Complimentary Mints 3: All The King's Mints
Stranded by a winter storm, Agents Mulder, Scully, and
Skinner embark on a chaotic road trip rife with tension and unspoken desires.
Between facing a speeding ticket, battling a relentless ice storm, and enduring
Mulder's peculiar food choices, the close quarters amplify a growing attraction
between Scully and Skinner. Despite their professional distance, a near-miss
accident and a late-night offer leave them both questioning their next steps as
they reach Scully's apartment building.
Complimentary Mints Part
III: All the King's Mints
by PR Chung
October 8, 1997
Re-release: June 25, 2023
Skinner/Scully Angst and Humor
* The X-Files and characters used here are creations of Chris Carter and 1013 Productions, I have only borrowed them for a moment of humor and romance.
*Many thanks to Mr. Elvis Presley for his
wonderful voice and lyrics, the inspiration to so many angst-riddled would-be
Complimentary Mints Part
III: All the King's Mints
by PR Chung
Ticketing agents found themselves caught in a whirlwind of chaos and frenzy. The relentless havoc wreaked by unpredictable weather caused flights to be both filled to capacity and abruptly canceled, leaving airline patrons on the verge of tears and utter frustration.
Amidst the pandemonium, the PA system blared with urgent pages and cancellation announcements, drowning out the desperate pleas of passengers trying to secure any available seats on flights heading eastward. Yet, their efforts proved futile. Every airport from the Mississippi River and the region extending southward from the Oklahoma-Texas border was in the midst of a brutal winter ice storm.
Skinner said and ground his teeth, glaring at the ticketing agent.
The willowy man
cowered. "I'm very sorry, sir, but everyone's flight has been canceled.
The weather has been very unpredictable."
Skinner moved ever so
slightly toward the man. A move that appeared threatening enough to prompt
Scully to squeeze herself between her superior and the counter.
"But I talked to
an agent this morning, and she said the flights were running again,"
Scully told the agent. "I checked twice to make sure..."
"I'm really very
sorry but there is nothing we can do when it comes to the weather, Miss."
Scully fidgeted and let
out a long breath saturated with exasperation that came out as nearly a
whimper. “I can’t believe this—"
anything?" Skinner asked the ticketing agent, placing a hand on Scully's
shoulder. "Anything headed southward?"
"To DFW maybe, or
Austin?" Scully added. Her voice suddenly filled with new energy that made
Skinner feel victorious in his move.
He shook his head.
"They are still iced over really bad."
The two federal agents
stood silent, their minds tussling over what to do next.
The ticketing agent
sighed heavily. "All I can do is have you wait, and we will get you on the
first flight available."
Mulder approached, his
steps faltering as he briefly saw the proximity between Scully and Skinner.
They stood at the counter, so close that only a fraction of an inch separated
her back from his chest, his hand casually resting on her shoulder. Mulder let
out a slow breath, his thoughts churning.
Are we now moving into
the realm of public displays of affection? He wondered and squeezed the rental
car agreement gripped in his hand. He shook his head. No, this was the product
exhaustion, and a hangover, dehydration— He took a breath, gathered his composure,
and walked the rest of the way to greet them.
"I got us a
car," he announced drawing Skinner and Scully’s attention from the
He nodded, and Skinner
huffed, his eyes scanning the airport before they fell on Mulder. "What
are you suggesting, we drive to D.C.?"
Mulder looked at them
with a hint of amusement in his eyes. "Why not? We're not getting anywhere
now. I figure we'll be getting there at the same time we would if we waited
around in a hotel another day or two until we could fly there. It shouldn't
take any longer than maybe twenty-six hours."
"If the roads are
decent to travel," Skinner interjected.
"We can drive in
shifts," Scully promoted Mulder's plan and Skinner knew then he was
outnumbered on this plan of action, as was the case most of the time with
Mulder and Scully.
He wasn't thrilled by
the idea of spending twenty-six hours plus in a car, but... He glanced at the
flight status monitors, reading the repetitive "canceled" all the way
down the monitors. He picked his bag up and squared his shoulders. "Let's
"What is that
noise?" Mulder exclaimed, breaking a silence that had lasted nearly a half
hour. "It's that dit-dit-dit-dit-dit noise."
