease. But for now, tonight, in this quiet moment, she is the eye of his hurricane. She makes it possible for him to catch his breath and mend his shattered spirit before the backside of the storm hits and they must run again.


Author’s Notes: My head canon says Mulder's delayed reaction to a lifetime of trauma likely played a significant role in his breakup with Scully prior to the Revival. I haven't written a fic about that, and maybe never will, as it might be too hard emotionally to plumb the depths of that particular storyline.

(Posted May 28, 2024)


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