X/Story: 9 July 1998
Archive/X: 12 July 1998
HEART AND SOUL
by Halrloprillalar
<prillalar@yahoo.com>
RATING: PG13
SPOILERS: None.
DISTRIBUTION: Do not archive without permission. Email forwarding is OK.
SUMMARY: Humour. Mulder/Skinner slash. Everybody loves song stories, right?
NOTA BENE: This story is chock-a-block with allusions, but a major source of inspiration and ripped off ideas and phrases is "The Seven Year Itch." More complete references for this and other sources are given at the end.
THANKS TO: The Amazing Jen who beta read this faster than the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run. And my muse, the Goddess of Discord, for tempting me with golden apples and rum and Coke to write this instead of what I was already working on.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Mulder or Skinner. (I did get Max Fenig at CC's garage sale, though.)


Heart And Soul
by Halrloprillalar
<prillalar@yahoo.com>

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Fox Mulder lay supine on his comfortable leather couch. Longing washed over him with a crashing ocean wave of impossible desire, burned him with a towering inferno of fiery passion, froze him with the icy weight of glacial yearning. Wanting, needing took him to the depths, the heights, the edge, the middle of despair.

"Oh," he moaned, "Assistant Director Skinner, if only I could tell you how I feel!"

Even in his thoughts, Mulder did not dare to call the Assistant Director by his first name. That would be disrespectful. Even though Mulder was normally disrespectful to everyone, especially Scully and his mother, this was different.

This was love.

Love, the many-splendoured thing, the ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken, the level of everyday's most quiet need, the stove that burns you when it's hot, love is blue, true love.

Mulder's eyes glistened with tears that did not fall, like that science experiment he had done as a kid at the kitchen table, carefully adding water, drop by drop, to a full glass, until the miniscus rose higher than the rim of the glass, but did not spill.

The CD player whirred as it finished the song and searched to find it again, set to repeat the same track over and over. The music spoke to Mulder, touched his heart, pierced his soul, and twisted his gut into hard knots of sorrow and stomach acid. Because he had a sort of masochistic personality, he spent many hours every week just lying on the couch, listening to the song, wallowing in his pain and misery, instead of going out and getting some exercise or seeing a movie or something.

As the song began to play, Mulder softly sang along.

    Tonight I'm tangled in my blanket of clouds
    Dreaming aloud

    Things just won't do without you, matter of fact
    I'm on your back

    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you
    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you

His singing voice was not really very good, but it was sincere and filled with the pure love he could not express to his stoic, sardonic, and extremely attractive boss.

He turned over, so that he was prone, and the tears dripped out of his eyes onto the couch. Oh, the humanity! The leather was cool against his cheek but nothing could soothe the fever that was so hard to bear.

Suddenly he could stand it no longer. Do or die, kill or cure, death or glory--it was time to take the bull by the horns, beard the lion in his den, and tell him about it, tell him everything he felt!

But what could he say? Assistant Director Skinner's very presence, his rugged handsomeness and virility, some kind of animal thing he had, it bothered Mulder, aroused something in him. In fact, it usually rendered him speechless and stammering, blushing and nervous.

Then he heard the words of the song again.

    If you'd accept surrender, I'll give up some more
    Weren't you adored

    I cannot be without you, matter of fact
    I'm on your back

    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you
    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you

It hit him: he could take the CD over to Skinner's apartment and play the song for him! Mulder would not have to say anything at all, just stand there blushing and nervous and hopefully looking kind of cute while Skinner listened.

"And then he'll probably shoot me!" Mulder said aloud. "But at least I'll die knowing I was honest with him and with myself."

He ejected the CD from the player and put it carefully in its case. Then he went into the bathroom to wash the tears off his face and fluff up his hair a little. He looked pretty good, actually, sort of soulful. He practised a few pouts at himself in the mirror.

"If I don't get killed," he said, "maybe I should look into doing some modelling."

But time was wasting, so he grabbed his leather jacket, stuffed the CD in the pocket, and headed out to his car.

***

Walter Skinner poured himself a scotch. The afternoon sun streamed through his windows, illuminating his apartment with its golden gleam, but his heart was dark and gloomy.

Oh, Agent Mulder, he thought, if only I could tell you how I feel.

