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All That I Love

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All That I Love

All That I Love

by Lashala

[Story Headers]


Title: All That I Love (Sequel to 'Twist & Turns' in the 'What's In A Dream' series)

Author: Lashala

Rating: NC-17. Probably not that bad but let's not take chances!

Keywords: M/K, Slash, Angst, Romance

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the 'X-Files' characters, Ten-Thirteen Productions or any of that great stuff, but I wish I did. All the other stuff in this work is my idea! If you don't know what slash is or you're under age, go home!

Summary: AU. Present time. A brief interlude and a difficult choice. Krycek's POV. If you haven't read the first four works in this series, do that first.

Spoilers: None. Just a few random references here and there on past encounters.

Archive: Sure...but ask first! And be nice! I've heard some stuff and I don't like being mistreated so I'm going to check on things.

Thank you's: Thanks to Tammy for proofing and making sure I don't look like a complete spelling idiot. Thanks to Bianca for giving me a web page to present my work and a belated thanks to Jinn for helping me keep the 'mood' right through all this. I couldn't do this without you!

Feedback: Thanks again for all your support and enthusiasm over my series. Here's hoping this also meets your expectations. If you enjoy, I've got some more out there so feed me! .


Present Time - March

Location Unknown
Alexandria, VA
Saturday, early morning

I wake the best way anyone could on a weekend...

With my lover between my legs, rocking me slowly.

Fox makes love in a way I still can't define. I don't even remember him moving into me but now... Now, I can't envision him ever not being inside me.

Is there any part of my body that can fuse itself to him? Bond us beyond mere flesh? Make us one heart, one soul, one life? I've never needed someone so much. Never wanted anyone so deeply.

That scares me sometimes.

Enough I ran from him. Again. God bless his courage to find me and bring me back. I'm more a coward than he'll ever realize. I didn't have the strength to do it myself.

Let me explain. It all started with those dreams. I've mentioned those before, haven't I? Okay. Thought I had. Then you know what I've been going through.

A few nights ago I ended up at Fox's door for the first time on my own with no real ulterior motive. I didn't even bring a bug, a camera, a file; nothing. Only myself, a few condoms (I'm gay, I never go out unprepared), and my aching, horny body. He opened his door and I took a few minutes to stare at the best fantasy a gay man could ever want.

I wish you could have seen him; dressed in black from his jeans to his shirt, bare feet flexing on the floor and a devious smile I could never master. He invited me in...

And we went right past Hell and straight to the handcart.

He took my jacket and tried to make small talk. Fox isn't good at that and I'm a poorer apprentice. So what did he do to break the ice? Tried to break his hand in the closet door.

The crazy shit!

Ironically, it helped some. I dragged him to his kitchen and packed a bag of ice. Then I panicked at my sudden 'Suzy Homemaker moment' and walked off. The next thing I know he's on top of me, we're making out on his new sofa (oh yes, that was a bigger shock) then I'm walking with him to his bedroom.

Okay... Now here's where the handcart got away from me.

He told me he'd been dreaming too. Knew things about me I'd never shared. Knew what I'd endured in Tunguska, and other...places. It was a bit too much for me to take in and he let it go. Tried passion instead.

I doubted every bit of it.

We were a breath away from making love and I turned on him. Accused him of drugging me, making me dream so he could do what I knew he'd planned all along. Get info. I didn't have it to give and that set me off. I mean, look where I was! What it seemed was about to happen. Fox Mulder between my legs? Then? Because he just wanted to?! It was a 'no way in hell, it had to freeze over and the devil couldn't find skates' kind of moment.

I took it like that and went pissy.

Next thing I knew I was getting clothes tossed into my face, a bathroom door slammed in it and told to get out. I did. Should have known I couldn't leave that easily.

Scully was there, had bugged my car with a tracking device and GPS'ed me right to my hideaway. While I tried to wash out my frustrations in a steaming shower, she was outside my bedroom waiting.

Want to guess how close I came to needing another bath when I opened the door and saw her?

To make a long story short she rode my ass big time. Told me she knew all about the dreams; that she and Fox had talked and came to help him resolve our animosity once and for all.

Did you just go 'say what?!' Yeah, thought so. You couldn't have been any more shocked than I was.

It was hard for me to believe her. Or him. Yeah, Fox was there too. Prick picked the lock on the backdoor. He's been around me too much. Anyway, they finally got some things through my thick skull (without hitting me for once), Fox admitted he'd been a nervous ass earlier (well, duh!) and I realized I was indeed amongst friends (amazing grace, you know?!). But mostly, I was next to the lover I've always wanted and never thought I'd get. That alone made me want to slow down the fight.

When he told me he loved me, I threw in the towel.

He made love to me that night. A lot. Knew what I'd endured with the Consortium and worked through it.

Oh that? Nothing much. Just rapes, drugging, abuse; the usual stuff a shadow organization's good at. They wanted to perfect their control and let me say here and now, they had a lot of practice on me.

Something happened to me. I don't know what, don't remember, but it must have been bad. Really bad. According to Fox, whatever they did messed with me; drove my fear level through the roof. That's all he'd say.

I don't know what kind of fear he's talking about. I'm an assassin. I'm a killer. Damn good at it too! What's fear to me? I've had a fucking arm hacked off and lived. Yeah, it hurt. So does getting it broken. Or having a root canal.

Pain, like fear, just comes in different levels.

I don't know what I was supposed to be afraid of. Fox won't say but I get the impression my fear was sky high. Funny thing about that is I don't know what I was supposed to be scared of and he won't say either. He won't tell me, won't give me any indication of what happened to me. I know he knows but he won't say.

I could probably threaten to kick his ass but the way we are right now that'd probably thrill him. Kinky little shit.

He's protecting me, I know that. I just don't know why. Why he feels he has to. All I know it that something happened to me in those first times we were together. Gaps of memory I still can't fill. I've tried. I guess that exacerbated the panic.

He talked to Dana one night while I was in the shower (while he thought I was still in the shower) about it. I didn't hear everything, they were actually talking really low, but according to Fox my whole sexual clock was wound tight. Too tight.

Well, hello! I mean he was there! In my bed! How the hell would you be if Brad Pitt suddenly flopped down in your sheets, grabbed you and started kissing you?!

Okay, then!

Anyway, I guess I completely freaked. Fox tried to play exorcist. Probably would've succeeded more if I hadn't spat in his face in anger. Linda Blair would have been impressed even if I didn't get the 'head spinning' thing in.

Alright, I didn't really spit on him but what I did do was enough. I ran out on him. Again. I woke up with him in my bed for Christ's sake! Scared the pure shit outta me, okay?! Imagine waking up and finding Freddy Krueger making sweet eyes at you across the pillow.

Nah, forget that. I'd just kick his ass and blow it away. That also in no way compares to the delicious vision that's really there. Let's try Saint Peter. Yeah...now that scares me. The way my life's been I don't expect to ever meet him I'm sure, and if I did...

I need to stop that thought. Yeah.

So I wake up and find Fox curled all happy and warm next to me. Insert major freak out here! I wigged. Just knew I was still locked in a dream or worse and I ran off on him again. Doesn't matter much though; the reasons. It had the same effect. Hurt him like hell and for once I wasn't even trying.

He went after me. Seems Scully decided I might bail and tagged me this time. Fox found me in an abandoned warehouse in the DC outskirts. Came after me barely dressed for the cold and stayed there, shivering, to talk me back.

He did one hell of a job too. I came back with him.

They'd worked out this crazy idea (well, that's the norm for Fox. Scully surprised me. Again!), to make me a 'federally protected' witness. Seems as a Consortium crony (damn, I hate that!) I'm worth a lot more to them alive.

Since I wasn't counting on Fox's love for me and I damn sure didn't expect to ever be on Scully's list of 'endangered species worth saving', I suppose I still have issues with all that.

Okay... I do have issues. I'll get to that later.

Their plan was simple: while relocating a witness, they get a tip on my whereabouts and capture me. Then to their surprise, as I'm hauled off to the slammer, I slip away. Not that hard, really. Many a rat's gotten the cheese from the trap and lived to eat it. I'm still here to prove that!

So...while they're searching for Alex Krycek, a new neighbor will be moving into Fox's apartment building only he'll be living with Fox. That part of the plan just about had me convinced.

Then he told me something that changed me forever. He told me I hadn't killed his father, um, Bill Mulder that night. Told me Luis Cardinale had and that as I fired so had he, only I missed. For some reason. Luis didn't.

I didn't want to believe him at first; was sure he was trying to vindicate me for his own well being. After all, how can you love someone that murdered your father? How can you live with that person and not see a killer every day? But he was stubborn as usual and had proof. A file that had been sealed after the hit. In it was the evidence that two sets of slugs had been found that night. Two from Luis' gun had killed Bill. Two more had hit the wall behind him.

Mine.

Fox swears I missed on purpose. I still don't know if I did, but it was hard to deny. Luis won. I lost.

Lucky, lucky me!

It was the final break between us that was now sealed. Fox couldn't hate me for something I'd never done; loved me more that I missed. Whether intentionally or not, it absolved me of the greatest wrong I was sure I'd done to this man. Gave him a reason to want to save me. That and the fact he loved me too much to let me die.

That had me at the door ready to come home before he did.

So, I went back with him to my house. Scully danced on my head again (okay, both our heads), but got me to see some reason. Then Fox took me to my bath, gave me a soaping down that should be a 'Best Foreplay Scene' winner in his porn collection (or anyone's!), and let me give as well as I got.

Then I got the platinum card, the winning lotto ticket; the brass ring. Heaven.

Fox William Mulder let me make love to him.

Ohhhh, yeah. Heaven!

God, I don't know what I ever did to deserve it but I made the most of it. I must be way better than I thought! He's still here!

Both of them are; Scully covering for Fox when he asked for some sick time, a bad flu bug relapse. She'd back him up on it; tell Skinner she needed to watch out for him, both betting his dislike of hospitals and 'Skinman' knowing it, would keep them clear.

When she picked up her phone I started a mild panic attack.

She called; said she'd convinced Fox to stay at her place so she wouldn't have to run all over town. It works for us all. I've never really been pressed to bug her place as much as Fox's and she doesn't have to worry about a camera. Hard to hang one of those along a tree-lined road or a driveway and not have it seen by someone.

Then again, Scully's a woman. They like to clean things. Fox... Well, I think someone tore that page out of his dictionary. I've written it a few times in the dust but I think he just tosses some books or magazines over it. Then again he may not have even bothered to read it.

To give the ruse more clout, they went to her place, hung around some then they both vanished later that night. After a few hours of doubling around they came back here. I was told to stay right here or else. Seeing as Scully took the battery out of my car, I didn't have much choice.

Yeah, you heard! She took the battery! The righteous bi... The ill tempered... Ah hell, what can I say? She cares. Go figure.

Guess what? I'm starting to like her! Really go figure!

While they played 'doctor' behind old 'Four Eyes', they were also getting everything in place to give me a new ID. They got a guy at the Bureau, Finch, to back them on this. Dude heads up the 'Protection Division' and assigns new lives to government witnesses. They say I've seen stuff. Enough to make me important to hide.

If they knew everything I've seen, they'd put their heads back in the sand!

Um...where was I? Oh yeah, this 'Finch' guy.

Fox told me he was a classmate of Scully, ah, Dana's (yeah, we're on first names. Ain't it precious?) That he'd be happy to help out.

He doesn't know me; only that I'm important enough to hide and he can do it. Said Finch owed Dana for helping him out. Told me why, but I wonder if it's more than that. I didn't ask, he didn't offer; we'll just leave it at 'helping'. She said Finch was gay. Maybe he is. Maybe...

Well, Little Red can be really tight lipped when she wants to.

I've said it before, repeating it again...those two are in the wrong business. They're better at some deception than I thought I was. Anyway they gave Skinner a cover-up. He took the bait, gave Fox a quick 'I've told you to take better care of yourself, Agent Mulder' reminder and hung up. I managed to start hyper ventilating again. It got worse when Fox dragged me back to my bed.

In a good way though, you understand.

So they've stayed here with me to protect me. Until they're ready to move me and give me a new life.

Not necessary really.

I'm going to make my own.

A slight movement draws me back to now. I'm barely aware of the door opening but turn my head in time to see Scully...Dana's eyes go wide, her red-stained lips opening on a soundless cry of shock.

She's done this before, slipped in on us and I know it's not all accidental. She loves Fox, in her own way. Needs to be sure he's okay, both physically and mentally, but I also know she's worried. Worried about me. I know why. It's only been a few days; still hard for us to trust each other. We're trying but we haven't been on good terms for that long.

I can't (and won't) blame her for it, though. Instead I appreciate it. I think if our roles were reversed I'd be as bad. So I smile back at her, slide my hands over the sweaty back above me and tangle fingers in wet hair. Keep Fox's face pressed against my neck and let my eyes send a message to the woman I owe a great deal to.

//Don't, Dana. Don't run. Don't be embarrassed. Please look at him. Look at me! See how he loves me, see how much I love him! You gave me... Gave us this! Please don't be upset. Please!//

I don't know if she really heard me or the expression on my face says it all but her eyes soften, the blush rises a bit more (good thing we got under the covers this time) and she manages to smile. I grin back, mouth 'thank you' to her. She blows a quick kiss and is gone quicker. I groan hard and long (and not all without reason) in time to cover the click of the door. Hope Fox didn't hear it.

The deep thrust that pushes my prostate and tears a wail of raw need from me proves he didn't. Reminds me he's really here.

I never expected this, you see. Never thought I'd ever have him, hold him; make love to him. I believed he'd hold me though. Just a second before he shot my brains out. Or slit my throat. He came close on both too many times.

We were enemies; may still be in a way. Just taking a moment to wave a white flag, approach the field of battle in peace. Maybe both finally realizing how useless it is to fight against each other; perhaps learning how easier it would be to fight together.

That's what he said when he convinced me to come back. He wants me with him, to live with him. Be a part of his life. A good part for once. I'm still (even in this moment) wondering if I can fulfill so great a faith.

See, I'm a loner. I don't have any immediate family (I was taken away by the Consortium and I don't think of them as 'kin' by any means), my parents long dead; the memory of that life little more than fleeting images and a brief sensation of joy.

Considering how my life has been since that, I sometimes wonder if any of it was real. Considering who I work (worked) for, and what they can do to a healthy brain, can you blame me for doubting?

Still, Mulder's body sliding against mine isn't a dream or a nightmare. It's real and I'm madly aware of it now.

I moan and begin to move with him, rock our hips together as the urge to come washes over me. I need him to fuck me now! Hard and wild and insane! I need to tell him!

I fidget under him, gasp as my cock wedges against taunt stomach muscles, feel them ripple against me and the sensation tears a roar of pleasure from me. Guess that told him better than words as he starts to hump me harder.

I jerk; pull my hands from his hair without taking it out and feel his arms rise to meet me. Our fingers mesh, (his grip's as strong as mine right now) and we squeeze them as one. Hold on feeling the heat rising over us both.

I manage one last hoarse gasp of pleasure then I come hard, roughly; feel hot slickness spurt up between us. Pant as Fox cries out, hips jerking as he pumps himself deep inside me. The feeling (I-I can't describe...), can only cry out with him and we lay against each other shaking.

For too many reasons.

I know when this beautiful moment is over, we'll both have a lot of things to shake about.

I breathe slowly, let my nerves calm as much as they can with what I'm thinking and feel the only one I've ever wanted lift up to look at me. I follow the movement; find a pair of beautiful hazel eyes filled with satisfaction staring back as Fox chuckles at me.

"I heard the door open, Alex. Scully's becoming something of a voyeur, huh?"

I know he's laughing at it but I don't want him to distrust Dana's intentions or her concerns and I offer her some support. Well, I'll be damned! "I think she wanted to check on us. Make sure we're okay. This is still new; for her, for all of us. She's used to watching out for you, Fox. Don't fuss at her now."

He nuzzles my cheek, the rough stubble feels good; reminds me he's really here. "I'm not. I actually think she's curious. Wants to know what we do."

I feel my face warm slightly. She's a medical examiner; to be sure she knows what fits where. Sure she does, but...seen it in action? Shit! I hadn't thought of that and now realize I don't want to.

"Fox, don't do that. Don't think so low of..."

He lifts up fully, graces me with a stunned expression. I don't think I've ever seen him look so surprised. "Since when did you become 'Saint Scully's' fan club?"

Shit! I glance at the door hissing, "Easy with the names, Fox. I've got her smiling at me and not shooting me. Let's keep it that way."

