More Than You Think You Are Part seven
I felt awkward, and I know it showed. And the solicitous way Skinner was treating me, kid gloves on up to the elbows, just made me feel guilty on top of it.
Both of us had started yawning almost before the pizza was gone, and I realized that while technically I was the “patient” in all of this, the last few weeks had not exactly been a walk in the park for Skinner. So when he suggested turning in for the night, I agreed readily, and completely forgot what that might entail until he took my hand and led me to the bedroom.
Big room. Big bed. One big bed. And a bathroom next door with an adjoining door in the bedroom. I tried not to scurry like a frightened mouse when Skinner handed me my bag and assured me everything I would need was in it, but I don’t think I pulled it off. My exit to the bathroom felt almost like an escape, and I spent several minutes in between washing my face, brushing my teeth and discovering no pajamas in my bag just taking deep breaths and berating myself for my foolishness.
‘I shouldn’t feel weird about this,’ I scolded myself. ‘This is my life, and it looks to be a sweet one. Nice home, free pizza, apparently, and a hot man who’s mine.’
I saw Skinner—no--Walter watching me in the mirror over the dresser in the corner when I emerged from the bathroom in just my boxer shorts, and I gave him a toothy smile while fighting the urge to cover myself like a blushing teen. He sighed and one half of his mouth turned up in what was already becoming a familiar gesture. Like his smile was unsure and unfinished. Then he went back to stripping down to nothing but his briefs.
‘A *very* hot man,’ I amended hastily to myself as I continued to watch him in the same mirror. ‘And he loves me.’
I turned around with a sigh and approached the large bed as Walter pulled back the covers. I felt less exposed now that he was in his shorts as well, but I still moved quicker than I needed to as I slid between rich linen sheets and pulled the thick navy duvet up to my chest.
The bed settled as Walter slipped in beside me. He took his glasses off, set them on the table next to his side of the bed, and shut off the small lamp there.
The room was plunged into darkness for just a second, and then a sharp click preceded the blue glow of the television on the armoire as it came to life.
“I thought you might like to watch some television,” Walter explained needlessly.
“That sounds good,” I replied, and it did. For just a moment, I felt another of those queer déjà vu moments—the flickering light of the television, the pillows propping up my back—it felt right. Another piece of my life, tiny though it was, fell into place and I couldn’t help but sigh.
I felt Walter shifting beside me, and then the press of his hand as he gave the remote control to me.
“Is there anything you want to watch?” I offered politely.
“Nah. You pick,” he replied.
I found the sci-fi channel and paused there for a moment.
Walter chuckled beside me.
“Plan Nine From Outer Space? I should have known.”
“Mulder, you love this movie.”
“I do?” I asked carefully.
“Oh.” His voice grew subdued, then pained. “Sorry.” He turned to catch my eye. “But you do love this movie…or did. You used to say it helped you think.”
I glanced at the screen a moment, watched Bela Lugosi skulking through some studio back lot.
“This made me think?” I asked skeptically. But even as I spoke, something niggled at my brain, something important.
“You said,” Walter told me, “that this movie was so profoundly bad on such a child-like level that—“
“—it freed up the right side of my brain to—“ we said in unison, and then we both stopped in surprise, and I felt something bright and hopeful spark in me as another chunk of my memory fell into place.
“...make deductive leaps of logic…” I finished softly.
“Yeah, something like that,” Skinner replied, his voice quiet and thoughtful as well. He sounded at once both happy that I’d remembered something and somehow melancholy about it too.
Without thinking, I reached out for him. I was both surprised and frustrated to be pushed away, and I’m sure he could hear it in my sigh. For a guy who was being so good to me, who professed to love me with every second breath, he seemed oddly reluctant to pursue that love in any kind of physical way. Okay, maybe not *that* reluctant, I amended to myself, thinking of our couch athletics earlier. But he kept having these hesitant moments and I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe I’d been more ‘hands off’ myself, before—before all this—
I started trying to remember anything like that, knowing I was likely to wind up with nothing more than a headache for my efforts. The drone from the television wasn’t helping, so I shut it off and let darkness fill the room.
A minute or two of silence, and then Skinner’s voice, soft, like it was being muffled by the absence of light.
“Can I—I mean—will you let me just hold you?”
Maybe I hadn’t been frigid back in the day, but maybe I hadn’t been much of a cuddle-bunny, either, although looking at Walter Skinner, all butch and shoulder-y and stuff, I wouldn’t have pegged him as the type for a quick cuddle, either.
I gave up trying to figure out how I would have responded then, and decided that what was important was how I wanted to respond now. And responding to those shoulders took very little deliberation at all.
“Only if I get to hold you, too,” I replied easily, shifting myself closer and wrapping an arm around his waist.
That was apparently his cue to do the same, and he pulled me into the last few inches between us, fitting our bodies neatly together and entwining his legs with mine. When he rolled back a bit, he brought me with him, and provided his chest as a comfy pillow replacement.
“Okay?” he asked.
“Very much okay.”
I felt the tension jump in his body, and then immediately begin to bleed away, and I realized he was surprised by my answer.
“Well, that’s good then.” A clumsy pat and a kiss on my hair. “Good night, Mulder.”
“Good night, Walter.”