Xmas Story, A

by Jo B

Title: A Xmas Story
Author: Jo B purplefox@usfamily.net
Keywords: M/Sk slash
Rating: PG-13
Story Summary: Skinner is visited by the Ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Spoilers: Yes, a little bit of season 9. Disclaimer: The X-Files are the property Chris Carter, 1013 productions and Fox Broadcasting. Warning! This story contains romance between two men. Turn back now, if the subject matter offends you. Archive: Okay to archive.
Web site: http://slashingmulder.com/JoB/ Author's notes: As if "A Christmas Story" hasn't been done to death, I figured one more story wouldn't hurt.

Special thanks to Joey for the quick beta.


A Xmas Story

Walter Skinner arrived at his apartment on the eve before Christmas after a long grueling twelve-hour day. He carried a paper bag inside and set it on the coffee table. Before walking back to the front door and locking it. He removed his heavy overcoat, damp from melted snow, and hung it in the hall closet. His scalp and the fringe of his remaining hair were also wet. He took off his wirerims and cleaned the water spots off the lenses with a handkerchief. Skinner moved as if on auto-pilot, removing his handgun from its holster and placing it next to the bag on the coffee table.

As he walked into the kitchen, Skinner loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button on his dress shirt. He returned with a tumbler that he set on the coffee table. He removed his suit coat, draped it over the back of the sofa, before sitting and reaching for the paper bag. He removed the quart of bourbon. Skinner's hand shook as he filled tumbler.

It had been five months since Mulder and Scully, and Doggett and Reyes had disappeared. Five months where he'd thrown himself back into his job, only avoiding death by playing along with his enemies. What choice did he have? The X-Files was permanently closed. All the allies he had made through the years were either dead or missing. Kersh was dead, killed as a lesson to him, the bureau's new Deputy Director.

Skinner snorted with disgust. "Deputy Director Walter Skinner."

What had he become? He downed the bourbon then filled the glass again as his eyes fell on the handgun. His life was filled with regrets and missed opportunities. Now he was betraying his own race for a chance to live a little while longer, for a chance that he might just see him once again.

After his fourth drink, he closed his eyes and started to drift off in a drunken stupor only to be rudely awakened by the rattling of chains.

He opened is eyes and swallowed fearfully as they fell on CGB Spender standing before him, dressed in rags with chains on his arms and legs. His skin was a sickly gray. It was clear that he was long dead.

"I dweaming," Skinner slurred, his tongue feeling thick in his mouth.

"Are you, Walter?" Smoke drifted off the apparition's clothes in whiffs that fouled the air around it. "I'm here to warn you to change your ways. Don't make the same mistake I've made."

"I'm nothing like you!" Skinner staggered to his feet.

"You're working for them, like I worked for them."

"I have no choice, they would have killed me if I didn't, like they killed Kersh."

"We all have choices, Walter. Tonight you're at a crossroad in your life. Open your heart to love and let him in. Only love will save you from wandering the world in the afterlife weighed down by chains of remorse and regret."

"I don't know what you mean!"

"I think you do."

"Get out of here!" Skinner snarled, "Go haunt someone who gives a damn!"

"Oh, you're not getting off that easy." The smoker poked a bony finger into Skinner's chest. "Before this night is over you will be haunted by spirits on three separate visits. The first will visit you when the clock strikes one."

Skinner woke with a start to find himself back on the sofa with the empty tumbler still clutched in his hand. He looked at the mantel as the clock chimed one. "A dream, it was only a dream," he muttered doubtfully as the scent of cigarette smoke still hung in the air.

Suddenly a redheaded spirit dressed in a lab coat appeared in a blaze of bright light.

"Pendrell?" Skinner said.

"I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past."

"What past? Do you mean the world's past?"

"No. Your past."

"What do you hope to show me?"

Pendrell took Skinner's hand in his. "Come with me, Walter."

The apartment dissolved around them and he found himself back at the Hoover Building. The Ghost continued to hold his hand as they stood outside the X-Files basement office. Skinner's heart fluttered as he looked inside and saw Mulder sitting behind his desk working on a report. He had his glasses on. They always made him look boyish and cute. Skinner smiled longingly. His attention was pulled off Mulder to Scully. Her heals made a tapping noise on the tile floor as she walked down the hallway from the elevator. She didn't seem to see them standing there as she entered the office.

