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Torch by Yanthee

Torch by Yanthee

Author: Yanthee
Title: Torch
Crossover: X-Files/Highlander
Pairing: Mulder/MacLeod, Mulder/Krycek, MacLeod/Methos
Status: Complete
Rating: R
Summary: When love is being taken for granted
Series: The Fires Series #1
Warnings: It's not beta-ed!! (And English is not my first language... gaaag... horror!). All mistakes are mine, sorry.
Disclaimer: HL characters belong to Panzer&Davis, while XF characters belongs to 1013. I just borrooooowwwed them.
Feedback:
Webpage: http://www.geocities.com/yanthee


Torch
by Yanthee

It was not meant to happen.

They had made a deal.

They must keep it, because only faith, understanding, and acceptance that kept them together for a long time. They must keep it. No matter what happened.

But it hurts too much.

Duncan stared at his glass studiously. He could not understand why suddenly he felt his heart shattered into pieces.

It had happened hundreds of times. Even they both had enjoyed them together. And usually Methos would be back again. Whole and intact. No minuses and pluses. As it was.

And maybe it was that which makes it hurts. He had hoped something would gain. Would add. An occasional affair that left the heart empty, and realization that true love counted all.

But no. Methos would come back as if nothing happened. A little apology, maybe, but not lately, since they both agreed that such thing was no longer necessary, and everything went back to normal again.

But it was no longer enough now.

He had been the one who pointed Derek at Methos. Suggesting a threesome out of curiosity. The man was sexy as hell, and he had been eyeing them both for three week-ends in a row. Leave flirting to Methos, and the guy melt right away.

Now he glued to them for almost two months now -- little bit longer than usual --, hopelessly infatuated and incredibly addicted to the pair. And in the brink of falling in love..... to *Methos*.

It was so clear in his mind. Derek in the middle, only moaning *Adam*. Derek making them breakfast, only eyeing *Adam*. Derek snapping at Duncan, for snapping at *Adam*. Derek who smiled like a sun bursting after cloudy rain whenever *Adam* was around.

Oh, he adored him as well, too. But he knew that the indifference, the impartiality, had shifted slightly. And probably would grow.

And he knew that Derek was not like any other fling they had had before in Methos' eyes. Methos liked him. To him, Derek was *special*.

No one except Duncan MacLeod was special in Methos' opinion. Not until now. Methos was as addicted to Derek as Derek to him. Maybe the Old Guy was not aware about it yet.

But Duncan MacLeod *knew*.

He knew that every time he went out to teach, or spent his time at the dojo, or maybe at several antiques auctions, Derek and Methos had been in bed together. Making incredibly, passionately love, that left them extremely exhausted and drained, and too tired for him.

He could count now how many times they had made love together. The three of them, or him and Methos. Much *less* than Methos and Derek did, he knew.

And he was incredibly jealous. Something that should not happen. Something that they both had forbid to happen.

After all, it was him who took Derek home. It was him who persuaded Derek to stay.

Derek and Methos would probably willing to call it off if only he gave them such hint. But they would be hurt. And never before, such thing would hurt Methos. Things that made Duncan hurt Methos would stained them forever. And there would be no guarantee that Derek would not fight to make him stay with them longer.

Who could afford the hurt if they started to see each other behind his back and started to really fall in love, instead of watching them pleased each other in front of his eyes and reminded them that at least they should respected his feeling?

That was why he was jealous.

Methos would stay with him as it was. No losses, no gains. But if Derek left him, something would rip his heart apart. A minus to Methos' heart. Something to loose. Something to crave.

It was not fair.

Things had started to slip out of his control, and it was him who had caused it.

He remembered why his heart started to feel like falling into pieces. It was the damn ticket to Washington DC.

He had been invited to be a jury in a martial art contest there, and he only bought two tickets. *Two*. And something in Methos' eyes gave away.

He was not excited.

And he asked Duncan to take *Derek* as well.

Methos was supposed to be *excited*. And Derek was *not* supposed to be *there*.

It was supposed to be Duncan and Methos' honeymoon.

So he left alone.

He sighed, remembering his conversation with Methos an hour ago. It was a brief, painful, and the most dishonest conversation he had made with his soul mate since they were together.

//Are you angry?//

//No//.

//Why are you leaving so sudden?//

//They asked me to come earlier. I could not wait you to let you know//.

//I can come up with you tomorrow//.

//No, it's not necessary//.

//Oh//.

//Yeah//.

//Are you sure?//

//Yeah//.

//I had already change the date//.

//What date was changed?//

//The ticket that you bought for me//.

//Oh... really?//

//Yes. I can go tomorrow//.

//Nah, I don't think so... Derek had to see his client tomorrow//.

//Derek won't come//.

//Oh. Anyway, you don't have to//.

//Why?//

//It won't be that long. Besides, you had to cancel a lot of things.//

//Are you sure?//

//Yes, *very* sure.//

And the silence was stretching too long. He knew Methos. He would not beg, and he could take a hint of being not needed. After all, it was his game too for many times. Games that both men had recognized when things gotten too claustrophobic. He also knew that he was too proud and stubborn to admit that he did like Methos to be here. But he remembered that Methos had been reluctant at first. This was probably an impulse out of guilt. And he did not need it.

//Very well. Come back soon, Duncan.//

//I will. Take care of Derek, will you?//

Silence. It was then that Duncan knew that they both knew.

It was all about Derek.

//He missed you already.//

//Don't make him be. He's got *you*.//

Silence again.

