Title: Walter S. Skinner And The Little Green Man
Summary: Skinner learns that saving a fairy's life has interesting rewards.
This story came about as the result of a bet. I wrote a story called "Achilles' Heel" on the subject of which I got a letter from someone called Lori Ann, asking me about something in it. I was so pleased that she'd read my work so carefully, I told her if she could find the pretty big mistake I'd made in another story (which I'll correct and repost sometime), I'd write her a story to her specification. She found it, I offered to pay up. She kindly gave me a free hand, but said she thought Skinner had a hard time in fan fiction. She liked Skinner. So, I thought it was time Skinner had some fun. So here's a bit of Midsummer Madness, light fluff. In a lot of ways it reminds me of my story "666, The Number Of The Fox." only this is lighter, more whimsical fluff. So please, disengage brain, and open mind. I hope you enjoy....
My thanks to Vickie Moseley and Lori Ann for helping with corrections on this. I should put in a warning that this story contains slightly suggestive language in places (that should double the readership to two!). No spoilers, and this is written without regard to the episode "Avatar" which I haven't yet seen.
The name Trethan is pronounced Treth (rhymes with death) Ann (as in the girl's name, rhymes with pan). I created it for the story, but it is a Cornish sounding name, as befits the character. The emphasis should be on the end syllable (TrethANN).
Dedicated to Lori Ann.
Cats are peculiar animals. Revered as gods, despised as devils, few animals manage to inspire such passionate love, and such deep rooted hatred. Many people consider them to be in some way supernatural, creatures of fate. It is notable how often they appear in superstition, and how contradictory such superstitions can be, as if they embodied the contradictory nature of the cat itself. To have a black cat cross one's path fills an American with horror, whereas in Britain there is no surer sign of good luck, and black cats abound in that country, depicted on a million greeting cards to bring good luck on almost every occasion. Such is the dual nature of the cat. Of course there are many who simply like them, keep them as pets, regard them as nothing more than a domestic companion. One such man was Walter S. Skinner, and the cat he kept was a large and malevolent grey Persian called Joab. Joab is responsible for this story, even though he only appears in it briefly. Everything comes down to the influence of a cat eventually, if you only look hard enough.
This however is not a story about cats. Although, as I've said, it all started with Joab, and an incident in a garden.....
Walter Skinner had not had a very good day.
He had received two phone calls, complaining about FBI harassment. One of his agents had been injured, not, thank God, seriously. Another had announced her pregnancy, leaving Skinner with the job of finding someone to take on her caseload while she was gone. That smoking bastard had been in again this afternoon, asked Skinner some questions about cockroaches that had baffled him, and then left without telling him anything. Then Mulder's report had arrived on his desk. Another U.F.O. sighting. Scully had clearly tried to make it more palatable, Skinner could see where she'd managed to persuade Mulder to let her rewrite it, but he still couldn't accept the report. Mulder had become angry, and accused Skinner of blocking his search for the truth. Skinner had just looked at him, in the same way he'd looked at everyone else who had conspired to make today one he'd rather forget. The truth was, Walter Skinner felt unappreciated. He was a good man. He had tried to do his best, to protect his agents while placating the higher authorities, to walk the middle line. Somebody had to do it. But he got no thanks from either side. Mulder still didn't trust him. Scully wasn't sure. The man Mulder had dubbed Cancer Man made his life miserable.
Some days, Skinner felt like he just couldn't win, no matter how hard he tried. Today was one of those days. At least, finally, he was home. Putting his key into the lock, he gratefully stepped inside.
The house was blissfully silent. Skinner shrugged off his coat, hung it neatly on a peg and went in search of his cat. Feed Joab. Then order a pizza for himself. Watch the game. Put his feet up and spend the evening with Joab, who didn't yell at him, or mistrust him. Failing to find his pet in the house, Skinner walked out into the garden. Midsummer, and the air was warm even in early evening. He let the heavy scent of the flowers pervade his senses as he glanced around, finally spotting a grey tail under a bush.
