Title: That Tight-Assed Cat
Author: Manik
Written: September 1998
Rating: R Classification: SRH
Spoilers: Tons, but all pre-movie
Keywords: Sc/Sk
Disclaimer: CC and 1013 own all (except Meredith); no infringement intended.

Summary: An "enchanted" Skinner moves in with Scully, much to Mulder's chagrin.

Author's note: The wondrous Skinnerotica writer mlb came up with this idea first -- read her Here Kitty Kitty. Along with stealing her idea, I've cast her in this tale as the mysterious temp, Meredith. More on this at the end of the story.


It was all Meredith's idea. And considering the way things turned out, she couldn't say she was sorry.

Ronny wasn't too impressed with his wife's actions, but he didn't do much more than scowl and turn back to watching Xena, Warrior Princess. Hey, what did those Southern Baptists and their "wives, honour your husbands" know? They'd never run into someone like Meredith.


By mid-morning the temp had settled nicely into her new job. Kimberly would be out of the office for several weeks, recovering from plastic surgery. Apparently the woman had an obsession with getting a new look every few years.

This assignment was a little more exotic than some of the temporary jobs Meredith had done, but that didn't bother her. For a woman of her considerable 'talents,' working for an Assistant Director of the FBI should be a piece of cake. Then her new boss burst out of his office and all hell broke loose.

The tall, rather impressive hunk of man who'd greeted her so politely just an hour ago descended on her like an angry Olympian god, slamming a folder on her desk. Glaring, he hissed at her through clenched teeth. "These are last year's figures."

"Sir?" Meredith gulped.

"How am I supposed to set next year's budget when I'm looking at last year's figures?" His tone rose, as did one of his eyebrows. A muscle in his jaw jumped, apparently trying to escape its owner's wrath but held back by a thin layer of skin. Meredith gulped again. She wasn't easily intimidated, but this guy was every inch the hardass that the temp agency had warned her he would be -- and more.

"Sir, if I could explain..."

"Just bring me the right papers." He then stormed back into his office, slamming the door behind him.

Relieved, Meredith breathed. She was almost shaking, and Meredith Bachman didn't shake for anybody. Fuck. Where did this guy get off? She'd brought him the wrong papers, what was that, a criminal offence? What an asshole.

Fuming, Meredith yanked open a file cabinet drawer. Was it her fault that Kimberly's filing system was as vague as her personality? And what was up Skinner's tight, albeit adorable ass? Her silly mistake couldn't have been enough to set him off to this degree. Something else was up.

Meredith paused at her work, an idea forming in her mind.


"No Mulder, I am not going to give you authorization for that...I don't care if you saved the world last week, this is this week and I am still your boss. Yes, Agent Mulder, I have been co-opted by the Consortium, no, you can't attend Roswellpalooza and your expense claims for the last six months *will* be on my desk by zero-eight hundred Monday. Did I stutter, Agent Mulder? Monday. Eight a.m."

Skinner slammed down the receiver. That obsessive-compulsive bastard child of Oliver Stone was out to complete what the 4th NVA Sapper Regiment had tried to do 25 years ago. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. When he opened them again the temp was standing in front of him.

Startled, Skinner nearly jumped, then quickly recovered his composure. "Jesus, you walk on little cat feet, don't you?" he scowled.

"Sir?" Meredith inquired, cocking her head quizzically at him.

"I mean I didn't hear you come in. You're quiet. You know, little cat feet?"

"Ah." The woman answered non-committally. "Well, at any rate, I've brought you your papers -- the right ones this time..."

"Thank you," Skinner gruffed.

"...and a cup of tea." She set a steaming mug down before him. "I think you need it."

Slightly chastened, Skinner tried to make amends.

"I'm sorry if I was curt with you earlier," he said. "But you really didn't have to bring me this. And besides, it's not like my personality requires the warm fuzzy boost of a jolt of caffeine."

"No caffeine in this, sir. It's herbal."

<<Oh great,>> thought Skinner, <<the bureau's hiring from 'The Wiccan Temp Service' now. We type, take dictation, read your chakhra...>> He made himself stop.

"It's good," Meredith assured him. "Try it."

Skinner brought the mug to his lips. It smelled good. Cinnamon, cloves, rich dark spices. He took a sip. Heavenly. He took another. The liquid slid down his throat, pooling in his belly and spreading out in soothing fingers of warmth. He sat back in his chair and sighed. The feeling of well-being was so complete that he didn't even blink when the temp sat down across from him, confidently crossed her long legs and pinned him with her strange green eyes.