//I love you, Duncan.//

//Me too.//

Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod had felt like crying. He threw the phone to the wall.

He gulped his remaining scotch and signaled another one when his eyes caught *him*.

There was something in the man who sat with his long coat on his lap that made his eyes caught.

The man was not strikingly beautiful, but he was very attractive, and oblivious of it. A little like Methos.

Duncan watched him nursing his drink. His fingers were long and delicate. His lips pouted deliciously. He had a little mole on his cheek that made him look young and vulnerable. There was something in this man that Duncan could not figure and made him unable to look away.

The man sensed his attention and turned to him.

A pair of soulful hazel eyes stared straight to him, and a second later averted. But that particular second left Duncan breathless. There was despair and hopelessness there. It was devastating and heart-broken.

He did not know if it was his sorrow, loneliness, empathy, or the fact that the man reminded him of Methos that made him decide to follow him. When the man stood, Duncan paid his drinks quickly. He trailed behind closely until a familiar face intercepted.

"Duncan! What a pleasant surprise! Are you here for the tournament?"

Duncan saw the man turned his head to him and caught his eyes again before moving on and out of the door. He quickly and politely brushed the man whose name he did not remember but often saw during regional martial art competition, and running outside.

The night air was chill, and empty. So was the street. The man was gone.

He looked to his left and right, and decided that he had lost him. He was surprised to find himself very disappointed.

He stood for quite a while. Contemplating whether he should go back inside the bar or went back to his hotel. He did not want to encounter familiar face right now, and he did not want to see a broken phone scattered in his room. Both possibility had left him feeling empty.

He sighed and moved slowly to enter the parking lot. And stopped instantly when he saw *him* standing in the middle of it.

"What took you so long?"

Duncan watched him long.

"I ran into someone. I thought you are gone."

He looked like hiding his smile, and his gaze showed that he liked Duncan's appearance.

"Why are you following me?"

"Are you gay?"

He snickered wonderfully.

"Occasionally."

"I think I want to pick you up."

Duncan moved forward toward him. It was a lie, of course. But when he neared him, he suddenly really wanted to pick him up. The guy was sexually attractive. And he did not run. In fact, he was smiling at Duncan.

"Your place or mine?"

The phone was still broken and scattered in his room. But he did not need contact with the real world right now.

"I stay nearby. Follow me then."

The man shrugged and turned into the direction of his car, which was parked two rows behind Duncan's.

"What's your name?" He turned his key in and opened the door.

"Duncan. Yours?"

"Mulder."

Mulder stayed the night. And Duncan stayed at Mulder's the second night, the third night, and the fourth night.

Duncan did not know whom he dealt with. He had underestimated Mulder. And, probably, Mulder had underestimated him too.

They could not believe that they found each other sexually satisfying. Their love making was incredibly passionate, intense, and romantic. There was something they both could not understand.

It felt *right*.

Duncan did not expect this. And -- it seemed -- so did Mulder.

Things also got complicated.

After knowing that Mulder's first name was Fox and that he was an FBI agent, he realized that the man was deeply tormented. He got nightmares with intensity that even had frightened Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. The first night Duncan stayed in his apartment, he spent almost one hour to coax Mulder back to sleep. The next morning, Mulder threw him out. He came back later at night.

He had spent a long time assuring Methos' nightmares. He knew that Mulder was too embarrased for him knowing his vulnerability, and he knew that despite of that, Mulder would need him. So he came back, stubbornly refusing to leave.

He held Mulder nightmares after nightmares, and the FBI agent had melt. No more refusal. No more questions. Duncan moved his stuff from the hotel to Mulder's apartment. Mulder did not object.

At the fifth night, they left together to a bar. Mulder had mentioned something about meeting an informant, and Duncan's internal alarm rang. He accompanied the agent because he did not feel unwelcome. In fact, he sensed relief emanating from the willowy man.

It was a shock to realize that the bar was a gay bar.

"What kind of informant wanted to see you in a gay bar?"

"A gay informant, of course." Mulder chuckled loudly and surprisingly curled his fingers at one loop of Duncan's waistband.

They spent sometime lounging at their drinks, and when too many people had tried to pick up either one or both of them, Mulder dragged Duncan to the dance floor.

"Is he here yet?"

Mulder shook his head, but his eyes look subdued. Something bothered him.

"I don't think he would come."

"Why?"

He shrugged and then slowly put his head to Duncan's shoulder. They stopped dancing, and impulsively Duncan took Mulder's face and kissed him softly for a long time.

It was at that moment he realized that he felt guilty. He was starting to cheat on Methos for real. He was more than just fancying Fox Mulder. Whatever it was, he wanted to stay here and held Mulder for a long time.

"Duncan..."

"Yes?"

"What is going to happen?"

They held each other. Unmoving, despite the music and the energy blasting from people dancing around them, for a long, long time.

The informant did not come, whoever it was. They went out of the bar at three o'clock, joining their hands together.

//Am I falling in love? Is this how Methos feel toward Derek?//

He squeezed Mulder's hand and found the man stare at him with so much tenderness that left a big lump in Duncan's throat.

They still held their hands together outside, when Mulder suddenly stiffened.

"Wha...?"

Whoever the informant was, he had *come*. And destroyed Mulder's *car*.

Duncan rushed to the car and felt his heart ripped out. All tires were flat, the glass windows were smashed and the word of SLUT was painted all over the car.

"Bastard! Who did this?"

