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Solid Man, A

by fran58

Date: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 12:55 PM

     Title: A Solid Man
     Author: fran58
     Fandom: X-Files
     Email/Feedback: Always happy to get it.
     Category: VA
     Rating: PG
     Distribution: Wherever - just let me know.

Spoilers: The Truth, William, Beyond the Sea, The Blessing Way, Duane Barry/Ascension

Disclaimer: Characters owned by Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and 20th Century Fox.

Summary: I live a part of my life in an empty place. A place where there are no smiles, beauty or laughter. This is the land on which Walter Skinner came to trespass.

Author's Note: Thanks, as usual, to addicted2fanfic for beta help and generally putting up with me, and to FabulousMonster for a fabulous beta.

A Solid Man

The wasteland that is my soul will not be transmuted to green, no matter how my tears water this hard ground. I live a part of my life in an empty place. A place where there are no smiles, beauty or laughter. A place where the bleak landscape will not tolerate a colorful bloom. This is the place where my dead daughter dwells. Where my deceased husband has reign. Where Dana picks up and leaves again and again. Where her son, my beloved grandchild, performs his unholy miracles, and where the world as I know it may some day cease to be.

This is the land on which Walter Skinner came to trespass.

When he first stopped by to see me, I didn't want to let him in. I still had a bad taste in my mouth from some of the things that happened years ago, from things Dana had said when she had been unsure of his loyalties. Good manners dictated that I allow him to enter, however, so I did. He explained that Dana and Fox were gone. He claimed he didn't know where --I didn't believe him at the time. I pressed for more information. I was entitled. I was Dana's mother, after all. I found him to be as stubborn as my own daughter. He wouldn't tell me what I needed to know.

He began stopping by after that. His visits were desultory, patternless. If I happened to be out when he came by, he left a polite note written in bold hand strokes. I would crumple it up and throw it in the trash can out back.

One evening, late in the summer, he brought news of Dana. A message from her. It was short, but it gave me a kernel of hope, a little whiff of joy at seeing her neat penmanship. She was safe at least. Where and how he had come to receive this note, I didn't know. He was characteristically tight-lipped about the matter.

That day, I asked him to stay for coffee. He didn't seem like a tea drinker.

I taught all my children to play chess. People assume it was their father, but it was me.

Everyone has their own style of play. I played once with Fox when Dana went missing the first time. He reminded me of Missy, playing from his gut, not bothering with a plan. At the same time, I'm sure he could have dazzled me with any number of traditional winning strategies had he wanted. He won two games out of three, but not easily. I think that surprised him.

Walter Skinner reminds me of Dana when he plays. Head and heart and concentration all rolled together. Thoughtful moves and careful planning are his mainstay. He has surprised me several times, though. Last time we played, by suddenly veered from what seemed like a clear path with a reckless move. He won that first game. I took the second. The third lasted so long we called it a draw.

That night he finally told me how Dana and Fox came to be on the run, and the events that had forced them to leave. The events that took my daughter away. Again.

I have few illusions. I know I'm not aware of the whole truth. I know things are not as they seem. Mr. Skinner is careful not to involve me in the unsavory or dangerous. I should be grateful, but instead, I am frustrated. He is my savior and my jailor, feeding me bread and water when I crave roast beef.

I ache for my daughter. For the grandson I barely knew. For the pain of their separation, necessary though it may be. I live my life as I always have, day by day. I learned long ago to enjoy the everyday pleasures: The bloom of my asters, the flavor of good coffee. I see my friends, attend church, and plan for fewer chairs around the Thanksgiving table.

It should be the other way around. I should have two daughters and two sons. Some with spouses and children, some, perhaps, without. I should have four whole, happy children. Instead, I have two sons, one missing and one dead daughter. I sometimes have a nightmare that Bill and Charlie fade away after a few years, leaving me with only dust and hazy memories of happier times.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so melancholy. I should thank God for the two sons I have, for my son's children, for my friends and for a life that is not uncomfortable. I should thank Him for Walter Skinner and the random bits of news he brings that are all I have left of my surviving girl.

He has promises me that he will do his best - that he is doing his best - to make it safe for Dana to come home. Dana, who followed her lover into an uncertain wilderness. Or perhaps it is he who followed her. Either way, it cuts me to the bone. I want to help, but know better than to ask. I have no place in this netherworld of duplicity and deceit. I'm not cut out for deception any more than Dana is. I wonder sometimes how she manages to survive. I wonder how Walter Skinner has manages.

Tonight he sits in front of me, big hands wrapped around his mug of coffee, and brings me up to date on what's happened since we last met. These visits have something of a debriefing session feel to them at first, as if he must take care of business and say his piece before quietly slipping into his more private persona.

When he completes his assignment, we settle into a different rhythm. He tells me of his assistant's engagement. I imagine I hear a note of regret in his voice. He fills me in on the promotion and relocation of a D.C. police detective he has dealt with over the years. Her name is Evelyn. Another note of regret. Opportunities lost, I wonder, or something else?

In turn, I tell him that I've contacted William's adopted parents and that they have agreed to a preliminary visit. He is startled by this news, but doesn't ask how I discovered who adopted William and I don't tell him that one of the hastily scribbled notes from Dana had a post office box and two names on it. Yves and Jimmy. No last names. Only the words saying that said I could contact them if I needed help. With anything.

I am determined to make this visit, and although he tries, Mr. Skinner cannot dissuade me. He settles for informing me that he will `come along for the ride.' If I had a choice, I might refuse. As it is, I agree to his plan and remind myself that I may yet be grateful for the company.

I've come to an understanding.

Walter Skinner is a solid man. A decent man who stands his ground and does what he thinks is right. A man who shoulders his responsibilities with honor - apparently, I am now one of those responsibilities. Maybe I should resent this. Instead, it comforts me.

The day of our journey is sunny and bright. My mood is lifted by the sun and the purpose of our trip. When he pulls up in his dark sedan - he insisted on driving - I go to meet it with a lighter step than I've had of late. He surprises me by saying how well I look.

"You've got the directions. Where to, Mrs. Scully?"

"Maggie. Please call me Maggie."

He nods at this and pulls slowly away from the curb. When we come to the cross street, he looks at me expectantly.

"Take a right, Mr. Skinner."

"Walter," he says. "Call me Walter."


thanks for reading

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