"She knows what you called her, Alex. Remember? That little banter of names and nastiness you two tossed at each other that first night?"

Oh, I remember. She called me a 'shitty little asshole'! Nothing new there but then I threw out my own low blow. I called her a 'Magnolia-blossomed debutante'.

Yeah. I do live on the edge, don't I?

Fox was listening from behind my kitchen door then. Told me later, that should have gotten my ass kicked. Instead, Dana merely 'informed' me that she'd never been to her prom and didn't buy into that (how did she say it?)... Oh, yes! She said she didn't buy into that 'elitist demographic'.

Whatever the hell she meant by that.

She stood there staring at me rather coolly, all I could do was let her, and felt my 'smart-ass sails' start to deflate from some reason. She told me that instead of all that 'high-brow stuff', she preferred to study; devote herself to her education and that she used her free time to be with her late father. He was a navy officer and when he came home they spent time together.

Then she asked me if all my ranting had a point. It did, I guess, until I opened my mouth. At that, my 'sails' merely gave up, folded flat and suddenly I was the one lost at sea.

Let me tell you something. In this short time, and truly from the past, I've learned you won't often win against Dana Scully in a verbal battle. The woman's perceptions and stability are as fiery as her hair. I'm glad she is. Fox needs her. I know that now.

Know that I do as well.

Anyway, I'm surprised I woke with balls the next morning. I pushed things a lot then and that's why I'm worried now. Maybe she's still deciding she wants more than that! The fact she's an ME and supreme in the Bureau morgue suddenly makes me shiver; nuzzle Fox for comfort.

"Yes, I remember! That's why I don't want to push it. She's part of the family now. Not nice to rile the in-laws when you can help it."

That gets me the happiest laugh I've ever heard. "Well, you keep making nice to the in-laws. We, however, should get a bath before we really start to stick together. I think I've left some chest hair on you."

I glance down and a finger tweaks my nose. "Made ya look!" With that he bounds from the bed - all joyful and bright-eyed delight. I'm amazed. He was never a morning person, but now...

"You coming?"

I stretch out and sigh, feel my toes curl on their own; purr more as something warm oozes from inside me and offer him a smug smile. "Already have. Need to recoup. You go on. I'll let you have some 'Fox' time."

I watch his pale backside shimmy past the threshold; grin as he poses, flexing arm muscles and striking a beach 'muscle-boy' stance, then the door closes. A moment later I hear the water, a happy bit of humming, and my smile melts right off.

Holy shit! This is going to be a real fucked up mess!

I peel out of the bed, grab my clothes and dress quickly. I should bathe but the closer I am to that heavenly body, the harder this will be. In truth, the scent of him on me may be all I'll have left; damn if I lose that too right off. I'll shower later. Keep this a bit longer.

As it is, I've still got to get past Scully!

I kneel down, pull out the duffle bag I keep under the bed and start filling it with stuff, by-pass the bathroom. I can always grab more toothpaste and such on the way.

I walk over to the dresser, pull it back from the wall and open up a false panel. I ease out two Lugers, check the clips and slide them into the waistband of my jeans. They won't make the airport but I plan to sell them anyway.

I can buy something just as good where I'm going.

I snatch up my jacket from a chair; check my visa, passport, and the currency I've already had exchanged. Check the other pocket for the huge wad of hundreds, fifties and twenties knowing it'll work more.

I'm so busy in my musing I don't hear the water shut off, miss the sound of humming ceasing until it's too late. Fox opens the door and those eyes are faster than I ever suspected; lock onto the bag on the bed and go dark.

"Alex...?"

Fuck!

I forget how efficient this man is when he wants to be. Why of all times couldn't he be a bit lazy and take a shower the way most decent people do? Longer?! Well, nothing to do now but tell it like it is.

"I have to do this, Fox. I have some things that have to be settled. Things I need to find out, to know. Until that, none of us are safe."

"I thought you... I thought you'd decided... Changed..."

//My mind, baby? No. No, I let you think that. Scully too. And if I'd been thinking, I'd have packed the bag last night and left as soon as you closed the bathroom door!//

He moves for me, those long legs and big feet I love so much covering the distance quickly until we nearly bump chests.

"You said you wouldn't leave me. You..."

The pain in his voice cuts through me, the sound of a child unsure, afraid, and I nearly collapse. Nearly throw the bag across the room and take my baby into my arms. Almost. I fight every instinct I've just learned to give in to, tighten up my resolve once again. Grow cold and heartless. As always.

Hate myself even more.

"This is the perfect time for me to leave, Fox. While the word goes out I'm under arrest and then you lose me, I'll already be where I need to be."

"Doing what?"

I hope my feelings aren't showing too much and manage a smirk. "Something I should have done a very long time ago."

"Who with?"

There's a lifetime of hurt, self-loathing, lack of confidence and shame in that one question and I manage the warmest, most loving smile I can muster to burn it away. "No one. I'm not going prowling if that's what you're thinking. This is business, Fox. Pure business. Believe me, even a hand job by myself won't come close to what you've given me."

I reach up carefully, wait as he hesitates, smile more when he moves nearer and comb my fingers through his hair. It's so soft, so beautiful... The feeling of never doing this again pinches my guts and I breathe in slowly to keep the room level. Lower my hand. "You need to dress now. You're going to catch cold. Sooner or later."

I step back to give him room and watch the towel fall to the floor. Damn him! Goddamn him! I can feel his eyes on me, feel his will wrapping up mine, 'negative to affirmation'; I usually don't lose. Usually. That doesn't apply well when dealing with Fox Mulder. I fail and look up.

He looks like a carnivore that's been rescued from starvation and I'm the latest brand of puppy chow. I can smell him now, the rise of lust over the clean smell of soap and my body starts to tighten up. He's moving me backward without touching me; the sheer force of his need and arousal a physical hand driving me, only my back's to the door and I keep staggering to it until I hit it with a grunt. That wakes me out of the fugue.

"Fox...don't!"

He's up against me now, pressing those lean hips into mine, and a lot fuller details as well. Soft breath puffs against my face and I feel the pain before I hear it.

"Don't leave me, Alex. I...I can do better. I swear it! I can make you happy. I promise I can."

//No... Oh lord, no!// I see it in those hazel eyes, watch them turn brown and know where his thoughts are going. To what we just did.

//No, Fox. No! You didn't...//

I give in to everything this man means to me, wrap him up and feel the trembling rattling his bones. I comb his hair, press kisses to the skin next to mine and it's not enough. I feel the tears, the shaking, hear a small gasp, then another and know I can't do anything to stop them save hold him. Know that nothing I say or do more can stop all the nagging thoughts that plague his mind, his life. Know I didn't put them there in the first place.

Know that I have added to them all the same.

I rub Fox's back. I'm no psychologist but figure it's worth a try. "You told me a few nights ago that it wasn't just what we did, Fox, but who was doing it. No one can replace you; be what I need. I'm yours, Fox. Forever yours. Don't doubt my love. That's not fair to you. Or me.

We stand there, pressed close, my arms holding up the one that I was sure I'd never touch like this. Feel the need to be comforted rolling through six feet of love and honesty and hold tighter. His arms hang limply by his sides too overwhelmed to share the touch and I give him his selfishness until I feel him pull back.

He looks at me, those beautiful 'puppy dog' eyes now stained red and deep brown with pain. "I want to make you happy."

I reach out to let my fingers, the left ones, touch his cheek. The sensation runs through my nerves, imprints the very feel of his existence into my mind. "You do, Fox. More than you'll ever know or I deserve. I'm not unhappy. I'm leaving to insure that we'll have a chance to stay that way."

"Where... Where are you going?"

I lower my hand and try to smile. "Home."

Now he's confused, looking around the bedroom. "But I thought that this..."

"I'm going home Fox," I sigh, knowing this will hurt him. "Back to Russia."

It does hurt him. He steps back with a mew of pain. "Wh-why? Why do you want to go there? You're not from..."

I fight the urge to yell at him 'I am Russian!', know he can't understand the reasoning. "I have...family. Still there. I have to know... Fox, I have to go back."

"Then let me go with you! I speak Russian, Alex. I could help..."

"No!"

He flinches at my shout, glances to the door and I stare back at him. Scully will stay out of this. If she's smart.

"Fox, I can't take you. Remember the last time? Just because the wall came down doesn't mean people want to chat to the neighbors. There's still a lot of paranoia there. People, the older ones, remember how things were. They tend to stay cautious. The people I'll need to talk to will figure out you're not Russian. You're good, I admit, but you're not Russian. I may have been born here, but it's in my blood. Call it a scent if you will; a birthmark that can't be denied. They won't talk to me if you're there. Please, let me do this. It's important."

He stares at me, those eyes gauging me, trying to see the truth and I leave it out there for him to review. Finally he nods weakly. I step back, smile with all my heart.

"Get dressed. You can't walk me to the door like that."

It's a weak attempt but Fox goes with it. I stand and watch him dress; dedicate every moment, every movement to memory. Sigh inwardly as he pulls jeans up over those long legs, those slim hips; feel a slight smile tug my mouth as he puts on the shirt I hold out to him; notice him trying to ignore the big 'Yale' stamped on the front and love him more.

"You can have the sneaks if you want them. They look better on your feet anyway."

He settles down on the bed's edge, shrugs into the sneakers and begins tugging at the laces. "I'll ke-keep them wa-warm fo-for you."

The hitch in his voice hurts me this time. I straighten up, walk over and retrieve my bag extending out my hand. "Come on. Let me say bye to Dana."

He rises and looks at me. "You... You should brush your teeth."

I can't help but smile. What a diversion. "You've had my morning breath before. First thing, in fact. Didn't hear any complaints. Fox, please stop pushing this."

He's looking down, away from me but the tone of his words is like a slap. "I just thought... Don't you want to kiss Scully goodbye?"

Damn.

He starts for the door, back tight and wall-like. I can't leave him like this and manage to snag his arm.

"Wait. Give me five minutes."

I open the dresser drawer, pull out a fresh pair of jeans, a shirt and surprise him with some underwear as well. Before I can gauge his reaction to that, I close the bathroom door behind me. I know he won't touch the bag; knows the war it'll start if he does.

I strip down, take a moment to piss then run water in the sink. I grab a cloth, swipe between my legs, my chest, under my arms; slide on some deodorant and dress in the clean clothes then fill my toothbrush and make short work of the last task. A quick swish of mouthwash and I actually feel fresher; wipe my face with his washcloth inhaling the slight tang of musk all Fox's scent and know how much I'll miss it.

I rake fingers through my hair and look in the mirror. My face is flushed, that 'I just got fucked' glow you can't miss if you know what you're looking for. I'm too fucking obvious and I smile so wide my jaw cracks. I've never seen myself like this - that sappy 'running through the flowery field' kind of look.

Guess what? I like it!

I didn't want to bathe yet; take away the smell of Fox and sex on me but this is okay. I still have something to remember and I suppose in deference to my fellow travelers, I should be fair.

Sighing, I wink at myself and turn. When I open the door he's still standing in the same spot. I grab the bag, stop in front of him and smile. "Care to test if I'm okay?"

He leans in and kisses me but with no real hint of passion; little more than a long brush of our lips then he pulls back. "You need to wash your hair but I guess you'll do."

There's so much defeat, sullenness, hopelessness in that, that for one moment I want to jerk him to my chest, shove my tongue down his throat to prove I'm satisfied; and know if I do I'll never leave. I have to leave. To keep him, keep Scully...all of us alive.

Instead, I do what his gesture tells me to and step back myself. "Come on. Let's not keep Dana waiting."

My hand lifts out again. It hangs there in the air for a moment and my guts shift in worry. I don't want him to turn away from me, hate me again. Like before. Then he slips his into mine. I try not to shake apart in relief, feel the moistness of his nervousness and pull him behind me.

We walk down the hall and suddenly, I get a vision. Me dressed in friar's robes; swinging an incense lamp, voice droning with litany and Fox... My beloved baby is walking behind me in chains, head lowered in defeat; facing death yet again.

The image shocks me like a jolt of pure electricity and I jerk to a stop. Fox bumps my back and I can't move. Is it a warning? My guilt? For a moment I'm terrified; start to turn around.

"Alex? Scully's looking at us."

I guess I'll have to wait and see. I file the image in a place in my mind where I can analyze it later; know that I will. I've learned from the dreams that there are messages in everything. I hope this isn't a bad one on my mental 'voicemail'.

"Um, Alex?"

I nod and walk into the living room to face my other opponent. This isn't my idea of the perfect 'pickup game'. She greets me as usual - all uptight and upstanding. I'm getting used to it. I kinda think she's cute this way.

Tell her and you are so deep in it!

"Alex... Why don't you try to locate your family via the Internet first? It would save on airfare and such. Maybe you should call for assistance."

Damn. Well, what did I expect? The house is a bit small.

"Dana, we're talking about the former Soviet Union. Home phones are still a luxury in most places; only diplomats, athletes and rock stars have cell phones. Okay, maybe a good number of businessmen, too. Directory assistance is still trying to catch up with all that and I won't even go into PC's and laptops. Yes, things are changing but it's slow, painstaking and involves money. That's something that's still hard to come by for the average person. The 'new Russia' didn't come with unlimited credit lines for everyone."

I look at them trying to make them understand. "Besides, that's not going to work for me. I only have a few names from memory, recall a few places from stories by my parents, and most of it fits outside the cities. The villages and countryside are where many of my kin reside. I've never looked for them, never tried to..."

"Alex, just listen to a bit of common sense for a moment, please!"

I sigh but shut up as she starts to pace, notice Fox has been strangely quiet through this. That bothers me a lot. He looks so beaten down right now; like a baseball player that slid into home only to find out when the dust settled, he'd still landed a foot short and lost the game.

I've seen this look before, on his face, from my hidden observation point back in the old days. I saw it three times - when Scully was abducted, when his dad died, and when the 'X-files' were burned up. Didn't like the look at any given moment then and I sure hate to see it now. Especially since I'm the cause of it.

Again.

Scully clears her throat and I look up at her. "Alex, I think we can all appreciate your need to find out about your relatives but shouldn't you be concerned that you're not the only one that might be looking for them? You've been underground for a while by the Consortium's standards and they have to be thinking you may be looking for things. That might mean they would be interested in getting there first."

She's got a point, damn it all! "Yeah, it's a concern but record keeping of ordinary citizens wasn't a big thing with the old government, Dana. It was easier not to bother and blame it all on the system or lack thereof. Look, things didn't always get put down like they should. I'm talking about divorces, remarriages and such. The war caused a lot of problems for my parents and people their age. Records were stolen by the Germans; some people gave false information to protect others. What I'm saying, is that some of my relatives could be living under different names now. As for Smoky and the boys, I haven't exactly been seen. If I can get out of the country, I have connections in Russia that will keep me out of sight."

No one addresses who those connections might be and I don't offer anything more. "Look, I need to do this!"

Scully nods at me and I turn to Fox. This isn't going to ever be a simple thing with him. "Fox, I can't promise I'll be able to contact you. We're talking countryside. Villages without indoor plumbing or running water. I don't know how often I'll be able to make a call or get a card out but I'll do what I can."

"I...know."

It's so weak, so forlorn I almost change my mind. Then an image flows through it and I steel myself. "I'd better go."

"How... How will I know if I do get a message. How will I know it's you?"

//Oh, my dearest baby.// I look into those eyes and feel my love for this man drive truth into each word. "You'll know, Fox. You'll know!"

"A-Alex? I-I..."

Before he says anything else to tear up my resolve, I wrap my fingers around his neck, pull his lips to mine and kiss him slowly. Memorize the contours of his tongue, lips and mouth; pray the memory will keep the love between us strong. I need it to.

He kisses me back and tears fill my mouth, his lips hungry over mine. As if this is the last time we'll do this and he can't get enough.

I won't let it be the last!

I ease back, nuzzle our cheeks together; cherish the rasp of bristle and whisper, "Will you wait for me? Will you wait for Michael Knight to come back?"

Tears stain his face again and I fight not to lick them off. I can't. "I-I'll wait," he pants in a voice weak with grief, "but it's 'Alex' that I want to come back. I'll wait for him forever."

That promise twists my heart; makes my entire body ache. I know he'll keep it too. To the extent if I die there, he'll never know. Will wait for me. Will live out his life, waiting for a few pounds of dirt that may never return.

I'd almost convinced myself I wouldn't come back; wouldn't put him through anymore risk of injury or worse because of me. Then his slow exhale, a hitched agonized sound, convinces me I will come back. Now, I have to!