"Now. You're going to tell me why you're so unhappy. And then we're going to do something about it."


Slowly, very slowly, Skinner ascended from the depths of restful sleep. The remnants of a dream echoed in his brain. A woman's voice...

"The spell, like me, is temporary. Don't worry...this is for your own good. You'll thank me, you'll see..."

Blinking, Skinner stretched, his back arching and limbs stiffening before him luxuriously. Wait, that wasn't right... Something was wrong. Very wrong. And where the hell was he...?

Suddenly, a door opened in front of him and an immensely tall woman stared down at him. No, no, she wasn't tall, it was just that he was on the floor, why was he on the floor...?

The woman crouched down to get a better look at him. "Hello, kitty," said Dana Scully, reaching out to pat the top of his now inexplicably furry head.

<<Kitty? Kitty? Either I'm still dreaming or my best agent has been spending entirely too much time with her partner,>> thought Skinner.

"Agent Scully," he began, stopping in mid-sentence when he heard himself.

"Mmmrrroooowww!!!!" Is what came out.

<<Oh dear. This is bad. Very bad. That was not my command voice. In fact, I sounded a hell of a lot like a c...>>

"What are you doing here kitty, who left you on my doorstep?" Scully reached out and picked the big tabby out of the basket, hefting him into her arms.

"Ooh, you're a big boy, aren't you?"

<<Not as big as I was,>> thought Skinner, terrified as he looked down at himself. <<Paws. Fur. Tail. Oh yeah, this is bad. The goddamdest case of post-traumatic stress I've ever heard of and it's happening to *me.* Those voodoo doctors in the psych wing at Bethesda would have a field day with this. Well, I'll just close my eyes, shake my head and wake up...>>

"Don't be scared," Scully cooed, holding him with one arm while picking up the basket with the other. "I'm not going to hurt you." She brought him into her apartment and closed the door.

<<Scared, why should I be scared, I'm just hallucinating that I'm a fucking CAT!>>

Scully deposited the basket on the floor by the couch, settling Skinner into it. She stroked his back, looking at him thoughtfully.

"People are supposed to leave babies on doorsteps, not cats," she said, her mouth quirking into a smile.

Skinner stared. He was still in shock, and the sight of a casually dressed Scully in domestic surroundings would have been enough to rock his equilibrium even at the best of times. He didn't often get a chance to just *look* at Scully, not without that dork Mulder around, spewing his inane theories and generally being a pain in the ass.

<<She really is beautiful,>> he thought, something he didn't usually allow himself to consider, at least consciously.

"So. No collar, no tags. You look pretty beaten up, too. Been in any fights lately, kitty?"

<<Yeah, with 'Meredith the Good Witch' -- and it looks like I lost. "For my own good" my ass!>>

"Well. It's probably too late to call the SPCA to see if any big tabbies

have been reported missing tonight. So why don't you just settle in for the duration, hmm? It'll be kinda nice having someone else around for awhile."

She sounded a bit wistful. <<Maybe she's as lonely as I am,>> Skinner mused.

"Let's go out to the kitchen, shall we?" Scully led the way. Skinner stood and gingerly put one paw in front of the other, following her.

"Okay, I'm not prepared for company, particularly of the feline kind, but luckily I have some leftover chicken from last night's dinner. How does that sound?"

<<Fucking excellent,>> Skinner found himself thinking, his stomach rumbling. When he saw her open the fridge door, his hunger turned into mindless, driving panic.

<<FEED ME!>> Skinner bellowed. "Mmm-rrrEEE-OOOO!" Scully heard.

"Okay, okay! Jeez, all cats are alike," said Scully.

<<Oh God, oh thank God, she's getting out the chicken,>> Skinner thought. He actually licked his lips, too far gone to note that his incisors were now little fangs.

<<Oh good, she's unwrapping it. Oh thank God, she's getting out a dish. What is TAKING her so fucking long?>>

"Cat! Get out from under my feet! I'm getting it!"

<<Just feed me. Just feed me. I'll do anything. I'll give you a raise. I'll make you a division head. I'll personally chomp off Agent Spender's pointy little head and devour it whole. Anything, just fuckin' feed me NOW!>>

In the very dim, still-human cortex of Skinner's brain, he knew that he wasn't really *that* hungry, and he definitely shouldn't be twining around Scully's legs, nearly tripping her several times. He just couldn't help himself.

"There. Happy now?"

For several glorious minutes, all else in the world ceased to exist but several strips of beautifully cooked poultry. Scully stroked his head as

he ate, but he barely noticed. When he finished, he realized that a deep rumbling sound was emanating from his throat.

