SUMMARY: A moment is recalled whole.
PAIRING: Scully/Skinner, Skinner/other
DISCLAIMER: I don't have a witty one, just that the characters aren't mine.
DATE POSTED: May 1999
WORD COUNT: 1,614 for this part
THANKS: To Kim for her love of Skinner and one fine beta.
Skinner taps his fingers on the varnished wood surface of the bar and contemplates ordering another Knob Creek. After a few more minutes he concedes defeat and signals the bartender.
Caroline is late.
He knew she might be, since she had a faculty meeting and she'd explained how they constantly ran overtime. Still, he can't help but be a little annoyed as he sits in this faux English pub, surrounded by expensive suits and cigar smoke, Billie Holiday moaning of her lost love over the sound system.
The bartender sets down the second drink and Skinner pushes some money at him, letting his mouth fill with the smoky flavor of bourbon. The taste reminds him of his days with the Atlanta field office, genteel evenings on the deck sipping bourbon and listening to crickets as the stars came out.
He hears merry peals of laughter to his right. Turning his head, he notices that the barstools next to him have been taken by two young women, expensively groomed and burnished-looking with their buttery golden hair falling over their cashmere sweaters. The bartender stops in front of them. "What are you having tonight, ladies?"
The girl nearest him tilts her head in thought. "Mmm...I think a tequila sunrise."
Her friend giggles. "A tequila sunrise in the winter, Lucy?"
She nods affirmatively. "Why not? It'll get me in the mood for our trip to Cabo."
"Oooh, that does sound good. Make it two."
The bartender nods his dark head and begins making the drinks. First he scoops ice into two highball glasses. Next, a shot of tequila is poured into each glass and the orange juice after that. He reaches behind him and selects a bottle of Grenadine from the back bar. With deft hands, he tilts the glass and quickly pours some of the red liquid in so it settles on the bottom of the orange juice,
bleeding up into its namesake sunset.
The Grenadine bottle is placed back in a row of bottles, but Skinner can't take his eyes off it.
He emerged from the shower and dried himself, wrapping the white towel around his waist. Striding through the living room, leaving damp footprints on the carpet, he found her standing on the balcony. She was watching the beginning of the sunset, the first streaks of crimson and violet in the July sky. He stepped out into the moist heat of a Virginia summer evening.
Scully turned around and smiled to see him, her face still flushed from lovemaking and her own shower. Her red hair was drying into the soft waves she normally blow-dried straight.
It pleased him to see her wrapped in his blue cotton bathrobe, the hem just touching her ankles. "It's a gorgeous night," she said, gesturing toward the sky.
"Not half as gorgeous as you are."
Her face flushed deeper and she rose on tiptoe to briefly press her lips against his. "You're a shameless flatterer, Walter Skinner."
His hand wrapped around her slender neck and he brought her face to his to kiss her with long sweeps of his tongue in her mouth. Scully tasted like the mint of toothpaste, but underneath it he still could detect a faint hint of sex.
A breeze blew in, lifting her curls and he smelled the smoke from a neighbor's grill. Down the street came the shouting and laughter of kids playing soccer.
It was high summer.
Reluctantly, he pulled away from her. "How about if I fix us a drink?"
When she smiled he could see the fine lines around her blue eyes, eyes that radiated affection, but also an indefinable melancholy. "A drink would be perfect."
Skinner went to the bedroom, stripped off the towel and put on a pair of old jeans. In the kitchen he found a half-full bottle of Sauza, a carton of orange juice and in the deepest recesses of the liquor cabinet, a sticky bottle of Grenadine. Tequila sunrises, he thought, perfect for a summer evening with his redhead.
After fixing the drinks, he grabbed the glasses and brought them out to the balcony. Scully took the glass from him and clinked hers against his. "To summer," she said.
"To summer." Another season we get to spend together.
He put his arm around her and drew her close. Scully took a sip of her drink. "Oh, that's good," she said after a swallow. He remembered earlier in the day when she'd said the very same thing, in a surprised tone, as he held her by her hips and entered her from behind.
"It's kind of a girly drink," he said, watching as the blush of the syrup spread through the juice in his glass.
She brushed a fallen strand of hair out of her eyes. "It reminds me of our first night together."
His heart began to loudly thump. "Except we were drinking screwdrivers that night."
"Still, the drinks were orange and I was wearing a bathrobe." Her lips bloomed into a full grin.
Skinner took a sip of his drink and yes, the taste did bring back that January night in Little Rock, when they first came together. "That was a long time ago."
She reached for his hand and squeezed it. "I remember everything with perfect clarity."
"So do I," he said. All he had to do was shut his eyes and he could summon a three-dimensional recollection of the first time they'd made love. Her gasp as he took her nipple in his mouth, the feel of her strong fingers on his ass as her drove into her, opening his eyes to see her astonished face. The burning realization that he'd irrevocably fallen in love with her.
Again, she sipped her drink. "I think it's the Grenadine that makes this drink so good. It reminds me of my childhood."
"You were drinking tequila sunrises as a kid?"
Scully gave him one of her looks. "No, of course not. But sometimes my parents would have a cocktail party, the room crowded with officers in uniform and their wives all dressed up and glamorous, everyone drinking Manhattans and martinis. My father was always the bartender and he'd make Shirley Temples for us kids." She smiled at the memory, watching the sky. "I loved the taste of the Seven-Up and Grenadine. For a moment I felt like one of the grownups, sophisticated in my party dress, having my own cocktail."
He pictured her in a taffeta dress, sipping a pink Shirley Temple in emulation of her elders. "Grenadine reminds me of you," Skinner said.
She flashed him a curious look. "Why's that?"
His hand began to circle the curve of her breasts under the thin material of the bathrobe. Leaning over, he suckled at the tender flesh of her earlobe. "It's red, it's delicious and sweet," he whispered.
She set her drink down and laid the flat of her warm palm on his chest. "Again with the shameless flattery."
"I'm just trying to get you into bed, Scully."
Her hands began to skim down his chest and stomach until they found the buttons of his jeans, which she hastily unbuttoned. Despite the humid night, he shivered. "All you have to do is ask, Skinner..."
"Come to bed with me," he growled.
They didn't even make it that far. Two steps in the living room, they collapsed in a tangle of arms, legs, bathrobe and jeans on the carpet.
With unwieldy fingers he unknotted the cord of her robe and spread her legs apart to savor the ripe fruit of her, sweeter and stickier than the Grenadine, made more delicious by her husky groans of delight.
Behind them, through the glass of the balcony door, the sky deepened in color, grenadine red dissolving into royal blue and fading to black.
Caroline surprises him with a kiss on his cheek. He shakes his head into alertness and smiles to see her pretty, animated face, her cheeks flushed rose with the cold.
"A little," he admits.
She checks her watch and shakes her head apologetically. "I'm so sorry I'm late. Those dreadful meetings..."
"Don't worry about it, I understand."
"We should probably leave if we want to make our reservations."
Skinner sets his drink down and steals one last glance at the bottle of Grenadine. He licks his lips and is almost surprised to find they taste of bourbon, not Scully.
He turns to his new lover and smiles for her benefit.
His only hope is that dinner and a bottle of wine will be enough to banish his ghosts for the rest of the night.
"I'm ready," he says and takes Caroline's hand.
God, he hopes he is.