Full of rage, Duncan scanned the area and dejectedly noticed that no one was in sight. No one would be able to give any description of who did this, if there were anyone paid any attention at all. Mulder's car was practically isolated.

"We have to report this soon, Mulder. It smells fishy. Your informant did not come, and God knows what kind of things was being put inside your car...."

He stopped.

Mulder was still standing at his previous spot. Frozen. His face and eyes were blank.

"Mulder?"

He did not even blink.

"Fox?" Duncan hurried to his side. Something had happened. Mulder always reacted when was called Fox. But not this time.

He reached the stiffened body and enveloped him inside his arms.

"Sweetheart... are you all right?"

Something gave away. Suddenly Mulder lost his strength and he sagged heavily to Duncan.

"Do you know who did this?"

Mulder slowly turned and Duncan saw again the despair and hopelessness he had seen in Mulder's eyes the first time he saw him. Then he hugged him. As if clinging for dear life.

"Fox?"

"Let's just go home, Duncan. Go home."

That night, they made love gently. Mulder did not give any explanation, and probably would not. Even when during his restless sleep he moaned "Alex!".

It was the first time Duncan heard Mulder moaned somebody's name in his dream.

It was surprisingly warm the next morning. Mulder had been very quiet and he poked on his breakfast annoyingly.

"Did you report the incident to your office?"

"Yeah. It's been taken care of."

"Good."

Silence. Duncan had been crying inside when he left Methos a week ago, and he had felt the same way right now.

"What time is your flight?" Mulder studiously stared at his mug.

And that was it. He did not want to leave Mulder. Not now.

"Ten."

They fell into silence again.

"I'll call you as soon as I arrived."

Mulder nodded.

Duncan had called a cab to take him to the airport, Mulder rode with him. They spent their journey in silence, but never for once Duncan unclutched his new lover's hand.

And they kissed obliviously at the departure gate.

"God, I missed you already," Duncan whispered.

Mulder's hands were felt so warm on his back.

"Are you going to be all right?"

"Yeah."

The farewell felt so final.

========

Methos picked him up at the airport. It was a surprise indeed, because the Old Man had never done this before. And he was also alone.

He was glad to see him, but something in his heart also clenched tightly.

"You look different." He said to his soul mate. Methos did not answer. He silently put his head into Duncan's neck and put both arms around his waist.

It was so sweet and sincere. And it broke Duncan's heart. He no longer needed to ask where Derek was. He already knew the answer. He had left. Or maybe Methos had dumped him. Probably for good.

There was something in Methos that he saw for the first time. It was a welcome-home. He realized now that it was always Methos who left and came back. This time it was his turn. Did he say no loss and no gain when they went separate way and reunited? He certainly never viewed it at the other side of the coin.

And did he ask Methos why he looked so different? Because now, after Fox Mulder, he suddenly knew that there was windows -- and doors -- on the wall he built. He loved Methos, but he now knew that his love to him no longer imprisoned him.

Methos looked at him silently all the way home.

The loft was clean. It smelled Methos. And Duncan. No other smells. He should feel grateful. Or sad for losing Derek. But he felt only numb.

Methos kissed him and stared at him sadly. He looked very vulnerable, and open. Something so rare and precious, that left Duncan almost breathless. //Why are you never looking at me like this before?//

"You look different too, Duncan."

"I suppose so."

"There was a message on the phone for you."

"Joe?"

Methos did not answer and let his lover frowning at it. The instant he pushed the button, Duncan knew who it was. Fox Mulder's voice rang loudly in the silence of the cooling loft.

"I could not wait to tell you this, Duncan. I sure had already done so before you left.... Or maybe when you already there. But I know it is better for me to talk to an answering machine. All I can say is 'thank you'. Thank you for everything."

Duncan felt Methos' arms around his shoulder and a soft kiss at the back of his neck.

"He sounded very sad."

//He is desperate, lonely, and helpless.//

He felt his eyes burned.

"Who is he, Duncan?"

"Mulder. Fox Mulder."

And Methos released him. It suddenly felt so cold, and his shoulders cried for the warmth that had left so abrupt.

Methos *knew*. Of course he knew. He had lived so long to understand every crook of human heart, and read everything between the lines. He knew only by looking at Duncan's eyes, and the sadness in his voice when he told him Mulder's name.

Methos nodded and Duncan saw unshed tears forming in his lover's eyes. Methos knew that Duncan had never cheated on him. Knew that it was no longer like that now. And this one was different.

"I am sorry." Duncan sobbed suddenly and quickly left to the bathroom.

"Don't be." His lover replied back, and he heard the silent choke.

He understood. Methos would understand.

========

THE END

 


 

Explosion 1 by Yanthee

Author: Yanthee
Title: Explosion 1
Crossover: X-Files/Highlander
Pairings: Mulder/Krycek, Krycek/ofc, and an implied Mulder/MacLeod
Rating: G
Status: WIP
Summary: It is Earth in the brink of colonization, and only those who know about it understand the meaning of keeping and losing chance to love
Series: The Fires Series #2, sequel to Torch
Notes: This series is accompanying Inferno at Highlander Fandom. Though each fandom can be treated individually, a read at that fandom can help in putting the bigger picture complete.
Warnings: It's not beta-ed! Sorry.
Disclaimer: See Torch
Feedback:
Webpage: http://www.geocities.com/yanthee


Explosion 1
by Yanthee

New York City, 2103

Maria turned quickly when the handsome stranger showed up again. She nervously fixed her hair and stole a glance at a reflecting glass behind the row of bottles she was wiping. John snorted at her and annoyingly stared point blank at the newcomer.

