Wild Walter Skinner's Badasssss Song by m. butterfly
Wild Walter Skinner's Badasssss Song
by m. butterfly
Rating: NC-17 for explicit m/m sex, language
Spoilers: Arcadia, SR 819
Archive: Anywhere--just leave my name on it
Summary: Mulder, Scully and Skinner discuss the agents' latest X-File: an undercover assignment near San Diego.
Author's Notes: This is an attempt to answer some of the questions that arose after Arcadia aired. It contains humour, romance, angst and various pop culture references--something for almost everybody, unless you're into serious plots. (Doh!) As always, I bow to the gifted Lucy Snowe for her marvellous beta-reading, constant encouragement, and unconditional friendship, and thank Michael, Susan and Sue for their love and support. Feedback appreciated (and answered) at .
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Chris Carter-Ten Thirteen Productions and/or Fox Broadcasting. This is a work of fiction intended only for private amusement.
Wild Walter Skinner's Badasssss Song
by m. butterfly
She walked through the door, steeling herself for the worst possible devastation.
And was thoroughly annoyed to be proven so wrong.
Scully had only visited Walter Skinner's place one other time since Mulder had moved in. It was at Christmas, not long after her partner had become the AD's live-in lover.
After a few months of cohabitation, she'd expected the condo to look a little more--lived in. Oh, hell, who was she kidding? After the week she'd just spent playing house with Mulder, posing as his wife, she'd expected at least partial chaos. Mulder had turned Skinner's life upside down, so why not his home?
But the living room was both tidy and inviting, neither Marine-barracks pristine nor college-dorm slovenly. Her keen eye quickly spotted Mulder's contributions to the decor: magazines on the coffee table, mostly well-read copies of "The Lone Gunman" and "Weekly World News"; newspapers piled high beside the couch; a small print from his old bedroom prominently displayed. She'd been told his aquarium was in the den here, probably along with his beloved first-run "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" poster.
Mulder had let her in this evening, not quite the eager puppy he'd been the last time he'd played co-host. As he hung up her coat, Skinner emerged from the kitchen to greet her.
"Hello, Dana." He was still awkward with her outside the office, especially now that she was a guest in his home. His and Mulder's home. Did he kiss her cheek? Give her a hug? Shake her hand?
"Hi, Walter. Here." She solved the problem by offering him the bottle of wine she'd brought.
She smiled brightly. She found his discomfort around her adorable, the way he naturally drifted closer to Mulder even more so. He looked good. Happy. Healthy. It was hard to believe he might be dying. She, the apparent cancer survivor, wondered if he had the same thoughts about her. And God only knew what poor Mulder was thinking these days...
Skinner wasn't sure what to do next. When he was married, he'd always let Sharon take the lead in social situations. He almost turned to Mulder with a silent plea for help, then laughed to himself. Better just to wing it.
"Please, come on in," he said to Scully pleasantly. "Can I get you something to drink?"
She sat down in an armchair, tucking her feet up under her. "Yes, thanks. A glass of wine would be perfect."
//I guess that was the right thing to say,// Skinner thought, relieved. "Red or white?"
Skinner returned to the kitchen.
"You okay, Mulder?" Scully asked as her partner flopped down on the sofa across from her and watched Skinner leave the room.
"Hmmm? Oh, fine." He smiled at her, but his cheerfulness was clearly forced.
//Yeah, right.// Maybe, if she was careful, she could draw out whatever was bothering him, or at least distract him from it. She'd been looking forward to this evening, eager to be welcomed into her best friend's new life, so she didn't want to push too hard. "I see you're back to normal."
He was wearing stonewashed jeans, a plain black sweatshirt and grey sweatsocks. No shoes. "Yeah, I hate that preppie look." He started to chuckle.
"What's so funny?" Ah, this was more like it.
"I was just thinking about the way you looked with that guck all over your face. Scarier than the Tulpa."
Her delicate eyebrows shot up. "Hey, you were no picnic to live with yourself, mister."
Skinner came in with the drinks: Scully's wine in one hand, two long-necks in the other. He served her before giving one of the beers to Mulder, then sat down on the opposite end of the sofa. "I seemed to have walked in on an interesting conversation."
"We were just discussing some of Mulder's more endearing domestic habits."
Skinner suppressed a grin, just gave her a "go on" nod of the head.
"Like drinking milk straight from the carton. And throwing his clothes all over the place. And--" She reached down between the cushion and the arm of the chair, triumphantly pulling out a small black-and-white husk. "And leaving sunflower seed shells everywhere."
Mulder frowned and turned to Skinner. "Feel free to jump in any time here, Walter." His voice had taken on that defensive little edge both Skinner and Scully were so familiar with.
"Fox," mock-chided the former Marine, "you promised you wouldn't give Dana any grief on that assignment."
"He was a terror from beginning to end." Scully's blue eyes twinkled. "Starting with those stupid names."
"Hey! Those were great names! 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' was classic television. One of the best sitcoms ever."
Skinner took a pull from his bottle and frowned. "Yeah, well if you're 'Rob' and Dana's 'Laura,' I guess I know who that makes me."
Mulder leaned toward Skinner. "Come on, Walter. You know you're much sexier than Mel Cooley ever was. Cuter, too."
