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Admission I thru IX (1/6)

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Admission by Aries

Admission I
By Aries
Salutations. Welcome to my world Here in my world, I do as I please. And *that* means that I choose for there to be no such things as STD's. I also have seen fit to completely ignore the fact that Krycek has a prosthetic arm, and hell, I've even given Scully a desk. This is *my* world and my story. Read all you want, but no one touches it, but me.
Fandom: XF
Disclaimer: Mulder, Krycek, Scully and all other X-Files characters who get thrown into this mix, do not belong to me. Chris Carter owns em. I'm sure he won't mind if I borrow them for a little fun, though.
Rated NC-17 This five-parter is not a story for the kiddies If naughty words and strong same-sexual images disturb you, run! Go and never come back. Over the duration of the series, there's tons of angst, a touch of violence, bad words, a whole bunch of sweet moments and even...dare I say it...the "L" word thrown in for good measure. If sugar isn't in your diet, I'll give you a second warning. Run!!
Archive: Anywhere. Just let me know where and make sure my name is on it.
I love feedback. I crave feedback. I LIVE for feedback. So for goodness sake, feed me before I knaw off a foot or something. Naturally, flames will be happily ignored...unless it's really good, in which case it'll be passed around amongst my friends. They can use a good chuckle as well as I.
Author's notes: This is my first slash series. Been working on this thing since April 98. I'd spent many a late night now, in my bed, at work, in my car, anyplace I could, scribbling down little notes and ideas. Now, it's finally all done. Gonna go back now and read the whole thing over to see if I still like it. <g> If you're reading this, I've obviously decided that it wasn't an entirely worthless effort. So without further ado...
Oh, damn...did I give a summary? Uhhhhhhhh, nope. Okay...
Summary for Part I: Krycek gets caught in Mulder's apartment. Fight. (Sort of) Talk. (Kinda) Denial. (of course) Admission (hence the title) Sex. (naturally) Self Loathing. (you didn't expect the hearts and flowers right away, did you?)
Okay so...
Oh....wait.....I gotta thank a few people. Big shout outs to Nicole, The Tenth Muse, Deb and Donna for their beta services and infinite enthusiasm. I love you kids to pieces!!!
Special thanks to Pat for loving this thing and making my residual doubts and fears vanish. You made it complete.
Okay....NOW....


Sleepless hours and dreamless nights and far aways
Heaven knows and lord it shows when I'm awake
Wishing you were here

Same old show in a different town of another kind
Even though you're far away, you're on my mind
Wishing you were here

And I'd like to change my life, and you know I would
Just to be with you tonight, baby, if I could
But I've got my job to do, and I do it well,
So I guess that's how it is..
Wishing you were here

On the road it's a heavy load, but I'll get by
Pay the price, make a sacrifice, and still I'll try
Wishing you were here
Wishing you were here

Wishing You Were Here ~ Chicago

********************

Friday, 10:35 p.m.

Fox Mulder moved deftly through the dark apartment, stopping only when he reached his desk. The soft click of the lamp switch was followed by the dim illumination of the immediate area. The rest of the room remained fairly black. Forty watts in a room this size just didn't do it.

He removed his charcoal suit jacket and tossed it across the swivel chair behind the desk. He loosened his tie even as he fished around under the stacks of files and papers. His hand came in contact with a long, smooth object. He curled his fingers around the cool hardness and pulled the remote control out of the mess. He flicked the television on, adding a bit more light to the muted gloom. He removed his holster and laid it across the coffee table, then settled back onto the sofa.

He really didn't know why he turned the t.v. on, he was in no mood to watch anything. Even a selection from his video collection held no allure tonight. All he really wanted to do was sleep. But sleep eluded him - like the meanings of his fragmented dreams. Like the truth behind the disappearance of Samantha. Like the simple joy he might find in the welcoming smile of a loved one as he walked through the door, at the end of a long day.

His eyes slid closed. Not that there was any sleep to be found behind his lids. There was just nothing else to do...yet. Mulder's eyes snapped open at the faint rustle that came from the direction of his bedroom. In one fluid movement, he spun to his feet and released his Sig Sauer from the holster.


There had been no sign of forced entry. No clues that anyone had been there. He knew he was exhausted and those two whiskey sours that he'd tossed down at the airport bar before he came home, probably didn't do much to help his already dulled senses, but that *was* a noise, he was sure of it.

Mulder crept to the doorway then flattened himself out against the wall, gun positioned just parallel with his head. He took two deep breaths, then kicked the door open. Bloodshot hazel eyes squinted into the almost dark room, determining that there was no one there. Cautiously, he entered the room, eyes scanning the darkness as he moved toward the closet. He nudged the already partially open door with his foot and quickly stepped into the doorway, pointing his Sig out before him.

Nothing.

Immediately, his head turned toward the bed. He moved over to it and flipped the cover off. He jumped back, pointing the gun downward. After a second, he bent to have a look. Again, nothing.

Satisfied that it might have been his imagination after all, he secured his weapon and left the room - just in time as it turned out, to see a dark figure breaking from the bathroom into the hall. Mulder gave chase and tackled the intruder just before he reached the door. The two struggled briefly before Mulder was able to turn the man over onto his back. His eyes glittered with a murderous rage when the all too familiar face became visible.

"Krycek?!? What are you doing here?"

Krycek smirked up at him. "Lovely to see you too, Mulder. Miss me?"

His answer came in a sharp blow to the jaw.

Krycek's eyes squeezed shut as he ran his tongue over his split bottom lip.

"Shit!"

Mulder held the collar of his jacket together in one hand, almost cutting off his air, fist curled, poised to resume the assault.

"What the fuck are you doing in my apartment?" His only answer came in a tight gasp. He loosened his grip slightly. "Now talk."

"I was just in the neighborhood and thought I'd come by for a little visit...and this is the welcome I get."

Mulder startled him with a stinging backhand.

"Usually, when people visit, they actually want to *see* who it is they're visiting. Now for once in your fucking miserable life, tell the truth. What do you want?"

Krycek raised a hand carefully to his cheek and rubbed it. He gave no verbal response, but the look in his green eyes was somehow response enough. And it unnerved Mulder...a lot. Suddenly he was very aware that they were on the floor and he was straddling Krycek's slim hips. The faint stirring in his body shocked him. He rose to his feet, pulling Krycek up by his jacket. He raised his weapon and trained it on his former partner.

"One funny move and I'll blow your head off." Mulder dragged him to the sofa and threw him down on it. "Who sent you here?"

"No one."

He released the safety. "I'll give you five seconds to re-think your answer."

Krycek looked up at him with the same disturbing gaze that had made him so uneasy just a few minutes before. He spoke softly. "Would you really kill me?"

"Try me."

He sighed softly. "I haven't done anything. I only got here a few minutes before you did. You were supposed to be gone till tomorrow."

"Gee, sorry I ruined you plans," Mulder sneered. "Which were what, by the way? Would I have been killed or simply maimed?"

"Mulder, you know that if they wanted you dead or incapacitated, you *would* have been by now."

"They. Now we're getting somewhere. Who exactly are *they*?"

"You know who *they* are."

"What did they send you here for?"

Krycek studied him for a moment, then spoke. "I'm going to reach in my pocket. One hand, okay?"

In a second, Mulder was there, slapping his hand away from his jacket. He reached into the pocket and withdrew a small device.

"They wanted to monitor you. I was supposed to plant that."

Mulder laughed softly, almost to himself, then addressed Krycek. "You know how many times they've tried to *monitor* me? I thought they would have given up by now." He tossed the tiny camera onto the table. His eyes narrowed on his unwelcome company. "And why you?" Any drone could have hooked this up. I'd have thought they'd have better things for cold-blooded killers to do."

Krycek responded softly, his eyes cast downward. "I didn't kill your father. Or Scully's sister. I wish you could believe that. And I volunteered to do this."

Mulder glared at him. "First of all, what do you care what I believe and second, why would you volunteer to come here?"

Krycek hesitated, then looked up into Mulder's eyes. "I could cover both of those questions in one answer, but..." He shook his head, almost imperceptibly and lowered it once again.

"But what? Answer them!"

"I don't think you really want me to."

Mulder advanced toward him and held the muzzle of his weapon to Krycek's forehead. "Yeah, I really do."

"Do you ever wonder, Mulder, why when you're around me, you can't seem to control your violent tendencies?"

"Gee, I don't know Krycek. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that you *killed my father*!"

Krycek raged back, not caring that there was a cocked pistol aimed at his head. "For the last fucking time, I did *not* kill your fucking father!" He took full advantage of Mulder's momentary discomposure and lunged at him. They rolled onto the floor, wrestling for the gun. Krycek managed to straddle his chest and kneel on his arms. Mulder howled with rage, as his Sig was pried from his hand.

"I've had enough of this shit," Krycek heaved, holding the weapon against Mulder's temple. Mulder glared up at him defiantly.

"Go ahead, man. You can do it." He shrugged "Piece of cake, right?"

Krycek shook his head, almost sadly. "You don't get it, do you?" He secured the gun, then gently drew the barrel down Mulder's cheek. "I don't want to kill you." Mulder swallowed against the huge lump that had suddenly risen in his throat. "I just want...I want to talk."

"About?"

"About you...me." Krycek got up and handed the gun back to him. Mulder rose to his feet and backed away.

"Awful big chance you're taking, giving me my weapon back. How do you know I won't kill you where you stand?"

"I *don't* know for sure. I'm just...I'm reading something here. In your voice...your eyes. It's something I've suspected...for some time. Or maybe I just hoped for it...I don't know."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"We're attracted to each other, you and I."

"*What*?"

"From that first day...in the bullpen. I felt it and I think you did, too."

"Oh, you're a sicker puppy than I thought you were," Mulder said, with total disgust.

"Then put me out of my misery. Go ahead, you've got the gun." He stood, waiting.

Mulder did not raise the gun, but he didn't put it down, either. "Get out of here, you goddamn fag. If it's an ass fucking you're looking for, try the bar downtown. I'm sure somebody there will be more than happy to oblige you."

"I don't want to go to any bar. I am where I want to be. With the man I want to be with."

"You just said it, fairy. *Man*. I'm a *man*!"

"Believe me, I *know* you're a man. I wouldn't want you if you weren't."

Mulder began to pace. "I don't believe this. I don't *fucking* believe this." He whirled to face Krycek. "Get our ass out of here, before I pound you into nothing!"

"And that's the only way I can get you to touch me, isn't it? It's the only way you can put your hands on me without feeling any guilt or doubt." Mulder began to pace again, shaking his head. Krycek continued. "The last time you were being monitored, before you found the device, I witnessed your encounter with a blonde woman." Mulder's head snapped around and he glared at Krycek. "The earth didn't exactly move for you, did it?" Before Mulder could respond, he went on. "Oh, I give you credit. She left here a very happy camper, but you got very little, if nothing from it."

"She turned out not to be my type...simple as that."

"No, she wasn't your type at all, you're right about that." He lowered his voice, almost to a whisper. "It's just you and me here, Mulder. Tell me what your type really is."

Mulder shrugged. "My tastes run more to petite redheads."

"Scully?!?" Krycek roared with bitter laughter. "Get off it!"

"You asked, and not that it's any of you fucking business, but I told you. I've wanted Scully for years, now!"

"That's the biggest bunch of shit I've ever heard! You don't want her! Sure, you're partners, and sure you spend more time together than most married couples, but there's about as much sexual attraction between you two as there is between that coffee table and your couch! Do you know an Alexandra or an Alexis?"

Mulder knitted his brows and placed his hands low on his hips. "*What*?"

"Answer."

"No! What the hell has *that* got to do with anything?"

"I've watched you some nights, in front of the t.v., on the couch...jerking off."

"Is there no fucking part of my life that's mine alone?"

Krycek answered his question with a question. "Did you know I could read lips?"

"So?"

"I've watched you touching yourself, stroking you cock with such gentle hands..."

Mulder's respiration deepened.

"I've seen you mouth the name 'Alex' on more than one occasion."

Mulder was stricken. He looked as though his knees would give out on him at any moment. Krycek pressed on. "Were you imagining that I was here with you?"

"No."

"That it was my tongue sliding up and down on you, instead of your fingers?"

"*No*!"

Mulder practically fell backward against the desk. Krycek advanced and stood before him.

"Look at yourself. You're wrecked. All because of a few words that I said. What would happen right now if I touched you?"

Mulder gritted his teeth. "I'd break your fucking hand."

"Cut the shit Fox," Krycek said gently. "You're not fooling either one of us. Give in," he whispered as his hand slid tentatively up Mulder's chest to the wild pulse in his throat. "Let me give you what you need."

Mulder whimpered softly as he felt the warm pressure of this mortal enemy's lips against his. Krycek brushed against his mouth a couple of times before pulling away. "Tell me what you want, Fox. You can have me any way you want me. Just tell me."

For a moment, it looked as though Mulder would do just that - just for a moment. Suddenly, violently, he shoved Krycek away.

"Get out! Get the fuck out of here and don't you ever let me see your face again, or I swear, I'll kill you! *I'll kill you*!"

He picked up the nearest object - the phone - and hurled it against the wall. He stumbled toward the sofa, but before he could make it, crumpled to the floor and lay there, arms wrapped around himself, shuddering.

Krycek swore softly and kneeled beside Mulder's prone body. Carefully, he lay behind him and tucked his arm around his chest.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do this to you. I just came here to plant the camera. And I only did *that* because it was a way for me to keep some kind of physical contact with you. I never intended to actually meet up with you. I'm sorry, I just couldn't help it. It's been so long since I've spoken with you. I missed your voice. I missed your smell. I never intended to tell you. I knew that this would turn your life inside out and still, I did it." He paused for a second, then continued. "You're right about me. All the times you called me a dirty, worthless son of a bitch, you were right. The only real thing in my life was my feelings for you. And now I've gone and blown that to hell."

Mulder didn't move. Krycek wasn't even sure he was breathing. He lay there, eyes closed, arms still wrapped tightly around himself.

"I'm leaving, Fox," Krycek murmured in his ear. "I promise you, you'll never see me again." He attempted to get up, but was prevented by Mulder's hand, which had closed around the wrist draped over is chest.

"Don't go. Please....Alex."

Shocked green eyes met glazed hazel eyes.

"Are you sure?"

Mulder nodded slowly. "Don't leave."

The man who Alex Krycek had always considered to be the toughest, most self-assured person he'd ever known, had suddenly taken on a whole new persona. So much hurt, so much...insecurity and need. Krycek's heart pounded in his chest.

//What do I do, now?//

//What do you mean, what do you do, now? You stay, stupid. You show him who you really are.//

He resettled his body and pulled Mulder tightly against it. "I won't leave you," he whispered into his hair. "I promise."

They lay together on the floor in silence for a while, then Mulder stirred slightly. "I'm so tired," he said, almost inaudibly.

"Why don't you go to bed?" Krycek smiled into the back of his neck. "I give you my word, I won't kill you in your sleep."

"You're word isn't worth a whole hell of a lot, Krycek."

"What happened to 'Alex'?"

No answer.

He slipped his hand under Mulder's cheek and turned his face, so that they were eye to eye.

"You've got no reason in the world to trust me but...I won't hurt you. Now, you'll either believe that, or you won't."

"What, are there a couple of goons waiting in the shadows to take care of me, for you?"

Krycek shook his head, vehemently. "No. No, no. There's no one waiting anywhere...not that I know of, anyway. And even if there was...they'd have to come through me to get to you."

Mulder shifted onto his back and stared up into those incredibly deep green eyes. "So, I'm supposed to believe that while I'm sleeping, you're going to stand guard over me?"

Krycek shrugged one shoulder. "If that's what you want to call it. I'll just hang out and watch t.v. or something. It's been a long, long time since I spent an evening in a warm apartment just doing nothing."

Mulder regarded him through half-closed lids. "Where do you live?"

Krycek's gaze fell to a patch of carpet, just beyond Mulder's head. "Nowhere."

"You gotta sleep somewhere."

"Usually, I just grab a motel room wherever I happen to be." Not waiting for the next question, Krycek patted him gently on the chest and said, "Come on, get up. Time for bed." He hoisted Mulder up and started to steer him toward the bedroom.

"I usually just crash on the sofa."

"You ever think that maybe that's the reason why you don't sleep well?"

"You watch me all night, or what?"

"Sometimes."

"That's more than just a little unnerving, Krycek."

"Not any more so than anything else I've said to you tonight, I'll bet."

Mulder looked away and said nothing.

"Nevermind. Come on."

Krycek led him without protest, to the bedroom. When they reached the bed, Mulder dropped down onto it and stretched out on his back.

"Aren't you even going to undress?"

"Too tired."

"Want me to help you?"

"No," he snapped, more irritated with himself for considering the offer, than he was with Krycek for making it.

Krycek held is hands up in a defensive gesture. "Okay, okay, if you want to sleep with all your clothes on..."

"I do."

"Fine. The important thing is that you get some sleep. Close your eyes."

Mulder stared up at him. Krycek held his hands out to his sides, palms upturned and raised his eyebrows. Mulder emitted a heavy sigh and closed his eyes. Krycek moved away from the bed and slumped down in the room's only chair, about six feet away. He watched quietly, as within the span of roughly ten minutes, Mulder shifted position at least five times. He moved again, onto his right side. Then seconds later...

"Krycek?"

"Hmm?"

"You remember when I said I was tired?"

"Yeah. Apparently *you* don't..."

"I didn't just mean that I was sleepy."

"What else did you mean? What else are you tired of?"

"Everything." His back remained to Krycek as he spoke. "All of it. I feel like a rat in a maze, searching for that crumb of cheese at the end and every time I get close, every time I'm about to get to it, somebody changes the maze and I have to start all over. I wouldn't...I wouldn't mind all the shit, you know? I wouldn't mind so much if at the end, there was something I could hold on to. Something tangible. Proof that it isn't all for nothing." Krycek rose from the chair and came to sit at the edge of the bed. He laid a hand on Mulder's shoulder and massaged lightly. Mulder continued in his soft monotone. "Sometimes I think about just giving it all up. Turning in my badge and moving to Idaho."

Soft laughter came from behind him. "Idaho?"

"Yup. Become a potato farmer."

"You know, that actually doesn't sound all that bad. Think there might be room on the old homestead for an extra hand?"

"You like potatoes?"

"Well...they don't lie, they've got no hidden agendas and you don't have to worry that they're all out to get you."

Mulder smiled sadly into his pillow. "Yeah."

"It's after twelve-thirty. Go to sleep."

Krycek reluctantly pulled his hand from the warmth of Mulder's shoulder and went back to his chair. Several minutes later, Mulder's sleepy voice reached his ears.

"Krycek?"

"Now what?"

"If I wake up dead tomorrow, I'm going to be really pissed."

An easy smile graced his partially swollen lips. He leaned his head back against the chair. "Goodnight, Fox."

"Mulder."


Saturday, 4:25 a.m.

Krycek's eyes flew open and he sat bolt upright.

"Jesus Christ," he grated. "You scared the shit out of me!"

Mulder sat on the floor, in front of the chair, intently observing the man whom he was positive, until last night, had been his sworn enemy.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah."

Krycek looked around. "What time is it?"

"After four."

"Have you been awake long?"

Mulder shrugged. "Few minutes, I guess."

Krycek's brow creased. "Why are you staring at me like that?"

"I'm still alive."

"Yeah....imagine that."

"You kept your word."

"Mulder, go back to bed. You need a little more than four hours..."

Mulder ignored his words. "Have you moved out of this chair?"

"No."

"You're going to be stiff, sleeping like this."

"I've slept in much worse positions." A faint smile crossed his lips. "You're worried about me?"

Mulder turned away from his warm stare. Krycek pitched forward and cupped his cheek in his hand. His thumb brushed back and forth across the light stubble. "Please look at me." Mulder did as he was asked and met the rapidly growing heat of Krycek's stare. "Can we stop this? I really would like to just stop it."

"Stop what?"

"This pretense. This...fucking *game* we're playing. You know, normally I like a good game...especially when I'm playing against an equal...like you. But this is no time for that. I *want you*...like you wouldn't believe. And you want me. Now if you can't admit that out loud, if you need help, I'll give it to you. I'll go get your gun and hold it to your head." He snapped his fingers. "It was rape. I forced you. You didn't want any part of it..." he stroked Mulder's cheek. "no matter how many times you screamed my name...no matter how hard you came. The guilt is all off you. Will that work for you?"

Mulder's eyes glittered with anger. He slapped Krycek's hand away. "Fuck you."

"Please do."

He saw Mulder's body tense and instinctively knew that another bloody lip was coming his way. He decided to head it off. He sprang from the chair and pushed Mulder to the floor. He held him there, by bringing his full weight down upon his chest. Mulder roared his fury.

"Get off me, you son of a bitch!"

"Not until you calm down."

"Get off!"

"You don't sound calm."

"I'll kill you, you asshole! I swear to Christ..."

The rest of his tirade was abruptly cut off as Krycek's lips covered his. As much as he didn't want it to, his body immediately began to respond. The vibration of his soft moan against Krycek's mouth, drew an almost violent reaction from the younger man. His fingers clutched in Mulder's thick golden brown hair and he forced his tongue into the sweet warmth of his mouth. There was a brief struggle before Mulder's body began to relax and submit to the sensual assault. Slowly, his hands traveled up Krycek's back. They stroked and massaged the taut muscles as his tongue twined around the one invading his mouth.

Krycek let out a satisfied groan as he felt the ever hardening length of Mulder's erection against his thigh. He pulled away just far enough to mumble against his mouth. "I can give you what you want." He licked that exquisite lower lip. "I can give you anything you need. I'm the only one who can. Admit it...to yourself, at least."

Mulder's eyes glazed over as he looked up at the man who wanted so desperately to become his lover. His breaths came fast and shallow and his body shook uncontrollably.

Krycek smoothed the hair back from his face. "Talk to me, Fox. Tell me what you want."

Mulder closed his eyes. "It *was* you."

"What was me?"

"It *was* you I was thinking about. I can't get off anymore, unless I do."

Krycek stroked his outer thigh and breathed into his ear. "I'm here now, baby. Alex will take care of all your needs."

The tears that had been gathering in Mulder's eyes, spilled over and ran down the sides of his face. Krycek lowered his head and licked the dampness away. The taste of Mulder's tears on his tongue were like nectar. He drew back a few inches and asked softly, "Why are you crying?"

"Because," Mulder answered even softer, "I want you and I hate myself for it."

"You hate yourself enough already. You don't need to find another reason." Krycek's hand slipped between their hips and stroked Mulder's raging erection through the loose suit pants. "I know how you hate lies..." he squeezed the solid thickness under his hand. "*This* is the truth. Don't deny it."

Mulder reached up and tentatively stroked the tips of his fingers across Krycek's lips, pausing on the cut he'd given him just a few hours before. His thumb stroked it slowly and he was rewarded with a soft groan. Krycek allowed him a few more seconds of exploration, before taking two fingers into his mouth.

What could only be described as an electrical surge, shot through the middle of Mulder's body. "Jesus," he moaned through gritted teeth. "Alex..."

Krycek sucked his fingers deep into his mouth, swirling his tongue around them. Mulder's head rolled on the hardwood and his breath came in ragged gasps.

Cool air replaced moist warmth as Krycek abruptly released Mulder's fingers. "Let's get comfortable."

Mulder was in no condition to protest, as he was pulled to his feet and led to the bed. Krycek pushed him down onto the mattress then stepped back. His eyes stayed riveted on Mulder's as he unbuttoned his shirt and removed it. He almost let it drop to the floor, then thought better of it. He extended his arm and held the shirt out in offering. Mulder hesitantly reached forward and took it from his loose grip. He lay it carefully in his lap and absently stroked the black cotton while turning his eyes back to admire the lean, muscular torso of his soon-to-be lover.

Krycek's hand dropped to the waist of his jeans and undid the button. The sound of the zipper as it worked it's way down the track, echoed in Mulder's head. He closed his eyes against the sound and reopened them when it had stopped. Krycek stood motionless before him, waiting. Mulder drew a shaky breath and nodded. The faded Levis and shoes came off.

//It's on now,// Mulder thought to himself, as his eyes tried to take in everything he saw before him, at once. Krycek moved toward him with feline grace. He reached for the hand that was still caressing his shirt and placed it against his chest. His eyes glittered in the near darkness of the room as he moved Mulder's hand up and down. "Pet *this*."

Mulder's mouth went suddenly dry. His hand broke from Krycek's control and wandered of it's own accord, across the span of his chest. His fingertips lovingly brushed one hard nipple. Hearing the quick intake of breath, fueled his courage. His other hand came up to pay equal attention to the other nipple Krycek gritted his teeth and endured the erotic torture, determined to let Mulder move at his own pace.

Mulder's hands slipped downward, over the solid contours of his abdomen. Slowly, he leaned in and touched his lips to the overheated flesh. A clipped grunt escaped Krycek's throat. He wanted so much to plunge his fingers into that silky golden brown hair and force Mulder's mouth down over his aching cock, but he fought the urge with every ounce of strength he could summon.

Mulder's hands moved to Krycek's waist as his mouth slipped lower, licking and kissing the salty sweet skin. He froze, however, as he felt the tip of his erection, bobbing against his chin. Krycek held his breath and waited. Only disappointment followed.

"I can't, I..." Mulder squeezed his eyes shut and dropped his hands to the bed. Gentle fingers tilted his chin up.

"Open your eyes, Fox."

Thick, honey brown lashes lifted half way. The back of Krycek's hand stroked his face softly, again and again. "It's okay," he whispered soothingly. "You don't have to."

Mulder tried to swallow against the dryness in his throat. "But..."

"But nothing. Let me take care of *you*." He reached down and started to undo the buttons on Mulder's shirt . "Just relax and...trust me." He pulled the shirt off and tossed it aside. "Lay back." Mulder did as he instructed, then let Krycek remove his pants and gray boxer-briefs. His eyes dilated to near blackness as he viewed the long, muscular body, stretched out before him. "Incredible," he murmured as he bent to capture a hard brown nipple in his mouth. Mulder whimpered and his body began to tremble.

"Are you cold?"

"A little."

Krycek retrieved the light blanket at the foot of the bed and pulled it up over them, then gently settled his weight on top of Mulder. "Is that better?"

"Better."

Stone brushed against stone as Krycek shifted his position.

"Ohhh, *God*..."

"Do you like that?" Krycek pushed against him.

"Jesus, *yes*."

"How about this?" He reached down between them taking both cocks in his hand and began caressing them. Mulder arched his back and cried out sharply. "Alex!"

"That's one..."

"Please....stop...stop....*please*!"

"Why?"

"I'm going to come any second now, and I don't..."

"You don't what?"

"Not so soon. Not...more...I want more."

Krycek smiled triumphantly. "How much more, baby?"

"I...I don't know."

"I want to give you everything." Krycek squeezed them together in his hand. "Tell me your deepest, darkest desires." He slid his tongue across Mulder's trembling lips. "I want to know all your most intimate fantasies. "I'll fulfill them all...one by one." Mulder sighed against his mouth. "Tell me, Fox."

"I want..." he stopped, then started again. "Just...show me. Make me understand this."

"Okay. I understand, if that's all you can handle right now. There'll be time enough for the rest."

Long, smooth fingers caressed the absurdly beautiful features of the face that, for years now, had haunted dreams and occupied many a waking thought. Lips, soft but insistent, kissed and teased, leaving the beneficiary of their attention, writhing in agonizing bliss.

Slowly, painfully, Krycek worked his way downward, leaving a path of tingling warmth in his wake. He heard the sharp intake of breath come from somewhere above his head, as his cheek brushed ever so lightly against Mulder's straining erection. He'd intended to completely ignore it for a while - a little payback for the swollen lip, but Mulder's reaction to his touches were driving him out of his mind. He couldn't wait. He had to...

That first sweet touch of Krycek's tongue to the head of his cock, drew a strangled moan from Mulder. His fingers clenched in the sheets in an effort to keep them from pulling that lovely dark hair out of it's owner's head.

Krycek continued to tease his former partner with quick, feathery flicks of his tongue, until a drop of viscous fluid appeared and started to dribble down the long shaft. Without warning, his mouth engulfed the head, greedily sucking at it and removing all traces of moisture.

Mulder arched upward, trying to thrust deeper. "Alex!"

Krycek released him and slid up his chest so that they were face to face. His eyes sparkled. "That's two."

Mulder growled his frustration. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Krycek smirked at him. "I'm counting the amount of times you scream my name."

"You gotta be kidding me."

"Nope." He kissed Mulder deeply, letting him taste himself. When he pulled away, they were both breathing heavily. "Do me a favor."

"What?"

Another kiss.

"Say it the way you do when you're alone."

Mulder opened his mouth to speak, then fell silent. Krycek stared intently at him for a few seconds, then bestowed one last kiss on his parted lips, before again moving south. Mulder winced as he nipped at the soft skin on his stomach. Not that it hurt, really. He was just so overstimulated, that the slightest touch was magnified ten times over. Krycek lingered a while longer, then continued his journey downward, this time completely ignoring that which was begging for his attention. He moved from the inside of one strong thigh to the other, first biting gently, then soothing. Mulder twisted and moaned under his touch, then gasped aloud as Krycek took his testicles into his open mouth, worshiping them with his tongue.

For so long, Alex Krycek spent nights fantasizing about this, especially at those times when it looked like he would never see the light of day again...and there were so many of those. His fantasies were all he had at those times, and he'd often wished feverishly, that he could have made just one of them a reality before he died. Now, by some bizarre twist of fate, he was here...in the apartment of the object of his fantasies, doing things that he was sure he'd only ever dream about. Life had *never* been this kind to him.

Mulder's head spun. He was at the very edge of a precipice, ready...willing to fall. No thoughts, other than those of intense hunger and need, could pass through the fog that surrounded him. It hurt. He knew that, too. And if the pain wasn't relieved soon, he didn't know that he could survive it. As if his thoughts had been read, he felt the wet heat of his lover's mouth, enveloping his rigid cock, taking in half of it's length, only to withdraw and then slide back over it.

"Alex..."

That was it. That rough, throaty whisper. That was the way he'd imagined Mulder had said his name while masturbating alone, on those dark, lonely nights. The vibration from his satisfied groan, only served to excite Mulder further. Instinctively, he began to move his hips, thrusting in and out of Krycek's mouth. Krycek began to thrust as well, rubbing himself against the cotton covered mattress.

//No. Stop. You don't have to come into a sheet...not tonight. Tonight, you've got the man you've wanted for so long.//

He stopped his movements but encouraged Mulder to continue his. He grasped the lean hips and pulled them forward, bringing him fully into his mouth. He could feel the head pushing against the back of his throat. He relaxed the muscles and encouraged Mulder to push deeper. His eyes traveled upward to see his lover's face. Beautiful. He would have been willing to bet that Mulder had never felt anything this good before. He sure as hell knew that *he* hadn't. He began to move his head in perfect cadence with the other's hips. The pace quickened and he knew from Mulder's increasingly anguished cries, that he was almost there. He took a deep breath through his nose and prepared himself. Mulder gave one last vicious thrust and emitted a long, sobbing groan as he emptied himself into Krycek's mouth. The sudden rush of bitter fluid gagged the man, but he refused to let go until he'd drained him of every drop.

When it was completely over, he discreetly cleaned the residual semen from his mouth and chin, then slid up and wrapped an arm around Mulder's still heaving chest. He studied his flushed face with loving interest. The hazel eyes were still closed, those full, luscious lips were parted and gasping for breath. How he ached to feel those lips around his own still throbbing erection.

//He's exhausted. Give him some time.//

Krycek lay quietly, stroking the moderate sprinkling of golden hairs that covered Mulder's chest, while he recovered. A few minutes went by, and his eyes fluttered open.

"Finally," he smiled. "I was beginning to think that I'd killed you."

Mulder's eyes scanned the ceiling. He seemed a bit dazed. Then Krycek's heart sank as a different look replaced the confusion.

"Oh my God," Mulder whispered. "Oh, God."

"What is it?" He wondered if Mulder could hear the rising panic in his voice. "What's wrong?"

Mulder lay silent, trying to take it all in. The realization of it hit like thunder, a few seconds later. Unable to meet Krycek's eye, he quickly slipped out of bed and disappeared into the bathroom. Krycek got up and followed. He didn't open the door though, only leaned his head against it and listened, broken hearted, to the sound of Mulder, vomiting.

When he was done, Mulder stood weakly and looked toward the door. //Jesus.// He should go back and face this. Unfortunately, what he *should* do and what he was *able*to do, were two different things. He lowered the toilet lid and sat heavily.

//How the hell did this happen? Are you out of your fucking mind? How could you let a man...hell, not just any man...*Krycek*...do that to you?//

 He once again looked toward the door and wondered how long Krycek would wait out there, before coming in. He reached out and quickly locked the door, then jumped up and turned the shower on, full hot. He got in and gritted his teeth as the steaming water pounded his skin. For fifteen minutes, he scrubbed, trying to remove Krycek's smell...the feel of his hands and mouth. Finally, he turned the water off and dried himself. He grabbed his robe from the hook on the back of the door and threw it on, belting it tightly. He walked to the sink and picked up his toothbrush. He squeezed a glob of Crest onto the bristles and brushed his teeth till they squeaked.