At the beginning, the stranger was a hit among the younger patrons. He was a movie-star beauty. Something that was quite abundant in this pathetic city, and the type that Maria encountered -- and hated-- almost every day in her life. But gradually, something in him beginning to emerge. Something that forced people to look closely and realized that there was much, much more in him than met the eyes.

He emitted danger, unhappiness, and desperation. Something that made everyone who got attracted to him shivered with need but too afraid to approach.

Before long, Maria realized that she had started to fall for him.

He ignored the looks that was given from every corner of the place and went straight to the bar. It was full of men and women ogled their drinks, but the people who got pushed by him meekly moved away. It seemed that everyone knew that it was unwise to disturb nor deny him.

Maria quickly pushed a glass of whisky to him, silently feeling grateful that the man was a 'real thing'. Real human was just getting too rare now. Only those directly ascended from the first generation, or even the first generation itself were left.

She stole a glance at John, her hybrid bouncer. He was staring right through the stranger, obviously feeling hostile.

The bouncer had been interested to her, but she knew that her attraction toward the other man was not the only thing that made John tick.

It was commonly known that hybrids got really jealous with real human. Or to be precise, the real human left. Those who were extremely good looking, or very intelligent, or superbly talented, or just simply too important to be banished, and being carefully preserved and cared by the Superiors. The creatures who became as exotic as extinct species, and became most lusted and sought after.

This one was a first generation. Maria saw the transparent tattoo on his left arm. Only those who had just been recently awaken from the cryogenic chamber bore it.

She had been wondering about how old this man be. Then she wondered what had troubled him so, especially when another man suddenly intruded his private space.

Obviously not his date, she mused. But then her internal alarm rang. Though both seemed like good friends, it was clear that they dislike each other. Without thinking, she moved into hearing range.

".....have you found out?"

".....Alpha Base Station. Normal freight categories. Still want to go there?"

".....do I have a choice?"

Alpha Base Station?

Maria did not think she liked the direction of this conversation. Alpha Base Station was not for real human. It was a hostile mining station. Only worker hybrids were allowed. And worker hybrids were not pleasant companies.

Even the ugliest and strongest whore shuddered with the enormous sexual hunger from these monsters, she could not imagine what fate would a real human would encounter if they went there.

Not to mention an incredibly beautiful real human. Those who were blessed with natural pheromones.

She slowly wiped the bar, lingering to the two men. She knew that it was not wise, but there was something that pushed her closer. Maybe one day he would notice? She sighed, feeling the warm wet feelings between her legs. How long had she slept with someone? Longer than she thought.

"......you can't do that alone."

"......no intention......."

The music was too loud.

"......you must come..."

"..but.."

"I am warning you...."

"Krycek!"

The shout was full of disgust, but not dangerous. And now Maria knew his name. Krycek. Was he a Russian? Czech, maybe?

She watched her beautiful --Eastern European name bearer-- prey scowled, and his eyes slowly got dark. Those eyes were intently boring into his companion's skull. So intent that even Maria was breathless. Then the eyes suddenly shifted and zeroed in on her.

She was trapped.

Those dark, beautiful green eyes hooked her on the spot, making her knees go weak and unable to move.

The beautiful Krycek leaned over to his companion, still locking his gaze to Maria, and whispered something that left the other man nodded vigorously.

Maria faintly watched the other man glanced at her quickly then raised and left. Krycek was still staring at her.

Her chest was screaming for being suffocated, and the world felt like growing slower. //Is he a wizard?// Maria dizzyingly wondered. //How come I got hooked completely like this?//

He raised his empty glass and smiled.

"Y--you want whisky or--", she stammered and stopped.

"Anything you want."

He made love ferociously. There were hunger and desperation there, such intense emotion that frightened her to the bone. Yet it was also incredibly erotic and intoxicating. Maria had never experienced such rawness and content in lovemaking before. Maybe that was how real human had sex. But still, she sensed that something else had triggered this desperation.

Alex Krycek was only awakened a year ago, and spent almost ten months at the assimilation center. He was regarded as first class human, those who was so valuable to the Superior that all kinds of conditions that most hybrids did not possess were applied.

At the beginning, Maria was repulsed to hear that. First class humans were those who either possessed incredible genetic quality, or traitors that formed alliance with the aliens before they came. However, based on her point of view, she was doubtful that he earned that class out of reward for the last condition. He definitely was an incredible human species.

Krycek never talked about himself. He calmly accepted Maria's offer to stay at her place and systematically built his own world in there.

Aside at most nights, where he warmed her bed, he visibly isolated himself and whatever space he had. He seldom talked, minded his own business, and rarely returned her offer of friendly communication.

However, day by day, the man fascinated her even more. The mystery around him was just too inviting.

Maria had once tried to peek on his personal things, but turned out that it was the biggest mistake she had ever made. Alex had never hit nor hurt her, but his icy glare and menacing form left her tremble with fear. For punishment, he left her sleeping alone for three nights. Three nights of agonizing longing. At that time, Maria realized how deep she was addicted to Alex Krycek.

It was almost two weeks Alex lived at her place, when John started to notice her change.

"Your eyes got puffy and your skin pales," he pointed. "Had someone at home?"

Maria eyed him warily, sensing repressed jealousy in her bouncer's words.

"None of your business."

"I noticed that your favorite customer was no longer frequented this place."