"'Cuter?'" Despite the jeans and rugby shirt, Skinner now sounded like he was in full FBI regalia. "Watch it, Agent Mulder, or I'll have you transcribing wiretaps until doomsday."
Cross-eyed, Mulder offered Skinner a salute worthy of a Monty Python sketch. "Yes, Sir, AD Skinner, Sir." He deftly caught the throw pillow that was launched at his head and shot it back.
"Walter," Scully interjected, hoping to end the horseplay before it turned into foreplay, "just why did you send us on that assignment, anyway? Other than to make me pity you for having to live with Mulder, I mean."
Skinner put down the pillow and focused on the tip of her nose while he answered. "It was an X-File. Seemed like a no-brainer to me."
"But it wasn't an obvious X-File! Even Mulder didn't think so at first."
Mulder had gone to California under protest, arguing that his time would be better spent trying to find Alex Krycek or a way to destroy the nanocytes in Skinner's bloodstream, rather than work on a simple missing persons' case. But Skinner was his boss and had won that battle of wills by default. Stubborn as hell, both men were also more sentimental than either would care to admit, and had agreed to disagree before Mulder left town.
The younger man shifted a few inches along the couch. "How did you know?" The tone was deceptively light. "You never did tell me." Since arriving home yesterday, Mulder had engaged his lover in the less verbal form of intercourse. And when he'd finally wanted to talk about the case, Skinner had been strangely reticent.
Skinner shrugged, looked a bit uneasy, stared down at his beer. "I dunno, Fox. Maybe some of your instincts are starting to rub off on me after all these years. Besides, I had to give you two something to do to justify the X-Files' existence. Spender and Fowley didn't produce a single goddamned report between them, and the Deputy Director was breathing down my neck."
"Better not do that when I'm around." Mulder's retort was quietly mumbled, but Scully caught it and grinned. Then, at a normal volume, he said, "There's more to it than that, isn't there." It was a statement, not a question.
"Speaking of reports," Skinner continued as if Mulder hadn't said anything, "this one was a doozy, Fox. I'd forgotten how much I'd missed your fascinating write-ups."
Mulder held up hands, palms up, a gesture of innocence. "I only write 'em as I see 'em. You should have been there."
The bigger man snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure we would have fit right in. If those yuppies couldn't handle a simple basketball hoop in the driveway, imagine how they would've reacted to us!"
"At least I would have had some fun."
Scully wished she'd had something to throw at her partner. Instead, she stuck out her tongue. She was surprised when he didn't reply in kind.
"But Walter, I want--"
"Tell you what, Fox," Skinner interrupted, giving his lover's knee a friendly pat. "If an X-File ever crops up at an 'alternative lifestyles' community in, say, Palm Springs, I'll volunteer to go undercover with you."
//And you'll be a beat cop. Or a firefighter. Or a--oh, stop it, Skinner, before you embarrass all of us!//
The way Skinner was looking at Mulder completely flustered Scully, quickly drew hot blood to the surface of her pale skin. God, how she needed a steady boyfriend--not like her current beau, a commercial pilot who dropped out of the sky only once in a while. And hardly enough.
"Need any help in the kitchen?" she asked. "What have you two cooked up, anyway?"
"Hmmm? Oh!" Skinner released Mulder's knee and faced Scully. "We're having stir-fried chicken and shrimp with toasted almonds, and everything's set to go."
Scully was suddenly famished.
//When you can't feed the libido, feed the stomach, I guess.//
"Sounds wonderful," she told him.
Skinner stood. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll get things started. Should be ready in about 15 minutes."
Scully picked up her glass of wine and got to her feet. "If you don't need any help, the least we can do is keep you company." She offered Mulder a tiny hand. "Coming, Poopy-head?"
Skinner spun around, bug-eyed. "'Poopy-head?'"
Brushing Scully's hand away, Mulder jumped up and bolted from the room, breezing by Skinner. "Never mind."
But Scully was having too much fun to let this one go. "You should never have called me 'Honey Bunch,'" she told him. Then she addressed Skinner. "The good residents of Arcadia would have been shocked by my original choice of pet name, so I settled for Poopy-head."
Laughing, they joined Mulder in the kitchen. He was leaning against the counter, arms and ankles crossed, brows knitted. If Scully hadn't been there, Skinner would have marched straight over to him and done something to put a smile on his face.
But Scully *was* there, perched on a stool a safe distance from her moody partner. "He doesn't call you 'Honey Bunch,' does he, Walter?"
Skinner, checking on the rice, snorted. "He's still walking, isn't he?"
"Would you two please stop talking about me like I'm not here?"
"Okay, Mulder," Scully grinned, "what do you call him, then?"
He paused briefly, thought about telling her to mind her own fucking business. "Walter."
"Oh. I see. Very original." She went back to ignoring him, turned to Skinner again. "What about you? Do you have any special terms of endearment for him?"
Skinner took the previously prepared vegetables from the fridge and brought them to the counter, where the wok and the bowl of marinated chicken and shrimp were waiting. Just when Scully was about to repeat the question, he glanced at Mulder. "I don't really have any nicknames for you, do I babe?"
Scully nearly choked on her wine. "'Babe?'" she squealed. "As in, *the pig*? How appropriate!"