Joab ignored him, but Walter was used to it. Pushing the bush aside he reached for the cat, but stopped when he saw that Joab had something under his front paws. The cat growled menacingly. Skinner sighed. Like all cat owners, he'd become used to Joab's little "presents" of dead mice and birds. This was clearly a new catch, and Joab didn't want to part with it yet. Which meant he hadn't finished playing with it, which meant it was still alive. Which meant that he, Walter, was going to have to rescue whatever it was. Hadn't his day been bad enough?
"Et tu Joab? Give it here. I'm not in the mood to play."
Joab swished his tail, but found himself grasped by the scruff of his neck. Struggling, he let go of his catch and it rolled free. Skinner caught it, letting the cat go. Opening his hand he examined Joab's prey, while Joab sulkily fled into the house. Skinner didn't heed him. He was too taken aback by what he held. There in his palm, apparently breathing although unconscious, was a little green man. He looked exactly like a human, even clothed in a loose shirt and trousers, but his skin was a soft green colour. Beneath collar length dark hair, Skinner could just see tiny pointed ears. The man was perhaps four to six inches high, if that. Concerned, Skinner held him up to his face, but he couldn't see any wound. But he needed to get the man inside, check for damage under a magnifying glass. The strangeness of the situation would have to wait.
Skinner followed Joab back into the house. He wondered if he should call a doctor. He could always try Scully, she ought to be used to this kind of thing by now. But abruptly the little man started to stir. Shutting a complaining Joab in the kitchen, Skinner gently placed the man on a cushion and sat down to watch carefully.
"Urrgghh..." The little green man clutched his head as he sat up.
Raising his gaze he took in Skinner and his surroundings with a flash of green eyes. He tilted his head and regarded his host.
"You are the human that lives in this house?"
Skinner nodded mutely. There seemed no other response.
"That...that *animal* you keep sprung upon me. I wasn't concentrating, it took me by surprise. You rescued me from it?"
Skinner cleared his throat. "Err...yes. Are you hurt?" <I'm making small talk with a leprechaun> he thought to himself. <I've been working with Mulder too long.>
"I am not, thank you." came the response. "That grey cat. You are fond of it?" The man cast an enraged glance towards the kitchen from which plaintive mewing could be heard.
"Yes." Skinner hastened to assure him. "Yes, I am."
"Very well, then I shall overlook the incident." The man's face softened a little. "Besides, it is a cat, and thus acts in its nature." He waved his hand dismissively. "I am grateful to you for rescuing me from it."
"Not a problem." Skinner assured him. He groped desperately for something to say. "Can I...can I offer you a drink?" <Of all the things to say, Walter..>
To his surprise, the little man nodded. "Thank you. Do you have any wine?"
In a daze, Skinner got to his feet, threw some food into Joab's bowl and fetched some wine from his fridge, closing the kitchen door carefully behind him. Pouring himself a glass, he poured a little into a small bottle cap and handed it to his guest.
"Your health." The little man raised the cap in both hands, sipping at the wine. "You are hospitable. What is your name?"
"And I am Trethan. Well, Walter Skinner, why are you unhappy this evening?"
"How do you know that?"
"I am a pixie. I am naturally empathic. I sensed your mood like a black cloud over your head."
"Of course. It's a type of fairy." The little man seemed surprised. "What did you think I was?"
"I didn't know. I thought, maybe a leprechaun..." <Like that's any more logical>.
The man smiled "Leprechauns are of Irish stock. Do I sound Irish to you?"
Skinner shook his head. "Actually you sound almost American."
"Second generation American, descended from the English fairies, from the wild Cornish coast. My grandparents came across with the emigrants." Seeing Skinner's look of surprise he explained. "Our America is much like yours. The leprechauns came with the Irish. The pixies and elves came with the British, the trolls with the Scandinavians. Every immigrant group, Italian, Dutch, everyone brought their local Fair Folk, brownies, hobgoblins, elves, pixies, you name it. And of course there are the native spirits and sprites, that lived here before. We live alongside each other tolerably well. Collectively we are the Fair Folk. Fairies, you'd call us."
Skinner refilled his glass, and the cap the little man held out to him.
What was amazing him was how calmly he was taking this. But there didn't really seem any other reaction. Fear felt misplaced, and he could hardly deny the evidence of his own eyes. He felt steady enough to ask his strange guest a question.
