8 skean dhu pm

No particular reason for the title, I just like men with hard things tucked away in their clothes! A skean dhu (my preferredspelling out of many options) is a dirk or dagger that’s tradition-ally tucked into the top of the sock when wearing full Highlanddress. (Yes, I know it’s not a dress—and it’s not a skirt either!) Mulder waited impatiently for the door to open, barreling through before Skinner had a chance to say anything, Mulder’s raincoated shoulder bumping into Skinner’s terry-covered oneas he passed.
“Where’s Scully?” Skinner said by way of greeting.
“She was playing touch football,” Mulder said, parking himself on the couch, one leg crossing over the other, the foottapping rapidly.
“Did she break anything?”“Nothing that was hers. Sprained her right wrist,” Mulder said, sounding laconic, his eyes bright with amusement,whether at Scully’s escapade or his boss standing there in whitetoweling robe and half a face of shaving cream, it was hard tosay.
“Doing what?” from Skinner, as he started back upstairs.
Mulder paused for a moment, then jumped up from the couch, his coat flapping as he ran up the last of the stairs behindSkinner.
“She straight-armed her brother out of her way.”Skinner’s voice muffled through the three-quarters closed door of the bathroom. “That doesn’t usually end up with herspraining her wrist.” Mulder paused, barely a breath’s worth, just long enough to decide that the mystery of why Skinner was using this bath-room instead of the master bathroom was a personal quirk to bepondered later. He pushed the door open, reacted not at all as anaked Skinner glanced over one shoulder at Mulder standingthere, stock still, in the doorway. Showed nothing at all, asSkinner, keeping his back to Mulder, swung his robe back on, j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j the fabric rustling in the cool silence. Mulder just blew it because he just couldn’t resist saying: “I watched, impassive as stone, as Skinner, now could always change into something white and modestly covered, hung up his towel, picked up his virginal, sir.”razor, and resumed shaving.
Mulder, continuing as if there hadn’t been so Mulder straightened his wrist out too, while he much as a pause in the conversation at all. “Yeah, was at it. Picked up another book, read the spine, but Billy-boy junior was heading full speed for the blurb on the back, traded that for a small, Charlie-boy for a satisfyingly macho display of primitive-looking objet d’art. Followed Skinner to sibling rivalry,” Mulder picked up the book sitting the room’s other doorway, was stopped by on the top of the toilet tank, “when Scully popped up between them, dumped Billy-boy on his ass,” “Despite last week’s letters and this morning’s stuttering whisper of pages being rifled through, phone call, I don’t think there are any assassins “evaded Charlie,” gentle thunk as the book was discarded, “stole the ball and scored.” “Sir.” Backing off, standing fidgeting in the “But it was only after the fuss had died down,” middle of Skinner’s bedroom while his boss made Skinner spackling in the missing details of rustling noises in the walk-in closet.
Mulder’s reports as usual, pausing for a fraction of Mulder had lived in places with smaller bed- a second to give Mulder a look and to accept the rooms than that closet, from the glimpse he’d had.
towel Mulder handed him, “that she realized she’d Pondered, for a moment, what Skinner’s reac- tion would be to a closet joke right about now.
Mulder’s expression agreed with Skinner, Mulder’s fingers busy tapping out a tattoo on the “Sir?” raising his voice, raising a collection of framed photographs, one after the other, from the “How long before she can hold a gun?” dark glow of the dresser—older people in color Mulder shrugged, followed half a pace behind photographs, young people in sepia prints, photos Skinner, eyes taking in everything: the momentary of yesterday’s teenagers in ’60s colors, photos of brush of air as Skinner swung round to glance at ’90s teenagers in today’s take on ’60s colors. The him, the color of the carpet and walls, the prints on unknown, for Mulder, the truly alien: happy the walls, unusual black and white photographs families. “Are you really planning on not telling minimally framed. “A couple of weeks the doctor said, but Scully hit him with her ‘as a colleague, Slightly muffled reply; excuse enough for doctor,’ got him down to a week.” Mulder to prowl across the bedroom again towards Mulder still right behind Skinner, coming into the closet door, even though he had no trouble the bedroom, making no secret of his looking hearing Skinner say: “I don’t think it’s going to around; at bookshelves, dark blue bedspread, more make Shelley’s day if I tell her there’s some psycho photographs on the walls, the armoire whose open doors revealed enough electronic equipment to Top drawer on the dresser pulled open, white BVDs and undershirts. “Hey, it’s her big day, she’s “Agent Mulder, if you’ve quite finished with already nervous, why not let her know she’s your visual examination of the crime scene?” walking down the aisle arm in arm with a target?” Shamefaced, for all of half a second. “Sorry, sir.
“We have already been through this, Mulder,” Anyway, since Scully’s out of it, you’re stuck with Skinner’s voice the blunted chisel of an argument worn old. “I am not missing Shelley’s wedding Skinner looked at him, head to toe, and turned because some lunatic has threatened—” away. “And I thought taking Scully was going to Mulder, sharp as a honed ax, no argument ever dulled for Mulder. “Not just some lunatic. You put Behind Skinner’s back, Mulder grinned. Wiped him away for 25 years, sir, and if he knows about that off his face before his boss caught him; before the boss decided that CSM and paranoia be “Then you had better do your job well today, damned, there honestly were plenty of other FBI agents he could trust to watch his back. Nearly Mulder made a face at the half-closed door.
j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j jHypocrite, he thought at the unseen Skinner. If any There was a very speaking silence from the one of Skinner’s agents had an old collar back out after serving 18 years of a 25-year sentence, and He knew he shouldn’t say anything, but when that old collar had immediately disappeared from had that ever stopped him? He was nearly grinning sight only to start sneaking out detailed and when he said: “People will talk, sir.” enthusiastic threats on the health and continued existence of the person who’d ‘ruined’ his life, well, Skinner wouldn’t let any one of them attend a high- profile wedding, never mind give away the bride, walk down that aisle, stand up there in front of a churchful of people, stand in the receiving line… “That takes care of the lisp problem.” Mulder Too many opportunities, too many chances for grinned again: he’d felt Skinner’s familiar chilling Skinner’s own personal psycho to take him out: it didn’t matter that the threat probably wasn’t He sat on the edge of the bed, bounced experimen- tally once or twice. Nice. Much better than his couch copperplated invitations for this psycho to get at or his own old mattress. Lay down, looking around this room as it would appear to Skinner every night, In between muttered invectives about brothers murmured in pleasant surprise as the pillow top took who didn’t believe their sister-the-doctor that her his weight, stress slipping from his shoulders as he wrist was not broken and did not need a damned x- was cradled in a firm, supporting softness.