Mulder was indignant. "Walter! While you're at it, why don't you go ahead and tell her what our favourite position is, too?"
Skinner was all teeth. "Come on, Poopy-head. Don't be like that!"
That got Scully positively howling, and Mulder hoped she'd fall off the stool, bonk her head, and get amnesia. She might not have an eidetic memory like he had, but this was something she wasn't likely to forget anytime soon. When it was clear she wasn't going to lose her balance, he began to wonder if Skinner had a rolling pin, and where he might keep such a weapon.
Maybe he'd use it on both of them.
* * * * *
"I don't like it when you keep things from me."
Skinner rinsed the wok and put it in the dishrack to drain before meeting Mulder's intense gaze. "What do you think I'm keeping from you?"
He balled up the tea towel and threw it at the nearest cupboard. "Goddamnit, Walter, don't pull that shit on me! I know when you're holding back, when you're lying. Now that Scully's gone, I want you to tell me the real reason you sent us on that fucking assignment."
//Shit!// Skinner exhaled loudly, wiped his hands on the front of his jeans. Now he knew why Mulder had been so quiet during dinner, had picked at his food. Oh, he wasn't going to be happy about this.
Mulder was standing with his hands on his hips, eyes blazing at the older man.
Definitely not happy.
"Fox, it's no big deal."
"I'd like to decide that for myself. I'm not a fucking child, you know."
"I know." //Yeah? So why do I constantly treat him like one?// Skinner was suddenly all too aware of the acid gurgling in his stomach, of the slight tremor in his hands as he closed the dishwasher door. He leaned against it and cleared his throat.
"It's just that--I mean, I thought it would be a good experience for you to see how young couples live, interact... What it's like to have a wife and a house and a yard and a normal life, just in case, you know, you ever change your mind about, uh, this lifestyle, because you're still young and everything. Or in case I refuse to do what Krycek tells me to and he kills me..."
He'd gotten lost in his own ramblings, so lost that he wasn't ready for the attack.
"Son of a bitch! You bastard!" Mulder, his face twisted and crimson, spittle flying from his lips, lunged forward and began pounding Skinner's shoulders, arms and chest with his fists. "Goddamn you! God fucking damn you!"
Skinner grabbed Mulder by the wrists and held him, firmly yet gently, at arm's length, letting the younger man struggle uselessly.
When his spleen was thoroughly vented, Mulder went limp and sagged into Skinner, pressing his face against the rugby shirt. He trembled with rage, frustration, and the superhuman effort it took not to cry. The sound of his laboured breathing filled the room, drowning out the whisper of callused flesh against cotton as powerful hands rubbed his back, soothed him, rocked him.
After several minutes of this strange and silent dance, Mulder straightened and looked directly at Skinner. "Listen to me carefully, Walter Skinner." His voice was strained, quavery, but resolute. "I am *not* going to change my mind about you. About us. *Ever*. I don't want a wife and two-point-five kids and a fucking minivan. I don't want to live in a place like Arcadia, where I have to pretend to be something I'm not." He blinked hard, but was helpless to prevent the single teardrop that trickled down his cheek. "And you're not going to die. Not yet. Not like that."
The anguish in Mulder's eyes was unbearable. "Fox, I'm so sorry, I--" But further apologies were swallowed as Mulder clamped his mouth over Skinner's. The bigger man could taste moist salt as Mulder kissed him punishingly, pushed his tongue between his lips.
Gradually, the kisses were less brutal, less briny, but just as demanding, as were Mulder's hands. They fully explored the sturdy body pinned against the counter, undoing buttons and zippers, tugging at sleeves and shirttails. Somehow, Skinner had the presence of mind to set his glasses down before they went flying in the frenzy.
"God, Fox," he groaned as the rugby shirt came off, as Mulder's teeth began snapping at his neck, "slow down! I'll never make it up the stairs."
"Not going upstairs." He bit and sucked Skinner's nipples while pushing his jeans down, tugging them off. "Want you now. Here."
Accompanied by Skinner's gasps and groans, Mulder waltzed his way down the furry chest, his teeth and tongue wildly adventurous, until he was on his knees. Skinner's erection loomed large before him, thickening and lengthening, and he began stroking it with his nose and lightly stubbled cheekbones and chin.
Skinner grabbed the shoulders of Mulder's sweatshirt and yanked the garment up and off, crying out when his lover's burrowing face momentarily lost contact with his cock and balls. When the shirt cleared Mulder's head, he immediately cupped Skinner's genitals and, this time, caressed them with lips and tongue.
Skinner progressed from finger-styling Mulder's hair to grabbing handfuls of it. He could smell the scent of his own arousal, along with the intoxicating aromas of ginger, soy and toasted almonds that still lingered in the air. It made him even hungrier for Mulder, incited him to withdraw from the vacuum of Mulder's mouth and join him on the floor. Kneeling, Skinner sucked on the younger man's delicious lower lip while unfastening his jeans.
Before Mulder could react, Skinner pulled him to his feet, stripped him bare, and lifted him onto the counter, where he sat in wide-eyed wonder. Skinner then stood between Mulder's legs and kissed him greedily while tweaking and pinching his nipples. A ravenous mouth soon replaced the fingers, which quickly found something much bigger to play with.
