Born on Friday 13th
October 23, 2017
People born on Friday 13th, the unluckiest of all days, are destined to never find happiness. But those born on February 23rd don’t believe in that crap. (Mulder's birthday, season 7)
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“I’ve got held up in traffic, so I’m running late,” Scully’s voice said on the phone. “Let yourself inside.”
“Sure,” Mulder answered and hung up.
“Fine, whatever,” he added when she wasn’t able to hear him anymore.
It was all her idea, and now she wasn’t even going to be home when he arrives to pick her up? Where did she go anyway? To pick up a last-minute gift for him? He told her he didn’t want anything. He made it very clear that he didn’t feel like celebrating.
His mother was dead. His sister was dead. He made his peace with it, but it didn’t mean he was going to celebrate... anything. It was too soon. It just felt… wrong.
Scully, as usual, didn’t agree with him.
“I’m not asking you to throw a party,” she told him that morning at work. “I just want to take you out for a dinner.”
“Can we do it another time?” he offered. “I’d rather be alone tonight.”
“To do what? Wallow in self-pity? It’s your birthday, Mulder. I don’t want you to be alone.”
“I have all this paperwork to do…”
“Mulder, it’s Friday! The paperwork won’t go anywhere. Besides, we both know I will be the one to do it.”
“You said it’s Friday. But that’s not the whole picture. Scully, it’s Friday 13th.”
“Yeah, I know. October 13th. Your birthday.”
“No, not October. Friday 13th. Just like it was when I was born.”
“Oh,” Scully raised an eyebrow and curiously observed him. Every now and then he managed to leave her speechless for a second and he treasured those moments.
“So…” she started to talk slower, as if she was speaking with a child. “You worry… about something bad happening today? Is that it?”
“It’s a cursed date, Scully,” Mulder insisted. “Everybody knows that.”
He was going to give her a whole lecture about Friday 13th, but she stopped him at the very beginning.
“Do you know what happens to people born on February 23rd?” She asked him.
“What?” he wasn’t very enthusiastic about hearing her answer. Nothing happens to people born on her birthday. Everybody knew that too.
“They don’t believe in bad luck!” Scully exclaimed triumphantly, as if her disbelief ever stopped any paranormal shit from happening to them.
“Were you born on Friday, Scully?”
“No,” she admitted. “But it didn’t stop bad things from happening to me. It’s just life, Mulder. No one can escape it.”
“Samantha liked to tease me about it. In one of the books I liked to read as a kid, it said that people who are born on Friday spend their whole lives in the state of unhappiness.”
“What book was that?”
“Numerology. Or something. I was always interested in… stuff… like that. I read all I could find about paranormal abilities, astrology, channeling, alien abductions… I was so into all that, that when Samantha was taken the scenario I imagined felt as the only logical explanation…”
“You were just a kid, Mulder,” Scully said gently. “I still remember believing in Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause.”
“My point is that you’re a grown man, Mulder. And if you still want to believe in vampires and werewolves, fine, suit yourself. But I won’t let you believe in being cursed with a bad luck.”
“You of all people, Scully. You who lost so much because of my quest… because of me.”
“I’m here because I want to be here. It’s my quest too.”
“But I started it. If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have to watch your sister die. Your daughter…”
“You didn’t kill my daughter, Mulder. As for my sister, she wanted me to have this job. She was the only one who supported my decision to join FBI. Everybody else tried to talk me out of it, they wanted me to be something else, but Melissa encouraged me to follow my heart. You had this… passion to drive you through life, your search for Samantha, it was the only thing that mattered to you. But I never had a passion for anything. I tried to become a doctor, yet my heart just wasn’t in it. I was lost. It felt like I was wasting my life, every segment of it! I found my purpose here, Mulder. Here, in this basement, among the cabinets of unexplained phenomena and lost causes. Not in a nice, fancy office somewhere upstairs, where you build your career by imputing somebody else… Do you think I didn’t have a choice? I had lots of opportunities for a transfer. I’ve had other offers. I stayed here because I wanted to stay here, because we are making a difference. Mulder, we uncovered the alien conspiracy that wanted to enslave the whole humanity! We stopped it from happening. You couldn’t save your sister, but you saved countless other innocent lives. It’s not a curse Mulder. It’s a gift. You are a gift.”
Mulder wanted to kiss her for her warm words, but he wasn’t ready to let her win just yet.