"There is no
noise." Skinner evenly said for the second time since he'd taken the
"There IS a
noise... dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-DIT." Mulder insisted from the back seat.
"The only thing I
hear is you."
Mulder moped in his
seat for a long time before he sat forward, bending over with his head nearly
between his knees.
Scully caught sight of
the abrupt move and looked fully back at him. "Mulder, are you getting
hushed her, listening intently to the noise that had been plaguing him since
they'd left Fort Smith. They had all been leery of the roundabout southern
route chosen by the rental agency, but the weather had been better than they expected,
and everything seemed to be going just fine until the noise started.
"Listen to it..." he said quietly.
Scully gave him the
benefit of the doubt and listened until her neck started to hurt and forced her
back into a normal sitting position in the front seat. She stole a glance at
the man behind the wheel. Skinner was gripping the wheel with a vengeance; fingers,
shoulders, jaw- all clenched tightly. She could tell he was about to vent at
any moment although he was doing a pretty good job of keeping his appearance
controlled aside from the tension in his extremities.
He must have felt her
gaze, turning to look at her. Scully quickly turned her eyes away to look out
her window at the bleak wintry countryside racing past. She'd tried very hard
to keep her mind on very pure thoughts for the past few hours, but it was becoming
harder to do. The image of shave cream running into that undoubtedly soft chest
Stop it! She mentally
shook herself, blinking hard against the overwhelming sensation rushing through
her, and reached for the air vents. It was way too hot in this car and although
she didn't believe the temperature had anything to do with the heater, she
adjusted the vents away from herself.
Skinner asked and she nearly jumped.
"Uh, just a
bit," she answered noticing him reach for the temperature controls.
"But I'm fine now. Don't adjust it just for me."
He looked at her for a
second, trying hard not to think of the embarrassments over the past
Mulder called triumphantly sitting up in the back seat. "There, you had to
hear it that time."
clenched tighter on the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white.
"Mulder, there is no noise."
"There is a
"Mulder, really, I
don't hear it either." Scully announced with the clearest tone of
irritation in her voice.
Mulder sat back in his
seat, petulant. He stared at the shock of red hair seated in front of him. She
was siding with him now, he dejectedly thought. What else was she going to
start siding with him about?
"There. Is. A.
Noise." He insisted again, arms crossed.
His impression of the
noise was cut short by the high-pitched scream of a siren.
Skinner's eyes flicked
from side view to rear view mirror as bright red and blue lights filled the
interior of the rental car.
Scully turned to look
out the back window, joined by Mulder.
"It's the state
fuzz," Mulder quipped, deadpanned.
Skinner grumbled, "now what?"
"How fast were you
going, sir?" Scully wondered. Skinner only hissed as he eased the car off
the highway and onto the shoulder.
Seventy-eight miles an
"Well, I don't
know 'bout Washington D.C.," the Arkansas State Trooper stated. "But
here we got deer and deer can kill."
Skinner's nostrils were
flaring, the wraith of his hot breath billowed into the chilly air outside his
"I thought guns
killed," Mulder cracked inappropriately from the back seat. Skinner
flashed him a hard glare before a pink copy of a violation slip was shoved in
Scully reached across
Skinner, taking it. "We'll be more careful next time, officer."
The trooper dipped his
head in acknowledgment. "You folks have a safe trip-" Skinner had the
window up before the trooper could finish.
"Should I drive
now?" Scully asked, watching the trooper walking back to his car.
Skinner was silent, his
answer the start of the car.
Scully saw Mulder
shaking his head, his expression a dense semblance of disgust.
"We'll change once
we're in Memphis." Skinner finally answered her, pulling out onto the
Mulder sat up right in
the seat, eyes wide with surprise. "Memphis?"
Slightly shaken, the
three of them stood together in the parking lot of the King's Kitchen diner,
staring fixedly at a sight none of them had seen or ever wanted to see again.
Like some memorial of victory over harrowing circumstances, gray and at least a
foot thick with black chunks of road grime throughout, ice encrusted the entire
front of the rental car grill.