As he was suckled and fondled, Mulder mindlessly ran his hands and lips over Skinner's smooth scalp, murmuring incoherently into warm, fragrant skin. Then Skinner's head dropped into his lap, and his ramblings became a litany.
"Jesus, Jesus, oh, Christ, Jesus..."
Mulder was ready to burst, Skinner knew, as he lapped up the sticky, salty drops of fluid that graced the knobby cockhead. He applied a little more pressure, worked his jaw a little harder, anxious to drink down this beautiful man's life force. And was puzzled when the hands that had been making love to his bald pate began pushing him away.
Mulder continued to surprise him by wrapping his legs around Skinner's waist and pulling him in viciously. Their erections thumped together. Then Mulder grabbed Skinner by the hips and leaned back until his lover's cock was positioned just above his anus.
"Fuck me, Walter." His fingers dug into Skinner's flesh.
Skinner looked around the kitchen frantically. "Need lube," he panted.
"Uh-uh. No lube. Just fuck me. Now."
Experimentally, Skinner ran a finger between Mulder's parted ass cheeks and found the tight ring of muscle. "You're not ready. Way too tense. It'll hurt like hell."
Mulder's eyes were half closed. He looked drugged. "Don't care. You can hurt me, do anything you like, if that's what it takes to prove how serious I am about us, how I feel about you..."
"Jesus Christ!" Skinner broke free of the flesh-and-blood shackles and stared at the man who was offering himself up as some sort of sacrifice. "Jesus!"
If he'd had any real hair to speak of, he would have pulled it out. This was absurd! Here he was, pushing 50, standing in his kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of socks, being asked by his boyfriend to essentially rape him.
Mulder propped himself up on his elbows. "What's the matter? I don't mind..."
His erection flagging, Skinner approached Mulder and seized him by the shoulders. Christ, he wanted to throttle him! But the expressive face was so full of genuine bewilderment that Skinner quickly realized he'd much rather throttle all the people who'd ever treated Mulder like shit, made him feel so worthless.
He took Mulder's hands in his and raised them to his lips. "I'm not going to hurt you, Fox. Not tonight. Not ever." Emotion made his voice sluggishly thick. "I *know* you love me, that you want this to work. You've got nothing to prove. Sometimes--" He kissed the knuckles. "--sometimes I say or do things I think are right, things to protect you, to try to make you happy. You've had such a damned difficult life, and I thought I was doing you a favour by letting you see some other--*options*--for yourself."
"I'm well aware of my options, Walter." He spoke in a monotone, carefully choosing his words. "I've lived with women before. I've tried to be the quintessential American male. But I can't do it. It's not who I am. So stop doing me favours, okay?"
"Okay. God, I'm so sorry." It was all he could manage for the moment. He slipped his arms around the man he loved, drew him close, whispered his remorse over and over. How could he have been so stupid? His noble intentions had reduced Mulder to an aging rent boy.
At times like this, Skinner wished that Krycek had finished him off at the hospital after all. At least Mulder would be dealing with his loss by now, probably getting over it. But waiting for something to happen, wondering if each day would be their last together, constantly searching for a spectre who didn't want to found...Mulder was bound to suffer a complete breakdown if this dragged on much longer.
//He wanted me to hurt him! Fuck!//
Alex Krycek was capable of stopping Skinner's heart, but only Fox Mulder could break it.
Skinner mentally kicked himself for not blowing Krycek's fucking brains out when he had the chance. He'd only come face to face with the bastard once since this waking nightmare started, after Mulder had advised him not to kill Krycek for fear that a permanent cure for Skinner's condition would die with him. But now, as Mulder clung to him like a toddler frightened by a thunder storm, the AD regretted taking Mulder's advice.
"Fox?" He spoke softly into thick, dark hair. "Let's go up to bed, okay?"
Skinner had lost his appetite for sex, but Mulder apparently hadn't. He begun nuzzling the side of the older man's neck as he rubbed his groin against Skinner's thigh.
"Look, I told you you don't have to prove anything to me..."
But Mulder was insistent, and as his desire became evident, Skinner began to respond.
Damned if Fox Mulder wasn't the most pig-headed, stubborn, determined man Walter Skinner had ever met. And certainly the most desirable.
But Skinner could be just as mulish, if not more so. And there was no way in hell he was going to give Mulder what he'd asked for, what he *thought* he wanted. Breaking a long, deep kiss, he stepped back and grabbed Mulder's hand. "Come with me."
Snatching the bottle of peanut oil he'd used for stir-frying dinner, Skinner led Mulder back to the counter where they'd been fooling around earlier--and hopped up onto it. Smiling knowingly, he opened his knees and pulled his startled lover into him.
"You've been ogling my ass all day, Fox," he purred into Mulder's ear as he licked the plump lobe. "You haven't fucked me in a while, but I know you want to..."
"Walter--" It was true. After all this time, he still felt irrationally shy about asking. But this wasn't how things were supposed to go tonight...
Skinner ran his tongue along Mulder's jawline, then down his throat to the collarbone. "You know you want to. Say it, Fox. Tell me what you want."
Mulder was finding it difficult to form coherent thoughts, let alone concrete sentences. But it was worth a try. "Want--want to--ahhh!" Teeth gently closed over his right nipple and tugged. "Oh, God, I want to fuck you!"
