Title: Uncle Walt's Monologue
Author: Gina Rain
Feedback: ginarain@aol.com
Rating: PG (for overuse of the word "damn" and because no one would read it if it was rated G)
Disclaimer: I didn't invent any of these characters. But I do enjoy playing with almost all of them.
Category: V, S? You decide.
Spoilers: Existence but nothing specific.
Archive: Sure

Summary: Skinner has a heart-to-heart with William.

After Scully left, it took him all of five minutes to embrace the enormity of the situation.

This could be the last day he would ever see them.

He looked around the living room. In a few hours, she would walk in, pick up William and a diaper bag, and never return. Save for a few pictures, everything would be left exactly as it had been over the last few years.

But to those who liked to think they knew her, there was already a difference. One that had been apparent for almost two years now.

At one time, there was a warmth here that radiated from the occupant of the Apartment. She had her own ways. Dreamed her own dreams. Lived her life.

Now, there was a cold sterility about the place.

It served a function, and nothing more. It was no longer home.

He remembered going to his sister's house many years before. His "fussy" sister, as other relatives good- naturedly called her. The fussy sister who had become a mother while he served in Vietnam. The baby was only two months old when he returned, and when he walked into the small ranch house, every inch of the place announced the presence of the small addition. It was still clean; still organized in its own way, but definitely changed forever. It was no longer her and her husband's home, it was her family's home. With a huge emphasis on the baby paraphernalia of the little screaming girl in the nursery.

Scully's Apartment didn't have that look. Not at all. Baby things could be found. Mostly in pre-assigned locations: on the shelf below the crib, in the armoire, in the storage space under the sink of her bathroom. The Apartment housed the child's body but it hadn't soaked up any of his spirit. It wasn't allowed to. It was the place where he had to be safe. If he was as quiet, comfortable and unobtrusive as possible, perhaps "they" would go away. And, ironically, Scully's spirit had left this Apartment as well. Her body was physically present and on constant alert, but her soul and life force was off with Mulder. She was simply in a way-station waiting to move on. To start their family life.

Which she would be doing in a few short hours.

Apartments with character. Spirits and life-forces. Way-stations.

Damned X-Files. They had permeated his damned thoughts. No. That wasn't exactly true. The files were simply a collection of mini-Pandora boxes awaiting opening night. However, the two people who were the heart and soul of the files. . .the yin and the yang. . .the scientist and the seeker. . .they had a permanent effect on his thoughts. And his very existence.

It had taken quite an adjustment to get used to the lack of Mulder in his life. He still found himself automatically turning to "Mulder's seat" in his office. The hot seat. Stifling a yell over some infringement or other. Old habits died hard. There were no infringements because Mulder was not there. Everyone else seemed to know how to play by the rules. Damn.

And Scully--well, that would be an ache that would be with him for a very long time. He did a lot right in his dealings with her-- post-Mulder's abduction and subsequent on-the-lam-hood. But he also did a lot wrong. In some ways, they now had a more distant relationship than they had ever had before.

But then, there was today. The day she had given him this honor. And an honor it was. Asking him to take care of William while she went off--somewhere--to pick up her final instructions for tonight's rendezvous. It was that final seal of approval. That final confirmation of trust.

Which brought him back to his charge in the next room. He was tempted to choose the easy way out. Stay in the living room with the television on, hoping that the boy would not cry and demand the pleasure of his company.

That was a cop out.

He had invested a lot of time, energy and tears in this child. More than anyone would know. For more reasons than he'd ever care to examine. He had spent very little time with him since his birth. He found it painful to look in those clear blue eyes.

But he might never see him again. And William deserved a few minutes with his old Uncle Walt.

And Uncle Walt deserved a few minutes alone with William.

He walked into the bedroom. Surprisingly, William was awake.

Yep. He had Scully's eyes, all right. Perhaps this quality-time notion was over-rated. Babies were foreign to him. The times he had spent with his sisters' children were relatively few and far between. Not to mention the fact that the unnerving, unwavering stare that this Scully-Mulder production seemed to have perfected in just a few short months of life was both award-winning and frightening.

"So, William. . ." Skinner began, stopping immediately.

He knew nothing but baby-talk was expected. But it somehow felt trivial. He began again. "You're not planning on levitating anything while I'm here, are you? Because I'm not the expert at that type of thing that your parents are. I just might shriek and run from the room."

Good. Always good to start out with an ice-breaker.

