lone at Christmas
Set after last year's zine story: And a Cat.
alter Skinner, drink in hand, stared out of the window of his 17th Floor apartment. It looked as if he was going to be alone at Christmas. Tonight, like last night, there were no twinkling lights, no stars... nothing....
Nothing but fog.
The fog bank had started rolling in off the Atlantic yesterday morning. It had settled over much of the eastern seaboard, working its way inland, up rivers, creeks and streams. By late afternoon it had covered DC like a blanket, cutting visibility down to a few feet.
Aircraft had been turned back across the Atlantic, and those already beyond the point of no return had been diverted to airports which still had reasonable visibility.
Walter sighed and sipped his scotch, Alex's plane had ended up in Gander, somewhere up in the north east of Canada, and until this fog lifted that was where he was likely to stay. Very few forms of transport were still operating. The metro was still running, and some mainline trains were also, slowly, on the move according to the evening news broadcasts.
Alex had called him as soon as he had cleared customs. Gander had lots and lots of snow lying around, but the sky was clear, so he'd see if there were any way that he could continue his journey.
Walter looked at his watch. It was now nearly 9 p.m., Christmas Eve and twenty-eight hours since the hurried phone call from Alex.
When he had called Gander from his office this afternoon, they told him that all passengers from flight VS.021 from London, England, had been taken to local hotels. However, she was unable to tell him where any particular passenger had been lodged; only a representative from the airline would have that information. When prompted for whom he could ask she recommended that he phone the Airline's offices at the destination airport.
He'd then phoned the offices in Washington, New York and London. At least the latter had given him the telephone numbers of the five hotels in Gander they had used; not that having the information had done him much good, he hadn't been able to track Alex down.
Feeling restless, he had left work earlier than usual, done some last minute shopping, then eaten a lonely dinner in the apartment... and now he was standing, staring at the fog, feeling sorry for himself; slowly getting drunk.
When he reached the bottom of the tumbler, he considered the empty glass, wondering whether or not to pour another to help drown his sorrows.
He walked across to the desk and picked up the phone, glancing at the clock as he did so. With an exaggerated sigh he replaced the receiver; it was much too late to phone anyone tonight.
He sighed again and took his glass to the kitchen, rinsed it and left it to drain, before climbing the stairs to go to bed.
His last thought before dropping off to sleep was, 'I wonder where Alex is'.
lex was feeling very tired. Since speaking to Walter he'd been a passenger in four cars, three taxis, two planes and one helicopter.
Having delivered the pouch he'd been carrying to the British Embassy, he had been provided with a chauffeur-driven limousine for the last leg of his journey. At least at this time of the morning, there hadn't been much traffic around, so the limousine had made fairly good time to Walter's apartment building considering the weather conditions.
He thanked the chauffeur as he got out of the car, and used the keys that Walter had sent him to get into the lobby. Going up to the 17th floor, he let himself into the apartment very quietly and deposited his luggage just inside the door with a sigh of relief.
He stood and listened for a moment, then went up the stairs to where he could hear Walter snoring. He walked over to the bed, and looked down at his lover. The almost empty bottle of scotch and a used glass told their own story. Walter had been drowning his sorrows. Gently, Alex removed Walter's glasses and put them on the night table, then shut off the bedside light, before returning downstairs; shutting the doors behind him.
He took off his shoes and lay down on the couch, using his overcoat as a blanket he was soon asleep.
LATER THAT MORNING
alter woke up with a headache, and a very bad taste in his mouth. He got out of bed with a groan and went into the bathroom to empty his bladder, before going downstairs to make himself some strong, black coffee.
With half a mug of the coffee inside him, his mind had started to wake up from its stupor, and he carried his mug back to the living room because, he now realized, something had been out of place. He looked around and immediately noticed two pieces of luggage standing beside the front door. Going over to them to read the labels, he was brought up short by a voice from behind him.
"Morning Walter," Alex said.
Whirling round, Walter's face lit up with a huge smile. "Alex! You made it. How on earth did you get here?"
Alex yawned and stretched. "It's a long and boring story. I've been travelling ever since I spoke to you the day before yesterday, and if you really want to know the details I'll tell you later. Right now, I could do with some of that coffee."
When Walter didn't move, Alex got up and went into the kitchen and helped himself to a mug of coffee and added some milk from the fridge to it. Walter, still beaming from ear to ear, followed him.
Alex looked at the clock, then asked, "What time are we due at the Mulder's?"
"We've all been asked to arrive at six o'clock this evening, for pre-dinner drinks and to say 'goodnight' to William."
Alex finished his coffee, then yawned again, obviously still very tired.
"Do you want anything to eat?" Walter asked solicitously.
Alex shook his head whilst trying to smother another yawn.
"In that case, I suggest we take your luggage up to the bedroom and we both get some more sleep."
Alex nodded. "Yes, I think that's a good idea, Walter."
Less than fifteen minutes later, Alex was asleep in Walter's arms.
Walter was content to hold him - he wasn't going to be alone for Christmas after all.