When Skinner finished with the other nipple, he kissed Mulder until they were both nearly breathless, then opened the bottle of oil. Handing it to Mulder, he leaned back on his elbows, scooted forward so that his hips were just hanging over the edge of the counter, and brought his knees up.
Mulder poured some oil onto his fingers and traced the large vein in Skinner's cock down to his balls, finally zeroing in on Skinner's asshole. He drew a series of slippery circles that grew smaller and smaller, then pushed his middle finger into the puckered opening. He was astonished by the tightness, the pressure he felt as he wiggled his way toward the prostate. Skinner jerked and moaned as the sensitive gland was prodded.
The finger was withdrawn, more oil was added, and soon there were two, then three fingers stretching Skinner, warming him up him for Mulder's impatient cock.
Balancing on one elbow, Skinner held out his palm for some oil. After Mulder obliged, Skinner reached over and stroked Mulder's erection until it glistened as bright as his glazed hazel eyes. "Fuck me now, Fox."
Mulder removed his fingers from Skinner's body and stepped up to the counter, which was the perfect height for this particular activity. He silently blessed whoever designed the kitchen as he guided himself to the well-prepped anus.
Once the head gained entry, Skinner took a deep breath and closed his legs around Mulder's waist, resting his heels at the small of Mulder's back.
"Did you know--" Mulder's voice had taken on a delicious quasi-delirious quality. "Did you know that peanut oil doesn't burn until it reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit?"
"I made the right choice, then."
As hot and horny as he was, Mulder pushed himself in slowly, gently, taking painstaking care not to hurt his lover.
But the countertop wasn't getting any more comfortable under Skinner's spine. With a grunt, he used his powerful legs to pull Mulder in and drive his cock home. Both men gasped as their balls made solid contact.
"You okay?" Mulder scrutinized Skinner's face for any sign of pain or discomfort. What he saw was a sly, crooked smile and eyes that begged for more. He oiled up his own hands and took hold of Skinner's erection, then began a series of steady pelvic thrusts, pulling almost all the way out with each backstroke. But he wasn't hitting the prostate, and that wouldn't do.
"Walter," he rasped, "can you sit up higher?"
"Uh, like this?"
"Yeah. Perfect." Mulder, in turn, spread his legs a little wider and stood closer to the counter, nearly up on his toes. His first plunge in this altered position hit the target, and Skinner cried out joyfully as Mulder's cock nudged his prostate.
"Yes! Oh, yes!" He tightened his grip around Mulder's middle and raised his own hips to meet each sublime stab, relishing the deep penetration. Which felt better, the cock relentlessly pounding into him or his own being jacked in sync, he really couldn't say. All he wanted to do was close his eyes, throw back his head, and abandon himself to the explosive pleasure that was building in his groin. Instead, he fixed his gaze on Mulder's sweat-streaked face. Then, letting his formidable abs and lower back muscles hold him up, he reached out with trembling arms.
"I love you, Fox." Thrust. His hands gripped the sides of Mulder's head. "You're mine. Forever." Thrust. "No matter what happens." Thrust.
Mulder, pumping furiously, leaned forward. "That's what I've been trying to tell you." Thrust. "I'm not as shallow as everybody thinks." Thrust. "I don't want anyone else but you." Thrust. "I--"
Skinner brought their mouths together in a brief, bruising kiss. "Fox?" Thrust.
"Shut up and fuck me."
* * * * *
Skinner walked into his office and was surprised to see Mulder sitting behind his desk. As he approached his lover with a mix of pleasure and irritation, he realized it wasn't Mulder after all, but Alex Krycek. The stunned look on Skinner's face prompted peals of maniacal laughter from Krycek, who was pointing something at him that closely resembled a Game Boy.
The AD then heard a sharp tap against his window, and ripped his corrosive gaze away from his tormentor. //Fox! What the hell? What are you doing out there?//
He couldn't make out Mulder's muffled words from the other side of the two panes of glass. But the outstretched arms, the desperate eyes, called to him. Was he in danger? Skinner didn't remember ever noticing a ledge out there...
He tried to move toward the window but found his feet cemented to the carpet.
//Fox! Help me! Help me!// He clutched at his throat, desperately trying to loosen his tie. He couldn't breathe.
And Krycek just laughed and laughed...
* * * * *
It was the same nightmare he'd been having for weeks.
Fighting it, Skinner moaned and instinctively reached toward Mulder's side of the bed.
It was empty.
Usually, his groping hands would find Mulder--if he wasn't already attached to him, that is--and he'd go back to sleep, the unsettling dream all but forgotten. But tonight there was no warm body to cling to, to keep him from waking fully.
He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Looking through the open doorway into the hall, he could see the faint, flickering glow of the living room TV reflecting on the light-coloured walls. And, over and above the drone of whatever program was airing, he could hear--weeping?
//Shit!// Thoughts of a similar night came flooding back.
Shortly after he'd come home from the hospital, he'd woken up alone, his uneasy sleep disturbed by the muted but unmistakable sounds of grief coming from downstairs. He'd found Mulder on the couch, curled up in a fetal position, sobbing and staring at the TV as the closing credits of the movie 'Phenomenon' crawled lazily down the screen. When Mulder had realized he was no longer alone, he'd flicked off the set and stormed back upstairs without a word. Or even a glance at his anxious lover.
