Title: Namesake
Author: Maria Shugars
Date: 30 March 2001
Fandom: X-Files
Pairing: M/Sk
Category: Slash
Rating: PG
Status: Complete
Archive: If you'd like; just tell me where, please
Feedback: mshugars@gisystems.net
Series/Sequel: n/a
Other web sites: none
Disclaimers: Sure wish they were mine but they belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and assorted other corporate entities making big bucks out of it all. I just do it for fun.
Summary: The anniversary of an encounter of the first kind.
Notes: This was inspired by all the list talk of anniversary fiction and Mulder as a fox. A big thank you goes to my betas, Michele and Bertina. Any mistakes left are all mine. Finally, an even bigger thank you to CC for making Mulder so slashable and to DD for bringing this great character to life.
Warnings: Visit your dentist after reading.


Namesake
By Maria Shugars

Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the Federal Bureau of Investigation awoke gradually. He felt the sun's warmth on his face and realized that he'd forgotten to close the drapes last night. Ignoring the bright light pressing doggedly against his eyelids, he kept his eyes closed and savored the contentment he felt.

"Today's the day," he thought and his heart beat in a slightly faster rhythm.

It was an anniversary of sorts; the perfect time to remember a fleeting moment. He had spent hours searching for just the right gift and planning the ideal setting in which to present it. He was counting on his lover's eidetic memory and hoped he would understand the meaning of the ceremonial gift.

*****

"For pity's sake, Sir, can't you go any faster? I need a shower."

The driver said nothing. His eyes were riveted to the road, but he wasn't ignoring the other man. In fact, he understood Fox Mulder's frustration completely. His partner was ill, the case had gone badly, the locals were all horse's asses and uncooperative asses at that, and the damn car was too old and neglected to go much over the speed limit on the poorly paved country road. Both of them were tired after too many late nights and too much bad food.

A sigh, then a whispered apology. "I'm sorry, Sir. This case..." He tapered off. "I miss Scully."

His plaintive tone touched the older man. "She'll be all right. Just give it time." He gave Mulder a quick glance, taking in the drooping shoulders, the pale skin, and the worry lines etched into his face. He knew that cases involving children were especially hard on him, and this one was no exception. Mulder came up with his brilliant insights the hard way--he immersed himself in the killer's psyche until it was hard to know where Mulder ended and the killer started. It was a brilliant method that almost always garnered the results they wanted, but not without cost. The man was exhausted.

They rode in silence for a while. When his passenger showed signs of getting restless, Skinner pulled off the road next to a field bordered by light vegetation and a small copse of trees.

"I need a drink," he announced and reached back to the small cooler on the back seat. "Want one?"

Mulder shook his head no, and then nodded, reaching out for the proffered can of Diet Coke. He opened the car door and stepped out, stretching his long limbs and shaking his head and shoulders.

Skinner, feeling cramped from the long drive, also climbed out and walked around to the passenger side of the car. He caught himself admiring his agent's lanky torso, but chose not to rebuke himself. Instead, he hid a smile at the fleeting thought of how animalistic and sleek he appeared, even as tired as he was, just like his namesake, Vulpes vulpes. All he needed was a bushy tail.

He had to admit, the quirky young man fascinated him. He admired his quick intellect, his fierce loyalty, his uncannily accurate intuition, and his amazing breadth of knowledge. He smiled to himself again as he realized his admiration for the man extended well beyond his mind. He also admired those pouty lips, that runner's body, and that lovely, shiny hair. God help him, but he was even beginning to look forward to the bouts of obsessive behavior, the impulsive actions, and the highly imaginative expense reports. He sighed. Somehow, in the last few years, he'd gone from being a former Marine and Mulder's superior to being a total idiot lusting after his subordinate.

He stood watching Mulder, riveted by how the sun made his hair gleam as he shook his head. He was almost in a panic at how close he was to just reaching out to touch it.

He tipped his head back to take a sip from the can and almost choked when Mulder suddenly dropped his Diet Coke and ran towards the fence and down the road.

"Mulder! Where...?"

The agent frantically waved at him to be quiet as he slowed and crept carefully along the fence. A flash of red appeared and disappeared so quickly that Skinner almost didn't believe he'd seen it.

Checking for his gun, Skinner crept to where his agent was hunkered down. Mulder was so intently focused on looking through the scrub that when the creature came through the foliage to the fence he lost his balance and landed on his rump with a soft, surprised, "Unh!"

Skinner stopped abruptly, enthralled by the sight of Mulder fascinated by the sight of his namesake.

The animal was totally unafraid and walked slowly and elegantly towards the seated agent. The fox's eyes were bright and alert, its nose twitching as it scented the strange creature in its path. It stretched an already long, lean body to get a closer sniff. Mulder was totally still, his whole body taut and thrumming with excitement and something akin to awe. The animal crept closer, apparently sure of a safe encounter, or maybe just catching the scent of the half-eaten chicken sandwich that Mulder had stuffed into his pocket at lunch.

True to his nickname and to his well-deserved reputation for leaps of intuition, "Spooky" Mulder reached slowly and carefully into his pocket and extracted the sandwich.

"Want some of this?" he asked so quietly that Skinner, only a foot away, barely heard him. The fox tilted its head as if thinking it over. Then, with it's eyes never leaving Mulder's face, it crept closer, expertly and neatly snatched the sandwich out of his hand, and gracefully turned to run into the center of the field.

Skinner came up closer to Mulder and put his hand on the younger man's shoulder in quiet acknowledgement of the wondrous event. Fox Mulder turned to look up at his boss and friend. The statement of delight, sheer joy, and wonder on his face stopped Walter Skinner's heart and changed his world forever. His heart shouted its message; his soul heard it and he knew what love was.

They sat quietly and watched the fox finish the sandwich. The animal then sat up, waved its body slightly as if in thanks and farewell, then turned with graceful dignity into the trees and disappeared.

Mulder took a deep breath. He turned again to the man beside him. "You're right, Sir," he whispered. "She'll be fine. I'm fine. The world is fine..." He smiled again, a smile reflected in his eyes, his body, his voice, totally erasing the earlier bleakness. "Let's go home."

*******

It took Walter Skinner another month and another Mulder near-death experience before he got up the courage to do something about how he felt. He didn't let himself think he might have a chance until he was thoroughly convinced that, while Mulder and Scully loved each other deeply, neither was in love with the other. It took another two months before he realized that Mulder was patiently waiting for him to catch up.

Skinner smiled at the memory of that agonizing time and slid out of bed. When he returned a short time later, he carried a tray with two cans of Diet Coke, a chicken sandwich torn in half, and a large, lumpy, wrapped gift with a huge bow.

"Hey, sleepy head!" he exclaimed, setting the tray to one side," We don't have all day. Come on, breakfast is ready."

Mulder's response was to pull the sheet up over his head while mumbling something about "crack of dawn." All that got him was the sheet yanked away and the sharp crack of an open palm on his exposed and naked butt.

"Hey!" he yelled, fully awake now, and more than a little prepared to be the surly one in the relationship this morning. Then he spotted the present. "For me? What's the occasion?" he asked, suddenly beaming like a child at Christmas, all sleep and crankiness forgotten.

At Skinner's 'go on' nod he ripped open the gift and hugged it tightly, his eyes suddenly bright with unshed tears. He solemnly picked up the sandwich and held it out to the life-sized plush fox, lightly stroking the soft, lifelike fur. He turned to his lover with that same, incredible look lighting up his face and the room and Walter Skinner fell in love all over again for the hundredth time that year.

"I love you, too," Fox Mulder whispered.


Archived: April 27, 2001