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twasthenight

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago

Twas the Friday Night before Christmas

 

and all through the White House

 

Author: NA8

Fandom: West Wing/X-Files

Pairing(s): Skinner/Mulder and Jed/Leo

Warnings: BDSM Slash and discipline.

Spoilers: none

Summary: 24/7's Walter and Fox are invited to a Christmas party at The White House...

 

Nominated Category:

Cleverest Crossover


 

Mulder took a long time fastening the small mother-of-pearl buttons on his Master's crisp, white dress shirt, and then he smoothed the cotton over his Master's broad chest, enjoying the exquisite feel of the now hidden muscles beneath the cool fabric. He reached for the two tasteful cufflinks lying on the nightstand and grinned to himself as he threaded them through his Master's sleeves; Skinner had chosen the links he would wear tonight and Mulder was delighted to see that they were the little golden foxes that had been his own gift to his Master on his birthday. Satisfied that the shirt was fitted to his Master's exacting standards, Mulder took his Master's beautifully pressed pants from their hanger and held them out so that Skinner could step into them. Mulder fastened them around Skinner's waist and then took quite some time brushing tiny creases out of the pants before reaching for the burgundy cummerbund lying on the bed. He fastened it around his Master's magnificent washboard stomach and then retrieved his Master's bow tie from the little box in which it was stored. He spent a considerable amount of time tying it around his Master's wide neck, making sure that it was completely straight which took some minutes of thoughtful concentration; he was so absorbed in his task that he completely missed his Master's amused scrutiny of him. He loved dressing his Master and lost himself in every inch of the detail of pressing Skinner into freshly laundered clothing that set off his Master's finely honed physique to perfection. Finishing with the bow tie, he knelt at his Master's already socked feet and guided him into the pair of sparkling, highly polished shoes waiting for him. Finally, Mulder held out his Master's tuxedo jacket for him and Skinner placed his arms into it and allowed Mulder to fuss around, smoothing down the fabric. Finally done, Mulder took a step back and then gave a sigh of total adoration.

 

 

"Master looks magnificent, as always," he murmured, lost in his appreciation of Skinner clothed in full formal dress.

 

"Ah! It speaks," Skinner laughed out loud. "I wondered when you were going to snap out of your reverie, Fox."

 

Mulder glanced at his Master in surprise.

 

"You were completely lost in the moment!" Skinner grinned. "As if you were in a trance! I didn't like to say a word for fear of waking you."

 

"I was not!" Mulder protested. "I was just…"

 

"Devoting the full force of those amazing powers of concentration you have to the task in hand. I know," Skinner grinned, reaching for his slave and planting a firm kiss on Mulder's lips. Mulder put his hands out to prevent his naked body making contact with his Master's finely laundered person.

 

"What's this?" Skinner asked dangerously. "Is my slave refusing his Master his most basic rights?"

 

"No!" Mulder said quickly. "I just don't want to mess up your suit."

 

"Hmmm, well I'd like to mess up yours…" Skinner grinned, running a hand over his slave's naked skin, making Mulder break out in goose bumps. "But we really don't have the time. You're not dressed yet, boy."

 

"It'll only take me a couple of minutes," Mulder said dismissively, glancing at his own tuxedo, which his Master had laid out on the bed for him – and then he laughed out loud.

 

"What?" Skinner grinned, still encircling his naked slave with his big arms.

 

"I was just thinking – usually when I dress you it's because we're going to a scene party, and you've laid out some revolting…uh, I mean, highly revealing but probably very nice costume for me," Mulder grinned. "Like the leather pants with the ass cutaway so my naked butt is on display, or that ridiculous rubber top that doesn't cover my midriff, or worse…" he shuddered, "the harem pants."

 

"What's wrong with the harem pants?" Skinner questioned. "I love you in the harem pants."

 

"I look like an extra from a really bad movie," Mulder groused.

 

"Well, tonight you're going to look like a film star," Skinner commented, glancing at the tux lying on the bed.

 

"It's just weird!" Mulder said, shaking his head as he gazed at the tux. "Dressing up and not going out on the scene." He extricated himself reluctantly from his Master's arms and went over to the bed to start dressing.

 

"Before you get dressed…" Skinner said. Mulder turned with a questioning look. "Bring me the paddle – we have some business to take care of," Skinner told him. Mulder's heart did a little flip.

 

"Master?" He asked softly. "Have I done anything wrong?"

 

"Not yet." Skinner smiled, "And we want to keep it that way. So, I thought I'd go through a few of the rules for tonight's party before we get there – to ensure that you can't possibly claim that there has been any kind of misunderstanding later on."

 

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Misunderstanding?" he questioned.

 

"Misunderstanding," Skinner said firmly. "Such as you turning to me with a wide eyed gaze while in the custody of 6 burly secret service agents and saying, 'Oh, Master, I was just getting you a drink and I must have taken a wrong turning and ended up in the Oval Office by mistake. Then, completely by accident, I found myself opening the President's desk drawers looking for evidence of a global conspiracy to hide the existence of extra terrestrials from the American people. Somehow, and I don't know how, this highly sensitive file about the DOD found its way under my tuxedo jacket.'" Skinner raised an eyebrow of his own. Mulder chewed on his lip for a moment and then burst out laughing.

 

"Okay, okay," he sighed. "I'm not saying I didn't think about it, Master, but you can't punish me for thinking."

 

"As a matter of fact I can punish you for whatever I like." Skinner smiled back pleasantly. "The paddle please, Fox, and quickly."

 

Seeing that his Master was serious about this, Mulder ran over to the nightstand and took out the sleek black leather paddle his Master kept there. He handed it to Skinner with a mournful look in his eyes.

 

"It's such an opportunity, Master," he muttered. "I mean, it's the White House!"

 

"I know," Skinner nodded. "And you've actually been invited there, Fox, instead of having to break in which is your customary method of finding your way into secure government buildings. You will honour the spirit of that invitation by not attempting to find your way into the West Wing offices to rifle through any papers you can lay your hands on. You will do nothing, in fact, except be the perfect escort for your Master."

 

"Well, technically speaking they didn't actually invite me," Mulder groused. "They invited you as Assistant Director at the FBI and I'm just the 'partner' you're allowed to bring. There is no way in a million years they'd actually invite me to one of these things."

 

"Ah, so you think that the President has heard of your reputation and personally blacklisted you from all White House parties?" Skinner enquired pleasantly, slowly and tantalisingly thwapping the paddle on his broad palm.

