Welcome To The Harem

Alliance by fran58
Summary: A tavern, a conversation and an unlikely friendship. Maggie Scully/Skinner.

Title: Alliance (1/1)
Author: fran58
Email: fran58@fran58.net
http://www.fran58.net or
Category: VA
Rating: PG
Feedback: Of course
Distribution: Wherever - just let me know.
Spoilers: very slight for Avatar and Exsistence
Disclaimer: Characters owned by Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen
Productions and 20th Century Fox.
Summary: A tavern, a conversation and an unlikely friendship.

Author's Note: Mucho thanks to addicted2fanfic for her friendship
and beta help, and to FabulousMonster -- my writing is palatable
because of you.


I can't put my finger on when the 'every other Friday night' thing
began. Okay, that's a lie. I *can* put my finger on when it began.
It was when she threw me and her mother out of her apartment. I
didn't mean to hover like a mother hen, honestly. And I know
Maggie is quite capable of any motherly hovering that's needed,
but I felt responsible, on a number of levels.

I suppose I should clarify. My relationship with Agent Scully has
always been hard to define. In the past, before our present
circumstances, I would vacillate between inappropriate attraction
and pulling my figurative hair out in a parody of fatherly angst with
worry over her and her partner.

In the past months, our relationship had transformed. In the bleak
time after Mulder's disappearance, my attraction for Scully
suddenly didn't seem so inappropriate or such a fool's errand. I
became her confidant in many ways, and we were grew
closer. In our 'confidant/maybe-something-more' phase, I used to
wonder if I could live with the guilt that I knew I would feel if
Scully and I actually ended up being something more. I hoped for
it just the same. Mulder's return was both a relief and
disappointment. Not that I actually wished the man dead. But it
would have been advantageous for me, say, if he had come back
and inexplicably found John Doggett irresistible.

I slid into my new ‘parental' role almost too easily. I shouldn't
have been surprised. It was one that was familiar to me as far as
both Agents Mulder and Scully were concerned. Any amorous
stirrings on my part were kept firmly tamped down.

Despite my feelings of responsibility, I stayed away from Scully
and company while Mulder recovered, the baby was born, and
everyone settled in. We were all still on edge concerning the
Replicants, and still hadn't made much headway into figuring out
why they hadn't snatched Will away the moment he was born. It
was only when Mulder accepted a new job that required training
that took him away for several months did my protective instincts
rise again in full force. I began dropping by Scully's apartment.
Scully, being Scully, reminded me that she was ‘fine' and that the
baby was ‘fine' too. I had a legitimate claim to pester her,
however, since Mulder had asked me to keep an eye on things in
his absence. I didn't mention this to Scully, figuring that this bit of
information would only annoy her.

It was hard not to notice Scully's mother was making frequent
visits to the Georgetown apartment also. I wondered if Mulder had
spoken to her, too. I didn't mind. I figured the more the merrier, in
some respects. Another pair of watchful eyes wasn't going to hurt.
I often arrived as she was leaving, or vice versa. It got to the point
where I felt like we should slap hands in passing. Apparently,
Scully felt like slapping, too. Our heads.

The Friday we were thrown out, with firm advice to not return for a
least a week, was unbelievably hot. I had been fighting a cold all
week – and it had been a bad week. I was more tired than usual,
and was looking forward to spending a couple hours in the sweet
cool air of Scully's apartment before dragging my sweat drenched
body back to my own home. My air conditioning was currently
non-functioning. Ditto for my car.

Think again, jarhead.

Maggie Scully and I stood in the hall outside Scully's door in
stunned silence. The expression she wore reminded me of Scully
herself, a cross between annoyance and chagrin. Scully would wear
it a lot during my reviews of her and Mulder's written case file
reports. I was perturbed at having been basically told to bug off,
and mumbled something about broken air conditioning and a long
drive home. Mrs. Scully nodded absently, shrugged, and started for
the stairs. As she passed, I could see strands of silver woven in
amongst the dark of her hair. She was no bigger than Scully, and I
could look right down at the top of her head.

Maybe it was the loud growl that my stomach emitted, or maybe, it
was because misery loves company, but out of the blue, she asked
if I wanted to grab a bite to eat.