<<I'm purring. Shit,>> thought Skinner. <<I don't purr, I'm the Assistant Director of the FBI .>> A dimly remembered factoid from an A&E documentary that described purring as an involuntary response to pleasurable stimuli did not diminish his embarrassment one little bit.

"Okay, next order of business. Where are you going to *do* your business?"

<<All right,>> thought Skinner. <<I can only carry this cat thing so far. I am NOT doing kitty litter.>>

Flicking his tail in disdain, Skinner padded out of the kitchen and down the hall, in search of the bathroom. Smiling to herself, Scully followed. When she saw him jump up on the toilet seat and proceed to 'use the facilities,' her mouth dropped open in shock.

"You are no ordinary cat, are you buster?"

<<Damn straight,>> Skinner thought, alighting on the floor with something approaching feline grace.

"Well. You've been fed. You've...done your 'business.'" Scully paused to flush the toilet. You could only expect so much, even from WonderKitty. "You know where your bed is. Do you mind if I take a shower?"

<<What do I care,>> Skinner thought, turning away and leaving the bathroom, tail held high. <<I don't need you. I'm the cat that walks by himself... Waitaminute, I am NOT really a cat, where is this attitude coming from?>>

He shook himself and sat down. <<I need to keep my wits about me. Why am I licking my hand, I mean paw?>>

"Okay kitty, you're on your own for awhile." And with that, Scully began shucking off her clothes. Soon, every delectable inch of her was exposed to his kitty eyes.

<<Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my. I should not be watching this. No way. No how. So how come I can't move? And how come every Huey helicopter in the 1st Air Cav is orbiting over my head? Aw, shit -- that goddamned purring again.>>

Thankfully, Scully soon disappeared behind the shower curtain. Breathing an inward sigh of relief, Skinner decided to take stock of his situation. He walked into Scully's bedroom and jumped up on her dresser to get a better look at himself.

<<Christ, what am I, the Jake LaMotta of cats?>> His ears were chewed almost to tatters. His wide, flat nose had obviously been striped by rival tomcats more than once. And though his chest was broad and his legs solid, there wasn't a spare ounce of fat on him. <<Well, at least Scully won't be able to call me 'Fat Kitty,'>> Skinner thought ruefully.

His fur was a rather uninteresting blend of brown and black stripes shot through with varying shades of gray. His green eyes stared dully back at him.

<<Great. I bet if *Mulder* was turned into a cat he'd be a fucking show-quality Siamese. I get to be Scrappy the alleycat.>>

At the thought of Mulder, Skinner's almond-shaped eyes narrowed and his ears folded back slightly. He looked himself in the eye again. That was a mistake. Now he found himself locked in a staring contest with his own reflection.

<<You lookin' at me? I don't know who else you'd be looking at. You want a piece of me? Think you can take me? Kiss my ass, you pussy-->>

After a few minutes of this, Scully finally emerged from the bathroom, wearing nothing but a towel -- on her head. A cloud of perfume so intense Skinner could almost see it wafted behind her. Before he knew what he was doing, Skinner had leapt down from the dresser and begun rubbing the length of his body along her calves.

<<Oooh, baby. You smell good. You feel good.>> He licked a few stray drops of water from her skin. <<Mmm, you *taste* good!>> His raspy tongue made her giggle.

"Well, aren't you the friendly boy?" Scully murmured in delight, dropping to her knees so she could pat the affectionate tabby. Skinner took advantage of her new position to rub along other areas that caught his interest.

"You're marking me, aren't you kitty? Yes, that's right, I'm yours now."

<<Really? It's that easy? Why didn't I think of this before...>>

"Okay, kitty. Much as I'd love to rub heads with you all evening, I really have to get ready. I don't want Mulder showing up when I'm in the all-together. He'd enjoy that all together too much." Scully donned a short robe that did little to hide her assets and then disappeared back into the bathroom.

<<MULDER? What the hell is he coming over for?>> Fuming, Skinner began to lick his paws. <<The hell with it, if that pretty bastard is coming, I might as well try to look my best.>>

END PART ONE

PART TWO

The phone rang. Scully raced back into the bedroom to answer it.

"Hello? Hi, Mulder. Yes, I'm going to keep my promise to feed you tonight. When are you coming over? Now? Where are you? Oh. No, no, that's fine, come on up." Scully slammed down the receiver and whirled around, facing her new kitty. "He's outside in his car! I can't let him see me like this!"

