Random Priorities


Rating:  R for profanity and sexual themes. 


CC and co. own the characters.



* * * 



Part I – "Oh, my God!" 


I woke up with the mother of all headaches in an unfamiliar

hotel room.  I have no idea how I got here, but right now I

really don't care. 




I tried to ignore the shooting pain centered in the area between

my eye sockets as I stumbled into the bathroom to take a

leak.  Through squinted eyes I noted the strong steady stream

banking off the side of the bowl and sighed deeply.  God, it

feels good to pee.  You know that feeling of finally emptying

one's bladder after holding it for too long?  Physical satisfaction

of the purest, most basic kind. 


Why do I always raise the toilet seat, I asked myself irritably. 

And why the hell do I always put the seat down, despite the

fact that no woman ever uses my bathroom?  Except Scully

sometimes, but those times are few and far between.  I know

it's the polite thing to do, basic good manners my mother

hammered into me, but why do I waste the energy when there

is no one around to notice?  All I do is put it up again the next

time I need to go.  And then, like a fool, down again.  Up,

down, up, down…whoa, that's making me dizzy and nauseous. 


I caught myself staring open-mouthed into the mirror, dick still

in hand, when I realized something.  I was thinking along these

lines because the toilet seat was ALREADY UP when I came in

the bathroom.  What the hell?  I'm too fucking polite to leave

the seat up – I think we've already established that – so

someone else must have. 


Why can't I remember anything about yesterday? 


I flushed (and put the seat down despite myself), then sat on

the edge of the tub to figure out where I was. 


First of all, this is a huge tub.  With Jacuzzi jets and gold

fixtures.  Since when do I stay in hotel rooms with bathtubs

built for sex?  I'm sure accounting will have a cow when they

see this on my expense report. 


A quick look around confirms my suspicions: a glass shower

enclosure in the corner, thick luxurious bathrobes on marble

shelves, a large basket of bath beads and lotions on a pedestal

by the door.  Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. 


Lightning bolts of memory flashed through my head painfully. 

A dark, smoky bar.  Kissing the silky curve of skin from her

neck to her shoulder.  But who is the woman? 


At least I hope it was a woman, as I glance nervously at the

toilet seat.  God forbid, I had a one-night stand with a man.  I

blanch at the thought, before saying out loud, "No way I'd have

done that."  I don't feel, er…sore…down there.  Or squishy from

lube.  But that just means I wasn't, you know…a "bottom." 

Who knows if I was "pitching" instead of "catching" in that



I pondered that concept for half a second before slapping

myself back into reality.  What the blazing hell was I just

thinking?  I am NOT going to speculate on this topic – not

unless I have more to go one than just a stupid toilet seat's

position.  Jesus! 


I grab my head with both hands and try to shake loose more

memories.  Not the best method, some would say, but I was



Just as I was giving up, another bolt of recall ripped painfully

across the arid desert of my mind, leaving me shaking.  Red

hair and red wine.  The smell of gardenias mixed with

something deeper, more primitive.  Come to think of it, I can

still smell that intoxicating mixture of her scents.  It's on my

hands, my face, and all over me. 


The flashes of memory were coming faster now.  A confused

look crossing her face, then her mouth dropping open in shock

as I took…liberties.  Oh, my God. 


Did I just say, "Oh, my God"? 


No, I am remembering HER saying it. 


I am remembering Scully moaning, "Oh, my God." 


What have I done? 



* * * 



Part II – "Things Torn Asunder" 


I step out of the bathroom hesitantly, almost afraid of what I

might find. 


The hotel room is mercifully empty.  My clothes are strewn

around the floor, but my gun, my wallet and my keys are all

neatly placed on top of the dresser.  I have no luggage, which

seems odd.  I also do not seem to have my cell phone. 


A piece of black fabric in the tangled mess of white cotton

sheets catches my eye.  It's a pair of women's panties. 




Acidic anxiety eats away at my stomach lining as I sit

wondering if I raped Scully.  I am not capable of doing such a

thing, I tell myself over and over.  I would never hurt her. 

There are a million possible alternative explanations.


Goddamn it, I wish I could remember what happened.


The panties are stained, I note with interest.  On the outside, a

drop of what smells like dried semen.  And lots of something

else that smells entirely female on the inside.  A grin spreads

across my face of its own accord.  I can't help it.  Man, I am

pig, aren't I?  Or is it "amn't I?"  Grammatical dilemmas aside,

I am somewhat relieved, since I know this can only mean

something good happened before the panties were ripped off. 