ray, Scully had given Mulder all the details he’d He hadn’t had much sleep last night, this… Oh, need for today. At least everything was indoors, this was nice. And smelled good, too, comforter and and the upper pews in the church weren’t going to bedding soft, the pillows firm enough that he bet be open, so sighting anyone up there would be Skinner slept on his side; Mulder rolled over, onto warning enough. Everything else, it was going to his left, facing the digital alarm clock, where take someone getting up close and personal. Which Skinner would put his glasses as he switched off meant basically everyone who showed up at the the lamp. There was a dressy watch Mulder didn’t wedding and/or the reception was a suspect, remember ever seeing Skinner actually wear and a because every guest, every person there would book lying open, face downward, small details of have access to Skinner, uncle of the bride and another man’s private life. On his side like this, the member of the wedding party, and none of them pillow cradled his head not quite comfortably, just that touch higher than his own, chosen for a A ‘small, intimate affair,’ the Keiths called it, and broader shoulder. So this was how Skinner slept at it probably was, by their ostentatious standards, night, this was Skinner’s private night-world— but for Mulder, it was simply three hundred people “Don’t say a word, Mulder,” from the closet.
all told, with only one agent to protect Skinner. It Mulder restrained himself from pointing out was stupid: regardless of the private security, there that he’d understood the instructions first time should still be a team at least, just because Skinner round, too busy getting himself up out of Skinner’s bed before Papa Bear caught him. “I won’t, sir.” Fingers crossed Skinner’s instincts and Mulder’s “I mean right now. And if you laugh, you die.” profile were right and Miller would want to toy There was one minor detail Scully had omitted.
She’d told him all about Skinner’s niece, and Skinner’s brother-in-law being dead. She’d told him about Skinner giving the bride away; about the How to put this without getting Skinner’s gun reception, the wedding, the guest list. Told him rammed down his throat? “Sir, uh, with Scully out how Shelley had met her fiancé at the prestigious of the picture, I know that kind of changes things.
university which she attended on academic scholar- Uh… Seriously, how are you going to explain me?” ship. Told him the name of the fiancé and the “Nobody can explain you, Mulder. I’m not even family. Hadn’t mentioned that there was more to Shelley becoming one of the Virginia Keiths than j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j A formal wedding, Scully had said, hiding a Mulder and Scully were being over his taunting smile, and Mulder had put it down to her envision- stalker. Mulder was driving, had spent several daunting moments resisting the temptation to stare as Skinner mastered getting into a car in what was, Skinner walked in, frowning. And swaying. Or after all, a pleated skirt. And now here he was, rather, his clothes were swaying. His kilt.
uncomfortably aware of Skinner sitting, bare- Walter S. Skinner, in full Highland formal dress.
Dark green and muted…purple? Yes. It was.
This was worse than driving Scully in a short Purple. Almost indistinguishable against the rich skirt. At least he could tease Scully.
green and under the black crossbars, but definitely He wasn’t going to tease Skinner, not when purple. So his very own Skinner, in dark kilt, black jacket with silver buttons. White shirt, dark green bow tie. Black, matte leather sporran with silver tassels. White socks, with tartan band round the top, heavy black shoes, and bare knees. Bare naked “Yes,” the heavy sigh of the parent asked ‘why’ knees. Big hands adjusting silver cuff links, big once too often, “I have my gun. Against my own hands reaching to adjust the silver-edged pleats at the back of the stylized jacket. Silver-edged black Maybe ‘great!’ wasn’t the best thing to say when pleats over dark green tartan pleats. Swaying as your boss has had to yield to the opinions of his Skinner walked over to the dresser and picked up his wallet. Swaying as Skinner crossed over to the They drove in silence, until there was the very small reader’s table beside the bed, picked up the distinctive sound of skin on skin, Skinner crossing Mulder slowly sat down, closed his mouth when Curiosity killed the cat, and just might kill the agent too. “How do you sit in that without showing…” Tinge of wry, dry amusement, rescuing him from Didn’t even comment that Skinner appeared to having to actually name the man’s unmentionables.
Refrained, manfully, from making comments Mulder watched out of the corner of his eye as about men in skirts. Or windy weather. Came up Skinner uncrossed his legs, pressed the sporran down a bit, obviously decided that wasn’t too good Just sat there, on the edge of Skinner’s bed as an idea. Stopped at a red light, watched as Skinner Skinner strapped on the watch, cufflinks catching fidgeted and fussed with the kilt. Quite a change the light; sat there and watched as Skinner trans- from Skinner’s usual cool stillness. Quite a revela- ferred wallet and ID into the sporran, stuck some tion, in more ways than one. And quite danger- sort of decorative knife down the top of one sock, the pleats swaying again as he bent down, the back Skinner looked up in time to catch Mulder of his knees and the beginnings of his thighs on The light changed, Mulder drove on, and the Skinner, standing up, paling back to his normal quiet in the car was abruptly uncomfortable, tan, looking at Mulder for the first time. Stopping.
Mulder filling it with too-quick words.
Looking at Mulder. The frown deepening, a ques- “Are you worried about this guy coming after tion stirring, and then Mulder was bouncing to his feet, talking, ushering Skinner ahead of him, Skinner still looking at him, that question back getting them both moving, putting as much dis- in his eyes. “Not today. The only thing I’m worried tance as possible between them and the question about is how the hell I’m going to dance in this Mulder had seen beginning in Skinner’s eyes.