Skinner's back arched and he hissed in terror as he saw her face. It was coated with a thick layer of green goo, the blue of her irises and the skin around her eyes standing in stark relief to the unnatural colour.

"Oh kitty, I'm sorry, did I scare you?"

<<Damn right you scared me! What the hell is that crap on your face?!>>

"Shit! I've gotta wash off this mudpack and get dressed." Scully began scurrying about, grabbing clothes, muttering to herself all the while.

<<Great,>> thought Skinner. <<This morning, I was Assistant Director of the largest law enforcement agency in the western world -- and now I'm the flea-bitten familiar of Sabrina, the teenaged FBI agent.>>

His terror receding (if not his disgust), Skinner's fur descended back into a normal position. He decided to leave Scully to her preparations and went out of 'greet' Mulder. By the time he'd gotten out to the front door, he heard a key turning in the lock.

<<He has *keys* to her apartment...?!>>

"Hel-loooo...Scully, you decent? ACK! What the hell is that?!"

"That's my new cat." Scully called from the bathroom. "Do you like him?"

"Like him? Scully, that's the most horrific thing I've seen since the Fluke Man!"

"That's what you said about Queequeg."

"Yeah, well, I'll see if I can arrange another meeting with Big Blue."

"I'll be out in at minute, I'm just finishing getting ready," Scully called. "Someone left the cat on my doorstep. I'm going to try to find his owners tomorrow, but failing that I just may keep him."

"Keep him? Scully, you don't know where he's been."

<<I could say the same thing about you, Agent Mulder,>> Skinner growled to himself.

Leaving as wide a path around himself and the cat as possible, Mulder made his way to the kitchen.

"I brought something for our dinner," Mulder yelled.

"What? Wine?"

"Noooo..." he crooned, obviously a little too pleased with himself, at least in Skinner's opinion. "Oysters."

Scully appeared at that moment, clad, and with a minimum of makeup thrown on.

"Oysters?" she asked.

"Yeah. As in 'shuck me, suck me, eat me raw'?" Mulder leered, leaning into her personal space.

Skinner glowered. <<What the hell does he think he's doing? She's *mine,* I marked her!>>

Scully took the offered bag of bivalves and shooed Mulder out of the kitchen. "Go sit down. Dinner will be ready in a minute, I just have to throw it in the microwave."

"Okay. I'll just bond with Butch here," Mulder said, tossing his leather jacket onto a chair.

"You do that."

Before Skinner could react, Mulder had scooped him up and sat down heavily on the couch with the cat in his lap. Absently scratching Skinner's head, Mulder continued his conversation with Scully.

"Old Ironsides was really riding my ass today."

Skinner heard Scully chuckling in the kitchen. Yet even as he fumed, he couldn't help responding to Mulder's caresses.

"You like that, you ugly bag of bones, you like that?" Mulder muttered as he listened to the cat purr. "Hey Scully, you know the Clean Marine thinks I'm working tonight -- HEY!"

<<Oh, I'm sorry. Did my claws just extend into your leg? A thousand apologies, you self-satisfied ass.>>

"What's wrong?" Scully called.

"Your damn cat just clawed me!" Mulder looked down at the hideous beast. It seemed to be smiling at him. "I don't think he likes me."

"Queequeg didn't like you either. That *might* have had something to do with the fact that you tried to kick him every time my back was turned."

"I resent that, Scully. I like dogs -- well, *real* dogs, at least. But cats are useless, lazy, self-absorbed creatures."

<<Takes one to know one.>>

"Mulder, you've never successfully cared for anything higher on the food chain than a goldfish."

<<And you've gone through them like Madonna's gone through fuckboys. Jesus H. Christ! I'm getting catty! So that's where that saying comes from...>>

"Well at least I don't take in every stray off the street," Mulder responded.

<<That would explain her affection for you.>>

"Just try to play nice for a few minutes, okay?" Scully asked.

"Yeah, yeah, tell it to Catzilla."

Scully came in with a beer for Mulder. She handed it to him and then scratched Skinner under the chin. He purred in pure pleasure.

"Right, Mulder. Pretty scary. You're a brave, brave man."

"I'm telling you," Mulder insisted, his voice rising almost to a whine, "there's something strange about this cat!"

<<You have no idea, Spooky.>>

"He's just being territorial."

"So am I," Mulder whispered in Scully's ear.

Skinner growled. If you've never heard a cat growl, you should know -- it's an unearthly, terrifying sound, wholly unlike a dog's growl. Think Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."