The dreams did this. To him. To me. Brought us to this point, this time, that we can't deny any longer. He needs me and I need him. Can't live without him. Know that he'd die waiting for me, deny himself to anyone else because of a dream. A dream in which he knows how much I love him; learned how much he loves me. I have to come back!

//I will, Fox. If I have to drag myself, crawl the whole fucking way, I swear I'll come back to you!//

His arms start to wrap around me and I dance back, away; manage to give him a daring, flirty wink to take away the sting of rejection. I know if I get caught up in those loving arms now I won't be able to do this.

I have to do this!

"Well, I... I guess I better go. Got a long trip."

Dana looks at me and I'm surprised at the sadness on her face. I'd still thought she'd want to do cartwheels knowing Fox could slip away from me. "Alex, can't you at least wait a bit? Get some breakfast? I got bagels and strawberry cream cheese. I made a fresh pot of coffee."

My stomach grumbles in delight but I'm in control here. "And get how much 'knockout juice' with it, Dana?"

It was a joke. Really, but I guess my own sardonic humor's not sharable. Dana's eyes lighten and in this short time together I know it's their version of 'hurt'. "I didn't lace anything, Alex. I just thought you might want something to eat before you left."

Damnit! I can't stop even now, can I? "I'm just joking there, Doc. I know... Eat right, exercise, don't smoke." I flash a hot look at Fox letting my eyes rake over him openly. "I don't smoke anymore and I do exercise. How's two out of three?"

Dana rolls her eyes, the color's back better and I know the breach is bridged again. "I'm not going to go there. As it is, you two are nearly disgusting. Between the noise and..." Her face goes red and I can't help but grin back as she quickly thinks of something else. "Well, you're just noisy.

Yeah, I'm sure. The hallway and my bedroom also smell like cum and sweat every morning, too. That's what she wants to say and won't. Sweet little gal.

I feel sorry for her. I do. Let's not play here, Fox and I have been at it bad! We'll like two horny teens or worse (if we can be worse). I mean he's no novice in this... Um, well I am the first he's ever sucked off... Um, yeah, I'm the first he's ever rimmed...

Look, he can fuck so he's not that naive, okay?!

What I'm trying to say is we can't help it. We just needed to connect; to be close, touching. That we overdid it a few times (yes, every time. Happy?!), wasn't done to be crude or mean to Scully. Hell, half the time we forgot she was there!

Which brings me back to her earlier words and I manage to look deeply sorry. I am. I know how loud I can be just jerking off. Add Fox and the 'real deal'...

She's a good kid. Didn't shoot us both just to be able to sleep.

"Dana, I'm sorry about the noise. Fox is too."

She glances at my lover who looks more grieving than guilty. He says nothing and I'm not sure if I should push him to. She saves us both moving right on to the next thing. "There's a bag on the table with a bagel for you. Take it on the way."

Did I say I like her? God, if I wasn't gay I might be tempted to marry her! "Thanks, Dana. That's sweet of you." I mean it and she manages a soft smile.

"You're welcome."

I turn to Fox, his face is tilted down now staring at his feet but I can see the expression. He's that small puppy found chewing his master's shoe and confused, frightened, by the smack of a newspaper on his butt. He's dangerous this way. To himself. I don't want him to brood himself right into the hospital; know he's got the best person to prevent that at his side. For once I'm grateful he does.

"Scully, take care of him for me. Please?"

Dana looks at me equally hurt. "Alex? Why don't you take a moment to listen to re...?"

"Dana, just promise to take care of him, will you?!"

I hate to snap but she gets it. I can't be dissuaded. "I'll do what I can, Alex, but you know Mulder. Do you know where to start looking? Where to begin searching for your family?"

No, I don't. Then again, I'm not planning on finding anyone. Least not all 'family' but I can't let either of them know that. Even get a hint of what I'm really going to do. Fox would pin me down and Scully... She's still got that voodoo bag of hers. I've had enough of that!

What did she do? Dragged me in for a checkup. Twice! If you want details just ask Fox. I don't want to remember! I'm still trying to get linoleum floor chips out from under my nails! That's why I made the remark on the bagel.

Let's get back to right now, please!

I keep my face hopeful, lie like I've done for so long. Hate how naturally I can still do it; especially to the two people I don't want to ever lie to again. "I've got some inkling, Dana. A few names like I said. I'll start looking for family friends if they're still alive and go from there."

She's not quite ready to let this go. "What about your name? I'm sure Alex Krycek would be remembered somewhere and not favorably."

That's true and he's not going to be welcome if word gets around he's back either. "No Dana, he won't but Yevgeny Markolov will be. Average grad student. I even have papers showing I'm working on my doctorate from Moscow University. Animal husbandry. For all anyone will know, I'm going to be working around Europe and the Russian countryside walking through chicken shit and sticking my hand up horse's butts!"

With that there's no doubt I'd been planning this for some time. To both their credit, neither says anything about that. Instead, Dana can't help but smile at me and even Fox's lips lift a bit as he looks up. "I should have known. Well come back soon, Alex. And come back safe."

That alone almost folds up my cards. I never thought she'd give a damn. I move for her fast, sweep her into my arms, kiss her quickly and rush the door. Pause for a breath. "You put my battery back in the car?"

She looks distraught. "Yes."

"You connected it back right, didn't you?"

Now, she looks whipped. "Yes...Alex."

I know she means well but I can't risk them. "If you've put another trace on the car or me, destroy the tracker. Don't come after me, Fox. Either of you. This time, I'll shoot you both in the ass if you try."

I feel my expression tighten. I mean every word I'm saying. "I have to do this. Alone. You can't help me and you might get us all killed if you try. 'FBI' reads the same as 'KGB' where I'm headed and I don't want to be remembered as either. Wait for me, Fox. Just wait. I'll be back. I promise".

As I close the door, I hear it. Faint, a slight breath of anguish but it's as loud as a jet roaring through my soul. Fox's voice asking me "When, Alex? When?"

I can't answer.

I don't know.

I don't look back as I drive away.

Away from all that I love.

To destroy all that I hate.


Four Months Later - June

The Club 'Gudet'
Near Myasnitskaya Street
Kitai Gorod district
Moscow, Russia
2:00pm

I sit drumming my fingers on the circular table before me in time to the rain outside and wonder why my contact is so late. By now he should know there's someone here to see him. Someone that doesn't usually arrive early enough to be left waiting.

I paid the doorman to let me in as the club doesn't open for another three hours for the off work crowd; attesting to having an interview, and wanting to arrive early. Then again, it wouldn't matter if I were a Romanov himself, it still would have cost money. That's all he cared about.

I'm just thinking of letting this all go when a door in the side wall opens. I sit up a bit and move my hand off the table as a robust, (okay, that's so 'PC'. Let's just say fat, huh?) man comes waddling in.

He's wearing a very expensive suit. Christian Dior, I think. Yes, someone's rubbed off on me already. There's enough material in the pants alone to clothe a small third world village for a week and the jacket could rig all the sails on both the 'America I and II'!

Yeah, I'm exaggerating but he is a big guy!

I watch as he approaches me; take in the large face, the bulbous nose way too big and crooked enough I know it's been broken a lot in his life. Note the brown hair a bit thin at the brow and the gleam of sweat the simple act of walking exerts on him.

Yep, it's him alright.

I keep seated, wait until he stops before me. Make sure my gloved hands remain under the table; one on my thigh and the other wrapped around the gun in the pocket of the trench coat I bought. Wait to see what he does. Slowly, I lift up my head, tip it under the Holmberg I wear and flash a deeply smug grin. Watch his eyes go wide and think 'Well Hello, Dolly!'

"Boyzoi moi!"

The tone is as deep as I remember even with a wheeze or two from walking effort; thunder rolling up over a clear sky. If you had to dub his voice in English, think Barry White. Or maybe Isaac Hayes. That he's a fan of both never surprised me.

I stare at the stunned face from under my hat and smirk more as one fat hand digs into the breast pocket of the jacket, pulls out a white handkerchief and dabs at the moisture on the jowly face.

"Zdrasvooyteh, Boris Ivanovich. Kahk vi pazhivayehteh?"

He's too stunned to even answer my greeting and growls back at me. "It's really you! How did you get in here?"

I grin. "Same way anyone does."

"How much?"

"Fifty."

He blinks at that, impressed. "American?"

"Of course."

He sniffs, disgusted. "I need to have a little talk with Ivan."

I sit up slightly. He knows the doorman. I didn't come here to start fights with non-combatants. "Boris, leave him alone. What are you going to do? Shake him down for it?"

Deep gray eyes narrow but the voice doesn't change a decibel. "Nyet. I plan to tell him to get one hundred from you next time. When you're in town the cost of repairs doubles!"

Ah, well. Can't argue him there. I ease back and smile this time. "You look good, Boris."

It's true. He's alive. He looks better than he would dead.

He eyes me carefully as he sits down in the chair in front of me. I try not to take notice of how the wood creaks under the weight. "I was very surprised to hear you had returned, Alexander Sergeyevich. More that you wanted to see me. You're taking a dangerous risk."

I keep my expression even and shrug. "No more than you are. Or have you not figured what's under the table? Aimed right at your gut?"

His eyebrows, thick forests on his face lift only slightly. "What, this time?"

"Walther."

"Not the usual for you, comrade."

I shrug again. "Doesn't matter. Still does damage."

Boris nods slightly. "Da. Indeed. Have you, ah, looked around you?"

There's something in the tone, even casually, that makes me do a very quick perimeter check. The barman's gone, replaced by a tree of a man looking at us from behind dark shades and his hand covering something all too familiar across the wood. The doorman's equally new, a spindly guy with both hands buried deep in the pockets of his jacket. I note both poke out directly at me.

Damn!

"I own this club, Alexei. In case you were wondering."

Damn, again. 'Neutral meeting place' my ass. Can't believe I fell for that one.

I sit there assessing the situation and know I can't get all three. Not before I'm on the floor with a hole in my head or back. So I smile, ease my finger off the trigger, push the gun back into the coat pocket; slowly lift up both hands and lower them flat on the table. Then I do the only thing I can do in a moment like this...

I start to laugh my ass off.

Boris eyes me for a moment before flinging his head back to let out a bear roar of mirth. We stand as one, pull each other into a fierce back-slapping, rib-crushing hug. We kiss lips, cheeks, hug happily, and I notice the man at the door steps back, vanishes; the barman's stance relaxing dramatically.

//Not bad, Boris. Not bad.//

He eases us back and lets out another deep roar of delight. "By my soul! Alexei, it's good to see you again! Will you join me for a drink?"

I glance at the clock on the wall. It's only a little after two in the afternoon but I know how it is here. If they could, most Russians would start drinking as soon as they woke. Anything to ease the pain of one more day of struggling just to get by.

Now, who am I to be unsocial.

I pull off my hat and plop it on the table. "Sure. Why not?"

As I pull off my coat, Boris raises his mammoth hand to the man at the bar. "Vodka, Dimitry, and break out the good stuff! Leave that imported shit for the customers."

That gets my eyes to blink. "You import vodka?!"

"Nyet. Not really. We get it in, switch it to our factories and rebottle and re-label it. Ship that out to the Americas, England, France, you know. Leave some here for the foreigners that think they're getting the best. What do they know, huh? Taste buds know nothing of the true Russian drink. So why give them the real thing then?"

I'm pretty amazed. Folks shipping out foreign vodka under a Russian name and getting paid well for it too. Damn! I'm wondering if there's a stock share. Maybe I should ask.

While I'm considering that, 'Tree Guy' (ah, Dimitry), lowers down to place two 'rocks' glasses on the table and one-fifth of Stolichnaya. By the label I can tell this is the real stuff; the kind they could use as secondary rocket fuel and I'm glad I took one of the booths ringing the wall near the dance floor. It's bordered by a long decorative flower box filled with roses and small patches of ivy.

I know Boris, checked this place out before we agreed to meet. It's why I set this up and got here first. No way I'm drinking this all day!

Boris waves the men off with a gruff, 'Go! Go! Watch the door or something. We need to talk!' then turns to me and twists the cap off the bottle. We both notice it's fresh, not opened and I smile. "You know, if you hadn't gotten a new bottle I wouldn't drink this."

He eyes me over the lip. "You don't trust me, comrade?"

"I don't trust myself sometimes, Boris. That's why I'm still alive."

He's not too sure where to go with that, merely nods and pours double shots into each glass! Oh, boy. I reach for mine, he grips his and we toss out a decent drinking toast.

"Oodachee! S Udovol'stviem!"

He raises the glass, kicks the shot back and I quickly lower mine, pour it carefully into the flower tray and hope the worms don't start hiccupping too soon. Glancing at the soil as it sinks into a small hole, I ease back and by the time he lowers his, I'm reaching for another round.

"I see the soft life in America hasn't softened your taste for drink, Alexei."

He's not even breathy over it! Then I remember where I am. Remember where I used to be and sigh inwardly. I was one of those that drank the 'cheap shit'. I'm really not doing this all day!

Like Fox, I'm no alcoholic, but also like him I tend to overdue at times. I think back to the last time I was here. After Tunguska. The drinks that seemed to be endless; the toasts that blended from one to another. The shit-kicking headache I had the next morning and the stomach that I was sure had dissolved and was simply sweating itself out through my sick, feverish body.

//No, I'm more careful now, Boris.// Answer casually, "You'd be surprised how well Americans can drink, comrade."

He warms to that and chuckles. "I'm sure. I've met a few. Had to carry them out of here but they did themselves justice."

I toss the first couple of rounds into my 'drink hole' then finally decide to have one for the hell of it. The alcohol slides down my throat hot and delicious, and I suddenly remember one of the dreams I shared with Fox. One in which I compared him to vodka; both shitting me pretty badly.

That thought sends the vodka back up slightly and I gag, twist in the chair to cough loudly. Boris leans over the table and slams a paddle of a hand into my back pushing the vodka back down the right way and loosening a few fillings, I'm sure, as well.

"Are you okay, Alexei?"

I cough again, swallow hard feeling the flames extinguish, clear my throat nosily and whistle out, "Yeah. Yeah. I'm f-fine. Just forgot how good this shit is!" Realize in a few hours I'll probably remember more than I want to!

"Heh! Of course you've forgotten. American beer! American booze! Water, I tell you! Water! You've forgotten true drink, my friend."

From the way my stomach just rolled he may be right. I decide to sip the rest of this and turn back around in the chair.

"Alexei? Do you remember Lyudmila?"

I do. Almost choke on my drink again. "Now, Boris..."

"She's missed you, my friend."

"Boris, I didn't come here to..."

He's not listening. "You should come home with me. I gave the cooks the day off but I know she'll fix us a good meal. There was fresh chicken in the market today. A real find for..."

I need to end this now! Forever. I lower the glass and sigh. "I'm gay, Boris."

His drink stops at his lips and he looks over the rim wide-eyed with shock. "Wh-what?!"

"You heard." I look at him carefully; know I may need to get out of here fast if this is a problem. "Is this a problem, Boris?"

He takes a sip of his drink and something flickers in his eyes. It goes by too fast for me to read but his words assure me. "No. No, it's not. I suppose not. Still, I am disappointed. You would have done well in the family, Alexei."

"Boris, why do you think I was so polite to Lyuda when we met? Took her out but did nothing? Made no inappropriate move? Was respectful and polite at dinners? It wasn't because I was scared of you. Of her. I just wasn't interested!"

"What about...Grisha?"

Now I do take a deep drink. Grisha. Grigory. Blond, tall, so fucking gorgeous he should have been declared a sexual 'weapon of mass destruction'. A heart-destroyer.

I swallow, cough down the heat on two levels and smile carefully. "Boris? Let me expl..."

I get waved off. "No need, tovarish. He told me all about it."

Oh.

Shit.

"You broke his heart, Alexei.

Yeah, I did. Along with a few teeth. Bastard cheated on me. With Lyuda! See the mess I was in there?!

Oh...sorry. Lyudmila's Boris' niece. Grigory's the son of his former right hand. Deceased right hand. He was grooming Gri for better things but the guy's a jock; loves sports and wanted to be an athlete and coach. Boris gave up and let him, making him a kind of ward. Let me give you a full introduction...

Meet Boris Ivanovich Novikov. Former Consortium 'agent'. Former KGB. Current mob boss 'businessman'.

Yeah. Good guy.

Okay, you do have to take that from a certain point of view.

What happened to me? Well, I came here years ago; a high-school exchange student looking to learn. I knew I was gay then, wondered if anyone else was. I wasn't a virgin, at least not from the front, but the backdoor was still locked and I was looking for someone with a big fat key. Found Grisha. Got in way over my head.