Skinner had just stood there, head bowed. He'd seen the movie too, long before becoming involved with Mulder. One scene in particular had moved him, stayed with him- - the one where John Travolta's dying character asks Kyra Sedgwick's, "Will you love me for the rest of my life?" and she answers back, "I'll love you for the rest of *my* life."
Skinner had taken an icepack back to the bedroom and, after a brief but silent struggle, placed it over Mulder's swollen eyes. He'd held Mulder, stroked him, soothed him with soft kisses, until the younger man's embarrassment and rage and sadness subsided as sleep claimed him. The next morning, neither had mentioned the incident. In fact, they'd never discussed it at all.
"I'm an asshole," Skinner now muttered aloud. "A *senile* asshole." How could he have forgotten about that night? How could he have ever suggested that Mulder might want to settle down, raise a family and become Joe Q. Public if and when Skinner died?
His adrenaline kicking in, he grabbed his glasses off the nightstand and sprang naked from the bed, his long legs making short work of the hallway. Accustomed as he was to walking with graceful stealth, he remembered to make some noise going down the stairs. Sneaking up on Fox Mulder--inadvertently or not--was never a good idea.
Sprawled on the couch, under a blanket, the younger man looked toward the sound of the footfalls. "Shit! Did I wake you? Sorry..." He sat up. Despite himself, he couldn't help but admire the living, breathing Rodin that was rapidly closing the gap between them.
Those shoulders! God, they were incredible. Mulder's eyes travelled to the splendid pectorals, then were drawn to the substantial cock, which swung gently back and forth in front of the heavy sac. As Skinner got closer, Mulder could make out the quadriceps flexing sensuously with each step. So goddamned beautiful...
Skinner sat down beside him and touched a dry cheek with a delicateness that few had ever witnessed, even had fewer experienced. He gave Mulder a puzzled look. "I thought I heard you crying..."
Mulder nodded toward the TV. "I was *laughing*. Shoulda been quieter, I guess. Sorry, Walter." He took Skinner's hand and kissed it.
The older man turned to the screen. //Nothing funny about a commercial for the Frank Sinatra CD collection,// he thought.
"I'm watching 'The Simpsons,'" Mulder told him. "It's the one where Bart brings Santa's Little Helper to school for show and tell, and then all hell breaks loose."
//"Santa's Little Helper?" Oh, yeah, the dog...// Skinner wasn't one to watch much television, let alone cartoons, but after Mulder "forced" him to watch a few episodes, he had to admit that 'The Simpsons' was pretty damned funny.
"The dog freaks out and gets into the air ducts, and Groundskeeper Willie has to go and get him." Mulder's face was animated. "They did it just like that scene in 'Alien,' where they watch the ship's crew tracking the alien on a radar monitor. I love that part. Anyway, Willie gets stuck, and the fire department has to rescue them, and then Superintendent Chalmers shows up for an inspection and gets pissed off and fires Principal Skinner and replaces him with Ned Flanders."
Skinner shook his head and looked at Mulder with open affection and awe. He'd never known anyone with a better memory for names, or who could talk faster. And with such passion. About a cartoon series, no less. Christ, how he loved this man...
The show was coming back on. "Watch the rest of it with me, Walter." He covered Skinner with half the blanket and snuggled next to him.
//I'm 46 years old// Skinner kept reminding himself as he chuckled along with Mulder.
Bart Simpson was telling his new friend and former principal that Springfield Elementary was falling apart under Ned Flander's discipline-free regime.
Mulder was relatively quiet until the part came where ex-Principal Skinner decided to re-enlist in the army. He squeezed his lover's thigh. "You know, I forgot how much you two have in common."
With his bed hair, dancing eyes and school-boy grin, Mulder looked no more than 13. "Well, you have the same last name, you both served in 'Nam..."
"Yeah, but I was a Marine, thank you very much," Skinner told him proudly. "I'm no naive putz who lives with his mother, either." He sighed wistfully. "And *he's* got a full head of hair."
Completely in his element, Mulder ran a hand suggestively over Skinner's bare scalp. "The rumour is that he wears a toupee."
Skinner couldn't quite believe he was having this conversation. Maybe he was still dreaming. "Are we going to watch this or not?"
Mulder kissed a stubbly cheek. "Sorry."
On screen, the *other* Skinner was inspecting his new recruits, a couple of hayseeds. When the first one said, "Hi. Where do I get my grenades at?" and the second one asked, "Uh, they don't have them group terlets here no more, do they?", Walter Skinner chuckled.
Both men snickered as the next scene unfolded.
By now the school was in total chaos. Missing his friend Seymour, Bart began plotting to have Principal Skinner rehired by having Chalmers witness Flanders' incompetent leadership. "Here's the plan," Bart said. "Once Chalmers comes for his next inspection and sees how crappy the school has gotten, he'll fire Ned on the spot."
Seymour then said, "Uh, one question remains: how do I get out of the army?"
"No problemo," Bart told him. "Just make a pass at your commanding officer."
"Done and done. And I mean done."