Unwilling to suffer another slashing, Mulder knocked the cat off his lap and onto the floor, where it landed with a thump. Indignant, Skinner leapt up on the coffee table, regarding Mulder with narrowed eyes.

"Cujo!" Mulder declared. "That's what this thing is, Cujo!"

Scully sighed. "Mulder, your knowledge of pop culture needs work. Cujo was a dog."

"Oh so what, Stephen King hasn't written anything worth a damn since 'The Stand.'"

<<Figures that would be your favourite,>> thought Skinner. <<The government releases a killer flu and all the surviving Republicans go to Las Vegas to worship Satan! Which does seem to describe America in the Nineties...>> he mused.

"Actually..." Mulder decided, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "I think you're right. I think I do have the wrong Stephen King novel. This cat's more like something out of 'Pet Sematary.' Did you ever read that?"

"No, but I caught the movie on late-night TV."

"Ugh! Your taste in entertainment is even worse than mine..."

"Given that your membership number in the Ginger-Lynn Allen Fan Club is only in the double-digits, I sincerely doubt that."

"Just listen, Scully. In 'Pet Sematary,' a dead cat is brought back to life. Only he's...different. He's not...catlike anymore. He moves differently, he acts differently. It's like the 'soul' of the cat is gone, leaving merely an animated body..."

"Cat zombies?" Scully replied dryly.

"Scoff if you will, G-woman of my dreams. But that cat is like no cat I've ever seen. What he needs is a good rousting."

"A good...what?"

"A good rousting," Mulder said, reaching for the cat. "Housecats have all this built-up energy, see? They need their owners to help them vent it. Watch this."

Skinner felt himself hoisted into the air and hung upside down.

"Cats love this. I call it, 'Upside-Down Kitty.'"

"Um...he doesn't look like he loves it..."

Actually, Skinner was in shock. Shock and denial. <<This is not happening...>>

"Oh you don't know cats like I do! I used to do this with my mother's cat when I'd come home from university to visit."

"You went to school in England."

"For which dear Mumsie's cat was forever grateful....now, this is 'High in the Sky Kitty...'"

Skinner now found himself surveying the room from approximately eight feet above the floor.

Denial quickly gave way to anger. <<Oh, you will pay for this, you paranoid little pantywaist. If you thought The Consortium was bad, you just wait till I'm finished with you...>>

"...And this is 'Best of Show Kitty...'"

This last one was very similar to the previous move, only now Mulder had him stretched out full-length, his back legs splayed. His discomfort was minimal -- but the indignity...

"...And this is my favourite -- 'Lord of the Dance Kitty.'"

Skinner's stomach rolled as Mulder held him upright, his back paws barely grazing the floor as the bastard jerked him up and down in a rough -- very rough -- approximation of an Irish jig. Mulder's eyes shone merrily as he whistled "Whiskey in the Jar" as accompaniment.

"Mulder -- enough. Stop before you get to 'The Full Monty.'"

<<Oh Mulder, if I ever get my body back, you're going to be working restaurant fraud in Galena, Illinois, till you're old and grey...>>

"Ah...you're no fun anymore," Mulder muttered, releasing the much-abused feline. Skinner leapt back up on the coffee table, tail twitching so furiously he nearly knocked over a stack of magazines. Pinning the object of his derision with a momentary icy glare, Skinner pointedly turned his back and began to defiantly smooth down his rumpled fur with his tongue.

"Ooh, Mulder -- that was a 'fuck you' look if I ever saw one," noted Scully.

Mulder chuckled. "Are you going to let him get up on the furniture like that?"

"Why not?" Scully snorted, heading back into the kitchen. With a sly look, she tossed over her shoulder, "I let you."

"Ooh, you're *hot* tonight, Momma...." Mulder loped after her, his grin easy and his gait confident.

<<Oh. My. God. They're having an affair. Or they're *going* to have an affair. And lucky me, I'm going to be here to witness it. No way, Pretty Boy, not on my turf, and not with *my* Scully!>>


"That dinner was *incredible,* Scully!"

"Thank you. And my mother thanks you. It was her lasagna."

"Yeah, but you heated it with *luuuvvv*..." Mulder leaned in close and nuzzled Scully's cheek with his nose.

"Back off, Mulder," Scully chuckled, swatting him away good-naturedly. "You're not the only one who can cry 'Tailhook.'"

Skinner surveyed the couple on the couch coldly. He'd kept his distance during dinner, knowing that if he'd gone anywhere near food, he wouldn't have been able to keep himself from begging for scraps. And knowing Mulder, he would have taken great pleasure in denying him one sweet morsel -- the sadistic bastard.

