21 September 1998
DISTRIBUTION: OK for Archive/X and the New Socks Shoppe, wherever it may arise. Elsewhere by permission. Email forwarding OK.
RATING: Slash, PG for some language
SUMMARY: Skinner and Pendrell spend some time together on Labour Day.
NOTES: After "Breakfast at Pendrell's," I thought it would be fun to do a series of holiday vignettes in the "I Love Lucy" universe, this time posting on the actual holiday. About "labour"--I'm Canadian so I don't use Merkin spelling.
DISCLAIMERS: Skinner, Pendrell, and the X-Files are owned by Chris Carter, 1013, and Fox. But since it's a statutory holiday, I thought no one would mind if I borrowed them for the day. No infringement is intended.
No Rest For The Wicked
by Halrloprillalar <email@example.com>
Skinner woke to the sound of road crews. The dream-loud rumbling soon faded into the notice-me purring of Lucy, basking in the same blanket of sunlight that was thrown over his head and chest. The notice-me pressure of his bladder vied for priority, but Skinner ignored it for a minute, stretching his long legs under the sheet and stroking Lucy's sun-warmed fur.
Cats must be solar powered, he mused. I could use a bit of the old Vitamin D myself.
For a wonder, Pendrell was up already, instead of lying there crumpled and curled or draping himself over Skinner's chest to keep him in bed for "ten more minutes, hit the snooze button." But considering Skinner had been up until 2 AM dealing with a Bureau fuckup of titanic proportions, he felt entitled to sleep in a bit.
They had planned to spend the whole long weekend together, hanging out in the little white house, playing tourist around DC, seeing a couple of movies: normal things that normal people did to relax. Then the Urlacher case exploded, reminding them that they weren't normal people. First it claimed Pendrell's Saturday, landing him in his lab for nine hours analysing evidence, leaving him with just enough energy for pizza and videos in the evening. Then Sunday, an ASAC took matters into his uninformed hands and precipitated such chaos that Skinner had to oversee the damage control himself.
Black images crowded into Skinner's mind, but he pushed them back. Time enough to examine them under the fluorescent lights on Tuesday. Today, they would worship the sun and forget about the FBI.
Skinner squinted at the clock, clearing the blur from the red numbers. 11:03--late for him, even if he had been up until the small hours. No time to lose if they were to recreate today.
One more loose-limbed stretch along the length of the bed, then Skinner threw the covers off, tossing them over Lucy. Some days she nestled under them like a cave-dwelling feline, but today she scrambled out, affronted at the loss of her dignity. An accusing and disdainful glare and she was gone.
Skinner got up, feeling the warm light on his bare skin. He shrugged into the green terry robe he kept at Pendrell's and headed down to the bathroom. Under the hot shower, he thought about the day. Maybe a picnic with sandwiches and a Frisbee. Or a lazy game of backgammon over beer on a pub patio. A stroll to the mall and an afternoon of window shopping. Lying on the grass in the back yard, while Pendrell read to him from back issues of IASFM. He wasn't picky--any of those would do.
In front of the steamy mirror, Skinner shaved by touch, taking his time and luxuriating in the smoothness of his cheek against his palm. Maybe I should shave my head, he thought. I'll ask Daniel what he thinks.
Back in the bedroom, he donned a summer outfit for what was probably the last time until the spring: knee length Bugle Boys and a white cotton shirt open over a grey tank top. He left his feet bare--no woolly slippers today.
To the kitchen--no Pendrell and the coffee in the pot was hot, but smelled old. Skinner threw it out and made a fresh batch. While it brewed, he stood at the counter and ate a bowl of cereal. Lucy passed through, but paid him no heed. He rummaged in the fridge and found it full of pet diet supplements, but lacking in sandwich fixings. They could stop by a deli before the park.
Coffee mug in hand, Skinner ventured into the living room. Still no Pendrell. Had he gone out for groceries? Skinner drank the steaming brew and watched the fish and gerbils, letting them lull him almost into a trance. How good it felt to simply stand and stare.
When he sipped for coffee and found none, Skinner shook off his reverie and went for a refill. Maybe Pendrell was working in his lab downstairs, doing some routine checks before they went out. Skinner headed down the narrow staircase.