"Yeah. This place got really too dingy, now."

John watched her with scrutinizing eyes. Though Maria knew that John was a fifth class hybrid, the ones who had low intelligence, he had a strong intuition, a blessing caused by his emotional character.

"Humans are not supposed to be staying in here anymore." He said in a quiet tone.

"Yeah, I notice."

"Pity, huh?"

Maria nodded quickly, pretending to be busy for a while. In fact, it was not much convincing, because the night was abnormally slow.

"Where is everybody?" She stretched her limbs, trying to change the conversation subject.

"Didn't you know? Recruitment was starting today."

"Recruitment for what?"

"For next shipment to Alpha Base Station."

She felt her heart stopped.

"I thought they no longer expand the mines." Her palm was wet.

"Wrong honey. Who are we to expect current information circulate among us? Apparently the Superiors had finished constructing the Station expansion almost a year ago. They had quadruple the size of the station."

"Four times bigger? That probably required new labors as many as the whole citizen of North America."

John smiled," Now you figure out why the place was suddenly felt empty."

She wiped her dry forehead. Memories of early conversation between Alex and his companion resurfaced again.

"There were plenty of openings for bartender as well," John gulped his drink.

Maria looked at him, suddenly feeling something like hope flaring in her chest.

"You're planning to apply?"

The bouncer looked at her closely, "Maybe. Are you?"

//Will I?// Maria hastily threw her wiping rag.

As she was expected, Alex did not come back for the night. She spent almost all night staring at her ceiling, contemplating the possibility to leave the dreary world and the numbing fear that she would lose Alex.

He came back sometime before dawn, accepting her warm soup without commenting anything and started to pack his things.

Maria felt her throat constricted.

"Are you going too?"

The beautiful human watched her closely for a moment and nodded.

"Can I come with you?"

"No."

"Why?"

"What for?"

What for? Yes, she did not even understand why the feeling to be with Alex all the time was so intent.

"I want to be with you." She decided to tell the truth. Hell, she was a hybrid. She was not particularly have a capability to lie as perfect as a real human.

"It's not wise." Alex's voice was toneless. Maria watched the black hair tumbling down when he bent to arrange his bag. She decided instantly that she should never lose this man out of her sight. Forever.

"I think I love you."

A brief glance and a shrug, "I told you... It's not wise."

"Can I?"

"No."

She bit her lower lip hard. "What will you do there?"

Alex quietly folded his clothes.

"There weren't any humans there, you know." She tremblingly caught his hand. He quickly shrugged it off.

"You need a hybrid to guide you around."

He still did not answer, and Maria felt her eyes blurred. "I am going there myself. There are plenty opportunities to bartending there, you know."

Tears were slowly trickled down on her cheeks. "I won't be a burden. I'll help you, OK?"

A loud sigh suddenly was heard, and Maria felt a flare of hope burned in her chest. "Please?"

"Can you speak em-ex codes?"

Em-Ex.... Multi External Coding, a universal translation of earth language into the Superiors language, not many were able to understand it besides Superiors species themselves.

"A little-- yes, adequately."

Alex stared at her with doubtful eyes. "You sure? We are going to interact with Superiors."

Maria nodded, feeling elated. "Why do we need to interact with Superiors?"

Alex slowly smiled, "We are in a mission to find a man."

"Who?"

The man's smile was broadened, and Maria felt a surreal feeling of madness in those beautiful smile.

"A man that belongs to me."

===========================

Washington D.C, December 31, 1999

Mulder watched sparkle splashing on his monitor. New Year's Eve as usual. Ended up in the office, staring at the newest screensaver program, contemplating between joining the noisy party at the main floor or hoping to be the first one to notice that the millennium bug precaution was not effective. His partner had forsaken holiday too, as usual. A pair of agent who did not have a life. He glanced at Scully, intently writing e-mails and sighing.

"That is the fiftieth sigh I heard from you since you opened your mailbox. What's in there?"

"Lousy junk mails."

"I never even thought that someone like you did not delete it right away."

"We don't have a life, Mulder."

"Shouldn't you joining up there?"

"In a moment. You?"

He turned and stared at the monitor again. Scully smiled softly.

"Mulder."

"Yeah?"

"Call him."

A bright flush was appearing at the seemingly lifeless agent. "That's not a good idea."

"Didn't you say that you missed his birthday?"

"Scully--"

"OK, OK," his partner surrendered. She efficiently killed her PC and raised from her chair.

"Coming?"

"Didn't you say that I should call someone?"

Scully rolled her eyes and walked quickly outside. Leaving Mulder stared at the phone. It had been a year. And it was not like *they* never called on each other before, in a *friendly* way. But still, it was not completely felt right.

He chewed on his lip and sighed. Birthday greetings, yeah right.

He had just decided to pick up his phone when loud thumps of shoes were heard from the outside. The door burst open, revealing scowling Scully and Skinner.

He sighed loudly. Not a good sign.

"Sir," he drawled toward his boss and raised his eyebrows to his partner. Scully mouthed 'a case' and rolled her eyes.

Skinner nodded and without wasting any time spread his folder file in front of his agents. Mulder took one photo and squinted his eyes to his partner who got completely serious.

"Shouldn't this kind of case belong to the Criminal Behavior?"

"One word that made this belongs to the X-Files."

"Weird?" Mulder chuckled quietly and suppressed his smile when seeing both his counterparts glared at him.

"Alex Krycek."

He swallowed, feeling the already gone bitterness came crashing back.

