Hard to Heart


“So--what are you getting me for Valentine’s this year?"

“Pumping me already? Look, Damien, I'm trying to work, here--" Grace muttered as she peered at the computer screen in front of her. Over at his own desk, Damien Kanahoe was chaining paperclips in a long string as he continued his train of thought. He looked extremely handsome, and Grace suspected he had a date waiting after work. Probably Trevor from Accounting.

“Obscenely shaped candy? Suggestive flowers? A box of novelty condoms--"

“Get out of town--everyone knows that designer lubricants are the wave of the future. Squirt of the future I should say." Grace teased back. They'd given each other gag valentines every year, and Damien had yet to top Grace's thoughtful subscription to Atonal Music Monthly from last year. He smiled at her devilishly.

How about I get you jalepeno panties?"

“How about I tell Mulder who sent him the Leatherboy calendar?"

Damien looked hurt; he turned back to his computer muttering, "At least Scully put it up."

For a while they each typed in companionable silence. A soft beep interrupted the flow of work; Kimberly's apologetic voice came on the speaker phone.

“Grace, Director Skinner would like to see you a moment."

“On my way." Grace sighed and picked up an envelope as she headed away from the cubicle. She increased her pace to his office, a small smile on her face.

It disappeared after his first words to her.

“Pachelli--you're going to pick up the Arm of Allah wiretap recordings out a Quantico." he barely looked up when she entered, and motioned for her to leave the door open behind her.

“This evening?" she blurted out, unable to hide her surprise.

“You had plans?" he sounded distinctly annoyed now.

“Well, I have my quartet expecting me."

“Quartet?"

“Yes sir--I play cello. We're playing out at a private party in Falls Church. They’ll eat it up since it's . . . Grace hesitated, and Skinner looked up sharply from the travel itinerary on his desktop.

“Uh . . . Valentine's day." she finished awkwardly while mentally cursing herself. She hadn't wanted to mention the holiday to him, not with his business trip in a few hours.

Skinner glanced at his watch. "What time is your performance?"

“Seven to ten." She felt like a kid in front of the principal; couldn't he at least look at her?

“Fine. Leave now. You'll pick up the recordings first and still have enough time to get to Falls Church."

“Sir?" She couldn't believe it--he expected her to drive eighty miles out of her way, and still get to her quartet in two hours. In the sleet and rain. She scowled.

“Fine--" she managed to bite the words off with a touch of venom. "You just head on down to sunny Florida sir, and I'll go run your little errand."

Skinner shot her a glacial stare, and the temperature in the office dropped by twenty degrees. She couldn't hold up under that merciless scrutiny and lowered her eyes.

“Get going."

Grace pursed her mouth and stepped closer to the desk. Skinner turned back to his paperwork, ignoring her. She dropped the envelope on the blotter, spun on her heel and strode out without a further word.

Skinner waited until she was gone before reaching slowly, reluctantly for the envelope. Pausing, he glanced at the scrawl on the outside.

His Marine Corps nickname.

Angrily he stuffed it into his breast pocket.

** ** **

“. . .Should have given him a piece of my mind instead of a piece of everything else. Okay, he's my boss--we both know how to work with that. Hell I wouldn't really mind doing this damn errand, but why make me do this tonight? Why not Monday?"

Grace muttered out loud to herself as she negotiated the lane change. She considered just heading for Falls Church and skipping Quantico. It was more than a little tempting--in the fading light the frozen rain was whipping across the crowded highway and blinding her. Her fingers gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and she bit her lip.

Leave it.

Consequences?

Shit. Not worth it. A pissed-off Skinner was slightly more dangerous than an enraged Kodiak bear. At least with the bear you could shoot it with a tranquilizer dart and cart if off to the wilderness. Grace giggled at the sudden image of Skinner magnificently naked in the forest wearing only a tracking collar and a wrathful expression.