The tavern was dimly lit, cool, and filled with dark wood. The
floors were the same dark hardwood, and the stools along the bar
sported alien-goo green cushions. I opted to head for a booth and
slid along the well worn, scarred surface of the bench gratefully.
Despite the fact that the cold medication I took didn't seem to be
kicking in, I was feeling better already. I let the cool air sink into my
bones, hoarding it for the drive home and the sticky
accommodations that awaited me. If I had a couple drinks, I could
use it as an excuse to take a hotel nearby to avoid driving home.
This thought cheered me. I could picture myself lying on clean
white sheets, remote control in hand, watching ESPN on cable.
Ahhh yes. I didn't have cable at home. Never had it connected
when I moved to the new apartment. The one I had to take when
Sharon dumped my sorry ass. I felt a wave of self-pity forming and
shook it off. No use being maudlin. For the moment I had
comfortable surroundings, functioning air conditioning, food and
drink at my disposal and an agreeable companion. I assumed she
was agreeable, anyhow. For the moment, it was enough.

Mrs. Scully had followed me to the booth, and slipped into the
bench across the table, giving me a half smile. "They have good
food here," she commented. "I've been here with Dana several
times. When she was pregnant, she couldn't get enough of the
steak sandwich they serve here."

This surprised me. I never pictured Scully as much of a steak eater
and said so.

"It's the protein and cholesterol. I ate a lot of peanut butter when I
was expecting both Dana and Charlie."

A waiter appeared out of nowhere, wanting our order. Mrs. Scully
looked at me and raised an eyebrow in a manner that I found
uncomfortably familiar. Well, they are mother and daughter after
all. We placed our orders and waited.

I could feel the silence prodding at my lips and tickling my tongue,
willing me to produce polite sounds. I cleared my throat and made
a vague statement about the baby.

I was surprised by the quick smile and warmth of her response.
"Yes, he's wonderful, isn't he? You never had children, have you
Mr. Skinner?"

"Walter, and no, we never got around to it. We used to talk about
starting a family, but the time never seemed right. And now that
Sharon and I..." I left the end of this hanging, unsure of how much
she knew.

Mrs. Scully nodded. "Dana told me about the divorce. Sorry
sounds inadequate. It's always a hard thing, to lose someone you
love, or lose the love you had for someone..." her voice trailed off
and she shifted on the bench, as if afraid she said too much.

The waiter returned with our drinks, and we occupied ourselves for
several minutes consuming what we had ordered.

Conversation was desultory, awkward at first, but after several false
starts, we managed to reach a level of compatibility. As the meal
progressed, we began to move from talking about the decor to
talking like two real people.

"Yes, Bill was in the Vietnam War. He was in the Gulf of Tonkin
for most of his tour," she paused, looking down at the half eaten
club sandwich on her plate. She prodded a leaf of lettuce with her
left forefinger. "It was not a happy time, not for any of us. I
missed Bill terribly, and so did the kids. I think it was hardest on
Bill Jr. He was old enough to understand, at least in part, what war
was, and how many bad things could happen. He used to cry
himself to sleep some nights. It broke my heart that, no matter how
hard I tried, I couldn't chase the terrors away for him. I could
barely chase them away for myself."

"I was in-country," I offered, moved by the raw emotion I felt in her
voice. and she lifted her eyes to meet mine.

"That couldn't have been any fun, either," Maggie gave me a
forlorn half smile.

"No," I said, remembering the heat, the green of the jungle, the
smell of decay, and the rains. "I learned a lot, maybe too much,
about myself and what people were capable of doing to each other.
Looking back, I can see I was too young to absorb everything that
happened -- some of it I didn't even process at the time. It came
back to me later, though. Ten years ago I would have said it was
the worst time of my life."

"But not now? What would you say was the worst time of your

I small, unamused laugh escaped me. "You want that in
alphabetical order?" I asked. She waited, saying nothing. Her
resemblance to her daughter at that moment was unnerving and I
began to speak again, which is what I'm sure she intended to begin

"My divorce, that was a bad time. Approximately half the cases
your daughter and Mulder worked on were a bad time, too."

"Worse than Vietnam?" To my surprise, she appeared to really
want to know.

"Sometimes...sometimes it was. Sometimes it is," I was reluctant
to disclose more than that. Knowing Scully, I doubted she had
ever filled in the details for her mother as far as her work
was concerned.

"You're as tight lipped as Dana," she smiled a bit, her tone rueful,
her eyes crinkling in the corners. For the first time I noticed they
were brown. Scully defiantly got her coloring from her father.

"Hoping you could pump me for information?" I queried.

"I live in hope, Walter, always in hope," she answered, still
smiling. "Since you won't tell me about my daughter, want to tell
me about your divorce?"

"Why do you want to know?" my tone was gruff but didn't put her

She shrugged. "Prurient interest, I guess. Maybe I'm just nosey.
Maybe I would like to know about the man who is partly
responsible for my daughter's safety now that she is out of my

If she had wanted to find a nerve to tweak, that was it. I
reluctantly felt my mind shift through the debris I let cover that
section of my life. I said slowly, "There isn't much to tell. My
work at the bureau became more demanding and Sharon responded
by getting more involved with her job. I guess we just somehow
lost each other. From time to time, we would try to connect again,
but it seemed an almost impossible task. If I pushed, she pulled. I
don't know, its hard to explain since I don't really understand
completely myself," Maggie nodded in understanding. I went on.
"At some point, we just gave up."