Mulder looked dazed and
Scully felt sick to her stomach. She couldn't imagine what Skinner must have
felt like, having been behind the wheel the entire time of the storm. She
watched him remove an unsteady hand from his coat pocket to take off his
glasses and rub his eyes with his wrist. His eyes must have ached from the
strain of trying to see through the relentless ice that had threatened to
obscure his view completely during the entire ordeal.
Eighteen miles outside
Memphis ice had begun pelting the car windshield unyieldingly and continued all
the way to the Mississippi River. The morgue-like silence that had fallen over
the three agents as they pushed through the ice storm was finally broken with a
group release of held breath when they reached the Memphis city limits.
Like a dreamer
awakened, Mulder lifted his chin glancing from the nightmarish sheath covering
the car grill toward the diner. Neon bolstered King's Kitchen and the fact that
it was open 24 hours a day, while comic style script scrolled around the top of
the one-story building announcing the unique variety of foods offered.
"Home of the
hunka'peanut butter, bacon and banana loaf sandwich..." Mulder read
quietly drawing Scully and Skinner's attention back to the building.
"Nothing like home
cooking." The Assistant Director's uncharacteristically humorous comment
took Mulder and Scully off guard. Before either could form a response, he
replaced his glasses, turning his eyes upward as a light sprinkle of sleet
began falling. "Let's get out of this for a while. I've had about all the
weather I can take for a day."
Scully agreed taking the lead toward the diner. Mulder lingered behind a
moment, watching his partner going inside followed closely by Skinner. There
was a definite change in their demeanor, he could see it in the way they
responded to one another's movements and tones. They were...
* "... You're
always there to lend a hand in everything I do... that's the wonder, the wonder
of you..." *
Mulder's ears perked at
the sound of music that drifted out the door of the diner into the cold. Forget
it, I'm being paranoid...
What's new? His
suspicions were put on immediate hold as he headed for the siren call of the
One of the first things
to strike Skinner's attention was a framed photograph of President Richard
Nixon deputizing Elvis Presley. He cocked a brow at the irony of it catching
sight of a waitress approaching.
folks," she greeted Scully and Skinner, cheerfully plucking two, then
three menus from behind the counter when she saw Mulder join them. "Looks
like y'wall could use a rest. Did that storm rattle you a bit?"
Scully said with a small smile. "How did you...?"
"We've had a lot
of folks coming in from it, looking just as frazzled as y'wall," the woman
explained flashing a big smile, a chunk of green gum just visible between her
cinched teeth. "We'll take good care of you, com'on and follow me."
She led the
"frazzled" trio to a booth near the back of the diner. "I'm
Judy," she introduced herself as they got seated. "And I'll bring
y'wall some water while you take a look at the menu... I guess you won't be
wanting ice in it will you?"
In unison the three of
them paused before sitting, taken by the comment. Judy let out a bawdy laugh.
"I'm so sorry, now that wasn't nice of me after all you must have been
through. Just trying to break the ice you know- oops! I did it again. I'll just
leave you three be for a few minutes."
Judy left the table,
her laugh drifting with her as she went, and Skinner took his seat suppressing
the comment teetering on the tip of his tongue. He refused to voice his belief
that it was her laugh that could shatter the ice encasing the front of the
rental car. His calm facade, maintained even through the mightiest of ice
storms he had seen was still well intact... an unreadable expression that was
all but shattered within a few brief seconds of contact.
* "It's now or
never, come hold me tight, kiss me my darling, be mine tonight..." *
As if on cue, prompted
by unseen conspirators trying to break his dwindling threads of self-control,
the song had begun at the instant Scully's leg brushed his as she slid into the
booth seat opposite him. Their gazes locked, their eyes communicating the
shared surge of excitement that had gripped them.
Her head dipped after a
long moment, averting her eyes. "Excuse me," her voice was low, her
eyes glinting with guilt as she glanced at Mulder who was oblivious to all but
the gaudy decor of the establishment.
