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A Fox in the Sky by Rosalita

Necessary but boring disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Walter Skinner and Dana Scully don't belong to me but, you knew that. They belong to Chris Carter and Fox Broadcasting but, you knew that. No copyright infringement is intended but, you knew that. So tell me, if you know all this, why are you reading this disclaimer?
The constellation Vulpecula is real. Since it is an autumn constellation, I had to play with the dates a little so that this story could be set at the right time of year for the Fox's appearance. I hope no one minds. Spoilers for "Avatar," "Talitha Cumi" and "Herrenvolk."
Okay, kiddies, this is definitely NC-17. Herein lies explicit sex between two men. If you are underage or offended by this, please read no further. You have been duly warned. Keep your flames to yourself. I will gladly accept constructive criticism at
Thanks to J.S. and K.C. for editing and putting up with my whining.

****************WARNING NC-17***********

A Fox in the Sky
by Rosalita

Rating: NC-17 Slash
Classification: SRA
Summary: Slash. A Mulder/Skinner romance with a little Mulderangst thrown in for good measure.


A Fox in the Sky
by Rosalita

Fox Mulder's Apartment Building
Alexandria, Virginia
September 17

The stars have stories to tell and they write their mythologies in the sky. Fox Mulder wasn't interested in mythologies on this or any other night that he went up to the roof of his building and sat staring into the darkness. The only story he wanted the stars to tell him was that of his sister. Where she was, what had happened to her and if she was all right. On that, the stars stayed silent, taunting him with knowledge they wouldn't share. This was foolishness and he knew it but he could never stop himself from doing it.

Shivering a little, he wrapped his arms around his knees. The night air was biting his skin, unusual for this time of year. September in Virginia was normally full of hot days and warm nights but winter was peeking in early this year, awaiting its opportunity. It had been nearly winter when Samantha had been taken and so, so cold. And dark. And near the holidays. So he hated the cold, and the dark, and the holidays. And everything else in this world that reminded him of that night.

It was starting, that long slide into depression that began with the falling of the leaves and peaked on November 27 and hung on straight through to the new year. This year had been a tough one. Hell, lately, they were all tough. His father's death, his own near demise, his profound guilt over Melissa's murder ... add to that a slew of rough cases and it was no wonder it was hitting him harder and earlier than usual.

Sighing, he pulled another beer from the cooler he'd hauled up to the roof with him. He thought about Scully and how she would worry and try to draw him out. Invite him to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at her mom's. She meant well but it was all he could do not to scream at her: "Leave me alone. Can't you see? This is my atonement. This is the price I have to pay for not saving her."

Engrossed in his dark musings, he didn't hear the door to the roof open or the footsteps coming toward him.

"Your neighbor told me I'd find you up here."

Mulder turned in surprise at the familiar voice. His boss, Assistant Director of the FBI Walter Skinner was standing there, an uncertain look on his face.

"What neighbor?" Mulder asked, beginning to stand.

Skinner waved him back down. "The blonde woman across the hall."

"That's Kate." Mulder shook his head. "She seems to take an interest in my comings and goings."

Walter laughed softly. "I think she likes you."

"Great," Mulder snorted. He looked at his boss closely. Skinner's demeanor and casual clothes told Mulder this wasn't an official visit. <Okay, so what is he doing here?>

"Got another one of those beers?" Skinner asked as he sat down on the blanket beside Mulder.

The younger man handed him a beer from the cooler, noting the absence of Skinner's wedding ring. Well, well. Looked like the rumors of the demise of Skinner's marriage were true. Interesting.

"It's a nice night," the AD commented lightly, sipping his beer. The small size of the blanket forced them to sit almost shoulder to shoulder. His boss' proximity and the nervous energy that Mulder could feel rolling off the other man's body was making him edgy. More than edgy, if he were to tell the truth. It was making him horny. Oh bloody hell. These were old feelings resurfacing. Yearnings he'd done battle with years ago when he thought Skinner was his enemy. A battle he'd thought he'd won. Yet here they were again.