Of course bears generally had no long term memory and didn't hold grudges, whereas the AD on the other hand--

On her left, a Ford Mercury hydroplaned past her, spraying puddle water on her side window, blinding her for a moment. Grace flipped the driver off and refocused her attention on the road. It was harder to drive now that she had on her formal floor-length skirt--the fabric kept getting caught in the accelerator pedal. She yanked the cloth up and grumbled.

Damn Skinner and his by-the-book rules.

The soft muzak version of "Yesterday" filtered through the VIP lounge of Dulles International airport. Skinner, overly warm in his dark gray trenchcoat, tried to focus on the newspaper he'd bought, but to no avail. He yawned, rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath. Two weeks of overextended workdays were starting to take their toll, and this trip to Florida wasn't helping. A mandatory meeting with the Attorney General and the DEA to hammer out stupid by-the-book cooperative law enforcement procedures wasn't anyone's idea of a vacation, least of all his.

No, right now he'd much rather be sprawled in a bed sleeping.

With Grace.

A frown crossed his features and he briefly rubbed the bridge of his nose, right where the glasses rested. He'd been shitty to her today, that much was no news flash. Most of the time she understood; she knew the ground rules as well as he did.

Christ! There never was enough time. A weekend here, a single evening there--all while keeping decorum through meetings and conferences throughout the day. For a moment he envied his subordinates their situation. Mulder and Scully shared an office, and could at least close the door once in a while when the strain of the charade overcame them.

He had no such resort.

“May I have your attention please. Delta flight 454 to Miami Florida will be experiencing a two-hour delay due to inclement weather." the loudspeaker announced in a soothing tone. Skinner gritted his teeth, settled into the lounge chair and tried to sleep.

The crackle of paper roused him; he fished in his breast pocket, pulling out the envelope he'd crumpled there.   The feminine scrawl again. Only Grace would address a note with his old nickname. He opened it and pulled out the contents.

Skinner stared at the photo for a moment, and shifted uncomfortably as his erection rampantly announced its fervid approval. He hurriedly stuffed the picture back into his pocket, pinched the bridge of his nose again, and made a mental note to enthusiastically fuck Grace within an inch of her life the minute he got back.

“Jesus, where's the off ramp?" Grace appealed to the deity, not expecting a verbal answer, but hoping for help just the same. The sleet was thicker now. The headlights of the oncoming traffic appeared out of nowhere and blurred into fuzzy white spots that seemed to rocket by at blinding speed. Grace stole a quick glance at her wristwatch--barely forty minutes until the start of her performance. She have to drive like a maniac to make it.

“Thanks a lot. Thanks a whole heaping lot, Skinn-"

BLINDINGLIGHTPAINPAINPAIN

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Thanks a lot. Thanks a whole heaping lot, Skinner."

--He knew that voice that sarcastic tone Skinner looked up and realized dimly that he was in his office Kimberly wasn't at her desk and the phone was ringing He grabbed it

Skinner here he tried to talk, but it didn't come out quite right He could hear something garbled coming through on the line about Grace He tried to speak again but suddenly the noise got so loud he dropped the receiver A voice was shouting

Damien's the one that's okay Damien's the one that's okay Damien's the one that's okay Dread shot through Skinner Who was the one that was NOT okay

Skinner found himself hurrying though the corridors of a hospital cornering a nurse Where is she The nurse looked up It was Mulder in drag Skinner stared Mulder looked damn good in the nurse's uniform and wig

I don't believe in alien abduction anymore sir Where's Grace

But nurse Mulder walked away and Skinner moved down the corridor First door Room 18 Next door Room 18 The entire hall was filled with Room 18s Skinner opened one of the doors Santa Claus looked up from examining a playboy centerfold of Grace

I gave her those for her birthday he chuckled not so much like a jolly old elf far more like a pervert Where the hell is Grace Is she all right Anger growing mingling with a strong sense of frustration Skinner turned away

Next door An impossibly huge room filled wall to wall with a swimming pool Skinner looked down into the water At the bottom of the pool cellos violas violins The entire bottom littered with them they begin to float to the surface

Skinner looked up the pool had turned into a beach offshore a boat with Grace on it she didn't see him She always wanted those Santa was back watching Grace as well Skinner grabbed him by the furry trim of his red suit

Where is she impatience turning to ANGER serious out of control ANGER Santa's mask fell off Cancerman--

Skinner woke up, jerking out of his chair so abruptly that he nearly fell. He glanced around and realized he was still alone in the airport VIP lounge.

