Title: The Letter
Summary: Skinner receives a surprise letter that sends his world into a spin.
This particular Monday, Walter Skinner arrived at his office early. His weekend hadn't been much to write home about and he was relieved to come into the office and finish some of what he had left over from the previous week.
He had used the weekend to think about what his life was like. He had lost his wife and since that time, he'd had two relationships and they had both broken down for the same reason. The ladies had said he didn't have any need for a relationship when he had his work. He would be the first person to admit that he was a workaholic but sometimes, even work wasn't enough. This weekend he had decided not to take any work home with him and all it served to do was to show him how empty his life was outside work.
Even at work, he didn't socialize much. With his position, it was difficult enough dealing with his competitive colleagues and supervising the X-Files didn't help. Whenever he came across any of Mulder's 302's or reports, he knew he was in for a fascinating read and this made him the envy of his colleagues. While these reports took him away from the routine of other crimes, he had a healthy respect for what the agents under his command did. He had come too far and seen too much to disbelieve what he read because he knew that more often than not, a large percentage of the report, no matter how fascinating was true.
Speaking of the agents under his command, he had a meeting with them this morning. He was about to turn down one of Mulder's more extreme requests and he had a feeling the other man wont like it and he'd have a fight on his hands. It was funny that half of the time he turned down the other man's requests, he came up with obscure reasons why his requests should be approved. Skinner didn't think he had heard the most obscure of those reasons but he knew that when he heard it, it would take the prize.
He sat working at his desk as the time moved on and barely noticed when his assistant came into his office to offer him salutations. The first time he raised his head from the reports he was buried under was when she brought him some coffee.
"Oh! Good morning Kim. Thank you."
"Good morning Sir. Agents Mulder and Scully are waiting outside for you 9.00 appointment."
"Send them in"
As they walked in, he could see the happiness radiating from them and like everyone else, he also wondered if they had a relationship away from work. He didn't like to delve too much into the answer of that question because he didn't want to do anything that would affect the dynamic between them. If there was something that almost as interesting as Mulder's reports it was watching them work. Mulder's faith and belief in the paranormal and Scully's multiple tries to bring him down to the earth realm of science. Some times, watching them felt like watching an invisible ping-pong game. Tossing ideas like the invisible ball and understanding each other instinctively.
"Good Morning Sir." They both said.
"Good Morning Agents. Please sit down." He gave them a chance to do as instructed and then continued:
"On my desk is your request to go to Chicago for the mysterious disappearances. At this time, I do not believe that it is a case worth your going to Chicago. If you still feel that you need to go, then give me some more proof and I may consider it but for now, request denied."
"But!" He interrupted Agent Mulder before he could even offer any kind of rebuttal.
"I've made my decision Agent Mulder. If you place on my desk irrefutable proof that this is an x-file and your presence is required in Chicago, then I will approve your request. In the mean time, the reports from your last case have not been submitted to me and I'd like to have it by the end of the day. Thank you Agents, that will be all."
The two agents got up in tandem and left the room together. Skinner knew that Mulder was disappointed but he couldn't send him away just yet. He had to cut sown the expenses his departments were accumulating and it had to start with his most expensive agents.
He then took a break to enjoy the coffee that Kim had brought him earlier and while doing so, chose to check his private mail. He had only one new mail and he didn't recognize the sender. He opened it and received the surprise of his life.
Subject: Interesting Idea.
This is going to be a first for me and I don't quite know how to go about it. Our acquaintance has been a long and fruitful one for me and even though there are times that my gratitude doest exactly seem obvious, I am grateful for all that you have done for me.
On this quest that I have been on, there are very few people that I trust and I'm glad that you are one of them .I want to believe that meeting you was a blessing and though sometimes it doesn't seem like it, I hope that the same can be said of you,
I am writing this letter because things have changed. I feel that my quest is almost over and I need to decide where to go from here. I find the thought of losing you a painful one and I'm at a loss as to explain how and when you became so important to me. Maybe you won't read this, then again, maybe I won't send it but there is one thing that I cannot keep from saying anymore. Over time, I have come to love you. In the beginning, it was a difficult thing to accept but not any more. I do love you. Probably more than I should but you mean so much to me. I wish I could be there to comfort you when you are sad; Laugh with you, wipe your tears when you cry or cry with you if I need to. Being in your presence brings me a fulfillment that I cannot explain and spending time with you would be the highlight of my days. I cherish the few memories I have of the times we have spent together however brief and I'd like to make some more memories.
Why am I writing you this? You may be asking yourself. I'm writing because I want you to know how I feel and to ask you a question Do you care for me? Can you ever love me? I need to know. Please. Seeing you everyday, so near yet so far is no longer enough for me. Are you really that close or really that far? I want to move on but I know that I will regret it for the rest of my life if I don't give myself the chance to move on with you before I move on without you.