Fine, I had a crush. Happy now?!

I was living with Boris, learning things here under a lot of pretense. I'm sure you can already guess 'what' from my past actions, so I won't bore you with the details.

I stayed with him in his 'dacha' in the country. If you're not familiar with the term, think 'country house'; the Russian 'middle class' equivalent to a vacation home in the States, only Boris' idea bordered on a larger frame of reference. He's got the dough to do it too and did. His place is impressive: ten bedrooms, half as many baths and a 'guard house' that keeps his group of hired 'support' (yeah, okay. His personal 'army') comfy and warm. In other words, very big, very nice; he had the clout then, still does now. It's a safe place.

Lyuda was staying there as well. So was Gri. Having access to something you really don't need to doesn't help your resolve one bit. Back then I didn't have much, if any.

Look, I wasn't really in love or anything like that, I just wanted what I needed. To get fucked the way I wanted. Gri did it and I guess the crush notched up a level. I still didn't love him but...

Anyway, it was a mess. It got worse after I caught him and Lyuda in a serious hip-lock one night. Everything I thought I understood about being gay got ice water poured on it. I didn't know about being 'bi' then. I was confused and hurt. Big time hurt.

I left and returned to the States but I promised myself one day I'd get Gri for what he did. Yes, it was childish, stupid and foolish; my usual state of reaction when I'm pissed off. It took years but I did return. Just before I was assigned to work with the 'X-Files'. I got Grisha back in spades.

Boris makes a disapproving sound in his throat and I look up at him trying to look apologetic. Trying. "Look, it's not like he didn't deserve it but Boris... I am sorry."

"Do you know what your public ranting nearly cost him? He was coaching the junior national soccer team then, for St. Peter's sake! Do you know what would have happened to him if they thought a fag was teaching the Russian boy's team?!"

I wince but say nothing until he calms some. He's right. I was out of control. Look, I wasn't in love with Grisha like I said, I just didn't like the idea of sharing my fucks. Still don't! I was selfish enough to want something all to myself. I made sure to make my point about that right in the middle of the Rossiya Hotel's main dining room. In the middle of the team's winning dinner!

Yeah. I screwed up.

It was also the first time I've ever gotten really drunk too. I mean 'Russian-style' drunk, there's a big difference! Russians tend to fight when they get pissing drunk. At least the blood in my veins said to. It was a bad mix all around.

Still, this is old shit and I didn't come here to reminisce on my youth. "Boris, what difference did it make?! A fag was teaching the boy's team and they won the junior European title while he did! Your point?"

Boris jabs his finger in the air at me with a growl. "My point is you could have ruined his career with that little display! Luckily you didn't. Fortunately, you were drunk enough your babblings weren't taken too seriously, you only managed to hurt Grisha, and I'm grateful the children were in the other dining room with their parents. Still, it was bad enough the supporters, coaches and members of the sports federation saw it! I paid off a few officials to keep you out of jail that night, Alexei; more to keep word from getting back to the wrong people. The concierge was livid! You two tore up the place, destroyed furniture and more. Crashed the entire bar. And what the devil were you doing drinking there anyway?! Getting drunk like that?! Licenses could have been lost or worse! On top of all that, you weren't even supposed to be in Russia then!"

No, none of this is new to Boris. He was right there, and the only one that was able to get me off of Gri. He grabbed my head, jerked me up and knocked me across the room with one punch. My body was smart. I stayed down. Long enough for his boys to drag my sorry ass to his home and pour nearly raw coffee down my throat.

Remember that shit-kicking headache I spoke of earlier? That was a mere bruise compared to the pain I felt when I woke up a few hours later. Not counting my face felt like it had been reconstructed from Boris' punch, I spent the entire morning with my head down a toilet. Having Boris yelling at me the whole time didn't help.

I stay quiet now and let him fume for a few moments. "By the Holy Mother, Alexei, I busted ass for you that night! I've never been so embarrassed. You two were obscene! Disgusting! The fact you were drunk is the only reason I hit you once!"

What?! Well, this is new! I think about that one punch, adding another, and realize that if he had hit me again, his boys probably would have been pouring dirt over my face instead of splashing water on it.

"And I nearly finished what you started on Grisha, I was so mad!"

Really? Cool! Despite being glad the little shit got some of his own medicine, I'm smart enough now to keep my expression deeply shamed and apologetic. I'm not exactly faking it all either. I made a mess of things that day. It was the start of a lot more in my life. Boris just keeps bitching.

"It's true. I wanted to kill him! Grisha's behavior was equally inappropriate and I was furious with you both, but it still does not excuse you! You should have done better than that! You let yourself fall into that mess!

Damn. Knew it! See, Grisha waited until I was back, tangled in his arms (so to speak) and decided he wanted to brush me off. End it. Said something to the extent he needed a lover more 'capable' of satisfying his needs. Like Lyuda could keep up with him.

Let's be real here. I mean the guy's a sexual dynamo. He makes Brian Kenney on 'Queer As Folk' look like a lazy old man!

So, he spits this in my face at the dinner, then starts making goo-goo eyes with some trainer for the team; this dark haired, dark eyed guy and I lost it. Headed to the bar and didn't leave until I was ready to kick his ass instead of fuck it. Forget I was nearly so blind drunk I couldn't see it to do either!

Yeah, my Russian 'temper' caught up with me too.

Boris' growl of disgust pulls me back. "However, you're lucky. Lyuda still doesn't know about you two. I have no intention of letting her know."

I breathe out slowly. She doesn't?! Wow! Boris is a good guy! He could have toasted me in a lot of bad ways over this.

"As I said, Alexei, you're very lucky."

He's not kidding there. Lyuda was a member of the Russian Olympic team to Atlanta and Sydney. Rifle. She missed a medal by one target both times. If she knew about me, I'm sure she'd want to make up for that and I might never know where or when. Besides, I'm a helluva lot bigger than those 'bull's eye' targets they use and easier to hit. I've seen Lyuda shoot. I've seen those targets afterwards.

I may be a crack shot, but add a little 'pissed off woman' to a high caliber rifle...

I swallow slowly in gratitude.

He calms down and looks up at me sadly. That slows my heartbeat. "My friend, I am truly sorry. Grisha was wrong for what he did back then. You were young. He wanted to know if what he felt from you was real or not and seduced you. But you've grown up now. You wouldn't fall for that shit again, so I thought. Yet what do you do when you get here? Fall right back into his arms and his lies! Even I know what Gri's all about. You probably didn't love him and I can say now he cared very little about you. Save what was between your legs!"

I feel a blush working up and fight it back down. He's right. We didn't love each other but we loved the sex. Suddenly I think about Fox. Back there. Waiting for me. Feel the ache of distance for the first time since I left and realize how lucky I am. Now.

I didn't know Fox back then, but for this Gri's not all to blame. Age-wise I was older when I came back but emotionally I was still that high-school kid; wanting and needing something and not about to share with anyone. I feel the same way with Fox. Even more. I won't give him up. To anyone!

Yeah, I'm admitting a lot. Getting ready to admit more. "Boris, I really need to tell you..."

"Listen Alexei, you were still innocent back then. In all the good ways despite what you were learning. You were used and for that I'm sorry but you let your emotions get the better of you then and later. I hope you learned something."

I sure did. See why I have such a hard time letting my defenses down now? See why Fox's love hurts me so much? Understand why I still play carefully, try to keep it light? I'm scared I'll get hurt like that again. Yes, I trust him but again...it's us! Our past is so... I think you get it.

Getting back to all this... No, Gri and I never confessed to loving each other. Still you have no idea how it feels to open a door and...

Never mind. Maybe you do.

Boris sighs and I shift slightly in the chair. "I do not exactly understand all this 'gayness' but I'm an old man now. Perhaps there are things I may never fully comprehend but I worried for Grisha over it. I tried to steer him from all that but his libido is as it is. He doesn't care who he fucks nowadays as long as he can pay to keep their mouths shut if needed. In truth, it no longer matters. 'Fag rights', he says. He coaches professional soccer in Italy now. Good money. He even bought a Ferrari. I heard he has a whole stable of boys now.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Good for him. I hope his fucking dick falls off for it! I know Boris is trying to feel things out so I play along. "Look Boris, I'm sorry. I should have told you sooner, I..."

"Don't be. I think I suspected when Lyuda had the nerve to say you were frigid."

I think I feel my jaw drop 'cause he smiles at me. "She told me she tried everything on you save having someone chain you up in the barn so she could brand you hers. Invited you to the ballet, the opera; all the romantic places she could, to get you to drop your guard. I believe there was also a certain summer night swimming nude in the lake?"

Ohhhhh...boy. Oh, yeah. "Boris, I didn't..."

Now he starts to chuckle at me, sipping his drink. "She was disgusted with you, you know that? She told me while she stripped down, you walked off with your back turned to her. Refused to do a thing until she was in the water and then you went in with your pants on! Then when you came back to visit a few years later... That night while you and Gri supposedly went to a local hockey tournament..."

He coughs and I know he knew where we really were. "...Lyuda was in my office telling me you were the most unromantic, uninspired, unimaginatively frigid American she'd ever met!"

"Yeah," I snort. "Like she's met any!"

Boris' expression goes so dead flat I feel the hairs on my neck prickle up. He looks at me. "She's met them and more, comrade. There are some things about Lyuda even I can't remove. She's just like her mother."

I'm not going there. Trust me. Boris did not get the pretty gene in the family. Lyuda was overloaded with it. You can believe she uses it too. Instead, I go a different route. "You said you suspected but you never confronted me."

"I didn't have to. I'd pretty much guessed from the fight. It was deeper than mere jealousy over Grisha's success like he first said it was. After you went back to America and he recovered, I confronted him. I had to threaten finishing your job and he confirmed it. Told me everything that had happened."

Okay, I'm a bit slow here or getting too comfy. "If you knew, why the fuck did you just let me...?"

"I wondered if you would ever admit it to my face. It only took you, what? Twenty-some years?"

"I haven't seen you but twice since then, Boris!"

"You could have told me when we first met, Alexei!"

I don't believe this! "I didn't even know you well enough to tell you the truth then; much less that!"

What truth? Later! Later!

Boris gives me a withered expression. "I could have helped you."

Okay, I get it now. "You mean, you would have kept me from Grisha."

It's not a question and he doesn't even pause. "Yes. I would have helped you. I still would have stood by you."

"You didn't know me well enough for that. And I damn sure didn't know you!"

"Poor excuse! There was a time a man's word was honorable. His actions more so."

I stare back at him, know my expression's loaded and he offers another rude snort. "Think of me as you will, Alexei, but I've never lied to you. Have I?"

No, he hasn't.

He stares at me for a few more moments then nods in resignation. "I will not mention you to Lyuda and no one else has seen you. It would only cause...problems."

He lowers the glass and reaches for the bottle. I beat him to it and pour him another round, add one for myself this time (I've already lost count now, so what the fuck!) and he sighs at me. "Be careful, Alexei. Thing's are changing here but still too slowly; attitudes even slower. The right to worship again openly, took a great deal of time to become comfortable. Your religion will take even more time to accept. Why do you think Gri left?"

"Don't worry. I didn't come here for that. I came for information."

"What kind?"

"I want to know about General Vladimir Vokolvich."

He looks up at me in shock, both the normal red of his face and that added by the booze fade on his pasty skin. It doesn't look good. "Wh-what do you want to know about him for?!"

There's a taste of panic there and I know why. Can't blame him but I'm not running away now. "There's a connection to my parents there, Boris. I think you know 'what'. I want to know 'why'. Beyond the obvious."

Boris reaches into his pocket again, pulls out the handkerchief and mops up fresh sweat from his face. I get the feeling he'll be wringing out an ocean of it before this meeting is done. "Alexei, this isn't a good thing to discuss. Here or anywhere!"

I tip my nose towards a window and sniff, "What's out there, Boris? On Lubyanka Square?"

He pales more and nods. We both know. The old KGB headquarters. "Why do you think I agreed to this place to meet? Why not sit in your enemy's backyard if you plan to tear it up? You built well, Boris."

He looks sick. Can't blame him. Last time I was here I made a mess of stuff. He had to clean it up. Still, I paid for it. Oh god, did I pay for it. My left hand twitches on its own to remind me I got reimbursed too!

"Alexei, the KGB is no more. They're not a problem now, but what is..."

I wave him off with a snarl. "Solve your own mob conflicts yourself, Boris. I'm not getting into your competitions for turf. I came here for one thing and one thing only. Tell me about Vladimir!"

Boris really looks shaken now. "Why are you asking this? What have you heard?"

"Enough. He was involved with my parents, Boris. I'm asking you to tell me what happened?"

"How can you be sure you're talking about the right man, Alexei? There were many officers in charge back then."

I lean in. "Because my father told me it was him!"

That shakes him. Enough he turns to the kitchen door yelling, "Dimitry, bring cheese and crackers! And more vodka!" He turns back to me and his eyes blaze with a new light. "Now... Let us talk. How do you know this?"

After Dimitry settles us with a plate of crackers and fresh cheese, another full bottle (which I snap the top off first) then vanishes again, I tell Boris the whole story and he finally believes me. Leans back in the chair with a snarl. "I should have known. Vladimir hated losing a battle. Any battle. Even one of the heart."

I lower my glass slowly, hearing something I know I don't want to. "What did you just say?"

"Vladimir was military through and through, Alexei. Decorated by Khrushchev himself. He hated to lose. On the field of battle or in the bedroom. Your mother was perhaps the only conquest he failed."

The room shifts a bit and I know it's not all the booze. I take a larger sip and it levels back out. "Go on, Boris."

He eases a cracker into his mouth; chews, swallows and dabs his lips with a napkin. "I knew Maria would grow to be a beautiful woman. After the war as our village recouped, families drew closer. We all suffered; our country, our men, our people. The young drew to each other like moths to flame. I never told you, and I didn't know if she did, but her parents died in the war and my family took her in. I always thought of her as another sister. I watched over her, Alexei...sometimes to her irritation."

I smile at that; remember a tale or two about 'Uncle' Boris.

"We were all in the 'Young Soviets' by then including Vladimir. He took an interest to her. He was arrogant and rakish even then. I knew he was all wrong for her and that your father was the right thing. I introduced them and let nature take its course. That Sergei was smitten immediately made it easier."

Now I'm the one looking shocked. "You set my parents up?!"

"I wouldn't say it like that. You make it sound like I was matching up good horse flesh. They were my friends, Alexei. I thought they should know each other. They fell in love on their own. Simple as that. I just...nudged them a little." He eases back in the seat and worries the napkin a bit. "I'm afraid Vladimir didn't find that pleasant."

"Are you telling me everything happened out of jealousy?!

"That's what your father suspected, isn't it?"

I stare back; let my eyes say it all. "Are you telling me that?"

"I can't say that for sure," Boris shakes his head. "But I knew the moment he made KGB he would change. We were all friends back then, Alexei. Young, impressionable...perhaps naive. While your father went off to be a good Soviet laborer, we were selected by the KGB. One of us rose quickly. Perhaps too quickly considering who else was trying to recruit us.

Boris doesn't have to go any further. I know. The Consortium wasn't just dealing on one side of the planet but all over. You name it, they were there. Building labs, testing out alien technology. Waiting. No matter what kind of company you're building, you need peons. U.S dollars on the Black Market back then were as a good as 'black gold'. It made you very powerful and with power you can buy anything.

Even your enemy's best people right out from under them.

The Consortium paid good money for what it got. And owned. I know. I'm still trying to get the 'property of' sign off my back!

"Vladimir Constantinovich was a friend, Alexei, yet I knew once he got a taste of power from the Politburo he would turn into a demon. Don't believe for a moment that the madness died with Stalin. Khrushchev didn't let it, merely advanced it along a more scientific realm. Nikita Sergeyevich had his own ideas and pushed the military to higher levels too soon. Vladimir got lost in it as well. I feared he would, hoped I would be wrong. Sadly, he got swept up. He felt his political stance and new titles would assure him of Maria's interest since so many ogled him. That was the ploy of the frightened. Your mother was hardly a fearful woman. It had the opposite effect. She wanted nothing to do with him. It didn't sit well."

I feel a chill move down my back; a cold I fear I may share more with my Fox than I care to. I don't want to ask, have no choice. "Boris? Are Sergei and Maria Krycek my genetic parents?"

"Yes."

He's never lied to me.

