Tiny Island

Title: Tiny Island

Author: bcfan

Author E-mail: bcfan@shaw.ca

Rating: R

Category: SA – character exploration

Spoilers: post-episode for My Name is Paul (IMTP

VS8x29)

Thanks in advance to Daydreamer, for letting me

play in her universe.

Tiny Island

by bcfan

Sometimes I feel like a tiny island floating in the sea.

Palm trees’ sway don’t get in the way, it’s a tropical

ease.

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,

Tiny Island

————

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

grimly.

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

he loved.

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.

————

FBI Headquarters

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

back.”

“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

shrugged, amused.

“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

stressful job.

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

Florida?”

“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

nose.

“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

back.

“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

change.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s