"Why haven't I ever seen any of these peoples?"
Trethan frowned. "We try not to be seen. You would never have seen me, had it not been for the accident with your cat. Things are less complicated for us that way. But you haven't answered my question, Walter Skinner. Why are you unhappy?"
Skinner opened his mouth to deny it, but then thought better of it. There was something about the man that made him feel this was not someone to be lied to. "I've not had a very good day at work, that's all."
"Yeah." Skinner found himself outlining as much of his day as he was allowed to discuss. The little man listened quietly, nodding his head occasionally, accepting more wine. Finally Skinner finished and looked at him.
Trethan looked at him gravely. "Walter Skinner, you have saved my life, and been a good host to me. Now I want to ask you one last thing. Will you let me look into your mind?"
"Look into my mind?" Skinner felt idiotic. "I don't know."
"Trust me Walter Skinner, what I see I will keep to myself. But, I think I can help you feel happier. Will you permit a brief glance?"
Skinner began to refuse, but then caught the little man's green stare.
This was something weird and fantastic. Maybe this man could help. A very brief glimpse...what would it be like? Would he feel anything? He felt he should say no, but there was something so compelling about those eyes. And they were kind. For once in his life, Skinner made a reckless decision.
Trethan smiled and beckoned at Skinner to lower his head. When he did so, the fairy placed his hand on Walter's forehead. Skinner felt a brief tingling sensation, then the hand was removed and Trethan looked at him approvingly.
"It is as I thought Walter Skinner. You are a good man, misunderstood. I now know all about you, and I know you will not abuse the gift I give. It will bring you pleasure, and serve as a comforting memory for the days to come."
"Gift? You are giving me a gift?"
Trethan smiled at him. "I have drunk your wine, and there is peace between us. I give you the gift of a perfect day tomorrow, Walter Skinner. Enjoy it." Abruptly he slid from the cushion and headed towards the open window.
"Wait," Skinner called to him. The man halted on the sill. "What do you mean?"
"You will see, Walter Skinner." And with that the pixie was gone.
The next morning Skinner awoke at the normal time. Joab was asleep at his feet, as usual. He breakfasted, dressed, went to work. Nothing had changed. Sighing he sank into his chair. Had he dreamed it then? Or had his fairy visitor been joking? He had to have dreamt it. There weren't really fairies at the bottom of his garden, that performed Vulcan mind melds. Abruptly his musings were interrupted by his secretary's voice.
"Sir, Agent Mulder is here to see you."
Skinner checked his tablets were in his desk drawer. "Send him in."
The door opened and admitted Fox Mulder. Skinner waved him to a chair.
"Sit down Agent Mulder. Now what..." He took in Mulder's appearance. Smart. Alert. Plain tie.
Skinner collected himself. "Please tell me why you're here, Mulder."
"I wanted to submit my report, sir. Along with our expenses claims, the analysis you asked for of our department's objectives, and my requests for equipment from this year's budgets. I also took the liberty of filling in that financial breakdown of where our department's money could be best spent. I know it isn't due for three months, but I didn't want you to have to wait, sir. I know how busy you are."
Skinner realised his mouth was hanging open. Faintly he answered. "Thank you Agent Mulder. Now, your report..."
"Yes, Sir. As you'll see, no evidence of U.F.O. activity at all. Probably some kind of hoax." Mulder beamed at him. And I'd like to put on record, sir, how much I appreciated the help the local authorities gave. They made Agent Scully and myself feel so welcome. It made me proud to be American."
Skinner looked at him sideways. Mulder was being sarcastic, right?
"Wrong." whispered a voice in his ear.
The little man was sitting on his shoulder. Walter hastily glanced at Mulder, but Mulder just sat there smiling at him. "What the hell?"
Trethan grinned. "How you perceive today, and how others perceive it, isn't necessarily the same, Walter Skinner. Your agent doesn't see me, doesn't hear you talking to me. Isn't it a relief to you not to have to deal with trouble this morning?"
Skinner thought about it. "But Mulder *is* trouble. I don't want him to be permanently like this." He glanced worriedly at the fairy.