I fold in on myself some; feel the tears of relief flow up and swipe at my face as he goes on. "You shouldn't have even doubted. Vladimir was many things but not a rapist. He wanted Maria's love honestly, wanted Sergei to call it quits. I can only guess when he didn't get it he decided to hurt them another way. He was involved in many facets of the government as well as the military, Alexei. One was 'immigration matters'. He was the one that suggested we send your parents to the United States. Whether it was jealousy or not, I can't say but I remember the past."

"He told you he did it?"

Boris shakes his head. "No, but I had my...sources at the time. They knew Maria and Sergei were dear to me. When the travel papers were arranged, a 'friend' in the office sent word. By the time I received it all the way in Kiev where I was on an assignment, it was too late to warn them of my concerns. They were already gone."

"Did he know what was going to happen?"

"I'm sure he did. Perhaps not in detail, but yes."

I look at him carefully now. Very carefully. "Did you?"

Boris holds the cheese knife poised and for a moment I tense already calculating what I need to do. Then he lowers it into the block of cheese and lifts the slice to another cracker. "No. I didn't. I wasn't involved in that. My commissions as an officer, as a KGB operative, were of a lower level and I was never that high in the Consortium's ring at any time. I didn't know who it was he sent; only that he had sent someone. It wasn't until later I realized what had happened, only too late. I was worried, of course, but your parents weren't potato farmers. I knew they'd do fine."

He pauses to look at me and it's with a very warm smile. "Considering you, I think they did."

He's saying that from a 'friend of the family', kind of 'father-figure' level. He's seen my life; knows my parents would be appalled and not just with my killer's training either. My dad always wanted grandkids.

Failed there too.

Boris misses my reflection and keeps talking. "That's why I took you under my wing when you came here as a student. Let you do what you had planned to do back then. When I first saw you I saw Maria. I knew who you were then and what had happened. That's why I came to bring you to my side. Kept you near and as far away from them as I could while we trained you."

Who's 'them'? Just a group of malevolents who call a guy that smokes way too much 'boss'. Yeah, I needed to stay away from them. Unfortunately, I never got to stray that much.

"Still, I'm surprised Vlad didn't recognize you, Alexei. You look just like your father."

"I didn't get too close."

Boris nods at that. "No, you didn't. You're lucky you didn't speak too much either. You couldn't have hidden that perfect Russian accent if you tried."

I feel defensive. I'm damn good at fooling people or so I thought. "I stumbled over a few words here and there; I tried to sound like I was learning it, okay?"

Boris snorts and I'm shocked by the angry bull sound he makes. "Learning it?! Learning it?! Alexei, you were birthed, breast fed and weaned on it! You couldn't play that off no matter how badly you fumbled. You were supposed to be an American student. Most Americans don't speak Russian and any that do, don't speak filth! Remember the time you dropped that crate on your foot in training? You swore like a Cossack! I was actually stunned. You made thugs blush! I won't ask where you learned all that."

If I told him back then between sweaty, cum-soaked sheets in Grisha's bed, he'd be more shocked. If he knew at the time I was screaming it between blistering orgasms, holding onto Gri's hot, hard body for my life, he'd probably have me whipped.

Oh, yeah...multiple orgasms. Some guys have 'em it's a fact. I'm one of the lucky ones. Fox is too. It's amazing how many times we can 'do it' through the night and every time it just gets better and better.

Oh, yeahhhh...

Scully...Dana, was drawn to analyzing that one morning back in my bungalow. Over breakfast. She attributed Fox and I (and our 'youthful' ability) to probably being a direct result of having been altered genetically by the aliens. While Fox was nodding at her little dissertation, I was dying of embarrassment. Here was my newest friend (doctor or not, a female one at that!) analyzing how Fox and I fucked! And Fox was sitting right there deeply detailing it, too!

I should have bitch slapped both of them!

I must look strange as Boris coughs loudly bringing me back. Sorry about all that. Guess I miss people more than I thought.

"You said something Boris?"

"I said Vladimir didn't catch it. Then again, he was too full of himself to care probably. He saw just what you intended for him to see...a brash American youth still grieving the death of disco and already disillusioned by the ruling of an actor who should have remained in Hollywood!"

I really focus back with that. Ouch! Damn! Well, Boris is from the 'old school', so I decide not to argue politics and let him finish.

"No, my friend, you wanted something greater. That appealed to him and the KGB. They saw you as a possible ex-patriot and a potential very good spy."

What's he talking about? It's complex, detailed and I don't have time right now. Maybe I'll get to it later. Just give me time someday.

I decide not to dance around anymore and cut right to the chase. "Boris, I want to know. What happened to my family here? Where are the Kryceks? The Pavlovs? The Shevchenkos? The Ivanovs? I can't get any info. People I was sure would know them just turn me away. And they looked frightened every time. You know, don't you?"

"Alexei..."

"Tell me!"

He does. More than I've ever wanted to know. When he's done he looks at me quietly. I'm shaking. Badly. The glass in my hand vibrates enough the vodka's swirling around like a whirlpool. Finally, he reaches out, steadies it and tops off my drink with a good three shots. I lift it to my lips and down two without thinking and he looks at me waiting. I don't keep him long. I kick back the rest, actually let my tongue swirl along the glass and look up.

I don't have to have a mirror to know how my face looks now. Boris merely looks back at me as I growl. "I want Vladimir, Boris. Dead! Can you help me?"

"You had a chance before."

I tip my head confused and he sighs at me. "Who do you think ran the gulag? Headed up the experiments on the Consortium's behalf? That warden was an asshole."

"You... You know about that?"

He gaze is as steady as a surgeon's hand; which in fact his is equal as he tops another shot for me. "I know all about it, my friend."

Oh man. Oh...man!

I lift the glass and take another serious slug, ignore how the vodka tries to pull an 'Olga Korbut' on my guts and knock back another one. I'm pissed and that's enough to take the edge off the buzz. If Boris isn't off a bit too he's going to push me to really catch up.

Fucking shit!

He seems to read my reaction and nods. "You're lucky your American passport back then didn't arouse suspicion, especially since you used your real name! We're both lucky no one else seemed to notice or we'd both be dead! Vladimir is higher up than we will ever be. He's well protected, Alexei. I doubt even you can reach him now."

That earns him a deep, nasty smile. The vodka shots, coupled with my usual 'hard-ass' attitude, are getting to know one-another. "I can reach a long way, Boris. I think you've already seen that."

He nods. He has. "Yes. I saw the that time you were here. You and the FBI agent. The one called 'Mulder'. You reached out a long way and what did you both get for it?"

He's staring at my left hand now. So he knows about that too. I've been sitting with it curled inward, keeping it useless looking and still gloved; using only my right hand to cup my glass. Now I slide it off the table back to my lap, let my expression look worn and haggard. He doesn't know it's real. Doesn't know that now I could crush his face in with it. Best I keep it that way.

I'm working with the alien rebels now, not against them. I may know Boris, but I know his business even better. Alien technology (any kind) would make him very important.

"Doesn't matter. I want him. He's Consortium too, Boris."

"So are you."

I look up and smirk at him. "Ex. I'm out. Permanently."

"How the devil...?"

I wave my glass, sloshing some drink and he frowns at me. "Don't waste it!"

I lower the glass and smirk again. "I walked out. I'm after them now."

Boris looks doubtful. "No one walks out, Alexei. Carried out, yes; but rarely ever on their own two feet and from what we've heard recently, more often in body bags."

I glare at him. "You did."

He lowers his head and nods. "Yes, I did. But that was only after things changed here. After the one called 'X' was killed. Things changed. It was discovered there was another faction within trying to stop their plans. All the top men here were called back to America. From all over the world so I heard. Those that were left either continued the research and forwarded results, or were told to move on to other projects and locations and wait for further instructions. When they didn't come many of us simply left."

I understand that too well. I think about how many people, even those on his side, paid for crossing the old smoking scum. Know why instructions didn't get back.

"Whatever the case, we were paid well to keep our silence and if that wasn't enough the 'Black Oil' was. I've seen it, Alexei. You don't want to be experimented on like that Agent Mulder was."

"Too fucking late for that, I'm afraid."

He looks at me for a few moments and I wonder if I'll need the gun after all. "When?"

"Hong Kong. That shit got inside me back then. Took me on one hell of a ride and finally left me trapped in a silo out in the U.S. mid-West. I got out of that too, but I'd been tainted. Well before Tunguska."

He looks down toward my left arm. "My god," he wheezes.

Yeah. Really.

"So you see? It can be done. Walking away. I have."

"Alright. Say you have walked away. Say you have begun your own revenge. Vladimir isn't someone to tangle with. I know."

There's a message there. A warning. I go for broke. "What do you owe him?"

"What?!"

"Boris, let's not bullshit anymore. Vlad's got you paying him to keep the military and the police, the so-called uncorrupted ones, off your back. Let's not mince around with your legitimate businesses, either. The clubs, the hotels, supporting the national teams, that's not even the issue here. What is, are the ones you don't keep open books on. You pay him a percentage and he looks the other way when you deal drugs, work the brothels and the casinos. Run your 'protection' rackets. Kept his back turned while you laundered Consortium money into your own pocket as long as you didn't forget his cut. Now... How much?"

"How did you...? How do you know...?"

I look at him without any smugness, more sorrow. "I've been here for a while. Greasing the right palms, asking the hard questions. I know the old gang too. Some of them kept silent, others talked for the right amount of booze. I have my sources as well. Don't ask who or how. Just tell me... How much?

Boris actually sags a bit. "Enough."

"He's still blackmailing you, isn't he?"

Boris looks like he melts a bit. "He's never stopped. It's the reason I was able to leave the Consortium; how many were. In exchange for our 'disappearances' we pay him to keep from notifying the wrong people about us. He's got connections. Still does. The military still sees him as a hero and none of us doubt they'd do anything to help him. I don't fear for my life, though. Killing me would only cause him to lose 'finances' but I still have to be careful. He could ruin my businesses. My associates' as well."

I snort at that. "You mean your rivals.

He shrugs at me. "Doesn't matter if they are or aren't. He's got all our balls in his grip, Alexei. When the Soviet Union fell, he decided he wouldn't fall with it. He has certain...appetites. Cars, women, lavish needs. We pay for that and he lets us live."

I almost can't believe Boris is intimidated by anyone then I think about who's intimidated me and he's not even half the size of this man. "What would it be worth to you if someone took him out for you? Say eliminated him on your behalf and made sure you couldn't be linked to the assassination? What would it be worth to you? To your associates?"

Boris' eyes go darker and he licks his lips slowly as he sits up. "A great deal, my friend. A great deal indeed. But Alexei, you're taking on a big debt."

"It's one I don't mind paying and I can pay it, Boris. With cash."

That earns me another lick of lips. "How much?"

"One million. In U.S. dollars!"

The chair creaks again in relief as Boris sits up. I've got him now. "How! How did you get that much past...?"

"I was in Belgium heading here. A Consortium supporter recognized me. Too bad for him." I lean back in the chair, roll my eyes to the heavens and sigh sadly. "Poor Uncle Pavel. All he ever wanted was to be buried in his native soil. Now his beloved nephew, Yevgeny, will see to that."

It earns me a big grin as he gets it, chuckling softly. "Blessed mother..."

"I paid the custom's agent enough to look the other way. Seems he wasn't all that interested in feeling up a corpse to begin with. I took the case out of the casket at the airport's cargo area."

Boris actually laughs on that. "Where's the body?"

"Belly up in the Volga for all I know. Or care. I dumped it at Rybinsk."

"Is that your money?"

I know what you're thinking... How can we be so casual about a dead man? Boris and I...we've dealt with death all our lives; doled it out probably more. Like me, Boris was an assassin. Now as a 'boss', I'm sure he's just as good even if he has others actually killing for him.

On the other hand, we are talking about a Consortium sympathizer; one who would've been glad to have us all turned into alien fodder as long as he wasn't on the menu. Let me say it again... I was lied to and used by these men! Killing one of their own was justifiable payback!

I remember noting this in one of the dreams I shared with Fox; agree more with it now... I'm not proud of it just admitting it! I focus back on his question. "No. I found one of our forgers there."

"Who?"

"Kolya Sharipov. Know him?"

Boris grins broadly and I suddenly notice he's got two more gold-capped teeth. Add a few diamonds and he'd be a rap star. "I know him alright. Man's good. Very good. Got more than a few of us into the States back in our time. What did he do for you?

"We took the shit's IDs, hacked into files and found he had no immediate kin. Kolya drew up documents linking me to the body as his only closest relative; a nephew slightly removed by divorce and remarriage. I cleaned out the asshole's bank accounts. Well, I did have to have him shipped here, you know. Damned if I paid for it."

He looks at me for a moment then leans back roaring with laughter. "You are crazy, Alexei!"

Yeah. I am. Like a fox!

He slaps his thighs, rises and I stand with him grabbing my hat and coat. The room sways but I'm cool, I hope. I've got a bit of a walk. As I slide my arms through the sleeves he nods at me. "Well, a million dollars will buy enough weapons and help, my friend. Go rest now. I'll make some calls, arrangements with my...ah, peers. I'm sure they'll be interested in what I have to say. I'll contact you later. Where are you staying?"

I tense slightly. "I have a place. Why don't I call you?"

A hand touches my shoulder and I turn into it. The gray of his eyes are clear, any fogginess from drink completely gone. Wow. I have lost my touch. They lock on mine hard. "Alexei, if you do this, I will be in your eternal debt. The last vestiges of their control will be gone. My associates and I will keep it that way. Is that not enough to trust me? Trust someone other than yourself?"

//I do trust someone, Boris, but he's not here.// "I... I guess so."

"Then?"

"The Baltschug Kempinski". Room seven-eighteen. Under the name of Yevgeny Markolov."

"Ah, good. Good choice. Mostly foreign dignitaries and corporate executives stay there. Good cover. I will call you later tomorrow. Say around eight. It will be your 'Uncle Richard' calling to thank his dear nephew for seeing his late brother safely home. I'll give you times for the family, the service and such. Those will be the schedules of guard changes at the gulag's gate. We have been watching. You'll know what to do."

I'm surprised by the secrecy and it must show as he smiles back at me. "I doubt that anyone of note knows you're here but should they be monitoring me..."

Our eyes meet and I find myself deeply grateful he'd take the risk for me. "Thanks, Boris."

"Now, I will show you out. We'll take the secret exit. It leads out to an alley a few blocks from here." He chuckles as his hand eases to my back. "I've found it very helpful for a husband whose wife doesn't need to find him here and vice-versa. There are a few rooms upstairs that are rented by the hour, you understand."

I can't help it. I laugh with him.

"Will you be at the Baltschug for the duration of this...ah, 'adventure'?"

I do trust him, still... "No, Boris. I move around."

He nods understanding that well. "Then stay with me. At the dacha. My men don't let anything get past them and we have enough weapons to stop a small army. There's more than enough room as you know. You can even have your old room."

Ummmm... I loved that room. Big brass bed, big fireplace, big closets...and a secret doorway that led to Grisha's. Nice. I can jerk off in that bastard's old place and no one will ever think to change the linen. I get a nasty thought of my protein-rich cum lying there, mutating; what might grow there waiting for him to return and chuckle softly. Oh man...

Then before I agree, a certain feminine reminder kicks in. "What about Lyuda? Is she there too?"

Boris sighs then grins. "I think it's time to send her on a shopping spree. Perhaps Greece. Maybe a few of her teammates would enjoy a trip. Time off for good behavior. I think if I add an extra hundred thousand, that should cover the shipping expenses for, oh... Maybe the shoes?"

I have to laugh at that. I'm a bit of a 'shopaholic' myself. "That might just cover it, Boris."

"Then..." He turns to a bodyguard. "Call my niece. Tell her what I've planned and tell her since I must be away on business this is a good time for her to enjoy herself. Make it clear that for the cost of the flight I expect her to stay a month. Or more." He gives the man a cool look. "Fuck her if it helps but mind your manners in other regards. Any guests she has join her are to be guarded, not played with."

The guard nods then moves back down the way we came. I must have a funny look on my face as Boris merely rolls his eyes. "Did I not say she was just like her mother? I forget what they call it...this need to fuck everything in sight."

"Nymphomania?" I suggest.

Boris' eyes go dark and for a moment I fear another roundhouse punch then he merely shrugs his shoulders. "Yes, that's it. Unfortunately. I believe it is an affliction of women, though. A blessing it isn't passed to the males. To think if it had..."

He stops there but I nod just the same. Boris is no way a virgin in any sense of the word; still with his girth I can see why some ladies might be a bit...reluctant, if he were obsessed with sex.