Relief flooded through him.

Seriously weird dream.

Mulder in drag?

Santa as a dirty old man? Skinner rubbed his eyes again. The nightmare began to fade away and he was almost ready to go grab a cup of coffee when a thought struck him out of the blue:

Was Grace all right?

“Oh shit, Oh shit, oh shit." Graziella Sophia Maria Pachelli was in big trouble. She lifted her head from the rubbery airbag and the hot wet trickle down her face confirmed her problems. There were two airbags now with four hands resting on them. Grace groaned. Bye bye concert, hello emergency room. She closed her eyes and slumped forward.

“We'd be happy to move your reservation to Trans Air if it would do any good, Mr. Skinner." the not-so-perky airline representative told him flatly. "But with this weather, we'll be lucky if we get any flights going south by ten tomorrow morning. The whole East coast is shut down--nothing's moving out of Boston or New York either. I suggest you call your destination and let them know about the delay, then check back with us sometime tomorrow."

Skinner headed for his waiting luggage, and pulled out his cell phone. He meant to dial the DEA office in Miami. He meant to, but his rebellious fingers tapped out Grace's cell phone number instead. It went through a whole range of soft clicks then started a mechanical recording.

“The number you have dialed has been disconnected. Please try again if you feel you have reached this recording in error--"   Disconnected?

“I feel a little--disconnected." Grace muttered. Around her the harsh florescent lights and flurry of activity started to seep through her closed eyes. The nurse attending her chuckled.

“It's all right, Ms Pachelli--a very common sensation with mild head trauma. Can you open your eyes for me please?"

Grace did, and the nurse stared deeply in to them. Grace noticed the nametag the other woman wore: A. Muldur

She smiled weakly.

“Can you track my finger?"

A nod.

“Good. Dr. Klaus wants to send you up for a quick X-ray, but aside from a headache, he doesn't see anything serious. You were very lucky, especially driving in this kind of weather--"

Two-thirty-seven A.M. As she got out of the cab and walked up the three steps to her townhouse, Grace grumbled and surveyed the damage: a mild concussion, stitches, a damaged car and a missed performance. All because Mr. High and Mighty Skinner wanted a set of tapes that could have waited until Monday.

It pissed her off.

It pissed her off so much that she closed the door behind her and didn't slide the deadbolt as she stepped in and took off her raincoat. The living room was dark, and she reached for the lamp near the front picture window, tugging the little pull chain to click it on.

Movement outside caught her eye; a car was pulling up to the curb a few yards outside the building. Even as she turned from the window she recognized it: Skinner's Lexus. Shit! He must have missed his flight, and now had the brazen balls to actually show up here. After all he'd cost her this evening--hot fury flooded through her and her dark eyes narrowed.

No way, tu stronzo, not tonight, she thought grimly. You can just sit out there and freeze your pallas right off. Grace reached for the lamp cord to plunge the room back into darkness, and an idea struck her.

Gliding slowly back to the window, she began to undo the buttons on her white silk blouse, trailing her fingers languidly from one to the next. She positioned herself next to the lamp and pretended to stare out into the night, dreamily.   Enjoy the floorshow, capo mio, 'cause that's ALL you're gonna be getting for a long time.

She stifled a giggle, hoping none of her neighbors happened by--it could make for a awkward moment at the next homeowners meeting. Instead she slowly brought her hands up to her breasts, lightly caressing them through her blouse.

Her touch felt nice, and for a moment Grace allowed herself the small thrill of a real caress. It had been a long time since she'd done this, and the thought of Skinner out there watching added fuel to the fire. Grace pulled the blouse open and shuddered slightly. She let her nails scrape over the sensitive skin of her throat, trailing down the curve of her chest to the brassiere clasp between her breasts.