Unlike Mulder, he did not say this out loud because he was naturally reserved and did not give in to self-indulgent displays of emotion, even when nobody else was around. Unlike Mulder, it was his natural formality that caused him to think of Mulder as "Agent Mulder," even in his most bizarre sexual fantasies.

Skinner had always been so reserved and formal, except for when he had been in the Marines, but as soon as he had gotten out, he had resumed his former personality. To look at him, no one would think that he was torn in two, half a man, shot through the heart and Mulder was to blame.

This was love.

Unlike Mulder, (why they thought they would get along so well, since they were so different was anyone's guess), Skinner generally tried to distract himself from his deep sorrow by playing squash, lifting weights, chewing out junior agents, and going to his cabin in the woods, where he would strip to the waist and chop wood, sweat gleaming on the perfect planes of his muscular chest.

Today, though, the melancholy expressed itself in another way: music. Not many people knew that Skinner was an accomplished pianist and had given up a successful career as a soloist when he joined the Marines out of mistaken but admirable idealism.

He took a generous swallow of his scotch and put down the glass on the lid of his Bechstein. He caressed the keys gently, just as though he were caressing Mulder. What to play?

Crossing to his stereo, he put on a recording of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and began to play along. Every time he heard and played this music, it touched him, it shook him, it quaked him. It drew the very sorrow from his heart, the pain from his soul, and the desire from his loins. It would have brought tears to his eyes if he had been the type to cry, which he was not, unlike Mulder.

Suddenly he could stand it no longer. Out of the frying pan into the fire, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead--it was time to cross the Rubicon, carpe the diem, gather his rosebuds while he might. He had to tell Mulder how he felt.

But what could he say? Agent Mulder's very presence, his boyish beauty and puckish intelligence, some kind of animal thing he had, it bothered Skinner, aroused something in him. In fact, it usually rendered him biting and sarcastic, cruel when he meant to be kind.

It hit him: he could ask Mulder over to the apartment and play Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto for him. Skinner would not have to say anything at all, just play with all the passion and pure love he felt for his agent, and Mulder would feel it too and go all to pieces, sitting there beside him on the piano bench.

Then Mulder would probably scream in horror, not a girly scream, but the scream of someone being confronted by the before unknown love of his boss, the hard-assed authority figure who had berated him, disbelieved him, and had him restrained in a mental ward.

I'll probably get fired, he thought, but at least I could resume my musical career.

He picked up the phone to call Mulder.

***

Mulder drove the sunny streets and hoped the light was a good omen. He put the CD into his car stereo and listened to the song once more.

    Another heart is cracked in two
    I'm on your back

    I cannot be without you, matter of fact
    I'm on your back

    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you
    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you
    If you walk out on me
    I'm walking after you

Finding Skinner's building, he parked illegally since there was nowhere else close and true love made it okay to do illegal things. So did his quest for aliens and his sister. In fact, he pretty much did illegal things all the time.

Standing by the front door, he patted his pocket to make sure the CD was there, then pushed the buzzer for Skinner's apartment.

***

The buzzing startled Skinner, who was just about to dial Mulder's apartment number which he knew by heart, for when he had to call him there about Scully being abducted.

He thought about leaving it and making the call anyway, but he was not the kind of person who could ignore a buzzing buzzer or ringing phone, unlike Mulder.

"Who is it?"

"Agent Mulder. Can I come up?"

It was fate, kismet, predestination, the pull of two hearts that belonged together, the calling of two souls that were as one. Without a word, Skinner buzzed Mulder in.

When he opened the door to Mulder's tentative knock, Skinner tried to look open and friendly, but was sure he just looked scowling and aloof. Mulder, on the other hand, looked really good, pouty and soulful.

Skinner's rugged handsomeness and virility once again struck Mulder dumb.

"Come in, Agent Mulder." Skinner stepped aside to let Mulder in. "Can I get you a drink?"

Mulder was surprised that Skinner had not bitten his head off yet. "Thank you, sir, but I don't drink."

Skinner ushered Mulder into the living room, then picked up his glass of scotch. He very much liked to drink, unlike Mulder.

"I..I suppose you're wondering why...why I came here, sir." Mulder blushed and stammered right on cue. "I wanted to play...play a song for you."