And lots of it. 


As fascinating as it is to ponder that, my mind insists on a



This is a priority:  WHY do I always sniff at stuff I cannot

identify?  Why do I bring stuff right up to my face which could

be dangerous, or even deadly?  Not that these panties look the

least bit dangerous -- not in the traditional law enforcement

sense of the word.


"Am I a pervert?" I ask myself aloud. 


No, definitely not.  I am pretty certain that 9 out of 10

heterosexual men, if presented with a pair of panties recently

worn by a woman they find sexually attractive, would take a

reverent whiff.  Oh, yes. 


I am impressed by how easily I can justify my perverted actions

with some bullshit statistic. 


Nevertheless, I have been known to stick my fingers in bile

secreted by monsters.  I have tasted red syrup masquerading

as blood on a dead evangelist.  And that's not even the half of

it.  So what the hell is wrong with me?  I should know better.  I

am a pathetic excuse for a paranoiac. 


Tangent over, I quickly bring the panties back up to my nose

and sigh. 


I really need to get psychotherapy. 



* * * 



Part III – "When Poetry Is More Than Art" 


I was lying crosswise on the bed, legs hanging over the edge

and arms akimbo, staring at the crystal chandelier in my hotel

room.  I was contemplating how to kill myself in order to end

the jackhammering in my head, when my stomach let out a

loud grumble.  I considered eating my gun, but only for a

moment, and ordered breakfast from room service instead. 


I'm at The Plaza.  That much I figured out when I picked up the

phone.  It's 7 p.m., but I ordered eggs and toast.  And lots of

coffee.  The guy at the front desk confirmed that I checked in

yesterday and paid in advance, in cash.  It sure would be nice

to know what the hell is going on here, I mused.  I continued

my wary examination of the room.


An empty bottle of Cristal and two champagne flutes sit on the

round table by the window overlooking Central Park. 

Interesting.  Well, if this is just a hangover, I'm never drinking

that expensive shit again.  I know I do all kinds of stupid things

to impress Scully, but I have to draw the line.  It's Andre Cold

Duck all the way from now on, damn it.    


Ah, it hurts to laugh at my own lame jokes. 


I brought my hands up to massage my temples but got

distracted by Scully's scent.  I think I've watched too

many MasterCard commercials.  Bottle of

Andre Cold Duck = $4.99.  Bottle of Roederer Cristal

Rose '95 = $299.99.  Bottle of whatever it is I'm smelling on

my fingers and all over my face = priceless.


Okay, I am definitely a shithead, but I can't help smiling at the

thought.  I wish I could remember what happened, but

barring that, I am exquisitely happy just to have all this

circumstantial evidence around me.  Snazzy kung-fu profiling

FBI agent that I am, I can deduce what took place here.


Then, I noticed there was a thin book lying on a nearby chair.  I

stretched and reached for it clumsily, almost falling off the

bed.  When I realized what I was holding, I actually did fall.  My

ass hit the floor with a quiet thud that jarred every last nerve

ending in my head, but I'm proud to say I did not puke.  It

wouldn't do to have the room service people find me in a

puddle of my own vomit, now would it?   


Lying on the carpet, I thumbed carefully through what

appeared to be a first edition of Leaves of Grass.  It was one of

the few that were self-published anonymously, before Whitman

got up the nerve to sign his name to it.  Why some writers are

hesitant to acknowledge their own work is beyond me.  [*wink*] 

Sure, this book was considered pretty scandalous by 1855

standards, but give me a break.  Poetry is art.  Wasn't it

Whitman who said, "The poet judges not as a judge judges, but

as the sun falling around a helpless thing"? 


Thank goodness he changed his mind.  This turned out to be

one of his best.  Just reading it now, I can feel the way it

transforms me from a profane, perverted smartass to an

introspective, romantic fool.  It's one of the few books that can

flick that switch inside of me.