A quick peek confirmed it--he was out there all right, wrapped in his trenchcoat, staring up at the window. Tough luck that he was too far away to read his expression; she sourly guessed it would be his usual stone face anyway.

She gave her head a toss, allowing her hair to stream down over her shoulders, letting her fingers unfasten the front hook of her bra. Quickly, she stretched her arms up over her head, helping her cleavage tumble free of the confining lingerie. A shiver ran over her bare flesh, a delicious tingle that grew and warmed her senses. Grace brought her hands back to her breasts and tweaked the erect nipples lightly.

Ha! Hope you can sleep well tonight--sir.

It was getting harder to think of it as an act now, as the old familiar pulsation grew within her. She let her hands glide eagerly over her ribs, her flat stomach, her hips. The blouse had slipped off her shoulders to drape down around her upper arms and back. Grace licked her lips. Jesus, if this looked even half as wonderful as if felt, Skinner must be ready to shatter the window pane. She let the blouse drop away.

Has it been that long? God I AM getting hot here--

She used one hand to unzip her floor length skirt, letting it fall to the carpet while she licked the fingers of her other hand. Kicking free of the skirt, Grace slid one hand down onto the waistband of her panties, fondling herself gently. The other hand reached back for the table to support herself. To reach for the pull chain and end this little tease. Make that score: Grace one, Skinner zero.

And I hope you wet yourself good, you damn--

Grace looked up for her moment of triumph, and felt the cold chill of the unexpected wash over her body as she saw Skinner. Not outside in the sleet, not on the other side of the glass, but reflected in it--

--behind her.

She turned to fight, wasn't quite quick enough. He shot one arm out, and caught her free wrist, tugging it up in the air, pulling her practically to her tip toes. Skinner's hand was as strong and cold as marble. Grace tried to bat at him with the other hand; he snagged it and joined it to the other, holding both of her arms up over her head with one of his. Grace struggled, wiggling and tugging against his grip. He waited, dripping sleet from his trenchcoat on the living room rug.

“Next time you want to play peepshow, better remember to lock your front door."

Grace hissed out a stream of blistering invective, and tried to kick him. Unimpressed and annoyed, Skinner tugged her higher, until her toes didn't quite touch the ground. Tears welled in her eyes.

Without lowering her, he pulled the curtains shut. Skinner spun her around, yanked off his tie, and quickly bound Grace's wrists securely behind her back with it. He didn't speak.

“Oh sure, go ahead, rape me--you've already screwed me over twice tonight, you basta--" she taunted before having a slightly soggy handkerchief shoved in her mouth. Skinner then dropped her unceremoniously on the sofa, and headed for the kitchen. Grace tried to spit the fabric out of her mouth, but couldn't. She lay there for a few panicked moments in the circle of light that the table lamp cast, wondering what the hell he was doing. Or going to do.

Dimly she could hear him making a phone call. She shifted her body, rocking it against the sofa cushions trying to roll to the floor. Tingling in her arms--they were falling asleep. Footsteps. He was coming back, phone at his ear.

“Kimberly. Personal memo, budget. Have a check cut for all repair service to Special Agent Pachelli's car. Get an estimate Monday morning."

He set the phone down, and took off his coat, draping it over a chair. Grace watched him go about his slow, deliberate movements. He crossed to the sofa, looked down at her with a frown. One big hand lightly touched the tiny butterfly bandage high on her forehead in the hairline. Grace jerked away from his fingers.

“Four stitches, mild concussion. Watch for signs of blurred vision, uneven pupils or dizziness," he rumbled.

Oh, he'd talked to the doctor. Grace couldn't speak, so she arched an eyebrow at him as sarcastically as she could. Part of her wanted to laugh--here she was, trussed up with his tie, naked except for panties and thigh-high stockings, and he was concerned about her head! She raised one leg and pushed her foot lightly against his chest.

He batted it away, and scooped her up over his shoulder, carrying her down the hallway to--the bathroom. Grace made protesting noises through the handkerchief as he set her on the closed lid of the toilet seat.

