Welcome To The Harem

A Solid Man by fran58
Summary: I live a part of my life in an empty place. A place where there are no smiles, beauty or laughter. This is the land on which Walter Skinner came to trespass. Maggie Scully/Skinner.

Title: A Solid Man (1/1)
Author: fran58
Email/Feedback: I'm always happy to get it. fran58@fran58.net
Category: VA
Rating: PG
Distribution: Wherever - just let me know.
Spoilers: The Truth, William, Beyond the Sea, The Blessing Way, Duane
Disclaimer: Characters owned by Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen
Productions and 20th Century Fox.

Summary: I live a part of my life in an empty place. A place where there
are no smiles, beauty or laughter. This is the land on which Walter Skinner
came to trespass.

Author's Note: Thanks, as usual, to addicted2fanfic for beta help and
generally putting up with me, and to FabulousMonster for a fabulous beta.

A Solid Man

The wasteland that is my soul will not be transmuted to green, no matter
how my tears water this hard ground. I live a part of my life in an empty
place. A place where there are no smiles, beauty or laughter. A place
where the bleak landscape will not tolerate a colorful bloom. This is the
place where my dead daughter dwells. Where my deceased husband has reign.
Where Dana picks up and leaves again and again. Where her son, my beloved
grandchild, performs his unholy miracles, and where the world as I know it
may some day cease to be.

This is the land on which Walter Skinner came to trespass.


When he first stopped by to see me, I didn?t want to let him in. I still
had a bad taste in my mouth from some of the things that happened years
ago, from things Dana had said when she had been unsure of his loyalties.
Good manners dictated that I allow him to enter, however, so I did. He
explained that Dana and Fox were gone. He claimed he didn?t know where --
I didn?t believe him at the time. I pressed for more information. I was
entitled. I was Dana?s mother, after all. I found him to be as stubborn
as my own daughter. He wouldn?t tell me what I needed to know.

He began stopping by after that. His visits were desultory, patternless.
If I happened to be out when he came by, he left a polite note written in
bold hand strokes. I would crumple it up and throw it in the trash can out

One evening, late in the summer, he brought news of Dana. A message from
her. It was short, but it gave me a kernel of hope, a little whiff of joy
at seeing her neat penmanship. She was safe at least. Where and how he
had come to receive this note, I didn?t know. He was characteristically
tight-lipped about the matter.

That day, I asked him to stay for coffee. He didn?t seem like a tea


I taught all my children to play chess. People assume it was their father,
but it was me.

Everyone has their own style of play. I played once with Fox when Dana
went missing the first time. He reminded me of Missy, playing from his
gut, not bothering with a plan. At the same time, I?m sure he could have
dazzled me with any number of traditional winning strategies had he
wanted. He won two games out of three, but not easily. I think that
surprised him.

Walter Skinner reminds me of Dana when he plays. Head and heart and
concentration all rolled together. Thoughtful moves and careful planning
are his mainstay. He has surprised me several times, though. Last time
we played, by suddenly veered from what seemed like a clear path with a
reckless move. He won that first game. I took the second. The third
lasted so long we called it a draw.

That night he finally told me how Dana and Fox came to be on the run, and
the events that had forced them to leave. The events that took my daughter
away. Again.

I have few illusions. I know I?m not aware of the whole truth. I know
things are not as they seem. Mr. Skinner is careful not to involve me in
the unsavory or dangerous. I should be grateful, but instead, I am
frustrated. He is my savior and my jailor, feeding me bread and water when
I crave roast beef.

I ache for my daughter. For the grandson I barely knew. For the pain of
their separation, necessary though it may be. I live my life as I always
have, day by day. I learned long ago to enjoy the everyday pleasures: The
bloom of my asters, the flavor of good coffee. I see my friends, attend
church, and plan for fewer chairs around the Thanksgiving table.

It should be the other way around. I should have two daughters and two
sons. Some with spouses and children, some, perhaps, without. I should
have four whole, happy children. Instead, I have two sons, one missing and
one dead daughter. I sometimes have a nightmare that Bill and Charlie fade
away after a few years, leaving me with only dust and hazy memories of
happier times.

Perhaps I shouldn?t be so melancholy. I should thank God for the two sons
I have, for my son?s children, for my friends and for a life that is not
uncomfortable. I should thank Him for Walter Skinner and the random bits
of news he brings that are all I have left of my surviving girl.

He has promises me that he will do his best ? that he is doing his best ?
to make it safe for Dana to come home. Dana, who followed her lover into
an uncertain wilderness. Or perhaps it is he who followed her. Either
way, it cuts me to the bone. I want to help, but know better than to ask.
I have no place in this netherworld of duplicity and deceit. I?m not cut
out for deception any more than Dana is. I wonder sometimes how she
manages to survive. I wonder how Walter Skinner has manages.

Tonight he sits in front of me, big hands wrapped around his mug of coffee,
and brings me up to date on what?s happened since we last met. These
visits have something of a debriefing session feel to them at first, as if
he must take care of business and say his piece before quietly slipping
into his more private persona.

When he completes his assignment, we settle into a different rhythm. He
tells me of his assistant?s engagement. I imagine I hear a note of regret
in his voice. He fills me in on the promotion and relocation of a D.C.
police detective he has dealt with over the years. Her name is Evelyn.
Another note of regret. Opportunities lost, I wonder, or something else?

In turn, I tell him that I?ve contacted William?s adopted parents and that
they have agreed to a preliminary visit. He is startled by this news, but
doesn?t ask how I discovered who adopted William and I don?t tell him that
one of the hastily scribbled notes from Dana had a post office box and two
names on it. Yves and Jimmy. No last names. Only the words saying that
said I could contact them if I needed help. With anything.

I am determined to make this visit, and although he tries, Mr. Skinner
cannot dissuade me. He settles for informing me that he will ?come along
for the ride.? If I had a choice, I might refuse. As it is, I agree to
his plan and remind myself that I may yet be grateful for the company.


I?ve come to an understanding.

Walter Skinner is a solid man. A decent man who stands his ground and does
what he thinks is right. A man who shoulders his responsibilities with
honor ? apparently, I am now one of those responsibilities. Maybe I should
resent this. Instead, it comforts me.

The day of our journey is sunny and bright. My mood is lifted by the sun
and the purpose of our trip. When he pulls up in his dark sedan ? he
insisted on driving ? I go to meet it with a lighter step than I?ve had of
late. He surprises me by saying how well I look.

?You?ve got the directions. Where to, Mrs. Scully??

?Maggie. Please call me Maggie.?

He nods at this and pulls slowly away from the curb. When we come to the
cross street, he looks at me expectantly.

?Take a right, Mr. Skinner.?

?Walter,? he says. ?Call me Walter.?

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