The dichotomy within most men is a curious phenomenon.  I

am a gentleman in every important respect, and yet, let's face

it, I am also a total male pig.  I'm just as likely to be found

reading Playboy as Proust.  I can pick an excellent wine, but I

can also burp and fart with the best of them.  No sense trying

to deny aspects of my personality; there is only so much a guy

can do to repress his maleness.  A man's only hope is to find a

woman who can set aside any unnatural expectations she may

have of men's behavior based on what she's read in romance

novels.  Those Bronte sisters are gonna be the death of my



At least Scully knows both sides of me.  She makes fun of the

videotapes that aren't mine and swats me with a rolled up

newspaper whenever I do something gross.  It's like I'm in

puppy obedience school with her.  Except puppies get cuddles

and treats from their mistresses.  I could use some cuddles, but

right now I'd settle for puppy treats.  I wish my breakfast-

slash-dinner would get here already.


My mind drifts back to the slim volume of poetry in my hands. 

I wonder where I got it.  It's not the kind of thing you find



It's from Christie's, according to the invoice with the certificate

of authenticity I found tucked into the protective jacket.  Looks

like I went through considerable effort and expense to obtain

this.  But why? 


A memory shreds fresh wounds across my mind, leaving blood

and raw emotion in its wake. 


"Mulder, I can't accept this.  It's too much." 


I was standing there mutely, stunned that she would turn away

my gift.  Didn't she realize this was my version of a diamond

engagement ring?  Granted, it is an unconventional gesture. 

But when a man gives a woman an extremely valuable present

like this, it's supposed to mean something, even if you can't

wear it on your finger.  I guess I was counting on her to

appreciate its significance. 


Well, maybe she understood perfectly and just didn't want it. 

That thought was almost too painful to contemplate. 


Stinging from her rejection, I struggled to maintain my

composure.  Staying calm was an immediate priority.  


Then I blinked and the memories started coming, like an

avalanche down the jagged slopes of my mind. 



* * * 



Part IV – "24 Hours Earlier" 


I was standing at the bar in a new charcoal gray suit, with a

black dress shirt open at the neck.  No tie, of course.  I had to

buy the designer suit off the rack (something I would not

normally do) because I couldn't wait the week it takes to have

one custom made.  At least the shirt was hand-tailored and

perfectly pressed.   


Fortunately, there is no shortage of finer clothing stores for

men in New York City.  I sipped at my single-malt and

discreetly adjusted a cuff.  I haven't felt the urge to go out and

purchase a new suit in a long time, much less ask a woman out

on a date.  I have been, shall we say, a little preoccupied with

my work these last couple of years.  I've had my priorities all

mixed up, I realized and shook my head regretfully. 


But now I am ready to turn a corner.  


I knew I looked decent for once, as I avoided the appreciative

gaze of a couple of women at the end of the bar.  There is only

one woman at the center of my universe.  No galaxy, no

constellation, nor even the brightest supernova could hold a

candle to her in my heart.  Wish she were here already, I

murmured to myself.


The gleam of my freshly shined black leather shoes matched

my belt, my wallet, and my ankle holster.  Even my gun was all

black, a SIG P228 9mm.  A civilized man's accessories always

match, I thought with a wry grin. 


My hair was cut and styled this afternoon, but the best part of

all was the shave.  It was so close that I could slide my cheek

up a woman's silk-stockinged thigh, all the way up, without

snagging a single thread.  Wishful thinking, Mulder.  But, I told

myself, it never hurts to be prepared. 


The attendant at the salon teased me as she was trimming my

cuticles and buffing my nails smooth.  "Who is this lucky

woman?  Is she worthy of this effort you are making for her,

like a fine gentleman would?"  I nodded, but kept mum. 

Frankly, I was surprised to find myself here.  Manicures aren't

exactly my thing.  "American women don't always know a true

gem when they see one," she commented in a lilting French

accent.  I smiled wistfully and told her, "The woman joining me

tonight for dinner is the true gem.  I'm the lucky one."  That

seemed to please her enormously. 


As I was leaving, she gave me a specially formulated hand

lotion for my calluses.  "Use this before you touch her,

Monsieur.  Unless, of course, she wants to be touched with

rough hands.  Sometimes that is what excites the blood, no?" 

She winked knowingly while I did my best to hide the blush

creeping up my neck. 


Lotion or no lotion, I know my hands will never be the soft,

genteel hands of a pianist or a librarian.  No, my fingers and

knuckles bear the unmistakable appearance of a man who is

capable of beating the hell out of someone, if necessary. 

Staring down at my palms now, I frown at the thought of the

violence of which they are capable.  Of which * I * am capable,

I correct myself. 


