Brave Lord Nelson Revisited
Mulder looked around the pub as he sipped what had to be his eighth Guinness of the evening. It amazed him that something this rich in taste and texture actually had fewer calories than the average beer. He'd been pleased to find out it contained less alcohol than most imports as well. Of course, that didn't mean much considering the quantity of pints he'd consumed. He knew he was 'over the limit' but since he wasn't driving he didn't really care. Tomorrow morning he'd probably feel differently.
The band struck up "Lord Nelson" and was greeted with cheers from the audience. The band had been singing mostly Irish fighting songs all night and the crowd was becoming more boisterous in their support of the Republic and it's desire to be 'a nation once again'. He'd had to bite back a couple of comments during the evening when his fellow celebrants had voiced their opinions siding with Sinn Fein and not exactly condemning the efforts of the I.R.A. He'd seen some of the results of that fighting first hand and knew that the Americans tended to gloss over the damage and glorify the pro-republic combatants. It was a complicated situation and so ingrained in the culture that he feared it would never end despite the work of many to establish peace.
"Ya know what we should so?" asked Tim, one of the men at his table. He'd met Tim and his friends at a pre St. Patrick's Day celebration Scully had insisted he'd attend with her. He had enjoyed it. It was a dinner followed by singing and dancing at a parish hall near Mrs. Scully's home. He'd been impressed with the dancers and enjoyed the various groups that had played afterwards. When several of the people he had met had invited him along for their actual St. Patrick's Day celebration at a local pub he'd been happy to accept. Scully had begged off, mumbling something about 'amateur's night'. While he agreed with her to a point, it had been a long time since he'd just gone out with a bunch of people and enjoyed himself. It really wasn't something he'd done much since returning to the States after his college years in England.
"Wha?" was the somewhat mumbled reply from another table mate who Mulder recalled was named Finbar.
Tim quickly gulped down the last of his Guinness. "We should go knock over that statue of Oliver Cromwell that Bill Traver has in front of his house. Ya know he only puts it up each March as a dig at the Irish around here."
The others at the table and in the nearby crowd joined in. There were so many speaking and shouting that Mulder had no chance to identify who said what.
"Yeah! Lets' go!"
"It's about time someone did something about that!"
"The guy's an idiot. He's just looking for a fight."
"He thinks the English are superior. You've heard him go on and on about the English being better than the Irish, Scots, Welsh, Manx, and, and, ya know, the rest of the Celts of the seven nations. He brags about what Cromwell did to Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. It's time someone showed him!"
Mulder looked about in confusion. He had no idea what had started this and no idea how to end it. He did the only thing he could think to do; he went along with the group to see if he could somehow stop them.
Soon the group of inebriated partygoer's stood in a ring around a statue of Oliver Cromwell standing in the yard of a brick home. No lights were on in the house. Mulder checked his watch and found it was almost 2 in the morning.
"There's the ugly thing. I say we smash it," came a voice from the back of the group.
"Nah, knockin' it over is good enough. Leave old Cromwell with his face in the dirt. Too bad there's no statue of Lord Nelson here as well."
Several people giggled at that remark. Mulder now knew what had started this incident. He still had no idea how to end it.
Someone kicked the back of the statue's head and it toppled over into the mud. A chorus of cheers rang through the night as lights came on in the house and sirens sounded behind them. Mulder looked to see four squads pulled up to the curb. Evidently, the group had been noticed and police had been called before the home owner had turned on the lights. The squads had coasted in without their lights on or sirens sounding to catch the group by surprise. It didn't take long to gather up the revelers and pack them into paddy wagons that had appeared behind the squads.
With his hands secured behind him with a plastic tie-lock, Mulder still didn't know what to do.
The police had cut the ties, checked everyone's identification and, after a quick pat down, had just placed them in several holding cells while they sorted out the situation. Somehow, while there had been about an equal number of men and women at the pub, the group that had gathered around the statue had been mostly male. The women had been taken to a different area of cells and the men had been divided up to present "the lowest ratio of people to toilets possible" as described by one of the officers directing the prisoners. Mulder was grateful for that and he was sure the rest of the group was as well. Mulder had told his story to one of the apprehending officers and had been assured that the officer did believe him. He'd been told they had heard the remark to just topple the statue but not do it any damage and had just rounded everyone up to keep the situation from evolving into real trouble. Unfortunately, the officer had noted Mulder's F.B.I. credential and had asked for his superior's name.