Mulder and Skinner looked at each other--and burst out laughing. The more Skinner howled and roared, the more Mulder cracked up. There was something about Skinner's laughter--all that undignified snorting and guffawing--that sent Mulder into hysterics. Hell, he'd never been able to get so much as a grin out of the man when they were just supervisor and subordinate. But he'd quickly learned that the starch-shirted AD had a wicked sense of humour. And when he let go, God, did he let go!
After the tension of the past week--missing each other while Mulder was on assignment, and the misunderstanding that had resulted, indirectly, from that case--it was just what they both needed. The natural epilogue to their intense sexual encounter in the kitchen.
When they had the giggling and snickering under control, Skinner ruffled Mulder's hair. "Come on, boy. Upstairs. You can watch TV in bed, if you like."
Mulder straightened Skinner's glasses for him. "Thanks, but I think I can sleep now."
En route, they stopped at the bathroom where, side by side, they relieved themselves and washed up before climbing back into the huge bed. Mulder lay on his left side, with Skinner spooned up against him, their legs entwined, right hands clasped.
Jesus, it had been one hell of a day. "Good night, Fox. Again." Skinner leaned over and kissed Mulder's lips.
"Look, I need something to call you besides 'Walter.'"
Skinner pulled his lover onto his back. "No you don't."
"Yes I do! You call me 'babe' and 'brat' and shit like that."
"'Babe' and 'Seymour' are hardly on the same level."
"Sure they are."
Skinner looked down at Mulder and exhaled loudly. "Fox, it's bad enough that my parents saddled me with a name like 'Walter.' But 'Seymour' is even worse. You're really not going to do this to me, are you?"
"I could always call you Seymour Skinner's nickname."
He braced himself. "Which is...?"
Growling, Skinner grabbed his pillow and attacked Mulder with it. To defend himself, Mulder began tickling the bigger man where he was most vulnerable: under the arms and along his sides. Within seconds it was an all-out nude wrestling match. The outcome was inevitable.
"Give! Give!" Laughing, Mulder struggled but couldn't break free of the headlock. "You win! 'Spanky's' out!"
"Okay, 'Seymour' too. Geez, what a bully!"
Smiling, Skinner released Mulder and started straightening out the sheets. "If you ever call me 'Seymour,'" he said as he worked, "I'd have to call you 'Bart.'"
"You already do."
"Just about every day. 'Bart' is an anagram for 'brat.'"
Skinner rubbed a hand over his face. "Well, then it's appropriate, don't you think?"
"Whatever." Mulder settled back down, patted his shoulder. "Come here."
Quietly amused, Skinner lay on his stomach, half his body draped over Mulder's, with his head resting underneath Mulder's chin. He nuzzled into the warm shoulder as a trail of gentle kisses was blazed across his head, as surprisingly strong arms fastened themselves around him.
"I hated that place--the rules and regulations and everything--but I've been thinking...I'd like, you know, to get a house one day. With you."
Skinner was getting used to Mulder's habit of jumping from subject to totally unrelated subject. "Oh?"
"Yeah. In some nice, quiet neighbourhood. It would be fun to shoot some hoops together out front, sit on the porch in the summer reading the paper and drinking iced tea, maybe have a pool in the backyard, lots of trees for privacy..."
"So we could skinny dip," Skinner finished for him.
Mulder tightened his embrace. "Exactly. But you've been a homeowner before, when you were married. Maybe you don't want to go through all that crap again: raking leaves, shovelling snow, taking out the garbage..."
Skinner tilted his head up to look at the serious face. "It's not like I wouldn't have any help." He brushed the hair off Mulder's forehead. "So how long have you had these domestic urges, Agent Mulder?"
His expression softened. "Ever since I got myself hitched to you, I guess. I like it here and everything, but *one* day it would be nice to, you know, go out and find a place of our own. Together."
God, but the man was unpredictable! And so damned lovable. "Nothing's stopping us."
Mulder shifted. "What about the Bureau?"
"What about it? We're living together now, aren't we?"
"Yeah." He petted the hair at the back of Skinner's head. "Yeah. We should talk some more about this--" He peered over at the glowing red numbers of the clock radio. "--but not at three in the morning. Geez! Sorry, Walter."
Skinner burrowed back into Mulder's shoulder. "That's okay, babe. We can sleep in, then talk about this over brunch. Okay?"
"You can talk to me about anything, you know. Any time."
"I know. You too. And I'm sorry I was such an idiot about that stupid case..."
"S'okay. I'm too fucking sensitive sometimes. I know you meant well. You always do."
"I really love you, Fox."
Skinner felt and heard Mulder swallow. Hard.
"I love you, too" the younger man whispered. "For the rest of my life."
Squeezing his eyes shut against the stinging behind the lids, Skinner slid his arms under and around Mulder.
Locked in a fierce embrace, they finally fell asleep.
* * * * *
"Would you please cut that out!"
Skinner and Mulder looked at each other, then back at Scully. "What?" they asked in unison, completely baffled. They hadn't done anything. Had they?
She rolled her eyes. "Look at the way you're sitting. Miles apart, at opposite ends of the couch." She was across from them, comfortable in what she was coming to regard as "her" chair. "I won't faint if you sit beside each other, you know. I've seen you in bed together, for God's sake!"