Only a few minutes later and they were in the “Dance?” Mulder said, imagination exploding.
car, heading directly to the church to meet the bride “I do have some social skills, Mulder.” Dryer there, Skinner having opted not to put his niece at than wine, not as chilled. “The first dance at the any risk, no matter how paranoid he thought j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j Right, the substitute-father of the bride. Swirling “Oh, I see,” she said, fingering her single under- stated strand of pearls that could buy several And Skinner had already caught him looking.
condos with enough left over to decorate them all: one ridiculously supercilious look from her, and anyone would think that Mulder’s own carefully Skinner in a position of having to notice how his chosen, elegant and expensive tuxedo was nothing agent was reacting. Better make sure he was really but dishrags. “I wonder if the ushers have anything doing his job, scanning the guests for a face he’d only seen in a photograph. Not, he repeated to Mulder watched Skinner glancing over at one of himself, not watching Skinner. Dancing. In a kilt.
the ushers, resplendent in black velvet jacket atop The pleats swirling and lifting up, to reveal… the rich green and muted purple of Keith tartan; Down boy, he reminded himself. We’re here to Mulder looked away just a fraction too late, his work. We can think about all of this later. Tonight, gaze caught lingering on Skinner. “I’m sure he’d be he promised himself, a long hot shower and no “Grateful my ass,” Mulder muttered as he But in the meantime, he had a job to do. Dis- circled unobtrusively around Skinner.
“So long as you keep your pronouns straight,” wedged between modern concrete-block Lego Mulder felt his back stiffen; kept his eyes on the office buildings, was blessedly just up ahead, crowd, scanning for the face from the mugshot. He Mulder parking the car as close as he could, a quick didn’t look at Skinner: didn’t need to. Warning touch to Skinner’s arm making Skinner roll his eyes, but also behave; waiting in the car like a good protected client while the FBI agent got out and Stupid to feel this bruised: his own dumbass looked around. By the time the passenger door fault for making Skinner repeat himself. Months opened onto the wet slash of sidewalk, there was ago, Skinner had already made it clear—too clear, even an opened umbrella ready for Skinner.
according to Mulder’s embarrassed memory—that Mulder caught the expression on Skinner’s face.
he didn’t mess with his subordinates. No matter “Hey, with some of our cases, I figure it won’t do how willing said subordinates might be.
any harm to show you I do have some FBI skills.” Okay, okay, he’d get himself back under control, but shit, what did Skinner expect, presenting himself in a completely new manner, a whole new A press of people, the principal men from both image, concomitant with all the implications of bride and groom’s sides all in kilts, although as far showing a different side of his personality, not to as Mulder was concerned, none of them came close mention the humanizing addition of family, and to carrying it off the way Skinner did.
weddings; psychologically speaking, Mulder’s And judging by the subtle crowding of women reaction was perfectly normal, standard, even, around Skinner, he wasn’t the only one who thought that. But a crowd of women was good: the And Skinner didn’t have a degree in psychology.
psycho was definitely male, 5'-11", 215 pounds, Skinner would only see that his agent, his thor- hard to disguise amidst these powdered and oughly, clearly rejected agent, had taken to ogling Scanning the people milling around in the mahogany and brass vestibule, Mulder heard a Mulder circled round Skinner again, this time at very refined voice ask, “And your…guest is, a depth of two people distant. No sign of the psycho. Unless he counted his own reflection in the guest is what, Walter? he thought, waiting to see Okay. He had hours to get through. Run through how Skinner was going to handle this. Was disap- the list of what he was going to see, get used to it, pointed, as Skinner murmured discreetly in Mrs.
be prepared so he wouldn’t over-react—hell, so he wouldn’t react—to Skinner dancing, walking down j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j the aisle with a bride on his arm, talking to rela- were giving him that polite, barely readable ‘he’s weird’ look again. Mulder didn’t sigh; it was The crowd was being ushered into the church almost comforting to get his familiar old ‘Spooky’ pews by, appropriately enough, the ushers. And reaction and anyway, it was far more comfortable there was no sign of Mrs. Keith nor the velvet than the expression with which Skinner was jacket. Nor the kilt: naked, under a kilt, beside “I’m going to take Shelley down the aisle then A flurry of motion, the small side door opening, stand at the altar with her. Where will you be?” a blowing confection of white stepping through, “Somewhere unobtrusive and discreet,” he heading straight into Skinner’s arms.
replied, wished the sharpness in his voice hadn’t Double shit. Okay, to the dancing, the bride on his arm and the rest of the get-used-to-it list: add “That should be a novel experience for you.” He wanted to say that was uncalled for, but Skinner was surrounded by family. And Skinner smiling, white teeth showing, crow’s feet crinkling had been putting up with his professional indiscre- the corners of his eyes, lips curving upwards, big tions for several years and his personal indiscre- hands just about spanning the bride’s back, tions for nearly as long: it actually was called for.
Skinner’s own shoulders wide enough to be seen Mulder knew he was hunching his shoulders and despite the billowing veil, and the smile… slouching again; made himself stand straight and Mulder wished he’d taken that extra five tall, as if he were just fine, thanks.
minutes and jerked off before he’d gone over to The organ music was swelling, so traditional Skinner’s. Maybe he could grab a bathroom Mulder winced; was surprised to catch an answer- ing flicker of amusement in Skinner’s eyes.
When? Side by side with Skinner when the boss Yeah, the man who hung those photographs and went? Oh, that would be really subtle.
collected those figurines wouldn’t be too impressed Suck it in, big boy, Mulder told himself, carefully by the musty trappings of tradition.
checking the three men who’d come in with the bride, eyes skimming over the older woman: at common, Mulder told himself, vinegar bite of truth, least until the bride let Skinner go and the older as he slowly kept pace with Skinner, Skinner going woman inserted herself into Skinner’s embrace.
down the center aisle, Mulder keeping to the wall Only for a second; the slightly awkward hug of a on the outside aisle. And even if they did have generation not brought up to be touchy-feely. An something in common, it didn’t mean Skinner was unbecoming moment of jealousy sidled into Mulder before shame and recognition set in: the Regardless of what “Spooky’s” instincts were family resemblance was fairly slight, but it was muttering in the back of his mind: it didn’t matter clear enough, in the brown eyes and the dimple in whether or not both he and Skinner wanted Skin- ner to change his mind. If wishes were horses, his Mulder looked away the instant he realized dad used to say, and that remembering brought the Skinner was observing him as closely as he was old pain gnawing through to join the new.
observing Skinner and his sister. Damn damn His dad was fond of commenting on spilt milk, too.
damn. The road to hell, that was for sure, today.