//Okay, now what?// He looked into the mirror. //You've done everything you could possibly do in here.// He turned away from his reflection, unable to face himself. //Christ, if you can't look at yourself, how the hell are you going to look at him?// He leaned against the sink and stood that way for a long while, trying to convince himself to open the door. Finally, he did.

Silence greeted him as he walked slowly into the bedroom, eyes cast downward. What the hell to say? Maybe he should just remain quiet and let Alex....Krycek...talk first. He leaned back against the wall, staring at a worn spot on the hardwood floor. Still, all was quiet. Finally, he risked a glance at the bed. It was empty. He scanned the room and found no one there. Then he noticed that Krycek's clothes were gone. He pushed himself away from the wall and stepped into the living room, where he was met with more emptiness. A small square of paper was tacked to the door. He pulled it off and stared down at it, not knowing how to feel about the two word message. He walked over to the sofa and lowered himself onto it. He looked back at the paper in his hand, and read aloud.

"Forgive me."


7:05 a.m.

Alex Krycek stood, protected from view by two large trees, looking up at the window of apartment number forty-two. The heavy morning mist gave way to a cold rain. Perfect.

He hadn't wanted to leave, but fear of Mulder's complete rejection prompted his departure. He couldn't handle that. Not after...he gave himself a mental shake. //How could you be so stupid? So fucking weak? Was a night with him really worth risking your life?//His eyes closed involuntarily, as he remembered what had happened between them, just a couple of short hours ago. There was only one answer to his question. He opened his eyes and turned to lean back against one of the trees. //At least the next time your ass is in a sling, and death is inevitable, you'll have this to reflect on. Well...maybe not all of it.//

He glanced carefully around the quiet neighborhood, then flipped the collar of his jacket up, and walked away.

End Part I

 


 

11 November 1998

Admission II: Awakening
by Aries
Fandom: XF
See Disclaimer in Part I
Summary: NC-17 M/K An unexpected visit forces Mulder to deal with his feelings.


As my life goes on I believe
Somehow something's changed
Something deep inside
A part of me

There's a strange new light in my eyes
Things I've never known
Changin' my life
Changin' me

I've been searchin'
So long
To find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning

Now I see myself as I am
Feeling very free
Love means everything
It's meant to be

I've Been Searching For So Long ~ Chicago

********************

Thursday, 1:57 p.m.

"I don't understand this, Mulder. How can there not be an exit wound?" Scully massaged her temples and paced the cluttered length of their shared office. "The M.E. went up one side of that body and down the other." She threw the coroner's report down onto Mulder's desk. "He can't even find the damn bullet!" She paused, hands on hips, waiting for a response. Mulder rolled a pen back and forth between his fingers. His eyes focused on nothing. "Mulder..."

"Hmm?"

"Have you heard a word I said?"

"Sure."

"And?"

"And, what?"

"You've got no thoughts?"

"About what?"

"The dead guy! Entrance wound! No bullet, *no* exit wound!"

Mulder raised and lowered his eyebrows. "Interesting."

"That's all you can say? Mulder, what the hell is wrong with you?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing," she repeated. "In the last five weeks, we've had at least *two* cases that I was sure you'd be salivating over! And yet, it seems like *I'm* doing all the work!" She moved to the side of the desk and sat down. "Mulder, what's wrong? Do you not feel well?"

"I'm fine."

"And I'm tired of these one or two word answers. *Talk* to me, dammit!" Before he could answer, she pointed a finger and threatened him. "Tell me nothing again, and I swear, I'll shoot you."

Mulder tapped the pen to his forehead. "Sorry, Scully. There are just ...I've had some things on my mind, that's all."

"What things?"

"I'd rather not talk about it."

"You *have* to talk about it. Whatever it is, it's interfering with your job. And in our line of work, I don't have to tell you that distraction can be a dangerous thing."

"I know."

"So let's have it." She tried a little levity. "Is it woman trouble?" It was an inside joke between them. Neither could remember the last relationship they'd had, and the mention of it had usually reduced them both to giggles. Not today.

"I wish it was that simple."

His reply puzzled her. She patted his hand. "Okay then, what gives?"

"I can't."

"Can't what? Can't talk to me? Why not?"

"It's...I just can't."

"Mulder, I'm sorry. I can see that this is upsetting you. But you *need* to get it off your chest...for both our sakes."

He lowered his eyes to the desktop. "I need to be able to trust you, Scully."

"I've gone to *jail* in the interest of preserving the trust between us."

She was right. He could trust her with this. She was his best friend. Shit, she was his *only* friend. She'd understand. He *hoped* she'd understand.

"Not here, okay?"

"Your place?"

"No. Yours. After work."

"Fine. I'll order a pizza."

He gave her a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "What, no three course meal?"

"Only if you want to go to a restaurant instead."

"No. We need to be alone."

Scully emitted a long sigh. "You're really worrying me, Mulder."

"Don't. I'll be okay." He picked the folder up and opened it. He perused the contents for a few moments, then looked up at Scully, who was still staring curiously at him. "Okay, how about this? The body dissolved the bullets..."


4:00 p.m.

Alex Krycek stretched out on the decrepit twin bed that sat in the middle of the tiny, run down motel room and checked his watch. Nine hours. He dropped his hand and stared up at the yellow-tiled ceiling.


6:45 p.m.

Scully flipped the top on the pizza box, allowing the steam to escape.

"Smells good."

"Well," she encouraged Mulder. "eat up."

He lifted a slice a stared at it.

"You going to study it, or eat it?"

Mulder took a bite and set the pizza down on the plate in front of him. Scully was almost done with her first slice, before she decided to needle him. "Mulder, don't tell me you're not hungry. You didn't have any lunch and God only knows what you had or *didn't* have for breakfast."

Mulder gave no answer. He picked the pizza up and took another bite. "Okay?" he asked around a mouthful of sausage and mushrooms. Scully shook her head.

"Let's talk about what you came here to talk about." Scully tucked one leg up under herself and slung an arm over the back of the sofa. "What's going on?"

"Sheesh. Couldn't you at least let me enjoy my supper?"

"Mulder..."

Mulder tossed the half eaten slice back onto the plate. He looked up at her. If she didn't know him better, she'd say that the look in his eyes was one of fear. She brought a clenched hand to her mouth and waited.

"That umm...that comment you made earlier...it wasn't entirely off base. Well....it was, and it wasn't."

"What comment was that?" Scully paused a few seconds, then asked, "That comment I made about you having woman problems?"

"Yeah."

"Mulder...*are* you involved with a woman?"

"No."

"So then...what?"

"Sc...Scully, listen to me. What I'm going to tell you is very difficult to say. It'll probably change the way you see me, forever. *And*, it could very well mean the end of my career if anyone found out."

"If anyone finds out whatever this is, I can promise you, they won't hear it from me." She leaned forward and took his hand. "Mulder, I'm your *friend*. Friends are friends no matter what....tell me."

Mulder swallowed the dryness that had suddenly claimed his throat. "Five weeks ago, I had a...a...I spent a night with someone."

"Hasn't that been what I've been asking you?"

"Yes, but....you were wrong on one count."

"What count was that?"

Mulder closed is eyes and bowed his head.

"Mulder, come on. Just say it."

"It wasn't a woman."

Scully blinked slowly, trying to absorb what it was that her partner was trying to tell her. "Mulder, are you telling me..." she shook her head. "Are you telling me that you spent the night with a..."

Mulder's eyes remained focused on the sofa cushion between them. "A man."

Scully felt her head begin to pound. "How? Uh...wha...are you saying that you're..."

"I don't know what I'm saying. It was a one time thing, Scully. I don't know why. I could give so many reasons, I guess...I'd had a couple of drinks. I was tired...lonely....confused. But I don't know that any of them are entirely correct. I was...*sick*...after. Physically sick."

Scully moved closer and put a hand on his shoulder. "Mulder..."

He looked up at her, tears shimmering in his eyes. "You know what the worst part is? The worst part is that I can't stop thinking about it."

"Have you seen him again?"

"No. He left while I was throwing up in the bathroom and I haven't seen him since."

"This happened in your apartment?"

Mulder nodded.

Scully winced. "Is this someone you know?"

Trust or no trust, he couldn't tell her that it was Alex Krycek.

"I can't tell you that, Scully. Please understand. I'll just say that it wasn't anyone at the Bureau, in case you were wondering."

"Okay, Mulder. That's good enough. So...umm, you said that you can't stop thinking about it. In what way? Is it like, a recurring nightmare?"

"Only after I get past the point where I come in his mouth." His sudden candor shocked Scully, but she tried to mask her surprise.

"I see."

"Do you? Do you *really* see what I'm telling you, Scully? I lay naked in my bed with a *man* and let him give me the most amazing blow job of my *life*, and I *loved* it. Then, a matter of minutes after it was over, I wished I was dead."

"Because of what you'd done, or because of how you felt while you were doing it?"

"I don't know."

"What about this man? I know you don't want to tell me who he is, but tell me this. How do you feel about him?"

No answer.

"Is there a chance that you might ever see him again?"

"I guess there's always a chance, but I get the feeling that after that night, he'll do his best to keep his distance."

"You said that he left while you were in the bathroom. So you didn't talk to him at all afterward?"

"No....he left a note."

"What did it say?"

"It just said, 'Forgive me.'"

"'Forgive me.' Sounds like he instigated this?"

Mulder though a minute. "My first response would be to say yes, but you know, the more I think about it, the more unsure I am. Shit. I'm not sure about anything."

"Mulder, why don't you take a long weekend? Get out of that apartment and clear your head?"

"Scully, I don't think..."

"Do it, Mulder. You've spent every night for the last five weeks in your apartment, where it happened, rehashing it. You need to be somewhere else for a while, to get your head together."

"Maybe you're right."

"Of course, I am. Why don't you go up to Rhode Island? Stay at your mother's summer house? Notify Skinner, then leave tomorrow."

Mulder nodded. "I think I will. I need to sort this out."

"And for tonight, you can stay right here."

"Scully, I..."

"Mulder, I can't stand the thought of you spending another night alone in that apartment with your guilt. Stay here. You can go home to change in the morning. Okay?"

"How can you be so kind, after what I've just told you?"

"Mulder, you've committed no crime. You've hurt no one...except maybe yourself, and there's no way in the world that I'm going to desert you, no matter how unworthy of my friendship you think you are. I'm with you all the way on this. The fact that you spent the night with another man doesn't change who you are. You're still the same stubborn, brilliant, dry-witted, half-baked idea spewing, sincere man, that I love and respect."

"Thank you, Scully. You have no idea how much weight you've taken off me, already."

"I'm glad I could make it a little better. Anything more that I can do, you know I will."

Scully held out her arms and Mulder leaned into them, gratefully. "I don't know what I'd do without you," he murmured into her shoulder.

"You must be tired," she joked. "You're starting to get mushy on me."

They spent the rest of the evening, making light conversation and watching television, until Mulder fell asleep at around ten-thirty. Scully tucked a blanket around him and switched off all the lights. She stood, studying him in the pale light that streamed in from the hall. "How much more does he have to suffer?" she asked no one in particular. "How much more?"


Friday, 1:28 a.m.

"Krycek!"

"What?"

"Wake up, man! You gonna help me move this shit, or what?"

Krycek heaved himself out of the passenger's seat of the truck and walked around to the back.

"I thought someone was supposed to be here to pick this stuff up?" he asked, looking around the almost empty warehouse.

"Don't know," his companion shrugged. "Let's get it all out of the truck, then I'll see if I can find out what's goin' on."

They unloaded the roughly, twelve boxes from the back of the truck. Krycek planted his hands on his hips and glanced around. "Well?"

The other man pulled a cell phone from his pocket and pressed a few buttons. "Ah shit," he cursed. "Fuckin' thing won't work in here. Keep an eye on those boxes. I'll be right back."

The driver wasn't gone for more than twenty-seconds when Krycek began to smell a rat. Something was definitely wrong, here. If the contents of those boxes were as valuable as he was led to believe, there was no way in hell that he'd be standing in a warehouse, waiting for someone to *show up* to claim them.

He broke for the door and almost made it out before the truck exploded.


10:15 a.m.

Scully watched Mulder throw the leather bag into the trunk of his car. "You'll call as soon as you get in, right?"

"Yeah."

"Are you listening to me?"

"I'm listening, Scully."

"I'm serious. Do *not* forget to call me."

"I won't forget."

She scowled at him for a moment, before nodding. "I don't want to see you back here before Wednesday."

"Yeah, yeah."

"I'm serious, Mulder. You've got a lot of thinking to do. There's a lot to sort out."

"I know."

"If you feel like you need to talk, you can call me. But don't you come back here. There's nothing going on at work that I can't handle alone."

Mulder stood silently watching the occasional car pass them by. "You won't forget to feed my fish, will you? And water my plant?"

"Mulder, that plant has been dead for three months. Give up. It's *not* coming back."

"It's just in a resting phase."

"Uh...yeah. Okay Mulder, I'll water it. And I'll feed the fish, don't worry. Now, get going. As it is, you'll probably hit some traffic."

Mulder opened the car door, then turned back to her. "Thanks again, Scully...for not making me feel any dirtier than I already do."

"Make that one of the things you work on, okay? You're not *dirty*. You're human. With human feelings and human needs."

"Then why do I feel so much less then human?"

"That's the guilt talking. You have to let it go."

"But Scully, what if I'm...." he shuddered. "What if I'm....I can't even say it."

"Mulder, one encounter with a man doesn't make you gay. And so what if you were? What does it change, except for sex...which neither of us gets a whole lot of, anyway?"

Mulder smiled.

"Ha! I saw that!"

"You know, I hope you don't mind me saying this Scully, but I'm glad I didn't go my whole adult life not knowing what it would be like to have a sister."

It was Scully's turn to smile. "Why should I mind that? Don't ever tell my mother this, but I feel closer to you than I do to either of my brothers. I tell you things I'd *never* tell them."

"Wow. Really?"

"Yeah. Now would you leave, already?"

"Okay, I'm going."

They embraced, then Scully pushed him toward the open door. "*Call* me!"

"I *know*!"

She closed the door after his long legs were safely tucked into the car and back away. She watched until the Ford was out of sight, then started toward her own car.


8:45 p.m.

Mulder pulled up to the dark house and stopped the engine. He chewed his bottom lip as he sat, contemplating spending four days alone with nothing but his thoughts. Did he really *want* to spend all that time thinking about what he and Alex Krycek had done? What if the conclusions he came to about his feelings made him just as sick as he'd been that night? He was afraid. So terribly afraid that he'd make the decision to find Krycek and hash this out. Afraid that if they did, they'd end up right back where they started. He leaned back against the headrest and closed his eyes. Unbidden images of he and his male lover entered his thoughts. Strong hands, gently touching and caressing. That mouth, so warm and insistent, all over him, sending delicious ripples of pleasure, through his body...

Mulder's eyes snapped open. He groaned, feeling the ache in his jeans.

//Son of a bitch.//

He flung himself out of the car and popped the trunk. He grabbed his bag and slammed the trunk lid. Muttering to himself, he stomped up the three steps to the front door and inserted the key. It stuck, and he had all he could do, to get the door unlocked. "Shit!" He cursed, not caring if the neighbors were asleep. Finally, the door swung open. He threw his bag inside and proceeded to wrestle the key out of the lock. He barreled into the kitchen and threw open the door to the cabinet where his father had always kept tools and other household repair necessities. After throwing much of the contents onto the floor, he found a half full can of WD-40. He returned to the door and jammed the tiny red straw into the lock.

"Take that, motherfucker," he whispered, spraying until the liquid dripped out of the lock and down the door. He reinserted the key, pushing it in and out a few times, then turned it roughly, back and forth. Satisfied, he snatched the key back out of the lock, and kicked the door shut. He walked to the kitchen, turning lights on as he went and plugged the refrigerator in. He put away the few groceries he'd purchased at the small store down the road and packed the milk and other cold items in ice, until the fridge got cold. That done, he retrieved his bag from the living room and took it into the bedroom that had been his, so many years ago. He walked over to the window and threw it open, then pulled the coverings off of the furniture. He eyed the twin-sized boy's bed doubtfully.

"Oh yeah, that'd be real comfy."

He went to the hall closet and pulled out a blanket and pillow and held them to his nose. "Not as bad I thought." He carried them to the living room and placed them on a plastic covered chair while he uncovered the sofa. He worked quickly, ignoring the screaming erection that still tormented him.

Once he'd made up the sofa, he kicked off his shoes and fell onto his makeshift bed. "Shit," he mumbled, reaching behind him, to pull his cell phone out of the back pocket of his jeans.

The soft voice on the other end, calmed him a bit. "Mulder?"

"What if it was your mother?"

"Are you kidding? My mother isn't usually up any later than nine-thirty. Did you just get there?"

"A few minutes ago."

"How was the drive?"

"Not too bad. Hit a little traffic in New Jersey, but that's about it."

"Hmm. Okay then, I'm glad you made it there, all right. You must be beat. Get some sleep."

"Yeah, I am. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, don't worry, okay? I'll definitely call on Sunday."

"Sure. I understand. You get some rest now."

"Goodnight, Scully."

"Night, Mulder."

He disconnected and tossed the phone on the nearby chair. It hit the plastic, and slid to the floor. He grimaced and flipped onto his side. The lights were all still on, but he had no intention of getting up to shut them off. He squeezed his eyes shut and prayed for sleep to take him, so he couldn't feel the urgent demands of his body. Ten minutes later, he threw the cover off and sat at the edge of the sofa.

"No. Not this time. Not again."

He clenched his hands together and rested his forehead against them.

//Tell Alex what you want.//

He shook his head from side to side.

//Let me give you what you need.//

"Shut up."

//Admit it to yourself.//

"No!" Mulder jumped up and began to pace wildly. "I admit *nothing*! I don't want you, so just leave me the fuck alone! My life was *fine* before that night..." He rattled on. "..well maybe not *fine*, but at least I never doubted my *manhood*, for Christ sake!"

//Tell me, Fox. Tell Alex what you want.//

"No...no!"

The front door crashed against the wall as Mulder flung it open and ran out into the chilly night air. His flat out sprint soon turned into a jog, as his angry energy spent itself. The jog turned into a walk and his head began to clear a bit. He walked a little further, then turned around and headed back to the house.


Saturday, 7:20 a.m.

Mulder awoke from the first dreamless sleep he'd had in weeks. His eyes opened slowly and focused on the wood paneling above the back of the harvest gold sofa. He tried, but could barely recall what time he finally made it back to the house. He'd fallen, exhausted onto the sofa and drifted into sleep, almost immediately. And even thought he'd only had a few hours, he felt better than he had in some time. He swung his legs off of the sofa, then got up and headed for the bathroom and a nice, warm shower.


3:35 p.m.

"Hello?"

"Hey."

"Hey! I didn't expect to hear from you."

"I know. I just thought I'd check in."

"How's it going?"

"Well," Mulder hesitated. "I sort of hit a little rough patch last night, but I'm doing much better, today."

"That's good," she replied in her most encouraging voice, but in her mind, she wondered how much difference a day could make, especially after a bad night. "So, what happened to make you feel so much better?"

"A decent night's sleep. It does wonders."

She couldn't let him delude himself. "Mulder...as messed up as you've been, I really don't think that a little sleep is going to help all that much."

His tone became a bit indignant. "How do you *know*? Sleep deprivation can do a lot of bad stuff to a person."

"Mulder, don't you even *think* about coming home, do you hear me? You stay your ass right there and do what you went to do!"

Silence.

"Mulder? Do you hear me?"

"Yeah, I hear you."

"You'd *better*. Give me call tomorrow, okay?"

"Yeah."

Mulder pressed 'end' and dropped heavily onto the sofa. He wanted to be angry with Scully, but he knew that she was just concerned about him. So okay, he'd stay until Tuesday. What the hell, he could use some more rest. If a little sleep was good, a lot of sleep had to be better, and by the time Tuesday rolled around, he'd forget all about this shit. Having completely convinced himself, he headed out to the kitchen for a sandwich.


Sunday, 2:15 a.m.

The ringing doorbell roused Scully from a deep sleep. She glanced at the alarm clock and cursed. //Mulder. Just for once, can't you do what I ask you to do?//

"Who is it?" She asked, just because she thought she should.

There was no answer.

"Who's there?" she called, a little more insistent.

Still, no answer, though she thought she *did* hear a sound.

She went quickly to her bedroom, then returned with her gun firmly in hand. She unlocked the door and opened it, weapon poised for use.

The man at the door practically fell into her arms. She caught him and immediately pushed him against the door frame.

"Krycek! What the..." She stopped in mid sentence when she saw the blood-stained shirt. "What happened to you?"

"Scully....please..." he labored to speak in full sentences. "Mulder..."

Scully's eyes widened. "What about Mulder?" She shook him none too gently. "Answer me! What about Mulder?"

He couldn't answer her. All his strength had been spent in the attempt to get to her apartment and on the few words he'd managed to get out. He slumped against the wall.

"Shit! Krycek!"

It was useless. She managed to get him over to the sofa and dropped him onto it. He grimaced with the pain and emitted a harsh, unintelligible sound.

Scully pressed a hand to his perspiration-soaked forehead. He was burning up. "It's times like this that I'm sorry I became a doctor," she muttered as she opened the front of his shirt to see where the blood had come from. Just over his hip, she found a diagonal wound, approximately three to four inches long. It had been stitched. Not a terribly professional job, but it certainly seemed to have been done by someone with some amount of training. The fever, she guessed, was a direct result of the wound. If he'd stitched it up himself, chances were great that he'd not taken any antibiotics.

"Krycek, can you hear me? I need you to tell me what happened." His head rolled back and forth against the cushions. He mouthed something - just one brief word it seemed, but she was unable to make it out. While she examined him, her mind was on Mulder. She'd only spoken to him the previous afternoon. Surely nothing could have happened to him in such a short time. But, if Alex Krycek was involved, she couldn't count out any possibility.

//Sonofabitch.//

She reached for the phone and dialed Mulder's cell phone. Four rings later, he answered.

"Mulder?"

His shook the fog from his head. "Scully? What time is it?" he asked, even as he took a glance at the alarm clock. "What's wrong?"

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah. Why?"

She breathed a sigh of relief.

"Scully, what the hell is wrong?"

"I...I'm not sure," she spoke as she opened her medical bag and found what she was looking for. "I've got a guest."

"Who?"

She looked down at the unconscious man on her sofa. "Alex Krycek." The information was greeted with silence. "Mulder? You there?"

Mulder fought to keep hyperventilating. "Yeah...uh...what is he doing there?"

"Nothing much at the moment. He's unconscious."

"What?"

"He came to my door about ten, fifteen minutes ago, wounded and feverish, mentioned your name, then promptly passed out on me."

His head began to ache. "Wounded? Wounded, how?"

"Looks like maybe a stab wound of sorts. The fever is from infection, I gather. I'm administering antibiotics, now...Mulder, I still don't know why it was so important for him to come here in his condition, other than the fact that he mentioned your name."

"W-was that all he said?"

"Well...first he said, 'Scully, please.' Then, he said 'Mulder', then he said something that I didn't catch. Mulder, I can't believe I'm here, at two-thirty in the morning, caring for a man that I would much rather shoot than treat....Mulder?"

He cleared his throat. "I'm here."

"I know that I warned you against coming back home before Tuesday, but this, I'd say, was an extenuating circumstance."

"Yeah...uh...I'll call the airport and see when the soonest is that I can get a flight out. I'll call you back."

"Okay. I'll wait to hear from you."

Mulder disconnected and raised a trembling hand to his forehead. So much for thinking that he had his head together. He took a couple of steadying breaths and dialed Warwick.


4:24 a.m.

Scully sat in the chair opposite the sofa, observing Krycek's disturbed slumber. He may have been wounded and he may have a high fever, but there was no way in hell, she was closing even one eye, with him in her apartment. She cocked her head and listened carefully, trying to make some sense of the words he was now mumbling.

"Sorry.............wouldn't.....................didn't mean to......" He moaned softly. "So good........so..." The agitation returned. "Sorry....please....."

His voice trailed off, leaving Scully confused and eaten up with curiosity. Whatever it was he was babbling about, it certainly seemed to be an emotional issue. There was definite remorse in his tone, but for just a second, it seemed as though there was something very close to pleasure mingled in all that angst.

"What the hell is going on?" she whispered to herself.


6:45 a.m.

Mulder entered Scully's building, psyching himself up for God only knew what. He reached her door and willed himself to ring the bell. The door opened and his bloodshot eyes met hers. She stepped aside and motioned him in. He took three steps into the living room and turned toward her.

"So...what's up?"

"Mulder, are you okay?"

"Yeah. I'm just uh, I'm just really beat." He inclined his head, then raised it and looked at her. "Is he still out?"

Scully nodded and moved toward the sofa.

"He was restless earlier. Saying things..."

"Things?"

Yeah, I couldn't make heads or tails of it, though. It was just a jumble of words. I uh.." She turned to see where he was. He still stood in the spot she'd left him in. "Mulder?"

"Huh?"

She leveled a perplexed gaze on him. "You know, I was very uneasy, being alone here with this guy, incapacitated though he is, but I was almost just as uneasy at the thought of you being in the same room with him."

"Why?"

"Mulder, I had to *shoot* you once, to keep you from killing him. And now, you're acting so...I don't know *how* to describe it."

Mulder ignored her attempted observation and forced himself to move toward the sofa. He tried to display no emotion as he, for the first time in over a month, laid eyes on the man who had taken his mind and body to a place he never knew existed.

Alex Krycek lay before him, a light sheet pulled halfway up his bare chest, which was coated with a light sheen of perspiration. There were some minor cuts and bruises scattered over his face.

"Will he be all right?"

"I think so. As soon as the antibiotics take hold. That shouldn't be too much longer." She studied Krycek for a moment, then turned her attention to Mulder. "This man killed your father and my sister. I wanted so much to just let him die."

"Scully..."

"I mean, why *should* I help him?"

"Scully..."

"If he hadn't mentioned your name..."

"Scully..." he finally got her attention. "He didn't kill my father *or* Melissa."

She shot him a look. "Where did *that* come from?"

"He didn't do it."

"Mulder, the man is a liar and a killer. You of all people *know* that."

"I'm not saying that he isn't. But he didn't kill my father or your sister."

"How do you know this?"

He hesitated. //This ought to go over real big...// "He told me."

"You're....you're kidding."

Mulder avoided her intense gaze.

"Since when do you believe *anything* that comes out of this man's mouth?"

"Scully, would you say that I'm a good judge of people?"

"You weren't the darling of the Violent Crimes Unit for nothing. Yes, I'd say that you were an excellent judge of people."

"Krycek didn't do it. He's caught up in this crap, just like we are."

"No, not *just* like we are."

Okay, but he *is* trapped...and he's just trying to survive it."

"Well. Okay, Mulder. But, what wrought this change? Last time the name Alex Krycek was mentioned in your presence, you just about popped a vein."

She was going to figure this out. Soon. He had to tell her. But he needed a little time to figure out *how*.

"Can we talk about this later? We're both exhausted. Go get some sleep."

"What about you?"

"I'll catch a nap on the chair, here. That way, I can keep an eye on him."

"Mulder, if he comes out of it and we're both asleep...he could still be dangerous."

"It'll be fine, Scully. Trust me. Krycek isn't going to do anything to anybody."

Scully looked from one man to the other, then back again. She nodded, then exited the room. Mulder heard her door close, then turned his attention to Krycek. He sat at the edge of the sofa and watched the steady rise and fall of his chest. His eyes traveled up to his face. He noted how the long dark lashes gently brushed the surface of his high cheekbones. He stared at the relaxed set of his mouth...the mouth that had driven him so insane... Before he could stop himself, his fingers were lightly feathering the bottom lip.

Krycek sighed softly and shifted his position, ever so slightly. Mulder jerked his hand away and waited, frozen. To his relief, the green eyes did not open. He rose from the sofa and took a seat in the chair on the other side of the coffee table. He eyed Krycek's motionless form.

//Alex. How the hell am I going to tell her about you? What can I possibly say to make her understand a situation that I don't understand, myself?//

He tore his eyes away and tilted his head back against the cushion.


9:12 a.m.

Scully opened her eyes and listened. The apartment was quiet. She got out of bed and slipped on her robe. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and padded into the living room. Her eyes immediately fell to the sofa, where Krycek still slept. He seemed to be resting comfortably. She then sought out Mulder, who wasn't in her direct line of sight. A soft clinking sound came from the kitchen.

"Did you sleep?" he asked without turning around.

She leaned in the doorway as he poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her.

"Thanks." She took the cup and sipped twice, then answered his question. "Yeah, actually. I can't believe it...you?"

"I dozed off for a little while."

"How about our friend?"

"He hardly moved. Scully, are you sure he's going to be okay?"

"I'm going to go out and examine him, right now." She turned toward the door and stopped to look at Mulder, who stood lingering by the counter. "Coming?"

"Yeah. I'm just going to pour a little more coffee." He reached for the pot. "I'll be there in a second."

She nodded and left the room.

Mulder put the pot back down and leaned against the counter. He closed his eyes and lowered his head. He'd spent most of the three hours that Scully was asleep, trying to come up with the best way to tell her. No luck. Maybe the best thing to do would be to just say it straight out and let the heads roll where they may.

Alex Krycek opened his eyes while Scully was examining his wound.

"Am I going to live?"

His gravely voice startled her. She looked up at him, wide eyed. He stared back, his eyes a bit glassy, but otherwise alert.

"It would appear so," she said curtly and re-bandaged his wound. "How do you feel?"

"Better. What did you do?"

She answered his question with a question.

"Why did you come here, last night?"

"To ask you to warn Mulder."

"About?"

"There are people...I don't know who, but there are people who apparently have a different agenda than those you've been after. Those people haven't killed me because I..." he swallowed dryly. "Because I hold a few cards. But the game has changed. There's obviously somebody out there who couldn't give a rat's ass about what I can prove...and they tried to get rid of me."

"And how does this involve Mulder?"

"Scully, if they're out to get me, then these are people with nothing to lose. They might go after him too...and you. I just...I just wanted to warn you."

Mulder slipped into the room and stood quietly as Krycek spoke.

"Tell him, Scully. Please."

He tried to get up but Scully pushed him back down. "Where do you think you're going?"

"I have to go. It's dangerous for me to be here. Sooner or later they're going to find out that I'm not dead. I'd rather not be responsible for them taking you out with me." He tried to get up again. Again, Scully stopped him.

"Knock it off, Krycek. You're not going anywhere. Not just yet, anyway. If they're going to kill you, you're going to be healthy when they do it."

Krycek stared up at her in obvious confusion. "You hate my guts. Why are you doing this?"

"You're right about that. But I'm a doctor and it's my responsibility to heal, regardless of personal feelings." She paused, then went on. "Plus, I've got it on good authority, that I've got less reason to despise you than I originally thought."

"What are you talking about?"

Scully motioned with her head to the one who stood at a distance. Krycek followed her direction and met the hazel eyes of the man who'd possessed his every waking thought since that night, more than five weeks ago. His lips parted, but no sound left them. Mulder's gaze dropped to the floor. Krycek turned his head away.

"Okay." Scully pushed back and sat on the coffee table. "What's the deal, here?" Her question was greeted by silence. "Mulder? I want to know what's going on and I want to know, right now."

In that instant, Mulder made a decision. He inhaled deeply and walked over to the sofa. He lowered himself to the edge and spoke softly to Krycek.

"How do you feel?"

Krycek shrugged but did not meet his eye. "A lot better. Thanks to Scully."

Scully watched the proceedings in complete and utter confusion.

Mulder laid his hand on Krycek's forearm. "Alex..."

Scully recoiled in shock. Her mind began to spin in a million different directions at once. "Alex?"

Krycek turned his eyes to Mulder and shook his head. "Mulder..."

Scully repeated herself, unable to accept what was becoming more and more obvious. "*Alex*?"

Mulder turned to her. "Scully, I..."

Krycek cut him off. "Mulder, don't."

He turned back to him. "It's all right. I told her most of it, the other day. All that was missing was a name."

Krycek stared up at him, remorse glittering in his eyes. "Let it lay," he whispered.

"I can't." He faced Scully once more. "Scully...Alex is the man I..."

Scully leapt off the table. "Don't! Don't say it!"

"Why not Scully, you already know. I need to say it."

Scully clenched her hands in her hair and stalked half the length of the living room.

Mulder continued. "Scully, I spent that night with Krycek."

"I can't believe you just did that," Krycek rasped.

"Why?" Scully fairly screamed, whirling to face them. "With all the men in Washington..."

A look of pain crossed Mulder's face. "It's not like I was out *looking*. I'd never had thoughts like this about *any* other man."

"But my *God*, Mulder..." she cast a disgusted glance at Krycek. "*Him*?"

"Scully," Krycek intervened, "it was my fault. He didn't want..."

"Oh, really? So you're saying that you, what? Seduced him? Raped him? Oh, *Christ*, I can't even believe I'm having this conversation."

"Can he be moved?" Mulder asked, breaking in on Scully's tirade.

"What? Why?"

"I'll take him to my apartment."

"No," Krycek objected. "If I'm able to leave here, I'll do so, *alone*."

