The Jedi Masters
"If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." — Obi-Wan Kenobi
"I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit." — Han Solo
"I think I should be Obi-Wan." Byers is totally matter-of-fact, as though picking out a Star Wars persona is a normal part of noncorporeally lurking in the desert to waylay an escaped fugitive.
Hell, maybe it is.
Langly is not impressed. "As if. I'm Obi-Wan, dude."
Byers turns to me. "Frohike, what do you think?"
"Ohhhhh no. I ain't getting in the middle of this. You can duke it out amongst yourselves."
Anyway, I'm Yoda. Obviously.
The desert is chilly at night, not that we mind. There's some sort of critter prowling around in the scrub, making little rustling noises. The sky is carpeted with stars, but the light we're waiting for will be closer to earth, and I don't see it. Not yet.
Byers isn't giving up on this Obi-Wan thing. "I look the part. You don't have a beard."
"I'm young Obi-Wan, with braids and stuff. Anyway, you're totally Anakin. You used to work for the Man!"
" 'Young Obi-Wan?' Did you or did you not repudiate Episode I as the blackest of heresies and a crime against the American people?"
There's a light in the distance.
"Hey, settle it down, boys. Here they come."
Dawn isn't even close to cracking, and the silver SUV that comes purring down the desert road is barely visible. Its occupants, on the other hand… well, let's just say it's a good thing souls don't show up on satellite. Damn. Maybe Mulder really wasn't kidding when he said a light led him to Scully last year in Georgia.
The SUV pulls over, the headlights wink out, and for a moment everything's silent. I can hear whatever-it-is rustling again, probably scrambling to hide now that another living thing has entered its territory. Then the driver's door opens, and out steps our hero, looking rather the worse for wear. Poor kid, I wish we'd been able to help him out on this one.
Being the incorrigible scamps that sixty-six point six percent of us are, of course we wait for the most inappropriate possible moment to show ourselves.
"Hey, hotshot. You might have the common courtesy of doing your business there downwind."
"Oh, boy." He doesn't even look surprised, just tired. He feels older than I look. When did he stop being an overeager puppy and turn into this weary adult?
He's still Mulder, though, and his reaction when we warn — I'm not gonna say "beg" — him to give up this craziness and get the hell out of Dodge shouldn't really come as any surprise.
"Why risk perfect happiness, Mulder? Why risk your lives?" Not your life. Nice one there, Byers.
"Because I need to know the truth."
Figures. This is going about as well as that time the actual Yoda warned somebody not to go chasing after his scary-ass wheezy father.
Yeah, so once upon a time we would have been out prepping the X-wing ourselves, but we see things differently now. It's this whole Zen eternity thing. See, there's truth and then there's Truth, the capital-T kind that cuts through all the crap about aliens and shadow governments and, well, everything. The Buddhists call it the First Noble Truth. Or maybe it's the Second. But anyway, what it boils down to is this: Shit happens. That's the price of admission, folks.
I mean, seriously, the world's gonna end sooner or later no matter what Mulder and Scully do. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die," y'know? Those kids need to find themselves a nice private island somewhere and drink mai-tais on the beach until the sky falls. Hell, if anybody's earned it, they have.
I don't suppose it would do any good at all to tell him that.
Byers is going for the quiet, reasonable approach. "You already know the truth."
Mulder looks away, shifts his feet uneasily. He may know the truth, or a truth, but he isn't ready to accept it yet. "I need to know if I can change it."
"Change it?" squawks Langly.
"For cryin' out loud, all you're going to do is get yourself killed!" I don't want to see that. None of us do.
It's not even the dying part we're most anxious to protect them from — it's all the suffering that's more than likely to happen first. All life is sorrowful, but some sorrows are worse than others.
Not that Mulder's going to listen to reasoning like that. No, he's gotta be all self-sacrificing and heroic and race off toward certain doom. I don't know why we even bother.
Scully might listen. With all she's been through, she's far more interested in keeping him safe than in chasing down bogeymen, at least for now. But I don't think we can get through to her quite yet. I imagine it'll be a while before she sees anything but Mulder.
Attachment leads to suffering, Scully. Although, I gotta say, it's the very sweetest kind.
"Mulder? What are you doing?"
Well, speak of the devil.
He zips up quickly. "I'll be right with you, Scully!"
He turns back to us, probably determined to get in the last word, but we aren't about to let him.
Mulder stares for a moment at the dark, empty desert and then follows Scully's beautiful white light back to the car while we watch, unseen.
Keep him in one piece, party girl. Looks like you're the only one who can.
"Well, that went well, Obi-Wan," I say as the car pulls away, having emphatically not hung a U-ey.
"What we need are some Jedi mind tricks," muses Langly. "I bet we're capable."
Byers is smiling gently. He's almost too suited for this line of work, if you ask me. "You can't honestly say you're surprised by his actions. We would have done nothing less."
"You mean you would have. If you'd tried to pull something like that, I would've sat on you until you came to your senses."
"Whatever you say, Frohike."
"That is what I say."
"Oh, man!" says Langly suddenly.
"What is it?"
"We totally dropped the ball, guys. It was perfect. We had the whole Jedi Masters setup and we forgot to glow."
A beat. Then Byers laughs, a real, happy laugh. I look from his face to Langly's and join in.
"Next time, my young apprentice. Next time."
Author's Notes: Thanks to Meg and Bethy for beta-reading. This story was completed July 22, 2008. Some dialogue was borrowed from the X-Files episode "The Truth," written by Chris Carter. Screencap courtesy of Chris Nu.