So Mulder straightened his spine, and escaped All his good intentions, and he was failing into the job, and forced himself to be amused that he miserably. God help him when Skinner took to the was, sort of, walking down the aisle with Skinner.
dance floor and that kilt started swinging.
The music had stopped, replaced by the even There was nothing hidden behind the flowers on mustier tradition of a sonorous voice intoning the old mantle, nothing in the umbrella stand, nor ritualized words as Mulder scanned the assembly; on the shelf over the elegant ’20s radiators. Nothing took the back stairs up to check the upper pews;but a strawberry-scented bathroom behind the prowled the church as unobtrusively as he could; tried to refrain from making faces at the more egregiously over-religious and over-sentimental Whirling round, peripherally aware that people j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j Stood for a moment, very still, and indulged finally turned towards the outside world they were himself—guilt enough for later—in a few seconds of simply watching Skinner as the bride glided up Mulder pushed the accelerator that bit harder, the aisle with her new husband. A few seconds, and dug through his pockets for a Pepcid.
that’s all, just enough to savor Skinner so relaxed,so very far away from office Skinner, or reprimand It was obvious the bride’s family wasn’t footing Skinner, or I-just-betrayed-you Skinner.
the bill. The hotel was understated and quietly And then it was time to bury all of that again, opulent, the reception hall beautifully decorated and every detail of etiquette had been not onlyobserved, but engraved. In copperplate.
In the car, on the way to the reception, Skinner One of the civilian security types—wearing a sitting beside him once again, slightly different this suit every bit as nice as Mulder’s own beautifully time: Skinner leaning back in the seat, his legs fitted tuxedo—had murmured briefly to Mulder; spread, bare knees, the first four inches or so of arrangements to allow for Mulder to take breaks, to have a meal, to let the very circumspect and very, Mulder was preternaturally aware that Skinner very competent private security cover the gaps for There was a traffic snarl up, Mulder trapped in After that little bright shining moment in the car, this car with Skinner, and his imagination, and his the thought of food was nearly disastrous and somehow, he didn’t think the Keiths would be too Skinner standing there naked, all warm tan and thrilled to have an FBI agent toss his cookies—or sallow skin, almost even-toned everywhere, the flex his truffles—in the middle of the reception. Care-and play of muscles as he’d picked up his robe— fully polite, Mulder declined, even had the sense to Bare back, such broad shoulders, such a deep make sure the guy in the Savile Row silk under- definition of muscles, the dip of the spine, the slight stood it was just that Mulder was under orders, nothickening at the waist that seemed to hit most men after 40, the curved line dividing the firm round- At least he’d done one smart thing today.
ness of his ass, that hand-sized hollow of his flank, Damn, but he couldn’t believe he’d said some- the muscles of Skinner’s arms bulging as he shaved, the hair on his chest, his belly, dipping down beneath the small belly-button to the sudden star in Wayne’s World 39. So dumb, they wouldn’t glimpse of pink amidst brown, swinging, like the cast him as Ace Ventura’s dumber brother. So He wasn’t supposed to think about that till So dumb, his boss wasn’t looking at him. So dumb, his boss was making the social rounds, But how could he not think about it, when Mulder trailing around even more cautiously, Skinner was sitting right beside him, naked legs smiling and nodding and being the perfect guest, spread. Nothing to contain him, no tight white doing everything a highly-trained FBI agent should cotton under there like the suit, just naked, warm do. And Skinner wasn’t acknowledging the exist- flesh, loose and comfortable. Maybe stroked by the Monday morning was going to be miserable.
“I wish someone had told me how much this If he survived that long. He still had to get damned thing chafed,” Skinner said out of the blue. through the reception and then drive Skinner Mulder raised his gaze from Skinner’s lap to The two of them, alone in the car, and Skinner “Hey,” Mulder said, softly, heart pounding and having had enough time to think of some choice stomach turning sour with nerves, grabbing at the chance before he had time to come to his senses, “if Mulder glided smoothly between two couples, you don’t want Br’er Rabbit hopping, don’t dangle nodding politely at both, as if they were casual the carrot right out where he can see it.” acquaintances. He was passing completely unob- Skinner’s gaze, cooling perceptibly until it was served, just another member of the other side of the j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j wedding party, someone assumed to be there All those years of chewing agents out went com- because he was connected with whichever side was pletely undisplayed: Skinner’s toast to the bride and groom was funny, kind and even touching, Perfect. For once in his life, he was being per- judging by the surreptitious wiping away of tears fectly discreet and tactful. And all he was getting To Mulder, Skinner’s toast was one long nerve- wracking moment with his client standing up right At least now Mulder knew why the Invisible there in front of everyone, unprotected— Mulder eased his shoulders, the tension barely Time for the meal; Mulder keeping up close to diminishing, as Skinner sat down. Good; one of the the draped walls, keeping his attention not on most unsecured events over without incident.
Skinner who was, after all, seated and therefore fixed and known, but on the milling waiters, remind everyone that various Keiths were in sommeliers, whatevers. Anyone up and moving, politics as well as business. Gave Mulder enough Mulder watched them. An arm disappearing into a time to keep a careful watch and still have enough time to sneak a few peeks at Skinner.
Had the horrible thought that there was always The last glass of champagne had been raised, the silicone and it was amazing what make-up artists last toast drunk, and now everyone was moving, herded politely, but herded nonetheless, to the large Double checked, women as well as men this ballroom. The music struck up, and Skinner led his Skinner was probably right; still didn’t mean they And Mulder couldn’t watch. Too many people could afford to dismiss the threats, though. In fact, around for him to spare more than a glance at even if everyone else said they could completely Skinner, but he was aware of it, all down his back: ignore the threats, Mulder wouldn’t. He’d been Skinner dancing, moving easily, that kilt swinging inside too many criminal and psychotic minds to dismiss Miller. The letters had been…upsetting in The groom tapping Skinner on the shoulder, their attention to detail. In their anticipatory greed of Skinner handing over the bride, then swinging his what, exactly, Miller wanted to do to Skinner.
No way was Mulder leaving Skinner open to that.