"Excuse me, Sir. But that was two words."

"Did he kill these people?" Scully chewed on her lips, aware that her boss' face was noticeably darker and Mulder's strange expression had given her a creepy feeling.

"He informed these murders to us."

"And you believe him?" Mulder felt an unexplained tiredness suddenly appeared. He cursed that the last day of the millennium could turn this bad for him.

"Despite all of your hostility and distrust to this man, Mulder, we had conducted proper actions in ensuring these evidence was redeemed trustworthy and real."

Mulder was just opening his mouth, ready to give a smart reply, when Scully quickly scowled at him and interjected, "What the hell are these, Sir?"

Skinner sighed, took his glasses down, and massaging his upper nose bridge. Definitely not a good sign.

"I am afraid that I will ask both of you a real sacrifice this time."

"Are we there, yet?"

Scully glared at her partner. She quietly studied her partner. Looking very subdued and haunted, Mulder failed every test in showing himself unaffected with the situation they were encountering. She briefly glanced at her own reflection in the rear view mirror and found herself as shaken as him.

They had driven in silence. So deafening that even the barren fields they were passing intensified the creepy feelings.

They finally saw lights in the far horizon.

"I think that was our destination, Mulder."

He chuckled, "Stating the obvious one, Scully? I am surprised that it got you too."

She ignored him and watched the lights went brighter. Moments later, the white building emerged. Huge and modern, so contrast with the nothingness surrounded, almost like a dreadful sculpture being thrown away in the middle of nowhere.

Scully slowed her car, and stopped, showed their badges, waited to get permission to enter the area.

They were greeted by a large man, introduced himself as a Professor Rui Gutierrez, Head of the Cryogenic Lab of the US Army.

"I was expecting Pentagon people, not FBI," he said half mockingly.

"We were the ones that named ourselves Bureau of Investigation. I guessed that explains everything." Mulder drawled easily, watching the Professor shrugged.

They walked side by side along the corridor and turned into what appeared to be his lab.

Mulder whistled loudly.

It was a huge hall. Rows and rows of cryogenic capsules were placed.

Scully watched the professor intently, "Those are --"

"People, yes. Some were army soldiers, some were -- let's just say -- private entities."

She raised her eyebrows, "As private as what?"

"Independent, individual parties."

Mulder clucked loudly and walked briskly toward the end of the row. Cables were dangling and there were visible spots that shown something was being moved from there.

"What's inside the missing one?"

Gutierrez sighed, "I think you should follow me to the monitor station there first."

They both eyed him warily.

"You should know, Professor, we expected full cooperation from you. First class authorization was given to us." Scully.

"I-- I guess I was not that sure how you can handle this."

Mulder snickered, "Oh, but we can, Professor... We handle almost everything."

Scully glared at her partner.

Gutierrez showed them the main monitoring station that was unoccupied. He showed them one of the monitor and started punching on buttons.

"I am going to show you record 3X, the content of the missing capsule," he said, completely missing the amused exchange between the two agents. Scully hid her smile when Mulder mouthed 'triple-ex' and drew question mark.

They both turned serious when the content was shown in the monitor.

"What is that?" Scully held her breath. It was an unexplained form of masses. It has limbs, head, and everything, but -- maybe because of the surreal whiteness coloring and the amount of ice surrounded the thing --it was unidentified.

"It was found in 1972, in Siberia, Russia. Almost died, if it did not deliberately put itself into the hibernation chamber it had brought along. In fact, one of the reason why cryogenic technology became so advance lately was caused by this finding."

"I have record of alien sighting in Russia somewhere early 70s. This is the one, I presumed." Mulder looked fascinated.

"I doubt that, agent Mulder. This one was directly transported to the Kiev Naval laboratory. I supposed you remember how tight secrecy in Russia during that time. Only a handful of Soviet officers and scientists aware of this, and most were now coming along to here."

Gutierrez played the button and zoomed on it. After a while, the FBI agents saw forms of facial anatomy clearer. It has nose, eyes, lips --

"He was practically a humanoid form," said the Professor.

"We were amazed that the species resembled human being so much--despite all the imagination of how alien would look like. However, they showed signs of repressed environment mutation, as you can see the skin coloring -- no, it's not because of being frozen --, the hairless format, the number of fingers on each limbs, the structure of the bones. It was estimated that they live in an atmospheric planet but probably a bit too far away from its sun."

"Did you do DNA analysis?" Scully bit her lower lip with concentration.

"Yes. Several thing was found. First, the thing was old. Very old. It was hundred of years in our timing frame. I guess that explains the biological life-span in their home. Second, there was evidence of large radioactive mass in their brain. Unknown, even until today... The mass was uniquely alien, and so far we had been very careful to not disturb it, due to the unknown contamination risk factor we were facing. The explanation of such radioactive appearance in the brain was solved much later."

"Which is?"

"Telepathic brain, telekinesis ability, and lethal electric body manipulation."

"What is that?"

"Let's just say, it was capable to turn the electrolytes inside his body into a weapon."

Mulder whistled, "First class inter-galactic spy."

The professor chuckled, "I believe so, agent Mulder, because such radioactive was implanted there. I did not believe such scary abilities was hereditary."

"What other findings you have?"

Gutierrez stopped and eyed him warily. He then sighed loudly before speaking with a quiet tone.

"Have any of you ever heard of the Black Oil virus?"