They say looking at a man's hands can tell you a lot about him. 

Scully is the one person in this world who knows me best, but

that doesn't mean she knows everything she ought to know.  I

hope she looks at my hands and sees in them the lengths to

which I would go to protect her.  I would go to the ends of the

earth for her.  And I have. I hope she doesn't focus on their

sometimes brutish strength, but rather, on their gentle

reverence when I touch her: the way I hand her a cup of

coffee, the way I help her with her overcoat, and the way I

guide her lightly through open doors with a hand on her lower

back.  I wonder if she ever notices these things.  I feel the energy

pass between us, electrifying me whenever our hands brush,

even after all these years as her partner.  Yet she seems so unaffected. 


I shake myself out of this reverie and look at my watch.  It's

half an hour past the time she said she would meet me here. 

It's not like her to be late, and I'm starting to get worried. 


But then again, this isn't work.  This is "a date," I thought with

a goofy grin. 


She can keep me waiting for as long as she desires. 



* * * 



Part V – "A Date" 


When I called and asked her to meet me in the city for a

"date," she let out a deliciously surprised laugh.  I expected to

have to explain myself at length, but there was no need.  She

was quiet for a few seconds, and then she agreed.  My heart

immediately started pounding.  I've been on pins and needles

ever since, anxiously anticipating this evening.  "Do not screw

this up!" was my mantra. 


The seconds and minutes seemed to drag on so slowly.  I just

want her to be here.  Now that I know what I want, I can

barely wait.  I decided to call her cell from a phone in the



I nodded politely to the reservation clerk behind the desk as I

walked by.  The chief concierge remembers me by name, from

all the times my family stayed here when I was a child.  Though

not obsequious, he and his staff treat me with a special level of

deference reserved for what they call "old money."  It always

makes me sad.  What they see in me is someone so far

removed from the real Fox Mulder that it's damn near



They still think of me as the quiet, well-behaved little boy

holding Teena Mulder's hand as she crossed the huge lobby

after a day of shopping on Fifth Avenue.  I look pretty good on

paper, but it's entirely misleading: the combination of my

Oxford education, the impeccable manners, the inheritance I

almost never touch, the clothes, the perfect posture, and the

prep school vocabulary.  If they only knew what a

disappointment I turned out to be. 


For starters, they would shake their heads in disapproval if they

learned I was still in the Bureau after all this time.  It's socially

acceptable for a smart young man to work for the government

for a couple of years, to get his feet wet in the so-called real

world.  But by now, I should have been long gone – off to

bigger, better endeavors.  Instead, I was working in the

basement on cases no one else would deign to investigate.  I

snorted in self-derision. 


I have no idea why Scully hasn't left the X-Files division.  I

hope that it's because she doesn't want to leave me.  Leaving

the X-Files would be leaving me, unless we had some



Last week, I "accidentally" saw a letter she received from

Quantico, offering her a huge promotion and a pay raise to

teach at the academy.  (Okay, I was snooping.)  It's been

weighing heavily on my mind ever since. 


I want her to take the job.  I think it's what she would prefer,

especially now that she is undergoing fertility treatments.  It

would be much easier for her to conceive without the stress of

being a field agent.  I know it means the X-Files will suffer, but

that's all secondary.  The most important thing to me now is

Scully's happiness.  Don't ask me when that shift in priorities

occurred.  I just know it has. 


So, it's time to establish that other…connection.  I think I can

live without having her for a partner, as long as I can still talk

to her everyday.  I can manage to get through the days if I

know I'll be coming home to her every night.  And, although I

am a self-admitted pig, this is not about sex.  It's about a

connection between us that transcends everything else.  Saying

I love her just doesn't convey the breadth of what I feel.  She is

what makes my life worth living. 


Tonight, I plan to ask her if she will be my wife.  


If she ever gets here, that is. 


I look at my watch again. 



* * * 



Part VI -- "Nothing Important" 


I tried to open my eyes, but found the effort almost too much

to bear.  The heavy weight on my eyelids felt like twin anvils,

pushing down on my retinas, applying deadly pressure to the

fine sheet of nerve tissue lining the inside of my eyes.  I could

almost feel my corneas tearing. 


"Open your eyes, Mulder.  Please open your eyes."  Scully was

whispering in my ear. 


I blindly reached for her hand and held on for dear life. 


"Scully," I rasped, "will you marry me?" 