Long enough to see who Skinner was dancing Even if Skinner had been a stranger, some with, not long enough for the image to hit him, random member of the public to whom Mulder Mulder strolling with apparent casualness through had been assigned. Even if Skinner had just been his supervisory agent. Even then, Mulder wouldn’t A very small, quick nod from one of the private security guys: Mulder decided that was going into Mulder’s gaze grazed over Skinner; was caught his report, even though Skinner had said his professional abilities were never in doubt. Maybe The smell of the fish course wasn’t helping Skinner had never doubted, but everyone else had Mulder’s stomach. Wasn’t helping one little bit.
But it didn’t take much to quell any rebellious- Mulder, the psychologist, knew exactly why he ness his stomach might have planned: just think was so pathetically grateful for Skinner’s crumbs of about Skinner’s reaction to Mulder making an approval. Mulder the man knew exactly why, too.
ass—a disgusting ass—of himself and spoiling Just that the reasons were a bit different.
Now was not the time to remember that Skinner Another waiter, and Mulder watched him, too.
had been so careful to make it clear that he did not have sex with his subordinates. Not clear that Skinner was repulsed by Mulder’s discreet offer, This was one of those times he’d happily be not clear at all that Skinner was rejecting Mulder per se: clear as a bell that Skinner was rejecting asubordinate. The meal was over, and the toasts barely begun.
It would have been easier if Skinner had gagged j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j jand punched Mulder’s lights out for even thinking Mulder checked the opening door; recognized something so disgusting. At least then it would one of the private security types and an aunt from have been over and done, a closed book.
the groom’s side. Slid his eyes over the reception Instead…it was like reading a review of the most hall, allowed himself an extra second to file away enticing book ever, then not being allowed to read the shape of Skinner’s ass under the skirt, the way it. Look at the dustjacket, but not too much. Don’t he was standing, leaning down, legs slightly apart, touch. Never touch. No matter how much he wanted to. No matter how much maybe Skinner When he’d been a kid, Mulder had once had a serious thumping from Jessica Harper’s older brother because he’d been caught lying under the Sheer insanity for them to get involved. Might as stairs, looking up girls’ skirts.
well just shoot themselves and save the Bureau and Skinner didn’t have an older brother.
Well, no one had ever accused Fox Mulder of That would make a good fantasy, later. Not Skinner was dancing again, with the groom’s Skinner beating him, but himself, finding a way to mother; Mulder resisted the hunger to stare and see under Skinner’s kilt and Skinner catching him, kept his attention on the people who were getting not hitting him, but yielding, melting like butter in close to Skinner, on the people skulking in the the heat of Mulder’s hunger, the two of them shadows over by the large floral display—until he realized it was just a couple having a viciously Later. Much later, when there would be no one around to see the side effects of his puerile fanta- Made him think of the day Skinner had let him storm into Skinner’s office and told him to ‘tell the In the meantime, Skinner was making his way room’ why he thought his homicide case was round the tables, talking to everyone, at least meaningless. Tell the room. As if he were a kid briefly, doing a great job of playing target to every caught passing notes in math class. He’d been furious, absolutely fucking furious with Skinner Mulder kept to the perimeter wall, smiled nicely over that. Furious, and humiliated beyond belief.
at everyone he passed, nodded pleasantly when- But he’d masturbated that night, and other ever someone met his eyes. Stiffened, as one man nights, some mornings too, to the image of Skinner threw an arm around Skinner; tensed, when standing there, right hand in pants pocket, jacket someone else reached for an inside pocket.
pulled back revealing shirt and expansive chest, Skinner’s coiled power and that anger, and the passion that ran so deep and fast under the still- As long as his profile won out over his paranoia, Fucked his own fist, imagining what it would be like to have all that fire turned towards sex, and to The bouquet had been tossed, Skinner not the be on the receiving end of Skinner, unleashed.
one to catch it, Mulder happy to note; the bride and Even now, the thought made him shiver. He groom left amidst smiles and cheers and best shifted, slipped his hand into his pants pocket to wishes. The dancing went on, and the drinking too, adjust himself unobserved. Wished the night was Mulder keeping a tally of just how much Skinner over already so he could go home and let himself had to drink: if Skinner was slowed down, then think about what he could see: Skinner, dancing that would affect how an…unfortunate…situation and smiling, kilt flaring, glimpses of bare legs, of that smile, Skinner’s hands so big against the Three glasses of champagne for the toasts, two smallness of a woman’s waist. Skinner escorting his glasses of wine with dinner, and as best he couldpartner back to her table, standing there talking to see, Skinner was still working on his second scotch.
people, left hand on the back of a chair, right hand Enough to put Mulder under the table and give searching briefly, automatically, for a pocket that him a hangover to remember, but Skinner seemed j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j People were leaving now, couples or small, Stung, Mulder scrambling to his feet, getting even-numbered groups. Skinner had been the only right in Skinner’s face, his eyes bitterly, painfully person alone, the top table quickly rearranged to honest, daring Skinner to meet him with equal truth. “Afraid I’ll remind people too much of our Scully, of course, would have been welcome to sit beside Skinner, to blend in delicately as his And Skinner backed off. Walter Skinner actually Maybe he should check if the Bureau’s health Pyrrhic, Mulder muttered under his breath. Just Wouldn’t Skinner just love him for the paper- great, he finally scores a major victory and it was work that would engender. So to speak.
The blunt clunk of car doors closing; the sharper coming closer, a single nod indicating Mulder should follow him, and then it was just through the The whisper of wool, the chink of the buckle that last gauntlet of hugs and farewells, before the chill held the sporran slung low over Skinner’s hips, the soft shush of naked skin on naked skin: Skinner “Sir, if you’ll wait here while I get the car—” “I’ll get roped into spending tomorrow with my He could see it, out of the corner of his eye, but A fate worse than death, no disputing that. Side he kept his gaze firmly on the road ahead, both by side, they headed for the car, Mulder keeping hands on the steering wheel, mouth clenched shut his eyes open, checking out the passing cars and Muscles beginning to ache as he waited for “Relax, Mulder. I’ve told you, Miller won’t come near me for weeks. He wants to scare the hell out of Instead, there was a finger tapping a rhythm on me, make me suffer. He’s going to hunt me the way a bare knee, and Skinner staring out the window.
