Title: Tiny Island
Author E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: SA – character exploration
Spoilers: post-episode for My Name is Paul (IMTP
Thanks in advance to Daydreamer, for letting me
play in her universe.
Sometimes I feel like a tiny island floating in the sea.
Palm trees’ sway don’t get in the way, it’s a tropical
And everywhere that I keep my silence, no sound
returns to me,
Just endless waves at the end of our days, the sighing
of the sea.
But yesterday’s gone,
I don’t know where I come from,
Wonder where I’m going. – Leo Kottke,
September 21, 2001
Walter Skinner walked firmly to the door and closed
it behind him, leaving Mulder and Scully in their
basement office. All that had happened in the past
few weeks – his apparent death, his brainwashing that
made him believe he was someone else, his rescue by
Mulder and Scully – had left him inwardly reeling.
Compartmentalize, he chastised himself. Do it, you
know you’re good at it. So what if you thought you
were married, thought you were someone else – with
all the other things that have happened in the X-Files,
this is nothing. This last thought made him smile
Mask firmly in place, Skinner managed to drive to
Crystal City and enter his condo before his hands
started to shake. He dropped his coat and briefcase
to the floor and staggered to the sofa before tears that
had plagued him for the last four days began to roll
down his face. His large frame shook with sobs and
he wrapped his arms around himself in a desperate
attempt to suppress his emotions. This wasn’t him.
He was supposed to be in control.
After a few long moments, Skinner was able to sag
back onto the sofa. He wiped his nose on his white
dress shirt, and then scrubbed his face with his hands.
Another headache, another raw throat, but he knew
better than to reach for the scotch. Drinking only led
to nightmares, nightmares where he was Paul all over
again. Losing everything he loved about that life –
all over again.
Skinner sighed. He knew he was in trouble,
emotionally impacted in a way even his near-death
experience with nanocytes hadn’t caused. After all,
he was in a dangerous job, and was prepared for the
eventuality of death in the line of duty. Had been
prepared, in a way, since his tour of Vietnam. But
this was different. This was a snatching away – not
of his life – but of the life he wished in his heart he
could lead. A happy marriage. A successful,
uncomplicated career. Friendship. Even the simple
things had been so enjoyable. He thought back to a
week ago, how relaxed he had been just taking a
shower, eating a companionable meal with someone
Fuck this pity party.
He remembered earlier words to Mulder. I need to
find places where I feel welcome. A truth,
unacknowledged until now, hit him hard. I’ve been
ignoring it, but I’ve been leading a lonely life. I’m
the only one who can change it.
Skinner stood and slowly walked towards the shower,
one of his favourite places to think. He had used it
for years as a kind of depressurizing chamber. As he
relaxed into the moist heat, he began to make plans.
I’m not allowed back into the Bureau yet – fine.
How would I like to spend some time? Skinner
considered the gym, but since his near-death, boxing
didn’t hold the same appeal. A slight smile began to
tug at the corners of his mouth as he remembered
something he used to love to do. Something he
hadn’t thought about in years – Scuba diving. I could
join a tour group, taking a short trip to somewhere
warm. Relax, get some sun, and get away.
Later that evening, as he sat in the corner booth of his
favourite Italian trattoria, Skinner examined the travel
brochures spread out before him. Scuba diving
groups were prolific, and he had his choice of several
destinations. Skinner sighed and swallowed, feeling
suddenly uneasy at the prospect of joining a group of
unknown people, but then reminded himself of the
easy camaraderie of experiences from twenty years
ago. This was a start, he reminded himself. He could
do this. He could take the plunge. Despite his
pensive mood, Skinner was able to laugh silently at
his own joke. The more he reminisced about past
scuba diving experiences, the more he began to look
forward to something, look forward for the first time
since his pseudo-life as Paul.
October 2, 2001
A tanned, relaxed Walter Skinner walked into his
office at 8 a.m., his briefcase in one hand and a small
bouquet of flowers tucked under his arm.
“Mr. Skinner,” Kimberly smiled. “Good to have you
“Thank you, Kim.” Walter handed her the flowers.
“And I also want to thank you for all you’ve had to
cope with in my absence. I know that it couldn’t
have been easy.”
“No, sir. When we thought you were dead…”
Kimberly’s voice wavered slightly, and Skinner
regarded her with affection.
“I’m sorry you had to handle that, Kim. I hope
you’ve had some help.”
“Agents Mulder and Scully were very supportive, sir.
I’ve left their reports about the incident on your desk.
You might be surprised to know that you’re an X-File
now.” Kimberly smiled slightly, and Skinner
“The way things have been going the last few years,
Kim, it wouldn’t surprise me if we all become X-
Files.” Skinner was relieved to see Kimberly’s smile
broaden as he entered his office.
Walter Skinner settled contentedly behind his desk
for the first time in what seemed like forever. Long
hours spent in the water absorbing the beauty of the
sea, evenings spent idly chatting with other divers,
drinking beer with no plans beyond the next day’s
dive site, had given him the perspective he needed to
continue his life in D.C. He felt he was making a
difference at the Bureau. He wanted to make a
difference for the better, for agents he admired the
most – including Mulder and Scully. He couldn’t do
that working in a high school or at any other less
Thinking of Mulder and Scully reminded him of their
report, and he began to scan it with interest and hard-
won objectivity. His detachment faltered, though, as
he realized how much Mulder and Scully had been
forced to discover about his personal life in order to
successfully see beyond his “death” and find him.
Skinner knew that he was an intensely private person,
and blushed uncomfortably at the thought of how
small his life might have seemed to them. He boxed
at the gym and volunteered at the soup kitchen. His
life was full of acquaintances, but he had no real
friends. That needed to change. And he needed to
start right now.
“Kimberly, please ask Agents Mulder and Scully to
meet with me this morning,” he directed, then
became immersed in a waiting mound of paperwork
until their arrival.
A knock at the door brought his head out of a lengthy
report. Skinner stood behind his desk to greet
Mulder and Scully, thought better of it, then walked
around his desk to warmly shake their hands instead.
“Agents, good to see you again.”
“You wanted to speak to us, sir?” Scully smiled, and
Mulder continued, “Did you enjoy your trip to
“Very much. Please, have a seat.” Skinner cleared
his throat. It was so hard to talk about how he felt.
He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his
“I – I want to thank you, agents. Any reasonable
person would have given up the search for me with
such strong evidence in place, including a body.”
Mulder shrugged, a wry smile on his face. “The X-
Files have taught us to look for extreme possibilities,
sir. But we were glad to help.”
“I also want to thank you for arranging my funeral
service. I would give anything to have heard that
storefront preacher – except die, of course.” Skinner
grinned unexpectedly, and Mulder and Scully smiled
“However, Agents, after reading this report I believe
that there’s one thing that was forgotten.”
“Sir?” Scully murmured, puzzled.
Skinner’s smile broadened. “The customary wake.
I’d like to rectify that. If you’re both free this
evening, I’d be happy to pay for a round or two of
drinks at Casey’s bar. Is that acceptable, Agents?”
“Yes, sir,” they echoed in unison.
“Fine. I’ll see you at 7 p.m.” Skinner waved Mulder
and Scully off, returning to his paperwork. He felt a
glow of satisfaction. For the first time in years,
Walter Skinner was opening himself to the possibility
of friendship. It felt good. He didn’t want to envy
his former life – his life as Paul – any longer.
He was Walter Sergei Skinner. He was ready for