“This date…” he sighed. “It just reminded me of her, that’s all. Just a bunch of memories, and now I don’t know if they are even real. There are days when I wonder if Samantha even existed at all, or if I simply made her up like I made up the whole abduction scenario… I don’t know what’s real anymore, Scully…”
“I’m real, Mulder,” Scully smiled. “We can’t change the past, but we can make new memories. Our dinner reservations are real too. You don’t have to celebrate, but you need to eat. Pick me up at eight, ok?”
“Ok,” he told her, because there was no point arguing about it, and because if he tried there was a possibility that he would end up in tears. His first birthday without his mom… All he wanted was to stay at home, rent a dumb movie, order his favorite pizza, and re-read his sister’s diary for the 69th time – he kept count on it.
And here his partner was having none of it.
That happened in the morning. Now, he was standing in front of Scully’s apartment at the agreed time and she wasn’t even there. After she so adamantly insisted…!
He contemplated turning around and heading back home, but he needed to pee so he unlocked the front door anyway and went inside. He turned on the light, took off his coat and threw it on the couch, next to the spot he usually sat on.
Surprised, he noticed that his spot wasn’t empty. There was a note on it. He picked it up and read it, feeling both amused and irritated.
“#1. Please hang it on the coat rack,” the note said.
With a sigh, Mulder picked up his coat and went to put it in the more appropriate place. He knew his sloppiness bothered Scully, but he had no idea it bothered her that much.
When he reached the coat rack, he noticed another note on it.
“#2. There are some snacks for you in the fridge,” it said.
Snacks? Wasn’t she taking him out for a dinner?
He was getting curious now, so he obediently went to the kitchen and opened the fridge. In it, there was a big glass jar filled with… worms!
Again, a note was attached to it.
“#3. I suggest you put one in your ear. You may not be who you are.”
Smiling, he took the jar out, removed the lid, and fished out a yellow worm. He put it in his mouth instead of the ear, though. He preferred gummy bears, but gummy worms would do just fine.
It wasn’t the only jar on the display, so he took out the next one. It was marked as “Black Oil”.
He opened it, put his finger and tasted the content. Um, chocolate syrup!
The third, and the last, jar was filled with a tick yellow substance and came with another note.
“#4. Please don’t touch the slime with your fingers,” the note said. “You know where to find the spoons.”
Slime?!? Oh, he was so looking forward to February 23rd, already plotting a revenge for this.
“#5. I’m kidding, it’s just honey,” the spoons informed him. “And don’t worry about the bee who it belonged to. It’s trapped in the freezer (the closest thing to Antarctica I could find).”
He opened the freezer and really, there was a little plastic bee in it. Next to it he found a popsicle shaped as alien head. It wasn’t even tofu, it was real ice-cream! Mulder opened it and stick it into his mouth, reading a note that came with it.
“#6. Since you’re here, would you mind checking my sink? I think it’s leaking,”
Obediently, he got down on his knees and opened the cabinet under the sink. Nothing was leaking.
“#7. Not this one,” another note said. “The bathroom sink.”
He rushed to the bathroom, enjoying this game more than he was willing to admit.
“#8. Don’t worry, this sink is fine too. I wouldn’t risk you falling through the floor,” the next note said. “I just wanted you to get rid of the ghost in my tub.”
In the tub, he found an old white sheet, with two holes for eyes cut in it. He fished around it, until he dug up a new note.
“#9. Looks like he’s already gone, but thank you for trying.”
It made him smile. He knew what the ghost represented, the not-so-recent but still very vivid attack from Pfaster who kept haunting his partner even after she killed him. It pleased him to see that she was able to talk about him, even if only in this way.
“Since you are here, you might want to use the toilet,” the note went on.
Damn, Scully, how did you know? She anticipated his needs perfectly and he was already reading the next instruction while he relieved himself.
“#10. Don’t forget to put down the toilet seat,” it said.
Oh, he wasn’t going to forget! Not this time! He had to put the lid down too, to find the next note.
“#11. Check my bedroom lamp,” it said. “I think it might be bugged.”
The note under the lamp was less friendly, but hilarious.
“#12. What do you think you’re doing in my bedroom, Mulder?” it said. “Go watch TV or something.”
All of Scully’s notes were numbered, and the one on the television, an envelope, was the thirteenth. On the back of it, it said: “#13. You were right, 13 is indeed unlucky number. As I wrote this aliens came and abducted me. I managed to take their picture, in hope that it will help you locate me in time. You will find it inside. Please hurry!”
This was getting better and better! Mulder teared the envelope open and the picture he found in it made him burst out laughing.
They were Lone Gunmen!
If anybody could make him enjoy this day, it was his partner. She certainly went out of her way to make it happen and it was working, oh boy, was it working!