Both agents held their breath. Scully looked at him intently, "Are you saying --"

"I am not saying anything, agent Scully. This thing was not the cause of it. Phew, I am glad the FBI is sending the right people. I could not imagine how to explain you both about the black oil thing if you never even heard about it before."

"Trust me, professor, you could not. Please finish, because we need to ask you more about this particular thing later on."

"Well, this alien did not particularly caused or brought the virus here. But after the incidents happened a while ago, we saw that many of the human victims started to mutate into his kind of form, here."

He showed a different picture. Mulder, holding his breath, leaned slowly.

"Brain mutation?"

"Not just brain, almost all cells in the body. They reshaped into multi format cells. They did not change the figuration, but the new format gives new ......flexibility."

"Professor, are you saying the person can change shapes?"

Visions of the alien shape-shifter suddenly blurred into both agents' minds.

"No, not that drastic. It's more like -- here, have you notice how the alien look even though I had concurred that they were very, very old?"

Mulder watched Gutierrez warily, "They stayed young forever?"

"If it works, yes. But according to my records, no human infected the virus survived the mutation. They either got so sick and died, or just simply demolished by all the secret alien war happening out there. You must know that the mutation happened slowly after the infection, not during. So we have narrowed the possible mutation candidates to those who survived Black Oil infection."

Which was none, according to Professor Gutierrez, who was unaware that he was facing the surviving one.

Scully watched her partner turned very pale and slowly patted his arm.

"What's your connection with the Consortium, professor?" Mulder's voice was sounded normal, but Scully had heard the shakiness behind it.

"I don't know much. My superiors -- I presumed yours, too -- are more aware of it. But we do have joined research operation, as well as donation."

In that case, not much.

"Please explain about this 3X disappearance."

Gutierrez wiped an imaginary sweat on his forehead and took a chair to sit.

"It had started from last year. Pentagon suddenly ordered huge numbers of cryogenic capsules, human sized. Well, occasionally we hosted people who paid enough to put to sleep here, but it was done by secrecy, and very rare. However, this time, it was abnormal. In the first three months, we made almost five thousands capsules! It was impossible for us to handle, after all, we are a research center, not a factory. So, The Consortium handled the production, while we maintain the technology quality."

"I don't want to guess what is happening out there, agents, I am not the one who likes to wallow about all kinds of imagination, but I do feel like a desperation out there. This whole year, we finished eight thousands, and sent them out to mostly Europe and Asia."

Scully smacked her lips, "Why?"

Gutierrez shrugged, "The only thing I knew was that Japan and Finland housed the largest cryogenic lab in the world. Probably the capsules were stored there."

"Then the killing spree started," Mulder nodded.

"Yes. " Gutierrez was visibly shaken. "Our liaisons, then the scientists, and then the security officers."

"Systematically killed?"

"It had looked like random killings in the beginning. Accidents, horrible ones, though. Then later on, simply brutal murders. All happened outside this complex, though."

"Did you investigate the replacements?"

Gutierrez watched them exasperatedly, "As you can see this is a first class security complex. We don't do instant replacement."

"I can see how understaffed you are." Mulder amusedly watched the vacant lab.

"So the higher authority did not do anything about it?"

"They did, but it's too late."

"As usual," Mulder muttered and smirked to a glaring Scully.

"When all of this started?"

"Two weeks ago. Imagine how you feel when all of your colleagues died one by one every day." Gutierrez trembled. "Then, yesterday, 3X is missing. No records showing how it happened. The security monitor was tampered."

"Who reported the burglary? Or, should I say, kidnap?"

"The Chief Security, Mr. Holston. He is at the Pentagon now, and will be back tomorrow. I believe you have met him in Washington? He said he lobbied people to investigate the top security matter personally."

Both agents grunted in unison, realizing for the first time that their assignments there was probably unofficial.

Holston, who? Whoever he was, it was clear that FBI was not supposed to be there.

Scully accessed the security and autopsy reports and they left well after midnight.

They found a small town fifteen miles away and found the only bed and breakfast there. It was quite large to their surprise. The dining room housed at least one hundred and fifty seats, and it was still open. Several people was there, minding their own business. It was a sign that the folks were used to foreigners.

"Many visitors stayed for the night?" Mulder ordered his midnight sandwich to the tall, young, and attractive waitress.

She smiled warmly to him. "With you two, it's fully booked. It's still officially holiday, and the plant was closed for a week. The workers were all here. You should see the ice skating rink a mile from here, it's fabulous. People stayed here because the winter sports are excellent."

Mulder watched she swayed her hips and raised his eyebrows, "She reminded me with Angel."

"Angel who?"

"Angel who swallowed John Dough's dick. The Ecstasy, A Heart-stop, Angel goes Naked, Angel got Pussy....."

"Mulder!"

Her partner only looked at her with a faked innocence. She sighed.

"I need to learn about the autopsy reports tonight, Mulder, you better check on the security reports. Did Skinner mention when our *contact* will come?"

Mulder's face visibly darken. He shook his head.

Scully watched her friend seriously.

"Mulder."

"Yeah?"

"You listen carefully. If the situation as severe as what Skinner had said, you must be cooperative to Krycek, d'you hear me? We had passed all the hostilities behind us. I don't want to see you ruin it simply for dislike. No more violence. Do you understand?"

"Scully, I swear I will love this guy to all eternity," Mulder said weakly and saw Scully chuckled.

//She thought it's a joke//, he thought sadly.

The waitress swayed back to them and eyed Mulder flirtatiously, "Are you Fox?"

Mulder sighed loudly, "No, it's her."