Mulder ignored him. "Scully?"

Scully brought her hands up to her eyes and rubbed at them. "I suppose it would be all right to move him a short distance, but he still needs to rest for a couple more days, at least. And he needs to be on those antibiotics for a while longer."

"Fine. Show me how to administer them, and we'll go."

Scully swallowed her anger. "Mulder, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you, but surely you can understand..."

"I know." He turned to Krycek for a moment. "Don't move. I'll be right back."

He rose and led Scully away.

"How could you let this happen, Mulder," she asked as soon as they were in her bedroom. "*Alex Krycek*?"

"I don't know. I told you, I hated myself afterward. I hated myself when I left for Rhode Island. I hated myself all the way back here...I may hate myself again tomorrow. But for today, I can't deny how I feel. It all came back as soon as I looked at him. I was so terrified of how I felt, that I would have done anything to deny it, but when you asked me to tell you what was going on, something clicked. It was like, okay. Here it is. I can either lie, or I can tell you the truth. But in order to tell you the truth, I had to first recognize what that truth was. I've done that, now."

"What's the truth?" Scully asked.

"I've got feelings for him. I have for a long time. I just kept them buried under a ton of anger and hostility. I can't do that anymore Scully, it's eating me up. I wish you could understand."

Scully sighed and took his hand. "I'll get the meds for you."

Mulder nodded and released her hand. He left the room and returned to stand over Krycek who had since struggled into a sitting position.

"You should be lying down until we leave."

"I'm okay. It doesn't hurt that much."

"That's not the point."

"I'm not going with you."

"Yes, you are."

"I can't. I won't put you in danger."

Scully, now dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, had entered the room and was listening quietly, from the doorway.

"You heard Scully, you need to rest."

Krycek lowered his eyes. "Fox, *please*."

"It'll be all right. Nobody's going to kill any of us. Besides, we need to talk."

"No, we don't. Forget it. It'll be better for you if you just forget it."

"What about you? Can you forget it?"

Krycek avoided his stare.

Scully took advantage of the lull and stepped forward with a small bag. "Here's everything you need. I've written specific instructions for you. Her eyes fell on Krycek, then cut away and back to Mulder. "See that he gets plenty of rest."

"I will."

"I'll help you get him to the car."

"Thanks."

Once Krycek was settled into the passenger's seat of Mulder's rental, Mulder faced Scully. "I'm sorry. I know how upset you are. You remember I told you that you'd probably never see me the same way again..."

"Mulder. I'm the one who should apologize. I won't pretend that I like this new turn of events, but I promise you that I'll try to understand it and accept it the best way I can. I'd do as much for either of my brothers."

"I doubt that either of your brothers would ever come to you and say that they'd gotten sexually involved with someone like Alex Krycek."

Scully folded her arms across her chest and kicked at a small piece of loose concrete. "Probably not. You going to settle this with him?"

"I hope to. One way or the other."

She didn't ask what he meant by that. She was pretty sure that she knew.

"I'll be in touch."

Scully stepped away as Mulder got into his car and started the engine. She motioned for him to lower the window.

"Yeah?"

"Be careful, Mulder...okay?"

He glanced over at Krycek, who was sitting quietly, eyes closed and head tilted back against the seat. "I will."

The window went back up and the rental car pulled away. Scully watched until it was out of sight, before turning and slowly walking back toward the elevators.

"What's with the rental?" Krycek asked, once they were on their way.

"My car is in Rhode Island."

"What's it doing there?"

"That's where I was until Scully called."

"On a case?"

"No. A vacation, of sorts."

"I'm sorry. She shouldn't have called you. I went to her in the first place, because I didn't want you to have to see me."

"I gotta say, I wasn't real thrilled about seeing you, myself."

Krycek turned his head toward the window and didn't speak again for the rest of the journey.


10:35 a.m.

Mulder entered his apartment and tossed his bag onto a nearby chair, as he helped Krycek in.

"I shouldn't be here," he said softly as Mulder steered him toward the bedroom.

"We've established that," Mulder answered flatly, walking him to the bed. "Lie down."

"Why are you doing this?

"We'll discuss it later. Now..." he turned the sheet down and motioned with one hand. "if you don't mind?"

Krycek abandoned his efforts at protest and got into the bed.

"Let's get that shirt off."

"What?"

"It's full of dried blood. Take it off." Mulder went to the closet and pulled a pale blue t-shirt off the shelf. "You can put this on."

Krycek began to remove his shirt with a bit of effort.

"Need help?"

"No, I got it." He struggled a moment longer, then laid it in front of him and reached for the clean shirt that Mulder held out to him.

"Do you want anything?"

"I'm kind of thirsty."

"I'll get you some water. Anything else?"

"No."

Mulder picked up the soiled shirt, exectuted a brief nod, and slipped out of the room. While he was gone, Krycek took in the familiar surroundings. He hadn't thought he'd ever see this apartment again, let alone lay in this bed.

//Life is damn cruel.//

Mulder returned with a tall glass of cold water and handed it to him.

"Thanks."

He took a seat at the edge of the bed and stared intently as Krycek sipped the water.

"What happened to you?"

"Work related injury."

"Who stitched you up?"

"I did it myself. The scar won't be pretty, but the emergency medicine courses they taught at the academy were designed to be strictly utilitarian."

Mulder smiled. "Was Dr. Hughes still teaching when you were there?"

"Yeah. He ever show you some of *his* scars? The word 'delicate' was *not* in that guy's vocabulary."

"I know. How'd you get hurt?"

Krycek sighed. "There was an explosion. I got hit with some flying debris. Mulder, it was a setup. Just for me. I figured it out and took off, but before I could get out, the truck that I had been in, exploded."

"Was there anyone else?"

"Just the driver. He was in on it. When they find out that I wasn't killed, they'll try again. And I don't want to be *here* when they do."

"What difference does it make? If they want me, they're going to try to get me, whether you're here or not."

"But if I'm wrong, and it's just *me* they want, it'd be best if I wasn't anywhere near you. They *may* kill you, simply because you're in the way."

"You look tired."

"Dammit, would you stop changing the subject and *listen* to me? I *can't* stay here!"

He tried to get out of bed, but Mulder gasped him by his shoulders and pinned him against the pillows. Krycek winced in pain.

"Stop trying to be so fucking noble, would you? It's starting to irritate me."

"As long as it doesn't make you sick," Krycek replied, the heaviness evident in his voice. "I wouldn't want to be responsible for you throwing up in the bathroom, again."

"Krycek..."

He avoided Mulder's eyes.

"Alex...."

Even the soft utterance of his first name, did not draw his attention.

Mulder sighed. "Try to get some rest."

Krycek felt the mattress rise as he got up and left the room. His eyes followed Mulder to the door, then rose to the ceiling. "Rest," he repeated. "That's a good one."

Fifteen minutes later, he was asleep.


3:14 p.m.

"Where are you going?"

Krycek stopped in his tracks and cursed softly to himself. He turned around. Mulder watched him from a reclining position on the sofa. He weighed his chances of making it to the door before the other man could get up.

"Try it, and I'll shoot you in the leg." Mulder raised his right hand and waved his gun from side to side. "Come in here and sit down. You and I are going to talk."

Krycek heaved a defeated sigh and walked slowly into the living room. Mulder swung into a sitting position and waited as he lowered himself onto the black leather cushion at the far end of the sofa. Mulder placed the Sig down on the coffee table. "Time for your meds." He rose and went to the bag that Scully had packed for him. He pulled the contents out and shook the proper dosage into his hand. "Here." He handed the pills to Krycek. "I'll get you some water."

Krycek stared quietly down at the white tablets in his hand, until Mulder returned with a glass. He took it, washed the antibiotics down, and placed the glass on the table. He leaned back and his eyes automatically went to the floor. Mulder squatted in front of him and placed a hand on his thigh. The muscle tightened in his jaw, but he remained still and silent. Mulder's thumb swept back and forth, slowly.

"I've spent the last five weeks in hell. Hating myself. Disgusted at the thought of what we did. Ashamed."

Krycek covered Mulder's hand with his own, stopping his thumb's movement. Their eyes met.

"And now?"

"I lost count of how many times I thought about the things you did to me. Cold showers have become part of my routine." His eyes burned into Krycek's. "I hate cold showers." He kneeled between the younger man's parted thighs. "I'm tired of trying to convince myself that it was nothing more than a moment's weakness. I can't do it anymore."

"What are you saying?"

Mulder studied his face. It was a mask of intensity. "I'm saying that..." he stopped and began again. "I'm saying that I'd like to talk about this with you, if you're willing."

He drew a shaky breath as Krycek gently skimmed his lips with his fingers.

"Can I tell you something?"

Mulder nodded.

"You *really* need to get off your knees."

"Worried about my poor aching joints?"

"I'm worried about a poor aching *something*, but it isn't your joints."

Mulder smiled and levered himself up to the sofa. He settled beside Krycek and turned toward him, just enough so that one of his knees was touching the side of Krycek's thigh.

"Are you comfortable?"

"I'm okay. The stitches are starting to bother me a little, but not much."

Mulder checked his watch. "It's not quite time for the pain pill. Can you wait another forty-five minutes?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Maybe you should lie down, though. Take some weight off of it."

"You know how tired I am of being on my back?"

"Mmm hmm." Mulder slid back to the other side of the sofa and leaned against the arm. He lifted one leg and stretched it straight out, while planting his right foot on the floor. "Come here. Lay back against me."

Krycek regarded him doubtfully.

"That wasn't a request."

He duplicated Mulder's movements, sliding backward, until his back came in contact with a hard, warm chest. That warmth spread through his body like a flood. Long arms draped loosely around him and he felt Mulder's cheek rest itself on the top of his head. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. A soft monotone came from above him.

"Is that better?"

"Yeah." He stopped and cleared his throat. "It actually is better. Some of the pressure is off the stitches."

"Good."

They both fell silent for a while, enjoying the closeness. Krycek closed his eyes and turned his head to the side. The smell that was Mulder's alone, invaded his nostrils and filled his head with impossible thoughts. Mulder broke into those thoughts.

"I missed you." His admission was met with silence. He continued. "You don't believe me, do you?"

"It's kind of hard, after the way we left things. If Scully hadn't called you, we wouldn't be here now and maybe you would have had a real chance to forget about what happened."

"First of all, I don't know how that would have been possible, since I've been reliving that night every day, five times a day. Second, you *knew* that there was no way in hell that Scully *wouldn't* have called me. You wanted to see me. You needed to get this settled as much as I did."

"Maybe."

Mulder shook his head. "No maybe....tell me why you left."

"I was wrong to do what I did to you. I took everything you knew about yourself and turned it inside out. I'm sorry, Fox. It was selfish. I wanted you so much, I didn't think about what it might do to you, afterward."

"It did a number on me. I don't know how long you stayed after I went into the bathroom but...after I threw up, I took a hot shower. Brushed my teeth till my gums hurt. Anything I could think of to get the smell and the taste of you off of me. When I first found your note, I didn't know how to feel. Then a little while later, I told myself that I was glad you were gone. And everyday I tried to go about my normal routine, but it was wearing on me. Nights were impossible. It was a constant battle to stop myself from remembering how it felt to be with you. I always lost. I hated myself for my weakness. I woke up every morning for two weeks, wishing I hadn't..."

"Jesus."

He tightened his arms around Krycek's chest. "I didn't say any of that to make you feel bad. I just want it all out. You understand?"

"I guess."

"I don't want to leave it hanging over our heads."

"You think you've come to terms with it, now?"

"I'd be lying if I said that I was completely comfortable with this. I mean, how can I be? I've lived thirty-seven years as one person and now all of a sudden, it would seem that I'm somebody completely different. But I'm ready to deal with it."

"Are you?"

"If I'm going to maintain my grip on sanity, which Scully thinks is tenuous at best...I have to. Besides..." he smirked into the silky dark hair, "that was the best blow job I've ever had."

Krycek shook with laughter. "Fuck you."

Mulder slipped a hand under his chin and lifted until he could see his eyes. "Please do."

Krycek stared up into his warm, amber-flecked eyes mutely, not knowing how to respond.

"Later," Mulder told him, "when you're better."

"Are you sure about that?"

"As sure as I've ever been about anything."

The hand under Krycek's chin held him still, while Mulder's lips descended on his. Soft. Gentle. Completely overwhelming. He let himself melt into it just for a moment, then reluctantly pulled away.

"What?"

"Please let me leave."

"Are we back on that, again?"

"Yes, we are." Krycek wrenched himself from Mulder's light grasp and sat at the edge of the sofa. "The longer I stay here, the longer I *want* to stay, and I *can't*."

Mulder tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling. "You can't or you don't want to?"

Krycek's head snapped around. "What do *you* think?"

Mulder shrugged.

He rose stiffly, grimacing at the discomfort, and took a few steps into the middle of the room. His soft voice, oozing with regret, brought Mulder's attention to his face.

"I would give my soul, if I still had one, to be able to change the way things are." He blinked rapidly, fighting back the burning he felt behind his eyes. "But I can't. I've made some choices in my life that can only be described as *bad* and now, I'm paying for them...in a way I never thought I would."

Mulder stood and moved toward him. "You can turn it around." He stopped only when their bodies were practically touching. "Let me help you."

"You can't..."

"I can if you really want me to."

Krycek shook his head and tried to turn away, but Mulder moved with him, maintaining that close, nerve-racking contact.

"Look at me."

Krycek spun around and headed toward the bedroom with Mulder close on his heels. When they were both inside the room, he slammed the door behind them. He leaned against it and watched as Krycek snatched up his jacket, then turned to him.

"Move."

"Make me."

"You are the most *stubborn* son of a bitch I've ever known."

Mulder remained against the door, his eyes issuing a silent challenge.

"You *fucking* asshole!"

"Sticks and stones..."

"Get the fuck out of the way!"

He moaned softly and his hand came up to cover the stitched area above his hip.

"You're aggravating it, doing all this yelling and moving around. You need to get off your feet and..." he checked his watch. "take that painkiller."

Krycek stared at Mulder, amazed, as he moved toward him and took the jacket from his hands. He tossed it back onto the chair.

"Now. Are you going to get into bed or do I have to put you there, myself?"

"You know what?" Krycek sliced one hand upward, through the air. "Fine. You want to fuck up your life, go ahead. Why should I give a shit? You want to play nurse maid, shove pills down my throat, make my boo boo all better, so I can live to double-cross you sometime in the future...great."

Mulder said nothing. He simply stood with arms folded across his chest, waiting. Krycek blew a short, hard breath out through his nose, and lowered himself to the bed.

"Okay, okay," he said impatiently snapping his fingers once he got settled, "where's my pill?"

Without a word, Mulder exited the room and returned minutes later, with another glass of water and a small plate, on top of which, sat a ham sandwich. He placed both on the nightstand by the bed.

"What the fuck's this?" Krycek asked, trying his best to be obnoxious.

"You shouldn't be taking this stuff without having something in your stomach, first." He held out his hand and dropped a small white pill into Krycek's open palm. "If you want anything else, I'll be in the other room." With that, he turned and left, closing the bedroom door softly behind him.

Krycek glanced at the sandwich. He shouted at the closed door. "Maybe I'll just take this pill *without* eating first. What'll happen, huh Mulder? Will it make me sick? Maybe I'll just throw up all over your bed! It'd serve you right, you foolish bastard!"

His tirade was met with silence. "Shit." He looked back at the sandwich. Hunger got the better of him. He snatched it off the plate and took a bite. And another. Seconds later, the sandwich was gone. He popped the pill in his mouth and took a swig of water. He placed the glass down beside the empty plate and lay back against the pillow, clasping his hands behind his head. He lay that way for a long time, contemplating the situation he was now in. He'd been in some tight spots before but, this was by far, the worst. He'd been up against some dangerous adversaries before, including one Fox Mulder, but this was a completely different battleground, with so many more twists and pitfalls to consider. The biggest of these problems...his feelings for this man. His own emotions would prove to be his downfall, and there was no way that he could see...no way at all, around them.


8:12 p.m.

Krycek awoke. The room was dark. Quiet. He fumbled around for the lamp. He found it and pale light washed the room as he flicked the switch. He looked around the room. His jacket was in the same place, thrown across the back of the chair near the foot of the bed. He glanced at the night table. The plate and glass were gone. He'd been there. Krycek wondered if he'd stayed in the room a while, watching him sleep, or if he just gathered up those things and left. He turned his eyes to the door. Should he or shouldn't he?


8:49 p.m.

Mulder ignored the band of light that streamed into the hall, then disappeared. He remained focused on the television as the dark figure entered the room and hesitated in the doorway. Silently, it moved into the room and stopped beside the sofa. His eyes drifted up to Krycek's face. He shifted slightly farther against the back as his reluctant guest took a seat, just about parallel to his waist. Mulder watched him with quiet interest, as he tried to find the words for what he wanted to say.

"I was a real prick," he began and risked a glance at Mulder, who was still staring intently at him. "I know you care. You just wanted to help and I was such a...a...shithead. I was rotten and nasty and...uh...feel free to stop me at any time."

"Why?" Mulder rasped. "You're doing great."

Krycek lowered his head. "Can't you just please understand that I don't want you hurt? If something happened to you because of me, I'd..."

"So it's okay if I get killed as long as it's not your fault?"

"You know that's not what I meant. This is a lose, lose situation for you. If we become involved..."

Mulder broke in. "*Become* involved?"

"...you'll have nothing but trouble with Scully. She's your partner. You need there to be unwavering trust between you. As long as you have anything to do with me, that trust is going to be compromised."

"I know Scully was upset, but she's my best friend. She wants me to be happy."

"I'm sure that's true. But she can't get around her dislike or her distrust for me. Chances are very great, she never will."

Mulder gave no response.

Krycek continued. "I can get out of the business I'm in, now. As long as I have what I have against them, they'll leave me alone. But this new threat...whoever this is who tried to kill me...I don't know that they'll stop. And I told you what that could mean for you."

"And I told *you*..."

"I know what you told me..."

"You ever hear of strength in numbers? You're more vulnerable if you're alone. And so am I."

Curiosity etched Krycek's features. "You'd trust me to that extent?"

"Stupid, huh?"

"Your partner would think so."

"I know."

"You'd be flushing your career down the toilet."

"My private life is my own. No one need know about it."

"I hate to keep bringing Scully into this but..."

"Scully is no problem."

Krycek shook his head. "Were you and I in the same apartment, this morning? She was *wild*."

"Yeah, I know. But she'd never do anything to hurt me. She may *never* like you, but that would stay between the three of us."

"What about what I know? It could be a big help to you. But if I gave a single bit of that information to you or anyone, I'd be as good as dead. Are you willing to forget about that for the sake of a relationship between us?"

Mulder pulled himself into a sitting position. "I wouldn't risk your life. Does that answer your question?"

Krycek slid a hand up Mulder's arm and rested it on his relaxed bicep. "You know that you're watched. It's only a matter of time before they catch on to this. They'll use it to try and get what they want. Then you'll be trapped, too."

Mulder shook his head in disagreement. "The way I see it, it would be a standoff. Neither side could afford to use the ammunition they had against the other." He paused for a few seconds. When Krycek issued no comeback, he raised a hand, then slapped it against his knee. "So, now what?"

Krycek chewed his lip. "You've got an answer for everything, don't you?"

A self-assured silence was his only reply.

"Well, answer me *this*. How are you going to live with yourself, knowing that you're sleeping with a man who's done things so completely despicable, that two lifetimes in prison wouldn't be enough? You're an honest man, Fox. That quality is one of the things that attracts me to you. I don't want you to change who you are for me. I'm not worth it."

Mulder leaned forward, until his face was only inches from Krycek's. He spoke in a tone so low, that Krycek could feel the vibration tickling his lips. "Why don't you let *me* decide what you're worth."

Krycek's eyes dropped shut and he shook his head slowly. His respiration grew shallow as he felt the soft touch of Mulder's mouth against his.

"Mulder..."

"Shut up, Krycek."

He resumed the gentle, teasing kisses coaxing their recipient to surrender to him. And he did. Before either of them knew it, they were lying together on the sofa, Mulder's body half-covering that of the man beneath him. He rested most of his weight on his arms, to avoid putting any pressure on Krycek's wound. Their lips met again, this time with frightening urgency. Krycek threaded his fingers through Mulder's hair, curling them around the thick brown strands and effectively preventing him from pulling his mouth away. Not that Mulder had any such intention. He compelled Krycek to open his mouth and allow his tongue to slip inside. Slowly, he searched the warm recesses, stroking and caressing. Tormenting. The anguished moan that vibrated into his mouth, sent a jolt of electricity straight to his groin.

Krycek broke the kiss and pressed his leg up against the crotch of Mulder's jeans. "Why don't you let me take care of this for you," he murmured against the stubbled jaw.

Mulder shook his head.

"Why not?"

"Your turn."

"My...uh...are you sure about that?"

"Well," Mulder's hand traveled down and stroked the bulge in Krycek's jeans. "I sort of left you hanging the last time. I'd say I owed you one." Their eyes met. "Wouldn't you?"

"You don't owe me anything."

Mulder's hand traveled the short distance to the top button of Krycek's jeans and undid it. Next he took hold of the zipper and slid it down as far as it would go. "I think I do." His lips again found his lover's, even as his hand slid inside the white briefs to gently fondle him.

A tingle of excitement rushed through Mulder as he stroked this cock that was not his own. The faint gasps and sighs that reached his ears did not come from his own throat and that excited him as well. He released Krycek's lips and nipped at the small indentation just beneath them.

"I thought we were going to wait till I was better?" he teased.

"For the *good* stuff," Mulder smirked down at him. "All you have to do right now, is lay there."

"Just...lay here."

"That's all."

"And what do you mean, the *good* stuff? Does that mean that whatever I'm in for tonight is going to *suck*?" He drew in a sharp breath as Mulder squeezed him none too gently.

"I'm sorry, what was that?"

"Nothing," Krycek whispered. "I didn't say a word."

"I didn't think so." Mulder loosened his grip and let his fingers slide tenderly along the length of his cock, then back again. Krycek closed his eyes and moaned aloud.

Mulder grinned. "And uh...speaking of *suck*..."

He slipped Krycek's jeans and underwear past his hips. Just far enough for easier access. As he began to slide downward, Krycek wound his fingers in his hair and pulled him back up.

"What?"

"When I get close...which should be about five seconds after you touch me, I'll tell you. When I do, stop, okay? You can finish me with your hand."

"Why would I want to do that?"

Krycek stroked the underside of Mulder's chin with his knuckles. "You've got nothing to prove to me."

"Who said I did?"

"Just...don't, okay? Please?"

Mulder grasped his wrist and brushed his lips against the curled fingers, then moved to the floor, beside the sofa.

Krycek's jaw tensed and he inhaled deeply as he felt Mulder's lips close over him. For so long, he'd wondered...fantasized, about what those full lips would feel like on his cock. Tonight he knew. There was no feeling in the world like it. This was to him, heaven in it's purest sense. He reached down and petted the golden brown hair. "Ohhhh, *baby*...

Mulder's heart thundered in his chest. If anyone had ever told him that he'd be on his knees, in his own apartment, giving *Alex Krycek* a blow job *and* loving every minute of it, he'd have pulled out his gun and shot them. Yet here he was, in exactly that position. He swirled his tongue around the hard, velvety shaft as again and again, he slid down and back, glorying in every sigh, every sweet whisper.

Krycek's hips lurched beneath him. The sensation of his cock rubbing against the smooth interior of *Fox Mulder's* mouth, was just too much. He had no idea how much longer he could hold on, though he desperately wanted to. When for the last agonizing time, Mulder reached the tip, he paused and opened his mouth slightly, bestowing a series of tiny, flicking lashes upon it with his tongue.

Krycek gritted his teeth and groaned harshly. "Fox..."

Mulder closed his mouth around Krycek once more and sucked him in, completely. Almost immediately, he withdrew, then descended again. Krycek grabbed a hand full of hair and attempted to pull him away.

"Fox...stop....s-stop..."

Mulder reached up and forced Krycek's hand away from his head. He shackled both of the younger man's wrists with his hands and held them down by his sides. His head rose and fell on his cock with long, sure strokes. Krycek strained against the determined strength that held him captive.

"Come *on*! You shouldn't...no...oh....oh...*Christ*!"

A chain of violent spasms rocked Krycek's body. For as long as it took for his orgasm to complete itself, he cared not one bit that he was doing exactly what he hadn't wanted to do. His hips jerked upward, time and again, as he came in Mulder's mouth.

Mulder held Krycek's wrists tightly to his sides as what seemed like an endless river of warm fluid gushed down his throat. His first instinct was to pull back, but Fox Mulder was not a man who did anything halfway. He forced himself to relax and accept what, in essence, he had asked for. When it was over and he had successfully quelled the revolt that his stomach had threatened to stage, he moved up and laid his head on Krycek's chest. A hand rose and rested weakly on the silky cushion of his hair. After long minutes of struggling to drag air back into his lungs, Krycek whispered to him.

"You stubborn bastard."

Mulder smiled into his shirt. "I'll just take that as a compliment."

"Are you all right?"

He lifted his head and met Krycek's eye. "I'm not going to make a break for the bathroom, if that's what you want to know."

A tiny smile played at Krycek's lips. "It takes a lot of nerve to actually swallow, the first time."

"Did *you*?"

He hesitated, then answered. "Yeah." He pulled his jeans up, then made room on the sofa for Mulder, who settled on his side, head propped up on his hand.

"And you didn't think that I'd have as much nerve as *you* do?"

Krycek turned his face to Mulder's. "I had no choice."

Mulder's smile faded. "What do you mean?"

"Just what I said."

"What happened to you?"

Krycek looked away, all at once sorry that he'd said what he did. Mulder asked again, the insistence evident in his tone.

"Alex, what happened?"

He knew there was no way out of it, now. Mulder was like a pit bull. Once he got hold of something, there was no letting go.

"My initiation wasn't exactly voluntary."

Mulder's shock registered in his eyes and his voice. "You were raped?"

Krycek looked straight ahead, unable to meet his eye. "Yeah."

"When?"

"Years ago," he answered flatly. "I was nineteen. It hadn't been all that long since I'd come to terms with the truth about myself. I fooled around a little, but nothing too heavy. Just some experimentation. One night, a couple of friends and I were at this party and there were these guys there. Four of them. For some reason, they decided that it might be fun to harass one of my buddies. He was sort of a meek, quiet guy and they were starting to piss me off, so I stood up for him." He shrugged. "They backed down and I figured that was that. Until we left."

"They were waiting for you?"

"The party wasn't that far from Pete's house, so we walked. Scott got a ride home, so it was just the two of us. They jumped us from behind and threw us into two separate cars. They drove for about twenty minutes, into a wooded area. They dragged me out of the car and one of them punched me so hard that I almost blacked out." He paused, then continued without emotion. "I could hear Pete screaming. The one who had hit me, smiled and said to the other one that he bet he could make me scream louder. One held me while the other pulled my pants down, then they made me lay face down over a rock..."

Mulder lowered his head and whispered more to himself than to Krycek. "*Christ*."

"I'd never been in that much pain...but I didn't make a sound. I wouldn't give them the satisfaction. When he was through, he asked his friend if he wanted a turn. He said yes, but he was in the mood for a blow job. So they pulled me to my knees and while one held me up, the other one tried to get into my mouth. I wouldn't open it, so he held my nose, until I started to gasp for air, then he forced himself in. It was over in a matter of seconds, but it seemed like hours. I was so sick. I threw up until I thought my insides would come out. They just...left me there. I lay on the ground, until I heard both cars drive away. I managed to get myself together and go looking for Pete. He was in worse shape than I was. I helped him get dressed and we walked home. It took us a couple of hours, but we made it to his house. His parents were away, thankfully. We got cleaned up and never spoke of it, again."

"Never?"

Krycek shook his head.

"Are you still in contact with him?"

He turned his eyes to Mulder. "He committed suicide less than a year later."

"I don't...I don't know..."

"It's okay," he broke in. "There's nothing *to* say." He paused, then went on. "The next day, my parents asked me what had happened, you know, because of the bruises on my face. I told them that I was in a fight. They never had any reason to doubt me, so I got a lecture and that was it."

"Did you ever see those guys again?"

"Oh, yeah. They pretty much acted like nothing had ever happened...like they didn't even know who I was, which was fine with me. All I wanted to do was forget it."

Mulder pulled him against the warmth of his chest. "I'm so sorry that happened to you."

Krycek closed his eyes, lulled by the steady rhythm of Mulder's heart. "I never got involved with anyone after that. The thought of any man touching me, made my blood run cold. That changed only after I met you."

Mulder dropped a light kiss on the top of his head. "What was so damn special about me?"

"I don't know if I can pinpoint any one thing. I loved the way you looked directly at me when we talked. That's the mark of an honest, self-assured person. It's sexy. At least it is to me." He took in a long breath and let it out slowly. "Your eyes. So intense. A person could drown in them. When you opened your mouth to speak, my knees just about buckled..." He smiled against Mulder's shirt. "I won't even *mention* what that Speedo did to me."

"Okay, that's all initial attraction. What *kept* you interested?"

"The more time I spent with you, the more attractive you became. I was fascinated with your single-mindedness. Your devotion to your partner. I was so completely taken in by your strength. I found myself thinking about you constantly."

"Then why did you do the things you did?"

"I made a bad career move, I know that. But I was in it up to my neck and there was no way out. You don't just walk away from these men without some damn good insurance. I never in a million years, thought that there'd be a chance for anything between us. I was sure those little changes in your expression when you looked at me sometimes, were just my imagination. I *wanted* to believe that they meant something...but you were *Fox Mulder*, for Christ sake. What the hell was on my mind? I spent all my spare time thinking about you. Imagining what it would be like to be with you. You brought to life, feelings in me that I thought were long dead, and since..." he stopped.

"Since, what?"

"Since I knew you were unattainable, I tried to satisfy my desires elsewhere...with men *and* women. Didn't work. You were always there. In the back of my mind. And I'd be furious with you sometimes, because I wanted you so much and you seemed so fucking oblivious. Well fine, screw you. That's what I told myself any time I caused some kind of trouble for you. Then I'd be sick afterward. That time you caught me outside after your father died, something in me...some part of me wanted you to kill me. I wanted it over." He stopped and pulled away so he could see Mulder's face. "You would have, wouldn't you, if Scully hadn't shot you?"

Mulder answered without hesitation. "Yes." Then he changed the subject. "I never really came to grips with how I felt about you. Any time I was near you, I'd feel so...my body *did* things. I did everything I could to suppress my feelings, but sometimes everything wasn't enough. That's when I'd get angry. I didn't even have to see you. Just the mention of your name would send me into a tail spin. And when you *did* show up..." He spoke through gritted teeth. "I can't explain to you the rage I felt. All I wanted to do was kill you. I guess just like you, *I* wanted it over. The first time that I actually realized that I was fantasizing about you while I was jerking off, I wanted to die. I mean, it couldn't be. How the hell could it be that I wanted to do the things that I was imagining with a man, much less, the man who killed my father?"

"Fox?"

"Hmm?"

"Do you really believe me when I say that I didn't do it? I know you told Scully that I didn't, but do you believe, in your heart, that I'm telling you the truth?"

"Yes, I do."

"Because we've become lovers, or because you *really* believe it?"

"I really believe it."

"And can you believe me when I tell you that I won't ever betray you again? I'd sooner let them kill me."

Mulder studied him for a moment, then lowered his head and touched his lips to those of his lover. Krycek's tongue inched out to gently skim his lower lip.

"Mmmm." Mulder moaned deep in his throat. "I believe you."

Krycek's hand wandered over his chest. He spoke to Mulder, his tone seductively low. "I won't ever hurt you again. I promise." His hand slid lower and came in contact with the hardness at the front of Mulder's jeans. Krycek stroked and teased until his breaths were coming in ragged gasps.

"You want to feel my hand around you?"

"Yes...please......shit!" He glared at his cell phone on the coffee table, which had begun to ring.

"Gotta be Scully, right?" Krycek asked as he continued to rub Mulder's still covered erection.

"Yeah. Wonder why she's using my cell number when she knows I'm home."

"Because she thinks I've bugged your phone here in the apartment, that's why," Krycek answered evenly.

Mulder winced at the slightly increased pressure of his caresses. "You're killing me."

"You'd better answer that phone before your partner thinks that I *have* killed you and comes over here."

Mulder snatched up the phone and answered it.

"Mulder? I was getting worried. Why'd it take you so long to answer your phone?"

"I was in the middle of something."

Krycek smiled and unzipped his pants. Mulder looked to him with widened eyes.

A short stretch of silence was followed by another question.

"How's your houseguest?"

"F-fine..."

"Mulder? Is everything okay? You sound a little odd."

"Odd?" He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth, as Krycek's hand slipped inside his underwear and closed around his stiff cock.

"Where's Krycek?"

"He's uh, lying down..."

"Those meds are helping?"

"Oh yeah," he glanced at Krycek who was thoroughly enjoying making him squirm. "he feels real good."

"Have you talked?"

"Yes...yes, we have." The soft, involuntary groan that followed that last sentence, didn't go unnoticed.

"Mulder," Scully whispered, "do you need help? Should I come over there?"