I glance over and his face is unreadable but I can guess what he's thinking. Lyuda's mother, from what the guards dared to tell me back then, liked men and 'designer drugs' and not always in that order. She partied hard and died way too soon leaving him to care for a girl that already had perhaps more 'world experience' than he'd wanted.

I keep my expression solemn and say nothing as we walk across the dance floor to the side door until he speaks. "Lyuda likes Greece, likes the warm weather. She may be Russian, but her blood and skin isn't thick enough. The dacha is far from cold but she always complains in the winter. If we're lucky she'll want an extended stay; will want to tour the Balkans. Perhaps she can find Grisha in Italy and visit there as well.

I must twitch when he says that. I feel his eyes on me as he murmurs softly. "I'm sorry, Alexei. I didn't think for a moment. That was uncalled for."

Maybe, but Boris isn't always subtle. Especially with me. It's a clear reminder of what I don't need and to focus on what I do. "It's okay, Boris. That part of my life is over. I'm just sorry I didn't handle it as well as I should have." I consider something and look back up. "Tell her."

"Tell who?"

"Lyuda, Boris. Tell her the truth. Before she leaves, tell her about me. Tell her why I couldn't be what she wanted."

He's stunned. Really. "You... You want me to do this?"

"Yes. I stopped hiding years ago. Time I stopped here as well."

Boris considers that and nods. "She will be deeply shocked and hurt, Alexei."

I consider telling Boris not as much as he thinks. That I was the one shocked back then but I keep quiet. Lyuda has her own mistakes to make up for. "I know, Boris, but I owe her the truth. If it does get to her I was here, she'd want your head for not seeing me. Tell her I didn't want to see her and upset her more. At least this way she can fume at me directly and not you."

His expression appreciates that. "Very well. I will tell her, but how much?"

Nice of him to leave me an option. "Does she know about Gri?"

Boris sighs and nods. "Yes, only just recently; a year or so. Grisha called us one evening to chat. Asked to speak to Lyuda. I didn't hear what was said. I do have it taped but I've yet to listen."

I'm not surprised. In his line of work one never knows when an ally might turn on you, and it's always good to have it recorded to play back just before you shoot him. Still, I'm sure his boys are the same faces I remember before; maybe a few new ones, but not too many I don't know. They're loyal. He pays them well enough to be but they truly stand with him.

I'm not sure I want to ask him anything else but I can't help it. Lyuda might be a bit of a whore (then considering my life and what I've done, I can hardly talk), she was never stupid. She's smart and can do the math. If she knows about Grisha...

"What did she do? What did she say to you?"

Boris shrugs at that. "After what Gri said, she was shocked then sickened actually. She begged me to let her take a trip to France. She was gone for several weeks. She came back a bit paler actually, but in better spirits. She did call him back to say she understood and wished him well. I guess she wined and dined to forget about it."

Maybe. Then again she might have gotten herself tested and went on a binger until she heard. I won't touch that with any length of pole. They didn't use condoms that I know of, Boris's money and connections got her birth control pills by the cases, so that wasn't a problem. Gri and I never fucked without one (my rules) and I brought boxes just in case.

I decide not to go that route, it's not my right to say and I don't want Boris to worry needlessly. Like I said... Lyuda's mistakes.

If there are any.

"Just talk to her, Boris and tell her I'm sorry. Tell her I'll always be her friend if she'll have me."

He grins broadly now and there's that flash of gold again. "She never stopped thinking well of you even when you spurned her advances. Yes, she called you frigid but she also called you a 'gentleman'."

What?!

Boris grins so broad now he looks like a shark. "I thought that would stun you. Come with me."

As we head for the exit, take steps down and walk through a hallway under the club, Boris' men in front and at our backs, he reaches out to hug me again. I doubt we'll ever see one another after tonight. "Tell me this... This 'gayness' of yours. You have a friend? Lover?"

"Both," I admit and he smiles more.

"He's handsome? Treats you well?"

I stop and breathe out carefully. Okay, let's just get it all out in the open. "He's Fox Mulder, Boris."

Boris rocks back and 'Spindly Guy' almost caves over from the weight. Still, he keeps my old friend upright so he can pant, "Fox Mulder?! Now I know you're insane, Alexei!"

"It's a long story, Boris. Suffice we've made peace between us. We had a lot of help too." No sense in mentioning the dreams; Boris wouldn't get it. Man's too practical to dream. "Believe me, he'll stand by me and not to shoot me, either. You know we need him, Boris. We all know."

"Then..." Boris extends his hand, pulls me in for another hug and murmurs in my ear. "Then I will send you some support. A few of my teams I know have grudges of their own for Vokolvich. You weren't the only one whose family suffered under that madman. Many of my men grew up near that gulag. You may recognize a few. Even with one arm they can still kill."

I try to repress a shiver in the tight embrace, fail and Boris hugs me closer. "The sooner you finish this the sooner you can return to keep Mulder safe."

"Thanks, Boris. I appreciate it. How many men can you provide?"

He smile turns dark and I can't help but smile back the same way. "Enough. Add those that my associates send and you may have a small army. And don't forget the prisoners still there. I know a few of the minor guards remain. I can get word to one who's ready for a 'change'. They alone might be more than what you'll need."

No doubt there. I remember some of them. Knowing what they've been through, I may not need Boris' people at all. "Thanks, again. I won't forget this, Boris. Not ever."

He looks at me steadily as he lets me go and sighs. "Sergei and Maria were friends. More than that. Family! You are as close to me as a son. What happened was wrong. End it, Alexei. For good!"

"I will."

He reaches out and slips a massive hand against my neck and thumbs my ear. "What in the world is this?!"

He must be talking about the small silver hoop in my earlobe. "Just trying to fit in."

That earns me another deep 'thunder chuckle'. "Those 'American youth' days are over here, Alexei. Now the young people wear cell phones on their ears. I'm sure their hearing is very lop-sided by now. Either that or the one with the little bugs stuck in their ears all day because of some 'eye-pad thing' or whatever they call it."

"I-Pod, Boris."

"Whatever, whatever," He wags his free hand snorting, "They'll be deaf before they're twenty. Now... This earring. You look like a punk."

"Maybe, but I'll keep it all the same. At least it's not Bajoran."

He looks at me in confusion and I can't help but sigh, "Boris, they play 'Star Trek' here. You've seen it, haven't you?"

He keeps looking at me quietly. "I'm afraid I've not had much time for pleasantries, Alexei."

Ah. "Well, it's not important, Boris. I, ah...the earring's just 'me'. Okay?"

He smiles at me again. "Yes. It is you." His hand slips off my neck, brushes a lock of hair off my face. "When I look at you, I see your mother's eyes and your father's face. I...miss them."

The vodka turns up my guts again and my eyes water. Least I think it's the booze and tough up. "When can I expect that help?"

He gets it and goes all business as well as lowering his hand. We start walking again. "I will need to arrange a meeting with my 'associates' first. I think this offer should be presented in person. It will take a bit for all to get there."

I stop and everyone stops right with me. "Boris, that's not a safe idea. What's to stop one of you from taking out the others? Or some police official looking to make a big name for himself?"

Boris smiles at me appreciating my concern. "One, is that we made a mutual agreement long ago that if something endangered one of us it would probably soon endanger all of us. That would warrant a group meeting in complete neutrality. The Rossiya was designated such a place. Now that it is closed there's another. Forgive me if I don't speak of it. The less that know..."

"The less you have to worry about what I'm worried about. I get it."

"Secondly, the police have enough to keep up with dealing with terrorists and petty protesters. We've not stirred up trouble recently and will be ignored if we're subtle in meeting. I'll arrange for such a meeting tonight. I think the fact I wish to present the matter personally to all, will be enough to have them show up. We'll need to give them time to think and accept. I believe two days will be enough. I will not mention you but I think they'll know who brings the offer and agree."

"How do you know, Boris?"

He grins evilly and I look at him more curious. "I suppose, because they're all former Consortium as well, that's why."

I have no idea how the hell my face looks but he suddenly roars at me. "Oh, I will remember this, Alexei!" He slaps my shoulder and points ahead. I start walking again but I'm stunned. He knows and explains.

"After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed we, along with a few lucky businessmen and politicians that still retained some conscious, were the ones with wealth. As I said before, when the leaders left and didn't return, many of us slipped away or simply moved onto other things under pretense. Either way we took a lot of their money with us. We've used it to build our businesses, legit and otherwise; also to bring in foreign trade and enterprise. It's working slowly but surely. I may have some businesses that are frowned on but I've also strived to provide those that serve the common good as well. We all have."

He glances at me. "Yes, in the beginning we did fight like dogs over scraps and people paid for that but we've learned. We work together even if we don't like each other completely. We consider it a small penance for the greater wrong we were briefly involved in."

Oh, holy shit!

"That is why I prefer to call them 'associates'. They are."

Oh my god!

"Give us forty-eight hours to talk over this and me to send Lyuda away, then I will call for you. At six in the morning two days from today. I'll send a white Mercedes with Ukrainian tags to the hotel entrance. The driver will be a woman with red hair. Angelina. She's your level, Alexei, so be nice otherwise she'll kill you before you can twitch. She'll bring you to the dacha. We can plan and prepare. Later, you'll be taken to my private airport outside the city and we'll take you to a 'health center' in the nearest city to the gulag. There you'll rendezvous with the teams we've assembled. You won't be but a few kilometers from the gulag through the forest."

"That's all good and well but I want to know where Vokolvich will be."

"At the lab. Vokolvich will be there, I am assured. It's still part of the prison."

I don't like the sound of that. "They're still experimenting?"

Boris looks unhappy. "They never stopped. Even after your little misadventure, they still kept going. Nearly all the peasants and villagers around the gulag have left. All with one less arm." He stares at me for a moment then sighs, "And many of the women."

My whole body jerks at that and I know the horror he sees on my face. He looks apologetic and I wish he wouldn't. "Alexei, they had to test someone, you know?"

Sure I know. Doesn't mean I can't have a wish does it? "And Vokolvich is there?"

Boris nods at that. "Da. He's still working experiments, trying to find better ways of exposing a subject and not have the obvious eye discoloration give things away. He wants to use it like a toxic weapon - fast and unseen."

"He wants to use it?"

Boris' gray eyes go even steelier. "I told you he was military through and through, didn't I? With the Consortium out of it or at least looking at other 'possibilities', he's taken over the program. Has the remaining scientists working nearly round the clock."

Shit!

That makes me angrier and I stop for a moment. "What about the health center? If most of the people have left, what's that for?"

Boris' eyes soften. "It's for those that didn't leave. As you know, those amputations the men made on themselves and each other were extremely crude." He ignores my bland expression and shrugs. "Many men suffered infection, gangrene; they needed to be taken somewhere. Along with many prisoners, test subjects and sadly some of the females."

It hits me then. "It's a morgue," I state flatly and Boris nods.

"Yes, my friend, it is. I hope it will be empty or only moderately in use when we arrive."

"Boris? Vokolvich isn't the only one I need to stop."

His breath brushes my neck. "I know, Alexei. I think... I think I would like to help you with this. With all of this."

"Just get me those weapons and some troops, Boris. That'll be enough."

I start to turn away and he grips my arm. I stare down at his fingers wondering if I need to break them off, but I feel his eyes on me and look back up. They're darker now, filled with grim determination and his voice backs it up. "No, comrade, you don't understand. When I say I want to help you, I mean I want to help you."

I look at him, the large frame, and remember the power there once was under it. Boris isn't as old as he claims. He's out of shape, oh yes, but not impossible. Still...

"I don't have time for you to have a stroke or worse, Boris."

He grunts at me, offended. "Then I won't worry about keeping you in my will."

He has a will?! I'm in it?! That's not what I meant at all and I say it. "Boris, I didn't mean it to sound..."

He waves me off chuckling. "I know what you meant and you're right. I'm not for climbing through forests or scaling rocky walls. At least not now but this..." He gives his gut a pat. "This can be lost, my friend. In time. However, I'm very good at organizing attacks and hits..." His eyes glisten. "That is something you need now and you're going to need strategists and planners if you want all this to work."

Okay, I'll buy that. "You got some ideas?"

That earns me a devilish grin. For a moment I think I know where I might have gotten my smirk. "I have a...few, Alexei. I'll put together some plans. We'll talk later."

We reach the door and he pauses. Before I can stop him, him reaches out and takes my left hand. I manage not to react to the heat from his searing up through the glove, keep it as life-less seeming as I can and check my expression as he looks at me in surprise. "I'm impressed. It almost feels real. Fleshy. American specialists?"

"Um, yeah." I ease it back glad he let me. He's not ready for too many surprises and if I couldn't convince him I'm me, I'd die right now. Later, when I can talk more I'll tell him everything.

"They did what they could."

He looks at me a beat or two longer and I look back calmly then start. "Damn! I almost forgot."

Reaching into the inside pocket of my coat while ignoring Dimitry's slight intake of breath, I pull out two CD's in pristine sealed packages. "I didn't know if these were available, so I hope you don't have them."

One is 'Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra's Greatest Hits', the other a music retrospective of Isaac Hayes. Boris reaches out, takes them from my hand and cradles them like a baby. "Alexei," he breathes out in shock. "I don't know what to say."

"Usually, 'thanks' works."

"Da. Spasiba. Of course, forgive me. It's just... This means the world to me. Ah, Barry. He died too soon, my friend, much too soon. His, was a voice meant to sing forever."

He takes a moment to cross himself and I dip my head in respect. He may be a crook but he's respectful. Then he smiles. "It's almost enough."

Almost? Enough for what?

As I stand there, I feel his hand on my hip. I look down, watch him lift out my wallet, pop it open and pull out a hundred. He hands me the wallet back with a cool look wagging the bill. "For the flowers. You think I didn't know what you were doing? Those were prize winning roses you inebriated!"

Shit, he's still good. I keep forgetting that. After all, he taught me. I can't help but look back like a kid caught in the cookie jar. "Sorry, Boris."

His gray eyes suddenly sparkle and for a moment he's the younger man I first met. He grips the doorknob and opens it with a laugh. "Heh! You have been spoiled. Can't take a few shots. Go home, boy!"

There's love in the tone and I know it. Grinning I shake his hand, nod and walk out; up steps into the alley just as it starts to rain again. I pull up the collar on my coat and ease the hat down over my eyes but the gleam is still there.

One plan down.

Two to go.


The Hotel Baltschug Kempinski
1 Ulitsa Baltschug
Moscow, Russia
Evening, Same Day

I step out of the shower glad there was enough hot water and berate myself slightly for taking a full fifteen minutes. Things are getting better all right. Luxury hotel or not, was a time I wasn't that lavish with a bath in Moscow. Not if I didn't want someone to flush a toilet and scald my ass.

The hotel suite isn't bad at all. Air conditioned, it's neat, clean; new flat screen TV in the corner with satellite reception, two direct-dial satellite telephones with voice mail, in-house mobile phones; a computer outlet and WI-FI Internet access, personal safe (the money case and my guns fit perfectly) coffee maker and good Gevalia coffee, too. I even got a bathrobe and slippers.

I smile at the opulence, remember my old penthouse and sigh. I'm doing okay for once. There's even a pretty impressive stereo and a fully stocked wet bar. I've had enough of that already; just grab a Coke and chuckle when it actually bubbles up after I snap the top. Just like home.

Dinner was a riot for me. I was still arguing with myself on KFC or McDonald's when I realized I needed to be more at home. I can eat those anytime, anywhere in the States but miss out on authentic Russian food in Russia?

Committed, I wound my way to a small caf not far from the hotel and settled down to a thick bowl of solianka, beef soup heaped with sour cream. It's usually served with vodka and I didn't break tradition, hence the soda now. By the time I got back to the hotel I was beyond just a buzz. It's been a while since I drank like that and I don't want a hangover. I really need caffeine and the coffee I'm hogging for the morning.

Still, as I sat there at the caf, the traffic in my head mingling with the traffic on the streets, I realized how much this city, this land, is a part of me. Know with every passing day I feel more like this is where I belong. I wish I could stay but until this is all done, I'm not really any safer here than in the States. It's just that I've actually got friends here.

More than the two I left.

I wrap the robe tighter around my chest and walk over to the window, part the curtains and sigh at the view. It's stopped raining, the evening heat lifting the mist.

There are only a few cities in the world that rival the night-time opulence of Moscow. New York is one. Maybe LA. Vegas? Well, that's in a class all itself and the whole world knows it. Still, Moscow is beautiful by sunset.