I hunted him before he even tries to hit me.” Mulder drove smoothly, wishing that the muscle Mulder’s own profile of Miller said the same in his jaw would stop jumping; hard to carry off thing, and Skinner knew this man, but paranoia cool and unconcerned when your knuckles are had kept Mulder alive too long to give it up. “Be white and your jaw is jumping. And your breathing that as it may, sir, we’ll both feel pretty damned is too fast, and you can’t help but flicker your gaze stupid if you wake up in the hospital tomorrow at the man sitting beside you. At the way his legs with Scully asking us how the hell we managed to were crossed, all that bare inner thigh nearly revealed, barely hidden by the shadow of the kilt.
No response to that, although Skinner did stand Finally, Skinner shifting in his seat, Skinner back and allow Mulder to check the car for any obvious devices, Miller being fond of ‘things that Not breathing too fast now: breath hitching, catching on the sudden lump of shock hitting his hands and knees to check under the car, and a truly chest. “I’ll call my old lovers up and get them to fill inscrutable expression on Skinner’s face when in a scorecard for you.” He didn’t even need to hear Skinner tell him that’s not what was meant, nor On his hands and knees, at Skinner’s feet, look to see that even black humor was too light for this. “Is anything ever worth it?” He shrugged, Without meaning to, Mulder licked his lips.
allowed himself to look at Skinner, allowed himself Maybe it was the alcohol loosening Skinner’s this, perhaps brief, luxury of not hiding. “I have to reins. Maybe it was Mulder’s wishful thinking. But there was something in Skinner’s expression, a Went back to driving, to checking drivers, flicker in those eyes, an aborted gesture of the hand.
passengers in cabs. Could feel Skinner watching Then it was: “Get up, Agent Mulder, before you him, could feel the weight of Skinner’s thoughts.
Last chance, maybe. Faint heart, and all of that.
j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j j“Tell me one thing,” he asked, Skinner giving him temptation to make it more convincing which an inquiring murmur. “Just tell me if you want would, of course, only make it less convincing. The lady—or the FBI agent—doth protest too much.
Skinner looking out the window again, the There was silence for several blocks before there fingers of his right hand tapping again.
was that tiny movement, that fractional shift in The silence lasted several blocks, and Skinner expression Mulder associated with Skinner making had to actually clear his throat before he spoke.
a decision, then the deep, cold voice that handed out assignments. “This is what you want? Of your own free will, not to influence me on the job?” thought. “How much? A lot, a little, for ten minutes “I’ll have my attorney draw up a contract in the Another one of those silences. Mulder squirmed Voice hard and harsh and flat. “Is this what you in his seat, drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Forced himself to stillness, before Skinner’s “Yes. And yeah, I know what I’m asking for and I’m over the age of consent in my state and/or “Enough,” Skinner was saying, reluctantly; a lingering pause, then the words dragged from him.
Another pause. “Call in. Have them contact “Enough to make all the good reasons for not doing Jeffries at his wife’s birthday party, tell him you’rethis feel…just plain stupid.” going to cover security for me overnight, Jeffries Mulder considered hiding behind the pretense of that being another slur against his bedroom where Mulder’s mind went blank as the realization “It’s still no guarantee we wouldn’t get caught.
hit him, hard. It was going to happen. He was And it still doesn’t get rid of you being my subordi- Even if that wasn’t what Skinner had in mind, “Mulder, who the hell does your assessments? Who’s responsible for your job evaluations, for signing off on your cases, your expenses, your He drove carefully, damping down his nerves, travel authorizations? I can’t justify—” making the call, obeying the traffic laws, and “Bullshit. You’re too goddamned uptight feeling like Cinderella riding in her pumpkin. They and…and…fair to blackmail me or be influenced by were at Skinner’s building now, Mulder usingfucking me.” Skinner’s resident’s card to open the security gate, Oh…fuck. He’d said it, he’d just flat-out said it driving sedately to Skinner’s second parking space.
and now, it was…different. Blunt, brutal, lying The thought, the image, ran through his mind, Skinner’s voice sounding different, hammered again and again and again. His movements were by that bluntness. “Is that all it’d be? Fucking?” careful, cautious, keeping everything under auto- “Sure. What else could it be?” And Mulder matic control, while the thoughts spiraled wildly looked at Skinner with a blandly incomprehending expression he’d stolen from Scully.
Skinner didn’t answer Mulder’s question; Maybe just once, but hey, he could take hope repeated his own. “Would it just be fucking?” from the Pringles ad: once you pop, you just can’t Oh, yeah, sir, Mulder thought, I’m going to gush all over you, tell you I think—I’m fucking petri- Once they’d done it, once that barrier had finally fied—that I’m in love with you. As if he’d destroy been breached, how could Skinner argue against it his one and only chance of getting into Skinner’s bed by messing it up with unwanted emotion.
In the elevator, Mulder finally allowing himself “Yes.” Nice and flat, unequivocal. Perfectly con- to look at the man he was going home with.
vincing. Just right. Which meant he had to resist the Skinner was already staring at him, eyes heavy-temptation to embroider the flat fact, resist the j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j All that fire and passion and intensity, turned factly, Mulder stripped off, folding or hanging his clothes across a ladder-backed chair, finding Mulder couldn’t look away; felt like all kinds of himself unhappily the first one naked. His hands fool, standing there in a public elevator gazing into crossed in front of himself, and it was sheer will- Skinner’s eyes. But he hated to even blink, to lose power that made him uncover himself, pure pride that made him walk across that room, stark naked Oh, yeah, sure, sir, it’s just fucking, nothing down to his soul, under Skinner’s flat, uncommuni- He was doing just a fine job of proving that.