On the back of the picture there was an address and Mulder didn’t waste any time getting there. He rushed out of the building almost as fast as he would if Scully was abducted for real. The universe seemed to have been on his side, because all the traffic lights he encountered were green and he soon parked the car in front of an old, abandoned building. He spotted Scully on the entrance, holding a flower bouquet and waving at him.
Delighted to see her, he had to stop himself from running to her and tried to appropriately walk instead. Wrong choice. Before he could reach her, two “aliens” popped out of the building and pulled her inside.
She dropped the bouquet and Mulder run to pick it up. There was a “Happy birthday” note attached to it, inside of which he found instructions on where to get the equipment. For what, he had no idea, but he was excited to find out. Scully had him completely under her spell.
He couldn’t believe his eyes when he got his hands on the suit with exploding paint cells, the very same one from First Person Shooter, the one he hinted he wanted for his birthday. She remembered! She got him the testosterone rush that she very much despised, but knew that he just as much adored. Scully arranged the complete game for him, with the best possible prize – herself.
Granted, it wasn’t the high technology, more of a paintball game, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. “The aliens” proved to be worthy opponents and Mulder’s suit was bleeding in a few places, but he was unstoppable.
After a long and hard battle, the aliens were defeated, and with his last strength Mulder untied trapped Scully and collapsed in front of her.
“Men!” Scully shook her head in amusement, while she helped Mulder get out of the damn armor and back on his feet. He mumbled something about “best birthday ever”.
“Aliens” were on their feet too, approaching them.
“I see you didn’t aim for the back of their necks,” Scully winked at Mulder.
“Damn!” he winced. He was sore in a few strange places. “So that’s why they kept getting up!”
“Happy birthday, Mulder,” the “aliens” said in unison.
“Happy birthday, Mulder,” Scully joined them, kissing him on the cheek.
“Come on G-woman,” Fohike whined. “Give him a proper kiss!”
“He deserved it,” Byers agreed.
“Go for the kill, Scully!” Langly encouraged her as well.
Mulder felt embarrassed and he looked at the floor, wanting them to stop. The night was beyond perfect, and these idiots were ruining it by humiliating Scully with their idiotic adolescent requests.
But Scully was unfazed.
“Don’t get shy on me now, partner,” she teased him and he raised his head, looking at her with surprise. She always kept him guessing!
“What do you say we give these boys what they came for?” she asked with a huge smile and Mulder’s heart almost stopped beating. If he didn’t know better, he would swear she was flirting with him, but that wasn’t even remotely possible. Was it?
“What are you suggesting?” he asked carefully.
“This,” Scully answered simply, pulling his head down and pressing her lips to his, without a second of hesitation or any sign of discomfort.
“For them,” she whispered under “aliens’” approving ovations. “They helped me set this all up at the last minute, and this was the only compensation they asked for.”
“What about your hand on my ass?” Mulder whispered back.
“Oh, that’s for Frohike,” Scully chuckled. “I didn’t ask why, but maybe you should.”
“I most certainly never will,” Mulder was mortified.
Scully giggled and moved away from him, but not much. He could still smell her perfume, and she could still smell his paint.
“All right, guys, go get the cake!” she ordered “aliens”, but her gaze was still fixed on Mulder.
“I thought you were taking me to a dinner,” Mulder observed.
“You didn’t want a dinner,” Scully shrugged.
“I was being an asshole. I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok. You have a right to have a bad day. But I have a right to try to fix it for you.”
“You sure did, Scully. Thank you. In fact, I think this has just become my favorite date.”
He was well aware of the double meaning of the word, but he wasn’t about to clarify anything. Scully was just as aware and she didn’t need no clarification. Their smiles, their gazes, told them everything they needed to know.
“Happy birthday, Mulder,” Scully repeated once more.
“Happy Friday 13th, Scully,” he smiled fondly, unable to take his eyes off her. Was she always… glowing like this, or was it just the lighting of this place? When did she start to… look at him… like that? How come he never noticed a… woman in her before?
As if she was reading his thoughts and wanted to torture him, Scully brought her lips as close as she could to his ear and whispered triumphantly. “Keep it together, Mulder. I’ve warned you testosterone frenzy doesn’t end when the game does, haven’t I?”
Now Mulder was left speechless and he could feel himself blushing like crazy while he carefully examined his shoes. Damn, he could look at those ugly old shoes forever!
Scully had him and she had him good! But Mulder was already plotting a revenge. He didn’t have a single idea in mind yet, but he had months to come up with something worthy of his scientific witch of a partner.
Three grey reticulans finally returned with the cake, taking Mulder out of his misery. He gratefully turned to them, ready to blast the crap out of all those candles.