But now, din-din was over. And the Basement Lothario looked like he was about to make his move. Crouched down out of sight behind the coffee table, Skinner felt his muscles twitch in readiness.

Mulder sprawled out, taking up so much of the couch that Scully found herself backed into a corner. Lazily, her partner reached out and ran a knuckle across the back of her hand. Scully's eyes widened, but she said nothing.

"Meredith said something very interesting today..." Mulder drawled.

"Meredith?" Said Scully, subtilely taking back her hand.

<<MEREDITH?!>> Thought Skinner, ears pricking up. <<What *else* has my Fairy Godmother been up to today...>>

"Yeah, Meredith." Mulder sat up, watching Scully with darkened, half-lidded eyes. "Skinner's temp. I went up to talk to him this afternoon but he wasn't around. So I got to talking with Meredith, and turns out she's a bit of a psychic..."

<<Oh, is *that* what she calls it...>>

Scully rolled her eyes. "Uh huh. Don't tell me, she took one look at you and said, 'A new woman will be coming into your life -- someone you've just met..."

"Jealous?" Mulder looked hopeful.

<<Is she?>> Skinner held his breath.

"I'm dying," Scully said dryly. "Please continue."

"Well, she offered to read my palm. And I don't really believe in that stuff, but I thought, hey, what the hell."

"Anything to get a pretty girl to hold your hand," Scully snorted.

"How'd you know she was pretty?" Scully gave him The Look. "Okay, okay, so she read my palm. And I think you'll find what she said *very* interesting."

"Do tell," said Scully.

Skinner watched Mulder's legs from under the coffee table. One knee seemed to be moving inexorably closer to Scully's.

"She said--" Their knees were almost touching now... "She said that I've *already met* the love of my life...but I just haven't had the courage to face it. That I've battled my feelings for this person for years. But now I'm ready to stop running away -- and start running toward it."

"Running -- toward it?" Scully shifted uncomfortably on the couch.

"Mm-hmm." Mulder nodded, voice husky. "And I think we both know who that other person is, don't we?"

<<Meredith, if I ever get out of this, your ass is *so* fired...>>

Mulder inched closer. Confusion flitted across Scully's face. She looked like she wasn't sure *what* she wanted to happen.

END PART TWO

PART THREE

<<Don't worry, Scully. Here come the Marines...>>

A grey and black streak launched itself at Mulder's knee. Claws, teeth and fifteen pounds of cat tried to work their way into flesh through denim.

"AAIIIEEEAARRGGHH!!!!" Mulder screamed. It was quite high-pitched -- a girly scream, really -- and the sound hurt Skinner's sensitive ears. Still, he held on. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Mulder was finally able to pry him off and toss him aside. Man and cat now stood facing each other.

"Mulder, don't hurt him! He's just a cat!" Scully insisted.

"Cat, my ass. That thing is a demon from the burning depths of hell!"

Eyes flashing with fury and hands hanging by his hips like gunfighters of old, Mulder squared off against his foe. Suddenly, the theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" started whistling through Skinner's kitty brain.

<<This apartment isn't big enough for the two of us -- and you're goin' *down,* motherfucker...>>

Mulder advanced on the hissing, spitting cat. "I'm taking you down to visit kindly Dr. Mengele at the vet's," he announced, before launching into a bad German accent. "Time for zee big needle, kitty!"

"Mulder!"

Mulder feinted to the left. Skinner ran to the right. Mulder dove and grabbed Skinner's back legs, the two of them rolling on the floor in a tangle of tabby and denim-blue. Bewildered, Scully didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Her cat *had* attacked Mulder -- but then again, he'd also saved her from a sticky situation... A howl broke her reverie -- it was Mulder's, of course.

"AAAHHH!! Stop it, you little bastard...!" Skinner's teeth sank into the sensitive webbing between thumb and forefinger on Mulder's right hand. His front claws were buried in Mulder's wrist, and his feet (similarly clawed) kicked savagely at any part of Mulder they could touch.

"Cat. Will. DIE!!!" Screamed Mulder, freeing his hand and sending Skinner tumbling across the room. Dazed, Skinner shook his head and reassessed strategy.

<<Okay. He's bigger than you. Face it. Use his weaknesses against him. Where is he most vulnerable...? Ah HA!>>

Streaking around Mulder like a Tomahawk Cruise missile in search of a chemical weapons plant, Skinner leapt for Mulder's Achilles heel -- so to speak.