He had barely touched
the seat before he got up and left the table, his eyes trained on pictures
filling the walls. Opening her menu Scully cursed him leaving her in the booth
alone with Skinner, then cursed her fidgeting hands that found and began to rearrange
the flatware at her place setting. She kept her eyes down but wasn't reading
much of the menu. She was concentrating on not looking up at Skinner. Despite
his momentary loss of grace when she had brushed his leg, when his eyes had
glinted with passionate intentions, she knew his face was now, once again, the
ever-present unreadable mask of self-composure while she was a tattered wreck
of desire. She only glanced at his hands resting on the table, fingers laced
together calmly over his open menu. Cool as a cucumber... and probably just as-
She fumbled the knife,
dropping it to the table with a startling noise that made both her and Skinner
"I was just about
to ask if you wanted some coffee, honey," Judy was suddenly back at the
table, smiling broadly as she placed three glasses of water on the table, sans
the ice. "But it seems like your last nerve might not take to well to it
"Uh, no, I
wouldn't mind some coffee, actually."
"I'll have a cup
also," Skinner told the woman.
Judy threw a glance
over her shoulder at Mulder. "You want anything to drink, hon?"
He turned from his
study of the memorabilia on the wall, he seemed perplexed for an instant before
he returned to the booth. "Grape NE-hi."
"All righty, two coffees
and a... Grape Ne-hi... You know what you'd like to eat yet?"
Skinner glanced at
Scully in anticipation of her response. God knew he hadn't decided on anything
in the time his eyes had skimmed the menu, his mind had been everywhere but on
the menu items.
she paused for an instant, then oddly enough realized she was craving,
"I'll have the chicken nugget platter, please." Scully answered
refusing to make eye contact with Skinner. "Mulder?"
He had flipped open his
menu and was skimming it quickly, holding one finger up to indicate his need of
a moment more.
Damn, Scully thought,
now she could only look at Skinner. It would be obvious if she didn't. Obvious
she was deliberately avoiding his gaze.
said resolutely, looking directly into his eyes.
The firmness of her
chin, the strength in her voice and the intensity of her eyes boring into him
was overwhelming. He was losing it, his imagination counterproductive projects
such as manufacturing wholly unique images from those already blazoned in his
memory. Carefully placed caresses in forbidden places followed with keens of
pleasure and raw sensations of pure-
* "... Wise men
say only fools rush in... but I can't help falling- " *
Skinner cleared his
throat turning his eyes to the menu once more. "The, uh," he scanned
the menu quickly, then, "I'd like the love me tender loin pot roast stew
with creamed corn and black-eyed peas."
Judy turned to Mulder,
"You need some more time?"
He screwed his face up,
his brow furrowed and his mouth moving intently on some notion. "I see you
have the hunk'a peanut butter and banana here, and there's the peanut butter,
jelly and bacon," he began, pensively, "but can I get a hunk'a peanut
butter and banana with the bacon and the jelly on the side?"
Skinner and Scully
looked at him, appalled and dismayed by the sound of his request. It was
apparent he had given the menu more attention than either one of them had,
neither recalled seeing such a concoction. Then again, perhaps their
subconscious had purposely passed by it.
"You can have the
hunk'a anyway you want it, just like the King." Judy told him, grinning as
she jotted down his request. She looked up, sweeping them with a broad gaze,
"is that it for you?"
Leaning back, one arm
stretched out over the back of his booth seat, Skinner gave her a wave and
Scully nodded. Mulder on the other hand lifted his hand to catch her attention,
"is the pound cake served in slices or in one loaf?" Scully looked at
Skinner, her eyes wide. Skinner only rolled his eyes, his mouth curling ever so
slightly into a smirk.
"Either, hon, just
depends on how much you can eat," Judy told him.
"Mulder, we have a
long drive ahead of us," Scully reminded him. "You might want to take
it easy on the food you put away."
He shifted a
mischievous sidelong glance from the menu to her. "You're right,
Scully..." he turned back to their waitress, finishing with, "just a
thick slice, not the whole loaf."
The sleet had stopped
falling by the time they had finished their meals and Judy brought the check.
But Mulder wasn't looking so well already.
alright?" Scully asked him, catching the waitress' attention.
He nodded weakly,
looking drowsy. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"He's just full,
hon," Judy assured her, dropping a handful of complimentary mints on top
of the check. "Y'wall have a safe trip." Skinner gave Mulder an
appraising glance as he scooped up the check, mints and all and went to pay as
Scully coaxed Mulder from the booth. He wasn't too confident in Judy's diagnosis
of the agent's condition. Actually, he was certain they were going to be making
quite a few stops after Mulder's meal from hell...