 

"Uh…" Mulder gazed at the paddle, distracted. "No. I'm not saying that – although it's possible." He grinned.

 

"The wall," Skinner instructed, twirling his finger to indicate that Mulder should turn and face the wall. "In the grace position please, Fox, ass out and nicely presented to me."

 

Mulder did as he was told as swiftly as he could; he had learned from hard experience that it was not a good idea to keep his Master waiting. He put his hands against the wall, and thrust his ass out for his Master's attention. He felt the paddle rest against his buttocks, cool and hard.

 

"All right, Fox. Please tell me what you are not going to do this evening," Skinner instructed.

 

"Uh…drink too much?" Mulder suggested cheekily. The paddle made sharp and loud contact with his ass and he yelped out loud.

 

"Try again," Skinner invited pleasantly.

 

Mulder sighed. "I'm not going to sneak away and break into any offices, Master," he said quickly. The paddle thwacked down again.

 

"More please," Skinner commanded.

 

"I'm not going to leave your side all evening, Master!" Mulder said hastily. "I'm going to be the perfect slave! Ow!" He yelped again as the paddle came down a third time.

 

"You're always my slave, Fox, but tonight I need you to be the perfect escort as well seeing as we will be in public with non-scene people – at no less a place than the White House."

 

"Yes, Master!" Mulder said quickly as the paddle made contact with his ass a fourth time. "I'll be the perfect escort, Master!"

 

Skinner took a handful of Mulder's hair and pulled his slave's head gently back from the wall. "Do you promise?" Skinner demanded. Mulder gazed at his Master upside down, thinking that it didn't matter which way up you looked at him, Skinner still looked like someone you didn't want to piss off.

 

"I promise, Master," he muttered, a trifle sulkily.

 

"Good." Skinner dipped his head and deposited a kiss on Mulder's upside down face, his lips pressing against those of his slave. Mulder moaned and opened his mouth, only for Skinner to pull away and deliver one more sharp swat to his ass.

 

"Ow! What was that one for?" Mulder complained.

 

"Just to remind you that you really don't want to be on the receiving end of this paddle when I'm angry," Skinner told him with a grin. "This is just for play – if you don't behave yourself tonight then when we get home this paddle is going to get a real work out. Understood?"

 

Mulder sighed, and rubbed the sting out of his bottom – that last swat had meant business. "Yes, Master," he agreed.

 

"Good. Then get dressed." Skinner gave his slave another affectionate kiss and then sent Mulder on his way.

 

"You're not ready, sir." Leo stood in the doorway of the President's bedroom and regarded his lover with a frown. The President was sitting on the bed in his boxer shorts, socks and dress shirt, reading through some papers.

 

"No, I'm not ready, Leo!" Jed snapped in a tone of some annoyance. "I have far too much work to do to go swanning off to some ridiculous party when there are countries declaring war on each other and all kinds of industrial crises to deal with."

 

Leo rolled his eyes and leaned against the door frame. "Nobody declared war on anybody as far as I know, Mr. President and the only industrial crisis I know of is that your chef threatened to go on strike if you keep insisting on overseeing the food preparation in the kitchen."

 

"That was a one-off incident!" Jed growled. "I was just suggesting he might like to use more oregano, that's all."

 

"Hmm." Leo shut the door behind him and walked into the bedroom. He went over to the President's closet and found his friend's tuxedo hanging there, neatly pressed. He took it out and put it on the bed. Jed eyed him suspiciously.

 

"I'm too busy to go to this party, Leo," he said in firm tones.

 

"It's Christmas," Leo told him, equally firmly.

 

"Not for another 5 days!" Jed pointed out.

 

"It's Christmas party season. You have to go to a lot of parties at this time of year, sir, and this one is the annual party we throw for all the government agencies. You have to be there."

 

"It's full of bureaucrats," Jed growled.

 

"You're a bureaucrat, sir," Leo pointed out.

 

"I'm the President!" Jed protested. Leo raised an eyebrow. "If they aren't bureaucrats they're generals or FBI agents," Jed complained.

 

"What's wrong with FBI agents?" Leo asked, picking up the suit, removing the pants from the hanger, and unfastening them.

 

"I always worry that they might have a secret file on me," Jed replied.

 

"They probably have more than one," Leo told him calmly, handing the President his pants. Jed gazed at him from between narrowed eyes.

 

"And you want me to party with these people?"

 

"Yes, sir." Leo smiled pleasantly and waved the pants at the President. Jed ignored him. He gazed angrily at Leo who gazed calmly back at him, waiting for what he knew was coming next.

 

"Leo, it's Friday!" Jed wailed at last. Leo nodded – right on cue, as expected.

 

"Yes it is, sir," he agreed. "So?"

 

"So…there are other things I'd prefer to be doing tonight rather than go to this damn party. I'm all partied out, Leo! I've been to 7 parties already this week! Can't we tell them that I'm ill?"

 

"Are you ill?" Leo looked at him steadily.

 

"No, but we could say I'm ill," Jed replied.

 

"Okay." Leo put the pants on the bed, turned, and walked towards the door.

 

"Where are you going?" Jed asked, a note of panic in his voice. Leo smiled to himself. Sometimes dealing with Jed in one of his petulant moods was like taking candy from a baby.

 

"I'm going to the party," Leo said, turning back to glance at his recalcitrant lover, sub and boss. "To tell them that you're ill."

 

"That's good." Jed got up, nodding to himself vigorously. "You go and tell them that and hang around for half an hour and then you can excuse yourself and come to the Blue Bedroom where I'll be waiting for you and we can…" he trailed off and gave Leo a grin of pure anticipatory pleasure.

 

"I don’t think so, sir," Leo told him gravely. "I mean, if you're ill then I'll have to stay and make sure everything's going okay. We can't both be absent from one of the biggest parties of the year after all."

 

Jed gazed at him with a look of total, abject dismay. "You're being mean to me, Leo," he said. "What have I told you about being mean to me?"

 

"You don't like it, sir," Leo said with a shake of his head.

 

"No, I don't like it, Leo." Jed gazed at his chief of staff for a long time and then the mask of petulant sub broke and Jed Bartlet shone through again. "I'm sorry, Leo," he sighed. "It's just that I'm going to Manchester to join Abbey on Tuesday so I'm going to miss next Friday's session as well, and…well, that means I have to wait two weeks before I get to spend any proper time alone with you." He gazed at Leo with a dejected expression in his blue eyes.

 

"I know, sir," Leo said softly. "But sometimes this happens. We both know that. This is a busy time of year."