"Mulder, wake up!  Snap out of it." 


I propped one eye open upon hearing the panic in her voice. 


One look around and I realized I was on the floor of my living

room, with the coffee table upended and popcorn everywhere. 

There was some kind of fluid in a puddle on the floor.  I stuck

my finger into it and brought it up to my tongue. 


Goddamn it!  Didn't I just say I wasn't going to do that



It wasn't bile or fake blood.  Just Shiner Bock. 


I think I remember what happened now.  Here and now, I mean. 

We were watching a movie.  I spilled some popcorn butter on the

floor but didn't mop it up.  (Mopping it up would mean admitting

to Scully that I snuck butter into the popcorn, which I cannot do. 

She'd kill me.)  Then I got up to get more popcorn and slipped on the

slick spot, knocking the coffee table over, spilling the beers and

sending the popcorn flying.  Serves me right, I suppose. 


Scully was carefully palpating the growing lump on my head.  I



"You okay, Mulder?" 


"I think so.  I just had a very vivid, very detailed dream.  I think

my life flashed before my eyes." 


"You were hallucinating.  I was worried about you.  You took a

really hard blow to the head and kept muttering stuff." 


"Like what?" 


I remember asking her if she'd marry me.  I remember it clear

as day. 


"Oh, just random words.  Nothing important," she said. 


"Random words.  Nothing important," I repeated softly. 


I guess Scully has her priorities, too.


I struggled to maintain my composure, just like in the




* * * 



Part VII -- "The Taste of Tears" 


Later, after we had righted the coffee table and cleaned up the

mess, we were back on the couch.  I laid my head in her lap as

she watched the rest of the movie.  Her fingers were softly

running through my hair and her thighs were warm beneath my

head.  I must have died during that fall.  This must be heaven. 

I prayed that the movie would never end. 


"I meant it," I said softly, out of the blue. 


She was silent for a long time.  I was thinking perhaps she

didn't hear me. 


"I know," she finally replied. 


Breathe, I instructed myself.  I reached for her hand gently.


"Say yes, then.  Make me the happiest man that ever lived,



I watched tears brimming in eyes, threatening to spill over. 


"You need a CT and an MRI scan for that head injury."


"Say yes, Scully.  I love you with every molecule of my being. 

And I've been in love with you for years…"


"Mulder, settle down.  You're scaring me with these outbursts."


"I want to spend the rest of my life with you."  I continued,

heedless of her protests and my own pride.  "I want you to be

my wife.  Please say yes."


She stared into my eyes for a long time, speechless.  I thought

my heart was going to break. 


"I will," she whispered at last.  "But you have to ask me again

when you don't have a concussion, Mulder."


I shut my eyes gratefully.  Continuing to breathe was a definite

priority now.  It's a good thing I was already lying down.  I felt



"I'm not hallucinating, Scully."


She smiled.


"No, you're not."


When she leaned over and kissed me softly on the forehead, I

reached a hand up to pull her down for more.  I've had enough

of the forehead kisses.  I want more, so much more than I can

ever put down in words. 


Our lips met, hesitantly at first, barely touching behind the

curtain of her red locks.  She seemed almost afraid.  I slid my

tongue lightly across her lower lip before deepening the kiss.  I

heard her moan, felt her abdomen tense, and then her thighs

shifted underneath my head.  This immediate physical reaction

nearly undid me.  It was confirmation of something powerful I

was worried only I could feel.


Too soon, she broke the kiss, leaving me trembling with a

sense of Whitman's "sun falling around a helpless thing."  I felt

her lips move to my temples, where she was kissing away my

tears and telling me they tasted like eternity.


I wasn't even aware I had been crying.



* * * 



Part VIII – "Post Script" 


Middle of the night, note to self: 


Must call jeweler a.s.a.p.  Move ring to the top of my fucking

list of priorities. 


The Walt Whitman idea was very romantic, but some things

have to be done conventionally, even by unconventional guys

like me.  This time I am definitely going to get her a ring.  I'm

going to get down on one knee and offer her what little there is

left of me that she does not already possess. 


But first I have to get a stupid CT and MRI scan.  She needs

objectively verifiable scientific evidence that I'm lucid. 


That's my Scully, my perfect other, the yin to my yang. 


I'm going to love being married to this woman. 



* * *


To read more about the unsigned first edition of Whitman's

Leaves of Grass: 









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