Mulder found a grin, pinned it on, threw himself The elevator pinged; seventeenth floor. Mulder down on the bed, bouncing a little. “Nice bed, made himself change his expression, made sure it Walter,” he said, one hand behind his head, the was nothing but lusting, probably even leering. But other ever so nonchalantly rubbing at his lower Caught a glimmer of something in Skinner’s Silence, for a moment, and Mulder’s grin faded.
eyes. Couldn’t place it, was still trying to recognize He stared, unabashed, at Walter Skinner standing it as he stepped out into the deserted corridor, looking down at him. The broad chest was bare, checked for anyone else, waved Skinner forward.
nipples hidden amidst the curling chest hair, the Realized what it must’ve been, when Skinner’s muscular arms and strong legs were bare. The kilt hand cupped his ass, a heartbeat’s heat, as Skinner was still in place, hiding the rest, giving no clue whatsoever as to what lay beneath. As to what Outside his own open front door, head cocked condition Skinner was in. Mulder’s left hand crept slightly, mockingly, to one side, Skinner stood aside down to his own cock, his palm curving warmly around the thickening hardness, and he stroked And again, there was that touch as Mulder himself, once, twice, three times, his thumb caress- ing the head of his cock. Shameless. Or at least a Too brief for his taste, but to have Skinner do that much, in damn near public—never mind there Mulder watched Skinner’s attention focus was nobody in sight and no way anybody could sneak up on them, it was still near as spit public—it watched, breath catching again, as Skinner made the breath catch in the back of Mulder’s “You want me,” he whispered as he closed the The world would end or it’d be declared a door, leaning in closer to Skinner, “you really, really miracle. Get with the program, he told himself.
Take what you can get, before he changes his mind.
“So get your ass upstairs. I’m too old to do it on They could work up to the reciprocal stuff later.
There was an edge to Skinner’s expression, an Mulder’s saucy expression argued the point, but edge Mulder didn’t like at all: coherent, logical he kept his mouth shut, went up the stairs, acutely thought was the last thing he wanted Skinner aware of Skinner’s gaze on his ass. Even more experiencing right now. So he spread his legs, slid acutely aware, halfway up, when Skinner’s hand his fingers lower, down between his cheeks, himself, hugging the heat of that in close, he really, Skinner’s hands were just slightly unsteady as he undid buckles and belts, the kilt sliding from In the bedroom, Skinner sitting on the edge of the bed, very matter-of-fact, emptying sporran, Mulder looked at him. At the size and the removing the skean dhu, taking off socks and shoes weight of him, at the length of him, at the way his cock was more than half-hard, at the way the Like that, huh. Well, he hadn’t expected romance muscles of the thighs were so clearly delineated, at or fond declarations of undying adoration. Hadn’t the way the hair stopped at the top of those thighs, even expected to ever get this much. As matter-of- smooth, clear skin on hips, leading into the lower j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j jstomach, then more hair there, blending into the And because he couldn’t remember the last time thick hair curling round cock and balls.
he’d…done this. A long time since he’d last had “My, what a big cock you have,” Mulder said.
sex. And all the way back to Phoebe since he’d… “All the better to fuck you with,” Skinner He wasn’t going to think the L-word.
replied, and climbed onto the bed, stopping kneel- Fucking, he reminded himself, watching Skinner ing astride over Mulder. “Is that what you want?” coming back to the bed. Just plain, old-fashioned “No, I thought we’d play strip Scrabble,” more fucking, he thought, hunger hollowing him as he than a little irritated: just because he sometimes stared at Skinner, at the body that would be on him, played the brat in the office did not mean he was a kid too stupid to know what he wanted and what Nothing more. Don’t even think about it being he was getting into. What Skinner was getting into.
Yeah, well, Skinner was no fool: sure Skinner Not till tomorrow, when he’d be alone, and knew that. But Skinner had also caught him staring more than once. Skinner had also put up with Calm, and mature and prosaic. Skinner told him, Mulder making what just might have been cow “Lift up,” and pulled the comforter out of the way, eyes at him. For months. Shit. He grabbed all the way down to the bottom of the bed.
Skinner’s hand, brought it between his legs, spread The mattress barely dipped as Skinner got into himself as open as he could. “I want you to fuck me, okay? And when you wake up in the morning, The soft click of Skinner’s glasses being put I won’t be hanging the fucking curtains and I won’t down, and then a moment, quite horribly awk- be calling Tiffany’s to view partnership rings. It’s ward, as they lay side by side for a second, but then just fucking, okay? And it’s what I want.” Skinner was leaning over him, touching him, Skinner’s hand stroking him there, probing him, exploring Mulder’s body with a free hand and big, blunt fingers pressing against him. “You got It shouldn’t feel this good. The who of it Nearly snapped, why, you scared of catching shouldn’t make such a difference to the what of it.
something? But caught himself in time: it wasn’t Skinner’s fault, no reason to ruin everything by His cock raised itself up, weeping eye blindly being mad at something Skinner couldn’t help. You seeking touch, and Mulder heard himself groan as loved someone or you didn’t. Why should Skinner Skinner took him, and stroked him. His balls were drawing up close already, and he knew a moment’s “In my wallet,” he said, very mildly, getting a panic that he’d ruin this like an over-wrought teenager, but Skinner let him go, rubbed great, Oh, they were so mature, so calm, so very soothing circles on his chest, and belly. Kissed his prosaic. “Sure,” Skinner said. “In there.” nipples, sucked them, bit them gently, licked them.
Oh, yeah, calm, mature, prosaic. So how come Deep voice, deep against his chest. “Feel free to Skinner couldn’t meet his gaze and how come he was feeling like a nervous kid facing his first time? “Sorry,” he muttered, and put his hand on Skinner left him on that bed, gave him a terrific Skinner’s chest, fingers sliding through hair to find rear view. Better than the brief glimpse in the nipples, to roll and pinch until there were two hard buds pressing against Mulder’s palms, and then, But even watching Skinner take the liberty of one after the other, against Mulder’s tongue.
going through his pockets, Skinner standing there Oh, fuck, the man even tasted good.
naked in the lamplight, wasn’t enough to distract Mulder pushed, and Skinner allowed it, Mulder his brain from providing unwelcome answers.
touching and kissing, mouthing and caressing Skinner couldn’t meet his gaze because Skinner everything: the sharp point of a shoulder, the long didn’t want to see what Mulder knew was probably sweep of a collar bone, the soft hair covering a firmright there in his eyes. And he was nervous because pec, the ripple of stomach, the delicate smoothnesshe wanted more than Skinner was offering, and of side, the heady contrast of silken skin over hard couldn’t ask for more, because that would put an Oh, fuck, the man really tasted good.