 

"But did you have to schedule this damn party for tonight?" Jed growled.

 

Leo shrugged. "I didn't schedule it, sir. These things are arranged months in advance – sometimes years. It just happened this way."

 

"I suppose," Jed sighed.

 

"Look – when the party is over we can go to the Blue Bedroom. We won't have either the time or the energy for a full session but we can do something." Leo gave his sub an appraising look. He looked forward to their Friday night sessions just as much as the President did and he was longing to get his hands on the currently half-dressed Jed Bartlet and do all kinds of unspeakable things to his body but their jobs came first. Jed knew that too – Leo didn't think for one moment that Jed was serious in his attempts to wheedle out of this. He just wanted Leo's attention and some acknowledgement of what he was missing out on. Jed gave a heavy sigh but managed a little smile.

 

"All right. It's better than nothing," he commented.

 

"Okay then – but first you have to get dressed, and then you have to go downstairs and be your usual charming self for the duration of the party."

 

"Leo McGarry are you telling me to be good?" Jed raised an amused eyebrow. "I've been to parties before, Leo, believe it or not. I didn't get to be President without knowing how to work a room."

 

"I know that, sir, but usually you're not in this kind of mood," Leo commented mildly. He knew the President was wound up like a spring at the moment after an appallingly busy week, and a full Friday night session would be good for his ebullient lover - which made it all the more regrettable that they wouldn't have time for a proper one this evening. Jed needed taking down – Leo could tell that much by the way he was behaving right now. He'd never seen his lover quite this antsy and in need of what Leo could give him. Jed could never objectify his own needs and Leo knew his lover was despondently thinking that it would be two weeks before they could spend any quality time together and that, to Jed right now, seemed like a lifetime. He was, subconsciously at least, trying to provoke Leo into some kind of reaction to compensate for their missed session.

 

"I'll be fine," the President growled, reaching for his pants with a scowl on his face. Leo sighed and came back into the room – Jed clearly wasn't fine and Leo needed to get in him into the right frame of mind for the party. The last thing he wanted was to unleash a growling president on the unwary staff of all the most important government agencies. At best they might find themselves being subjected to a potted biography of J. Edgar Hoover, including all his many bizarre fetishes and indiscretions, and at worst…Leo dreaded to think what the worst case scenario might be. He found the President's cufflinks on the nightstand and picked them up and then waited patiently while Jed fastened his pants, the jerky, staccato movements of his hands indicating his mood all too clearly. He moved on to his shoes, fastening the laces with an almost savage tug and then stood up.

 

"Here." Leo reached for Jed's wrist only for it to be pulled abruptly away.

 

"I can fasten my own cuff links, Leo," he snapped.

 

"Since when?" Leo raised an eyebrow. "When Abbey is here she does them for you and when she isn't you call Charlie to help you. You find them fiddly and besides you don't have the patience."

 

"I have patience!" Jed protested. "I'm an extremely patient man!" Leo gazed at him steadily. "Oh okay," Jed replied testily, offering Leo his wrist and allowing his Chief of Staff to thread the cufflink through his shirt sleeve.

 

"So…you need taking down," Leo said softly as he worked. Jed stiffened.

 

"I do not. I just need…" He frowned and gazed at Leo absently.

 

"I know what you need," Leo said calmly. "A word of warning – don't push me tonight, sir. If all goes well then we can spend some time together later, but if it doesn't…well, I don't want to spend the night in the office drafting memos to all the government agencies apologising for you putting them through your infamous J. Edgar Hoover lecture. There are some things the FBI really doesn't like being reminded of, sir."

 

Jed grinned. "A little bit of history can't hurt anyone, Leo," he commented airily, waving a hand in the air just as Leo was about to thread the second cufflink through his sleeve. Leo put his hands firmly on the President's shoulders, trying to calm him, feeling the other man's jittery mood transmitting itself through his restless movements.

 

"Yes it can, sir," he said meaningfully. Jed's eyes widened.

 

"Leo! I have to have some fun with them this evening if I'm going to attend this damn party!" He protested.

 

"I don't mind you having fun, sir. Just don't go too far," Leo warned. Jed gazed at him, a mischievous glint in his eye.

 

"Or?" He asked archly.

 

"Or your ass will pay for it," Leo told him firmly.

 

"Leo – we're not in the Blue Bedroom now," Jed reminded him. "The rules don't apply here."

 

"No they don't." Leo smiled pleasantly, finishing with the President's cufflinks and moving on to fasten his bow tie. "But they will apply later – and I'm just warning you that as this is Friday night I expect Josiah Bartlet," he stressed the President's first name meaningfully, "to behave properly in the presence of his top, regardless of who else is there."

 

He finished with the bow tie, picked up the President's jacket, and held it out for him. Jed shouldered himself into it with a nonchalant wave of his hand.

 

"Leo, you're fussing. I'll be perfectly well behaved tonight," he said, making towards the door. Leo grabbed hold of the President, pulled him around, and kissed him firmly on the lips. Jed hung there for a moment and then he wrapped his arms around Leo and responded hungrily. Leo tempered the President's enthusiasm with his own calm control of the kiss, bringing it to a close well before he knew Jed was ready to be released.

 

"You're being mean to me again, Leo," Jed sighed, resting against Leo's shoulder. Leo stroked the President's hair affectionately.

 

"That was the carrot, sir. I already mentioned the stick."

 

"So you're saying if I'm good I can have more carrots?" Jed grinned.

 

"Yes, sir. Very many more carrots," Leo replied with a grin of his own.

 

"Okay!" Jed said brightly. He pulled away and turned, and Leo swatted him firmly on the ass as he went. Jed scowled and glanced back at him over his shoulder.

 

"Just a reminder, sir," Leo told him. "I'd really prefer not to use the stick but I will if need be."

 

Jed rolled his eyes and they both reached the bedroom door together. Leo opened it deferentially for his sub and they exited the room, as President and Chief of Staff, Leo one step behind.

 

Mulder glanced around the room, utterly bored. Okay, so this might be the White House but it was still a party, and that meant he had to make small talk with people he had never met before – never one of Mulder's fortes at the best of times. He had to admit that it felt good being out with his Master though. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Skinner, both of them exquisitely dressed…Mulder was enjoying some of the appreciative stares they were receiving. Of course he was used to that as Walter Skinner in all his toppy, broad-shouldered glory always drew admiring glances wherever he went, but Mulder had been surprised to find that some of those glances appeared to be directed towards him as well.