"What the fuck are you doing to my -- MY JACKET!!! Sculleee! He just pissed on my jacket!!!"

Wisely, Skinner beat a hasty retreat.

"Oooh. Sorry, Mulder," Scully said, trying desperately not to laugh. "It's impossible to get the smell of male cat urine out of leather."

"That's it," Mulder pouted, grabbing his wet jacket and stalking to the door. "I am outahere! I hope you and your cat are very happy." The door slammed behind him.

Scully stood watching the door for a moment, almost wistful. Then she turned to confront her new pet. Skinner sat in the middle of the livingroom floor, daintily licking a paw.

"Kitty, I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you."

Skinner paused in his ablutions to look up at her. He appeared blissfully unconcerned as to which decision she might make.

"Don't give me that innocent look! That was my partner you just pissed -- excuse the expression -- off!"

<<Yes, *partner.* Not *lover.* Don't worry about it Agent Scully, you can thank me later.>>

"Don't you look pleased with yourself! The cat that swallowed the canary -- the cat that destroyed cowhide..."

Scully started to laugh. It started as a smirk that grew to a chuckle that became a full-fledged roar. "Oh my God, he was mad! There he was, trying to put the moves on me, and my *cat* --" Scully paused, trying to catch her breath. "--and my *cat*..." She gave up, landing on the couch in a giggling heap. Skinner jumped up beside her, nudging her hands out of the way so he could climb on her lap.

"Oh well. I got you, kitty, don't I? You knew it would never work with Mulder, didn't you?"

<<Ah, Agent Scully, if I had two dead rats I'd give you one... What am I saying?!!!.>>

"Pretty boy...you're a pretty boy, aren't you?"

Skinner purred unreservedly as Scully scratched his head. He knew he wasn't pretty -- he'd seen himself in the mirror. But the look in her eyes -- to her, he was beautiful. And he felt loved. It was wonderful.

"Why don't we go to bed? The dishes can wait until morning."

Skinner concurred. <<I'm exhausted.>>


"Come on, kitty. Please?"

Skinner lay in his basket and tried to ignore Scully as she called to him from her bedroom.

"What's the good of having a cat if he won't sleep with you?"

<<It's not right. It's just not right...>>

Skinner's muscles were taut. His instincts (the feline ones) were crying out for him to go to her --

<<Warm bed, you idiot! Warm body to curl up to! This is a *good* thing!>>

-- but the AD in him refused.

<<I *will not* sleep with a subordinate, I *will not* sleep with a subordinate. It doesn't *matter* if that's all we're going to do is sleep, it doesn't *matter* that I'm a cat -->>

And then Scully said the one thing he couldn't resist.

"Here, puss-puss-puss. Here, puss-puss-puss..."

His body wrenched out of bed, ignoring his mind's futile attempt to maintain control. Pad-pad-pad went his paws on the hardwood floors. He reached the bedroom and leapt up on the bed, making a contented noise that sounded a lot like, "Pplehmm."

"*There* you are, kitty!" Scully welcomed him. Still operating on feline autopilot, Skinner touched noses with Scully, accepted her caresses as his due, and then curled up beside her, nose tucked under the tip of his tail. AD Skinner fumed, but KittySkinner was well pleased.

The two bedmates soon fell asleep, comforted by each other's presence.


"OH MY GOD!!!!"

Skinner started awake at the scream and promptly fell out of bed. Dazedly, he looked down at himself.

<<I'm human again! Thank God! Uh oh...>>

"What the hell are you *doing* here? Why are you naked? And where's my cat?!"

Crouching beside the bed in an attempt to hide his nudity, Skinner peered up at a confused and *very* angry Scully. She was holding the bedclothes up to her neck and her hair formed a tousled red cloud around her head.

"Um...that would be me..." Skinner faltered.

"What? That would be what? What do you mean?" She was furious. And damn beautiful.

"Your cat...that would be me."

For a moment, Scully was speechless. Dumbstruck.

"Are you insane?" She finally managed to sputter.

Skinner knew he was up to neck in deep, deep shit. How the hell was he going to convince The Great Skeptic that her cat was now a buck-naked Assistant Director? His first attempt failed miserably. "Well, that chicken was delicious and I thought Mulder was going to cry when I pissed on his jacket."

If anything, Scully just got angrier. "Is this some kind of joke? Did Mulder send you over here?"

Despite the situation, Skinner was deeply affronted. "Agent Scully," he gruffed, "do you really think I would take part in one of Mulder's juvenile pranks?"

"Oh, so crawling into bed with me in the buff was *your* idea?"