Mulder sat on a bench and waited for the inevitable. .Sure enough, when he heard his name called he looked up to see an officer holding open the cell door and a stern faced Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner standing next to it.
He stood and slowly walked out of the cell. Then he waited for instructions.
"Come on, Mulder. They said you were free to go," Skinner said and held out Mulder's wallet and I.D. as he gestured toward the exit. Mulder took the items and then followed Skinner out of the building. He continued to follow quietly until they reached Skinner's car.
"That's okay, sir. I can catch a bus back to my place."
"At this hour? I don't think so. Just get in and I'll give you a lift."
After both men fastened their seatbelts, Skinner started the car and pulled out onto the road. He headed in the direction of Mulder's apartment.
"I'm sorry you were disturbed for this, sir." Mulder said quietly.
"That's all right, Mulder. I was still up, working on some paperwork. The officer who called explained that you weren't in trouble, but that they felt everyone had had too much to drink to be left to get home on their own. I was surprised at how calm it was when I got to the station. Several officers remarked that this was the best behaved group they had ever taken into custody which was truly amazing given that everyone had been drinking."
"I guess no one really wanted to cause trouble. I just wish I could have figured out a way to stop them from leaving the pub in the first place," Mulder commented softly. "I wasn't just going along with the crowd, sir."
"I know that, Mulder. The officer you first spoke with told me what had happened and what you had said. He said he believed you and so do I. Don't worry about it. You were smart enough to leave your gun at home and that counts as well."
"I just wanted a night out to relax and have fun. I didn't expect anything like this to happen."
"Don't beat yourself up about this, Mulder. I understand and I'm not in the least angry with you. We all need to blow off steam occasionally. You did your best to do it in a responsible manner. You're not in any trouble."
"Thank you, sir."
Skinner stopped the car as he noticed the road was blocked ahead. Several fire engines and other emergency equipment blocked the street. "Looks like we better turn around," Skinner said as he shifted the car into reverse and backed into a driveway. He pulled away in the opposite direction. He tried a few alternate routes to find those roads were blocked as well. Curious about what had happened, Skinner asked a police officer directing traffic away from another blocked intersection.
"It started with a car losing control and hitting a fire hydrant. The public workers who responded to turn off the water to the hydrant, discovered that somehow turning off the water there caused the water pressure to back up and break a water main. They're still not sure how that could happen. Anyway, that flooded several streets and caused a water pressure drop; fire alarms went off at a hospital and two nursing homes. The fire department responded to the alarms and another accident happened when two cars on the road tried to pull into the same place to let the emergency equipment pass. They bounced into another parked vehicle and pushed it into a building, breaking a wall that had a fireplace with a burning fire in it. That caught the house on fire and the car that had hit it also caught on fire. The gas tank blew, and, well it's just been a series of accidents cotinuing out from there. I think this whole area is pretty much closed to traffic as a result."
Skinner thanked the officer for the information. He turned the car once again, looked at Mulder and said, "I think the best thing is to just go to my place. I can lend you something to sleep in for the night. My couch is pretty comfortable. We can start over in the morning." He grinned as he added. "I'll call in, too. That way we can sleep in for a bit. It's almost five now. I think we can both take the day off without the bureau coming to a halt."
Mulder felt himself grinning in response. "I appreciate that, sir. It gives me an extra day to come up with an explanation for Scully. I don't think she'll believe me as quickly as you did, sir."
"If it will help, I'll write you a note, Mulder."
"I may just take you up on that, sir."
Skinner finally parked the car beneath his building. It had been a long night and he was tired. He and Mulder headed to the elevator in silence.
Mulder looked around at Skinner's home. The A.D. had gone upstairs to get bedding and sweats for Mulder to use. Mulder wondered at the stark space. It didn't look as if Skinner had done much to put his mark on the place. Just as he moved closer to get a better look at a picture Skinner reappeared with his arms full.
"It's cool in here; I thought I'd bring a few extra blankets. These sweats are tight on me so they shouldn't be that big on you. If you pull the draw string tight on the pants, that is," he added with a smile. They were close in height but Mulder was much more slender than he was.