The groaning from the
back seat had at last subsided. Aware of the sudden silence, Scully glanced
into the rearview mirror, squinting against headlights trailing behind their
car, trying to see into the back seat. She and Skinner exchanged weary glances before
he turned in the passenger seat to look back.
Lying across the back
seat, among a littering of plastic bags and a half-empty bottle of pink stuff
Mulder rocked peacefully to the rhythm of the road, asleep.
"Is he?" she
Skinner released a long
sigh repositioning himself in the seat. "Yes, he's asleep... thank
Scully gave him a quick
disapproving look. "He felt horrible..."
"He ate like a
horse," Skinner countered her defense of the non-stop groaning and moaning
that had permeated the interior of the car between numerous stops at roadside
service stations and diners for the use of the facilities.
"It was the
atmosphere of the place," she responded, stifling a yawn Skinner looked at
her. "Atmosphere? He ate an entire loaf of bread hollowed out and stuffed
with peanut butter, bacon, bananas, and jelly. Plus, a three-inch-thick piece
of pound cake."
She didn't say anything
for a moment, only blinked against the sleep tugging at her eyelids. Then
giving him a sly sidelong glance, a smirk on her mouth she reminded him,
"you didn't seem to have any trouble putting away that pound cake,
Looking out the window
into the darkness he shifted in the seat, feeling his belt slightly cutting
into him. "I'll be paying for it for a while, too."
Scully thought about
the reference to weight gain from the desert. She didn't think the man had much
to worry about considering the shape he was in- superb. Her mind flashed back
to his trim waist and firm stomach... What had gone through his mind as they
stood there in the hotel room staring at one another? She had been a complete
blank, her mind reeling in silent astonishment. The sight of the man had shot
such jolts of electricity through her she had been afraid to move or speak for
fear of what could have happened. She only knew she had to get out of there
before she did something she would undoubtedly regret, only to have lingered
longer to tell him about the flight.
She had wanted that
instance to have happened. She knew how much she wanted him to cross the room,
touch his hands to her as he had in the airport. It had only been the slightest
of touches, like so many other times that he had guided her from the foyer of
his office or into an elevator. But this once it had been different, filled
with excitement and ineffable promise.
She had stood at the
bathroom door, her heart pounding, and the blood raging in her ears, fearing he
would open the door when she spoke- and if he did... she knew she had hoped for
him to take her in his arms and taste her mouth with his-
Skinner snapped at her suddenly, his hands grabbing the wheel. The car lurched
to the right as headlights shot past with the blaring sound of a horn in tow.
She took the wheel more
firmly, shaking herself awake. "I'm sorry, sir," she apologized,
"Sorry, my ass,
pull over, Scully, I'm driving."
She looked over the
seat to see the sudden movement of the car had woken Mulder. He was still
Turning back, she
dodged Skinner's potent glare. "I'm fine, sir," she told him.
"You're not fine,
you were half asleep."
Scully gripped the
steering wheel, sitting forward as though to protect her God given right to
operate a vehicle. "I am fine," she insisted.
now," he ordered. "I'm driving." She looked at him, his mouth a
Scully," he repeated.
It had been nearly two
a.m. when Skinner pulled up at Mulder's apartment. He managed to wake the young
man and get him out of the car quietly enough so not to have waken Scully. Her
denial of needing sleep had fallen flat when she dozed off almost immediately
after he had gotten behind the wheel.
He would have been a
liar to say he had been in any better shape sleep-wise, but stopping again was
out of the question. If he had to stay in another motel or hotel room, he was
going to pull his- He wasn't going to enjoy it very much, he amended the
thought, feeling slightly punchy as he pulled away from the curb leaving Mulder
to wobble up the walk to his apartment.
Now, only a few miles
from Scully's apartment, Skinner found himself watching her out of the corner
of his eye. He tried to concentrate on the road, but his eyes kept turning back
to her the entire drive. The scrupulous expression customarily etched across
her face had softened, leaving her to be very disarming. The car was quiet, and
he was aware of her breathing, even and deep. Then there was the scent of her
hair and clothes, perhaps the slightest measure of perfume.