"No! Uh, no. W-why would you ask that?"

"Because something isn't right. I can hear it in your voice."

"I'm just tired, Scully. I haven't slept much in the past twenty-four hours, remember?" He shot a warning look to Krycek, who simply ignored him and went on with his business.

"So..is it settled? If I'm overstepping my bounds with that question, just say so."

"Scully, we're friends. I tell you.......I tell you everything. I would hope that this wouldn't be any different. Yes, I think it's settled." His tone softened considerably as Krycek snuggled closer and tucked his dark head under his chin.

Scully went silent. She'd deduced from the way he'd given his answer, that things hadn't gone exactly the way she was hoping they'd go.

"Can you find some way to understand?"

"I don't see that I've got much choice in the matter, do I? As your friend, I've got to respect your decisions. No matter *how* insane I think they are."

She could hear the smile in his voice. "Just *had* to get that in, didn't you?"

"Goodnight, Mulder. I'll check in tomorrow. You're *not* thinking about coming in, right? I mean, technically, you *have* still got two days vacation left."

"And I'm taking them. Don't worry. I'll be rested and refreshed and ready for work on Wednesday."

"All right. Call you tomorrow."

"Goodnight, Scully."

"Night." She hung up and rested her head in her hands. She almost wished that he *had* decided to come in to work. At least she'd know that he was safe and away from Krycek, even if it was for only part of the day.

Mulder dropped the phone onto the floor and turned his attention back to his lover, who was still working his magic on his aching cock. "Are you purposely trying to antagonize her?"

"Of course not. I'm just trying to make things a little more stimulating for you..."

"A few more minutes of *stimulating*, and she would have known *exactly* what was going on."

"Exciting, wasn't it?"

Mulder's eyes rolled back into his head.

"Keep them closed," Krycek whispered. "Concentrate on what you're feeling and the sound of my voice." The tips of his fingers brushed the silky length of Mulder's cock. "You feel so good. Warm...smooth...incredibly hard..."

Mulder expelled a hard breath. "Alex..."

"Take it easy. Easy..." He continued to stroke Mulder, but his fingers just barely touched him. When his respiration returned to semi-normal, Krycek applied a bit more pressure. "Is that good?"

Mulder sighed softly.

"I'll take that as a yes." His hand moved up and down, just a bit faster. "You're ready, aren't you?"

"Yes."

"You want it so bad you can taste it."

Mulder's hips arched upward. "Yes...please!"

Krycek took his hand away.

"Wh-what are you doing? Don't stop!"

"You're getting too worked up."

"Who's fault is *that*?"

Krycek smiled an evil smile. Gorgeous, green-eyed satan. "Mine. But *I'm* not ready for this to be over, yet. I'm enjoying watching you. You're so pretty when you're turned on."

"*Jesus* Alex, *please*..."

"And you're even prettier when you're begging for it."

"How about when I'm threatening to rip your stitches out, one by one?"

"You don't scare me. I know what some of your weaknesses are, now."

Mulder tried a different approach. He gave Krycek his best smoldering look. "*You're* my weakness. No one's ever done me the way you do." He threaded his fingers through his hair and pulled him down for a deep, nerve-rattling kiss. "Please," he murmured against Krycek's open mouth.

"Well...since you asked so nicely..."

His hand once again enclosed Mulder's cock.

"Thank you," he sighed. Krycek worked him gently, steadily. "Oh *God*, thank you..."

Krycek watched as his neck, that long, graceful neck curved, pressing his head into the cushions. Hungrily watched the maddeningly full, luscious lips part ever so slightly on a soft whimper. Frantically strove to remain silent as thoughts such as he'd never had before, tempted him to give them voice.

"Mmph....oh.....Alex....oh God..."

Krycek quickened his strokes and rested his cheek against Mulder's. "Let it go," he whispered against the light stubble. "Come on..." Mulder's body tensed and he let out a low, harsh groan. Warm, slick fluid shot up and ran over Krycek's fist and down his arm. He pumped Mulder's cock for as long as his body continued to writhe and shudder. "That's it baby," he encouraged. "Feel it."

Mind-shattering convulsions gave weigh to intermittent shivers as Mulder finally started to come down. Krycek kissed his temple, then his cheek.

"I could make you come twenty times a day, just to see that look on your face."

Mulder smiled weakly. "If anyone *could* do that, it'd be you." He opened his eyes and turned them to Krycek, who was making no attempt to conceal his pleasure at hearing the admission. He raised his arm and glanced at his watch. "Why don't we call it a night?"

Krycek nodded. "You sleep in your bed. I'll be fine here..."

Mulder shot him a puzzled look. "I don't want you to sleep on the couch. I want you next to me."

Krycek opened his mouth to speak, but fell silent, not knowing exactly what to say.

"Why would you think that I wouldn't want to sleep with you?"

"I...I don't know," Krycek stammered. "It's just *so* intimate. I didn't know if you were ready for that."

Mulder's brow wrinkled. "Alex...after what we just did....how much more *intimate* can we get?"

"It's hard for me to explain. It just seems like a...a *commitment*, for lack of a better word."

Mulder's gaze fell away from his face. "Oh. I guess I see what you mean. Uh...if you don't want to, it's fine. I didn't mean to..."

"No! No." He anchored his fingers in the hair at the back of Mulder's head. "I'd really love to wake up next to you in the morning. I didn't want to push *you*."

Mulder rose to his feet and pulled his jeans up over his hips, but did not bother to zipper them. Krycek watched him from the sofa.

"Meds, first."

When he disappeared into the kitchen, Krycek went into the bathroom to get cleaned up. He arrived back in the living room before Mulder, who reappeared some ten minutes later, with the pills and some food. When Krycek had finished, he took the plate and glass away, then returned and stood before him.

"Come on." He held out his hand. "Let's go to bed."

Krycek studied him for a few seconds, before reaching out to grasp his wrist.

Mulder's hand closed firmly around Krycek's wrist, and pulled him to his feet. He turned wordlessly, and proceeded toward the bedroom. Krycek followed, keeping several paces behind. By the time he reached the bedroom door, Mulder was already inside. He stood in front of the bed, thumbs hooked in his back pockets. He was doing that infuriatingly sexy thing that he did with his bottom lip.

"Thought maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere."

Krycek lowered his eyes and laughed softly.

"What's so funny?"

"You are."

"Me? Should I be insulted?"

Krycek looked across the six foot distance, into his eyes. "You're such a contradiction. I don't understand how it is you can do such a turnaround. Up until early this morning, you were mortified at the thought of what we'd done. And," he snapped his fingers. "this fast, you've completely changed. You've faced this head on and have even gone so far as to suck me off...beautifully, I might add, right in there, on your couch. I honestly can't figure you out."

"I'm just tired of fooling myself. Takes a lot of energy that could be better spent on other things."

"Such as?"

"Enjoying my life. Some small part of it, anyway."

Krycek moved toward him. He stopped when they were practically touching. "Am I somewhere in there?"

"You're *everywhere* in there."

He pulled off his tee-shirt, then did the same for Krycek. Each man finished undressing himself, then slipped into bed. Mulder displayed a sheepish grin.

"How do you sleep?'

"With one eye open, usually."

"I mean, in what position?"

Krycek suppressed a laugh. "Oh. Uh, on my back, I guess. You?"

"Don't you know?"

"I didn't watch you *that* often."

"I start out on my left side, but I wake up in all kinds of different positions." He jumped over Krycek and settled himself to his right.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Mulder gave no answer. He simply drew close to Krycek's side and rested his head against his lover's temple.

Krycek turned his head slightly to the right, so that it was now his cheek against the top of Mulder's head. He brought his left hand up to rest on the arm that had draped itself loosely across his waist.

Without any more discussion, both men closed their eyes and drifted into sleep.


Monday, 7:10 a.m.

Krycek opened his eyes and immediately glanced to his right. He was alone in the bed. His arm swept the area where Mulder had been. Cold. He'd apparently been up for a while, but how long? Visions of Mulder slipping out of bed in the middle of the night, to sleep on the couch, flitted through his head. Maybe he wasn't as comfortable with this as he thought he'd be. Krycek sighed inwardly.

"About damn time."

The amused masculine voice coming from the doorway, startled him. He jerked his head in that direction and found Mulder leaning against the wall, arms folded across his chest. The faint odor of bacon wafted in through the open door. Mulder pushed away from the wall and made his way over to the bed. Krycek watched mutely, as he lowered himself to the edge. They searched each other's eyes for a number of seconds, then Krycek spoke.

"How long have you been up?"

"About two hours."

Relief. He nodded. "Are you *cooking*?"

Mulder smirked. "To the best of my ability. I don't do it very often, so I don't want to hear any complaints."

"You won't get any out of me. I can't remember the last time somebody made me breakfast."

"Well, get up, get showered and changed. It should be ready in about ten minutes." He motioned to the chair, where he'd already laid out clothes and underwear. "Got some fresh clothes for you over there." He patted Krycek's thigh twice, then rose and moved to the door. "Get moving," he ordered as he passed into the hall.


7:25 a.m.

Krycek stood in the doorway, watching as Mulder heaped scrambled eggs into a plate. As obviously ill at ease as he was in the kitchen, there was still an exquisite grace to his fumblings. Krycek smiled to himself.

"Coffee?"

"How'd you know I was here?"

Mulder turned to place the dish on the table. He straightened his back and shrugged. "I knew." He motioned to the chair in front of which, he'd just put the bacon and eggs. He stepped out of the way as Krycek moved forward and seated himself. As he turned back to the stove to get his own plate, he repeated his offer. "So, do you want any coffee?"

Krycek shook his head. "Never got in the habit."

Mulder poured himself a cup. "I don't drink much, myself...especially for an FBI agent. Most of the people at the Bureau have a cup permanently fused to their hands. I usually just have some in the morning and that's it."

Krycek looked down and noticed the pills alongside his glass of orange juice. Mulder took in the disturbed expression that suddenly crossed his face.

"Something wrong?"

"Would you tell me the truth if I asked you how much you minded that I've completely upset your life?"

"I wouldn't exactly use the word, 'upset'."

"What, then?"

"Changed."

"Okay, how much does it bother you that I've changed your life?"

"At first? It bothered the hell out of me, but you know that. Now? It doesn't. I welcome the change."

"You can actually sit there and tell me that it doesn't bother you in the least that all of sudden, you're sharing your bed with someone else, cooking for *two*, keeping track of medication, in a *real* bad place with your partner and best friend..."

"Eggs get cold, fast."

Krycek stared at him. "Is that your way of avoiding my question?"

"No, it's my way of telling you that your breakfast is getting cold."

Krycek gave up and dug into his food. When he was through, he picked up the plate and started to push away from the table. Mulder rose immediately and took it from him. He dropped back into the chair and watched as Mulder rinsed the plate and put it into the dishwasher. That done, he turned and leaned on the table, facing Krycek.

"I like that you're here." Mulder held him immobile, using nothing but his eyes. What seemed like two hours later, he backed away and went about clearing the rest of the table, leaving Krycek to agonize in the residual heat of his stare.

After he'd finished stacking the dishwasher, he picked up the phone and dialed.

"Scully? Wasn't sure I was going to catch you at home. Oh. Uh-huh. Pretty well, I think. Yeah. Come on, Scully...I'm *talking* to you, aren't I? Fine. When? Right." He hung up and clasped his hand to the back of his neck, twisting it as far as it would go, to one side, then back.

"Didn't sound especially pleasant."

"It's going to take her a little while."

"I think you're deluding yourself."

"I don't."

"Okay, whatever."

"She's coming by to check you out."

Krycek was about to reply with a wise crack, but thought better of the idea. He cleared his throat and asked, "When?"

"Later this afternoon. When she's through at the office."

"Can't wait."

"Why don't you go relax? Watch t.v. or something? I'll finish up in here."

"What are you going to do, after?"

Mulder shrugged. "I got some work I can do."

"You can go out if you need to, you know. I promise I won't take off or anything."

"There's no place I need to be."

"But if there was...you don't need to stay here and hold my hand."

Mulder approached once more and leaned over him. "It isn't your hand I enjoy holding."

"I think I've created a monster."

"You sorry?"

"No...no, I can't say that I am."

"Then shut up and get yourself into the living room."

He moved away and proceeded to clean up. Krycek watched him for a while, then quietly rose from his chair and exited the room.


4:49 p.m.

The soft knock brought Mulder's head up. He glanced from the computer screen, to the door, to Krycek, who was dozing on the sofa. Still asleep. He quickly rose from his chair and went to the door. Scully stood rigidly in the hall, her medical bag in-hand.

"Hey."

"Hey."

He stepped aside and allowed her to enter.

"Working?" she asked, noting that he was wearing his glasses.

"Yeah. There was some stuff I needed to catch up on."

"Where's Krycek?"

"He's asleep," Mulder announced, almost inaudibly.

Scully looked past Mulder, at the man dozing comfortably on the sofa. A twinge of anger flushed her cheeks.

"He's been taking his meds when he's supposed to?"

"I make sure he takes them on time."

Scully closed her eyes briefly, then re-opened them. The thought of Mulder catering to this man just went up one side of her and down the other. She swallowed down her ire and checked her watch."

"Are you in a hurry?"

"Well, I have a few things to do."

"I'll wake him."

Mulder walked over to the sofa and bent slightly at the waist. He laid a gentle hand on Krycek's arm and softly spoke his name. The corner of Krycek's mouth slanted upward, then back into place. Other than that, he did not stir. Mulder firmed his grip on the sleeping man's arm.

"Wake up."

"Hmmm...."

He shook Krycek's arm and called to him, again.

"Alex. Hey."

"What?" The reply of a man, still half-asleep.

"Wake up, okay?"

Krycek moaned and opened his eyes reluctantly. He smiled sleepily and covered Mulder's hand with his own. Mulder didn't pull away, but he could feel the tension in him.

"Scully's here."

Ah. Well, that explained that.

Krycek took his hand away and struggled into a sitting position. He looked past Mulder into the blatantly irritated face of Dana Scully.

"How do you feel?" she asked from where she stood.

"Pretty good," he said as he became more alert. "Just a little sore."

"Uh huh."

 Mulder moved out of the way, as she walked over to the sofa and quickly performed her examination. Once she'd changed the dressing on his wound, she immediately backed away and closed up her bag.

"Everything is fine. I'll remove the stitches in about a week or so."

"Thank you."

Instead of acknowledging his expression of gratitude, Scully turned to her partner. "Mulder, call me if any problems arise. Other than that, I'll see you on Wednesday."

"Scully, can I have a few seconds?"

She hesitated, then nodded curtly.

"Excuse us," Mulder said to Krycek and placed a hand under Scully's elbow. He steered her into the kitchen and closed the door behind them.

"What's up?" she asked, trying her level best to sound casual.

"Take a good look," he said, raising his arms out to his sides and turning in a circle. "No cuts, no bruises...I'm still walking and talking, so I *must* be alive..."

"What's your point?"

"He's no danger to me."

Scully turned around, then almost immediately spun back to face him.

"*Yes*, he is! If not physically, then most *certainly*, emotionally and mentally! Let me ask you a question. Where do you see this going?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know. How far do you *think* it can go?" Before Mulder could answer, she continued with her diatribe. "You've got to keep this thing *in* the shadows. You're not a private citizen, Mulder. You belong to the government. An intolerant, homophobic government. Krycek, isn't exactly a regular guy, either. He's got more dirt swept under his rug than anyone you and I know, put together."

"He's through with all that."

"Did he tell you that?"

"Yeah."

"Come on, Mulder! Get real! Think for a minute, would you? Even if he's absolutely sincere about that, which I'm sorry, but I just can't believe...this isn't some street gang that if he wants to quit, he can get *jumped out* of! He's stuck!"

"It's in their best interests not to push him, and they know it."

"Okay, what about these other people who tried to kill him? They just may succeed, someday. What I'm saying Mulder, is that it can't last. Sooner or later, one way or another, it's going to end, and you'll be hurt. You don't know how I hate the thought of what this could do to you."

Mulder approached her slowly and placed his hands on her shoulders. He inclined his head and planted a kiss on her forehead.

"Thank you. But please, try to understand. I know the dangers. I know the problems that come with this. I'm willing to deal with them. You might not want to hear this Scully, but...he makes me feel so good. I look at him and he just *does* things to me."

"It used to be, not all *that* long ago, that you'd look at him and want to kill him."

"I wanted him *then*, Scully. I just wouldn't allow myself to come to that realization. The big thing between us was the fact that I thought he'd killed my father and Melissa." He shook his head. "He didn't."

"Even if he didn't Mulder, he betrayed you. How can you forget that?"

"We discussed that and came to an understanding about it." He cupped her face in his hands. "Please, Scully. Can you try to accept this? For me?"

Scully looked up at him with somber eyes. She grasped both of his hands and held them together in hers as she raised them to her lips. The brief kiss was followed by a tight squeeze. She released his hands and turned toward the door. He remained where he stood, staring after her.

Scully passed through the living room, and ignoring Krycek, headed to the door.

"Scully?"

She stopped in her tracks, but did not turn.

"I won't do anything to hurt him."

Scully stood motionless for a moment, then proceeded to the door. A soft click of the latch, and she was gone.

Krycek tore his eyes from the closed door and went quietly to the kitchen. He found Mulder slouched in a chair, one long leg stretched out before him, both hands laid flat on top of the table. He approached slowly and slid his palms along Mulder's shoulders.

"You okay?"

Mulder nodded.

Krycek kneaded the knotted muscles. "You're tight."

No response.

"She got you thinking, didn't she?

"About what?"

"About what the hell it is you're doing."

Again, no answer.

Krycek leaned in close to Mulder's cheek and spoke softly. "You need time to figure out whether or not you can live with a rift between the two of you. He turned Mulder's face to his. "And you can't do that with me around."

"I don't want you to go..." The thought hit him like a hammer. "But *you* do."

"No..."

"Jesus." Mulder got up and moved over to the far end of the kitchen. "I was so wrapped up in *my* feelings, I never stopped to think that maybe what you wanted from me was only physical..." Had he been looking at Krycek, he would have seen him shaking his head. "Look...uh...as soon as you feel up to it, you can go. I won't stop you."

Krycek advanced toward him, slowly. "I will. But not because I want to. I'll leave because it's what's best."

"For who?"

"For you." Krycek stopped when their bodies were slightly touching. "Try to work it out with Scully. I think, she thinks that my presence is having a lot of influence on you. She's itching to get you away from me, so she can try to talk some sense into you. Maybe if I'm not around and she sees that you still feel the same, she'll finally get it." He didn't believe a word he was saying to Mulder. "Maybe she'll come to understand."

Mulder's voice came out in a hoarse whisper. "Where will you go?"

"I've got someplace I can stay."

Mulder titled his head and frowned. Krycek wished like hell that he wouldn't look at him like that.

"I'll be okay. I'll come back in a week, so she can remove the stitches."

"And then, what?"

"I don't know. I hardly think a week is enough time for you to do what you need to do. I get the feeling that Scully is a tough woman to convince of *anything* that she might be skeptical about, much less something like this."

"What if I can't make her understand? What if there'll always be a degree of discomfort between us, if you and I continue?"

"I told you, that's what I need to know. You have to ask yourself if that's something that you can live with. You love Scully. She's your best friend as well as your partner. Can you forgive yourself if something like this comes between you? I don't think you can. And if that's true, then things will go real bad, real fast, for us. I don't want that to happen. I'd rather end it right now...hell, I'd even rather go back to the way we were, than see that happen."

"Will..." Mulder stopped to clear his throat, then started again. "Will you stay until I go back to work on Wednesday?"

Krycek cupped the back of his head with one hand, and brought their lips together. "Yeah," he said, after they parted.

One more day. Krycek's heart thumped painfully in his chest. Two more nights. It was more than he'd ever dreamed they'd have.


Tuesday, 5:46 p.m.

Mulder stabbed at the fried rice, again and again, with his fork. Krycek put his carton of chicken chow mein down on the desk and watched him.

"I think it's dead."

The rhythmic action stopped. Mulder attempted a weak smile. "Can't be too sure."

"You haven't eaten much."

"I could say the same to you."

Krycek left his seat by Mulder's desk and came to sit beside him on the sofa. He gently removed the fork and carton from Mulder's hands and place them on the coffee table.

"I don't want you to think that this is easy for me." He reached out and cupped Mulder's face. His thumb swept back and forth across the cheekbone. "It's not."

Mulder nodded his acknowledgment.

"You want to turn in early?" His words sounded innocent enough, but his eyes were full of hidden meaning.

The smile this time, was genuine. "It's a little early to think about going to sleep, isn't it?"

"I don't recall saying anything about sleep."

"I didn't...I didn't think..."

"Why? Because I didn't touch you, last night? It was a heavy day. I just wanted to put my arms around you and let you feel warmth and comfort. And remind you that you were safe with me."

"I stopped expecting a gunshot to the head, some time ago."

"I don't mean that." He let his hand slide downward, then stopped it over Mulder's heart. Understanding flashed in the depths of those incredible hazel eyes. And something else.

"Let's go to bed."

He pulled Krycek up by the front of his shirt and led him to the bedroom.

"That's all *I* was saying..."

Once in the room, Mulder pushed Krycek against the wall and pinned him there by his wrists. His mouth went to the hollow between Krycek's neck and shoulder, alternately nipping and licking. An unintelligible sound issued from the trapped man's throat. Mulder wandered to his ear.

"Remember that first time that we were together and you asked me to tell you my deepest darkest fantasies?"

"Yeah."

"Do you still want to know?"

"*Oh*, yeah."

"The times that we fought...even after...these images of me fucking you would always be stuck in my mind. Loud. Violent. Like animals. I'd get so hard thinking about it, it'd actually hurt."

"Is that what you want?"

"Maybe...but without the black eyes and bloody noses."

Krycek's grin turned into a grimace as he felt the sting of Mulder's teeth at his earlobe.

"Not now, though," Mulder rasped in his ear. After your wound heals."

"And after you've had some experience."

"Which you'll give me, tonight?"

Krycek's eyes darkened. "If you like."

"I like."

He freed himself from the grip Mulder still held on his wrists and in an instant, turned things around. This time, it was Mulder up against the wall, but Krycek had him turned, facing it. He pressed against Mulder from behind, holding his wrists in a tight grasp, slightly out from his body, against the plaster. He rubbed his cheek against the back of Mulder's head, enjoying the sensuous feel of his hair, cool and silky on his heated skin.

Mulder turned his face to the side and flattened his cheek against the wall. His eyes closed and his lips parted as Krycek crushed him between his body and the unyielding surface in front of him. Krycek released one of his wrists, but Mulder kept his arm where it was. The hand that had freed him, made it's way down to the top button of his jeans and efficiently undid it. The zipper gave next, and then his hand was there, insinuating itself between his jeans and underwear and the wall, stroking, squeezing.

Krycek listened attentively. As soon as he heard Mulder's breaths turn shallow, he ceased his actions. He removed his hand from Mulder's other wrist, with a soft warning. "Keep them there." He slipped both hands inside his lover's jeans and pulled them and his underwear down and off in one swift movement. He straightened his posture and quickly disposed of his lower garments in the same manner.

Mulder grunted softly as he felt Krycek's fingers trailing up and down his spine, in feathery lines. They reached the enticing curve that started just below the small of his back and Krycek could see that small jerk of Mulder's hips. He smiled, curving his hands to the tightly muscled flesh and gave a gentle squeeze. Mulder jumped again.

"A little sensitive, are we?" he teased.

Mulder gave no answer. He was already too far gone for rational thought.

Krycek brushed his fingers down the length of the cleft of Mulder's ass, feeling his whole body tighten in natural response.

"It's okay," he cooed. "We're going to do this nice and slow." His fingers continued to tease. "If at any time you want to stop, just tell me. I *will* not hurt you. Do you have any lube?"

Again he received no answer.

"Hey." He patted Mulder's hip.

"Hmm."

"Lubrication. Do you have any KY or anything like that? It'll make things a hell of a lot easier."

Mulder attempted to get his breathing under control, long enough to answer. "I don't know. Bathroom, maybe."

"Okay. Come on." He led Mulder to the bed and pulled his shirt off, before letting him sink to the mattress. He stole quickly into the bathroom and began rummaging through the drawers, mumbling as he searched. "Everybody in the world keeps their lube in the nightstand. Not this guy. Oddball right to the very last detail." Finally, he hit paydirt. He lifted the tube out of the third drawer and tested it's weight. Very light. He hoped to hell that there was enough.

Mulder lay trembling on the bed as thoughts of what was to come, tumbled through his mind. His already rigid erection swelled painfully as he imagined Krycek driving his cock deeper and deeper into his ass. He groaned and rolled over onto his stomach. What the hell was taking him so long? If making him wait was Krycek's sick idea of a joke...

Before he could complete his thought, he felt the hard warmth of a body, pressing his into the mattress.

"Miss me?" Krycek breathed against his shoulder.

"What the hell took you so long?"

"Have you opened those drawers lately? I'm lucky nothing in there *bit* me."

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

"Yeah, but I don't know. It feels kind of empty."

"Cut it open. There should be something in the nightstand that you can use."

Krycek slid off Mulder and reached to his right, pulling open the drawer. He pulled a long, slim object out. There was a click then a swishing sound as the five inch blade appeared from within the handle. He blinked in surprise.

"But he's got a *switchblade* in the nightstand..."

He cut the tube open and found too little lubrication inside for comfort.

"Alex..."

"I don't think there's enough in here."

"But there *is* some?"

"Yeah..."

"It's enough."

"I don't think so."

"You're not getting out of this." Mulder turned onto his back and focused his eyes on Krycek's face.

Krycek stretched out alongside Mulder and ran his hand down the length of his upper body and up again. He stopped at one tight nipple and plucked gently. He watched, satisfied, as Mulder's jaw clenched and a clipped sound caught in his throat.

"I never said I wanted out." He moved closer. "But this is your first time." He held the open tube up. "This would make it easier on you."

Mulder took the tube from his hand and looked at it's contents. "It'll do."

"Fox..."

He tossed the tube back onto the nightstand and curved his hand around Krycek's neck. "I want this and I *won't* wait for it." He pulled Krycek down for a hard, mind-numbing kiss, then released him abruptly. "Tonight. Do you hear me?"

Krycek stared down at him, captivated by this man's tenacity.

Mulder's tone softened. "Do me, Alex." He brushed his mouth against Krycek's. "I want you so much."

Krycek's heart felt as though it was going to pound a hole through the wall of his chest. He released a short, hard breath. "You're a damn persuasive man, you know that?"

"I just know what I want," he said as his hand gently gripped Krycek's erection. "Are you going to give it to me?"

Krycek sighed as Mulder caressed him. "If you keep doing *that*, I'm not going to be able to." He took Mulder's hand away. "Turn onto your right side."

Mulder did as he asked, without question. Krycek moved against him, molding himself to his body. One arm snaked around his chest and pulled him even closer. His lips found the rapid pulse in Mulder's neck and he touched his tongue to it.

"Mmmmmmm."

Krycek's hand moved from his chest, downward. As it closed around his straining cock, he could hear a tiny gasp escape Mulder's throat. He fondled him tenderly as his mouth worked the length of his neck.

Instinctively, Mulder pressed back against Krycek's hips. The hardness that nudged him, brought an urgent desire. He needed that hardness. Needed to feel it inside him. Now. He began to rock against Krycek.

"*God*. Fox, what are you doing?

Mulder tilted his head back so that his lips could touch Krycek's face. "I can't wait anymore, Alex. Please."

Krycek hesitated.

"*Please*."

//Shit.//

Krycek snatched the tube off the nightstand and coated two fingers with it, careful not to use more than he needed. He leaned over Mulder and whispered soothingly into his ear. "Relax, okay? Take a few deep breaths and just try to relax your whole body." He rubbed his cheek against Mulder's. "Tell me if I'm hurting you." He slowly worked one finger to the tight opening. He'd barely got the tip in, when he felt the muscles contract. "It's okay. Nice and easy." He slipped in another fraction. Mulder moaned and in his concern, Krycek took it as an expression of pain. "Damn. I'm sorry..."

"No. Don't. It's all right. Don't stop..."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes." He was panting. "Please."

Krycek continued, moving at a painfully slow pace. When at last he had one finger half-way in, he withdrew just far enough to add the second.

Mulder threw his head back and gasped aloud.

"Relax. Breathe slowly. You're doing great. Breathe, lisa. I need you to relax...that's it..."

A few minutes later, Krycek's two fingers were completely embedded in his lover. Carefully, he began to move them in and out. With his free hand, he reached over Mulder's hip and began to stroke his cock. A loud, harsh groan ripped from Mulder's throat.

"Is that good, baby?" Krycek taunted.

"*Christ*, yes!"

"You ready for the real thing?"

Mulder nodded.

Just as carefully as he'd inserted them, Krycek removed his fingers and again reached for the lube. Praying that it'd be enough, he skimmed every last bit from the split tube and applied it. His erection throbbed. Whether it was from the brief contact with his fingers or from the anticipation of burying himself deep within this man, he wasn't sure. He suspected it may have been both.

"Just like before, now," he said. "Deep breaths. Just relax and it'll be okay."

Gripping his cock at it's base, he guided it between the constricting muscles and paused at the opening. He took a long breath and proceeded.

Mulder gritted his teeth and a low, rough, hum pushed past his throat as he felt himself being stretched beyond all reasonable expectation.

"Do you want me to stop?"

A hoarse whisper. "No."

He pressed forward, another centimeter. And another.

Mulder's breaths came in ragged gasps. He curled his fingers into the pillow, and buried his face in it.

"Fox." Krycek's voice came to him, as if in a dream. "Listen to me. I'm going to take you all the way through this." He kissed the curve of Mulder's shoulder. "I promise you, it's going to feel so good, if you can just hold on a few minutes more..." He pushed deeper, as gently as he could. The sound of Mulder's muffled whimper, sent a fresh surge of desire thundering through him.

//Keep it in check, Alex. //

"Are you all right?"

"No." Mulder's answer came out in a rush of breath.

"What's wrong? Tell me."

"Give it to me, Alex. Stop teasing me."

Krycek couldn't mask his surprise. "I thought I was hurting you."

"You are....but you're not *killing* me. Finish. I want to feel you deep inside me."

Krycek stroked his chest. "We're almost there." He inched deeper, bit by bit, until he was completely embedded in Mulder's heat.

"Ohhh, *Jesus*!" Mulder's chest heaved. "Fuck me, Alex..."

Krycek clenched his teeth and attempted to still the rocking of Mulder's hips. "Wait. Give me a second, okay? Just don't move. I feel like I'm going to explode..."

As hard as it was, Mulder lay still. He didn't want Krycek to come, yet. He refused to be deprived of the sensation of his lover's hard cock, pumping steadily, in and out of his ass. It's what he'd been fantasizing about for years and he'd be damned if anything was going to stop him from experiencing it.

An eternity later, Krycek began to move. Mulder emitted a low moan.

"Is there any more pain?" Krycek murmured against the back of his neck.

He shook his head from side to side. "Noooo. Oh God, Alex. No pain."

Krycek wrapped his hand around Mulder's cock and slowly, began to stroke up and down. Mulder sucked in his breath.

"Good." He established a smooth, even, double rhythm. "No more pain. I won't ever hurt you again. All I want to do is give you pleasure." He quickened his pace just a bit. "Does this feel good?"

Mulder nodded. "*So* good." He pushed back as Krycek rocked forward. "Harder..."

No, baby. Let's just take it easy, tonight."

"*No*..."

"Yes. If I do you the way you want me to, this'll be over in nothing flat. I'm enjoying you too much to end it, now. Please, can we wait a while?"

Mulder sighed.

"Please?"

He reached behind his shoulder and threaded his fingers through Krycek's hair. "Do it your way."

"Thank you."

For the next ten minutes, Krycek teased Mulder, mercilessly. He'd bring them both to the brink of orgasm, then stop, drawing many a protest and even a few threats from the object of his torment. Finally, Mulder had had enough. It was coming this time, and there was no stopping it. Krycek sensed as much. He increased the speed and strength of his thrusts. His hand kept pace with his hips and he whispered into Mulder's ear.

"Okay. This is what you wanted. Come for me.....come...for me..." His voice trailed off as the first wave of his orgasm hit.

Krycek's hoarse cry was joined almost immediately by Mulder's. Their respective climaxes hit with a force previously unknown to either man and when it was done, they lay together, weakened and exhausted and drenched in sweat. Krycek shifted with the intention to disengage himself. Mulder stopped him.

"No. Don't. It feels so good. Don't pull out, yet."

Krycek scattered small kisses in Mulder's dampened hair. "You're amazing." He tucked his arm around Mulder's waist and snuggled close. In no time at all, they were both asleep.


Wednesday, 5:15 a.m.

Mulder brought his palm down on the alarm clock button, bringing to an end, it's annoying buzz. He smiled, feeling the warm presence behind him. The smile faded when he realized that it was Wednesday morning. He turned over, grimacing at the vague soreness he felt, and met the deep green eyes of the man who had last night, taken him to a place he'd never in his life, imagined going.

"Good morning."

Mulder chewed the inside of his bottom lip. "It is, and it isn't."

"I know."

Mulder wanted so much to ask him to stay, but they'd settled this issue already, and he would not push it, again.