 

Mulder stared into the distance as Skinner made some very witty remark to an overdressed lady who immediately dissolved into a peal of loud giggles. Mulder sighed and tried to concentrate. His shirt felt too tight around his neck and he was sure that his bow tie was strangling him.

 

"Excuse me," Skinner said pleasantly to the still giggling lady. He clutched Mulder's elbow in a pincer-like grip, and drew him off to one side. "Do you have a problem with your neck, Fox?" He asked solicitously.

 

Mulder considered his reply carefully, fairly certain that the solicitous tone was a ruse designed to lull him into a false sense of security.

 

"Uh…it's the collar," he said at last. "It's too tight and I don't like wearing this ridiculous tie. Who invented these things?" He grumbled.

 

"I'm sure I could find you a more agreeable collar," Skinner said in a low, and utterly dangerous tone. His dark brown eyes flashed behind his glasses and Mulder gulped, audibly. "One made out of hard, cold steel and fitted with a padlock," Skinner added. "And the tie might be useful for keeping your hands behind your back and not fiddling around at your neck."

 

Mulder swallowed hard. "Understood, sir," he said.

 

Skinner smiled at him, his expression softening. "Why don't you try joining in, Fox? It's more fun that way," he suggested. "I didn't bring you here to put you through an ordeal. I thought you'd enjoy it. It's not every day you get to go to a party at the White House."

 

"No, Walter," Mulder agreed with a smile of his own. "Sorry. I'll try harder. I was just wondering how many of the other men here brought work colleagues and not their wives to the party," he commented.

 

"Is that what's bothering you?" Skinner frowned. "Fox – nobody cares and nobody has noticed. It's perfectly legitimate for me to bring you in either your capacity as my best agent, or my life partner." He squeezed Mulder's hand for a brief second and then released it.

 

Mulder gave a grin, his heart soaring. "Your best agent?" he asked, just to be sure he'd heard right. "Okay, so we're defining 'best agent' as the one who runs off, gets into trouble, alienates local law enforcement officers, and submits huge and improbable expense accounts now, aren't we?"

 

"No," Skinner smiled. "We're defining it as the agent with the most brilliant intuition, unbeaten investigative skills, and a solve rate way above the Bureau average. Live with it, agent." He surreptitiously goosed Mulder's ass and then moved on to speak to another party guest. Mulder watched him go, a delighted grin on his face.

 

At that moment there was a huge fanfare that signalled the arrival of the President. Mulder watched as Bartlet entered and said a few words that caused a ripple of laughter to spread around the room - and then the party erupted into a wave of applause before settling down again.

 

Mulder sidled up to his Master.

 

"Hey, I just found someone else who brought his work colleague to the party instead of his wife," he said in a conspiratorial tone.

 

"Who?" Skinner glanced at his slave.

 

"The President," Mulder grinned. "He seems to have come in the company of his Chief of Staff."

 

"Leo McGarry?" Skinner looked across the room at the two men in question, who were standing side by side talking to the same lady who had giggled so loudly earlier. "He's a clever man – I'm not surprised the President keeps him by his side."

 

"You know him?" Mulder asked, surprised.

 

"I've met him a couple of times; I doubt he'd remember me – but he's got a reputation in political circles for being something of a slick political operative," Skinner said.

 

"Hmm," Mulder frowned.

 

"I doubt that means he knows anything about a conspiracy to keep the existence of UFO's from the American people though," Skinner hissed.

 

Mulder shrugged, but he spent the next hour circling the room, watching McGarry – and therefore, by extension, the President, whose side McGarry was never far away from. Something about them was puzzling Mulder and he wasn't sure what it was, just that something was nagging away at the back of his mind, something he felt was obvious, something he should be seeing but which wasn't quite slotting into place. Something about the way the President glanced at McGarry…and something about the way his Chief of Staff glanced back…something…and yet he wasn't sure what.

 

Mulder found this kind of study engrossing – and his busy profiler's mind was kept occupied which at least prevented him from dying of boredom. He tagged along behind Skinner, one eye on the President and his Chief of Staff, one ear on whatever small talk his Master was making with the other guests, so that he knew when to nod approvingly and when to laugh in all the right places. He was so busy trying to analyse the nagging sensation at the back of his mind that his heart almost missed a beat when Leo McGarry suddenly loomed into view, waving his hand and calling out:

 

"Walter Skinner! It's good to see you!"

 

"You said he wouldn't remember you," Mulder hissed as Skinner turned and began making his way towards McGarry.

 

"I told you he's a slick political operative," Skinner replied with a grin. "He probably makes it his business not to forget anyone who might come in useful."

 

"You might come in useful?" Mulder questioned in a slightly incredulous tone. Skinner prodded him in the thigh with the tip of his finger by way of punishment and then McGarry was upon them, hand outstretched.

 

"Good to see you again, old friend!" He said, pumping Walter's hand vigorously.

 

"Old friend?" Mulder muttered under his breath. Skinner trod on his toe and then turned, and introduced him.

 

"Leo – this is Agent Fox Mulder," he said smoothly. "Fox – this is Leo McGarry."

 

"Ah, so this is the Fox Mulder we're always hearing so much about," McGarry said, grinning as he held out his hand.

 

"Most of that isn't true," Mulder said defensively, almost as a reflex action.

 

"Damn – I'd always hoped it was. You have no idea how many really boring things I have to read – so I always look forward to those FBI reports they send us. I think the little X Files section at the end is the most thumbed part of the whole document. It even gets photocopied and passed around the entire West Wing!" McGarry chuckled. Mulder eyed the man suspiciously, unsure whether he was being teased or not, but another nudge from his Master prompted him to hold out his hand and give McGarry a handshake…and it was at that moment that the thing that had been nagging him all evening suddenly fell into place. He opened his eyes wide in surprise, and gazed at Leo McGarry with new respect. The Chief of Staff did a slight double take, as if something about the handshake had surprised him too, and then he turned and beckoned to Bartlet.

 

"Have you ever met the President, Walter?" he asked.

 

"No, Leo – I haven't had that honour," Skinner replied.

 

Mulder's eyes narrowed as Bartlet extricated himself from the group of people he was talking to and walked over to join his Chief of Staff. This man, standing in front of him, had access to all the information Mulder so wanted to get his hands on. All it would take was one question…and his Master had only instructed him not to go sneaking off into offices after all – he hadn't said anything about asking questions.

 

Mulder watched as Skinner shook hands with Bartlet, barely hearing the introductions McGarry was making…and then it was his turn. He shook the President by the hand and gazed at the other man speculatively, wondering just how hard Skinner would spank him if he asked the question currently burning on his lips.