And a twin bed to boot. Both men coloured slightly at the memory. They'd recently been forced to share a seedy Florida motel room with her, and it had been disconcerting to wake up to an audience.
"We just don't want to, I dunno, offend you, Scully." Mulder fidgeted with his watch.
"Oh, please!" She took a sip from her wineglass. "A little affection won't kill me. Look, if I'm going to be spending any kind of time with you guys--socially, I mean, like this--I might as well start getting used to it."
With a nod to her, Mulder picked up his beer from the coffee table and moved down the couch to sit next to Skinner. "Better?"
She smiled at him. "Definitely."
Skinner stretched his left arm out along the top of the couch, behind Mulder. "Works for me, too. Thanks, Dana."
She shrugged. "For what? Giving you permission to be yourselves in your own home? I'm just glad--" An unexpected rush of emotion startled her, but she brought it under control. "I'm just glad you invited me again."
After last Saturday's visit, she was initially in no hurry to come back. Despite Skinner's Herculean efforts to keep things pleasant, she hadn't enjoyed herself because of Mulder's childish behaviour. She'd spent most of Sunday wondering if her presence had had something to do with it. But then he'd called her to apologize, said he'd had an unresolved issue with Skinner, and swore he'd make it up to her. To all of them.
So here she was, spending another Saturday night with her partner and her boss, the biggest would-be sex scandal to hit the FBI since J. Edgar's penchant for wearing cocktail dresses. Dana Scully, spinster fag hag. //Slow down on the wine, girl!// Trying to picture what it would be like to double date with Mulder and Skinner, her eyebrows arched inadvertently.
Mulder flinched and withdrew his hand from Skinner's knee. "What?"
"Hmmm? Nothing. Just daydreaming. Relax, Mulder."
True to his word, her partner was in much better spirits tonight--his usual flirtatious and charming self. But he was also a bit jumpy. He kept glancing at his watch and over at the stereo. Unbeknownst to her, he'd insisted on listening to a particular radio station, rather than a selection of CDs, this evening. And this had aggravated the pragmatic Skinner. Why put up with inane DJ chatter and stupid commercials when you didn't have to? But Mulder had been adamant, and Skinner--tired of constantly butting heads--had relented. At least it wasn't anything as obnoxious as the Beastie Boys live in concert. Just adult contemporary music.
Scully sniffed the air. "Something smells wonderful," she told them. "Roast beef?"
"Uh-huh." Skinner's hand slid from the couch to Mulder's shoulder, gave it a squeeze, left it there. "I've been promising Fox for weeks now."
"Mashed potatoes and gravy, too?" God, if she kept up this weekly ritual, she was going to weigh 200 pounds by the end of the year. Or more.
"Yup." Skinner smiled. "And Yorkshire pudding a la Mulder."
Her eyes grew wide. "You're kidding!"
"I'm wounded!" Mulder placed his hand over his heart dramatically. "Just you wait, Scully. I learned more than just psychology at Oxford, you know."
"Mulder, you're a constant source of amazement."
Then, as if to prove her point, he jumped up from the couch and ran over to the stereo. "Shhhhh!" he commanded, even though Scully and Skinner had exchanged glances but no words.
It was slightly after six, and the news and sports had just finished. A honey-voiced announcer came on and welcomed listeners to the Saturday night all-request hour. "To start things off tonight," she intoned, "here's a beautiful, timeless song...from Bart to Seymour with love."
As Louis Armstrong began to croon "It's a Wonderful World," Skinner choked on a swig of beer.
Both Scully and Mulder were at his side in seconds, pounding his back, alarmed at how red his face was getting. But it wasn't from lack of oxygen.
"Jesus, Fox!" Skinner wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "I can't believe you did that! And with Dana here! Christ!"
//Oh, God! Not another Saturday night at the fights!// "Mulder, have you been a naughty boy again?"Scully asked lightly, hoping humour might diffuse the situation.
Her partner sat calmly next to Skinner and laced their fingers. "This is the first song we ever slow-danced to in public."
The scowl on Skinner's face dissolved into a bashful grin.
Scully frowned. "Yeah, but the dedication--" A wine-induced giggle escaped her lips. "'Bart' and 'Seymour?'" She was fully aware of Mulder's fascination with "The Simpsons." "Oh, my! Poor Walter!"
"We needed code names," Mulder told her, but his eyes were locked on his lover's.
She had to admit these two were awfully cute together. She sighed, wondering about her own sanity. "If you two feel like dancing, don't let me stop you."
Skinner turned to her, still looking sheepish. "Don't encourage him, Dana. He was rather--demonstrative--the last time we danced to it."
"Me? You were just as bad. Worse, in fact."
Scully leaned forward in her chair. "What did you guys do?"
Skinner placed his hand over Mulder's mouth just in time. "You don't want to know. It'll just spoil your appetite. More wine?"
Why not? It was early yet. "Yes, please."
Skinner started to get up, but Mulder pulled him back. "I'll get it--Seymour."
That almost earned him a swat on the ass, but Skinner resisted for Scully's sake. "Fox?"
Mulder stopped at the kitchen doorway. "Hmmm?"
Skinner inclined his head toward the radio. The song was just ending. "Thanks--Bart."
"No problemo, man. You can play your CDs now."
Scully felt ridiculously happy.
* * * * *
March 30, 1999