"Can they hear us?"

"No. We are invisible to them."

She set a folder on his desk. 'Mulder, I'm leaving now. Do you have plans tonight?'

'No.'

'You know you're welcome to celebrate Christmas Eve with my mom and me.'

'Thanks for the offer, Scully. But I want to get these reports done. Skinner wanted them yesterday. Then I think I'll just go home.'

Scully sighed, 'Don't work too long, A.D. Skinner can wait until after Christmas for those reports.'

Mulder smiled softly. 'I know. Have fun at your mom's.'

Scully looked at him sadly then walked out of the office.

Skinner and Pendrell stood and watched Mulder work for several minutes, and then the elevator opened at the end of the hallway and Skinner saw himself step off. He remembered this event from his past. It was five years ago, shortly after his wife had died and he feared spending his first Christmas Eve alone. He had planned to see if Mulder wanted to go out for a drink.

His other self knocked on the open door before entering the office.

Mulder appeared surprised to see him. 'Sir, I'm still working on the last report. I should have it up to you in an hour,' he said quickly.

'Relax, Mulder. The reports can wait until the day after Christmas.'

Mulder sighed and leaned back in his chair. 'Why are you here then, sir?'

'I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.'

'Thank you, sir. Merry Christmas to you, too.'

'What are your plans for tonight?'

'Ah, I'm going to spend tonight with some friends. You know roasting chestnuts and singing Christmas carols...the usual.'

Skinner turned to Pendrell. "Why is he lying?"

"He didn't want you to know that he had no life outside of work. You're one of the few people that Mulder cared about what you thought of him. If you would have asked him to go out for the drink first, he would have accepted."

Skinner watched as his other self covered up his disappointment.

'Mulder, I hope you enjoy your evening. I'll see you and your report first thing Thursday morning.'

'Yes, sir.' Mulder frowned and went back to working on the report.

Skinner shook his head sadly. "Well I suppose it doesn't matter, he was in love with Scully."

"He loved Scully but she never returned his love. You might have saved him from having his heart broken by her. She's very good at breaking hearts," Pendrell said sadly.

"You loved her, too?" Skinner said.

Pendrell straightened. "It's time to get you back home," the Ghost said as the office faded and Skinner found himself alone again in his apartment.

He didn't have time to take more than a breath when the clock chimed again and three new Ghosts appeared.

Skinner felt a headache coming on at the prospect of being haunted by the three stooges. All three Gunmen were dressed in bright Christmas colors with long velvet robes of red, green, and gold. They had stocking caps on their heads with silver bells.

"Hey, baldy, are you ready to rock?" Langly said.

"Yeah, Skinman, lets get to it," Frohike said.

"What are you supposed to be?" Skinner asked.

"We're the Ghosts of Christmas Present," Byers said.

"What are you suppose to show me?"

They formed a circle around him and joined hands. Snow swirled around them as the room vanished and Skinner found himself outside in the middle of a forest.

A man wearing a parka was kneeling in the deep snow weeping before a snow-covered grave under the tall evergreen trees. Skinner read the handmade marker: Dana Katherine Scully, February 23, 1964 - November 21, 2001.

The man wiped at the tears streaming down his cheeks as he rose. Skinner caught a glimpse of Mulder's grief stricken face as he turned and headed back to a small cabin nestled beneath the pines.

"She died from a brain tumor," Frohike said.

"She didn't tell Mulder that she had the chip removed, so the aliens couldn't use it to track them...him," Langly added.

"She finally returned his love but it was already too late for them," Byers said.

"Where are we?" Skinner asked as tears ran down his cheeks.

"We're not too far from D.C. this cabin belongs to Mulder's friend Chuck Burks."

"Why are you showing me this?"

"Open your heart, Walter, it isn't too late to find love," Frohike said as the woods faded around them and Skinner was once again awakened by the chime of his mantel clock.

He sat up on his sofa, looking around the dark apartment fearfully as the final chime sounded.

Krycek appeared before him dressed all in black and looking menacing. His skin was a pale alabaster and his green eyes glowed with an unearthly beauty.

"Krycek, which spirit are you?"

Krycek didn't say a word as he held out his arm to Skinner.

Skinner swallowed and touched his leather sleeve. He found himself back at the cabin in the woods. The snow had melted and the cabin was surrounded by yellow crime tape and a team of agents worked inside and outside. Scully's grave was being exhumed.