 

"So, you're with the FBI?" Bartlet asked Skinner, glancing at McGarry surreptitiously through his eyelashes. Mulder frowned…this was becoming more and more fascinating. He watched as McGarry shot back an extremely firm glare in the President's direction. What the hell was going on?

 

"Yes, sir." Skinner nodded.

 

"The F – B – I," Bartlet said in long, drawling tones. He shot another glance at his Chief of Staff, a glance that Mulder could only describe as mischievous. "I must tell you my favourite J. Edgar Hoover story," Bartlet said. McGarry coughed loudly. Mulder glanced from the President to his Chief of Staff and then back again.

 

"I'm sure Walter's heard them all before, sir," McGarry murmured.

 

"You can bet on it!" Skinner beamed. "Was it the one about the pantyhose, sir?" Mulder almost coughed into his drink and McGarry shot an entirely amused and approving glance in Skinner's direction. Bartlet looked annoyed, as if someone had taken all the wind out of his sails.

 

"It's probably not a suitable topic of conversation for this kind of party," he said sternly. Skinner nodded graciously.

 

"No, sir," he agreed.

 

Mulder decided that the small talk had gone on for long enough and it was time to get down to more important business.

 

"So, sir, you wouldn't happen to know anything about a global conspiracy to cover up the existence of a plan for an alien species to colonise the Earth in the near future, would you?" He asked. Skinner coughed loudly and nudged Mulder surreptitiously with his shoe. Bartlet gazed at him in total surprise.

 

"I wouldn't, Agent Mulder, no," he said firmly, and then…"Oh wait, you're Agent Mulder? The Agent Mulder?" He asked. "The one who gets mentioned in those FBI reports we get sent? I gotta tell you, Agent, those reports have livened up many a dull afternoon in the Oval Office. Leo usually highlights the really good bits before he passes them to me." He grinned broadly, and thumped Mulder appreciatively on the arm. Mulder sighed – clearly he wasn't going to find out anything about global conspiracies tonight so he had probably just earned himself a thorough spanking for nothing. He didn't even dare look at his Master right now.

 

Bartlet glanced at Skinner, and then at McGarry. "This is most entertaining. I didn't know Agent Mulder was going to be here tonight, Leo," he said, waving his arms around expansively and almost spilling the contents of his glass in the process. Mulder watched as McGarry smoothly disarmed the President of his drink, his fingers firmly pressing into the other man's wrist as he did so. It was a subtle gesture, but not one that was lost on Mulder.

 

"He's Walter's guest I believe, sir," McGarry said smoothly.

 

"Yeah, I don't think I'd actually make it onto the guest list on my own merits, sir," Mulder commented.

 

"Well you should! After all the hours of pleasure those reports have given us!" Bartlet announced. "Leo – you should invite Agent Mulder to the Oval Office so we can talk to him in more detail about his work. It always sounds so…fascinating."

 

"Yes, sir," McGarry agreed readily, in a tone that made it quite clear that it would be a cold day in hell before Mulder got that invite. Bartlet frowned and glanced at his Chief of Staff with what Mulder could only describe as a bratty look. He recognised it immediately because it was one he had, in the past, used on his Master – to little or no effect it had to be said. He had a sudden, overwhelming urge to warn the President that the bratty look wasn't smart and won you a tanned ass more frequently than it won you your own way.

 

"So, Walter – tell me," Bartlet said, and Mulder was immediately aware that the President was going to compound the unwise bratty look by making an equally unwise bratty comment. "Have the FBI got a file on me, and if so what does it say?"

 

"Is that the time, sir?" McGarry interjected smoothly. "Remember you have that phone call to make."

 

Mulder nearly laughed out loud both at his Master's look of surprise on being asked the question and McGarry's incredibly deft way of dealing with the situation. Before the President could protest, McGarry grasped him under the arm and, with a nod at Mulder and Skinner, manoeuvred him across the room. Skinner turned to Mulder with an amazed expression in his eyes and now Mulder did laugh out loud.

 

"Oh god! That's priceless!" he exclaimed. "Walter – I thought this wasn't going to be a scene party and then these two turn up. Leo McGarry is so topping the President."

 

"What?" Skinner frowned. "Fox, you're talking nonsense."

 

"I'm not!" Mulder protested. "I've been watching them all evening, Walter. The President is playing with fire – he's all over the place and McGarry keeps trying to rein him back in. My guess is that he's just been dragged off for a stern talking to – or something more." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively at his Master.

 

"Mulder – you're talking about the President of the United States!" Skinner said in an outraged tone.

 

"President…Assistant Director of the FBI…" Mulder shrugged and grinned. "If we're doing it why the hell shouldn't they?"

 

"Because…because it's absurd," Skinner growled. "And don't think that this particular diversionary tactic on your part is going to make me forget the question you asked the President."

 

"You didn't tell me I couldn't ask questions," Mulder said, batting his eyelashes innocently.

 

"Be very careful, Fox," Skinner murmured in a dangerous tone. "You're on extremely thin ice right now."

 

"I'm telling you, Walter, I knew the moment I shook McGarry's hand!" Mulder said, resorting back to diversionary tactics. "I swear I got the same buzz that I get from you, or Murray. The guy is a total top."

 

"You get a buzz from Murray?" Skinner frowned.

 

"Murray's a really expert top – I get, you know, a bit goose-bumpy around him," Mulder grinned, secretly thrilled by his Master's jealousy. "Obviously not the full blown shivers I get when I'm with you of course," he said soothingly. Skinner rolled his eyes at this overt piece of flattery. "I got the same goose bumps from shaking Leo McGarry's hand," Mulder said. "Did you get a subby vibe off the President? He was certainly being a brat."

 

"No, I got a Presidential vibe off the President and I thought he was just being…challenging," Skinner finished. "Now, I'm going to circulate some more and I don't want to hear anything else on this topic – understood?"

 

"Okay." Mulder shrugged, but his own curiosity was now piqued, and Mulder's curiosity, once piqued was not something that was easily deflected. He told Skinner he was going to the men's room and then made his way across the room, following the extremely slow progress of the President and Leo McGarry. It was clear that the White House Chief of Staff was trying to steer the President in the direction of the West Wing and equally clear that the President was using as many delaying tactics as possible to prevent them getting there. Mulder shook his head. The President was so asking for trouble – he'd probably still get the spanking McGarry was intent on handing out, only it would be three times worse because the Chief of Staff would be in an extremely bad mood by the time he got his recalcitrant sub to a place where he could safely deliver what he deserved to receive. Mulder grinned to himself – the President of the United States, of all people. The President! This was almost as good as finding proof that aliens existed.

