Heart Murmur

by Goddess Michele

Title: Heart Murmur

Author: Goddess Michele

Date: Feb. 14, 2003

Fandom: X-Files

Pairing: M/Sk

Spoilers: none

Rating: PG13, cos even Marvel comics says if it's gay, its for grownups

Beta: I am my own worst beta

Disclaimer: Boring but necessary disclaimer: C.C., Fox and 1013 own them, I'm just borrowing them for fun, not profit, and I promise to return them only slightly bruised, but in that good 'thank you sir and may I have another?' way.

Feedback: yes, PLEASE starshine24mc@yahoo.com

Archive: anywhere, including SM and ATXF, just leave my name on it please.

Summary: It's Valentine's Day, but even then, I never give my guys a break. Besides, Mulder on a rant is a beautiful thing...

Mulder stepped quietly into the dim hospital room, looked around cautiously without even being aware he was doing it, and then approached the sleeping figure in the last bed.

Walter Skinner's chest rose and fell evenly as he breathed, but his skin was too pale. With eyes closed and no glasses to hide them, his long dark lashes lay like small shadows on his white complexion.

Mulder sighed, switched the shopping bag in his left hand to his right, and reached out to touch Skinner's cheek softly. His lips compressed into a thin angry line, and he muttered,

"You son-of-a-bitch." Paused for a moment, touched his lover again, got a jaw twitch in response. "You could have just said you didn't want to go dancing, you know."

Casting about for someplace to sit, Mulder found the most uncomfortable chair in the known free world, dragged it up next to the bed with an ugly squealing as the legs dragged over freshly mopped linoleum, and sat heavily.

There was still no response from the sleeping man, and Mulder continued to frown at him, looking more worried now. He brushed a trembling hand over his eyes, bit at his lip, and looked down at the bag in his hand, seeming almost surprised to find it there.

He turned back to Skinner. "It was just supposed to be something nice. You know, night out and all. No big deal. You could have just said no, or maybe some other time, or, hell, even fuck that. I would have been just fine with that, you know."

No reply.

"But no!" Mulder's voice grew more strident, his tone belying the worry he was trying to mask with indignation. "What do I get? Excitement and agreement and plans for a late dinner after. You getting all romantic on my ass, and getting my hopes up for this whole thing. And then what?"

Pushing himself up from the chair and away from the disturbing image of his lover lying still and unconscious, Mulder began to pace back and forth, the red bag in his hand swaying almost enough to dump its contents as his steps grew more frenetic.

"I'm all set to walk out the door, and the phone rings. Oh, it'll be Walter, I think, telling me he's already downstairs and waiting for me. And don't give me that look; you do it all the time. If I weren't so sure you do it on purpose to keep me off balance, I'd be getting a complex. I'm not always late, you know..."

A thoughtful, if pained pause, and his steps slowed as he turned and made his way back to the bed. Another pass of a hand over his eyes, and this time his fingers came away damp. A trembling sort of a sigh passed through his lips, and he sat again.

"But instead of that straight to the balls surly tone that I know you keep in reserve just for me and the secretaries in the steno pool, I get the enigmatic Dr. Scully. Now don't get me wrong, Scully's voice can be pretty hot at times, although it's nothing I'd pay 4.95 a minute for or anything, but...but I digress...Hey, Walter, come on, look at me when I'm talking to ya..."

Mulder thought he saw another slight clenching in the jaw, but it might have been wishful thinking.

"And what does my dear friend and partner want to say to me when she calls? Not Happy Valentine's day, that's for sure. No, she's calling to tell me that Kim called her to say that you have landed yourself in the hospital with chest pains. Chest pains? What the hell is that? I mean, is it a heart attack? A stroke? Bad Chinese at lunch? I-I can't get anything more out of her, even now. `An incident' she says. `An episode' everyone else says. What does that mean? An incident is an alien abduction, for God's sake! An episode is a rerun of Will and Grace. That doesn't explain anything!"

Again, his voice was rising till it was nearly at shouting levels, and he took several deep breaths to calm himself, tried using his psychic powers to wake up his lover, discovered again for the millionth time that he didn't have psychic powers, and looked back at the bag.

"Are you wondering what I have here?" he asked the sleeping man. As if hearing a reply, he smiled grimly and said. "Well, as a matter of fact, I rushed right over here without even stopping to think. I know, I know, that's how I always do it, at least according to you and Scully, but hey, you gotta admit, I've been more careful lately...okay, a little more careful. All right, already, so I've at least looked both ways crossing the street. Cut me some slack, Walter."