He became aware of Skinner's expectant look. "Yeah. I like to come up here and look at the stars."

<Cut the small talk, Skinner. What do you want?>

"What do you see up there?" Skinner jerked his head upward.

"The same thing everyone sees. Stars, the moon, the occasional comet or meteor shower--that sort of thing."

Skinner chuckled knowingly, "I doubt that. You've never seen the same things other people see. You're not like other people, Mulder." It seemed he wanted to say more but didn't. His intense gaze lingered on his young agent until the other man became uncomfortable and his arousal shot up several notches.

"There's a constellation up there that reminds me of you," Skinner informed him. "Do you know which one it is?"

Not trusting himself to speak, Mulder shook his head and followed Walter's finger as he pointed to a cluster of stars. "You know what that is, right?"

"The Northern Cross." Mulder's voice sounded breathy to his own ears. This was getting really weird. What the hell was Skinner doing?

"You can't see it in the city, too much light, but there's a constellation right under the cross. It's not very well known. It's called Vulpecula, the Fox." He gave Mulder a smile that was shy and sad ... and a little anxious.

"It has a story, I take it?"

"Actually no, it doesn't. A Polish astronomer made it up in the 1600s. It used to be known as the Fox and Goose. But the goose flew away."

"Leaving the fox empty-handed," Mulder stated flatly.

"Yes, but the fox is still there." This he said in hushed tones, causing Mulder to lean in to hear him. Skinner looked at him intently and slowly reached out his hand to tangle it in Mulder's soft, dark hair.

Whispering "Fox," he leaned forward until his mouth was just a breath away from Mulder's, allowing the younger man to close the distance or not. When Mulder did, Skinner took over, licking and nipping gently at the seductive lower lip, pulling at it and then surrendering his mouth to Mulder's questing tongue.

The kiss was sweet and long and deep. Wanting, needing to be closer, Mulder pulled himself into Walter's lap. Skinner's lips were now devouring his mouth, his tongue seemingly intent on tasting every inch of it. The younger man's hand traced a path down Skinner's chest, enjoying the feel of the generous muscles through cotton. Mulder's fingers continued their journey until they landed on Skinner's crotch, delighting in the large erection they found there.

Breaking the kiss reluctantly, Mulder panted, "Do you want to go to my apartment?"

Shockingly, suddenly, he found himself tumbled into a heap on the blanket. Before he could recover, before he could even ask, Skinner was through the door and gone. Mulder was rooted to the spot, staring at the empty doorway. He rubbed his ass and winced. He was going to have one hell of a bruise, both inside and out.

*******

Ice cold, needle sharp water pelted Mulder's naked skin. He shivered, gasping as it poured over him, cooling his ardor as he tried to make sense out of what had just happened. His initial confusion had given way to anger and hurt as he replayed the scene over and over in his mind.

Skinner had been kissing him. Quite thoroughly. And apparently enjoying the hell out of it. Then he'd just dumped Mulder on his ass and left. What the hell was that all about? Did Skinner want Mulder or not? Did he realize how badly Mulder wanted him? Had wanted him for a long time? Had Skinner scared himself? The only way he'd get his answers was to talk to Skinner. And he was determined to do just that.

Walter Skinner's Office
September 26

<Very nice, Walter. You handled that so well. What are you going to do for your next trick? Kick a puppy?> Why bother? He felt like he already had. How was it that Mulder, who seemed so worldy and jaded could at the same time look so young and vulnerable? It's the eyes, he decided.

All of the pain and loneliness that Mulder kept so carefully hidden from the world was there for all to see, if they bothered to look in his eyes. Skinner was one of the few who deigned to look past the arrogant facade that Fox Mulder wore like armor. And when he looked, all he could see was the pain that he had caused.

It was Mulder's eyes that had drawn him to the man to begin with. Well, the eyes and those luscious, full lips. Okay--the eyes, the lips and those wonderful long legs. Yeah, and that sweet ass. Whatever. The point was that he had himself convinced that there was only a physical attraction. He could live with that. Ignore it.