As he started to spread a sheet over the couch Mulder took hold of the other end. "I can do this, sir. You're probably tired; I don't want to keep you up."
"It's no trouble, Mulder. I am tired, but I don't think I'll be able to sleep right away. Too much on my mind right now," he shrugged as he answered.
"Anything I can help with? I'm a pretty good listener when I want to be."
Skinner looked at him in surprise. "Maybe," he said as he quickly thought about the paper work he had been working on when the police had called. "Tell you what, if you're serious, that is. I'll put on some coffee and call and leave a message for Kim. You can shower and get rid of that smoke smell from the bar and meet me here. Then we can sit down and talk. Maybe you can see a solution I can't to this problem."
Mulder smiled and wondered at the leap of excitement he felt inside. "I was serious, sir. Let me take that shower, I'd love to get rid of this odor. Then we can talk until we figure out something." He smiled again at Skinner, picked up the sweats and headed in the direction Skinner gestured for the shower. He found he was eager to shower and get back to listen to what Skinner had to say.
When Mulder returned to the living room he saw the couch had been made up and there were a couple of folders sitting on the coffee table. He sat on the couch and debated pulling his feet up to stick under the blankets.
"Here!" He looked up and caught the socks Skinner threw to him. "I thought you might like these to ward off the cool air."
"Yeah, thanks." Mulder pulled the socks on and looked surprised as he flexed his feet. He looked up. "I didn't know socks could be decadent."
"These certainly are." Mulder noticed Skinner had also dressed in sweats and was wearing a matching pair of socks. "These are a weakness of mine. I buy several pair each winter. I hate to wear shoes when I'm home and with these socks I certainly don't need to. In summer I just go barefoot when I'm home." Mulder watched Skinner grin as related the personal information. "You don't need to share that with anyone."
"You're secret's safe with me, sir." Mulder also grinned. He liked this relaxed version of his boss.
Skinner set a tray on the coffee table. It held an insulated carafe, 2 mugs, 2 plates, and a couple of knives, containers of cold cuts, bread, mustard, sliced tomatoes, pickles and green olives. He sat next to Mulder and turned to look at him. "Why don't you call me Walter while you're here? We're not a work now."
Mulder nodded, thought of something, and with a surprised look said, "Okay. Why don't you call me Fox? Just while we're here. It'll remind me not to call you sir." He was stunned by the smile that spread over Walter's face and the sparkle in his eyes.
"Wow." It was the only thing he could say.
Walter looked closely at him. "What?"
"I've never seen you smile like that. You look fantastic!" Mulder bit his lip. He hadn't meant to say that sentence out loud. He found he was glad his eidetic memory would let him see that smile any time he wanted and that no one else could. Walter had smiled like that for him.
Walter smiled again. "Thank you, Fox."
Turning back to the table, he continued, "I made hot chocolate instead of coffee. I figured we really didn't need the extra caffeine right now. I added the sandwich fixings when I remembered how hungry I used to be when I got in from a night out with the guys."
"It looks great. I am hungry."
"Good. Help yourself and I'll explain what I've been working on and what I'm having problems doing." He reached for the folders as Mulder assembled a sandwich and poured each of them a cup of cocoa.
Walter sat back, opened the first folder and began. "These are probationary reviews submitted for my approval. I'm trying to find a way to let these two supervisors know that they need to tone down the criticism a bit. These are green agents fresh from Quantico. They're over eager and need to be praised more than criticized. I think two of the new agents have the potential to be great agents, and all of the others seem to be more than competent and have good ideas. They just need mentoring and instruction. The reviews are to provide feedback and to give guidance, not to list everything the supervisors perceive as errors.
"I know this isn't exactly your area of expertise but I'd appreciate your help in finding a way to revamp these without making the supervisors feel like I'm putting down their ideas. I don't want to make the same mistakes they're making," he added with a smile. He picked up his cocoa, took a sip and then began to build his own sandwich.
"Is it all right if I look at these?"
"Sure. Just remember it's private information."
"No problem, Walter. I remember a few scathing reviews by Bill Patterson. I know how personal that was; I won't tell anyone what I read here."