"Shower and some breakfast before you go?"

Krycek smiled sadly. "Well, I think that a shower is a good idea...I'm surprised we aren't stuck together...but after that, I think I'll just go.. We shouldn't drag this out any longer than we have to."

Mulder nodded.

"Besides, I should leave while it's still relatively early. You don't want any of your neighbors seeing me coming out of your apartment, do you?"

"Unless there's gunfire, they pretty much just ignore the things they see around here, now. I think they've learned to expect just about anything. I'll bet a few of them could tell you the first names of most of the officers in the Alexandria Police Department."

"Well, just the same..."

"Yeah."

Krycek sat up and looked around the room.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing, just...when I left that morning, I thought I'd never come back here again. I never expected that I'd be back in this bed. And I sure as hell never expected that I'd spend the night, making love with you, in it. I'll never forget it."

"Stop."

Krycek looked down at Mulder. His eyes reflected a myriad of emotions, not the least of which, was anger.

"What did I say?"

"You have no intention of ever coming back here, do you?"

"Why would you say that?"

"I can see it all over your face."

Krycek lowered himself to Mulder's level and threaded a hand through his hair. "You're reading me wrong there, crack profiler. I fully intend to come back, next Wednesday. If I don't show, don't think that it's because I didn't want to."

Mulder understood the vague inference.

"Do you believe me?"

Mulder studied him for a moment and answered. "Watch your ass. Come Wednesday, it's mine."

Krycek smiled. "I'll do my best." He brought his mouth down on Mulder's for a long, tender kiss. Pulling away reluctantly, he rose from the bed and walked toward the bathroom.

Mulder fought the urge to follow him to the shower. He knew what would result and he knew that there was no way that he would be able to stop himself from begging Krycek to stay, if he allowed himself to be placed in a weakened state. Instead, he got up and retrieved his jeans from the floor. He pulled them on, then proceeded to strip the bed. That done, he went to the closet and pulled out a navy blue suit, white shirt, and a tie, and laid them over the chair. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and waited.

Krycek shut the shower off and grabbed the towel that he'd thrown over the curtain rod. He dried himself slowly, letting his mind wander to last night. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to discourage the stirring he felt in his groin. The soft knock startled him. He wrapped the towel around his waist and answered.

"Yeah."

The door opened and Mulder walked in. "There are a few sets of clothes on the bed. I don't know if you'll be able to get back to where you were staying, so..."

Krycek nodded. "Thanks. I don't know, either. I'll see....well...let me get out of your way, so you can get ready for work."

"Don't leave until I get out of the shower."

Krycek hesitated. "Okay." He turned away, unable to watch Mulder strip and step into the shower. He left the bathroom and got dressed, doing his best to ignore his growing erection. He gathered up the remaining clothes and placed them inside of the duffel bag that Mulder had left next to them.

By the time the sound of running water stopped, Krycek had managed to regain his composure. Ten minutes later, Mulder emerged from the bathroom and began to get dressed. Krycek watched silently from the other end of the room. Mulder finished buttoning his shirt, then reached for the tie.

"You've *got* to be kidding me." Krycek approached him from behind. "Where do you get these ties?

Mulder looked down. "What's wrong with it?"

Krycek laughed softly. He placed a hand on Mulder's shoulder and turned him around. "Nothing," he answered, as he pushed Mulder's hands away and finished knotting the tie. Mulder stood quietly, as he worked, eyes never leaving his face. When he was through, he pulled on the tie, bringing Mulder in closer. "I really should be going."

Mulder cast his eyes downward. "I know."

"I'll see you next week."

"All right."

"Be careful, okay? Just in case?"

"I will. You too."

Both men turned and walked toward the living room and the front door.

"Damn. Wait a minute."

Mulder disappeared into the kitchen and came back with Krycek's meds. He handed them over and watched as Krycek stuffed them into the bag.

"Thanks."

"Don't forget to take them."

"I won't."

Brief nod.

"Okay. Well..."

Mulder closed the distance between them and brushed Krycek's jaw with his knuckles. "*Please* be careful."

"You already said that."

"It bears repeating."

Krycek leaned forward and laid a quick, hard kiss on Mulder's lips. He opened the door and slipped out, without another word between them.

Mulder stood in the open doorway for a bit, staring at nothing in particular, then closed the door and walked back into his empty apartment.

End Part II

 


 

11 November 1998

Admission III: Painful Repercussuions
by Aries
Fandom: XF
See Disclaimer in Part I
Summary: All the poor boys want is to be together but DAMN, if fate will let em be...


I'm thinking of you
In my sleepless solitude tonight
If it's wrong to love you
Then my heart just won't let me be right
Cause I'm drowned in you
And I won't pull through without you by my side

I'd give my all
To have just one more night with you
I'd risk my life to feel
Your body next to mine
Cause I can't go on
Living in the memory of a smile
I'd give my all
For your love tonight

I'd Give My All ~ Mariah Carey

****************************

Wednesday 8:15 a.m.

Scully looked at her watch for the fourth time in the last twenty minutes.

Late.

She couldn't believe it. Couldn't ever recall a time in the last five years that Mulder had *ever* come in to the office after her. She should never have gone along with this. What the hell was she thinking, letting Mulder take Krycek home with him?

//Oh, and what were you supposed to do, keep him at your place?//

She pushed away from her desk and paced as much of the length of the cluttered office as she could.

//He's all right. He's fine. Nothing has happened to him. He'll be in any...//

She stopped and dropped heavily, back into her chair. Who was she kidding? Mulder's safety was not her primary concern at this point. She was fairly certain that Krycek wasn't going to kill him, but thoughts of what else he might be doing to her partner, was like an icy dagger, twisting in her gut.

Her head jerked up as the door swung open and Mulder entered.

"Good morning," she said, making a point of looking at her watch, then back up at him.

"Morning," he tossed back, ignoring the silent accusation.

"How are you?"

"I'm fine." He removed his jacket and hung it over the back of the chair. "Anything I should be brought up to speed on?"

"Nope. Been quiet. I've just been catching up on stuff that I'd let go for a while."

Mulder nodded. "Okay, well I guess I could do the same, then." He walked over to one of the filing cabinets and paused, his hand on the drawer. "Unless we've got any meetings this morning?"

"There's one on the missing wife of some diplomat, but that's not till eleven."

Mulder pulled the drawer out and rummaged through it, removing two files. He shut the drawer quietly and seated himself at his desk. As he did so, Scully took notice of the slight wince that would have escaped the casual observer. She chose not to say anything about it, not at all sure if she really wanted to know the reason for his discomfort. But there *was* something else she wanted to know.

"Everything okay over at your place?"

"Fine."

"I mean, you had no problems with coming in, today?"

"Scully," Mulder looked up from his desk. "My guest has left."

Hope surged into her chest. "Oh?"

Mulder shot her down. "For the time being."

"Oh."

"What's the matter, Scully? You don't look as perky as you did ten seconds ago."

Scully gave no answer. Her eyes merely darted back to the report in front of her.

Mulder fell silent as well and each went about their own business, until shortly before eleven.


4:42 p.m.

Scully entered the office and began organizing her desk. Mulder watched her over the rims of his glasses. His voice stopped her movements.

"Do you have plans for dinner, Scully?"

"N-no. I just thought I'd dig something out of the fridge and do a little reading." She waved a forensics report through the air.

"Let me take you out. We'll go anywhere you want."

Scully hesitated.

"Please, Scully. Can't we talk?"

She was about to refuse - to come up with another excuse why she couldn't, but a little voice chastised her.

//Are you really going to be that rotten? He's your best friend and he needs to talk. Stop being so damned selfish.//

She sighed. "Okay, Mulder."

He gave her a half smile. "Where do you want to go?"

"How about Abercrombie's?" she suggested, trying to come up with a place that would afford them some privacy.

"Don't you need reservations for that place?"

"Yeah. Why don't you call and see if you can get us a corner table?"

Mulder made the call and got reservations for six o'clock. It was a Wednesday night and he'd had no problem at all. They left the office at five-twenty and arrived at the restaurant fifteen minutes early. They took a seat at the bar while they waited for their table.

"So," she said, trying to sound casual, "I bet this was a long day for you."

"How do you mean?"

"The first day back, after having a few days off, is usually pretty long."

"Oh. Yeah. I guess I really hadn't noticed."

Scully nodded and peered down into her drink. Mulder spoke next.

"So what do you think happened to that woman?"

Scully threw him a puzzled glance.

"The diplomat's wife."

"Oh! Oh, I don't think she's disappeared. At least not in the way they think."

"I know, me either. I think that hubby is going to have to face up to the fact that she may have found the groundskeeper more to do than just trimming the hedges and mowing the lawn."

Scully smiled. "You can't blame the guy for wanting to think that there was foul play. I mean, who'd want to believe a thing like that about their spouse?"

For those few moments, they were Mulder and Scully again. Completely at ease. No walls, no doubts. Then they were seated at their table. The uneasiness returned immediately. Mulder picked up his menu and pretended to study it.

"What are you going to have?" Scully asked, glad to have something to talk to him about.

"I don't know. So many things look good."

After a few moments, they ordered. Scully decided that now was a good time to get the ball rolling

"What did you want to talk about, Mulder?"

//Okay, here we go.//

"This situation between us."

Scully lowered her head. "What is there for us to say?"

"I don't know. There's just...you can't deny that things are strained between us."

"I don't know what to say about that, Mulder. It's true that you and I don't see eye to eye on this Krycek thing..."

"To me, it's not *this Krycek thing*. He's become part of my life, Scully. Now, I'd never in a million years have dreamed that this would happen, but it has, and I'm not sorry."

"I don't understand, Mulder. Not more than a few days ago, you felt dirty. Sub-human. Now you act as though you'd never had any of those feelings, at all."

"I did feel that way. The feeling was real. But then I saw him at your apartment and other real feelings surfaced. I can't explain it to you. I would if I could."

"This is just so *unreal* to me. I keep thinking that I'm going to wake up and everything will be back to normal."

"What's normal in our world?"

"Normal is you hating Krycek with a passion, wanting to kill him every time you see him or even hear his name..."

"You'd prefer the anger, to this?"

"It's what I knew. It's what I was comfortable with. I'm sorry Mulder, I know this isn't about me."

"It's about all of us. You, me and Alex."

Scully twitched at the sound of Krycek's first name on her partner's lips. Mulder went on.

"He left because he didn't want to be the cause of any rift between us."

Scully lifted her eyes to his.

"It's true. I was feeling pretty bad when you left my apartment the other day and we had a talk. Actually, he did most of the talking. He said that I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I lost you as a friend, because of my relationship with him. And he couldn't live with *that*. So he said he was going to leave."

Scully listened in silence.

"I didn't want him to go, Scully. If it was up to me, he'd still be there. He left for me. And for you."

She interrupted. "And for himself?"

"Yes, for himself, too. He couldn't stand the thought of me turning against him, if our relationship," his hand motioned back and forth between them, "was ruined. I'm not trying to make him out to be a saint, Scully. I'm just trying to tell you that he has a conscience and he does care."

"Okay, so now what? You said earlier, that he'd left for the time being. What does that mean?"

"He wants me to work this out with you and to be sure that I can live with whatever understanding we come to."

"And what if we can't? Because I'll tell you Mulder, I just don't see myself warming up to this man."

A look crossed Mulder's face, so deeply pathetic that she was immediately sorry for her statement.

"Listen, this is *your* life. Whatever decision you come to about Krycek, is yours and yours alone. What I think or feel on the matter is irrelevant."

"But it isn't, Scully. Our lives are intertwined. Whatever one of us does, affects the other."

"Well, this will just have to be one part of our lives that we'll have to untangle. I promise, I won't let my feelings for Alex Krycek come between us. Just don't expect that I'll ever want to go out for pizza and a movie with him. I'll be civil if I have to be in his company, but that's about all I can muster, I think. Can you live with that?"

There was that pathetic, little boy look, again. She reached for his hand.

"It'll be okay, Mulder. You and I won't change. I promise. If Alex Krycek is what you really want, far be it from me to make waves." She paused, trying to read his expression. "Is he?"

"Is he what?"

"Really what you want? Have you given it serious consideration?"

"Yes, I have. I want him in my life. He's only been gone less than a day, and I miss him already. But...I've got a whole week to think about it some more. And I *will* use the time. I wish you would, too. If you have any questions or doubts, please tell me. I need to be able to deal with everything."

Scully squeezed his hand. "Okay."

She released him as their meals arrived. When the waiter had gone, she turned back to him. "He'll be back next Wednesday to let me take the stitches out?"

Mulder eyelids slid closed. "Yes."

"You don't seem quite sure."

"I'm just afraid."

"Of what?"

"Of something happening."

"Like?"

"Like them finding him. They could kill him."

Scully tried to reassure him, even in the midst of her own selfish thoughts on the matter. "Krycek has got nine lives, Mulder. You don't need to worry about him."

Mulder acknowledged her with a tiny nod.

"Mulder, can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

Scully took a deep breath and released it. "What if this is all a setup?"

His face took on an impatient look.

"Hear me out, please."

He lifted a hand. "Go ahead."

"What if..." she lowered her voice. "What *if*, this is all deliberate? Something concocted between Krycek and the people he works for, to bring you down?"

Mulder shook his head. "No..."

"How do you *know*, Mulder? It wouldn't be beneath him to pull something like this. And I'm sorry, but I've really got to question your judgement in this situation. "

"What, you think it's clouded by lust?"

"You said it, I didn't."

Mulder leaned back in his chair, watching his fingers drawing designs on the pale yellow tablecloth.

"Mulder...what would you do if you found out that it was true? That he'd committed the ultimate betrayal?"

"You weren't there, Scully. You didn't see the Krycek I saw. I never told you how we wound up where we are."

"No, you didn't."

"I found him in my apartment. He was getting ready to plant a camera. We fought. He managed to get my gun from me. He had the perfect opportunity to kill me, but he handed the gun back." He searched her eyes for some sign of understanding, but she was unreadable. He continued. "He told me a lot of things I didn't want to hear. He made me furious. I wanted to kill him and I wanted to give in to him, and I wanted...I wanted to kill myself for wanting to give in. And all of a sudden I was on overload. I came apart, and he was there. He put his arms around me and held me together. He...got me into bed and spent the night in a chair, nearby. He *did* that for me."

"Well, that sounds wonderful Mulder, but then why was the air so thick in my apartment when you two locked eyes for the first time in over five weeks? Which, by the way, leads me to my second question. Why hadn't you seen each other in all that time?"

"It was just like I told you, Scully. I couldn't face what we'd done." He skipped back to where he'd left off. "I woke up at around four that morning. He was asleep, still in the chair. First of all, it amazed me that I was able to sleep with him in my apartment, and secondly, it was a surprise waking up at *all*, with him in my apartment. Another perfect opportunity to get rid of me and he didn't. He woke up shortly after me and we started to talk. He started pushing my buttons again, and I got pissed. We ended up in yet another scrape, and before I knew it, we were..."

Scully flushed and looked away.

"Well, there's no need to go into detail. I think you remember what I'd told you a few days ago. Anyway, just as I'd said, after it was over, I couldn't...I couldn't face it. When I came out of the bathroom, he'd gone. He hated himself for what he thought he'd done to me and he thought it was best if he just left. He didn't know...*I* didn't know...not right away, that it was the worst thing he could have done. But under the circumstances, I probably would have done the same...I don't know. We should have talked it out. It might have saved us both a whole lot of sleepless nights and arguments."

"Arguments?"

"We spent a lot of time over the last couple of days, arguing over whether or not he should stay."

"I guess he won that argument."

"I don't think he saw it as a victory. He made a real point of letting me know that he was only leaving because it was what was best for me and not because he *wanted* to go."

"And you believed him."

"I kept waffling on that. Just this morning I accused him of bullshitting me. Something he said hit me the wrong way, and I was off. But he explained himself and I felt better."

"Sounds to me Mulder, that all I keep hearing, is how he's done something or said something to upset you."

Mulder managed a lopsided smile. "There's no getting around the fact that Alex and I together are about as volatile as a keg of gunpowder and a lit match. Even when things are calm, there always seems to be *something* simmering just beneath the surface."

"I don't understand, Mulder. If that's the way it is with you...why?" She struggled to make her point. "I mean...*why*?"

"Because there's a lot more to us than just that. We understand each other...mostly...we're good together. And it just...it feels right. Comfortable."

"I'm not going to pretend to understand this, Mulder. I still don't." She rested her chin in her palm for a moment, then asked another question. "That morning in my apartment, he said something about 'holding some cards'. Can he help us?"

"He could. But I won't ask him to."

"Why the hell not?"

"Scully, he can't. The minute he gives away any of that information, he's as good as dead. I won't take any chances with his life."

"This is harder to believe than anything I've heard, so far. This guy could hold the key, Mulder. He may have the answers to everything we've ever wanted to know. This has been your quest...your obsession, for *years*! And you're just going to give it up?"

"Scully, if there was some way to get that information without risking his life, I'd do it. But there isn't."

Scully shrugged. "So, that's it? You're just going to let it go?"

"That's the way it has to be. At least for now."

"I never thought I'd see the day when anything or any*one* took precedence over your search."

"That's not fair, Scully. I've never put your safety at risk for any reason..."

Scully sighed. "You're right. I'm sorry." She looked down at her half-empty plate. "I've about had it with this. It was good, but...it's getting late and I've got some stuff to do before I turn in."

Mulder nodded. "Oh. Sure. Just let me get the waitress over here, and we can take off."

Once the bill was paid, Mulder walked Scully to her car and stood by as she unlocked the door and swung it open.

"Thanks for dinner."

"Thanks for agreeing to talk."

"Even though I didn't really say anything you wanted to hear?"

"I didn't expect miracles right away."

"You know I'm a believer in miracles Mulder, but in this case, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. I'm sorry, but I'm just trying to be as truthful as I can."

Mulder looked past Scully. "I appreciate that."

"See you tomorrow."

"Goodnight, Scully."

He watched her start her car and pull out of the parking lot, before walking to his own vehicle. Once inside, he leaned his forehead against the steering wheel and closed his eyes. He sat that way for twenty minutes, before he raised his head and decided that it was time to head for home.


Thursday, 2:39 a.m.

"Sonofabitch."

Mulder threw the sheet off and got out of bed. He'd been tossing and turning for three hours now, and he'd had enough. He went to the kitchen and pulled a carton of milk out of the refrigerator. He rifled through the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a small saucepan. He slammed it down on the stove and poured some milk into it. Once it was heated, he poured it into a glass and threw the pan into the sink.

"See Mom, I *did* learn something from you."

He took a few gulps, grimacing all the while, then proceeded into the living room. He turned the small lamp on at his desk and flipped the computer on. Since he was up, he might just as well try to get something done...at least until the milk took effect. He raised the glass to his lips once more, and drained it of it's contents, then went to work.


4:50 a.m.

Still wide awake.

Mulder looked over at the empty glass. "Oh yeah Mom, real good shit. Works like a charm."

He tilted back in the swivel chair and closed his eyes. He considered the conversation that he and Scully had the night before.

No miracles.

Even though he hadn't expected any, he was hopeful. Desperate, almost. It was a fine line, to walk between his partner and his lover and he didn't know how long he'd be able to do it. If Scully never accepted Krycek, he didn't know what the hell he was going to do. One thing was for damn sure. Life was going to get a lot more difficult. In reality, it already had.

//Don't try to rush things. It's only been a few days. Just relax and let things happen. You may be surprised.// He laughed. A short, bitter sound. //Who the fuck are you kidding?//

He pushed away from the desk and practically ripping his t-shirt from his body, headed for the shower.


8:21 a.m.

"Mulder? You okay?"

Mulder raised his head from his desk and tried to focus on the concerned face of his partner. He blinked twice and the haze began to fade.

"Yeah. Fine."

"Are you sure? You look kind of worn out." The thought that Alex Krycek may have paid Mulder a visit last night, flitted across her mind.

"Yeah, I just didn't sleep very well last night."

"Any particular reason?"

"Just...thinking...you know."

"Oh. Well. Uh," she held a folder up before him. "Got something that might get your mind off of things for a little while."

"What is it?"

"Skinner was on his way down with it, when I ran into him. He thought you might want to have a look."

Mulder took the folder from her and laid it open on his desk. After a few minutes of reading, he scrunched his lips together and nodded. "This could be interesting. According to this, three furniture delivery men from the same company in Gainesville, disappeared on the same road all within four days of each other. Each truck was found, furniture undisturbed, and all three cabs had the same strong perfumy odor.

"If it was new furniture," Scully rationed, "the smell could be from whatever chemicals they use to stainproof the material."

"Eau de Scotch Guard, Scully?"

She rolled her eyes.

"No really, that might have been an explanation if the smell had also been in the back where the furniture actually was, but it wasn't. And what about the disappearances? Three furniture delivery men, all working for the same company, decide to take a powder on the same stretch of highway? More than just a coinky dink, dontcha think?"

Scully sighed. "I take it we're going to Gainesville?"

"Not that far a drive."

"Okay, let's go."

She didn't put up much resistance. The truth of the matter was, she was grateful for the distraction. She'd have gone anywhere, to investigate any*thing*, as long as it kept his mind off of Alex Krycek.


Sunday 8:04 a.m.

"Hello?"

"Hey Mulder...you sound a little out of breath."

"Yeah. I just came through the door. Went for a run."

"Ah."

"What's up?"

"Nothing much, I'm meeting my mom for breakfast and we wanted to know if you'd like to join us?"

Mulder smiled into the phone. "Scully, what are you doing?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're trying your damndest to keep me busy. First, you go to Gainesville with me without a fuss, then yesterday, you invite me over for twelve games of Scrabble, *now* it's breakfast with you and your mother. What's the deal?"

Scully's tone was indignant. "Hey, if you don't want to go out, just say so."

"Scully. I appreciate what you're trying to do...I think. I'm just going to stay in today, okay? I've still got that report to write. That should take me the better part of the day..."

"Okay."

"..so you don't have to worry about me being here alone with nothing but thoughts of Krycek to keep me company."

"Mulder..."

"Have a nice breakfast. Tell your mother I said hi."

Mulder disconnected and headed for the kitchen and a glass of orange juice.


5:56 p.m.

Mulder removed his glasses and stretched. He'd finally completed his report and now, he realized, he was hungry. Too bad there was no food in the apartment. He glanced at his watch and decided that it wasn't too late to do some shopping. He shut the computer down and grabbing his jacket and keys, headed out to the market.

On the short drive, his mind began to wander. He'd done exceptionally well today, in that he'd accomplished what he'd set out to do, with very little distraction. He'd managed to keep thoughts of Alex Krycek to a minimum. Silently congratulating himself, he pulled into the parking lot and entered the store. He zipped quickly up and down the aisles, throwing this item and that into the cart, then headed for the checkout. There was only one person in line ahead of him, but of course, there was a problem with a price on one of the items, so he grabbed a magazine and started to read.

A voice yelled from the back of the store.

"I can't find it!"

The cashier called back.

"It's there, in aisle two!"

"I don't see it!"

The cashier sighed impatiently.

"Maybe it got moved, then! Tell Alex what you want, he'll help you find it!"

Mulder's head snapped up.

//Tell Alex what you want.//

All the progress he'd made during the day, went right out the window, just then. The magazine in his hands, curled into a tight spiral as he heard the voice of his lover, whispering to him. Taunting him.

All at once, it was much too warm in this place. Too confined. He needed to get out of here, and he needed to get out, soon. He looked up and found that the cashier was once again, scanning the items belonging to the woman in front of him. Soon she was gone, and he was able to pay for his own purchases. He practically snatched the three plastic bags from the packer, and headed for the door. The air hit his face as the door slid open and he breathed deeply, filling his lungs. He threw the bags into the car and got behind the wheel.

//Concentrate on what you're feeling and the sound of my voice.//

The sound of his voice. It resonated in Mulder's memory, until he could hear nothing else. He gripped the steering wheel and turned the key. He reached over and turned the radio on and up, hoping to drown out the sound in his head. Minutes later, he turned it off. What was the damn point? Nothing was going to help and he knew it.

Sunday night.

Two days to go.

Three nights.

If he showed up, at all.

The tires spun, kicking up a bit of sand, as Mulder threw the car into drive and roared out of the parking lot.


Tuesday, 6:48 p.m.

Mulder entered his dark apartment. Not bothering to turn any lights on, he removed his jacket and turned immediately in the direction of his bedroom. There, he turned on the small bedside lamp, and removed the rest of his clothing. He walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. As soon as it was warm enough, he stepped inside and let the water flow over him. He moaned aloud as the spray pulsed over his tense muscles.

What a goddamn pisser of a day.

Everything that could go wrong, did. First up, an early morning reaming from Skinner, regarding Mulder's 'unorthodox' method of interrogating a serial kidnapping suspect. Second, it was hotter than hell today, and the damn car's air conditioner wasn't working. Third, while doing sixty-five on the highway, his eighty-seven dollar pair of Ray Bans, slid off the dash and out the window, before he or Scully could catch them. And fourth, the later the day got, the more pensive and withdrawn Scully became. He knew she was thinking about the fact that tomorrow, Alex Krycek could once again be in her partner's life. And his bed.

He was wondering about that, himself. Alex had promised him that if there was any way possible, he'd be here tomorrow. Mulder chose to believe that promise. Now he had nothing to do but wait and see.

He stepped out of the shower and dried off. Donning a pair of faded jeans and a loose t-shirt, he grabbed a quick bite, then sat down at the computer. Nothing like work to help the time go by.

By nine o-clock, he was surprised to find his eyes closing. He stubbornly worked on, typing until the words on the screen started to jumble. At nine-forty, he gave up and shut the computer down. He pushed away from the desk and trudged slowly to his bedroom.


2:55 a.m.

Mulder floated in that fuzzy area between sleep and wakefulness, thrust there by a dream that in consciousness, he would not recall. A presence, very nearby, beckoned silently to him, drawing him up through the darkness. Up to the surface. The tranquil ocean of slumber broke and he opened his eyes.

Sleep was gone, but the presence remained. Warmer. More definite. The thought that he should be afraid never crossed his mind. He turned his head to the left and focused on the dark figure sitting at the edge of his bed.

"Don't you know it's bad manners to break into a guy's apartment in the middle of the night, while he's asleep?"

"Sorry," Alex Krycek spoke, "I failed deportment in charm school."

"What time is it?"

"Just about three."

"How long have you been here?"

"Fifteen, twenty minutes."

"What have you been doing for fifteen, twenty minutes?"

"Nothing much. Watching you sleep...wondering."

"About?"

"Whether or not I'd be welcome."

Mulder studied his shadowed face. "You know what *I'm* wondering?"

Krycek's answer came in a hoarse whisper. "Not a clue."

"I'm wondering what the hell you're doing in my bedroom, sitting on the edge of my bed, fully dressed." He moved to the left side of the bed and flipped the sheet back. A clear invitation.

Krycek's eyes slid closed briefly, then re-opened as he shrugged out of his jacket. He pulled the edges of Mulder's borrowed shirt out of the waistband of his jeans and peeled it off. He got to his feet and stripped down to his underwear, then slipped under the sheet.

Mulder moved over him, straddling his chest with his arms. At this new angle, he could see more clearly, the dark circles under Krycek's red-rimmed eyes. Mulder's tone immediately took on a concerned edge.

"You haven't been sleeping, have you?"

Krycek hesitated a fraction of a second too long. "Sure I have. Been sleeping like a baby."

"Don't lie to me, Alex," Mulder responded in that soft monotone that said he meant business.

"Okay, so I had a few restless nights," Krycek answered, refusing to give one inch more than he had to. Mulder allowed him to get away with the understatement.

"Did you take the antibiotics the way you were supposed to?"

"Yes, Mom."

"And aside from the exhaustion, you feel all right?"

"I'm fine."

Mulder held his gaze for a few moments, then satisfied that he'd told the truth, lowered his head and brushed Krycek's lips with his own.

"Been a long week."

"Yeah," Krycek whispered in answer.

Mulder hesitated, searching his eyes. He lifted himself off of Krycek and rolled onto his back. He pulled the other man into his arms and stroked the soft dark head, tucked under his chin. "Go to sleep," he murmured softly.

Feeling real exhaustion for the first time in a week, Krycek obeyed the muffled command and soon fell into a deep sleep. Mulder closed his eyes and offered up a silent 'thank you' to whomever might be listening, then dropped in unconsciousness.


Wednesday, 5:30 a.m.

Mulder shut the alarm clock off before it could ring. he'd already been awake for half an hour, watching Krycek sleep and mentally prepping himself for what he was sure would be a rough day with Scully. No matter what she said or didn't say to his face, he knew that she was secretly praying that Krycek didn't show up, today.

Mulder slid carefully out of bed, taking care not to wake his sleeping companion. He showered, dressed, and while in the middle of knotting his tie, heard the soft rustle of sheets. He advanced quietly to the bed, where Krycek's eyes were starting to flutter. Mulder leaned over him and brushed the hair back from his face.

"Alex."

Krycek closed his eyes and moaned softly into the pillow.

"I'm going to work, soon."

"Mmm hmm." He was more asleep than he was awake.

Mulder kept stroking his hair.

"Alex, did you bring a weapon with you?"

He just barely made out a muffled "no."

"Okay, listen...are you listening?"

Krycek turned toward Mulder's voice. A hint of green became visible beneath his eyelashes.

Mulder reached behind his back and pulled a gun from the waistband of his navy blue pants. He held it up and Krycek opened his eyes two-thirds of the way. Mulder placed the gun under the pillow next to him.

"It's loaded."

Krycek's eyes followed his hand down to the pillow, then darted back up to his face. The gravity of what Mulder had just done, struck him speechless. He reached up and trailed the tips of his fingers along the line of his lover's jaw.

Mulder removed his hand from under the pillow and gently grasped Krycek's wrist. He turned his face to plant a kiss in the open palm, then laid Krycek's hand down over his chest and squeezed it once.

"Go back to sleep."

Without another word, he turned and left the room.

Not long afterward, Krycek heard the front door open and close. He reached under the pillow and pulled the gun out. He held it up and stared at it for long seconds, before resting it on the mattress, up against his thigh. He grasped Mulder's pillow and pulled it to his face. He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent that was Mulder's signature. He was willing to bet that with his eyes closed, he could pick Mulder out of a room of fifty men. That enticing blend of sea air, spice and warm summer rain had been ingrained in his memory for years. He loved that smell. He'd noticed similar scents on various men, but they were never quite the same. It was the way the scent reacted with Mulder's body chemistry that made it uniquely his.

Krycek clasped the pillow to his chest and drifted back into sleep.


8:10 a.m.

"Morning, Mulder."

"Morning. How was dinner with your mom?"

"Fine. Same old, same old. She brought along some new pictures of my brother's baby. Told me about two cousins who are getting married...dropped some hints as big as boulders..."

Mulder smiled and turned his attention to his computer.

"How was *your* evening?" she asked, full of hope and dread.

"Quiet. Did some work. Watched t.v."

"Alone?"

"Yeah."

Relief.

"You're coming over later, right?"

"Do you really think I'll need to?"

"You *do* need to."

"He's there?"

Mulder nodded.

//Shit!//

"When?"

"Early this morning."

//Shit!!//

"I see."

Disappointment radiated from her every pore.

"After work?"

Scully nodded curtly and turned to pour herself a cup of coffee. Mulder watched her, noting the increased stiffness of her posture and quick, jerky movements. Oh yeah, she was definitely upset. He decided not to pursue it. Maybe as the day went on, she'd cool down and work it out on her own.


1:22 p.m.

Alex Krycek wandered around Mulder's apartment, marveling at the fact that he was here alone, with Mulder's knowledge. Life certainly was full of some strange twists. He dropped into the chair at Mulder's desk, and looked down at the cluttered surface.

"What a damn mess. How the hell do you *find* anything in this?"

He thought maybe he'd straighten it out, but then decided against it. As big a disaster as it was, Mulder probably knew exactly where to find every last paper clip. Besides, he really wasn't sure if it would be appreciated. Mulder might think it a bit too presumptuous, or worse, he might think that he'd done it just to snoop. He wanted Mulder's trust. One hundred percent, unquestioning trust.

"What the hell are you thinking about? The man gave you his *weapon*, for Christ sake."

His eyes grew heavy as he thought back to this morning. Mulder had taken a huge leap of faith. One that Krycek was determined, he'd never regret.


5:06 p.m.

"Ready to go?"

Scully looked up from her desk at Mulder, who was standing in front of it, jacket and car keys in hand. Her stomach lurched at the thought of Mulder, ready and anxious to start his evening with Krycek.

In actuality, she'd been ready to go for well over half an hour. She was just killing time. Stalling, but it was obvious to her now, that Mulder wasn't having any more of it.

"All right Mulder, let's go."


6:20 p.m.

Mulder inserted the key into the lock and opened the door to apartment forty-two. He strolled in, sniffing appreciatively at the smells wafting from the kitchen.

"I'll uh, be right back," he told Scully, trying to suppress a smile as he moved in the direction of the kitchen.

"Uh huh," she tossed over her shoulder, as casually as she could. In truth, she was seething. "Cooking," she mumbled under her breath. "He's actually *cooking* for him."