"No!" This was not going well. "Scully, please listen to me! Do you remember that woman Mulder was talking about last night, Meredith?"

"The psychic that told Mulder to jump me? Oh yeah, she'll *really* add credibility to your story."

Skinner sighed. "She's not a psychic. She's a witch."

There went the Scully eyebrow. "And she changed you into a cat?"

"Well...yes."

"Now, assuming that I believe that -- which I don't -- *why* would she do that?"

Skinner looked down at his hands and mumbled something.

"Excuse me?" Said Scully.

"I think -- I think she felt that I had something to learn." It wasn't until Skinner uttered the words that he realized this was true. He'd just spent the last 24 hours trying simply to survive in a bizarre situation. It was only now that the reasons for his transformation were becoming clear.

"I see." Scully's tone became less harsh, as if she were actually contemplating his tale. "Which was?"

Still staring at his hands, Skinner spoke quickly, letting it all out in

a rush. "That I'd spent enough time sulking in my office, clinging to protocol, propriety and the rules. She turned me into a creature that operates on instinct and goes after what it wants, damn what society thinks. I learned...that there are some things worth fighting for."

"Such as?" Asked Scully.

Skinner looked up, meeting Scully's eyes. His next words were not nearly as hard to utter as he would once have dreamed. "You. Love."

"Oh," breathed Scully. "I didn't know you felt that way."

"I didn't either. I mean, I did, on some level -- but I had pushed my feelings down so far, all that come out was a vague sense of...anger. When I'd chew out Mulder, I figured it was because he was such a pain in the ass. And that's part of it, no question," Skinner laughed. "But I was also jealous."

"Of Mulder?" Scully's face was soft now, filled with wonder.

"Yes. He was so comfortable with you. And I see the way you look at him -- you'd do anything for him..."

"I do love him," Scully said softly. "But not in that way. I might have,

once." She reached out to touch Skinner's hand." You have to understand -- Mulder is special. I'm very lucky to have him in my life. I'm a much better person for having known him and I would do *anything* to protect him. But he's not what I need in...in a lover."

"No?"

"No. He ditches me, he's erratic, I never know how's he going to feel or act from one day to the next. And that's part of the joy of knowing Mulder. But I know what I need from a man. And though I will always love Mulder, he can't give it to me. But I've found it in someone else."

"You have?" Skinner couldn't breathe.

"Yes. Someone who's strong...solid...he's always there for me. And though he doesn't know it, I love him very much -- and have for a long time."

Skinner was miserable. It was worse than he thought -- she didn't love Mulder. She loved someone else. Someone so perfect he could never compete with him. Skinner drew back his hand from Scully's grasp. How the hell to get out of here with a shred of dignity intact?

"...It's you," she whispered.

"What?"

She sat forward, allowing the blankets to fall away, exposing her demure pale-blue silk pajamas. She stroked her hand over the top of his skull. Skinner gasped as the blood began to roar between his ears.

"Come here," she said.

Skinner didn't wait for her to change her mind.


Afterwards, it was Scully who purred.

The END (almost)


EXTRA-SPECIAL BONUS ENDING!!!
Caution: do not read if you easily offended by totally gratuitous, infantile humour (or attempts at, thereof).

Triple-agent Alex Krycek minced to the door in his finest cocktail frock -- a ravishing black number -- sleeveless, of course.

"Whoever could be knocking at my door?" He lisped.

Trembling in anticipation, the lithe young traitor opened the door. His devilish green eyes widened in surprise.

"What an adorable little gerbil! But what sort of a heartless *bastard* could have abandoned you here on my doorstep? Well, don't worry little fella, we'll soon find a place for you." He picked up the cage and carried it inside.

Terrified, Mulder screamed soundlessly, running and running. The wheel turned -- but went nowhere.

ABSOLUTELY The END


(No cats were harmed in the writing of this story. As for gerbils -- you don't want to know...you just don't want to know...)

Acknowledgements: thank you, thank you, thank you to mlb, who told me she was writing a story in which Skinner is turned into a cat, taken in by Scully, and they end up together in the end. Unable to stop myself, I started writing my own version, and she graciously gave me the go-ahead. As tribute, I cast her as the beautiful, clever temp, who knows what's best for our agents. But don't blame her for what happens to Mulder...that was all my idea. Be sure to check out mlb's story, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty" on the SIS site at http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/parade/hg83/kitty.htm.

As always, thanks to my hubby Tony for channeling Skinner's dialogue and providing all 'Nam references, and to Stephanie Kaiser, the best friend I've never met.

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