j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j And that noise, addictive, completely addictive, caress of balls against his ass. The softness of hair he’d sell his soul to hear Skinner making that noise against the backs of his thighs, where he was pressed against Skinner’s chest; the pull and the So he sucked, harder, and licked from base to tip stretch of his muscles, as he was bent in half by and back again, and took the fullness of balls into Skinner’s body, as he was spread open by Skinner’s his mouth and tongued those, and listened to the noises Skinner made. Small, controlled noises from Breath, against his face, sounds against his ears, anyone else, but from Skinner, these were a ca- smooth skin and flexing muscles beneath his hands as he held Skinner in close. Closer. Wanted him Skinner needed him. Just for right now, just for this, but Skinner needed him. Wanted him. Desired Mulder lifted his hips, and Skinner pushed into him; withdrew, only a couple of inches, and pushed Mulder took Skinner’s cock into his mouth, in again. Stayed inside him, rocked against him, tongue along the undershaft, and reached down to getting in that fraction deeper, stroking him inside just that little bit. Trapping Mulder’s cock between their bellies, smooth skin stroking on one side, Skinner, withdrawing from him, Skinner pulling damp curling hair stroking along the other.
him up towards the head of the bed, arranging him Then Skinner pulled out almost all the way, far enough that the thick ridge of cockhead stretched Mulder, and then that blunt thickness was pushed The words went straight to his cock.
“Not until,” the sound made Mulder shiver: foil, tearing, latex, sliding, “I’m inside you, fucking Then everything was blurring, Skinner coming “Then fuck me. I want it, come on, fuck me—” in closer, and something Mulder hadn’t really Breaking off, words crumpling into a gasp, as a expected: Skinner was kissing him, and it stole the slick finger stabbed home. Right inside him, so wet, breath from him. He murmured, grabbed Skinner tighter, his arms straining, struggling until he could “You don’t have to go easy, c’mon, just fuck wrap his legs round Skinner, tight, so tight, Skinner still inside him, and Skinner still kissing him.
Saw the question in Skinner’s eyes. Chose not to He’d wanted this, enough that he’d never answer it. Let him think there were other men, or admitted to himself that he wanted it. It was still inventive women. Let him think that, better than only fucking, only a fool would expect more, but this wasn’t a convenience for Skinner, an uncom- Opening fast, his body slippery inside now, monly safe outlet for a desire it was risky to in- Skinner kneeling between his legs, lifting his legs dulge. This was…more. Personal, one step onwards up, opening him wide, all the way, his cock hard and hot against his belly, and Skinner’s cock hard Frightening, exhilarating, exciting: hope.
Mulder kissed back while holding Skinner tight and hard, letting go only enough for Skinner to draw back and fuck him, trying to slow this down, make it last, make it better—make it good enough Mulder heard himself groan, heard Skinner echo that Skinner would come back for more.
him, realized he’d closed his eyes, hoarding this Make it good enough that one day—one night— it just might be more than fucking, and the indul- There was the feeling of being filled, of not being gence of kissing.
alone, of not being separate. Of being touched, In your dreams, he told himself, making himself more intimate than anything else could be. The concentrate instead on how good it was to play his prickle of pubic hair against his balls, and the tongue against Skinner’s; how the pleasure j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j jwarmed through him as he slid his tongue inside With any luck, Skinner would think that all those Skinner’s mouth; traced lips, teeth, tongue again, so rumors about “Mrs. Spooky” were true after all.
wet, so warm, so slippery smooth, such a fine, Maybe it would help convince Skinner that Skinner had simply misunderstood, had simply misread But then the heat rose in his chest, his skin anything other than impure lust in his least-favorite flushing red, the heat prickling him, just as Skinner’s chest hair prickled his chest and nipples.
Skinner still sat there, head bowed, shoulders Heat deep inside, hardness, rhythm rubbing him just right, and the flawless frisson against his cock.
“Come on, it’s not the end of the fucking world! He was on the verge, one more stroke, one more So you fucked a man, so what? It doesn’t make you thrust, and he’d come; too late to do anything about J. Edgar. Sir.”it, too impossible to delay it; time to do nothing other than surrender to it, and to Skinner.
Skinner’s hand less than steady as it ran over the He lost himself in it, drowned in the quintes- sweat-damp skin of his head. “I’m going to sence of everything happening to him right now.
And through that, Skinner didn’t stop, didn’t And Mulder heard the unspoken: get out of my No more kisses; only Skinner taking his own Probably wanted him out of the condo—the pleasure, making dark, dirty noises, sweat beading entire building, the fucking Bureau too.
him, and Mulder watching, watching, unseen now, But Mulder had called in already. He was stuck free to watch as much as he wanted as Skinner Skinner picked his glasses up; put them on one handed; got to his feet. Saying nothing. Not looking fumbling, awkwardness, Skinner hesitating for a at Mulder. Behaving like a man alone.
moment, looking around for where to put the Beggar at a banquet, Mulder watched Skinner leave the room; watched the play of muscles, memorized the color of the skin, remembered what “Oh God,” Skinner said, and Mulder watched it felt like to be covered by that body, to hold those him shift up and sit on the edge of the bed, watched, unflinching, as Skinner didn’t look at What it was like to have Skinner inside him.
Looked like he’d have to go on memories and “Nothing that anyone’s going to find out about,” his own right hand for a while.
Mulder told him, reaching out to stroke his hand At the doorway, Skinner hesitating, glancing down Skinner’s back, stopping as Skinner’s over at Mulder, the movement too brief for Mulder muscles shivered. “Who would I tell? My mom?” to see beyond the darkening, familiar frown.
The sound of water running, a door closing, and No. Never her. Not about this, not ever about this. “I’ll be sure to mention it as we chat over her next autopsy. Or maybe,” since Skinner didn’t seem too reassured, time for some scraps of truth, “I’ll just wait till she’s lying there throwing up from her Wearily, he got up, dressed, and remade the bed.
Until it looked as if nothing, nothing at all, had And let Skinner make of that what he would.
j Bene Dictum IV: Heads & Tails by M. Fae Glasgow j

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