 

Leo manoeuvred the President out of the room, along the corridor, and into the West Wing.

 

"Are we leaving the party already, Leo?" Jed queried, giving his Chief of Staff a sideways glance of feigned surprise.

 

"We're just taking a little break, sir," Leo said, steering his unrepentant sub into his own office and shutting the door firmly behind them to keep the secret service agents out. "Okay, what did we say about how you were going to behave this evening?" Leo asked.

 

"What?" Jed shrugged, opening his arms wide. "I didn't do anything, Leo."

 

"First of all, there was the J Edgar Hoover anecdote," Leo said, gazing at his sub sternly.

 

"I didn't actually tell it!" Jed protested. "I just mentioned it!"

 

"You only didn't get to tell it because Walter Skinner carefully diverted you away from the subject!" Leo growled.

 

"Yeah. I noticed that. Do you think he gets practice doing that with that Mulder guy? I tell you, Leo, he was just as insane as I'd expected from reading those reports. Did you hear what he asked me?"

 

"Don't try and distract me, sir. Secondly, you asked about your FBI file?" Leo raised both eyebrows incredulously.

 

"I was just asking, Leo. There's no harm in asking. I'm curious."

 

"You're also in trouble," Leo told him firmly. Jed put his hands in his pockets and traced a pattern on the carpet with his foot – a sure sign that in his head right now he was Josiah Bartlet, Leo McGarry's sub, and he wanted to be treated as such. Leo sighed – he knew that was what tonight's little performance had been about and while he wasn't about to let Josiah dictate anything to him, he knew that he had to do something to get Jed back on track. Apart from anything else, Jed clearly needed this right now – it couldn't wait. He'd been flirting with disaster all evening, subtly goading Leo into a response, and Leo decided it was time that he gave him just that.

 

"Okay. Come here and bend over the desk," he said, giving his sub the coolest, most stern look he could manage. Jed gazed at him incredulously.

 

"You are not spanking me in here, Leo!" he protested.

 

"I think you'll find that's exactly what I'm going to do," Leo replied.

 

"This isn't the Blue Bedroom, Leo!" Jed argued.

 

"No, but it is Friday night and seeing as you've been behaving like my sub, Josiah, all evening, that's exactly how I'm going to treat you," Leo told him firmly, not backing down. Jed gazed at him truculently, still not moving. Now that it had come to it, now that he had pushed Leo into this corner and made this happen, Jed was having cold feet, as he usually did. Leo decided to raise the stakes.

 

"You know, I complained to Margaret that I didn't like those bendy plastic rulers they make these days," he said in a conversational tone, opening his desk drawer. Jed's eyes narrowed, and he watched Leo's every move, utterly transfixed. "She's a good secretary, she listens to all my little moans and complaints, and the next thing I know, I find this on my desk." Leo removed a heavy wooden ruler from his desk drawer and tapped it against his hand. Jed gazed at him in abject horror.

 

"You aren't going to use that on my ass, Leo," he said, just a hint of uncertainty in his voice.

 

"Yes I am, sir," Leo replied. "Now, I can either spank you in here with this, or, when we get to the Blue Bedroom, you can spend the entire night standing in the corner. And I mean the entire night. There will be no carrots," he said, with just the faintest glimmer of a smile. Jed's face dropped in a way that was almost comical.

 

"Leo!" He protested.

 

"You know, we're not in the Blue Bedroom but I think that right now you should call me Mr. McGarry or sir, don't you?" Leo tapped the ruler against his palm. "It's up to you, Josiah. What's it to be? The spanking - or a night facing the wall?" He perched back against the desk, and gazed at his sub. A range of emotions played out over Jed's face, but then, finally, he did what Leo knew he wanted to do in his heart anyway – he just needed to have all the choices taken away from him in order to get there.

 

"Okay, sir," he said in a small voice. "I'll take the spanking."

 

"Good." Leo nodded. "Come here," he said. Jed shuffled over to him, head down, not able to meet Leo's eye. He came to a stop in front of Leo and stood there. Leo reached out, grabbed Jed's chin, and pulled his face up so that he was looking at him. "You asked for trouble and you got it," he said softly.

 

"I know," Jed sighed. "I'm sorry, Leo," he whispered. "Uh…sir," he added apologetically. Leo smiled, utterly unable to stay angry with his exasperating sub for long. He pulled Jed close, and kissed him on the lips. Jed sighed happily and some of the tension went out of his shoulders. Leo smiled to himself – they were getting there.

 

He released the President and went to lock all the office doors, then returned to his sub's side.

 

"Pants down and bend over my desk, Josiah," he ordered. Jed looked at him for a moment with an expression of mute pleading in his eyes but although the look was extremely endearing, Leo knew that if he caved in now, Jed would ultimately be very unhappy. He had to follow through on this if they were either of them going to get any peace tonight.

 

"Leo…" Jed began.

 

"Now, Josiah, or you'll make me angry," Leo said firmly. Jed shot him a look of pure loathing and then, with a growl of rebellion, undid his pants and pushed them and his underwear down to his ankles and bent over the desk. Leo positioned himself behind the President and placed his hand on the small of Jed's back. Jed's buttocks clenched and unclenched under his scrutiny. Leo rested the ruler against Jed's butt for a long time and then delivered a firm but not particularly hard smack. Jed gave a little grunt but Leo hadn't hit hard enough to really hurt. He delivered several more little smacks until he judged that Jed was thoroughly warmed up and then speeded up the pace, giving several hearty spanks in quick succession, all of them aimed at the President's sit spot. He thought that Jed would very likely need a cushion to sit on tomorrow during his flight to Manchester but he only had himself to blame for that. He spanked the President hard for several minutes until Jed gave a little growl of pain and then began to mewl under his breath. Normally, Jed like to roar out his frustrations during a spanking but they were both aware that they were in the West Wing and not the Blue Bedroom, and Leo knew Jed was keeping as quiet as he was able to. He continued spanking hard until the President's entire body almost sagged and Jed gave a low, guttural moan that sounded as if it had come straight from his heart. That was Leo's signal to stop, and he put the ruler down, and pulled Jed to his feet in one smooth movement. He took his sub in his arms and kissed him tenderly, over and over again and Jed clung to him, utterly lost in the moment. Leo held him for several minutes, until Jed calmed down against his chest.

 

"Better now?" Leo asked softly, rocking his lover rhythmically.