Why do I love you, you may ask. You are a handsome man; to me beautiful. You are a strong man; to me a tempered strength. You are a knowledgeable man; to me I find wisdom in your knowledge. I can bask in your presence, dwell on the sound of your voice, find comfort with you and find refuge in your arms. All these I would gladly give you if and when you need them. I have always considered you a friend and should you not love me, I will always remain your friend.
Walter Sergei Skinner, It has been great knowing you and loving you has always been worth it even from a distance.
If I haven't completely embarrassed both of us, I have to end this here.
As I have always been,
He wasn't expecting this. Not even in an uncountable number of years. Skinner sat at his desk for about 30 minutes after reading the email thinking about nothing and doing nothing. When he came back to himself and started thinking again, his first thought was that he could always trust Fox Mulder to give him the surprises of his life.
He didn't know how to respond to the letter. There was a sense of finality to it that gave him a pause and encouraged him not to take it lightly. He knew that Mulder was too serious minded a person to carry out such a practical joke so the letter contained nothing more than the truth, as Mulder knew it. What was his own truth? Mulder was his subordinate. Maybe a little closer than others because one didn't share some of the experiences they did and remain unaffected by them but that did not negate the circumstances as they were.
What did he mean by 'His quest was coming to an end? He knew the other man had said something about having found out what happened to his sister but the battle was still on so where was Mulder going?
Could he love him? He hadn't loved a man for a long time, not since before his marriage but yes he could love him.
Did he care for him? Yes he did care for him. Sometimes he would catch sight of vulnerability in Mulder that the other man didn't often let others see. When he didn't get the answers he sought, and things didn't work our his way, he would give the appearance of having the whole world on his shoulders and wouldn't let anyone relieve him even someone as close as Scully.
He couldn't do anything without talking to Mulder. But what could he say in response to a letter like the one he had received? Who knew that there hid a romantic in the heart of that oh so cynical man. What could he say to him?
He chose to shelf any further thoughts on his relationship or non-relationship as the case may be with Agent Fox Mulder. It took him some considerable effort to concentrate on his work and do his job. Right on time, at the end of the working day, Kim left on his desk the reports he had requested from the morning meeting he had with the agents. He took Fox's report home with him and when he got home, he found he couldn't even it because he was thinking too much. He let his thoughts reign free as he tried to imagine what a relationship with Mulder would be like. He knew there would never be a dull moment but he had the feeling that Mulder had the capacity to care very much and maybe, that was what he needed in his life. He had to think it through though because he wouldn't want to take the other man on his offer out of loneliness and hurt them both. What he would like though would possibly be a chance to find out what they could be to each other.
Over the next couple of days, Skinner did his best to keep away from anywhere he knew or thought Mulder would be. On Thursday, he knew he could no longer keep avoiding the other man without offering some kind of explanation. So he cleared his schedule and called the agent to his office.
"Come in Agent Mulder, Have a seat." He remained seated opposite Mulder and as he realized that this gave them the appearance of formality, he got up and sat beside the other man turning the seat to face him.
"I got your letter."
At this, Mulder stood up and walked to the window looking through the window. Before the silence could become oppressive, he turned and faced Skinner.
"I apologize for any offense this may have caused, that was not my intention."
"No you didn't offend me but out of curiosity, what was your intention?" At this, the other man gave him an enigmatic smile and answered:
"I got tired of hiding Sir. I felt it was better to let you know and face the consequences than live in regret."
"What were you thinking? You're subordinate to me. Aren't you aware that it would raise friction in our working relationship whatever my answer turned out to be?"
"I have learned to trust your judgment in some things Sir. If I garnered a positive response, then we would start working towards a relationship and it would be in our best interest to keep the friction off work. If on the other hand the response was negative, you are after all a fair man Sir and wouldn't hold my feelings against me but were that not the case, I am at a crossroads Sir and I will be moving on regardless of your decision."
On hearing this, Skinner thought to himself that Mulder had neatly covered all his bases and would do whatever he wanted independent of Skinners choice but looking into his eyes, he saw that vulnerability that told him more than words ever could how much Mulder wanted a positive outcome.
"You referred to me as Walter in your letter. Why do you now call me sir?"
"I call you Sir because calling you Walter indicates an intimacy which you are yet to extend to me."
Skinner couldn't keep both of them in suspense any longer so he stood and walked towards the other man until he was directly in front of him. As they faced each other, he put forward his hands for a handshake and said:
"Hello, My name is Walter Skinner. I understand yours is Fox Mulder; it'll be a pleasure to get to know you better."
He was rewarded by the brilliant smile that covered Mulder's face and reached into his eyes. The other man shook the hand that was stretched out and used their joint hands to pull the bigger man into an embrace and whispered:
"Walter. Thank You."
As Walter Skinner hugged him back, he knew that their lives had been changed forever and the man in his arms who had the courage to take the first step was a treasure he'd found that he would be keeping.
Archived: August 25, 2001