Reaching into the bag, Mulder produced a heart shaped box of candy with a flourish worthy of the worst magician. "Ta da!" he proclaimed. When no applause greeted this trick, he frowned at his audience, set the bag down, and opened the box.

"Chocolate covered cherries--your favorite. And you didn't think I'd remember. Or that I'd even do anything at all, did you? Come on, admit it, you don't think I'm the least bit romantic, do you? Well, okay, so maybe I'm not the most Hallmarkian fellow you're ever going to meet. Or fuck, for that matter. But hey, you're in luck. I have a photographic memory, so when you comment on the cherry flavored lube, or the chocolate body paint, I remember little things like that. And I'm a trained psychologist. I put the pro in profile." He tapped his forehead with one finger. "I can add two and two, and sometimes I even get four."

Passing a look between the chocolates and Skinner, he opened the box and plucked out a candy. He held it out to Skinner, who stubbornly remained unconscious.

"Come on," he said teasingly, "you know you wa-a-ant it..."

Apparently Walter Skinner wasn't hungry.

"Well, then, I'll just have to eat them myself." Ignoring the fact that he didn't like chocolate covered cherries all that much, Mulder popped the sweet confection into his mouth. Sugar, cocoa, milk solids and fruit muffled his next words.

"Now look at what you're missing, Walter. For an `episode', no less." He'd already made quote fingers at his lover before he could stop himself. Recovering, he set the box of candy down gently onto his lover's chest, with a muttered "Help yourself", and reached back into the bag. This time, the treat was just as sweet, but by no means edible.

"And who says romance is dead?" Mulder scoffed, holding up a plush gray alien, complete in its stereotype, from large glassy black eyes to the tiny mouth, large head and small body. In its long fingered plush hands it held a red plush heart, and on the heart was embroidered (in a font not seen since the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey): "You're Out Of This World!"

It was horrible.

Mulder gave Skinner an encouraging smile and said, "See, it wasn't like you were going to have to go dancing for nothing."

He tucked the toy into the crook of Skinner's arm, regarded it solemnly for a moment, and then in a small voice, completely without his usual wise cracking bluster, he murmured, "I wish you were holding me..."

He slumped down in the chair and tried to focus on Scully's last words to him. That this was nothing. Merely a result of overwork and not enough down time. He wondered if he should feel guilty about that, decided he probably would, regardless of whether he wanted to or not, had a dark thought for his family programming, and then whispered, "You're going to be okay, Walter. Not only did Scully promise me that, and she's never broken a promise, but also it's Valentine's Day. And that means that you're not allowed to do something so incredibly unromantic as dying on me. It's a rule, or something. And I promise, we don't have to go dancing. Ever...just, you know, just..."

Skinner moved so slightly that at first Mulder thought he was seeing things. But the box of candy, which he had carefully placed onto his lover's chest, was sliding towards him, and Mulder was a good enough investigator that he could catch even so subtle a clue.

He reached for the box, and gasped when Skinner's hand caught his. The box of candy slid off the man and off the bed, landing on the floor completely unlike a cat. Chocolate covered cherries scattered, and neither man noticed.

"Hey, Walter," Mulder tried to play it cool.

"I thought I was dreaming," replied Skinner, his voice soft and his eyes dark with confusion.

"Well, there are those who'd say I am a dream come true," replied Mulder. "And who'd be the best judge of that, but you, right?"

Skinner didn't fail to notice that despite the light bantering tone, Mulder's fingers were clutching his tight enough to nearly cut off the circulation. He ignored his lover's talking for a moment, let the memories of the last few hours fall into place, decided he knew what had happened, and turned dark eyes on Mulder, who was still spouting words at an almost hysterical pace.

"--So the next time I suggest something so stupid, you're just going to have to tell me to shut up, you know. None of these queeny theatrics--they're so beneath you anyway, and aren't you always telling everyone you're the top anyway. I really mean it. Just say--"

"Mulder..."

Mulder froze at the sound, his eyes locked with Skinner's, and he made no protest as the older man pulled him down onto the bed and on top of himself. The patented alien valentine was squashed between them, and they didn't care.

"Mulder," Skinner said again. "Shut up."

Even if he hadn't at that moment been kissed completely and thoroughly, Mulder wouldn't have said a word. He could take a hint...


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