Leaning back into the
seat he took one hand from the steering wheel, resting it lightly on the seat
between himself and her. Her hand was mere inches away, and he had to fight the
impulse to take it- to caress her wrist and feel the gentle thump of her pulse
beneath the silky skin. Oh, stop it, will you! He told himself. Pay attention
to the road, it's only a little way to her apartment, get her there in one
In his position of
authority at the Bureau, he was a man forced to make detrimental decisions each
and every day with no room for second guessing one's ability to do so. Yet the
only thing he was, in the smallest of ways, confidant of was the fact that what
he was about to do was against all better judgment.
He moved his hand
pitifully close to Scully's, his heart racing foolishly. His fingertips just
barely brushed her skin when the car was jolted so badly his teeth rattled and
Scully jerked awake, sucking in a great, startled breath.
Skinner gripped the
wheel with both hands, shocked and searching for what he had run over or into
for that matter. Checking the review mirror, he saw the flickering orange of
road barricades set up along a strip of curb behind them, announcing an uneven
section of road undoubtedly. One he had been completely oblivious to.
"What did we
hit?" Scully questioned, rubbing at the side of her head. Had she hit it?
He wondered, panic struck, and guilt ridden. "Did you hit your head?"
answered, looking at him incredulously. His eyes were wide, a light film of
perspiration across his forehead. "Are you alright?"
lied. "I'm fine."
She sat up in the seat,
looking around at the familiar streets and landmarks. "Mmm, almost
home." she sighed rocking her head back and forth to get the kinks out of
home," he said so quietly that his voice nearly didn't register with her.
Little was said the
rest of the way to her apartment. Small talk, her questions about Mulder's
condition when he left the car, but little more. Reaching her building Skinner
pulled up and parked in front, and Scully started to open the door when he shut
off the motor.
"I'll walk you
up," he said and got out so quickly she never had the opportunity to
protest, yet protest was last on her mind, foremost being surprised.
In a serenely odd silence,
they walked to the front of the building, their footfalls crunching in the
light dusting of fresh snow, the wraith of their breath mingling in the crisp
air. He opened the entrance door for her, following her in with her bag,
watching her confidant stride and the alluring bounce of her hair.
Unlocking the door,
Scully turned back before opening it. Looking at him closely, she feared her
own judgment, her self-control. In the last seventy-two hours she had become so
attracted to a man she had never... How could she have never considered him?
She asked herself and then, "thank you for doing so much of the driving.
Will you be all right going..."
Before she could finish
verbalizing her concerns, he nodded. They both stood there in the hallway for a
moment, then, finally, he nodded to her once again. "Good night,
said, sounding, to her surprise, a little anxious. He turned back, eyes
narrowed. "Would you like to come in for coffee?"
He hesitated for only
an instant, then pocketed his hands, squaring his shoulders as he glanced
toward the exit. "No, thank you. I'll be fine." The hall was silent.
Neither knew what to
say, and then, "good night, sir."
Scully opened her door,
and he nodded, walking away.
called back, and he turned on his heel.
Scully?" His voice was husky, impassioned.
She shuddered, scared
suddenly of consequence.
careful." she finally said and walked inside, shutting the door.
Behind the closed door
of her apartment, she listened to his footfalls reaching the exit and their
pause. Was he standing there, she wondered with condemned hope, changing his
mind to leave, and come back for the coffee- for her. No, they couldn't pursue
this... Put it out of your mind... But will he come back? Is he going to?
Walter Skinner walked
out into a wintry night, down the steps and paused on the walk. His thoughts
desperately returned to the notion of going back to her. What then? He
questioned, what then indeed. Feeling a frustrating tug somewhere deep inside
as he reached into his pant pocket for the car keys, resuming his walk to the
With the keys he
withdrew from his pocket one of the complimentary mints the waitress had left
with their check. He looked at it for a moment in the blue glow of the streetlight,
his eyes returning to the apartment building once again.
confection he turned to the car, a resonant humming that grew into a low song
escaping his lips as he went…
* "Well, bless my
soul, what's wrong with me, I'm itching like a man in a fuzzy tree... My
friends all say I'm acting wild as bug. I'm in- " *
The few lyrics were
broken with the mint popping into his mouth as he shut the car door and drove
far away from Agent Dana Scully.
------------------------------------- X -------------------------------------
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This series has been continued with Conversation Mints in three parts.