I pull a chair from the corner desk to the window and plop down. Funny, I don't feel exposed here. Instead, I feel...peaceful. I sip the soda and watch the traffic as the sky darkens. From my room I can see quite a bit. Watch the lights go on at the Bolshoi, the Kremlin; smile at the star above Moscow University, feel contented seeing the domed onion tops of St. Basil's. I feel at home.

I tried to explain this to Fox. It is in my blood.

Fox.

Suddenly there's the image of that beautiful face, those deep handsome eyes; that full nose. That long, luscious body.

That cock.

My guts clench and I tremble all over. Goose bumps prickle my flesh. Maybe I need to turn the heat on.

//Don't be stupid! You're hot already and it's got nothing to do with room temperature.//

God, I miss him!

I walk over to the phone, settle the soda next to it and lift up the handset. The dial tone's clear and loud, the sudden drone of a nest of hornets.

Very angry hornets.

My breath goes thin as the air and suddenly the handset get heavy. So fucking heavy! Panting, I reach out, grip it with both hands and struggle to lift it back to the cradle. Gasping, I drop it, barely register the mild click and try my damnest to get a grip on things.

Some habits may never die. Fearing a wiretap's one of them.

I'm a bit shocked by my panic. Those days are gone here yet the sound seemed all around me for a moment. I really have no reason to fear anymore. I could be calling family, a friend, to say I arrived safely. I could be calling a business associate. This isn't the same Russia. Walk the streets, look at the young people. There're more cell phones than cars now. Times have changed. I don't know what I'm sacred of.

//Yeah. Right.//

Okay, maybe I'm not ready to hear his voice; hear the pain and sadness. Or worse, the anger. The tone telling me to go kiss off for leaving him alone again. I don't know which would hurt more.

//Yes you do, asshole.//

I couldn't tell him the truth, why I was coming here. He'd have never let me out the door. Worse, would have found a way to follow me.

I'm grateful in all the dreams we've had, shared, I have yet to dream about my past. My life before it went down the rabbit hole. Down into Alice's worst nightmare. If Fox has, he's kept it pretty close to the chest. Personally, I'm doubtful. He's reclusive on some things but knowing, learning about the life of Alex Krycek, isn't one of them.

Maybe the dreams are done, over; have finished whatever was needed. Maybe they're waiting for the right time to tell me more. I can't think of anything else I could learn about my lover (Jesus!) than I already know. Need. Maybe there're still some things about me I have yet to face.

I'm not sure I want to.

A yawn stretches my jaw, pops it and I sigh. It's not that late but I'll need to be up early. I finish the soda, close the curtains and drop the can into the trash. I check the door locks, walk back to the bed and drop the robe; ease back the covers as I settle in killing the light.

I lay there for a while; the gleam of the skyline softens the darkness enough to relax me; the hum of late evening traffic a soft undertone. That's when I realize how hard I am.

Fox... Damn.

Damn.

I roll over on my back, bring my fingers to my mouth and cover them with spit. Settling down, I lift one and slowly slide it over a nipple; gasp as the skin tightens, pause to pinch and roll it gently.

Oh, god...

I let the other hand drift downward, close around my jumping cock and gasp at the touch. I'm rock hard, the skin almost glassy I'm so tight. Jesus! The dull throb I'd barely felt now becomes an incessant ache; the kind you know it's too late to hope will go away on its own.

I haven't masturbated in a long time like this. Maybe I didn't have the time. Maybe I didn't want to. Maybe I thought once I had Fox I'd never need to. Maybe it's because of him I need to!

I won't make it through this if I don't.

Fox.

Slowly I push the guilty feeling aside, let my body do what it needs to and give over to it. I spend a few moments just caressing my body, hands gliding over my damp skin pausing here and there to touch, pinch; feel the heat of need rising up to dry my flesh.

Fox.

I fan my legs out, lower both arms to slowly stroke myself, let my right hand draw lazy circles over my cock, thumb sliding up to brush the slit. I feel myself jerk and twitch, the feeling grows and I moan deep in the back of my throat as I feel wetness. I lift my hand up, put my thumb to my mouth and the taste of my pre-cum sends a riot of need through me.

I wish I'd brought some lube, least taken time to buy some. Instead I hack hard and spit on my hand harder. I can't wait, begin to pump myself, the other hand returning to caress and pull my balls; rolling them gently the way Fox does.

Oh... Fox.

I turn slowly onto my side and stroke harder. I relax more, give myself to it and feel that tingle that tells me it's going just right. Feel that slow deep warmth and I'm surprised I don't jump when I hear a voice.

*'Alex'.*

I open my eyes slowly, turning my head. Smile. //Oh yes. Thank you.//

I see Fox looming over me, those hazel eyes so dark with need I start panting. Too close. I need...

I can hear him, that monotone even deeper now. 'You horny, baby? You want me to help you?'

//God, yes! Fox... Baby, please!//

His hands slide off my trembling hips, I feel him behind me... I feel him pressing into me, fingers gently but surely scissoring inside me getting me ready. I groan and rock back against them, mew then gasp as a third pushes in to brush my prostate. Sparks of color dance over my eyes and I sob, thrust back harder against the probing. A bolt of pleasure rips up my spine and I groan in torment.

Fox!

I can't take much more and my whining tells him. Warm breath puffs my neck, a wet tongue swirls over my ear.

'You want me now, baby?'

I'm too lost to do more than babble I know, but somehow I manage to be understood. His laugh is soft and fills my soul. 'Okay, lover. All for you.'

I feel him move closer and cry out as he grips my hip, the thick head of his cock presses, then with one sharp thrust slides home.

Oh god!

The burn as he buries himself inside me eases and I moan in contentment; gasp as a hand eases down to wrap me firmly as he starts to pump in time with the thrusting of his hips.

I sob with the sensation, need so heavy my body shakes with it. It's almost too much. Fucking...shit!

I cry out as he moves me; rock harder with him desperate to come. My cries grow; turn to a chant of praise to him, filled with love and need. And Fox rewards my affection fucking me out of my mind.

I... Ah... Ah!

'Come on baby. You're there. You're there!'

//Yes! Oh god, yes!//

I come hard. Harder than I think I've ever come; manage to get my face buried in the pillow to muffle the harsh screams tearing from my throat. I jerk myself until there's nothing left and sag downward; nearly feel like melting into the mattress. Talk about a heat wave!

I lay there for I have no idea how long just fighting to catch my breath, waiting to see if my heart stays where it belongs or hammers itself out of my chest. Finally I feel the world come back together, feel myself a part of it again. I ease my finger from my ass and shake out my wrist. For a moment I'm stunned. Did I just feel...? I'm alone here but it felt so much like...

I've learned to doubt very little nowadays especially if it involves Fox, so I close my eyes and send a message. Just in case. //Thank you, baby. I love you, Fox. Please wait for me. Please don't forget me.//

Just give me...time.

Bed's a mess, I've kicked the covers around. Glad I stole a few extra towels from the linen closet down the hall. Maid will never know I picked the lock but she'll be glad I at least got off on towels and not the sheets.

I think about Scully back at the apartment and I'm glad I setup beforehand just in case. I don't need everyone knowing how desperately horny I am.

I wipe my hands off on one, wipe up my stomach, chest and ass with the other and toss them to the floor; pull the covers up over me and let my hand ease under the other pillow to grasp one of my guns. As my finger curves around the trigger, I finally feel like resting. I'll need to.

Tomorrow, I begin my biggest plan of all.

To finish this.

Like I promised.


Three Years Later - June

The Dacha
126.75 kilometers out from Moscow
Friday, 1:00pm

I walk down the hallway towards a slight ruckus. Can't quite make out what's going on yet but someone's obviously getting their butt chewed out. Then I hear it. Sounds like swearing alright. Good old Russian-style cussing.

"Chyort voz'mi!"

Okay! I got that!

I wince at the oath, ease my head around the office door in time to see Boris fling a book across the large room just missing a very expensive vase. I'm not sure I want to do this but I call out carefully.

"Priviet, Boris."

He looks up, smiles lowering a pair of glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose; wags the other hand at me sighing. "Come in, Alexei. Come in."

I walk in, pick up the book and note it's a ledger. For one of his restaurants. Thumbing the pages as I walk, I note costs and payments for alcohol, produce and meats; charges for cutlery, uniforms and the like. Flip to the payroll and note he's more than fair. I settle it down on his desk and flop into the chair across from it. Stay silent as he eases back in his with a sigh of barely restrained frustration.

"Alexei, sometimes I wish I had stayed an assassin. It was so much easier to kill someone than pay these bills."

"Boris, you're not in debt, are you?" I can't imagine it. Boris is rich, even more so now.

"Nyet, Alexei, nyet. I'm speaking of keeping up with all this. I don't know how people do it."

I cross my legs and begin to pick at a hangnail. Idle chitchat. Okay, I can work with that. Especially right now. "Why don't you get an accountant to do this? That's what they're for."

He looks at me smugly. "And how would I explain the medical expenses to keep my 'ladies' safe? Or the drugs I'm not medically licensed to dispense?"

Ah. I didn't think of 'those' businesses. "Well, get them to handle your 'legit' businesses then you can focus on the ones you need to keep private."

He looks a bit uncertain and I can't blame him. There haven't been many times I've trusted people either but things have changed a lot over the past few years. I'm looking at one of the reasons.

After a moment he nods. "Perhaps you're right. I'll call an associate and see who he can recommend. Someone that can work and keep his mouth shut doing it."

I nod and stare off for a minute; barely notice Boris pushing ledgers, bills and receipts out of the way. It's only when I hear a clink, look over and find two glasses and a bottle of Stoli on the desk, that I realize he's looking at me very calmly. Waiting.

"What?"

"Care to talk about it?"

"About what?"

"Whatever's bothering you?"

I shift in the chair and try to look casual. Probably too fucking late for it. "Don't know what you mean. I just came in to see what you were up to."

That gets me a smirk I'm now sure I definitely got from him. "We've worked together too long for you to even try that. I know you, my boy. What's wrong?"

I've been having dreams again. No, nowhere near the ones Fox and I shared; not even close to that detail and intensity, but more like...daydreams. More like flashes of events, brief images of things. Enough to leave me nervous and worried - two emotions I don't deal with very well at any time or for any reason.

One image is particularly disturbing - Fox walking behind me in chains. Like he's going to a sentencing or worse, an execution. His.

I had this one before. At the bungalow. Just before I left. It's more intense in terms of the fear I feel. I even hear voices, like a group of people; see Fox looking sullen and angry but nothing more. Not enough to give me an indication of what's wrong.

That's enough to tell me something is.

A few times I thought about calling Scully but didn't. I don't know how my long absence has altered her feelings for me (or against me). I could call her in relative safety as her phone's probably not bugged, don't dare call Fox, but I don't want to risk either of them. Boris' phones are safe (believe me on that!) but I can't really say the same back in the States.

"Alexei?"

I can't begin to explain this to Boris, especially since I can't really explain it to myself. He's seen a lot since I've been here (let me get to that later) but I don't know how to explain my...visions. So I give him a lonely smile and try to look homesick. Don't really need to act that much.

"I... I need to go back, Boris. Back to the States."

He twists off the cap, pours a shot into each glass and as he slides one towards me, I sigh thinking back to his words in the club that day. If I keep this up I probably won't even consider expensive beer worth drinking when I get back.

I know what you're thinking. That my veins have probably replaced blood with booze by now. That my burps - worse, my farts - are explosive releases of a more powerful variety. Not true. Boris doesn't do this as much as you think, as I may have led to. He's really a coffee, water, juice kind of guy (no, he really is!), it's just he knows when a good stiff drink (or a few) is needed despite what a clock may say.

I will admit that day in the club was the worse I'd done but I was filled with emotion - anger, frustration - that I didn't get as bad as I could have. Still, I did drink a lot. I was lucky to wake with only a sour mouth and a stomach that was actually screaming for food. I haven't pushed myself since and neither has Boris. However, when the time seems right...

Oh well.

As I lift up the glass to him, he grabs his with a nod. "I know you want to go back. I'm surprised you've stayed this long. You've really been brooding this past week. Worse than normal and believe me, we've noticed how good you are at it! Even the boys have been discussing it. They told me you'd be here to talk sooner or later."

Shit! Does everyone know how to profile but me?! "I didn't mean to be so obvious, Boris."

He makes a conciliatory sound in his throat and sips the vodka. "Don't apologize, I understand. When do you want to leave?"

I swallow at that and hope he does understand. "Tomorrow. I've... My bags are already packed. I just need to contact the airport and check on a flight out."

He lowers his glass and huffs at me. "Nonsense! I will have you flown myself. I've traveled to New York and Washington on one or two occasions since my, ah...'retirement' from the spy network. I stayed out of sight though, preferring to have my staff conduct things on my behalf."

I understand the reasons and smile at him.

"Before you think otherwise, those trips were for legitimate business with various nightclubs there. Checking on good entertainment and music groups to see what appeals to the customers. I'm not so young anymore to know what the people like to hear. I have my plane registered at both Dulles International and LaGuardia as a frequent traveler. I can have you home in no time."

He can. He's got a Lear jet; a 60-25. Fucking beautiful thing she is, too. Considering she ran him six million dollars, she should be! "I don't want to put you out, Boris. I think I've been enough trouble for the past few years."

He sips again, lowers his drink and laughs at me; that deep rumble I've come to love flowing around the room. "Heh! When you really were trouble you at least made things interesting." He looks at me for a moment then nods. "You're worried about him, aren't you?"

He looks at me steadily and I feel a bit anxious under the gaze. See, I finally told him about those dreams, why I came here; all of it. I'll explain the reasons later (no, I will! Promise!), but I was lucky he's less practical than I originally thought. Least he listened; didn't have me locked up as a crazy or worse, shot me but I'm still unsure what he really thinks about all this. Still...

Damn. Guess everyone's got 'the touch' but me after all.

"That so obvious too, Boris?"

"Yes. Very obvious. One of the men patrolling the floors heard you one night. The sounds worried him and he stood there by your door to be sure you weren't in trouble. After a moment he figured out what you were doing. Something I won't discuss, but he said when you finished you started crying." His eyes lock on mine. "And called in anguish for Fox."

Shit.

I feel my face heat but he merely looks back without any disgust, more understanding actually. "I wondered how long it would take you to give in to the pain. The loneliness. And you are lonely, Alexei. We all know that and why. You're strong, son, very strong but you do have a heart. I know it hurts sometimes too."

Fancy that. All this time I told people I had one. Just never expected to ever be believed.

"So I agree with you. We've done everything you set out to. Time you were back where you belong."

'Back where I belong'.

Holy shit, I've been 'Hello, Dolly'ed'!

He smiles at my shock then chuckles, sips the vodka before lowering the glass again. "I'll have the cooks set up a nice farewell dinner for you. It will give Lyuda a chance to say goodbye as well."

I smile at that. Was a time I'd have been terrified. Now I know it'll be okay.

You see, Lyuda came back from her trip to Greece and I was still at the dacha. She hadn't changed much since I last saw her. At a pinch under six feet, she's tall and powerfully built. I don't mean that as an insult (she's not fat at all) but more in the way of a true athlete. She's got muscle but it's wrapped around her perfectly, moving under curves that fit in all the right places a straight guy (hell, even I'm impressed, okay?!) would want.

She's got deep gray eyes like Boris, a nose that fits better, lips lush to kiss and a mane of thick brown hair that finishes the whole deal in a good way. Add that those eyes have a lot of intelligence in them (and maybe too much worldliness) and she's no gal to play with.

When she walked in and saw me, I expected a severe slap in the face. Actually, I expected a sharp kick between my legs to replace my eyes with my balls. To my surprise (and more Boris'), she merely kissed me on the cheek, said it was good to see me, thanked me for telling her the truth then went to her room.

Have I mentioned that Lyuda has a 'Russian temper' too? No?! Wow! Don't know how I forgot that.

Well anyway, her 'nice' greeting had Boris and me rushing into the office and the liquor cabinet in shock. That night he was the one that got the worse buzz!

A few days later Lyuda and I talked; really talked and I learned a lot. Found out she never cared about Grisha either. He was merely a means to an end. A bit of physical release when emotional wouldn't work.

His name was Romon. He dumped her. Bad. Decades later she still hurts.

And I thought my emotional baggage was overweighed!

Suddenly I think about Grisha in Italy. Wonder if he knew how she felt, how I did really; wondered if he even cared. Or if it hurt. Start to think about my heart, why I hardened it and wonder if I didn't do the same to another.

I never said I loved him. I didn't... I mean, I couldn't... I only wanted... I mean I...

Oh... God.

I look over to find Lyuda's face equally thoughtful. Man, maybe we all screwed up each other.