The moment Mulder was out of sight, Scully began moving around the room, lifting lamps and feeling around under furniture.


Mulder entered the kitchen and approached Krycek, whose back was turned to him. He ran a hand lightly across the span of Krycek's back, and leaned back against the counter. Krycek smiled at him.

"Hi honey, how was your day?"

Mulder smirked back. "Brutal. What's for dinner?"

"Pirozhki. Sorry it's not done, but I had to pick up your suits at the dry cleaner, wash the floors, then there was an emergency PTA meeting..."

Mulder's shoulders shook with silent laughter. "So, where'd you learn to do this, what'd you call it?"

"Pirozhki. My grandmother used to make it for me when I was a kid. She taught me to make this and a whole bunch of other things."

"Wow." Mulder looked around. "I didn't have all this stuff...did you go out?"

"No, I brought it with me, this morning."

"You didn't have to do this."

Krycek shot him an impatient sidelong glance.

Mulder held one hand up. "Okay, okay...Scully's here. Can you leave this?"

"Yeah. In a couple of minutes?"

"I'll go stall her."

"Good luck."

Mulder headed toward the door, then turned around, hand on the swinging door. "Hey...this is it, isn't it?"

"This is what?" Krycek asked over his shoulder.

A smirk twitched at the corner of Mulder's mouth. "*This* is how you're going to kill me. You're going to *poison* me."

Krycek flipped him the finger, without having turned around.

The smile faded from Mulder's face as he passed through the door and came face to infuriated face with his partner.

"It was a joke," he offered meekly.

"I see nothing funny about it," she snarled, and stalked away.

//Nice going. Now she's really ticked.//

"He'll...he'll be out in a minute."

"I'll go wash up. When he's ready, send him into the bathroom."


Krycek entered the living room as Mulder was removing his suit jacket.

"Where is she?"

"She's waiting for you in the bathroom."

"Well," Krycek looked in that direction. "Let's get this over with."

By the time both men reached the bathroom, Scully was ready.

"Hi," Krycek offered, not knowing what else to say.

"Please remove your shirt," was the only reply Scully gave.

He looked warily at Mulder, who had since folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the door frame. Mulder gave him a reassuring nod.

Krycek undid the first three buttons, then having a sudden thought, reached behind him and hiked up the tail of the shirt. Shock and anger filled Scully's eyes as he pulled a gun out of the waistband of his jeans, and laid it gently on the counter. Scully's head snapped around and glared accusingly at her partner. Mulder gave her nothing more than one of his famous deadpan expressions, then glanced over at Krycek, who was also looking at him, but with profound regret. To him, Mulder gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head, that said, 'Don't worry about it.' Krycek finished removing the shirt and laid it to the side.

Scully swallowed down the huge lump of rage that bubbled up in her, and set about the task of removing Krycek's stitches...as quickly as possible.

As she worked, Mulder watched, his eyes darkening as they caressed the bare torso of his lover. Krycek felt the heat of Mulder's stare and was compelled to look his way. Their eyes locked, saying things to each other, making silent promises. Scully noticed Krycek's deepened respiration.

Mulder came to attention as Krycek winced and drew slightly away from Scully.

"Oops," she said with mock sincerity. "Sorry."

Krycek said nothing, only drew a deep breath and allowed Scully to continue.

The muscle in Mulder's jaw clenched tightly, then relaxed. "I'm going to go change," he announced, as he pushed away from the door frame and disappeared.

Not long after Mulder had gone, Krycek called up the courage to speak.

"Scully?"

"What?" she said, without looking up.

"You mean the world to him," he said softly. "Your opinion of him, of what he does...it matters."

"And you'd be telling me this, because..."

"Just because I thought you should know."

"I *know*, Krycek. There's nothing you can tell me about my partner, that I *don't* know." She completed her work and proceeded to clean up.

He was silent while he put his shirt on, then spoke again. "Here's something you may *not* know. You can end this."

"End what?"

"This. Us."

She spun to face him.

"All you have to do is tell him that you can't live with it. Tell him that it'll affect your relationship with him, personally and professionally. Force him to choose. He'll choose you. Or better yet, say nothing at all. Just keep walking around with that chip on your shoulder. Let it fester. He'll start to resent me. If you're lucky, he may even get to the point where he can't stand to look at me. Wouldn't that be great?"

He pushed away from the counter and exited the bathroom, leaving Scully to ponder his statement.


Scully met up with Mulder, who had also just entered the living room. He was comfortably dressed, wearing faded jeans and a loose-fitting moss green shirt. He busied himself, rolling up the long sleeves.

"Finished?"

Scully cleared her throat. "Yeah."

"Is he still alive?"

She answered his question with a completely different one.

"You knew he was armed, didn't you?"

"I gave him the gun."

"You *what*? You *gave* it to him? Oh, you've *really* gone around the bend, Mulder."

"He didn't have a weapon. I couldn't leave him here with no means of protection."

"So you gave him one of your guns. That's great. That's just..just..brilliant."

"And *still*, I live. Are you sensing a pattern here, Scully?"

"So, what. Are you testing him?"

"No. I'm not. These situations just come up. And in every one of them, he has proven himself to be trustworthy."

"Mmm. Yeah. And oh boy, you just trust the hell out of him, don't you?"

Mulder paused and looked up at the ceiling, pretending to be giving it serious thought. "Uhhhh....yeah."

"Lovely." She picked up her bag and started for the door. "I'll see you in the morning...have a good night."

"Oh, I intend to."

Mulder stood his ground, until the door closed behind Scully. Then he walked toward the kitchen.


Krycek had just shut the oven door and was removing the oven mitts, when he felt Mulder's hands at his hips. He pulled Krycek back against him and whispered into his hair.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. She didn't mean it, Fox."

"Sure she did. But thank you for trying to cover for her."

"Don't be upset with her."

"Too late."

"It's *my* fault." He turned to face Mulder, who immediately backed him against the counter and pressed against him.

"Really."

"Yeah. I should've known she'd lose it, when she found out that I was armed. I mean, why *wouldn't* she? I'm the enemy. How does she know that I'm not just biding my time, gaining your trust, so that I can blow you away later and break with all your stuff?"

"Because I *told* her that you wouldn't."

"It's not enough, Fox. As far as she's concerned, I've completely blinded you. You can't *see* what's going on." He brought a hand up to Mulder's face and swept his thumb back and forth across his cheek. "And after today, I'm not so sure that she'll ever come around."

"I don't care."

"Yes you do. You're just upset with her right now. But you care. You care very much."

"Is that food done, yet? I'm starving."

"Avoiding the problem isn't going to make it go away."

Mulder abruptly released Krycek and moved a few steps in the other direction. "Alex, can we *please* not talk about this anymore?" His voice was filled with tension.

Krycek watched as Mulder's rigid frame suddenly went slack. He turned back to face him, his expression, apologetic.

"I want to have a nice evening with you. Alone. No Scully. No problems..." He let out a long breath. "I missed you."

Krycek approached Mulder slowly. One arm went around his back, as the other cupped his head, pulling it down to his shoulder. Mulder's arms encircled him and his hands clenched in his shirt. Krycek's hand swept up and down the length of his back and he spoke softly.

"I missed you, too. Okay, no more problems. It's just you and me."

Mulder lifted his head but would not meet Krycek's eye. Krycek slipped a hand under his chin and lifted. "Just you and me," he whispered.

Their lips met. Gently, at first, then with increased intensity.

It had only been a week, but Mulder felt the need for this man, as keenly as he did after *five* weeks...more so. He broke the kiss. His breath came in short, agitated gasps.

"Alex..."

Krycek shushed him. His eyes darkened to the deepest green. "Dinner first. Then dessert."

"You enjoy torturing me, don't you?"

"Nooo," Krycek insisted. "But if you think that all my hard work is going to go to waste, you're out of your mind. Now, let's eat."

Fifteen minutes later, they were sitting at the kitchen table. Krycek smiled as he watched Mulder eat.

"This is really good," Mulder said between mouthfuls. "I can't believe you can cook."

"There's a lot of stuff you don't know about me, Agent Mulder."

"Anything you'd care to share?"

Krycek shrugged. "I was a choirboy from the ages of eight to ten."

Mulder dropped his fork. "Get the hell outta here."

"I played little league and was the editor of my high school news paper..."

Mulder picked the fork up again. "I'm impressed."

"Did you think that I was *born* a felon?"

Mulder's smile faded a bit. "I don't...I guess I don't know *what* I thought." He stared across the table at his dinner companion. "You surprise me."

"Good surprise, or bad surprise?"

"Good surprise. Definitely, *good* surprise."

They finished dinner and after cleaning up the kitchen, adjourned to the living room. Krycek dropped onto the sofa and pulled Mulder down after him. He shifted into a reclining position, back across Krycek's legs, his head resting on the arm of the sofa.

"Thank you," Krycek said flatly, raking his fingers repeatedly through Mulder's hair.

"What for?"

"This morning."

"No big deal."

"To me, it was. Giving me your gun took a hell of a lot of trust, on your part."

Mulder stared up at him and raised a hand to his face. With the tips of two fingers, he traced the line of Krycek's jaw.

"Tell me more."

"About?"

"Yourself. What it was like when you were a kid."

"You're *really* interested in that stuff?"

"Sure. Do you have any brothers or sisters?"

"No. A few cousins. We used to spend the summers together." He smiled. "Victor...he was the oldest...thought he was really hot shit. Always trying to boss the rest of us around. He and I used to fight all the time. Actual fist fights. He was about five years older than me and a lot bigger, so he'd always get the better of me. I'd cry, but I never gave up. My grandmother would usually come and split us up. Then Victor would get in trouble, because he was older and should have known better. I can still hear her, in that thick Ukrainian accent, telling Victor to 'leave the baby alone'. That's how she referred to me, even though there was one more cousin...Maria, who was younger."

"Sounds like you were her favorite."

"I was. She'd always sneak me special treats and stuff, when the others weren't around. My mother died in a car accident when I was twenty, and my grandmother took care of me and my father. Well, not so much me, cause I was in school most of the time. But when I came home on vacations and whatnot, she catered to me, round the clock. She died of a heart attack when I was twenty-two. My father didn't know what to do. He'd been taken care of all his life. First by my grandmother, then my mother, then again by my grandmother. I had graduated and was home again, and I sort of took over the cooking and cleaning. It didn't last long, though. My father had become a miserable person to live with, and I couldn't stand it. I joined the Academy less than a year later. My father remarried quickly, and we just sort of drifted apart. He had his life and I had mine."

Mulder covered the hand that rested on his chest and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Krycek continued speaking.

"My grandmother's death hit me hard. I don't mean to take anything away from my mother, she was my *mother*, you know? And she loved me, but she just wasn't very demonstrative. My father wasn't, either. Grandma *showed* me love. She always made me feel like I was special. She always told me that I could do or be anything I wanted." His eyes glittered with remorse. "As much as I miss her, I'm glad she's not here to see how badly I've screwed up my life. The one thing I never wanted to do was disappoint her. She probably knows anyway, huh? She's probably up there right now, wringing her hands and crying... 'Alexei, what have you done? What's happened to my baby?'"

Mulder rubbed the back of his hand. "Don't do that to yourself. You can't change what's happened. All you can do is move ahead and make her proud of you, *now*."

Krycek smiled sadly. "*This* from the crown prince of self-condemnation?"

"Yeah, you believe it? It's always easier to tell it to someone else."

"You should take a little of your own advice."

"Never happen. I like that title. 'Crown prince of self-condemnation.' I'd hate to lose it."

Krycek shook his head. "What about you? You're not very close to your mother, are you?"

"I became an outsider in my own family, the night my sister disappeared and through the years, the wall has just gotten higher. Not all that long ago, I overstepped my bounds and my mother just shut me out. I called her for her birthday, a couple of months ago, and I'm surprised the phone lines didn't freeze up. I haven't tried to talk to her, since."

"A couple of outcasts."

"Yeah. For a long time now, Scully has been my only family."

Mulder saw the sadness wash over Krycek's face.

"What?"

"You can't alienate her. You can't lose your only family because of somebody like me."

"Is there something wrong with wanting you both?"

"No, but you can't *have* us both. Not for long, anyway."

"I disagree."

"Fox, she's already pissed as hell at you. How long are you going to be able to deal with long, uncomfortable silences, the snide comments...the arguments..."

"I thought it was just going to be you and me, tonight?"

Krycek came to an abrupt halt and looked down into intense hazel eyes.

"No Scully, remember?"

"You started it," Krycek said weakly.

"Fine, I started it. Now I'm ending it."

He reached up and brushed Krycek's lips with his fingers. Krycek opened his mouth slightly, touching them with the tip of his tongue.

"Ready for a little dessert?" Mulder asked softly.

Krycek stroked his hand over Mulder's chest, then began to undo the buttons. "Yeah."

Mulder closed his eyes and sighed audibly as Krycek finished unbuttoning his shirt, then ran a gentle hand from the base of his throat, downward. When Mulder's jeans stopped further progress, his hand worked it's way back up, then repeated the process.

"I love touching you."

Eyes still closed, Mulder let his head fall to the side and breathed deeply.

"I love the way you respond to me." He teased one brown nipple and smiled as Mulder expelled a hard breath. "I spent the whole week thinking about you. I did little else. At least half a dozen times, I had to talk myself out of coming over here..."

Mulder's eyes snapped open. He turned them up to Krycek. "I wish you hadn't. You weren't the only one who was ready to climb the walls, you know."

"Did you really miss me?"

"How many times do I have to say it before you believe it? You were on my mind, constantly." His eyes slid shut again as Krycek's hand resumed it's lazy exploration of his bared chest. "I drove Scully nuts, brooding all week. She tried everything and anything to keep me occupied."

//Here we go, again.//

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." He pointed a finger up at Krycek. "Don't ever play Scrabble with me unless you don't mind getting an ass whoopin'."

"I'll take that under advisement...I hope Scully was at least partially successful."

"Yeah, partially. There were some days when I just wasn't in the mood though, you know? I wanted nothing more than to come home, grab a quick bite, and brood. Nothing she could do or say was going to change my mind."

"Must have frustrated the hell out of her."

"Uh huh."

"Bet she was pretty damned disappointed to find out that I was here."

"Yeah. She didn't say it, but it was written all over her face."

"She wants to protect you."

"I don't need protection."

"Not from me directly, no. But from circumstances that could arise from your being involved with me. It's because of those circumstances that I shouldn't be here."

Mulder opened his eyes and looked back up at Krycek. "Then why are you?"

"Because I'm weak. Because I've gotten a taste of what it's like to be with you, and I need more. I'll always need *more*, and that's a real problem. I'm so afraid that someday it's all going to crumble...in a very bad way. If it's me alone that the bad stuff happens to, that's all right. But if it's you..."

"Why would it be all right if something happens to you?" Mulder's tone reflected a simmering agitation. "If you got killed, how do you think that would be okay? Do you think that I'd just shrug it off and return to the life I had before?"

"It'd probably be the best thing for you, if you did."

Mulder bolted off the couch, startling Krycek. "How is it that you can presume to know what's best for me? You're just as bad as Scully! What the fuck is so wrong with *my* judgment? I'm a grown man for crying out loud, and perfectly capable of making my own decisions. Now, for the last *fucking* time, I *know* what the risks are. If I was unprepared to take them, you wouldn't be here, right now. But *please*, by all means, if *you* can't deal with them, far be it from me to ask you to stay. You know where the door is."

And with that, he stormed out of the room and slammed his bedroom door behind him.

Krycek sat dazed for a moment, then leaned forward and buried his face in his hands.

Mulder sat on the floor in the far corner of his bedroom - the same spot he'd sunk down into, twenty minutes before. He'd gone as far away from the door as he could, so he wouldn't hear Krycek leave. He folded his legs up in front of himself and wrapped his arms around them. His head dropped forward and rested on his knees.

He didn't hear the bedroom door open, nor did he feel the soft footsteps. Only when Krycek spoke, did Mulder's head jerk up.

"I never said that you weren't capable of making your own decisions," he began evenly. "But you're a passionate man, loyal to your last breath. And if that loyalty puts you in danger...it's just not a good thing, Fox. I don't want you hurt. It'd kill me if anything happened to you."

No response.

"And as if that isn't bad enough, your loyalties are being divided between your partner and me. It's not right that you should be caught between us." He hesitated for a moment, then went on. "Sometimes I'm very clear on what I should do. I make the decision to leave you alone. I convince myself that it's the best thing for all concerned, but then you'll look at me that way that you do. Or you'll touch me. or I'll touch *you*...and all my good intentions go straight to hell. You gave me the perfect opportunity to leave just a little while ago, and for the last twenty minutes or so, I sat out there, trying to will myself to do the right thing. But here I am."

Still, nothing.

"It's my fault. I *wanted* your trust...did everything I could to gain it. And now that I've got it, I'm thinking that I've made a terrible mistake. One that I don't want to correct, because it means never seeing you again. That's so goddamned selfish, but I can't help it." He squatted in front of Mulder. "Say something, would you?"

Not a word.

"At least look at me."

Slowly, Mulder's eyes shifted in his direction.

"Something in my gut tells me that this is something that one or both of us will end up regretting, but...I can't leave you. I mean...I still don't think that I should stay here all the time, but I can't walk away and never come back. Of course, you're so pissed at me right now, that's probably exactly what you want, huh?"

"That's the deal," Mulder whispered more to himself than to Krycek.

"What?"

"You're too much of a wuss to make the break on your own, so you figure that if you piss me off enough, I'll throw you out."

It was Krycek's turn to be angry.

"You really are a piece of work. Not a single word of what I said has filtered through that thick head of yours, has it?" He emphasized his words by pushing against the side of Mulder's head with two fingers. Mulder's jaw began to tighten.

"You're just hell bent on believing what you *want* to believe." He pushed again. "Aren't you?"

With no warning aside from a clipped growl, Mulder lunged at him and the two tumbled across the floor, wrestling for control. With no small amount of effort, Krycek managed to pin Mulder face down to the floor, holding each wrist alongside his body.

"Who's the wuss, now?" He taunted, breathing heavily into Mulder's ear.

Winded and angry, Mulder strained against Krycek's weight.

"What's the matter, baby? Can't get loose?" He licked the outer edge of Mulder's ear. Or do you just not *want* to?"

"Fuck you."

"Come on Fox, admit it. You *like* this."

Mulder summoned every last bit of strength he had, and broke free of Krycek's grip, at the same time, rearing back and catching his jaw with the back of his head. Krycek fell back, grunting in pain. Mulder wasted no time in pressing his advantage. In a nanosecond, he was on Krycek, straddling his waist and closing one hand around his neck.

"Now, *this* I like," he hissed.

"Well, why didn't you just say so?" Krycek wheezed. "Would have saved a lot of trouble, don't you think?"

Mulder glared down at him. There was definite rage there in his eyes, and something else. That identical look burned in Krycek's eyes as he returned the stare.

"Make a move, Fox."

Except for the rapid rise and fall of is chest, Mulder remained still. Krycek could see a tinge of uncertainty in his expression. He needed help.

"You disappoint me, Fox. I thought you were more of a man."

Mulder's hand fell away from his throat.

"I thought you were a man who knew what you wanted and went after it. My mistake. Too bad. I really wanted it to be you, but I guess I can find another easily enough. Maybe two or three. Now why don't you get the fuck off me, so I can do just that?"

Krycek's heart thundered in his chest as he waited to see if his insane gamble paid off.

It did.

In spades.

A furious roar ripped from Mulder's throat as he grabbed the front of Krycek's shirt and yanked it apart, sending a shower of buttons through the room. He hauled Krycek off the floor, and threw him onto the bed, then proceeded to half pull, half rip the rest of his clothes off. He backed away from the bed for all of the twenty seconds it took him to remove his own clothing, then fell onto the mattress beside him. Mulder moved over him, half covering Krycek's upper body with his own. He gripped the younger man's jaw in his hand and jerked his head to the side, so that their eyes met.

"Now," he rasped. "What was all that bullshit about finding two or three others?"

Krycek shrugged. "Man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."

Mulder scowled down at him. "You know, you're *so* right."

He shoved Krycek onto his stomach. Grabbing his hips, Mulder roughly hoisted him high enough to thrust a couple of pillows under him. He pulled the nightstand drawer open and grabbed a new tube of lubrication. Krycek closed his eyes, trembling with excited anticipation. He felt Mulder settle beside him and the very next thing he felt was a cool, slick finger working it's way into the tight anal muscle. Mulder's breath was warm and sweet against the side of his face.

"You're mine, Alex," he hummed seductively into Krycek's ear.

The finger which had begun a steady movement in and out of Krycek's ass, was joined by a second.

Krycek winced at the initial discomfort, but soon relaxed and began to moan softly.

"Do you understand?"

Krycek nodded, afraid to trust his voice.

"There'll be *no* others."

A small whimper pushed past Krycek's lips.

Mulder removed his fingers and again reached for the lube. A few seconds of movement and then he was behind Krycek. Over him. In him.

Krycek bit back a sob as he felt the tip of Mulder's engorged cock begin to force the ring of muscle to yield to it.

Mulder's head throbbed. A violent ocean storm was raging through his body and the fierceness of it only increased as the man beneath him, through sound and movement, encouraged his assault. He wrapped an arm tightly around Krycek's shoulders and in one hard thrust, buried his entire length inside of him.

Krycek's harsh groan was absorbed by the mattress and completely ignored by Mulder, who was so utterly immersed in this new, shattering sensation.

//Oh God, yes. Jesus...//

He pulled out more than three-quarters of the way, then plunged back in. Krycek cried out, the painful pleasure, almost too much to take.

"Who do you belong to?" Mulder's voice was like sandpaper in his ear.

Krycek didn't answer. He was pushing it, he knew. But this was just too good. //Tick him off just a little bit more.//

Again, Mulder pulled out and slammed back into him.

"*Who!?*"

"You!" He was almost sobbing. "Jesus Fox, fuck me. I'm so close, I can't hold it anymore. *Please*..."

Mulder wanted so badly to prolong his agony. To make him grovel and beg. But his own body was telling him that there was no way. He quickened his pace, repeatedly pushing Krycek's hips into the pillows with each powerful thrust. In no time flat, both men were hurtling out of control, toward the screaming finish.

If no one called the police to report a murder in apartment forty-two, it would be a miracle. The wails that had to have echoed into the surrounding apartments surely sounded as though someone was being killed.

The deafening sound faded away and Mulder collapsed onto Krycek's back. The sweat trickled off of his body onto that of the man beneath him, mingling together and soaking the sheets.

They stayed that way for a time, until Krycek gained enough strength to gently roll Mulder onto the mattress. He pulled himself up alongside the virtually unconscious man, and kissed his damp forehead. "Only you," he whispered, kissed him again, then fell soundly asleep.


Thursday, 2:12 a.m.

Krycek woke slowly. His eyes had not yet opened, but he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched. He turned onto his back and looked up. Mulder sat quietly, leaning against the headboard of the bed, staring at him. He reached over and stroked one sheet-draped thigh.

"You okay?"

"I don't know. Are *you* okay?"

"Fine."

Mulder continued to stare, uncertain whether or not to believe him.

"*Really*."

Mulder nodded and looked away.

Krycek sat up and brushed Mulder's shoulder with his mouth. "You were unbelievable."

"I was furious," Mulder whispered, refusing to look at him.

"I know. It was great."

Mulder glanced his way, confusion creasing his brow.

"Hey, I was more than a bit irritated with *you*, too. But remembering our conversation last week, I decided to see if I couldn't make the anger work for us."

"You...you didn't mean it when you said..."

Krycek cut him off. "I just said that to provoke you. You've *got* to know by now, that you're the only one I want....ask me again."

Mulder gave him a questioning glance.

"Go ahead, ask." He smiled. "This time, when I answer, it won't be under duress."

Mulder chewed the inside of his bottom lip, considering Krycek's request. Then he asked the question, softly.

"Who do you belong to?"

Krycek answered without hesitation. "You."

The corners of Mulder's mouth turned up in a trace of a smile. "Only me?"

"Only you."

Mulder leaned in and bestowed a tender kiss on his lips.

"Why do you put up with my shit?"

The answer was on the tip of Krycek's tongue, but he choked it back. Instead, Mulder heard, "Because I can't resist a man with a badge and a gun."

Mulder raised one eyebrow.

"And," he concluded, "the sex is fantastic."

"Is it?"

"Oh, *yes*."

Mulder's eyes darkened. "Alex."

"Hmm?"

"I want to make love to you."

Krycek's heart hammered in his chest. "What did we do just a few hours ago?"

"That was hard, angry sex. It was earthshattering, don't get me wrong, but I don't want to do it like that, this time."

"It's very late," Krycek reminded him. "You have to go to work."

"I know." Mulder drew his fingers down Krycek's cheek. "But I need you so much right now, there's no way I'd get to sleep."

Krycek studied him.

Those eyes.

So beautiful. So honest. So...goddamned sexy.

Not to mention, completely impossible to resist.

"When your ass is dragging tomorrow, I don't want to hear about it."

"You won't hear any complaints from me," Mulder promised, clasping a hand to the back of Krycek's head and pulling him forward.

Open mouths met. Tongues mated, caressing, teasing. Stoking the fire which had been so easily ignited, just moments before.

Mulder broke the kiss and moved to the light bruise that had formed on Krycek's chin. He licked it gently.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it lisa," Krycek whispered, reassuring him.

Mulder kissed the bruise and proceeded to move downward, along the soft skin of his throat, then to his chest, where he lingered, paying special attention to the sensitive nipples.

Krycek gathered up fistfuls of sheet as Mulder continued to tease and torment. He clenched his teeth in an effort to maintain his silence, but when Mulder's head moved lower, a small whimper of anticipation made it past his lips.

Mulder eased the sheet away from his hips and grinned up at him.

"For me?"

"All for you."

"You shouldn't have."

"I'll remember that, next time," Krycek countered between shallow breaths.

"*Sure* you will."

Krycek emitted a surprised gasp as Mulder took his entire length into his mouth. He drew up slowly, continuously sucking, as he did. When he reached the tip, he relaxed the suction and swirled his tongue around the head. Krycek moaned impatiently and tried to push his cock back into Mulder's mouth.

"Problem?" Mulder smiled sweetly up at him.

"My lover is trying to drive me out of my mind. Now, why should I have a problem with that?"

"Beats the hell out of me." His tongue inched out and lapped gingerly at the head of Krycek's twitching cock, drawing from the other man, yet another moan. With no warning, Mulder opened his mouth and again engulfed Krycek's entire cock, right to the base. He raised his head a little more than halfway, then sank back down.

Krycek combed trembling fingers through his hair. "*God* baby, that's so good."

Mulder released him and grinned. "I've got something better."

"Yeah? What is it?"

Mulder grasped Krycek's slim hips and pulled until he was flat on his back. He snatched the lube off of the nightstand and straddled Krycek's chest. His eyes sparkled with golden light, drawing the object of his attention into their heat, directing him, without word or motion.

Krycek took the tube from Mulder, squeezed a generous amount into his hand and wrapped it around his lover's straining cock. He watched the gold disappear as Mulder's eyelids dropped shut. Slowly, he stroked the length of the rock hard shaft, taking care not to miss a single spot.

Mulder breathed deeply and willed himself to move away from the teasing hand. He positioned himself lengthwise along the lithe body beneath him and hooked his hands under Krycek's knees, pulling them up. He bit gently into the flesh between Krycek's shoulder and neck, smiling at the response it brought.

Krycek's fingers dug into Mulder's back. His neck arched. He pushed up with his hips, seeking fulfillment.

"Please," he panted heavily, his head now rolling slowly, back and forth against the pillow. "Fox, please."

Mulder released one of the legs he still held on to. He caressed the younger man's cheek lovingly. "Shh. It's okay." The same hand dipped down, grasping his cock and guiding it to the place Krycek was begging for it to be. He eased the head in, fraction by excruciating fraction. "Is this what you want?"

"You *know* it is."

"I know."

Mulder pulled away, leaving Krycek writhing in frustrated agony. He whispered to the man smiling down at him, through gritted teeth.

"Mulder, you and I are going to fight, if you don't..."

"*Mulder*? Are you upset with me, Alex?" He leaned down, nuzzling Krycek's neck. "Don't be upset. You know I'm going to give you what you need."

"Sometime while I'm still young enough to enjoy it, would be nice."

"Okay, okay," he murmured against Krycek's lips, just before he covered them completely.

Krycek moaned into Mulder's mouth, his previous threat forgotten, as he lost himself in the long, sweet kiss.

Mulder released Krycek's mouth and slid off of him. Gently, he turned him onto his side and wrapped an arm around his chest. The feel of Mulder's erection against his backside, sent a fresh surge of desire rocketing through his body. Krycek gritted his teeth, fighting to remain still, as he waited. He sucked in a breath as he felt Mulder's warm, wet tongue tracing the distended vein along the side of his neck. Squeezed his eyes shut as the hand that had been stroking his chest, left it momentarily, to help the stony erection find it's way in through the snug opening.

Once the entire head was in, Mulder's hand moved back up to Krycek's chest, stroking the light scattering of dark hair.

"I...I have to stop for a minute, Alex," he breathed heavily against Krycek's shoulder.

"It's okay. Take as long as you need."

Mulder kissed the hollow of his shoulder, then gently prodded the inside of his ear with the tip of his tongue. Krycek shivered.

"You like that?"

"It's like a straight line of electricity, right down to my cock."

"Yeah?"

He could hear the satisfied smirk in Mulder's voice.

"Yeah."

Mulder pushed into him, just a fraction more.

"Mmmm...."

"More?"

"If you're ready."

Another fraction.

Both men let out a long sigh.

Mulder's hand crept across Krycek's chest, barely skimming the flat nipples. He teased them, again and again, until both had constricted into hard peaks. The man in his arms trembled violently in response.

Mulder raised his head just enough to watch Krycek's face contort with pleasure as he gently squeezed one of the nipples.

"Fox..."

"Hmm?"

"Touch me...please."

"I am touching you," he whispered into Krycek's ear and pinched his nipple a little harder.

Krycek's lips parted on a silent gasp. As soon as he regained some of his composure, he reached for Mulder's hand. "Not there." He guided the hand down to his cock. "Here."

Mulder closed his hand around Krycek's twitching erection and stroked it slowly.

"Like this?" He asked, as if he really needed to.

His answer came in a low moan.

Mulder rocked against Krycek, pushing himself deeper.

"Christ." Krycek found his voice. "Fox..."

"I know." Mulder worked his right arm under Krycek, pulling him snuggly to his chest and drove deeper, still.

Krycek arched his neck, laying his head back against Mulder's shoulder and wishing that they could stay in this world they'd created. That the ugliness that had been such a huge part of his existence over the last several years, would never touch them. That...

The thought dissolved and a look of pure ecstasy washed over Krycek's features, as Mulder completed their connection.

Mulder kissed Krycek everywhere his lips could touch heated skin. "Beautiful," he murmured against the stubble-roughened cheek.

"Who?" Krycek's voice was barely audible.

"You. You're so...*into* it. You're beautiful to watch."

Krycek rubbed the back of his silky head against Mulder's shoulder, virtually purring with contentment.

Mulder rewarded the affectionate gesture with another long stroke of his cock. When he reached the flared head, he found it slick with fluid. He smiled as he ran a finger around the tip, then brought it up to Krycek's lips.

He needed no coaxing. His lips parted slightly, allowing his tongue to creep out and taste himself. Mulder kissed the top of his head and slipped his finger between Krycek's lips and past his teeth. Krycek moaned softly and sucked Mulder's finger into his mouth.

Mulder tried to pull his finger away, but Krycek protested, grasping his hand and holding it where it was. Mulder chuckled softly.

"Greedy."

He forced his hand away from Krycek's mouth and quickly dipped back down for more. This time, he used two fingers, skimming away as much fluid as he could and once again held them up in offering. Krycek fastened his lips around both fingers, feeding hungrily.

Mulder began to move inside him, establishing, a slow, easy rhythm. He could feel the vibration of his lover's moans on his fingers, still trapped within that moist, warm mouth.

"Ohhh, *God*. Alex. Mmmmm...my Alex..." He increased the speed of his thrusts just a bit. "Come on," he persuaded softly. "Let me have my hand back."

His answer came in the form of a stubborn grumble.

"I promise you, if you do, I'll make you feel *so* good."

Reluctantly, Krycek allowed Mulder to slip his fingers out of his mouth.

"That's better."

With his right arm, Mulder hugged Krycek tightly and grasped his cock with his left.

Krycek emitted a choked sob, as Mulder began long, firm strokes to match the steady tempo of his hips. Jesus, and as if this leisurely double fuck wasn't making him crazy enough, Mulder had to go and talk to him.

"God, you're so tight." His uneven breaths fanned across Krycek's cheek. "I've wanted so..." he paused in mid-sentence, struggling for composure, "..so long to do this to you. Now, I never want to stop. I want to do you again and again and..."

The ability to continue speaking escaped him. Rational thought, lost. The demands of his body and those of the man in his arms, took over, forcing him to move faster, drive deeper.

Krycek grasped the arm wrapped tightly around him, with one hand and reached behind him with the other, clenching it in Mulder's hair. His respiration came in shallow gasps and his muscles contracted involuntarily. The presence inside him moved faster. Harder. He bucked against Mulder in an attempt to speed things along.

