This story was written under the very silly pseudonym Lilla Vaughan.
PG-13. M/S UST, humor. Being buried in feedback would be a much more dignified way to go than autoerotic asphyxiation.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.
Make yourself a promise. Tattoo it on your brain.
Say: “I will not ravish my best friend.”
Swear it in the mirror with your right hand up.
Repeat as necessary.
He will call nearly every night, and he will casually ask, “So, what are you up to?”
Don’t say: “I’m lying on the sofa and I have a fire burning and damn, I wish you were here.”
Say: “Oh, nothing.”
As an occasional variation, try: “I’m watching a fascinating documentary on the Discovery Channel. It’s about the mating habits of bonobo apes.”
Hope he doesn’t know much about bonobo apes.
Take the lack of a follow-up wisecrack as evidence that he does not.
Chalk yourself up a point for slipping a double-entendre past him.
You will not get to do this often.
Never, never, never allow yourself to fantasize about him when you masturbate.
Sink to his level if you have to: read erotica. Keep all your back issues of Yellow Silk on the bookshelf in your bedroom. Keep your vibrator in a drawer nearby.
Wonder if his little pornography habit has anything to do with keeping you out of his head.
Wonder if it works.
Sometimes he will call in the middle of the night, when he’s had a nightmare. Listen. You are a good listener.
Picture him on the couch he prefers to his bed.
Do not, under any circumstances, say: “I wish I were there to hold you.”
When you have a nightmare, try not to call. Hold the phone in one hand and stare at it while your breathing slows down. Try to calculate the angle of the harsh artificial light falling through your window. When you give in and press talk and punch in his speed dial code, do not, under any circum- stances, say: “Can you come over?”
You’ve seen When Harry Met Sally.
When your alarm goes off, it will jolt you out of a dream in which you were not alone in your double bed.
Throw your left arm over your eyes to keep out the sunlight.
Toss back your unwrinkled, white, 100% cotton sheets.
As you walk to the kitchen to make coffee, say: “I will not ravish my best friend.”
Some days will be more difficult than others.
Meet him at the airport twenty minutes before your 9:05 AM flight. You are going to Hilverton, Nebraska on a case. Two days ago a man died of a massive head wound, reportedly after being hit by a rock that fell from the sky.
Read the case file during the flight. Compile a list of possible explanations, but don’t recite them to him yet. You have learned to see the evidence for yourself before discounting it.
When he falls asleep on your shoulder, the flight attendant — a young man with a Canadian accent — will ask you if your husband would like a drink.
Tell him no.
Do not correct his assumption. You are used to this. It is no longer embarrassing. If your best friend were awake, you would laugh about it together. Your family and your few other friends assume it is inevitable, anyway. You have given up trying to explain.
Drink orange juice with your pretzels (nine of them; you can’t help but count when the bag is that small).
Fall asleep before the meal service. Your head will end up on top of his, and both of your necks will hurt by the end of the flight.
While driving the rented beige Taurus, say “Sorry” quietly when your fingers accidentally brush up against his knee.
He will say: “I thought you were finally making a pass at me, Scully.”
Say: “If I were making a pass at you, Mulder, I’d pick a better place than this.”
Don’t let him see how amused you are by his reaction to this statement.
This is turning out to be one of the difficult days, but you are on a roll.
Park the car outside a dive of a motel, as always. You’d both rather spend the bureau’s money on investigations than on your lodgings.
Massage your sore neck with one hand.
You will catch yourself staring at his ass when he bends over to lift the bags out of the trunk. Mentally slap yourself.
Remember the first time you saw him in that suit. Remember the nightmare of a case you were on at the time — a serial killer who believed that his victims’ ghosts kept him company.
Realize that that was a bad thing to remember. You’d rather forget.
Check into the motel.
Get adjoining rooms.
Charge them to your corporate card, which is really a misnomer since the FBI is not a corporation.
You will be able to tell how recently your best friend has been in your room by the scent of his cologne.
Don’t let him know you recognize it.
Autopsy time. Snap on your latex gloves. Glance at the file and review the medical examiner’s report.
Name: Maurice Mitchell.
Occupation: landscape designer.
Marital status: divorced, one daughter.
Skull: nearly flattened.
You suspect the only witness, who happens to be the ex- wife.
Behind you, your best friend will hold an evidence bag up to the fluorescent light and examine the reported instrument of Maurice Mitchell’s demise. He will say: “This ain’t no styrofoam, Scully.”
Say: “I’ll take a sample from the rock later.”
Break out the scalpel.
Vaguely notice the click of the door behind you as he leaves.
Talk to Maurice Mitchell’s ex-wife, Yvonne. Let your best friend knock on the door and show her his badge.
He loves to do that.
Reconsider your theory of Yvonne’s guilt when you discover that she is at least a foot shorter than her ex- husband was. The rock hit the top of his head at a very high speed.
Yvonne will invite you in and will say between sobs: “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. One minute he was telling me what time he would pick up Shannara for his father’s birthday dinner, and the next he was on the ground and there was blood all over me.”
She will twist her wet handkerchief into a knot.
Notice the photos of her daughter and ex-husband on the table behind the sofa, the television tuned to Rosie O’Donnell, the diamond pattern of her living-room rug.