 

"Yeah." Jed made a face. "How bad was I out there?" he asked.

 

Leo chuckled. "Pretty bad – but not as bad as you were going to be if I hadn't stopped you."

 

"Damn," Jed swore under his breath. "I'm sorry, Leo. I knew I was behaving like a brat but something just got into me and I couldn't stop myself."

 

"Never mind. It's been dealt with now – and later…" He smiled at Jed and tipped his lover's chin to claim another long and satisfying kiss.

 

"Later there'll be carrots?" Jed asked hopefully when Leo released him. Leo nodded.

 

"Later there will most definitely be carrots," he said. "But for now – you need to get back out there and work that room some more, Mr. President."

 

"Okay, Mr. McGarry, sir," Jed replied, with a long, slow smile. Leo helped the President adjust his clothing and then he unlocked the door and ushered his lover into the hallway.

 

"Mr. McGarry…" He was stopped in the hallway by one of the President's secret service detail, who had his hand clutched very firmly around the arm of one Fox Mulder. Leo sighed – wherever he looked tonight he encountered brats. It was turning into one of those evenings.

 

"You go on ahead," Leo said to the President. "I'll join you in a moment."

 

Jed gave a cheerful smile and walked away, rubbing his ass absently as he went. Leo grinned at the sight and then turned back to the secret service agent.

 

"Mr. McGarry – we found this man trying to sneak into the West Wing," the man told him.

 

"Looking for evidence of UFO's, Agent Mulder?" Leo asked pleasantly.

 

"No, sir…looking for something much closer to home," Mulder said with a rueful but utterly charming smile. Leo sighed again – somehow he had the feeling that this young man was just as much of a handful as the man he had just sent back to the party. Both of them were ebullient, charming and utterly exasperating, yet at the same time curiously vulnerable and endearing with it. As he gazed at Fox Mulder he realised, without any surprise at all, that Mulder knew pretty much exactly what had taken place in his office a few moments before.

 

"Agent Mulder, if you'd like to come with me," he said, opening his office door and ushering Mulder inside. Leo paused outside the door, and called the secret service agent over. "Go and find Walter Skinner," he ordered curtly. "And send him here."

 

Leo followed Agent Mulder into his office and shut the door firmly behind them. He paused for a moment, gazing at the young man thoughtfully. Damn, but this was proving to be a long and tiring night…

 

Mulder stood with his hands behind his back, gazing around the room curiously.

 

"So…that's the Oval Office next door?" he said when Leo joined him in the room.

 

"Yes it is. I'd offer to show it to you but I don't believe in rewarding bad behaviour."

 

Leo sat down behind his desk and Mulder found himself fixed to the spot by the stern blue gaze of the White House Chief of Staff. He swallowed hard – he'd been in this situation before, but usually it was in a completely different office, and the eyes pinning him into position were warm and brown, although the level of sternness was pretty much the same. Mulder tore his gaze away with some difficulty – only to find it instead alighting on a heavy wooden ruler lying on the desk. He realised, with a flash of the intuition for which he was famous, that that ruler had all too recently warmed the President's backside. He remembered the way the President had absently rubbed his ass as he walked back to the party – he knew the feeling of wanting to rub the sting out of your butt after a thorough spanking very well. Mulder swallowed hard – that ruler looked very big and very heavy and Leo McGarry looked very uncompromising right now.

 

"You wouldn't…" he began softly, barely aware that he was vocalising his fear.

 

"No, I wouldn't," Leo said softly. "But I think I know someone who would and who will."

 

At that moment there was a knock on the door and Mulder exhaled a long sigh as his Master stepped into the room.

 

"Walter." Leo got up. "Come in."

 

"Leo." Skinner gazed at Mulder for a second, his dark eyes flashing dangerously. "Oh dear," he commented.

 

"Exactly," Leo said dryly. "Oh dear. We found Agent Mulder wandering where he most definitely is not supposed to be. I think he belongs to you, yes?"

 

It was just a casual comment but it had meaning on so many different levels. Mulder winced – he could imagine all too well what his Master was thinking right now, and whichever way he looked at it, he knew he'd be going to bed with a hot ass this evening. Walter and Leo gazed at each over for several long seconds and Mulder could see all the many unspoken acknowledgements that were passing between them. They were communicating on some toppy plane of their own, each making it clear that they knew exactly what kind of relationship the other had with Fox Mulder and Josiah Bartlet respectively. Skinner glanced at Mulder, and sighed.

 

"Yes, he belongs to me," he said.

 

"I thought so. I'm not going to make a big deal out of this, Walter," Leo told him softly. "I figure you can take care of this much better – and more effectively - than I can. So…I'm going to lend you the use of my office for the next half an hour or so, in order that you can wrap things up. The doors lock and I trust you not to pry into anything you shouldn't." The glance he shot in Mulder's direction made it clear that trust didn't extend to him.

 

Skinner nodded. "Thank you, Leo. I'm extremely grateful," he said smoothly.

 

"By the way…" Leo picked up the ruler on the desk and Mulder took a sharp intake of breath. "If you should need anything…just help yourself," he commented, putting the ruler back down with a meaningful glance in Skinner's direction.

 

"Thank you." Skinner nodded.

 

Leo nodded back. "Well then, I'll leave you to it," he said, holding out his hand. Skinner shook it and the two men exchanged another significant glance. Mulder sighed – how on earth he had managed to wind up stuck in an office with the two toppiest men in Washington – and an extremely vicious looking ruler - was beyond him.

 

He watched Leo go mournfully, and then watched, equally mournfully, as Skinner locked the door behind him.

 

"Before you say anything, I wasn't sneaking in here to look in any files!" he said.

 

Skinner gazed at him impassively. "You know, I don't think the reason why you were sneaking around is important. I think it's the fact you were doing it at all that matters," he said. "Especially after the warning I gave you earlier."

 

Mulder sighed – his Master was right. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "I honestly just wanted to follow them to find out whether I was right about what I said earlier. I was right as a matter of fact, Master. Don't I get any brownie points for that?"

 

"Let me think…" Skinner mused. "Oh. Right. NO!" He said firmly. "Fox, I warned you about this. I told you not to do this and you disobeyed me so you know what you can expect. Pants down and bend over the desk please." He picked up the ruler and slapped it against his palm. Mulder wondered if this gesture was something they taught you at top school or was just inbuilt. Maybe there was some unwritten law that said that the implement of discipline soon to be used – painfully- on your ass, first had to be tapped menacingly against the palm of the person who was going to wield it. Mulder knew better than to keep his Master waiting – he quickly stripped down his pants and boxers and bent over the desk. A few seconds later he felt Skinner's warm hand land on his back.