The waitress looked at Scully apologizing but could not conceal her disappointment, "Mr. Mouse checked in earlier and asked you to meet him personally in room 5B at the second floor."

Mulder barked his laugh. Scully, red-faced, nodded and dismissed the waitress.

"Mr. Mouse?" She eyed her partner and broke her smile.

When she knocked on the door 5B, she saw Mulder had turned to his moody brood again. It was always like that when he was about to encounter Alex Krycek. She sighed and wished that the situation would not as bad as she had expected.

The door was opened, revealing a freshly showered, but a little surprise, Alex Krycek.

He recovered instantly after seeing Mulder slumped behind, and smiled sweetly to Scully.

Careful, Scully eyed him suspiciously. The man was absolutely gorgeous and he used it as a weapon.

"Beautiful Dana. Come in."

Scully looked both men warily and saw Mulder avoided making eye contact with Krycek, while the later one stared at him menacingly.

Strange, she thought. //Since when the situation is being reversed?// Usually it was Mulder who was vicious to Krycek and Krycek who notably got cowered under his glare. Not the other way around.

"Too doubtful to come by yourself, Mulder?"

Mulder only shrugged and made himself comfortable on the chair.

Scully watched with a disturbing sense of surreal. He watched Mulder ignored Krycek, and saw the one-armed gorgeous -- did she think he was gorgeous? -- man clenched his jaw and moved forward to her. Again giving her a warm, flirtatious, smile.

"What's on your mind, Krycek?"

He raised one of his eyebrow and smirked, "I don't think you want to know, agent Scully."

Scully saw Mulder glanced at them painfully for a brief second and returned to his pretentious musing over Krycek's bedroom.

"Why don't we settle our working arrangement first, then we'll see how much information you and I had gathered."

Again Scully saw how strange the situation here. Mulder was as silent as a statue, and Krycek was talking to her as if Mulder did not exist in the world. //What is going on here?//

Even when they conferred, the situation did not change.

Mulder sat listening to them without making any single comment at all, while Krycek all the way ignored him.

"The Consortium could only guess two possibilities of the 3X disappearance. First, it was stolen by the Resistance side, or second, stolen by the Colonization side."

"Are we still in the same, old, story, Krycek?"

He eyed her amusedly and nodded. His eyes twinkled beautifully.

"Why?"

He suddenly looked withdrawn and tired. It was amazing how fast the changes occurred.

"We had detected a very noticeable increasing in the Colonization movement activities. It got too scary to ignore. I am afraid the war is no longer a feigned imagination. Did you hear the cryogenic chamber booming from Gutierrez?"

"Yes."

"It's the Resistance doing. They suddenly started to 'preserve' the precious people. I don't know who. But their doing also worrisome. It's as if we are watching two combatants prepare themselves with the rest of us do not know what to do."

"I thought you always got involved in situations like that."

"I worked both sides, but not on the decision making level." Mulder snorted. Scully saw a little flinch on Krycek's face before resumed his icy mask.

"What are we going to do, then?"

"You'll do the autopsy reports, tomorrow?"

She nodded.

"Good. Mulder and I will do some investigation together."

Scully watched warily how his partner was still sitting quietly without expression. No protest, no emotion. Nothing. This was definitely unusual, and she was dying to know what was going on.

"But -- "

"I guess right now I was ahead a little, agent Scully. I am afraid I have to lead this team."

"I don't think so, Krycek."

He watched her intently, "No? You must, because after all, FBI were not supposed to know any of this, and you've got high risk for either be kicked out from the case easily -- something I was sure you both won't be happy about -- or being killed as casualties without knowing anything."

"What's in this for you?"

"Despite my personal history, agent Scully, I do dislike the notion of making Earth as a playground for alien wars."

Scully stared then slowly looked at Mulder, "What do you think, Mulder?"

"He does not have a say in this, agent Scully," Krycek snapped harshly. She watched with a gaping mouth.

"Why not?" It was for the first time Mulder opened his mouth in this room.

There was something. Something terrible and frightening in Krycek's eyes. Appearing for a split second, but she saw it.

"I don't trust you, agent Mulder, and I never gave someone I don't trust a chance to bargain."

Dear God, Scully thought. The cloud had darken on Mulder's face. Imagine how you felt when your own words were suddenly thrown back in a more vicious way than yours.

"What is that suppose to mean?" Mulder's voice was low and dangerous.

Krycek, still trapping Scully's eyes, said coldly, "Go back to your room, Mulder. Let me arrange everything with agent Scully, here."

The three of them seemed suddenly stop breathing.

"He is my partner, Krycek. He stays with me all the time." Scully.

"I go with him, tomorrow. I promise you I won't kill him until the case is over." Krycek.

"Gee, thank you." Mulder. Drawled and lazy.

Later that night, solitary inside his room, Mulder bit his lip hard to prevent the upcoming surge of bitterness in his heart. He finally took his cell phone and punched the familiar numbers. All the time trying hard not to hit on anything around him.

It only took two rings before someone he expected answered.

"Fox?"

"Hi." Mulder said, and suddenly the bitterness and anger drained away, leaving him feeling exhausted and sad.

"Are you alright?"

"No." He sobbed. "*He* is here."

"Is he still ---?"

"Yes. Even worse."

"Oh Fox."

"I missed you, dammit."

And both people, one in a tiny room inside a bed and breakfast, deep in the New England civilization, while the other, somewhere beyond the sea connected with heartbroken understanding.

=======================

To be continued