“There were more rocks falling and I was afraid I was next,” Yvonne will say, “but none of them hit me. Poor Maurice.” She will blow her nose. “Poor Shannara.”
Share a glance with your best friend.
Start to work on another theory.
Visit the construction site where Maurice Mitchell was working when he died. Examine the crime scene photographs and find the location of Mitchell’s death — in the back yard, near what was going to be a goldfish pond but is now just a shell of black plastic. Kick at the patch of dead grass where the body was. Look up at the overcast sky. Note the lack of damage to the skeleton house itself.
Snap on another pair of latex gloves.
Your best friend will very helpfully point out: “This is at least thirty feet from the house, Scully. Somehow I don’t think a stone that size could have been thrown this far and landed flat on his head.”
Look up at him but say nothing.
He will walk at least thirty feet to the house and disappear inside.
Count the rocks on the ground. You will find nearly a dozen within a six-foot radius, all approximately the same size and weight as the one with Maurice Mitchell’s blood on it. Two of them will be in the black plastic shell that was going to be a goldfish pool.
Squat down and consider the possibility that the rocks were always there. Lift one of them up to get a closer look.
Your best friend will come up behind you and ask: “Think these all got here by accident, Scully?”
Tell yourself that slugging him would be better than fucking him, though neither is really advisable.
Try to recall everything you’ve ever known about tornadoes.
At dinner in a bar and grill called Smokey’s that lives up to its name, catch him watching you when he thinks you’re not looking. His eyes will dart away to the television high in the corner and he will pretend to be enthralled by a Cornhuskers baseball game.
Ask him how his burger is.
Take one of his fries.
Push the rest of your huge salad bar salad across the table. You always get carried away at salad bars.
He will thank you, which is pointless because he nearly always finishes your meals for you.
Tell him the cold sesame noodles are good.
Try not to watch his mouth or his throat while he swallows his ginger ale.
Become very interested in folding your white paper napkin.
That night he will appear in your room in faded jeans and a Taco Bell t-shirt. In his photographic memory (you are jealous but you would never say so) are at least twenty cases similar to Maurice Mitchell’s. Some involve small objects, some involve colored liquids or gelatinous substances, some involve living creatures.
You yourself saw toads fall from the sky once, but you’re not convinced the two incidents are related.
Say: “We’re in tornado country, Mulder. Tornadoes drop objects hundreds of miles from their point of origin.”
He will say: “When was the last tornado within three hundred miles of here?”
You know the answer to this. You looked it up yourself this afternoon on the National Weather Service web site.
Admit: “Ten months ago. No damage recorded.”
Accept his offer of sunflower seeds. Eat twelve of them.
Wonder how many three-pound rocks a large bird could carry in its beak.
Realize how ridiculous that is.
Notice the small curve of his lips.
Fall asleep to the murmur of his television through the wall.
It sounds like something on the Discovery Channel.
You will be awakened by a knock at the connecting door in the middle of the night.
He will say: “Scully?”
Mumble: “Yeah, come in.” Sit halfway up in bed while rubbing the burn out of your eyes with both hands.
Light will tumble from his room into yours.
Wonder exactly what he has in mind, but stop wondering when you notice that he is already dressed. He is wearing a suit and holding a tie by one end.
He will tell you that residents of a neighborhood near the construction site have been complaining of falling dirt all night.
Ask: “Falling dirt?”
He will say: “Yeah, big clumps of it,” and continue to stand by your bed, watching you.
Finally he will say, “Come on, get dressed,” and return to his room.
Stare at the door for a minute before reaching for the lamp.
Collect clumps of dirt in plastic evidence bags.
Interview three different families with layers of dirt on their lawns.
Wonder if this is what the FBI pays you for.
As you walk to the car in the midmorning sun, your best friend will ask what you think.
Say: “I want to check the flight paths of private planes from the local airstrip.”
He will stop walking and repeat: “Planes.”
Say: “They could have been delivering topsoil.”
Let him see the humor in your eyes this time.
Be thankful that he does not press you to admit that he was right: the case of the deadly rock belongs, after all, in his catalog of unexplained falling objects.
He will laugh and touch the small of your back as he opens the passenger door of the rented beige Taurus for you.
He is the only person who ever touches you there.
That night (you can’t get on a flight until morning), write in your field report: “Maurice Mitchell died of blunt trauma to the head, delivered by a rock weighing 3.2 pounds. The source of the rock is unknown.”
Your best friend will hear you stop typing and will look up from your bed, where he is reading the New York Times and chewing on a pencil.
It is always dangerous to give him one of your pencils. The X-Files division should have a budget line just for pencils.
He will say: “Hey, Scully? How much do you know about the mating habits of bonobo apes?”
Smile, but not at him, and say nothing.
After your plane lands at Dulles, your best friend will wait with you by the luggage carousel. His bag will come through at the beginning and you will begin to wonder if yours was dropped somewhere over Missouri.
By the time your black American Tourister with wheels appears, the carousel will be nearly empty.
Ask if he wants to grab some dinner.
Tell him you’ll meet him at Rinaldi’s at seven.
Do not watch longingly as he walks towards his car. You don’t need that kind of torture.
Sort through your wardrobe in your mind as you decide what to wear.
Say: “I will not ravish my best friend.”
Not today, anyway.