 

"You do know that McGarry just used that on the President don't you?" Mulder asked conversationally as the ruler was rested against his ass.

 

"Well then it'll be nicely warmed up," Skinner commented and with that he brought the ruler down sharply on Mulder's backside. Mulder gave a strangled yelp – that ruler was lethal. He had a sudden enormous swelling of respect for the President if he'd just endured several rounds with this thing at the hands of his Chief of Staff. It just went to show that people had certain needs, regardless of rank, he thought to himself. The President was the most powerful man in the world, but he looked to his Chief of Staff to keep him on the right path and deliver the occasional tough lesson, just as Mulder looked to Skinner. The ruler thwapped down again, and then again, and within a few short minutes Mulder was unable to think about anything else except for the pain in his bottom and the heat spreading up and down his entire body. The edge of the desk was biting into his thighs and the palms of his hands were sweaty from where he was holding on. It gave him a secret thrill to think that the President had been in this position just a few minutes before and Mulder's antagonism to all things relating to the White House dissolved in a fit of subby empathy. The President must be a good man, as must Leo McGarry, if they put their trust in each other in this way, the same way he and Walter put their trust in each other. If the relationship between the President and his Chief of Staff was half as rewarding as that between himself and his Master then Mulder felt sure that the country was in good hands.

 

He gave a choked howl of pain as his Master delivered another stinging swat to his ass.

 

"I'm sorry!" He gasped. "I'm really sorry, Master," he sobbed. Skinner gave him two more hard swats for good measure and then he threw the ruler down on the desk. Mulder lay there, trying to get his breath back, and a couple of seconds later he gave a little yelp as he felt Skinner's hands descend on his hot buttocks.

 

"Hmmm, I think someone will need to be used when we get home this evening," Skinner murmured affectionately, his voice deep with sexual promise. Mulder's cock lurched into life, and he felt a warm glow start deep inside his stomach.

 

"Yes, Master. Thank you, Master," he whispered, utterly at peace with himself and the world. The endorphins flooded through his body, sending him high as a kite. He stood up, unsteadily, and Skinner took hold of his wrist, turned him around, and enveloped him in a warm embrace.

 

"You, are incorrigible," he commented.

 

"I'm sorry, Master," Mulder sighed. "I just wanted to see if McGarry was going to spank the President. I think you have to agree, judging by what he said to you and the way he said it, that that's exactly what happened here tonight."

 

Skinner smiled down on him. "Maybe," he conceded. "But if that's true, then it stays between you and me. Nobody else gets to hear about this, Fox. The President and his Chief of Staff are entitled to the same privacy that Leo McGarry just gave us."

 

"Yes, Master," Mulder agreed. "And what was with the 'old friend' routine you and Leo McGarry had going?" He asked, with a little pout.

 

Skinner grinned, and brushed Mulder's sweaty hair away from his forehead. "I ran into Leo for the first time in Vietnam," he said. "And do I detect a touch of the green eyed monster, Fox?"

 

"Nah." Mulder grinned back. "You two would be hopeless together – he's a top and you're a top. You need guys like me and the President to liven up your lives or you'd be totally bored." Skinner shook his head and bestowed a little kiss on Mulder's lips. Mulder leaned against his Master's broad chest and smiled happily to himself. "You know, this evening didn't turn out anywhere near as badly as I was expecting," he murmured.

 

Leo watched in relief as the President charmed one after another of their guests. Jed seemed utterly calm and relaxed – completely at home in his own skin, all trace of his earlier jerky movements and restless fidgeting gone. Leo kept one eye on the door and when he saw Walter Skinner's tall frame return to the room, with Agent Mulder in tow behind him, he walked over.

 

"All done?" he asked pleasantly, glancing at Mulder. The young man looked a little dishevelled, and there were what looked suspiciously like the remains of teardrops glistening in his eyelashes, making him appear very young and innocent. Leo smiled to himself – he could imagine exactly what Walter Skinner saw in Fox Mulder. Mulder also had that same look in his eyes that Jed had after a thorough spanking – it was a calm, dreamy look – combined with an attitude of total adoration for the man standing beside him. Fox Mulder looked like a lovesick teenager, and, Leo thought to himself, tall, sturdy, implacable Walter Skinner looked like a very worthy recipient of that affection.

 

"All done," Walter said firmly. "I think we've outstayed our welcome, Leo." He held out his hand and Leo shook it. They didn't need to spell out what had happened here tonight and he knew that he could trust Walter's discretion – they both had the same secret to hide after all.

 

"It's been a pleasure meeting you again, Walter," Leo said. At that moment, Jed breezed up – like Agent Mulder, Jed could never bear to be far from his top's side in the immediate aftermath of a spanking.

 

"Are you leaving already?" Jed said, with a tone of sincere regret in his voice. He glanced at Agent Mulder and they shared a moment of profound identification. Leo wasn't sure how much Jed knew of Mulder's situation and its similarity to his own, but something significant certainly passed between them. Jed held out his hand and Mulder took it, with what Leo could only describe as a bashful smile. "I mean it – I'd love it if you visited us in the Oval Office," Jed said softly. Mulder smiled.

 

"I'd like that too – and I promise not to ask you too many irritating questions about aliens and global conspiracies," he said. Jed laughed out loud. Leo sighed and shook Walter's hand.

 

"I'll make sure the invite goes out to you after the holidays," he said. "I think you should accompany Agent Mulder though. I dread to think what kind of trouble he gets into when left to his own devices."

 

"Oh, I could write a book on that subject," Skinner commented with a deadpan expression on his face. He shot his agent a fond, if slightly exasperated look and Leo laughed out loud, empathising all too well.

 

They said their goodbyes, and Leo and Jed watched Skinner and Mulder leave, walking so close that their thighs were touching, Skinner's hand resting in a proprietary fashion on Mulder's shoulder. It had, Leo thought to himself, been an eventful and enlightening evening, and he was very much looking forward to all the carrots that awaited him in the Blue Bedroom.

 

The invitation arrived at the end of the first week in January. Skinner opened the plain brown envelope and a heavy wooden ruler clattered out. Mulder gazed at it in total horror while his Master laughed out loud. There was a note attached to it:

 

"Dear Walter,

 

I thought you might find a use for this. The President and I look forward to seeing you and Agent Mulder on the 23rd.

 

Kind regards,

 

Leo McGarry."

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