He munched contentedly as he read the first review. "I see what you mean. "Too perky" is hardly a valid review comment. And here, who cares if the kid likes sharp points on his pencils. I don't think he's wasting time sharpening them; I bet he's thinking. This guy is just looking for things to pick on." He looked at Skinner. "Do you think these two just don't get along? Maybe the kid would do better with another supervisor."
"That could be. I hadn't thought about it. Jefferson had great marks in his courses at Quantico. Trent is old school. He was a beat cop, he interviewed three times before he was accepted by the Bureau. They let him substitute experience for several courses when it turned out he had problems with some of the course work. He's a good solid agent who was just promoted last year. He may see Jefferson as a threat. Still, I can't just reassign Jefferson now. I need to find a way to get Trent to tone down the review and see Jefferson's good qualities. This is Trent's first set of reviews. He's learning as well. In a way, he's also being reviewed."
"Gotcha. Okay, here's what I think you should do." Both men moved closer as they leaned over the open folder and Mulder began to make suggestions.
Sometime while they worked, Mulder had pulled a blanket over both their laps. They'd snuggled together as they continued to work, Walter had an arm around Mulder's shoulders and Mulder had leaned into Walter's warmth. After Walter closed the last folder and leaned back it seemed natural to both men to just pull their legs onto the couch and lay on their sides to continue their discussion. Neither noticed the other fall asleep. In their sleep they continued to refine their positions until they were comfortably sleeping with Walter spooned around Mulder, his arm holding Mulder to him.
Mulder woke first. He was held fast by Walter's arm and he looked directly at the back cushions of the couch. His bladder was full and needed to be emptied soon.
"Uhm, Walter? Could you let me up? I really need to get to the bathroom."
"Hunh? Oh, yeah, sure. Just a minute." Walter managed to roll onto his back without falling off the couch. He sat up and stood as he offered a hand up to Mulder.
"Thanks." Mulder managed not to run in his hurry but he also did not waste time. His return to the living room was much slower. Walter was sitting on the couch looking somewhat stunned. He patted the space next to him. Mulder sat and waited.
"I don't know what to say. I certainly didn't expect to fall asleep like that," Walter said slowly.
"Me neither. But, I have to admit, I haven't slept that soundly in a very long time."
Walter laughed softly. "Yeah, me too."
They turned to face each other. For several seconds they just looked at each other.
Mulder finally said, "I think I just felt so comfortable with you I didn't notice I was falling asleep. I did enjoy going over those reviews with you and I felt safe here."
"I'm glad you felt safe and comfortable. I haven't been able to relax like that with anyone in a long time," Walter replied, relieved that Mulder was all right with what had happened. "I'm going to start some coffee and then take a shower. Make yourself at home in the kitchen. There's bread, eggs, cereal, all kinds of stuff. If you want to wait I'll make breakfast for both of us."
"I'd like that. I'll just straighten up in here and wait for the coffee to brew. That way we can eat together."
"Sounds like a plan. I won't be gone long." Skinner stood and walked to the kitchen to start the coffee.
Mulder leaned against the back of the couch and thought about all that had happened since he'd left his apartment to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It had been a night of many surprises. He wasn't sure what was going to happen next, but he knew he was glad this visit with Walter wasn't over.
Lyrics to Lord Nelson (found at:
(air: 'The Sash my Father Wore')
Lord Nelson stood in pompous state upon his pillar high And down along O'Connell Street, he cast a wicked eye He thought how this barbaric race had fought the British crown Yet they were content to let him stay right here in Dublin town Chorus:
So remember brave Lord Nelson boys, he had never known defeat And for his reward, they stuck him up in the middle of O'Connell Street Well for many years, Lord Nelson stood and no one seemed to care He'd squint at Dan O'Connell, who was standing right down there He thought "The Irish like me or they wouldn't let me stay That is except those blighters that they call the I.R.A." Chorus
And then in 1966, on March the seventh day A bloody great explosion made Lord Nelson rock and sway He crashed and Dan O'Connell cried in woeful misery "There are twice as many pigeons now will come and sit on me" So remember brave lord Nelson boys, he had never known defeat And for his reward, they blew him up in the middle of O'Connell Street
- Words by Tommy Makem on subway train in New York Mar. 8, 1966 Copyright 2002 Makem.com
For information about Oliver Cromwell:
There's a web ring for the Seven Nations of Celts. You can find it here: http://www.albee.org/sevennations/
For all things Guinness:
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