The basement was only partly finished and the concrete floor chilled Skinner's bare feet. Sure enough, a light was on in the lab. Entering, Skinner found Pendrell, white-coated and saftey-glassesed, furiously at work over a centrifuge, Bunsen burner, and microscope. Skinner almost slipped into a second trance, battered but not breached by the waves of busyness emanating from Pendrell.
Skinner waited until Pendrell was standing back, not touching anything. Bitter experience had taught him not to surprise Pendrell in this little room if he didn't want to end up singed, strangely coloured, or smelling funny.
Pendrell swung around, startled. His face lit up. "Skipper, you're up. Isn't it a great day? I'm working on a new fish food formula--want to see?"
"Daniel, only you would rave about the good weather while working in a basement laboratory."
"What are you up to?"
"Waiting for you," Skinner said but Pendrell started up the centrifuge again and the noise drowned his answer.
Skinner pondered his alternatives. Option one: he could go away and leave Pendrell to his fun, telling himself that he was an adult and it didn't really matter anyhow. Option two: he could pick a fight about it. Option three--option three was fun.
So he stared. Just stood, still and silent, and fixed his eyes on Pendrell's face. Skinner always enjoyed admiring those sandy boyish looks, and the young man's intense concentration brought a slight definition to the jaw and a furrow to the brow that was difficult to resist. Skinner carefully kept from telegraphing those thoughts as he stared. Stared and waited.
After a few minutes, Pendrell looked up again. "Walter?"
Skinner said nothing, continued to gaze at Pendrell.
Pendrell looked back for a moment, then sagged a little. "OK, what is it?"
"It's Labour Day. It's almost lunch time. The sun is shining. We both have the day off. We're standing in your basement."
"Lunch time? But it's only--"
"Really?" Pendrell pushed back his sleeve to check his watch. "Oh. Um, I don't have much longer here, maybe another hour or so, if that's OK."
Pendrell capitulated. "OK, OK. As soon as the centrifuge stops, I can decant and refrigerate the solution and finish up tomorrow. Good enough?"
"I'll wait for you."
"Probably a good idea." Pendrell grinned.
The centrifuge finished nearly immediately and Pendrell deftly removed, tested, decanted, and put away the solution in the beer fridge that he used for his experiments. Skinner marvelled at the sureness--anywhere but in the lab Pendrell dropped and broke things with alarming frequency.
Cleanup, washup, and Pendrell was out of his lab coat, ready to go in his jeans, white computer logo t-shirt and those ridiculous knitted bobbly slippers.
Utterly delicious, Skinner thought, and permitted himself a small smile before striding forward and hauling Pendrell up over his shoulder.
Unfazed by the smaller man's shout, Skinner settled his prize into position, stomach on his broad shoulder, knees grasped in one arm. Out of the room, kick closed the door, up the stairs.
Skinner didn't usually do this--Pendrell was no match for him physically and it seemed unfair to overpower him too often--but today he set to with a right good will.
Pendrell, though, had his own resources, first hammering his fists on Skinner's back, then prodding, pinching, and tickling wherever he could reach. Skinner lurched as he climbed the stairs, nearly banging Pendrell against the wall.
"You'll pay for this, caveman." Pendrell goosed Skinner and was rewarded with another stagger, this time narrowly missing the kitchen table.
"Don't distract the driver," Skinner growled.
In the living room, Skinner dumped his captive onto the couch, sending a dozing Lucy streaking out the door, and pounced. A scuffle ensued of hands and legs, coffee breath and denim, shouted curses, grunts, chuckles rolling over crash thump.
Pendrell had fallen on top. He bussed Skinner noisily. "Do you give?"
"My God, Daniel, didn't you shave? You're like a wire brush."
Pulling Skinner's arms above his head, Pendrell held them to the carpet. His mouth touched Skinner's ear. "Do you give?"
"OK, I gi--oow!" Skinner jerked his head. "You bastard!"
Pendrell sat up on Skinner's hips. "I thought you liked my tongue in your ear."
Skinner propped himself up on his elbows. "Of course I do. Just like you like mine." He lunged up and caught Pendrell, pulling him closer.
"Wait, Walter, what time is it?"
Loosening his grasp, Skinner checked his watch. "11:55."
"We're supposed to pick up our deli order at noon, on our way to the park." Pendrell jumped up and headed for the hallway. "Come on, Walter, you'll make us late." He disappeared.
Boneless and limp, Skinner fell back onto the rug and laughed and laughed and laughed.
F I N I S
Beer, fish food, and feedback are all gratefully consumed at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.