I start to suggest we call Gri, talk as a group, then toss that idea away. We're all happier now. Best to follow that 'sleeping dogs' thing and leave it be.

I don't know how long Lyuda and I talked; about her heartbreak, my orientation, everything, but I felt better afterwards. Realized that all my years of worry were for nothing. She knew I was gay; guessed it when I failed to give in to her flirting and still loved me for holding true to my desires. Kept the secret, not knowing Boris was figuring it out as well. Played with me back then to keep me tolerated in a time and place that wasn't so tolerant.

Can you believe some women?!

She let me talk about Fox, our past (carefully abbreviated, of course) and even let me cry when the memories got to be too much. Held out a hanky to blow my nose, rubbed my shoulders, and bonded with me in sympathy.

Surprised to know I can really get sappy? Heartsick? Don't be. I may be a hardened killer on the outside but I do have a heart. And feelings! It's just that mine's been broken a lot in my life (by outside forces and more my own stupidity), my feelings toughened to keep my shattered existence from getting blown to the four winds. Lyuda's probably the only one that's ever seen how badly it hurts.

Well, maybe one other has but not as deeply. Not yet.

Guess it's true what they say... About women and gay men. When it comes to heartbreak, we do relate.

So between sniffles and nose blowing, I took a risk and told her about the dreams Fox and I had shared. I kept a lot of the facts to myself but gave her enough to understand what had happened as best we understood it, and she agreed that they were indeed messages.

I was surprised to learn she's into that stuff - tarot cards, runes, reading the stars. All the 'X-filey' stuff I've tried to avoid. She really needs to meet Fox. I hope one day she will.

She said I'd been given a set of blueprints, stepping stones; towards a destiny that I had to share with Fox. Told me not to leave his side again if I ever wanted to be truly happy. Admitted she envied me for having found the love of my life. Said she was still looking.

Anyway, she forgave me for being reticent in our relationship and appreciated my respect. Maybe she's never had that before. Maybe she never did anything to earn it. Don't want to wonder at that.

Boris coughs bringing me back, pushes another shot over to me and I lift it to sip slowly. "Da. We'll throw a party. I think pheasant would be good. Fresh potatoes and vegetables. Bread, of course and vodka. Lots of vodka." He eyes me over his glass with a grin. "After all, you won't be the one flying the plane."

Oh, man!

He laughs at me, lowers his glass and rising, walks around the desk to sit on the edge by my side. Slowly he reaches out, lifts up my left hand and fingers mine gently. I shift a bit at the touch, it's barely heightened now and he smiles at me.

Yeah, he knows it's real. I'm wearing a muscle shirt. No sleeves. Besides, it's kinda hard to hide it now when he saw it in action. Saving his life.

Here's the 'later' part I mentioned.

We were at the gulag then, bursting in shooting everything in sight, and tearing through the place determined to end its action once and for all. His 'associates' backed us up; provided not just weapons and muscle but muscle with an attitude. We weren't alone in the fight either.

The prisoners, slipping from their cells that had somehow not been locked, went on a major rampage of revenge. They tore through the place taking out guards (save the ones on our side who'd left a few hours before), Consortium scientists; everything they could. Some died, some bailed out early (we didn't care, they'd earned their freedom), others elected to stay and fight with us.

What we hadn't prepared for, was the chance that there was more armed support and there was. A battalion of the Motherland's finest soldiers. These guys were trained to fight covert operations, like terrorist attacks - deal with sneak and hide skirmishes. However, this was merely a prison. They were only there to stop the occasional inmate fight and prevent the lab from sabotage.

So they thought.

I have to say that we had soldiers too. People that had seen the horrors of the lab up close. Some had an empty left sleeve as I once did. That kind of thing can give you a very dark personality. Those soldiers were prepared to deal with 'controlled' nastiness. We, on the other hand, were the entire Dakota Sioux Nation coming down on them pissed and like Custer, they didn't stand a chance.

I wished they hadn't been there, hadn't been on the wrong side, but they were. I didn't have a choice this time either.

It was a violent, bloody and deadly conflict. I was in my element again, doing what I do best (sadly), and yet I (insanely) loved every minute of it! So much I almost failed to see how permanent it could become.

Boris decided to fight after all; was there, his bulky frame moving with astounding grace I hadn't expected in the big guy, but almost not fast enough. He was a hair away from a knife in the back when I suddenly saw the danger.

There was no time to yell, to line up a shot. Swinging my rifle over my back, I rushed the guy rushing him, wrapped my hands around his head and squeezed with all my might. Boris turned in time to watch the man's head pop like an overripe melon.

As I let the corpse drop he looked at me, then to my hand, and the horror on his face nearly killed me. I watched him lift his Kalashnikov towards my head...

He's never lied to me.

I never told him much of the truth.

I closed my eyes prepared to pay for my last deception, then the crack of the gun and no pain made me look up. I heard a thud behind me, whirled around and stared down at the guy that had approached my back with a knife. Looking back, Boris merely nodded at me and turned to rush for another area of the prison. I moved fast to end up at his side.

I guess he forgave me.

The rest of the battle we covered each other better than Linus' blanket.

After it was over, the rebels came to us in response to my carefully sent signal. Boris freaked when the ship landed outside the smoking husk of the gulag, blanched when they walked out looking just like us (I didn't bother explaining shape-shifting to him), and greeted me.

I finally told him about them, why they were here, confirmed that we had been invaded; yes, these were on our side and told him not to try anything like stealing technology. He agreed more from shock than anything else.

Meeting real life aliens tends to do that to you, believe me.

That's when I found out how 'not in the know' he and many others had been. He didn't know the real reasons behind the Consortium's strange obsessions with research, chemistry, biology and the like. Couldn't figure out why the large groups of scientists, technicians and others had been crawling all over the land, searching for things. For years he merely believed they were trying to build a chemical weapon to control a few 'enemy' countries; keep themselves on the top of the list. Once he knew the truth, his hate meter blew off the charts.

Fox couldn't ever come close to how pissed off Boris was right then. Never!

We covered the rebels as they entered the actual laboratory section (we knew to leave it for them), watched from a safe distance as they obliterated the last of the Black Oil, destroyed the lab, the 'testing rooms' and vaporized it all to ash. Then they thanked us, told me they would communicate again when the time was right and returning to their ship, lifted off vanishing in a flash.

We were incredibly lucky in this, loosing only twenty men out of a couple of hundred. We buried them there, at the site of their greatest victory and sacrifice. Boris promised he and his associates would see to the families; that acceptable explanations would be found and restitutions made. Neither of us said that the money would probably be more than enough to guarantee no further concerns.

You hate to think about people like that, but he and I have lived in the shadows and some of these men were even deeper in the darkness. If their families even bothered to grieve I'd be impressed.

I'm sorry for how that sounds too, but it's true. Moving on...

Boris didn't speak to me as we returned to the trucks and left the gulag; its smoke a thinning cloud in the distance. We sat there silently, rocking as the truck moved; the only sound the groans of some of our injured. I kept my eyes on him...

He kept his staring out the back.

Finally, I lowered mine; thought about my arm, the aliens and guessed I hadn't been forgiven after all. Then he reached out and touched me.

I looked up and found him extending his left hand. For a moment I was confused then I understood. Extended mine and shook it; let him feel the power and the control. His eyes never left mine.

"Thank you...tovarish."

No... He's never lied to me.

"Thank you, comrade.

We lowered our hands, road for another mile or so in silence, then I couldn't help myself. "Boris?"

"Da?"

"Still in your will?"

I thought he'd never stop laughing.


Later that night at the dacha, after we'd dispersed the 'troops', sent our thanks to his associates and seen to the injured, Boris and I sat in his stately living room surrounded by pictures of old Tsarist Russia. There amongst the beauty of the Royal Palace, the Summer Palace, the city of St. Petersburg, the Hermitage and other works of art, we sipped hot tea laced with rum (now you didn't think it wouldn't be, did you?) and talked.

That's when I told him about the dreams, about Fox's life (what I dared, I'm still careful and you know why), about mine; what we'd both suffered thanks to the smoking bastard and he listened. Really listened and made no judgments. It was hard to talk about some things, easier with others. I can say now that like with Lyuda, it helped me in ways I still can't fathom but I felt a weight lift.

They say confession is good for the soul. I suppose, in truth, all this time I didn't really feel I had one left to do any good for.

When I finished my story, I sat there waiting. For what I wasn't sure - that he'd call me crazy, call for the guys to lock me away, shoot me; I didn't know and didn't really care. I just felt it was time to talk.

I sat there quietly waiting for his reaction, prepared myself for whatever and watched as he lowered his cup onto a side table. Then he leaned back in the chair, folded his hands over his chest and sighed.

"Alexei, I don't claim to understand all this 'metaphysical', 'cosmic spiritual', new-age mysticism, as I think it's more for the young. They like variety nowadays. But what I do know is that something happened to you. To Fox. Something that in my humble estimation is a good thing. You've changed, my boy. Changed into someone stronger than ever. What we've done, what we plan to do, takes focus and determination. You were a young man of conviction before but now..."

He pauses, looks at me and there's an expression on his face I've never seen directed at me - by anyone - and for a moment I'm stunned. It's pride!

"But now, you've added a new title, son. You've become a 'leader'. One that I think will be a very good one in the time ahead. I'm proud of you."

He reached over, took his cup and lifted it to me. I couldn't say a word, could only smile back fighting tears. I lifted mine, we sat a bit longer just drinking quietly and I couldn't help but think it again.

He's never lied to me.

Now I feel his fingers stroke mine and look up. His smile is content. "I'm glad they were able to help you, Alexei. I'm glad you trusted them enough to let them. You didn't deserve what happened to you back then."

"I didn't deserve a lot of things, Boris, least of all this. But we pay for our errors sooner or later. I was prepared to live the rest of my life with one arm. I never expected to get a second chance." I look at him and he knows I mean more. "With any part of my life."

He lowers my hand with a frown. "You regret this? This chance to be whole again?"

I shake my head not feeling entirely snide. "No. What I do regret is owing them. I don't like to owe anyone."

"Sometimes we don't have a choice, Alexei, if it gets us what we need. What we want."

I get the message and frown. "Boris, I told you back then, this isn't a debt..."

His look stops me. "I wasn't talking about our debt, my boy. I was referring to a more important one. For you."

Oh.

He doesn't say more, lets me think. Instead, he sits with his hands resting on his thigh. There's a lot less flesh to cover now. The years have seen Boris thin out a lot, bulk up with muscle in place of fat. He's starting to again resemble the man I first met and respected then; admire more now. A man built like a mountain and nearly as indestructible. A man that's been more honorable despite his 'professions', then and now, than anyone I've ever met.

Save one.

He said he wanted to help me. He has. In more ways than I'll ever be able to repay.

I start a bit when he reaches out again to pat my shoulder. "Why don't you go tell the cooks what we'd like to do? Make some arrangements. I'll finish this and join you shortly."

I rise nodding then remember my previous suggestion. "You'll look into getting some help, Boris?"

He sighs, walking back around the desk and settling into the chair. "Yes. If only to keep me sane." He looks up and smirks. "If I can still be after all this."

I know how he feels, smile at him and take my leave.


Dinner turned out to be a good time, Boris even allowing the boys to join us. The toasts were light in deference to my early flight the next morning and he put on some dinner music, taking a moment to twirl Lyuda around the floor before she snagged me for an impromptu jitterbug.

Yes, I can dance. Just didn't get to do it much in the past. Hope I have someone to move with in the future.

I returned to my room a few hours later feeling a bit better about my leaving until I see my bags on the floor. Remember what I'm going to do, where I'm going to go. Think about Fox. Realize it's been some time since I had. Not that I didn't want to...

I'd been fighting not to.

Suddenly the memories, the dreams, flood over me in a wash that battles with my hormones and leaves me sprawled on the bed shaking with need and tears. I curl into a ball and sob helplessly; fear, worry, you name it fighting to take over. Finally, I think pure lust gets the upper hand.

I didn't want Boris' cleaning staff to know any more than I did back in the hotel, so I stripped off and practically staggered into the shower where I jerked off frantically, managed to keep my screams under the roar of the water then collapsed into my bed.

It didn't help like I thought it would. I was physically sated but my mind kept thinking about my distant lover. I was terrified, wondered about too many things and didn't expect to get any sleep. I was startled when the next thing I knew, Lyuda was banging on my door telling me to get up for my flight.

At the airport, as the flight crew makes final checks and fuels the jet, Boris and I stand on the tarmac waving as Lyuda hops into a Mercedes and heads off, her new beau driving with a speed that makes even me a bit nervous.

"Where did you say she found him?"

Boris lowers his arm. "Athens. Can you believe it? She's in love with a Greek! He wants to marry her, too. Can you imagine what the children will look like?"

I can't help but laugh at that. She surprised us all when he arrived. Seems she'd stopped looking and was just being coy. I met him the night before at my party. Name's Christian. Saw his face. Not bad at all and the body was even better, too. Lyuda's picky like that. Must run in the 'family'. "I can. Hope you're not too old to still keep a new set of heart breakers in line."

That gets me a real groan of despair and I laugh harder.

"So tell me, Alexei... What do you plan to do with all that money?"

Oh yeah. I never had to use the million. By the time Boris finished with his little 'presentation', his associates were practically falling over each other to provide weapons and help. Seems my name and reputation had preceded me. This time I was glad.

So we didn't use the dough and a few weeks after the gulag battle, he and I went to Switzerland, entered the hallowed halls of 'Credit Suisse' and set up several accounts under the names of his western interests and settled the Consortium's 'hard-killed' funds into a plan against them.

Ironic that. Then I'm a bit weird with my humor too.

I only kept about nine thousand; to pay for some nice clothes (yeah I had to shop) and a few gifts for Fox and Dana. The kind I hope will say I'm sorry for the worry I caused.

If I caused any.

"Alexei?"

I think about his question for a moment then turn to look at him with the best leer I can do. "I'm going to buy a gas truck full of lube!"

For a moment he can only stare at me as his face turns red. Then I wink and he tosses back his head to roar at me before reaching out to pull me into a fierce hug and kisses my cheek. "I'm sure you will! Heh! You will stay in touch this time?"

I hug him back, press a return kiss and nod. "Seems I won't have a choice. You're going to get tired of hearing from me, you know that?"

He eases me back and shrugs. "It's if I don't hear from you that I'll start to worry. The rest will be normal compared to what I've already dealt with."

"That's true."

"Don't worry." His smile is fierce. "We'll be ready for it. For the sake of my future grandnieces and nephews I'll make sure of it!"

I don't doubt that for a moment and smile staring off; feel the wash of dread again and my expression must bleed away as well.

"Alexei?"

I look back and he's still smiling. It's a positive look that picks up something in me I didn't know had fallen. "He'll be there waiting for you. I feel it."

Glad someone believes. Still, he's never lied to me, got on my case only when I truly deserved it and stood behind me when I didn't think anyone would. Do I trust him? With my life! Do I believe him? I want to. I manage something of a smile again and nod.

"Well... Goodbye, Boris."

He shakes his head at that. "Nyet. Say 'see you later'."

I smile for real now, blinking back tears. "See you later then."

I turn and walk up the steps, hand my carry-on bag to the flight attendant who informs me a drink and meal will be served once we're at cruising altitude. As I settle down in my seat, I look out the window to find Boris moving backwards towards his limo; a smart-ass grin on his face. I already know what the drink will be and smile back at him. Mouth the words.

'Spasiba, Boris. Thank you. For everything.'

I can read his lips back.

'No Alexei, thank you. Bye...my son.'

While the plane begins to taxi down the runway, I go introspective again. Can't help but think what's left to do, what my next move will be. Know I don't want to do any of it alone. Hope I won't have to.

As the plane lifts off, turns towards Western Europe and eventually the States, I realize it's too late now to turn back. I'm on my way.

Back home.

To return to all that I love...

Praying it still loves me.

End?


I never said it'd be easy, did I? I promise...just a little bit more and all will be revealed. It'll be worth the wait.

As always, thanks to Dimitry (yes, he's real! And tall!), for the Russian to keep me on my toes.

You like? Want more? Then feed my need!

Copyright by Lashala -2006


 

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Series Name:  What's In A Dream
Title:  All That I Love
Author:  Lashala   [email/website]
Details:  Series  |  NC-17  |  152k  |  04/21/06
Pairings:  Mulder/Krycek
Category:  Drama, Angst, AU (Alternate Universe)
Sequel to:  Twists & Turns
Summary:  AU. Present time. A brief interlude and a difficult choice. Krycek's POV.


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