Krycek led him inside the cabin. Skinner gasped and turned his head. He felt faint and sick to his stomach. Bile rose in his throat threatening to spill on the dusty wood floor. Mulder's body lay on the floor and from the looks of it, he had been dead for several months.

Skinner turned to Krycek. "This hasn't happened yet. Please tell me it isn't too late? Krycek, you're the Ghost of Christmases yet to come, aren't you? Just tell me there's time to save him?"

Krycek held out his arm. Skinner looked at it fearfully and touched his sleeve again. Instead of returning to his apartment Skinner found himself standing on the roof of the Hoover building. His other self was there and appeared years older, he was standing behind the toothpick man and the other collaborators as alien spaceships rain fire down on the city, destroying all that was around them.

Skinner looked at his older self and shook his head. "No, I won't let it come to this. Krycek, take me home I don't want to see any more!"

The alarm clock went off and Skinner pried his sleep-encrusted eyes open. He found himself fully dressed and lying on top of the bedspread in his bedroom. His mouth was dry, like it was full of cotton, and his head throbbed painfully. What just happened? Was last night a drunken dream? He hurried out of bed and down the stairs. It was still dark outside, he glanced at the clock and found that it was only four o'clock in the morning. He found his personal address book in his desk drawer, looked for the telephone number for Doctor Burks, and dialed it.

The telephone rang several times before a sleepy voice answered.

"Hello."

"Doctor Burks?"

"Yes."

"Its Walter Skinner...I need your help."

"What can I do for you, Deputy Director Skinner?" There was a hint of caution on Burks' voice.

"I need directions out to your cabin, it's a matter of life and death."

"Whose death?"

"Mulder's. You know he's staying there."

Burks remained guarded. "I don't know if I can trust you."

"Do you know that Dana Scully is dead?" Skinner asked.

He heard a sharp intake of breath then a shaken. "No."

"Doctor Burks, I'm afraid that Mulder might try to kill himself. Please tell me how to get to your cabin."

"Do you have a piece of paper handy?"

Skinner dug a notepad out of his desk. "Yes, go ahead." He wrote down the directions as Chuck gave them to him.

He took a couple of minutes to change into jeans, a flannel shirt, and hiking boots. He pulled on his heavy winter coat then headed out the door.

The drive to the cabin took just under four hours, and he prayed every single second of the trip that he'd find Mulder alive.

The morning sun had broken above the horizon as Skinner reached the cabin. He parked the SUV and ran up the steps, opening the door without knocking. Mulder was sleeping curled up on the sofa. The cabin was cold. The fire in the potbellied stove had burned down to a few embers. Skinner opened the metal door and put some wood and kindling onto the embers before he kneeled next to the sofa and shook Mulder awake.

Mulder's eyes fluttered open and he looked up at Skinner's worried face. He reached up and cupped his hand over Skinner's cheek. "You're real."

"I'm real, Mulder."

"Why are you here? How did you find me?"

"It's a long story, but I'm here now."

The younger man threw his arms around Skinner's neck and hugged him as he started to cry. "Walter, Scully's dead."

Skinner hugged him back as tears formed in his eyes. "I know, Mulder. I wish I could have been here for you sooner." They held each other and wept for several minutes before Skinner murmured softly, "I love you."

Mulder pulled back and looked at Skinner's tear-stained face. "What did you say?"

"I love you, Fox Mulder." He then threw caution to the wind, lowered his lips to Mulder's, and kissed him.

Mulder returned the kiss while holding onto Skinner tightly, as a drowning man would clutch a life preserver. After the kiss ended he rested his chin on Skinner's shoulder and just enjoyed the warmth and strength of his body. "I love you too, Walter."

Skinner rubbed his back soothingly. A great weight had been lifted off his heart and he felt like a new man. "Merry Christmas, Fox."

Mulder gazed through tear-filled eyes over Skinner's shoulder at where Scully now stood smiling at them. Behind her were the Gunmen, CGB Spender, Pendrell, and Krycek. Her smile grew as her eyes filled with love for them. "Merry Christmas, Mulder. I hope you enjoy my present."

Mulder smiled back and mouthed, 'Thank you.' And hugged Skinner tighter.

Scully glowed with an inner light like an angel...his angel. She and the others vanished in a shimmering pool of light, leaving peace and love behind.

The end.


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