"He won't be. Just this morning. But don't you find it a refreshing change? Just for once?"
"Well..." It was true. A co-operative Mulder was nice for once. "Now what?"
"Just speak to him. He only hears what I deem it politic for him to hear."
Skinner cleared his throat. "Thank you Agent Mulder. That will be all."
Mulder obediently got up and left. Skinner watched him go, then turned to his new friend. "And now?"
"Now? Treat this as a normal working day, albeit a better one than you are used to." Trethan slid down and vanished behind the waste paper basket.
Shaking his head in bemusement, Skinner began flicking through the paperwork Mulder had provided. Accurate. Non controversial. He chuckled. Wonders would never cease. He'd already had repayment for saving the man from Joab. Even though this would all be different again tomorrow, he'd have had this moment to remember. The intercom buzzed and he answered it.
"Sir, Agent Scully is here to see you."
"Show her in." Skinner looked up as she entered. She at least looked normal enough. He motioned towards the chair. "Agent Scully."
"Hello Walter." Scully made no effort to sit in the chair. Instead she walked up to Skinner's desk and perched on it. "How have you been?"
Skinner stared at her, shocked. "Agent Scully?"
"Dana." she purred. Reaching over she grabbed his tie and pulled his face close to hers, leaning across the desk as she did so. Stroking his jawline with her thumb, breathing softly against his cheek, lowering her mouth towards his.... With an effort of will, Skinner pulled away, ignoring the soft cry of protest.
"Agent Scully...I...I" My God. This wasn't happening, was it? He backed up against the window. From somewhere near his feet he heard a soft chuckle.
"You! This..this can't happen!" Skinner looked down at Trethan. The little man raised an eyebrow.
"Because it's taking advantage? I knew you were a good man, Walter Skinner." The fairy sighed "If it makes you feel better, she is attracted to you. I can see it in her aura. Mind you, she's more attracted to that partner of hers, and he to her. And then there's that geeky guy who wants her, and the female agent that wants him, and your secretary who has the hots for you. Whereas you want Scully." Trethan frowned. "Complicated lives you bigger people lead."
"The fact remains, she's not acting freely." Skinner frowned as the man's words caught up with him. "Are you saying that she's mildly attracted to me, but has it bad for Mulder? And he for her? Are they having an affair? I'll kill them, they know Bureau policy..." The fairy held up his hand, placatingly, and then scrambled up a curtain to look at Skinner. "Firstly, nobody is making the lovely redhead do anything she doesn't secretly want to. I just removed her inhibitions, that's all. Secondly I have no idea of what she's doing with her partner. I just read her aura, and yours. And she wants you Walter Skinner. It's up to you."
Skinner turned his attention back to Scully and froze. She hadn't been idle while this exchange went on. He felt his breath catch in his throat, and his words came out as a strangled croak.
"Agent Scully.....please put your clothes back on."
Dana pouted. She was wearing only lingerie, a silky green slip that covered adequately but managed to be incredibly alluring. Skinner groaned. "I can't."
Trethan nodded. "Very well. You have your principles. But.." he smiled wickedly "a foot massage wouldn't hurt would it?"
"A foot massage?"
"Sure" The little man grinned. "A foot massage's nothing, give my mother a foot massage." He caught Walter's eye. "What, you think you're the only one who watches those videos you bring home sometimes? We watch from the garden when you leave the curtains ajar. Tarantino's a genius."
He gestured to Scully. "No harm in letting her rub your feet, Walter Skinner."
"Your neck?" The fairy looked at him incredulously. "You really make it hard to show you a good time, do you know that?"
Skinner relented. "I guess my neck is a little stiff" <Not the only thing with her dressed like that.> "Agent Scully, would you be good enough to rub my neck?"
"Sure Walter." Scully came and stood behind him, running her hands across his shoulders. "You just carry on working, and let me get rid of all those bothersome knots." Her hands began to drift lower.
"Just my neck and shoulders please. If that's OK with you." Skinner leaned back and shut his eyes briefly. Today was certainly turning out better than yesterday.
The intercom buzzed again. "Sir, there's a gentleman here, won't give his name. He says it's to apologise about the cockroach incident yesterday, and for smoking in your office. He's asking if you'll see him."
