Title: Because of You
Author: Tisha Cox
Rating: PG for language.
Disclaimer: Walter Skinner doesn't belong to me. He belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox. I guess Matthew and Katherine Skinner belong to me.

Summary: Skinner before he went to Vietnam.


He came pounding up the sidewalk to the front door. He slowed his pace and came to a stop inches from the front steps. He didn't want to face them but he knew he'd have to reckon with them sooner or later. He walked to the front door and let himself in. He thought maybe he could make it to the stairs before anyone figured out he was home but he wasn't that lucky. He heard his father call his name from the den. He thought about ignoring him but he knew better.

He walked into the den where his father sat reading the newspaper. His mother peeked in from the kitchen and smiled at him. She went back to cooking dinner. He stood in front of his father's chair and waited. And waited.

Finally, his father put the paper down. He couldn't read his father's expression. With his father he reflected, that was par for the course. His father had never been the type to overtly show affection. It wasn't that he was over-bearing or afraid of showing his emotions, he was just that kind of man. To the world, he gave the appearance of being stern and aloof but in reality he was neither. He was firm with his son but there was no doubt in his mind that he didn't care for him and his mother. It was just that his father felt he didn't have to say the words that others so frequently said but didn't mean.

After a few long moments of looking up at his son, Matthew Skinner finally spoke to him. "Well?"

"Well what?"

"I'm not going to ask for an explanation. If you want me to know what you've been up to, I know you'll tell me when you're ready. Go get washed up for dinner. Oh, and by the way, where are your manners. Take of that ball cap. You know you should take off your head gear at the door. Your mother's waiting."

He reached up and pulled off the cap. Leave it to his dad to reduce him to feeling like a two-year-old.


Later That Evening.....

Katherine Skinner could tell by the look on her son's face at dinner that he had done something she knew was not going to please his father and she had a feeling she knew what it was. It wasn't like her son Walt to be rebellious or wild. Like his father, he had convictions that ran deep and he was damned if anything was going to stand in his way. Every time she looked at her son, she saw a younger version of her husband. She hoped her son would never change. She thought back to when she had first met Matthew. She'd met him in San Diego not long after the war. He had just been discharged from the Marine Corps and had been looking for work when he had wondered into her father's hardware store. Her father had given him a job sweeping the floors part-time so he could go to school and get his degree as an engineer. Eventually, Matthew had worked up the courage to ask her father if he could see his only daughter and he had said yes. A year later they were married and their son Walter had been born in 1950.

Now, Walt was almost 18 and ready to attend UCLA in the fall. He had a football scholarship and was excited about going away. She was proud of her son and hoped she and Matthew had done right by him. She could only hope that Matthew felt the same way.

She left the kitchen and walked into the den where her Matthew was hiding behind his ever-present newspaper. He didn't look up when she came in. Just as she was sitting down on the couch, Walt came down the stairs and into the den with a look on his face that she had never seen.

Walt looked at his mother as he walked into the den. What he had to tell them was not going to be easy. From the look his mother was giving him, he knew that she knew something was up. His father hadn't even noticed that he had come in. Walt took a deep breath.

"Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. Dad, put down the paper."

Matthew did and leveled his gaze on his only son.

"I've enlisted in the Marine Corps. I ship out for basic in two weeks."

There. It was done. It was finally over.

His mother looked at him, slack jawed with fear. His father was an entirely different story. Matthew stood up and walked over to his son.

"What did you just say?"

"You heard me. I enlisted."

"Yeah, I heard you all right. I just wasn't sure I heard you right. What the hell are you thinking? Do you have any idea what this means? Do you know where they'll send you?"

Walt knew this was coming.

"I know." It was almost a whisper and his father had to lean close to hear.

"You know. You know. OK, if you knew, then why did you do this?"

Walt looked at his father. He knew he had to tell him the truth. He looked at his mother and regretted what he was putting her through.

Katherine looked at her son and saw something that she hadn't noticed before. This wasn't a mounting father-son conflict, this was about to become a full-blown conflict between to grown men. How could she have been so blind?

Matthew however, didn't have quite the same view of his son as his wife did. All he saw was himself at that age.

"Son, answer me. I've never asked you to explain anything to me. I've always felt that if you had something to say to me or needed help, you'd come to one of us but now I'm asking and I'll be damned if you don't answer me. Talk."

Walt, thanks to his father's temper, was now standing eye to eye with him.

"I enlisted because I felt it was the right thing to do."

"The right thing to do? Since when does a 17-year old know what's `the right thing to do?' Who the hell planted that idea in your head? Have we done something wrong? Is there something that your mother and I have done wrong? We've tried to do right by you since you were born. I know I have a hard time telling you that I love you but if this is some ploy for sympathy.....Why? Can you just tell me the truth?"

Walt took a deep breath and looked at his father. Really looked. It was almost as if he had noticed him for the first time. Standing close to him was the man he had looked up to all of his life. He'd always looked so strong and invincible but now there was something in his father's expression that he had never seen before. Concern. Anguish. Grief. Love. And all because of him. He closed his eyes. What was he thinking?

"I enlisted because. . .because of you."

"What?"

"Because of you."

"Me? What do you mean?"

"I remember when I was little you would tell me stories of Guadalcanal and Pearl Harbor. What it meant to be a Marine and make a difference. How it made you feel to make a difference. I want that. I want to make a difference."

Matthew couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Do you realize what you're saying? What you're getting into? I've worked all my life to spare you what I had to face in the war and now you're telling me you want to go into combat? For Christ's sake son, you don't have to do this. You're going to be starting college in two months..."

"Dad, just let me ask you this. Did you have to join the marines or was it something you felt you had to do?"

Matthew had to admit his son had him there.

"It was something I had to do."

"Now you know how I feel. Did your father try to talk you out of it?"

"Yes."

"I'm going and nothing you can do or say is going to change my mind."

Matthew looked at his wife and they both looked at their son. They knew they had no choice but to let him go. It was time.

"Son, if this is something you feel you have to do, then you have our blessing."

Walt hoped he was doing the right thing.

The End


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