William kicked his feet under the covers. He wanted out. Out of loyalty to Scully's baby bondage techniques, Skinner once again tucked the corner of the sheet into the crevice between mattress and crib. "That was a joke, by the way. I thought I'd give you a preview of what you'll have to get used to with your father back in the picture. He talks this way all the time. Be prepared." William kicked again. The carefully tucked corner broke free and after two quick kicks in succession, William's right foot was out and freely punting imaginary footballs. Or whatever babies were aiming for in their endless kicking. Skinner watched him continue until his left foot joined the right in the great blankie escape. The baby smiled. He was free.

"I think--maybe--even Mulder will put the sarcasm on hold--at least for a day or two." He reached in and ran his forefinger up and down the middle of William's foot--watching as the toes curled tightly in response. He sighed. "He's going to be so happy to see you. Don't be too surprised if he cries. He's kind of soft at heart. But they will be happy tears this time, and I do promise you that that weird sense of humor I talked about will rear it's ugly head sooner or later. He just can't help himself."

Skinner let out a soft breath as he watched William now attempt to cram his entire fist into his mouth.

"Your father is a good person. And so is your mom. It hasn't been easy to supervise them but they have made my life interesting. They've challenged me. And treated me with respect and loyalty when they didn't seem to have a reason to. 'Seem' being the operative word here."

"William," he leaned over the crib a bit, "we haven't spent that much time together but, I've always been in your corner. That's forced me to make difficult, painful decisions--just as your dad had to. But I'd do it all over again. And I just want you to know--that it has been--an honor."

He smiled to himself.

Great. The kid will be happy never to see his sappy Uncle Walter again.

But it was true. It was a very distinct honor to help escort this child into the world. To help keep him safe, in spite of the odds.

William took his hand out of his mouth--baby drool trailing down his onesie.

"So, anyway. Let me give you a little rundown of what will be happening. Your mom is going to come and get you in a few hours. We are going to do a little cloak and dagger routine and you'll be passed around a few times. I would suggest you try to sleep through the whole thing. It will go faster that way. And then, you'll wake up and see your dad. And, hopefully, you'll keep seeing him every day for the rest of his life. You are the only one who he would have done this for. No one else could ever separate him from his Scully. But your being safe was the most important thing--to both of them. They thought they could protect you better this way. But they were wrong. It's not that they aren't competent apart. But together-- they are--I don't know--'right.' You'll see."

William now added his arms to the baby freedom march-- reaching them straight out. It wasn't an invitation to be picked up, but Skinner chose to take it as such. He had a need to give this child one hug--or twenty-- while he had the chance.

He lifted him and carefully placed one hand on the child's backside, hearing the soft crinkling of the plastic covering of the disposable diaper beneath his garment; and the other against the back of his head. William, for his part, threw caution to the wind and immediately tried to separate Skinner from his glasses.

Damn it. What is it about babies? Pick one up and the whole future stretches before you in brighter colors than were there a moment before. "You know what I want for you, kiddo? What I want for all of you? I want you to all relax. I want you to be a family. I want them to stop treating you like a miracle and start treating you like a little boy. And someday, what I'd really, really like is a world safe enough so that your good old uncle Walt can come over for a barbecue. We can all play a game of softball and have burgers on the grill afterwards. And I can tell you stories of all the sacrifices your parents made for you. And you can be surprised because you had no idea. None at all. Because you are just a normal kid, like all others. Loved--treasured--but given the chance to grow up without carrying the weight of the world on your back."

William gave a small cry of baby exasperation at his lack of success in pilfering the glasses.

Skinner smiled at him and rubbed his nose against the child's. A little smile crossed the baby's face.

"That's not too much to ask, is it?" he asked to no one and everyone.

He took a rattle from the crib and went into the living room. There was a baseball game on television. It was never too early for an uncle to introduce a child to one of the finer things in life.

The end.

Author's Notes: This was in direct response to Peggy's birthday request for a Skinner fic. Happy birthday, Peggy. I hope I did the big guy justice. This is my little "official" farewell to the supports of the X-Files. Skinner was chosen as a representative of the group. Each one has added their own individual spark to the series and made a rich picture, richer. (I can't--and won't say farewell to Mulder and Scully- -so--after this, it's back to MSR.) Oh, one more thing--before my notes are longer than my story--this is dedicated to another strong, dependable, sometimes "unsung" hero: my dad. I've done this before but I have my own reasons for doing it again. There are many men out there just like him. Men working hard for their families. No time for glory. Well, perhaps their ultimate glory lies in the love and respect their children feel for them, and just how much they are missed when they are gone. So, Jan, this one's for you.

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