"So tell me how you and Bill ended up *not* divorced," I asked,
determined to shift the topic from me. "I know a lot of military
families who eventually split up. It isn't easy to stay together when
one of you is away from home so much.. How did you manage to
have a storybook marriage? I could use a few pointers...for the

"It wasn't storybook. Far from it."

"Oh?" this was news to me. "Scully always gave me the
impression that your marriage was ideal."

Maggie actually snorted. "Dana is a child," she said sharply.
"Well, she was a child. You can't expect children to understand
the complexities of an adult relationship. Even one as quick as
Dana. Besides, they shouldn't *have* to understand."

She started to speak again, then stopped short, once again poking at
the unfinished sandwich on her plate. She picked up her drink,
leaving a wet ring on the polished wood of the table, and swirled
the brown liquid. She was on her second drink. I was on
my fourth. Since I out weighed her by at least a hundred pounds, I
figured we were fairly even. Somewhere along the way, the
evening had slipped into a surreal concoction of whisky and
confidences. Occasionally, I had to pause and remind myself who I
was. I had begun to feel like someone else. Someone who
remembered how to behave in the company on non-bureau
personnel. Someone, who was enjoying

Wrapped in my surreal cocoon, I waited for her to continue. When
she didn't, I prodded. I poked. Poking and prodding were
absolutely essential AD skills, and I had a lot of practice using them
on Scully. I worked under the assumption that what worked
for the goose would work for the goose's mother. I felt no guilt at
her discomfort, I was in AD mode, and for some reason, I really
wanted to know what she had to say. Besides, I figured she owed
me. After all, I had talked about Sharon. She finally caved in.

"Marriage is not always easy. You know that," she frowned at the
plate in front of her. "In some ways, Bill and I together couldn't
have been better, in others, we could barely stretch to make a
connection. My family was worlds apart from his, in many ways.
My parents never were happy with my choice of a husband. They
wanted me to marry someone of ‘our own kind'."

"Your own kind?" I prompted.

"Bill's family was plain Irish working class, new to the country.
We weren't." She didn't explain further, but I got the picture. "At
fist my parents were thrilled that I had taken up with Bill. He
wasn't like most of the boys I knew in those days. He was stable,
smart, looked good in a suit." She smiled when she said this,
absently pushing her hair back from her forehead. "That lasted
until they found out he had nothing in the way of money, or
prospects to get some. They really hit the roof when he joined the
Navy," She actually grinned when she said that. "Still, you would
have thought they would've been grateful to him for dragging me
in off the streets."

"Excuse me?"

"What?" she asked.

"Dragging you in off the streets? I thought you were old money.
That isn't where they hang out. So I'm told, anyhow."

"Oh." I could see I had flustered her. She moved her napkin
around on the table, smoothing it out, then crinkling it up. "I had
the tendency to be, I don't know, a bit wild, I guess."

"Want to expound on that?"

Maggie drummed her fingers, sighed, and leaned back so that her
head was resting on the top of the booth and she was looking up at
the beamed ceiling. It was an efficient way to avoid looking at me.
I told her to quit stalling and she shot me an annoyed look.

Finally, she let out a short huff of laughter and offered: "I knew a
lot of young men in those days."

Yes. Well. If she had told me that she used to walk the tightrope
in the circus, I couldn't have been more surprised. "A nice
conservative Catholic girl like you?"

"I am Catholic, yes, and I *was* a girl. My politics are not up for

"Stop confusing the issue. You know what I mean," I said
somewhat testily, frowning. The night has taken another
unexpected turn and it was unbalancing my equilibrium. Who
would have ever thought I would be talking to Maggie Scully about
her pre-marital sex life? At least, that's what I thought we were
talking about. I wasn't quite as on top of the game as I should be.
Between my head cold and the few drinks I had, I felt as if my brain
had gone on sabbatical. I was getting that not-quite-of-this- world
feeling that often I got when talking to Agent Mulder. Excuse me,
Ex-Agent Mulder.

Maggie looked at me sternly and leaned forward slightly, her dark
eyes catching me and holding my attention. "You will *not*
mention any of this to Dana," she said firmly.

No Ma'am, I would definitely not mention this to Scully. I did not
need that kind of grief, and I did not need to be told twice.
Besides, I could think of no conceivable situation in which the
occasion to remark on the subject would arise.

