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I felt like I had lost sight of myself; lost sight of who I was and who I wanted to be. I could have simply taken a vacation to find myself, as Mulder had done, but I didnt. I was tired of being like Mulder. Tired of fighting his battles, striving to reach his goals while leaving mine behind. I was trying to rebel. Against Mulder, the FBI, myself, my way of life, everything and everyone.
"I wish I could say we were going in circles, but were not. Were going in an endless linetwo steps forward and three steps backwhile my personal life does nothing but stand still," I had told Mulder after he had given me that god damned case that was going nowhere. Mulder just replied, "This work is my life." He had seemed to forget that it had become my life as well. I needed a break; from Mulder, from work, from life. I also needed a personal life.
But instead of listening to myself, I did as always. I did what Mulder wanted me to. I followed up on his case, though I knew it was pointless. I was just pacing in the deep rut I had made myself years agounable to break away and do what I want instead of what was wanted of me, though also unable to do anything but what I always did. Surprisingly, by doing so, I was able to end my pacing.
I met Ed Jerse in the tattoo parlor that I had followed the man from Mulders case into. After I commented that I wished I was more impulsive, Ed warned me against doing things without thinking through first. He then invited me to dinner. I lied, telling him I was leaving town the next day, so he gave me his phone number. Instead of crumpling it up and throwing it away as I normally would have done the moment I stepped out of the tattoo parlor, I pocketed it.
Maybe it really was my desire for a personal life, maybe it was Mulder constantly checking up on me as if I had proved myself incapable before, Mulders utter amazement at the fact I might have a date, or his expecting only certain things from me, Im not sure. But after his call from Graceland, I had reached the end of my rational rope. Impulsively, I lied once again (this time about the plane being delayed) and called Ed and took him up on his offer for dinner.
In the past, I learned to answer the door when opportunity knocked, and I did just that. I had found the perfect opportunity to be impulsive, rebel from my usual self, and break expectations that had been made about me all during the course of one night.
Keeping with my pattern of un-Scullylike behavior, I voted against the nice restaurant Ed had made reservations with for the "crummy bar" he had told me about.
Referring to what I had told Mulder earlier as well as partly about him, I told Ed, "Ive always gone around in this circle. It usually starts when an authoritative figure comes into my life. And part of me likes it, needs it, wants the approvaland then at a certain point along the way I just, you know " I went on to talk about my father and how I would go out and smoke just because I knew he would kill me if he found me. "And then, along the way, there areother fathers," I conclude.
Partially due to the alcohol, partially due to my rebellious mood, partially due to Ed himself, I decided to get that tattoothe circled snake biting its tail. Later, I wondered if I had chosen that design because of my comparison of my life to a circle.
I remember feeling different after getting the tattoo. I couldnt see it myself, but I somehow knew it was there. Through the ink on my back, I will always know I have a constant reminder of my rebellion.
At some point in time, I would have been able to forget the harsh exchanges between Mulder and myself, had it not been for the tattoo. As all memories, it too would have eventually faded into the back corners of my mind. Thanks to the tattoo, however, the words we battled with will forever be etched in my head, the memory of them etched on my back.
Im not sure which decision was worse, the one to get the tattoo or the one to spend the night at Eds. The evening and night passed quickly in an alcoholic haze.
The next morning I woke clothed only in Eds shirt to the two detectives pounding on the door, telling me of the woman who had been killed in an apartment on the lower floor. And about the unusual substance in the blood at the crime scene.
When I found out that the tattoo ink contained ergot, and that both Ed and I might be affected, I called Mulder for support. I listened to the phone ring once, but slammed the phone down before he had a chance to pick it up. I suppose I didnt want to have to depend on Mulder. I had to support myself. I was almost afraid of letting him get to close to me. I had been in an emotional state of confusion, and part of that fear was because I knew that I was sick and I didnt want to have to lose Mulder. I knew I wouldnt feel as much loss if I shut him out, preventing him from needing me and me from needing him.
Even though Ed attacked me in what seemed like cold blood, I blamed it on the ergot. I didnt want to believe that he could really hurt me. I didnt want to believe that I could be hurt. With the fear of cancer and my fights with Mulder, my emotions had been numbed, incapable of believing that any other harm could come to me. Everything that had happened to me was enough; I didnt need any more pain and suffering. In my emotional state, I had felt immortal and it had taken Eds attack to bring me back to earth. Little did I know, in the near future I would be to hell and back.
I was tested for ergot and released from the hospital within a day. There was only a small amount in my bloodnot enough to affect me. Later, I found out that Ed was being treated at the Philadelphia Burn Center, but the amount of ergot in his blood was not enough to affect him either.
As soon as I returned to work, Mulder was the same as he had been before he left for his vacation, almost as if nothing had happened. As if he had listened to nothing she had said since before his vacation.
I thought back to his words. "All this because I didnt get you a desk?" he had asked.
I just stared at him, wondering sadly why I even bothered with him, why I stayed, why I didnt just pack up and go. "Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life," I told him.
Persisting, he started, "Yes, but its "
He didnt have to finish his thought for me to know what he was going to say. He didnt say it, and I couldnt finish it, even silently. I just looked down at the petal between my fingers, drained and sad.
Fingering the petal from the memorial, I hoped that our friendship, our relationship, would not be just one more thing lost in our war for the Truth.
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