"No."

The hoarse command slowed his frenzied movements.

"I'm right *there*," Krycek whimpered.

"I know you are," Mulder nuzzled his perspiration dampened hair. "And I'll take you all the way. Just relax and let me do it."

As difficult as it was, Krycek stopped squirming and gave complete control over to Mulder.

"That's right," Mulder crooned in Krycek's ear as he thrust into him, "I'll take good...good care of you. Just trust m-me." His hand worked Krycek's aching cock. Stroking, caressing, promising relief. His words tumbled out in clipped tones. "Do you...do you trust me, Alex?"

"*Yes*," came the gasped reply. "Mmph...oh....*Christ!*"

Krycek's body tightened. The convulsions began, coming in violent succession. His cries pierced the air as Mulder continued, unrelenting.

Krycek's convulsing muscles squeezed tightly around Mulder's cock, jerking, milking it. Robbing Mulder of every last shred of sanity. A long, sobbing groan tore from his throat, picking up where his lover's dying cries left off.

Seconds later, all was quiet, except for the sound of two men struggling to drag the air back into their lungs.

Finally, Mulder summoned enough strength to release Krycek's exhausted cock from his sticky grasp. His arm wrapped around his lover's still heaving chest, joining the other, hugging him close. Refusing to let go. They fell asleep that way, neither one moving until dawn came, just a couple of short hours later.


6:14 a.m.

Mulder awoke to a shower of tender kisses all over his face. He smiled, reaching up blindly, to thread his fingers through the freshly washed hair of his lover.

"C'mon sleepyhead," the low voice coaxed. "Time to get up."

"Don't want to."

"Oh. Tired are we?"

Mulder opened his eyes, to see Krycek hovering over him, an amused grin tilting the corners of his mouth.

"No."

"Then, get up. Unless you plan on calling in sick."

Hazel eyes sparkled. "I will, if you come back to bed."

Krycek fought the urge to accept Mulder's challenge.

"I'd bet good money, that you've never been out sick a day in your life."

"You'd lose that bet."

"I'm not talking about gun shot wounds and poisoning and all the rest of your on-the-job mishaps. I mean the garden variety stuff. You know, colds, headaches, upset stomach..."

Mulder shrugged. "In that case, I guess not."

"And I'm positive that you've never taken a day off for something as indulgent as spending the day in bed with a lover."

Mulder pulled Krycek down to his waiting lips. "There's never been anyone I've *wanted* to spend the day in bed with before. Till now."

Their lips touched, but only briefly. Mulder pulled back, hit by a sudden realization.

"Why are you dressed?"

"I have to go."

The change in Mulder's voice was immediate and unmistakable.

"Alex..."

"Wait, wait. Hold on." He cupped Mulder's face between his palms. "I'll be back. Just give me a couple of days to take care of some stuff."

"What stuff?"

"I'm going to see if I can't buy a little breathing space."

Mulder didn't much like the sound of that.

"What are you going to do?"

"Gonna see about making those sons of bitches work for *me* for a change. I mean, it *is* in their best interests to make sure that I stay healthy and happy."

"So, you're going to ask them to see what they can do about whoever it was that tried to knock you off."

Krycek arched one dark eyebrow. "Ask?"

Mulder cocked his head and gave him one of those, 'I hope you know what you're doing' looks.

"Don't worry." Krycek teased Mulder's lower lip with his thumb. "It'll be okay...now come on, get up. If you get into the shower now, there'll still be time for breakfast. I put your clothes out for you, already."

Mulder touched the tip of his tongue to Krycek's thumb. "Thank you."

Their eyes locked for long seconds. Krycek let out a sharp breath and rose from the bed. He clapped his hands as he moved toward the door. "Let's get a move on."

Mulder grinned and tossed the sheet off. He headed for the bathroom and a nice, warm shower.


6:52 a.m.

Mulder walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

"Wow." Krycek nodded appreciatively. "You are *gorgeous*." He place a steaming cup of coffee and a bagel in front of Mulder, who looked down at himself.

"Are you sure about this?" He was wearing the combination that Krycek had put together for him. A black suit and a coacoa brown shirt, with a silk tie that was two shades darker than the shirt, with a bit of a black design running through it. "I feel like I should be carrying a violin case instead of a badge."

"You look great. You've got some good stuff in your closet, you just have no idea how to put it together."

"Well, thank you Mr. Blackwell, but I chase bad guys for a living. I don't generally give much thought to how I'm going to look while doing it."

He could have kicked himself when he saw Krycek's smile fade.

"I-if you don't like it, you don't have to wear it. You won't hurt my feelings if you want to change..."

"No, I don't want to change. I didn't mean to..." Mulder sighed. "I'm sorry, I know I sound like a grouch. I just hate it when you leave..."

Krycek nodded. "I know, but if we're going to have *any* peace, I have to do this. I'll be back on Saturday."

"Have any idea about what time?"

"I'm not sure. Probably late though, like yesterday."

Mulder said nothing, only reached into his pocket and produced a key. He held it out to Krycek. Surprised green eyes flicked from the key to his face. Mulder gave him a boyish grin.

"Now you can stop breaking in."

Krycek continued to stare.

"Do you want my arm to fall off?"

He reached across the table and gingerly took the key.

Satisfied, Mulder went on to his next question. "Have you got the gun?"

"N-no. I put it in the nightstand drawer."

"You can't leave here, unarmed."

"I'll be fine. I promise, I'll make that the first order of business when I drop in on my friends."

Mulder blew out a long breath.

"You're such a worrier."

"I never knew I was."

"You mean, I should be flattered?"

"...Yeah, I think you should."

Their eyes met and locked, filling the room with a raw heat. Krycek pushed his chair away from the table and stood, stuffing the key into his pocket. Slowly, he walked over to Mulder and kneeled in front of him. His hands slid back and forth over the crisp black fabric that covered his thighs. He could feel the muscles rippling beneath his fingers.

"How long before you have to leave?" he asked softly.

Mulder raised his trembling hand to have a look at his watch. "Fifteen minutes."

"It's enough."

Mulder swallowed hard as Krycek's hands moved to his belt, deftly unbuckling it, then to his pants, undoing the button and drawing the zipper down. He parted the material and reached into the slitted fold of the stark white boxer-briefs. Mulder gasped softly as Krycek's fingers curled around his three-quarters erect cock.

"A little something for the road," Krycek whispered, then quickly and expertly sucked him into his mouth.

Mulder's head fell back and his mouth dropped open. "Oooohhh....."

Krycek brought him along quickly. No time to tease. Within a few short minutes, Mulder was twisting in his chair, moaning and gasping. His fingers clenched in the dark hair and his body stiffened as Krycek moved faster, creating an intolerable pressure that began in the pit of his stomach and spread up and out to his extremities.

Krycek heard the increased groans of his lover, and knew that he was very close. He quickened his pace and took Mulder over the edge.

"Jesus....*Jesus*....oh....nnnnnnhhh....Alex!" Mulder cried out, arching into Krycek's mouth, shooting hot, bitter fluid down the younger man's throat. Krycek swallowed as much as he could, and pulled away quickly, afraid that some of it would leak out onto Mulder's pants.

As Mulder slouched in the chair recovering, Krycek disappeared into the bathroom and returned with a warm, damp face cloth. He gently cleaned Mulder up and rearranged his clothing.

"Time to go."

"I don't think I can walk," Mulder murmured.

Krycek smiled indulgently. "Sure you can. Come on...up."

With a little help, Mulder rose to his feet and moved toward the living room. By the time they made it to the door, he was moving normally. He cupped the back of Krycek's head and leaned in for a kiss.

"That was nice. Thank you."

"Any time. I'll see you on Saturday, okay?"

"Be careful."

"I always am."

Mulder hesitated. "I can't bring myself to walk away from you."

Krycek smirked. "Need a shove?"

Mulder quirked the corner of his mouth. "No.....I'm going."

"I'm going to clean up in the kitchen, then I'm gone, too."

Mulder nodded. "Well..." He planted a tender kiss on Krycek's mouth and stepped out into the hall.

Krycek watched as he walked toward the elevators, admiring that smooth, confident stride that he'd come to know so well. When Mulder was out of sight, he closed the door and walked smiling, into the kitchen.


8:30 a.m.

Scully strode into the office and dropped her purse down onto her desk. She glanced over at Mulder, who had his nose stuck in a file, then did a quick double take.

"Mulder?"

He looked up at her.

"Morning."

Flat. Unaffected.

What the hell was this? He looked fabulous. Not that he didn't always look great. He did. He was just one of those men who didn't have to try. Even with those ridiculous ties and some of the color combinations....that was it. It was his clothes. It was a stunning combination. Since when did Mulder.....Krycek. Had to be.

//Great. Now he's dressing him. Okay. Nevermind. Talk to him. You can't let things stay the way they are.//

"Mulder. About yesterday..."

"Why'd you hurt him, Scully?"

"I...I'm sorry about that. I just couldn't believe that you would do something so foolish. I mean, come on Mulder, giving him your gun?"

"There was no *way*, I was leaving him alone without protection. I trust him, Scully. If that's not good enough for you, I don't know what to say."

Scully sighed. "Then maybe we'd just better not talk about it."

"Fine." Mulder snatched a file out of the second drawer and dropped into his chair.

And that's the way it went. For most of the day, silence sat like a rain cloud over the small basement office.


5:21 p.m.

Alex Krycek entered the thinly lit room. The smoke swirled around him, choking him with it's acrid scent. A large, smarmy-looking man watched him from a corner of the room. Krycek walked up to one of the overstuffed wing-back chairs and looked down at the man who occupied it.

"Alex. So nice to see you. It's been a while."

"Let's dispense with the niceties. I want something from you."

"Really? And what would that be."

"I'm sure that by now, you know that an attempt was made on my life, a few weeks ago."

"I heard something to that effect. Surely you don't think..."

"I don't think it was anyone in the immediate group. I know you're smarter than that. But obviously, someone within this organization has their own agenda. You'd do well to find out who that is. What I need from you first of all, is a weapon. Mine was taken from the place I was staying, along with my clothes and everything else that was in my motel room, after I was thought to be killed."

"Done. And second?"

"Second, when you find out who it is that wants to get rid of me, and I know you will, I want something done about it. I don't appreciate having to look over my shoulder all the time."

"Kinda puts a damper on your sex life, don't it?"

Krycek snapped his head around, to confront the man belonging to the voice.

"You didn't think that we wouldn't find out about your pretty pet Fox, did you?"

"Shut up, Phil."

"Aw c'mon, Krycek. Tell me. Is his skin really as soft as it looks?"

Krycek's jaw clenched and unclenched.

"You know, I had me some bitches in the pen, but none of them were *that* pretty. What do you say? Wanna share with your old pal, Phil? I promise, I won't mark him up, too much."

Krycek spun to face him.

"Fist of all, you're not my pal. Never were, never will be. Second, if you so much as cough in his direction, I promise you, you'll never be dead enough."

"Phil is only pulling your leg, Alex. Aren't you, Phil?"

Phil leered at him. "Oh, yeah. Sure. Just yanking your chain, buddy."

"There was something else you wanted, Alex?"

"Two more things."

"And they are?"

"Mulder and Scully fall under the same blanket of protection that I do. Any threats to their lives, I want removed. Permanently."

"And?"

"Last, I'm out. No more traveling, no more jobs. I'm retiring."

"I don't know if that's do-able, Alex. You're one of our best men."

"It's do-able. I just did it. Don't worry about what I know. As long as you leave me alone, the information is safe. As long as you leave Mulder and his partner alone, it's safe. You have nothing to fear from me, as long as you don't push me. Do we have a deal?"

There was a brief silence, then, "We have a deal. The threat against you will be found and removed as soon as possible."

Krycek nodded. "Make it real soon."

"Of course. You see, we take care of our own."

"I'm not yours."

Krycek brushed past Phil and closed the door quietly, behind him.

"I don't understand. Why do you let him boss you around like that?"

"Because, my obtuse friend, Mr. Krycek has us by the proverbial short hairs. It doesn't exactly thrill me to bend to his whims, but unfortunately, it's all I *can* do. At least he doesn't make impossible demands on us."

"I'd just kill him."

"Yes, you *would*. If you could. Alex Krycek is a dangerous man. You're lucky you're still standing there, after the comments you made. Now go see about his request for a weapon, and keep the jibes to a minimum. I've a feeling that his good humor will only stretch so far."


6:02 p.m.

Mulder pulled into his parking spot in the garage under his apartment building.

What a day.

The silence between him and Scully was really working on his nerves. And every time someone noticed and commented on his new look, she seemed to sink deeper into her anger. She knew. She had to know. Just one more thing to piss her off. Damn, he hated this. Well, at least he had the weekend to look forward to. Maybe he'd go out later and pick up some groceries. Maybe some wine...and some whipped cream.

He smiled to himself as he stepped out of the car, deeply involved in his plotting and planning. He never saw the black car that drove up behind him. Never saw the window open just far enough to allow room for the gun. There was a single soft pop and he fell to the floor of the garage, blood quickly pooling around him. The car door opened and a dark figured emerged. Mulder was turned roughly onto his back and his wallet and weapon were taken. The figure returned to the car and it quickly disappeared from the garage, with nothing more than the faint squealing of tires on the pavement.


Saturday, 1:12 a.m.

The lock clicked softly and the door swung open. Krycek peered into the darkness of the room. No sense in turning any lights on. He was heading straight in to bed. To his Fox. He smiled as he anticipated curling himself around his lover's lean, hard length. He dropped his bag onto the floor, next to the chair.

The click of a gun brought him to startled attention.

"Say goodnight, Krycek."

He peered into the darkness. "Scully?"

Pale light flooded the room, making him blink. Scully stood by Mulder's desk, looking like she'd been to hell and back. She held her gun, pointed directly at him.

"Scully, what the hell is going on?"

"I knew you'd come back here. Sooner or later, I knew you'd come back."

"Scully..."

"I warned him. I *knew* you weren't on the level, but he wouldn't listen."

Fear crept into his voice. "Scully, where's Mulder?"

"Like you don't know," she hissed.

"I *don't* know." His voice rose, barely concealing his controlled panic. "Tell me where he *is*."

"He's where you put him, you dirty son of a bitch!"

//Breathe, Alex. Calm. This is getting you nowhere.//

"Scully," he began softly. "I have no idea what happened here. And as far as I knew, when I got here, I'd find him asleep in his bed. Now, are you telling me that he is *not* in this apartment?"

"What was the point of picking out his suit, Krycek?"

She wasn't answering his question. Gun or no, he just about two beats away from tackling this woman and wringing some answers from her tiny neck.

"Did you get some kind of perverse thrill from soaking it with his blood?"

Krycek issued a strangled whimper. He felt as though someone had just hit him in the gut with a steel two by four. "Blood?" The room started to spin. "Scully...*please*..what *happened*?"

"Ballistics report's not back yet, but answer this question for me. Did you shoot him with his own gun? The one that he *trusted* you with?"

Shot.

Krycek pitched forward, grabbing onto the back of the chair in front of him for support. "Scully," he began, squeezing his eyes shut. "Scully, is he..."

"Is he what? Dead?" Venom dripped from her every word. "Yeah, I suppose that's something you'd like to know, isn't it?"

He turned glazed eyes to her. "Scully, if he's dead, I want you to pull that trigger."

Scully flinched, stunned by his words. She stared long and hard at him, trying to find the slightest trace of insincerity. It disturbed the hell out her, that she could not.

"What?"

The glaze turned to a shimmer. He made no attempt to hold back the tears. "If he's not in this world, then I don't want to be either. Pull the trigger."

What the hell was *this*? The voice in her head, the one that she *wanted* to listen to, told her that this was a trick. A ploy to get her to drop her defenses. Her 'Mulder' voice, the one she struggled to suppress, told her to take a good look at the man. *Listen* to his tone. See the pain in his eyes...goddamn voice.

"You didn't shoot him?"

"I told you that I wouldn't hurt him Scully, and I meant it."

She paused for a moment. Two. Three.

"He's alive."

Krycek looked as though he would faint from the relief.

"But he's in bad shape."

The relief seeped away. "How bad?"

"It's still touch and go. He was shot in the back. The bullet missed his spinal cord, but did all sorts of other internal damage. The surgeons did the best job that anyone could do. Whether or not it's good enough, remains to be seen."

Krycek clasped his hands behind his head and turned away, trying to gain some composure. When he turned back, Scully was still standing in the same spot, but her gun hand was hanging limply by her side.

"I want to see him."

She shook her head. "No."

"Scully, I *need* to see him."

"*Your* needs are very low on my priorities list. You may not have pulled the trigger, but you're still responsible for what's happened to him."

"You're right. I am. It's all my fault." He swiped at a fresh surge of tears. "I should have been stronger. Right from the beginning. If I had been, none of this would be happening." He took a deep, shaky breath and let it out. "I need to see him, Scully. I need to see...to apologize."

"He's unconscious. He won't even know you're there."

"Maybe he won't. But maybe he *will*. I need for him to know. *Please*."

Scully contemplated quietly. Then, "We have to go now. While there's no one around."

Krycek closed his eyes and nodded.

"Just for a few minutes," she warned.

He opened his eyes halfway and stepped aside, allowing her to precede him out the door.


2:39 a.m.

Scully slammed her door shut, just as the small black car pulled up beside her. The rumbling motor was cut and Alex Krycek emerged from behind the gleaming black door. She turned and started for the hospital's back entrance. Hell fell into step beside her.

"What about the guard?"

"No guard."

"*What*?"

"His wallet and gun were taken to make it look like a robbery. Until it's proven that this was a hit, I can't officially ask to have a guard posted."

"So he's been *alone* all this time? Scully, I can't believe..."

"Of course, he's not alone," she cut him off, abruptly.

"Well..."

"Don't sweat it. He's with good friends."

They rode the elevator in silence and stepped out at the fourth floor. Krycek began to slow his pace, sensing that they were near the room.

Scully reached the door and paused, waiting for him. As he walked up beside her, he began to tremble.

"Are you ready?" she asked, just above a whisper.

He held a hand up as he took deep, shaky breaths. He turned into the wall, leaning his forehead and both clenched hands against it. Scully allowed him a few more seconds, then swung the door open.

"Let's go."

The bearded man looked up from his book and grew wide-eyed, as Krycek entered the room. He rose from his post by Mulder's bed and pointed. "Hey. I know who *you* are. Get out of..." He stopped short, when Scully followed Krycek in.

"Miss Scully. What is he..."

She held up a hand. "It's okay, Byers."

Byers jerked his head back in the direction of the dark man, who had since pulled a stool up to the bed and was staring red-eyed, down at the unconscious Mulder.

"*What* is going on, here?"

"I'm sorry, Byers. I can't explain. Not now. I have to ask you to just trust me. You know that there is no way in the world, that I'd ever do anything to hurt him."

"Of *course*, I know that. But...I *know* about this guy."

His eyes grew wider still, as he turned his attention back to the bed, just in time to see Fox Mulder's mortal enemy, tenderly stroking his face.

"Byers."

His eyes didn't leave the scene. "Huh?"

"Go get some coffee or something, okay? We won't be too long."

Byers backed toward the door. "O-okay, but if you need me, I'll be just down the hall."

"Don't worry," she reassured him. "Everything is fine."

Byers shot one more look at Krycek and Mulder, still not quite believing his eyes, and slipped out the door.

Scully sat quietly in the corner and watched, as Krycek leaned in and kissed the side of Mulder's mouth. He picked his head up and looked for the first time, at all the hardware in the room. Listened to the beeps of the monitors and the more disturbing sound of the respirator, pumping air into Mulder's lungs. He turned his attention back to the man in the bed. He opened his mouth to speak, but no sound would come out. He cleared his throat and tried again.

"Fox....baby, it's me. It's Alex." He stroked the cool skin of Mulder's cheek. "This is it. This is what I kept trying to tell you that I was afraid would happen. But you were so damned stubborn and I was so damned weak, and now look at you. Laying here with this thing down your throat, needing a machine to breathe for you...all torn up inside. I wasn't worth it." Tears began to slide down his face. "I'm not worth a fucking hangnail. I tried to tell you, and you wouldn't listen. I should've made you listen. I should've..I should've *left*. So many times, I should've left...." He paused and laughed bitterly. "Listen to me. Who gives a damn now, about all that. It's too late. All I can do now, is tell you how sorry I am. How sorry I am for starting what I did, that first night in your apartment." His voice began to crack. "And beg you, to *please* fight. Don't die. Scully needs you. Don't leave her."

Scully thought that she was beyond tears. She was sure she'd cried all she could, the night before. But her eyes welled up, listening to this heartbreaking speech.

"I need you, too. I need to know that wherever *I* am, you're somewhere in the world, alive and well and still making a difference. As long as I know that, I'll be fine. But..." he brought the back of his hand to his mouth, in the effort to stifle a whimper. "If you're not here, I can't. I can't...I don't want to..." His head dropped to the flat pillow, alongside Mulder's, burying his face in the thick brown hair. His shoulder's began to shake and he cried. Openly wept. Pitiful, childlike sobs, that brought Scully to his side.

She couldn't help it. She placed a hand on his shoulder and stood quietly beside him, as he continued to cry.

When his sobbing finally quieted, she skimmed her hand gently, back and forth across the span of his shoulders. "Are you all right?"

He sniffed and attempted to dry his eyes with the back of his hand. He nodded, almost imperceptibly.

"Krycek...Alex... I'm not going to kid you or myself. This is bad. Mulder's been wounded before, but..." she shook her head. "But if I've learned anything from my years with this man, it's this. Never underestimate him, and *never* count him out. Just try and have a little faith, okay?"

He nodded again. "I have to go."

"Where are you going?"

His expression turned stony. "I have some business to take care of."

"Listen, don't *you* go and get yourself into trouble. I do *not* want to have to explain to Mulder why *you're* in the hospital, or on a slab in the morgue."

"I'll be all right." His face softened immediately, as he focused on Mulder. "Baby, I've got to go, but I'll keep in constant contact with Scully. You sleep a while longer. Rest is the best thing for you now, but you can't keep those beautiful eyes closed forever, you hear me?" He combed his fingers tenderly through Mulder's hair. "I promise you lisa, I'm going to find out who did this to you, and take of care of them." He lowered his head to the pillow once more and covered Mulder's still hand with his own. He scattered kisses over the stubbled cheek, then whispered into Mulder's ear. Scully couldn't make out the sounds, but could read his lips very well.

I love you.

Fresh tears pricked her eyes.

It was no act. He meant it. She knew that as sure as she knew her own name.

He picked his head up and looked down at the face that he would never forget. Every line, every curve and tiny scar was burned into his memory. More tears welled up and spilled over. Reluctantly, he rose from the stool and moved away. Scully followed him out the door.

"Alex."

He stopped in his tracks and turned to face her.

"Listen, I want a piece of this."

"No."

"Yes. He's my partner and my best friend. I want who did this to him, as much as you do."

"Scully, I'll take care of it. He'd never forgive me if anything happened to you."

"Give me a break, Krycek. My life is on the line, everyday. It's what I *do*."

"I understand that, but this is different. Just please, stay here and take care of him. I'll be in touch."

Scully sighed heavily. "Wait." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a card. She handed it to him. "This is my cell phone number." I want to hear from you, *often*. If not, I'm going to come looking for you, do you hear me?"

Krycek reached out a still trembling hand, and took the card from her, depositing it into the breast pocket of his jacket. "I'll be in touch." He took one more long look at the door he'd just exited, and walked away. Farther down the hall, he brushed past Byers without a word.

"Can you tell me now, what's going on?" he asked as he approached Scully, who was still standing in the hall.

"Not now Byers, I'm sorry. I really am. What time is Langly supposed to get here?"

He checked his watch. "My shift is over in about half an hour. Go home. You look exhausted."

"I am. It's been a long night. I'll just go in for a second and see him, then I'll go."

Scully entered the room and occupied the seat that Krycek had recently vacated. "Hey," she said, as lightly as she could. "You're going to love this...I'm sorry. I was wrong about him. Really wrong. I know that you'll make me say this again later, when you're able to give me grief about it...you know what? I'll be glad to do it. Just please, wake up. Please be okay."

She kissed his cheek and turned to Byers, who was more confused than ever. "Call me, if there's any change."

He nodded mutely and watched her leave. Not knowing what else to do, he reclaimed his seat beside Mulder's bed and picked up his book.


6:19 a.m.

"What was so important, Alex, that you had to come here at this hour of the morning?" The man looked Krycek up and down. "You look like hell, by the way. Rough night?"

"They got him."

"I'm sorry?"

"Mulder!" he shouted. "They *got* him!"

"Yes, we heard. Is he dead?"

"No, but he's critical."

"Goodness. We found the problem and took care of most of it. Too late, I suppose."

"No shit. What do you mean, *most* of it?"

"The shooter. We've had a bit of a problem tracking him down. But we *have* found him, and he will be dealt with."

"Call your men off. He's mine."

"I thought you didn't want to get your hands dirty anymore."

"This is a special circumstance. Tell me where he is."

The man smiled. "I knew you couldn't suppress your instincts for long."

"You're wrong."

"I see. All right, Alex." He handed a piece of paper to Krycek. "You'll find him here. Would you like any backup?"

"No." He folded the paper and stuffed it into his pocket. "He's the last of it?"

"Yes. After he's taken care of, you will not be troubled again."

Krycek nodded and started for the door.

"Alex."

He stopped, but did not turn around.

"I hope everything turns out well for you."

Without answering, Krycek turned the knob and left.


7:34 a.m.

Scully opened her eyes and blinked. She immediately sat up and looked at her watch. No phone calls from the guys. There must be no change in Mulder. No calls from Krycek, either. She wondered where he was and what the hell he was doing.

She hauled herself off the bed, and taking her cell phone with her, headed for the bathroom.


7:49 a.m.

The click of a gun.

Wally Moran would know that sound anywhere. And damn, it was close. Too close.

He opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn't.

He recognized the man at the end of the weapon and began to shake.

"So, it's you." A voice so cold, it froze his heart.

"Krycek. Listen. I was just doing my job. No hard feelings, huh? You know about this stuff. You're hired to do a job, you do it. I didn't know you from a hole in the wall. I was told to blow the place up and I did it. It was nothing personal."

"Oh, I've forgotten all about that. Actually, I'm here for another reason. You did something else. Something I can't forgive. You shot someone I care for, very deeply."

"What? Who?"

"Think back a couple of days. Do you remember an apartment parking garage? Do you recall shooting a man in the back?"

Wally Moran remained silent.

"Sure, you do. Tall, handsome FBI agent. What was his name?"

No answer.

Krycek barked at him, making him jump to a sitting position. "What was his *name*?"

"F-Fox Mulder."

"That's right. You know that, because you took his wallet and his gun. So it would look like a robbery. Didn't you?"

He nodded.

"*Didn't* you?"

"Yes! Listen Krycek, I had n-no idea. I mean, how would I know? Was he your brother or something? If he was, I'm really sorry..I'm really...come on, man. You know how it is."

"Don't use the word 'wasn't'. He's not dead. And he isn't my brother, you sorry sack of shit. He's my lover."

Wally Moran had only enough time for a wide-eyed stare, before Krycek closed them for good.


11:12 a.m.

Scully snatched the ringing cell phone from her bag.

"Scully."

"It's me."

"Where are you?"

"How is he?"

He was avoiding her question. She wondered why.

"The same."

"No change, at all?"

"No. I'm here with him, now. What about what we talked about earlier?"

"It's taken care of."

"What did you do?"

"What I had to do. Now forget about it, it's done."

Scully closed her eyes and sighed. "What time do you want to come back? I think later is better. I'll make sure it's clear for you."

"I can't."

"Why not? There aren't more problems, are there?"

"Not the ones you think. He's safe."

"Good. Then why can't you come?"

Silence.

"Alex?"

"I'll be in touch."

Before she could argue, he'd hung up.

Oh, she didn't like this. She didn't like this, at all.


Thursday, 10:11 a.m. five days later

The faint sigh caught Scully's attention. She peered over the folder she held, at her partner. He was struggling to open his eyes.

"Mulder?" She moved to the edge of his bed. "Hey. Come on, wake up." She buzzed for the nurse. His eyelids fluttered and tears sprang to her eyes. "That's it, you can do it. Come back."

Finally, he tried to focus his fuzzy hazel gaze on her. He opened his mouth to speak, but winced at the pain of the effort.

"Take it easy. You've been intubated for a few days. It's going to hurt for a while." She stroked his hair. "You were shot Mulder, do you remember that?"

His eyebrows drew together in a frown and he shook his head, slowly.

"I don't mind telling you, that I was really scared this time. You really had us going."

The nurse entered and smiled. "Well, now. Look who's here."

Scully smiled back. "Yeah, he finally decided to rejoin us."

"I'll go call the doctor."

"Thank you." She returned her attention to her partner. "You've been here, almost a week. It happened in your parking garage. You really don't remember?"

Again, he moved his head back and forth. A few seconds later, something very close to terror washed over his expression. He tried to speak, but no intelligible sound would come out.

"Wait, Mulder. Calm down. Let me get a pen and paper." She rummaged through her purse and came up with what she needed. She handed him the pen and held the pad down on the bed, in front of his hand. He scribbled out an A......L....... He tried to form the third letter, but he dropped the pen. She could see the frustration in his eyes as he felt for it. Her hand covered his. "It's okay, Mulder. I think I know what you want. Is it Alex?"

He grimaced with the effort it took to nod.

"He's okay, Mulder. Nothing has happened to him. He was here early, Saturday morning."

His eyes slipped from hers and moved around the room. Looking.

//Damn.//

"Mulder, we'll talk about this when you're better, okay? Right now, you've just got to concentrate on getting your strength back. Everything is going to be fine. I promise."

He looked at her. Through her, trying to read what was in her eyes. She hated when he did that. She glanced away.

//Stupid thing to do. Now he *knows* something is up.//

To her relief, the doctor entered and she was asked to step out into the hall, while he examined Mulder. As she sat in the waiting room, Langly passed by.

"Langly!"

He backed up into the doorway. "What're you doing in here?"

"He's awake."

"Cool! When?"

"Just a little while ago. The doctor is in with him, now. I...hang on." She snatched the ringing cell phone from her pocket, as Langly stepped back out into the hall, to give her a little privacy.

"Scully. *Yes*, I've been waiting for you to call. He's awake."

Alex Krycek closed his eyes and said a silent 'thank you'. "Is he all right?"

"The doctor is looking at him, now. Alex, are you coming? He was very upset after finding out what happened. He can't talk yet, but he tried to write your name on a piece of paper. He thought something may have happened to you, too."

"You told him I was okay?"

"Yeah. I told him you were there Saturday morning. His mind is going, Alex. I can hear the wheels turning. Can I tell him that you're coming?"

Krycek clutched the phone, turning his knuckles white. "I...I can't."

"Why the hell not?"

"Look what I've done to him. He's much better off without me."

"Alex, listen to me...I was *wrong*, okay? He needs you, here."

"No, he doesn't. And you weren't wrong. I can't hurt him anymore, Scully. I almost got him killed, for Christ sake. He doesn't need me. Tell him whatever you need to tell him to help him get over it. If he ends up hating me, so much the better."

"*What*? That's insane! Now listen....Alex? Alex! Shit!"

She punched 'end', and practically threw the phone down onto the table in front of her.

//What the hell am I going to do, now?//

Langly poked his head back into the room. "Scully, the doctor said we could go in, now. Are you okay? You look kinda pale."

"No, Langly, I'm not okay. Not by a long shot."

"Something I can help with?"

"I wish you could. Come on, let's go."


Saturday, 7:34 a.m.

"Frohike?"

The small man jumped up from his chair and hurried to Mulder's bedside.

"Hey, buddy. Finally decided to talk, huh?"

"Still hurts."

"Yeah, but that'll go away. So how do you feel?"

"Been better. Where's Scully?"

"She'll be here in an hour or so. Is there anything you need?"

Mulder's eyes grew distant. "Nothing you can get for me."

"How do you know unless you ask? Name it."

Mulder closed his eyes and shook his head.

"Come on...."

"Thanks Frohike, but there's nothing you can do," he croaked.

"Okay, if you're sure."

Mulder nodded and turned his head toward the door.

Where was he? Why wouldn't he come? He couldn't understand.

Today. He could talk without much pain today, and Scully was going to answer some questions.


8:45 a.m.

"Morning," Scully called cheerfully, as she came through the door.

"Hi."

"Hey! You talked! That's great!"

"Well," Frohike piped up. "I'm gonna get going. Don't forget now, Mulder. If there's anything we can do for you, just give us a holler, okay?"

"Thanks, Frohike."

As soon as he was gone, Mulder turned back to his partner. "I want to know what happened, Scully. Starting from the night I was shot."

"How about some breakfast, first?"

"Scully..."

She threw her head back and rolled it along her shoulders. "Okay."

Half an hour and the entire truth, except for one small detail later, she fell silent, waiting for some kind of response.

He lay quietly for a moment, taking it all in. Then, "I don't understand. We'd been through this half a dozen times."