Skinner smiled. "Tell him to wait."
The rest of the morning passed uneventfully. Skinner had finally told his secretary to have the gentleman make an appointment, which he had eagerly done, promising he would be back at three on the dot. Skinner did a little work. Scully rubbed his shoulders for half an hour, then was gently persuaded to stop, and get dressed, after which she insisted on sitting beside him, occasionally touching his arm as he looked up and smiled at her. Nobody seemed surprised when a fleet of caterers turned up with a gourmet meal and set a table in Skinner's office for two.
Skinner and Scully lunched, and danced to the string quartet that turned up just after the caterers. Finally Skinner went back to work. Scully peeled grapes for him, massaged his shoulders again, and smiled. Work-wise it was an uneventful afternoon, not counting the call from the President to congratulate him. Skinner smiled and thanked him, and enjoyed the soft feel of Scully's hands. At three there was a soft knock at the door, and Skinner felt benign enough to grant an audience.
The man Mulder called Cancer Man slunk into the room, head down. "Well?"
Cancer Man swallowed. "Sir, I came to apologise for the way I treated you. I was completely out of line. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, please."
Skinner looked at him coldly. "I ought to make you kiss my ass. But I won't."
Scully leaned down seductively. "Want me to, Walt?"
Skinner flushed. "No, thank you anyway Agent Scully. Nobody's kissing anything. I have a better idea." He pushed the intercom button. "Please ask Agent Mulder to come up here." He turned to Scully, scribbling on a piece of paper as he did so. "Agent Scully, would you fetch these items please? Thank you." As she did so, he looked across at his enemy in satisfaction. "And while the lady does that, and we wait for Agent Mulder, let's see you do twenty push ups! Now!"
Cancer Man obediently dropped to the floor, wheezing. After five, Skinner took pity on him. "Enough. Get up."
"You're too good a man to enjoy revenge, huh Walter Skinner?" came the fairy's voice from the floor.
"I wouldn't say that. I just don't want to see the man dead. But I have a few tasks for him to do. " A gentle knock at the door heralded the arrival of a smiling, eager to please Mulder. Scully was just behind him, her arms full of cleaning equipment.
"Now." Skinner addressed Cancer Man. "You are going to start by cleaning my shoes. Then Agent Scully's, then Agent Mulder's. After that, you're going to clean my office. Get to it!" He watched in satisfaction as Cancer Man grabbed the cloth and started polishing....
Skinner drove home that night in a good mood. He knew things would be back to normal tomorrow. He couldn't have dealt with that every day anyway. There were limits to his resolve with Scully for a start. Skinner sighed. He'd been a gentleman, and he was proud of not having weakened, but Scully in lingerie wasn't a temptation he could easily resist every day. Things were better as they were. And Mulder...Mulder the co-operative pleasant agent had made a nice change, but everyday?
He'd want to strangle the man. <No change there then.>. He unlocked his door, fed Joab and settled down to watch television with his pet, a much happier man. No matter that everyone else remembered today differently.
Probably best considering the circumstances. He wondered whose day, if any, had been real. Would the White House telephone bill show a call placed to the office of Assistant Director Walter Skinner? He smiled.
He'd get an idea tomorrow, if Mulder's report was still on his desk.
"Hey Scully, thanks!"
"Doing all that filing!"
"What filing? I didn't do any filing."
"Well, somebody did. And the expenses reports. Didn't you do them yesterday?"
"No." Scully frowned. What had she done yesterday? She couldn't quite recall. Paperwork? "I don't think so. Are you sure you didn't?"
"I don't know." Mulder looked at her confused. "Did I? I wondered if maybe I cleaned my shoes. I've never seen them shine so much."
Scully smiled. "Maybe it was the fairies," she teased. "You'd better leave a bowl of milk out tonight, before you leave."
They laughed. Unheard, from under Mulder's desk, a tiny laugh rang out.
The little man looked around. He'd enjoyed his visit yesterday. About time his folk infiltrated the FBI. These two looked like they might be fun to play with. Good people, like their boss. Trethan nodded. Reckon they could use some help in the future......