“Mwhmmhwwhwhwh!" came her muffled growl. He ignored her and began to strip. She suddenly realized he was doing--he was going to take a shower. Fresh rage filled her as she sat there, watching the shirt come off, the belt, the slacks--a shower! By the time he was nude, she'd nearly choked on the handkerchief in her fury. Skinner grabbed her by the chin and tilted it up, just hard enough to pull her attention back up to his face.

“Listen to me, Grace because I'm only going to say this once--I fucked up tonight. I fucked up and as a result of that you got hurt."

She slowly nodded, some of her anger ebbing out at the sound of his words, his admission. His hand on her chin softened into a light touch.

“I'm going to get cleaned up and we're going to bed. No sex, sleep." His tone picked up the slight air of menace that made Grace smile reflexively. His hand moved caressingly from her chin to the cloth in her mouth, and he pulled it out slowly, like a magician performing a trick. Grace coughed.

“That's a good start, now how about the hands?"

No." Skinner reached in behind the curtain and turned on the water. He took off his glasses and set them on the counter. He stepped into the shower, and became a vague outline through the curtain, leaving Grace to shout,

“No! And why the hell not? My arms are falling asleep!"

He ignored her, and she tried to stand. What was the point? The bathroom door was shut and she couldn't open it-- Turning she looked in the mirror.

A wild thing looked back at her. Grace realized her hair was tangled all around her face and shoulders, that her eyes still threw angry sparks. A pale face with dark smudges under the eyes. Shuddering, she sank back on the toilet seat.

Hell, she wouldn't have wanted to untie something looking like that either.

Skinner reached out a wet hand and caught her by the upper arm. He pulled her carefully into the shower with him, and she sighed as the stinging hot water cascaded over her skin. He carefully peeled away the soaked panties and stockings, trying to be clinical, but Grace knew better--it was a small shower, and Skinner was an awfully big man. His hands lingered on her thighs, water ruining the silk tie around her wrists. She tried to push against him, but having her hands tied kept her slightly off balance. He turned away.

Skinner shifted behind her and squirted shampoo in her hair. He thoughtfully massaged it in, and Grace groaned in sudden appreciation as the heat, the water and the touch all began to work a relaxing magic. His hands were so big that they covered her entire skull. He pushed her forward under the showerhead for a rinse.

“Aaaahh--" she gasped. Skinner reached around her to turn off the water, but she spun to face him, pressed to him, kissed him--

He grabbed her to keep her from falling, and as the water streamed over them they hungrily slammed their mouths together again and again, tongues clashing in a wet tango of a kiss. Desperately Grace wanted to hold him, and she struggled against the knots at her wrists. Rubbing her breasts against his furry chest, she groaned again, this time in frustration. Skinner pulled away, holding her at arm's length, his jaw muscles working. His expression bordered on rage and desire.

“No!"

“No here, or no no!?" Grace was beyond logical thought. Her wet hair clung all the way down her back. Skinner didn't answer. He slammed a hand on the faucet, forcing it off. Angrily he tore open the curtain and climbed out of the shower, reaching for a towel. Not quite quickly enough to hide his erection.

“What? I thought when you pulled me in here you--" Grace felt her chin start to tremble. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair to want a man so much. Skinner wrapped the towel low around his hips and leaned his hands on the counter, back to her, but she could see his equally frustrated expression in the foggy mirror.

“I’m not going to end up hauling you back to the hospital with another damn concussion."

“Then get me out of this slippery wet shower and into bed where I won't fall," she growled back as she stood there, dripping and shivering. Brusquely he tugged her out and cocooned her in a towel, running another around her hair, drying it off. Grace let him lightly man-handle her over the next few minutes as the fatigue of the night finally started to settle in. She yawned hugely. Skinner snorted.

“Come on--" He picked up her up over his shoulder. The height made her a little dizzy.

“I want my hands untied."

“No."

“I hate you."

“I know." he replied absently. With little trouble, he carried her over his shoulder to the bedroom, and slipped her under the covers. Grace yawned again.