Skinner should have been surprised but he was not. They were soul mates, sure enough. He wondered if Mulder's technique was a match for his own.

"Go ahead, Agent Mulder."

Mulder walked over to the stereo and pulled the CD out of his pocket. He stared, puzzled, for a while.

"Where's the CD player, sir?"

"I don't have a CD player."

Mulder was frankly astonished! No CD player? What was he going to do now? He could hardly invite the Assistant Director down to his car to listen to the song there.

"Uh...I'm not sure what to do then." Mulder began to think this had been a very bad idea, even if his hair had turned out very well today.

This was Skinner's big chance to strike while the iron was hot. He crossed to the piano.

"Then I'll play something for you. If you would please start the record at the beginning?" Skinner sat at the piano bench, preparing himself for his big moment, focusing his natural talent, honed ability, and strong passion into his hands and fingers.

Mulder nervously grabbed at the record player and took hold of the arm. A hideous cacophony scraped through the room as he dragged the needle firmly across the LP.

"Oh, my God, I'm sorry!" Mulder's eyes teared up again and opened so wide he looked like Bambi, the little deer, not the entomologist, so scared and helpless.

Skinner went over and inspected the damage. The record was scratched and the needle was ruined. He could not be angry, though, not with Mulder, but he was very sad and disappointed.

He looked deeply into Mulder's sensitive and sorrowful eyes and for the first time in a very long time he smiled, just a little, in a brave yet pain filled way.

"What will we do now? I can't play my song for you, you can't play your song for me."

Mulder shrugged his shoulders, despondent yet smouldering. He wandered over to the piano and plunked a few keys.

"I didn't know you played the piano, sir."

"It's my secret passion." One of them, Skinner added silently. "Do you play?"

"Just the usual. Chopsticks." Mulder picked out the song, tentatively at first, then with more enthusiasm. "And of course 'Heart and Soul'."

This might work, thought Mulder, if I can get him onto the piano bench with me.

That might work, thought Skinner, if I can get onto the piano bench with him.

"A duet?" asked Skinner. "It's not Rachmaninoff, but it might be fun."

Rachmaninoff? thought Mulder. Why was he going to play me Rachmaninoff?

"It's not the Foo Fighters either, but let's try it," Mulder agreed.

The Foo Fighters? thought Skinner. Does this have something to do with aliens after all?

He approached the piano.

"Top or bottom?" Skinner asked.

"Bottom. I'm better at that."

Skinner joined Mulder and they began, awkwardly at first, until their hesitant movements gave way to a strong shared rhythm.

Mulder hummed along and Skinner could not help hearing the words, first in his mind, then from his own lips as he sang in a vibrant baritone.

    Heart and soul, I fell in love with you
    Heart and soul, the way a fool would do, madly
    Because you held me tight
    And stole a kiss in the night

Mulder turned to look at Skinner, then, almost overcome, took the next verse.

    Heart and soul, I begged to be adored
    Lost control, and tumbled overboard, gladly
    That magic night we kissed
    There in the moon mist

They touched at the shoulder, at the hip, in heart and soul for all eternity. They sang the last verse together, gazing at each other, all the love and passion they felt shining in that look. Mulder's eyes grew wet again; Skinner's were dry but still very sincere.

    But now I see, what one embrace can do
    Look at me, it's got me loving you madly
    That little kiss you stole
    Held all my heart and soul

They leaned in and kissed, Mulder's pouting lips meeting Skinner's hard mouth in an embrace so passionate, they fell off the piano bench, and lay on the floor, expressing their pure love by satisfying their carnal desires. Three times.

The moon had risen by the time they could no longer do so, and as its dreamy light shone over them, they knew their love would transcend space and time and all the petty problems of the troubled world.

Or at least until Skinner heard Mulder's Spice Girls albums.

F I N I S

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want: feedback! Serenade me at <prillalar@yahoo.com> and I'll join in the chorus.

References: Walking After You is by the Foo Fighters. Heart and Soul is by Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael. Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto is by Rachmaninoff.

The use of Rachmaninoff and Skinner's reaction ("it shook him, it quaked him" and the bit about going all to pieces), the piano duet (though that was chopsticks in the movie), and the lines about "some kind of animal thing he had, it bothered Skinner, aroused something in him" were adapted, ie ripped off, from "The Seven Year Itch".