DISTRIBUTION: OK for Archive/X & the Socks Shoppe. Elsewhere by permission. Email forwarding OK.
RATING: Slash, PG13
SUMMARY: Skinner/Pendrell. Holiday Vignette. Chocolate.
NOTA BENE: Revised and expanded from its original form. I left the original up at my site, in case you liked it better.
DISCLAIMER: Skinner, Pendrell, and the X-Files are owned by Chris Carter, 1013, and Fox.
MORE FIC: http://come.to/prillalar
Revised April 1999, originally posted August 1998

Breakfast At Pendrell's
by Halrloprillalar <prillalar@yahoo.com>

Easter Sunday

Skinner stared at the cryptic message, twisting it in his hands. Dammit, he was running out of time. He was no good at this at all. Focusing, he read it once more.

        If you quest for cornucopiae, if invictus you'd evoke,
        Subjugation, conjugation, and belles-lettres bear the yolk.

Diabolical was the word for it. He'd been following the trail of rhyming clues for twenty minutes now, since he'd found the first one taped over his alarm clock. Under the kitchen sink, in the front hall, out in the back yard, and now where? Diabolical, fiendish, malevolent. The thought cheered him and he dredged his mind for more words. Malicious. Insidious. Infernal. Good words. Words...

In the living room, he grabbed the Scrabble box and pulled off the lid. Success! Sort of. There was another clue.

        You've got this far, Inspector, by detective work methodic,
        And the brilliant solution of the clues and hints melodic.
        But if you would precipitate the end to this chase voluble,
        Remember that some things dissolve and others are insoluble.

Falling back onto the couch, Skinner pressed the paper to his forehead, as though that would somehow transmit the answer into his brain. This had to be the last clue. Can't give up now. But the sing-song of the words made it hard to divine their meaning. How the hell did Daniel think of these things, anyhow? He'd pay on Monday. Skinner mentally added two miles to the hike they were going on. No, three miles, unless he managed to scrub the food colouring out from under his fingernails before then. Colouring eggs, bah. Skinner pictured himself as the Grinch Who Stole Easter and felt better. At least he'd finally got Daniel to help him fix the basement stairs. Next weekend, paint the garden shed. In the fresh air. He smiled...

Dammit, this wasn't getting him anywhere. Maybe he was going at this from the wrong angle. Use the little grey cells, study the psychology of the individual. Or maybe just think about where he hadn't been so far. The house was pretty small. Small...fix the basement stairs...

OK, he went down into the basement and stood for a minute, feeling the chill of the cement through his slippers. Solution, dissolve, insoluble -- of course, the lab! Oh.

The lab was not a room Skinner entered lightly and he wasn't sure he'd ever been in there before without the Professor to watch him. Warily, he looked around. Bunsen burner, centrifuge, various and sundry pieces of glassware that probably had exact names and specific uses. Like screwdrivers. Nothing on the table top, nothing on the floor, nothing on the shelves. Solution -- he opened the fridge and there, between a jar labelled "Lucy - 367" and a flask full of clear liquid, was an Easter basket. Gingerly, he pulled it out, sure that he'd tip the flask. Oh pity Little Willy, he remembered the rhyme went, we'll not see Willy more. For what he thought was H2O was H2SO4. But the operation went smoothly and Skinner headed for the kitchen as fast as he dared.

Pendrell was there already. "Finally. Sit."

Skinner sat, rested his elbows on the table, looked at the small wicker basket, and sighed. Among plastic shreds of yellow and mauve, a chocolate bunny nestled, surrounded by its entourage of malt eggs, gummi bears, and other sugary treats.

"Time to start, Walter." Pendrell placed a large glass of milk by Skinner.

"While it was very nice of you to get me this--"

"My mother sent them. She'll expect a thank you note."

"OK, while it was very nice of your mother to send these Easter baskets, don't you think chocolate for breakfast is a little...nauseating?" Pendrell stared and Skinner realised what he'd said. "All right, *I* think chocolate for breakfast is nauseating. I could make myself some oatmeal. It's no trouble at all." Skinner concentrated on looking very severe and no-nonsense.

"You can make oatmeal tomorrow, Skipper. This is a tradition." Despite his bed-head and Boba Fett pyjamas, Pendrell managed to look even more severe.

Outclassed, as usual. Skinner added another mile. "Enlighten me on the tradition."

"You mean you don't know? Did you grow up in a cave? Easter morning, you find your basket, which, I might add, seemed to take you a very long time."

"I don't know what you were on when you wrote those clues. And you hid it in your lab fridge. I don't even think it's safe to eat now."

"I was careful. Don't interrupt. You take the chocolate bunny...go on, pick it up."

Skinner took the rabbit in both hands and held it up, waiting, chocolate smudging under his blue-stained fingernails. Did Pendrell even *own* a nail brush?

"Now close your eyes and smell it. Breathe in the chocolate fragrance...become one with the bunny." Pendrell suited his actions to his words, face shining beatifically as he drew a deep breath.

Reluctantly, Skinner closed his eyes and took a sniff. Complex and dark, the whiff of chocolate awakened memories of other Easters, other bunnies. It tantalised him and he put out his tongue to taste it...

"Stop that!"

Skinner's eyes shot open. Pendrell looked stern.

"Sorry, Walter, I didn't mean to startle you. Now we taste. Turn the bunny upside down and nibble on his toes."

Skinner couldn't believe what he'd just heard. "The toes? Daniel, everybody knows that you always eat the ears and head first!"

"At our house, we always saved the head for last." Pendrell took a dainty bite of the rabbit's feet.

"That's ridiculous! There's no way I'm starting at the feet." Skinner savagely gnawed at his bunny's ears, gulping down a huge chunk of chocolate.

"That's unnatural." Pendrell lopped off the tail and started on the rump, his teeth leaving serrated semi-circles in the rabbit's dark brown flesh.

"It's normal. Your way is dysfunctional." Skinner's bunny was decapitated now, and well on its way to losing its torso as well.

Pendrell rapidly devoured his bunny's body, leaving only the head."See? More aesthetically pleasing than that." He pointed at the chocolate lump in Skinner's hands, now bearing little resemblance to Oryctolagus cuniculus.

"Are you going to eat that or try to bring it back to life in your lab, Doctor Frankenstein?" Skinner wolfed down the last of his chocolate and took a long drink of milk.

Pendrell bit the ears off, then last of all ate the head. The corners of his mouth were smeared brown. Skinner leaned over and softly kissed them clean, then rubbed his shaven cheek against Pendrell's raspy one.

"That was delicious," he murmured against Pendrell's ear, pressing his tongue lightly to the lobe. "What's for the next course?"

"Duelling peeps! Loser gets eaten, winner goes up against a new challenger." Pendrell pulled a pink marshmallow chick out of his basket and set it on the table.

Skinner took another drink of milk, wishing it were coffee. This would be a long morning. But he was determined it would be a long afternoon as well.


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