"Yeah, but it was different this time. You were *shot*. He's eaten up with guilt. Maybe after he's had time to think about it a while, he'll come. Maybe he just needs a little time. You didn't see him, Mulder. 'Upset' doesn't even begin to cover it. He put his head down next to yours and cried like a baby. And I knew...are you listening to me? I knew he was who you kept telling me, he was. That alone, should make you smile."

No reaction.

"Come on Mulder, don't brood. It'll be okay. He'll come back. He can't stay away from you, he said it, himself. Just give it a little time."


Wednesday, 2:12 p.m. two weeks later

The door to apartment forty-two swung open. Scully entered, followed by Mulder. He moved slowly, gauging each step. When he was in, she closed the door behind him.

"Come on, I'll get you into bed."

"No." He would not allow her steer him in that direction. "The couch."

She put up no argument. She could see that he was clearly disturbed at the prospect.

"Okay."

Once he was settled on the sofa, she perched on the edge of the cushion. "So...you hungry?"

"No."

"Mulder, you have to eat better than you have been. You just about made it out of the hospital on what you ate. Any less, and you would've still been there."

"I'm not hungry, Scully. I can't eat if I'm not hungry."

"Mulder. I understand. Really I do..."

"How *can* you, Scully? *I* don't understand."

She wished she could find a way. Some magic words to say, to comfort him, but she knew that nothing short of Alex Krycek appearing on his doorstep, was going to help.

"Scully?"

"Hmm?"

"I appreciate everything you and the guys have done, but can I...I'd like to be alone for a while."

"Mulder, it's not good to brood."

"Please, Scully. I need to be by myself."

"All right. But you call if you need anything at all, you hear? And if I don't hear from you in three hours, I'm going to call to check on you."

"Okay."

Scully leaned over and dropped a light kiss on his nose, then headed for the door. She turned just before she exited, and called to him. "Don't forget."

"I won't."

The door closed softly, leaving him alone with the silence and his thoughts.


3:12 p.m.

Alex Krycek reclined on the sofa in his new, scarcely furnished apartment. A shot glass balanced precariously on one bent knee. He stared at it, watching the amber liquid shimmer.

//Fox must be home, by now.//

He knew that, not because he'd spoken to Scully, he'd been out of communication with her since the day Mulder had regained consciousness. He knew, because he'd kept a close watch on him. Never far away, but always unseen. 'Stealth' was his middle name.

He plucked the glass from it's perch and tossed the contents to the back of his throat. He grimaced as he snatched up the beer bottle from the coffee table and took a long swallow. His eyes glazed over as he thought of Mulder, alone and hurt, wondering why things had turned out this way. Hopefully, Scully had been merciful enough to lie about why he'd disappeared from his life. Quick and painful was better than the alternative.

He took another swallow.

Nah. She'd told him the truth. He just knew it. She'd figure that the truth was best. Goddamn Scully and her fucking morals.


3:27 p.m.

Scully sat at her desk, trying to get some work done. Since Mulder had tactfully thrown her out of his apartment, she had nothing else to do but go back to work and wait to talk to him.

She thought of him trying to sleep on that damned sofa, and wished that he'd come to his senses, and realize that bed was the best place for him to be.

//Shit! The bed!//

Panic seized her as she realized that the bag that Alex Krycek had left at Mulder's apartment, over two weeks ago, was sitting on Mulder's bed. When she'd come back to feed the fish, she'd noticed it on the floor, next to the chair. She moved it into the bedroom, positive that Krycek would be back. She thought, he'd even stay there, while Mulder was in the hospital, but he never went back. And the bag stayed right where she'd left it, on Mulder's bed.

"Oh, damn. Damn, damn, damn!" Well, she couldn't very well go running over there, *now*. How the hell would she get the thing out of the apartment without him seeing? She buried her face in her hands. "Oh, I am *so* screwed."


3:33 p.m.

Mulder rose stiffly from the sofa. He was exhausted, and that couch just wasn't getting it. His back just couldn't take it. The wound was healing nicely, but it was still very tender.

 He moved slowly into the bedroom, attempting to convince himself along the way, that it was ridiculous to never use the bed again, just because he didn't want to deal with the memories of Alex. Hell, the sofa held some memories, too. And the kitchen. Unless he moved into a new place, there was just no way to look at the bed, or the floor, or the kitchen chair, or the bedroom *wall*, and not remember.

He sat down on the bed, bracing himself against the rush of emotion that rolled over him. He took two deep breaths and turned onto his side. He sat up again, immediately.

Where did this come from? This wasn't his.

Alex.

He looked around the room.

"Alex?"

No answer.

He looked back at the bag. When had he left *this* here? And did it mean that he'd soon be back? Sure, it did. Why would he leave it here, otherwise? He unzipped the bag and began pulling out Krycek's clothes.

He was coming back. He was.

The ringing phone drew him out of his desperate wish.

"Hello?"

"Mulder, it's me. I know I said I'd wait about three hours to call, but I need to tell you something."

"What?"

"There's a bag in your bedroom."

"Uh-huh." He smiled as he fingered the worn leather.

"It belongs to Alex."

"I know."

"You've seen it?"

"Yeah. His clothes are in it."

She could hear the lilt in his voice.

//Oh God, Mulder. I'm so sorry.//

"Mulder, he left that bag there, the night after you were shot. The night I took him to see you at the hospital. He never came back to get it. I think he either forgot about it, or he just didn't want to come back to your apartment, for it."

"No, Scully."

Oh Jesus, he sounded so pathetic.

"He left it here, because he's coming back."

"I...I don't think so, Mulder....I'm sorry. I meant to take it before you came home, but I forgot about it."

Silence.

"Mulder? Are you all right?"

"Yeah....yeah. Fine."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Don't worry about it."

"Are you sure, you're all right?"

"Yeah. I uh...I was just about to try to take a nap. I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Okay. Call when you wake up, please?"

"Yeah. See you later."

He dropped the phone into the cradle and looked at all the clothing he'd pulled out of the bag. He gathered the things up in his arms and fell onto his side. He stared sightlessly in the direction of the wall, clutching all that he had left of Alex Krycek, to his chest.

End Part III

 


 

11 November 1998

Admission IV: Don't Let Me Dream
by Aries
See Disclaimer in Part I
Summary: N/C-17
The boy's separation affects each of them in very different ways. Loads of angst. High schmoop warning.


I can't remember why we fell apart
It's something that was so meant to be
Forever was the promise in our hearts
Now more and more I wonder where you are
Do I ever cross your mind, anytime?
Do you ever wake up reaching out for me?
Do I ever cross your mind, anytime?
I miss you
Anytime ~ Brian McKnight

***********************

Thursday, 1:12 a.m.
Five months after Mulder's return
home from the hospital

"Mmmmmm."

Fox Mulder writhed on his bed as a soft warmth touched his chest.

It took him a moment to realize that it was a mouth, wandering across his skin. He moaned again and brought both hands up, plunging into the familiar silky hair with one and lovingly petting the smooth surface with the other.

"Alex."

Whispered. Moaned. Barely loud enough to be heard.

The mouth moved up the long column of his throat to this chin, staying a while to nibble the slightly rough skin.

"Alex..."

Before he could voice his request, the mouth covered his in a mind-numbing kiss, that left him gasping for breath.

He opened his eyes and looked up into the deep green pools belonging to the man whom his mind, heart and body craved day and night, for the last five months. He smiled.

"That's encouraging."

"What?"

"That smile."

"You're back, why wouldn't I smile?"

"I sort of thought you'd be so upset with me, you'd throw me out."

"I should have enough pride to do just that. But I can't. I've missed you so much. Why have you stayed away so long?"

"Let's talk about it later, okay? Right now, I just want to touch you."

Mulder closed his eyes as knowing fingers skimmed over his lips. Traveled slowly over one cheekbone, then down. His neck arched as the fingers skittered down and lingered on his bare chest, teasing the small nipples into tights peaks. Mulder stifled a gasp.

"Don't do that, Fox. Let me hear it. I want to know how much you want me."

Krycek lowered his head and bit down gently on one erect nipple, drawing a long whine from the man beneath him.

"That's it. Just let it out."

His mouth traced a staggered line down the length of Mulder's torso, pausing momentarily to tease the hollow of his navel, then on downward, toward that which was begging to be touched.

Mulder groaned deep in his throat as Krycek's mouth closed gingerly over the blunt head of his cock. His tongue danced around it, sending bone-rattling shudders through his body. His head lowered, taking the full length of the shaft into his mouth, but only momentarily. Slowly he rose, just barely skimming the smooth skin along his tongue and the roof of his mouth.

"Alex...I...can't..cant'...don't tease...don't..please, not tonight."

"Shhh. It's okay, Fox. It's okay." He slid up, covering Mulder's body with his own. His rock-hard erection pressed urgently against it's twin. "It's all right. Alex is going to take away all your suffering." He gazed down into the tortured hazel depths of Mulder's eyes. "My beautiful, beautiful lisa. How could I have stayed away from you for so long?

His hands slid under Mulder's knees. Lifted, until he had easy access, then thrust gently into the tight warmth. Mulder cried out, joy and anticipation of long awaited satisfaction, flooding through his body. Gentle fingers wrapped around his cock, taking his euphoria to a higher level. Krycek's hand and hips worked together in perfect cadence, driving Mulder completely and totally insane.

"Oh God, Alex. Oh God..."

"Are you almost there, Fox?"

"Yes...*yes*..oh, *please*..."

All at once, the driving heat was gone. Removed just before total release. Mulder arched and strained, almost in tears.

"No! Alex, please!"

"I'm sorry, Fox. I have to go."

"*Go*?"

"I *am* sorry..."

"Alex, don't leave me...Jesus, it hurts. It hurts." The tears fell and he reached out, desperate to find what was not there.

He opened his eyes.

Another dream.

He rolled onto his side, rocking back and forth. Tears of frustration and pain saturated the pillow.


Friday, 8:45 a.m.

Scully looked up from her computer. "Morning, Mulder."

"Morning."

Late again.

It was the third time this week. She'd been trying so hard to keep things normal, but concern was really starting to get the better of her.

She watched him closely, as he drifted past her desk and over to his, dropping into the chair behind it.

"You look tired." *Again*.

No response.

"Mulder?"

"I didn't sleep very well last night." It came out a little sharper than he'd intended.

"This is getting to be a habit with you."

Again, no reply.

"Have you had breakfast?"

"Yeah."

He was lying and she knew it.

"Mulder..." This wasn't going to go over very well. "Mulder, I don't think you should be in the field."

His head snapped up.

"I'm sorry, but..."

"I've only been *back* in the field for about a month and a half and now you want to pull me out?"

"Maybe it was too soon. You don't seem much better now, than you were *then*. Look at yourself, Mulder. You eat barely enough to keep a bird alive. You've dropped almost twenty pounds and believe me, you didn't have it to spare..."

Mulder spun around in his chair and faced the wall. "Are you through?"

"No. You don't *sleep*. Your reflexes are dulled. It's dangerous to both of us with you in the field."

He spun back. "Scully, I *can't* go back to desk duty. I was ready to lose my mind. Too much time. Too much thinking." He looked up at her, distress radiating from his expression. "I don't want to think, Scully. I don't want to..."

She moved across the room and sat at the edge of his desk, facing him. She took one of his hands in hers and squeezed gently. "I know. Mulder, I'm sorry. You'll never know how much. But Alex is gone. It's been *months*. If he wanted to see you, he would have come back by now."

"What if something's wrong? What if something's happened to him?"

"Do you get that feeling?"

Mulder shook his head slowly. "No."

"Me either. It pains me to say these things to you, but I really think that he doesn't want to be found. I mean, we've searched far and long for him, and *nothing*. You know from experience, that if there's one thing Alex Krycek knows how to do, it's disappear without a trace."

"That would mean that everything he told me was a lie."

"Not necessarily. I've told you this before Mulder, and I still think it's true. I think he believes that he's protecting you." Before he could respond, she held up a hand and continued. "I know how you feel about that, but you almost *died* not too long ago, and he was, at least to some degree, responsible for that. Now, you're the psychologist on this team, how do *you* think he feels about that?"

"He'd be shouldering a lot of unnecessary blame."

"In order for you to tell him that Mulder, you have to find him. A proven impossibility. Now for the sake of your health and your sanity, *please* try to forget about him."

A look of helplessness etched his features, as he looked up at her. She hated it when he looked at her, like that.

"I don't know how."

"You've got to find a way. Your life and your career depend on it."

He knew she was right, but Jesus, it was so much easier said than done. Especially when he had such frequent nightly reminders. He hadn't told her about the dreams or the unbearable ache he'd felt for hours, afterward. If he had, she'd have his ass hauled out of the field, for sure. And he needed to work. It was all he had to keep him from going crazy.

"Okay listen," Scully's voice drew him out of his thoughts. "You've got another week. If I don't see some improvement in that time, I'm going to Skinner, I don't care *how* pissed at me, you get."

Mulder inhaled deeply and nodded his agreement.


Friday, 9:46 p.m.

Alex Krycek was feeling no pain. He'd just tossed down his fifth scotch and was banging his glass on the bar, for a sixth.

"Hey, slow down, partner."

He turned his head and fixed a glassy green stare on the source of the voice.

"You're going to be one sick puppy in the morning, if you don't."

"Who are you, my father?"

"No, just a concerned bystander. I've seen you in here quite a few times before. You always seem so sullen and lonely."

Krycek stared into his fresh drink.

"So...what'd he do to you?"

"What the fuck makes you think anyone did anything to me? And what makes you say, 'he'?"

"Look around you. This place isn't exactly overflowing with mixed couples."

No response.

"You'll feel better if you talk about it."

Krycek shook his head. "The only thing he ever did was trust me."

"Ah. So it's guilt that's got you here. Guilt will chew you up and spit you out, my friend. Do yourself a favor. Talk to him. Sort it out, whatever it is."

"Can't."

"Sure, you can."

"There's no fix, quick or otherwise, for this."

The man eyed him intently. "Are you sure?"

Krycek grimaced and gulped down his drink. "Oh, yeah."

"Hmm. Well." He took a seat beside Krycek. "In that case, maybe you could do with a little comfort."

A warm hand crept across Krycek's back.

"And maybe you could get that hand off of me, before you lose it."

The man removed his hand and leaned back. "Why do you come here?"

Krycek raised his empty glass. "To drink myself senseless."

"You could go to any bar to do that. You *choose* to come here."

"So *what*?"

"You're looking for company. Someone to help you take your mind off of *him*."

Krycek made a harsh sound in the back of his throat. A pretty good imitation of a buzzer. "Wrong, Carnac. Leave me alone."

The man smiled. "You don't know what you're missing..."

Krycek's eyes lowered to the bar. "I know exactly what I'm missing. Go away."

The man got up and moved on to his next prospect.

Krycek spun on his stool and looked out into the heart of the crowd. He focused on a particularly handsome couple, sitting at a corner table. One smiled serenely, as the other nuzzled his ear and stroked his arm. Unbidden images sprung to mind.

Fox.

So beautiful, wrapped in pleasure. So trusting, accepting whatever Alex had to give him. And giving back. Oh, he knew how to give back...

Krycek's head started to pound. Suddenly, he couldn't stand to be here. He pulled a neatly folded wad of cash from his pocket, paid his tab, and left.

He knew that he was going out to get plastered tonight, and had decided to walk. The cold mid- November air hit him in a blast, as he stepped out onto the pavement and made his way home. Damn, Washington was cold.


Saturday, 7:21 a.m.

Mulder sat alone, at his kitchen table, staring at the bagel in front of him.

//You gotta eat it. Scully wasn't kidding about having you pulled from the field. Come on, you can do it. //

He picked up one of the split halves and brought it to his mouth. He had to force himself to bite into it and chew. It tasted like cardboard.

//Just swallow it, would you?//

He managed to get three bites down that way, before he threw the rest of it down onto the table. He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, trying to calm the threatened violent reaction of his stomach.

//Okay, that's enough. A little a time, don't force it. Try again at lunchtime.//

He gathered up the remains of breakfast and dumped it into the trash. He walked back to the table and drew his fingers along the back of the chair that Alex had claimed in the short time he was there. Mulder smiled sadly, remembering their first breakfast together. Things weren't exactly relaxed between them, but he wouldn't have traded that morning for anything in the world.

The phone rang, just as he was working himself into a really good state of depression.

"Morning," Scully's overly cheerful voice sang out over the line.

"Hi, Scully."

"How'd you sleep?"

"Okay."

Right. For all of an hour and a half.

"You dressed?"

"Yeah."

"Good. I'm coming over."

"What for?"

"I'm making you breakfast."

"Thanks Scully, but I already had breakfast."

"What did you eat?"

"A bagel."

"All of it?"

Hesitation. "Yeah."

"Mulder..."

"What?"

"How much did you eat?"

Heavy sigh. "Half."

She still wasn't quite sure that she believed him. Even so...

"Mulder, half a bagel just isn't going to get it."

Silence.

"Okay, I'll tell you what. I'll hang around here for a while, do some stuff, but I'm coming to make you lunch. Don't bother arguing, it'll do you no good."

He *knew* that.

"Mulder? You there?"

"Yeah, I'm here. I guess I'll see you a little later."

He hung up and trudged into the living room.


8:24 a.m.

"Jesus."

Krycek blinked in the blinding sunlight, pouring through the window. Not a good thing, this morning. He got up to draw the blinds, and was knocked back into bed by a tidal wave of nausea.

"Shit..." He squeezed his eyes shut, clutching at his stomach. "Breathe. Breathe."

He felt better for a few moments, but then it came back. Only three times worse. And it brought company. His head spun and throbbed at the same time, making it impossible to walk to the bathroom. He virtually crawled, just making it to the edge of the toilet bowl, before everything he'd ever eaten in his life, came up. He wretched violently, all the while swearing that he'd never drink like that again and knowing that once this was over, he'd do exactly that.

Passing out in a drunken stupor, was the only way he'd ever gotten any sleep. The only time painful thoughts of the one he'd given up, had not tortured him.

He'd managed to get himself cleaned up and crawled back to bed. The sun still shone brightly through the open blinds, casting a cheery light over the room. God, he hated the day time. Hated the night, too. Hell, he guessed he'd just hated life in general. He'd check out in a heartbeat, if it were not for one thing. His Fox was alive. And getting the occasional distant glimpse of him, dangerous though it was, was enough to keep him going.

*His Fox*.

He really had to stop saying that.


12:10 p.m.

Scully stood at Mulder's door, holding two paper bags.

"Lunchtime."

Mulder stepped aside, allowing his partner to enter.

"I thought we should start out with something light. You've eaten so little for so long, that I don't think your stomach could take anything heavy. How about some soup?"

Well, soup didn't sound so bad. At least he didn't have to chew it.

"Okay."

He followed Scully into the kitchen and leaned up against the counter, while she went to work.

"Is it very cold out?" he asked, searching for something to say, to break the silence.

"Yeah. I think we're in for a brutal winter. All the more reason for you to put that weight back on."

Mulder looked down at the floor in front of him.

Scully moved to the refrigerator, putting some things away and when she turned back, her breath caught in her throat. She'd seen him all day, just about every day, but the shock of taking a good look at him, never seemed to fade.

There was an anemic paleness to the skin, stretched over too prominent bones. The eyes that usually held a mischievous glint, had gone dull. Even his normally glossy golden brown hair had lost it's luster.

She wanted to damn Alex Krycek to eternal flaming hell, but she knew it wasn't right. This wasn't all his fault. He'd warned Mulder. They'd had countless arguments about it, Mulder had told her so, himself. But her partner was as stubborn as they came. And just as persuasive.

And magnetic. He attracted all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. She could well understand why Krycek couldn't stay away from him. Except now, he had. Now, when he really needed to be here.

"Mulder, why don't you sit down. You look like you're about ready to *fall* down."

"I'm okay."

"No." She came over and took him by the arm, leading him to a seat. "I want you to sit down. The soup will be ready in a couple of minutes."

True to her word, Scully placed a small bowl in front of Mulder, just a few minutes later. She sat across from him and he almost opened his mouth to say something, but bit his tongue.

"What is it? You looked like you wanted to say something?"

He wanted to tell her that was Alex's chair she was sitting in and ask her to sit someplace else, but that was insane, even to him.

"No. I wasn't going to say anything."

Scully nodded. "Well, eat up."

The first spoonful went down relatively easily. Even the second and third weren't bad. It was that fourth one and those that followed, that gave him trouble. He put the spoon down after the sixth, and covered his mouth, taking in deep breaths through his nose.

"Mulder? You okay?"

He shook his head and took his hand away from his mouth. "I don't feel so good, Scully."

"Damn. I know it may be hard, but try to keep it down. Here." She handed him a slice of dry bread. "Nibble on that. It should help with the nausea."

Mulder reached out a trembling hand and took the bread from her. A few bites later, he dropped the slice onto the table.

"I think I should lie down."

"Okay. Some sleep right now, might be the best thing for you."

"No," he snapped. "No sleep. I just want to lie down."

Scully studied him closely. What the hell was it with him and sleep?

"Fine. No sleep." She went along with him, hoping that once he was horizontal, he'd just drift off, anyway. "Come on, get into bed."

He let her guide him into his room and help him down on the bed. He leaned back against the pillows, eyes wide open.

"Don't fight it, Mulder. Just relax and let it happen. You'll feel so much better if you get some decent rest."

Mulder nodded and closed his eyes.

"That's better. If you need me, I'll be in the other room."

Scully left the bedroom, and closed the door only halfway, so she could hear if Mulder called to her.

As soon as she was gone, his eyes snapped open.

No sleep.

But that was ridiculous. He *had* to sleep at some point. Maybe he should just tell her what was wrong. Maybe she could help.

//How the hell do you tell her a thing like that?//

//She's doctor, stupid.//

//That's right, she is. And she's your partner. Not only will you be yanked out of the field, she'll probably make the very strong suggestion that you be hospitalized.//

//Well, what the hell, she's probably close to doing that, anyway. If you don't start putting some weight on soon...//

Mulder considered his options and decided against saying anything. It was a risk he really didn't think he wanted to take.

Two hours and not a wink of sleep later, he entered the living room to find her still there.

//Did you think she wouldn't be?//

She looked up smiling, but the smile faded when she met his eyes. "You haven't slept at all, have you?"

"What makes you say that?"

"You don't look any better than you did two hours ago. In fact, you *may* look just a little bit worse."

"Scully, it's hard to sleep on command, you know?"

"How's your stomach?"

He shrugged. "I kept the food down."

"Want to try a little more?"

"Maybe later."

"Not too much later."

"Look Scully, you're wasting your whole Saturday babysitting me. I'm a big boy, perfectly capable of getting myself a bowl of soup."

"Normally, I'd agree with you. But I know, sure as I'm sitting here, that you won't do it." She rose from the sofa and came to stand in front of him. "Mulder. Can't you understand how important this is? How serious?"

"Do you think I *asked* for this?" Anger flared. "You think I *like* getting sick whenever I put food in my mouth? You think I *enjoy* twenty-three hour days?"

"Mulder, I didn't..."

"You think I get some kind of sick thrill out of ..." He censured himself and turned away.

"What? Sick thrill out of what?"

"Nothing. Go home, Scully. Leave me alone."

"I can't do that, Mulder. I'm not going to watch you die this slow death. I'm going to fight it, even if you *won't*."

She got no response.

"Is the memory of a man you'd only been involved with for a matter of weeks, worth all this, Mulder?"

"Don't talk about him like he's dead."

"For you, he may as well be!"

Mulder spun to face her.

"He's not coming back! Get that through your head! For whatever reasons he's got, he's not coming back. I'm so sorry for you that it turned out this way, but it *has*. Deal with it and move on!"

The hurt look he displayed, immediately made her regret her tirade.

"Mulder," she croaked, touching his arm. "If there was anything...anything in the world that I could do to make this better for you, you know I would."

"You can do one thing for me, right now."

"Of course."

"Leave me."

Scully closed her eyes and sighed.

"I'll be all right. I just want to be alone."

"Do you promise to try and eat more, later?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, I'm going. I'll call you later."

"Right."

When he'd finally gotten her out the door, he returned to the living room and switched on the television. He stared at the screen, not really seeing a thing. His thoughts were focused on the conversation he'd just had with his partner.

She was right. He needed to pull himself together. He'd done all he could to find Alex and so had she. He needed to stop mourning his loss and get on with his life, before he didn't have a life to get on *with*. And who knew. Maybe if he was able to do that, the dreams would stop and so would the unbearable agony they brought. He absently stoked the arm of the shirt he wore. Alex's. He should get rid of the clothes. Stuff them all back into the bag and dump it into the incinerator. It'd be a start. He wrapped his arms around himself and buried his face into the collar of the shirt.

Maybe tomorrow.


10:32 p.m.

No drinking tonight.

Krycek was still feeling pretty rough around the edges from last night's bender. Besides, he was in no mood to fend off the usual half dozen or so men who would hit on him. So rather than hurt somebody, he decided to just stay home.

He stretched out along the sofa and turned the t.v. on, flipping quickly through the channels. Finally, he settled on a bad sci-fi movie. Involuntarily, his hand went to the object suspended from his neck by a silver chain. He lovingly fingered the key that Mulder had given him, so many months ago. So many times he had been sorely tempted to use it. Just walk in, in the middle of the night and crawl into Mulder's bed. Wrap his arms around him. Kiss him senseless. Tell him how very much...

But even as possession of this key tempted him, it did just as much to stop him. It was representative of Mulder's trust in him. The same trust that had gotten him shot.

Krycek's eyes dropped shut and let the pain wash over him. Through his own fault, he'd come so close to losing the only thing that mattered to him in the world and the only thing he could think to do to make it even close to right, was leave Mulder alone. Let him find his way back to his old life. It may not have been perfect, but at least he wouldn't have to live it, looking every day at the man who'd almost gotten him killed.

But even so. What if he *did* go to him? What if Fox welcomed him with open arms and wouldn't blame him at all? Maybe they could put it behind them. Maybe Fox could help him get over this crippling guilt and they could get back to where they were.

He tried to shake the thought away.

"Sadistic bastard. Why do you torture yourself night after fucking night?"

He closed his hand into a fist, gripping the key tightly and slid onto his back. He stared up at the ceiling, trying to close his mind's eye to the images that tumbled through it.

Two bodies. Bathed in sweat. Seemingly fused together. Muscle surrounding muscle. Stroking and thrusting. Ebbing and flowing.

Krycek's hand dropped to the waistband of his jeans, unbuttoning and drawing the zipper down. It slipped inside his underwear and began to gently caress his rigid cock. His eyes closed.

Sounds. Feral. Demanding and pleading for no less than complete surrender. Agitated. Hungry. Reduced to soft purrs of contentment, once fulfillment was reached.

He frowned as those sounds were replaced with others.

A gun shot. The beep of a heart monitor. The hiss of a respirator.

Krycek gritted his teeth and jerked his hand away.

Dammit.

Happened almost every time, yet the thought never failed to bring tears to his eyes.

//He's all right//, he'd tell himself. //He's alive. That's all that matters.// And it should have been. But every time he remembered that night in the hospital, how close he'd come to losing his Fox for all time, he couldn't stand it. The memory was paralyzing. And no matter what he tried, he could not stop it from tormenting him. The liquor was only a temporary solution...and only after he'd passed out.

He tucked one hand under his head and brought the other once again, to the key that rested over his heart. His thumb stroked it slowly.

//What are you doing right now, Fox? Are you thinking of me? Do you miss me? Or does the thought of me now repulse you? I actually hope that it does, because if you miss me a quarter as much as I miss you, you're suffering some unbearable hurt, and I don't want that for you. Please God, please let Scully have lied to him.//His eyes welled up again. //Please let him have forgotten about me.//


Sunday, 12:13 a.m.

"Fox."

"Hmm?"

"Are you awake?"

"Mmm hmm."

"No, you're not."

A warm tongue sliding along his jaw.

A long soft breath.

"Are you awake, yet?"

"Yes." Whispered.

"I don't think you are."

Gentle fingers curled around his cock.

"Well. I guess maybe I was wrong."

Softly moaned. "Told you....Alex?"

"Yes?"

"Don't leave me, this time."

No response.

"Please promise you won't leave me."

His body stiffened as his answer came by way of several long, leisurely strokes along the length of his very erect cock.

"You're always ready for me, aren't you?"

"Mmmmm. Always. All I do is wait for you, Alex. But when you come to me, you never stay. I need you to stay. Please. Finish, this time. And stay. It's so lonely without you. I hurt so much when you leave. Please..."

His lover's mouth found his, drinking in the remainder of his words. Stopping all thoughts but one. The hand continued working it's magic, bringing that all too familiar mix of excitement and dread.

//He won't stop. Not this time...//

His head began to spin. His chest rose and fell in the struggle for air. Almost there. Just a little... His fingers gripped the strong shoulders above him. His head rolled back and forth on the pillow. The room closed in around him and everything disappeared except for this beautiful man and the shattering sensations he delivered.

//No. Oh Jesus. He not going to stop...//

"Oh, thank you." His breath came in short gasps. "Alex...thank y.........oh.....no....*no*!"

He awoke, twisted in the sheet and covered in perspiration. His heart felt as though it was going to pound out of his chest and his head throbbed in almost identical rhythm. But neither compared to the searing pain he felt in his groin.

He ripped the sheet away, and roughly grasping his cock, tried to relieve himself. He groaned through clenched teeth as he pulled harder and faster. The groan turned into loud sobs when he realized yet again, that it would do no good. Exhausted and sore, he abandoned his efforts. He pulled one of the pillows down between his legs and clasped the coolness of the cotton sheathed puff, tightly against his tortured cock. He wept silently in the darkness.


Monday, 9:07 a.m.

"Come in."

Scully walked into the A.D.'s office, followed by her partner. They took their usual seats in front of his desk. His intense scrutiny went unnoticed by Mulder, who sat with his head down. Skinner looked to Scully.

"Is the report on the Thurston case finished?"

"N-no, sir. But it will be, by this afternoon."

Skinner glanced at Mulder, then back over to Scully. "I expect to have it on my desk before lunch."

"Yes, sir. It will be."

"Agent Mulder."

Mulder raised his head.

Skinner's eyebrows drew down into a distinct frown. "Agent Mulder, are you all right?"

"Yes, sir. Just a little trouble sleeping."

The A.D. studied him for a moment and opted against any further discussion.

"Is that all, sir?"

"For now. Get going on that report."

Mulder nodded and rose from the chair. He headed without another word, toward the door. Scully followed, only to be stopped by the baritone behind her.

"May I have a moment, Agent Scully?"

"Yes, sir. I'll catch up to you in a minute, Mulder."

He mouthed the word 'okay' and left the office.

Scully turned bright blue eyes to her superior. "What is it you wanted to talk to me about, sir?" As if she didn't know.

"Mulder. What's keeping him on his feet? He looks like hell."

"I know."

"I've been hoping to see some small improvement, but I don't. He's been wounded before, Scully. I know that this is probably as close as he's ever come to death, but he just doesn't strike me as the type of person who would let it do *this* to him. There's got to be something more. Something we don't know about."

Scully shifted from one foot to the other. His eyes narrowed.

"What is it?"

She shook her head and opened and closed her mouth. Then, gathering her wits, she spoke.

"I don't know, sir. I-I'm doing all I can to help him. We had a talk this weekend and I think I convinced him that he needed to seriously try to pull himself together..."

"He didn't look very together this morning. I think I'm going to have to pull him..."

"No, sir! Please. We talked about this, too. I told him that he had a week. If he couldn't show some signs of improvement, then I was going to make the recommendation to you myself, that he be removed from the field."

Skinner considered her words.

"Not only that sir, but I will also make the recommendation that he be hospitalized and undergoes whatever treatment necessary to aid in his recovery."

"He won't be happy about that."

"I know."

"All right, Scully. You've got a week."

"Thank you, sir. Anything more?"

"No...no, that'll be all for now. I want frequent updates on his progress."

"Yes, sir."

Scully walked out of the office on shaky legs.

//Shit.//

Though she *had* become quite proficient at covering Mulder's ass over the years, she still couldn't abide the lying.

She steadied herself and headed for the elevator.


Mulder sat at his desk, resting his head against one hand, eyes closed.

"That's what you're supposed to be doing at home."

He opened his eyes and looked toward the door. "I wasn't sleeping."

"Okay, what *were* you doing?"

"Nothing."

"Mulder, you heard Skinner. We need to get that report finished and on his desk by lunch time."

"Uh huh."

"You don't seem to be keeping your end of the bargain we made this weekend."

"I'm eating as much as I can Scully, honest."

"What about sleep?"

He looked down at the top of his desk and said nothing.

"Maybe a mild tranquilizer would help."

Mulder wasn't one much for taking medication, especially anything that made him drowsy, but he was just desperate enough to agree.

"Maybe."

"But you've got to *eat*. You can't take them on an empty stomach. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Skinner wants an update."

"I figured he wanted to talk to you about something like that."

"Yeah."

He eyed her warily. "What did you tell him?"

"Only as much as he needs to know, of course."

His eyes once again dropped to his desk.

"I'm sorry, Scully."

"Don't be. Just get better."

"I'll try."

"Don't try. Do it."

Mulder gave her a tiny smile. "Yes, Ma'am."