Skinner finshed toweling off himself, and climbed in the other side. She scooted over, pressing against him.

“Alright. I'm not mad anymore. I promise not to kill you. It's time to cut my hands loose now."

“I don't think so." He'd taken his glasses off and dropped them on the nightstand. Grace tried to raise her head to look at him. His eyes were closed, revealing the long lashes no one ever noticed.

“Why not? Do you really think I'm going to sleep with my hands behind my back?"

“Yes."

“Jesus, you sadist!" He grabbed her head, and pulled her mouth up to his for a long kiss, effectively silencing her. Grace found herself draped on his warm chest. He pressed his mouth on the top of her head and spoke softly.

“No sex. Sleep."

“But I want--"

“No." The tone was harsher, even though his touch was still light. He sighed deeply, his hands stroking her shoulders and back, petting her like a cat, without conscious thought, without serious intent. Grace pressed her cheek on the furry rise and fall of his chest without further protest. Against her will, she found herself slowly drifting off . . .

She snuffled. Shifting a little, she sneezed as something tickled her nose.

Grace opened her eyes and took stock of her situation. Another cold and rainy morning outside--she could hear thunder in the distance. Judging by the light, it had to be about ten or so, Saturday morning. Her head ached a little, and something was weird about her arms--

Grace remembered: bound up with a tie, and feeling extremely horny. She turned her head slowly to see Skinner still deeply asleep on his back, one arm flung over his head, the other draped on her shoulders. Looking entirely edible.

She started to shift, slowly, working her way down the length of his body. It was hard to do without hands, even harder to try and lift the covers with her teeth. Finally, she slid her face across that flat muscled stomach, the hair brushing her nose and cheek. Her lips lightly touched it.

Skinner's cock quivered at the heat of her breath. Grace snaked her tongue out, touching it ever so softly. She couldn't see it under the darkness of the sheets and coverlet, but moved instinctively towards it. She circled the head with her tongue. Skinner groaned. His cock, already hard, pulsed and grew larger, straining towards her; Grace felt it bounce against her mouth. She gently took it into her lips and lightly sucked.

The reaction was more than gratifying to her ego; within seconds his hips began to flex, even in his sleep. Grace lifted her head higher, and worked her mouth in even strokes on him. Skinner groaned again. She would slow her pace, then speed up again, teasing him in his sleep.

She wasn't prepared for the large warm hand that slid over her ass; she jumped. A low laugh rumbled out, and Grace tried to wiggle back up the covers.

He tugged her up and across him; eagerly she straddled his hips as he guided himself in. A mutual groan erupted from both of them as his cock filled her. Grace sat up, tossing her curly hair back, still struggling to free her hands. Skinner watched her, and brought his own up to cup her full breasts, marveling at the sight of her bound and for the moment, completely his.

 Grace whimpered, but not from pain. When their gazes met he understood, and dropped his hands to her hips. Slowly, lazily, he began to lift her up and down on his cock. Grace rolled forward, kissing his face, his ears, his mouth and chin as they pumped together.

Grace pushed harder, more desperately, bouncing on him to satisfy herself. Skinner shook his head, but he was already biting his own lips as the pace began to increase. His hands cupped her ass, gripping it tightly, slamming her down on his cock. She ground against him and shuddered in delight, low cries muffled against the hollow of his throat as she came. Seconds later he did too, arching up, lifting her with him. They collapsed in a sweaty exhausted tangle.

As they took a moment to catch their breaths, Grace felt his hands tugging apart the knots on the tie. Her hands came loose, flopping on either side of her. dead weight, useless. The tie lay draped across the small of her back, where Skinner's hands were toying now.

“How's your head?"

She burst into a huge laugh that he joined in. Raising her head from the hollow of his throat, she gave him a deceptively soft look. His hands came up to the sides of her face.  “No sleep. Sex." she growled.

“No sleep. Sex."

He nodded slowly in agreement, not noticing Grace's fingers gripping the tie.

Not seeing the fierce light of revenge in her gaze.  


END





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