She changed the subject abruptly. We never did get to the
storybook part.


The bed they put me in was too hard. Not comfortable at all. The
pillow was wrong, too, and the mattress was much too small. I was
chilled, and tried to get closer to the warmth I felt coming from
nearby. I attempted to wrap my arms around the warmth -- by turns
Sharon, Scully, then a dark haired woman I couldn't recognize - -
but found I was unable to move my arms properly. All at once, the
bed began to move, and I feared I was at sea. Miles away, I heard a
siren urging me to get up, but I knew better than to listen to a siren.
It grew more insistent, however, and seemed to draw closer.

"Come on, sailor, time to get up," the voice said.

"No, not sailor," I mumbled. "Leatherneck."

My head was resting on my arms, which were resting on a heavy
wooden table. My fingers tingled and my neck was stiff. I
wondered vaguely if someone had cold cocked me. I wouldn't
have been the first time.

I dragged one eyelid open.

My vision was blurred, but I could just make out a dark haired
figure to my left leaning toward me slightly. I fumbled for my
glasses, finding them resting not far from my hand. I drew them up
to my face. Maggie Scully. Right. Bar. Food.

I must have fallen asleep. Crap.

I pushed up from the table, grimacing. My head hurt. Must be the
fault of the too hard tabletop.

"Ready?" she asked.

"Sure... for what?"

"I got you a cab," she was slightly exasperated, I could hear it in
her voice. I congratulated myself on being perceptive, which was
difficult with the small explosions going off in my brain. She laid a
small, warm hand on my forehead and knitted her brows. "I think
you may have a fever. No wonder you're tired."

I made an inarticulate sound and slowly slid to the end of the
booth's bench.

"Come on," she said, and held out her hand to me. I took it,
allowing her to tug me out of the booth, feeling foolish.

"Sorry," I mumbled. The best I could figure is that I drifted off
when she left to call the cab. I had a vague recollection of noticing
the lateness of the hour, and a sudden lassitude that draped itself
over my body like a shroud.

"That's okay," she responded steering me to the front of the tavern.
"I've had plenty of experience dragging military men home from

"Is this something I shouldn't tell Scully either?" the words slid
my stiff lips before I could stop them.

"I meant Bill," there was that exasperated voice again -- "And his

"Bill drank a lot?" I wouldn't win any awards for tact tonight, that
was certain; but I should get points for valiantly making
conversation while most of my brain was still asleep.

I ventured a glance at my companion. We had reached the door. It
was dark outside, and a light rain had peppered the glass of the
door with spots of water. She stared out the window a moment,
then turned to consider me.

"Bill didn't drink a lot, no," she said.


We waited for the cab out on the sidewalk. I could smell the wet
concrete, the musty scent of the city at night. The rain had
decreased to a light drizzle. Maggie and I huddled under the
tavern's awning which was torn slightly in one corner. I leaned
heavily against the rough brick of the building, wondering where the
hell the cab was.

"I thought you said it would be right here," I grumbled. It was still
hot, even though it was late and raining. I wanted to either go back
in the bar, or be on my way. I couldn't figure out why we were
waiting outside.

"They said fifteen minutes. We'll give them a few more."

Sighing, I pushed away from the side of the tavern. The wall
seemed to be purposely pulling my too-heavy bones back to the

"I'm waiting inside," I moved back to the pool of light that
spilled out the window from the door, away from the bone- sucking
brick wall. Maggie didn't move. "Coming?"

"No, I'm staying here. I need some air," I looked at her and she
gave me a half shrug. "I'm a bit claustrophobic. I'll be fine here."

Right. Crap again. Now I had to stay out here too, because as an
officer and a gentleman, it was the right thing to do. At least, I
thought I was a gentleman. My brain still running the hurdles with
one leg hobbled I couldn't be too sure of anything.

"It's been a half an hour, your not feeling well. Why don't I just drop
you off?" Maggie moved over to where my body had flattened itself
against the incredible man-sucking wall again. I grunted and forced
myself to stand upright. A more difficult task than one would have

I swayed slightly and I glanced at my companion. The rain had
coated her hair with a light sheen that picked up the orange neon of
the tavern's sign, once again bringing Scully to my mind. But when
she laid a hand on my arm and spoke, the words and actions were all
her own. "Come on, Walter, you can lean on me, I won't let you


So began our ‘every other Friday' tradition. Scully hasn't said a
damn thing about it one way or another. Just gives me an occasional
narrow-eyed look, as if she wants to pry my brain open for her
personal perusal with one of her sharp, shiny autopsy tools. For my
part, in a world where truth is at a premium, I've found a
trustworthy ally in Maggie Scully. And for the moment, it's enough.