When had he realized it was something more? When Scully was missing and he had thought that Mulder would lose his mind? When Mulder was missing in Alaska and had nearly died? That had been hard. He'd pretended that he was getting the information on Mulder's whereabouts for Scully but he'd also wanted it for himself. If Scully hadn't tracked down her partner so quickly, he would have gone there himself.

There had been so many close calls since then. Both for him and for Mulder. Laughing to himself, he wondered at how much energy he expended worrying about Mulder and protecting him. And Mulder never knew--until the other night on the roof. Skinner had been really stupid. And he'd just compounded his stupidity by hurting Mulder.

He had called Mulder in to give him an assignment. A man had gone on a shooting rampage in a fast food restaurant. People, including the perp, had reported being healed of fatal gunshot wounds by a mysterious man. Skinner didn't really want to know about it. That was Mulder and Scully's job.

Mulder had obviously wanted to talk. He'd been trying to corner Skinner for over a week. Even the handwriting on the note he handed his boss betrayed a desperate tone. Skinner had balled the note up and thrown it into the trash right in front of the other man. The look on Mulder's face reflected such pain that Walter hated himself instantly for starting something that he was unwilling to finish. He didn't want to hurt Mulder but he simply had no choice. As much as he wanted a relationship, it could never happen. If the Bureau ever found out, they'd have a field day. They'd both be out of the FBI and there would be much rejoicing in OPR. And worse, what if Cancerman found out? He shuddered to think what that Morley sucking son-of-a-bitch would do with such information.

No, it was better this way. It really was. And eventually he was going to have to make Mulder understand. Later. Right now, he intended to keep the younger man as far away from himself as he could. Just the sight of him conjured up memories of that night on the roof. Fox had looked so sad and he'd wanted to erase that sadness. Impossible. He couldn't do that any more than Mulder could erase the sadness of his failed marriage. Truly failed this time. The papers were signed. Afterward, he'd thought about going to a bar but remembered what happened last time he'd done that. Bad idea. So he drove, his route seemingly aimless, not realizing he was driving toward Mulder's apartment until he was in front of it. He'd really only wanted to talk to someone who understood pain and loneliness. Talk to the only person who'd believed in him when he'd been charged with murder and his whole world was turned upside down.

He'd never know what made him kiss Mulder but he could still taste Fox's mouth, sharp and strong like the man himself. Still feel those long, beautiful fingers trailing down his chest, squeezing his cock expertly. Wanting nothing more than to give in to Mulder's suggestion that they go downstairs, he'd suddenly panicked and all the consequences of their actions came roaring like a jet into his mind. He couldn't get away fast enough. One of them had to think clearly and it had to be him. Mulder would just have to understand that they couldn't always have what they wanted.

The ringing phone jolted Skinner back to the present. It was Kimberley. A hospital in some unpronounceable town in Rhode Island was trying to locate Agent Mulder. His mother had just been brought in. He asked her to place a call to Mulder and then, steeling himself, he delivered the news.

Mulder's Office
October 17

SRSG. The letters written in dead man's blood stared up at him from the photograph, taunting him. What did they mean? What had X been trying to tell him? X. One more person who had died for Mulder's quest.

His mind ran down his personal casualty list--Deep Throat, his father, Melissa, the Samantha clones. Samantha ... the little girl at the farm, all those little girls. His sister but not his sister. She was forever the eight year old girl she had been when she was taken. This was the girl Mulder saw in his dreams, this was the girl he envisioned when he thought of his sister. He never thought of her as grown up because to him she never had. It hadn't been rational to try to bring her back and he knew it. But he'd had to and it got her killed. An innocent little girl.

And Jeremiah Smith, where was he? When Mulder had regained consciousness, Smith was nowhere to be found. He could only assume the bounty hunter had killed him too. So he had failed. Smith had been his mother's last chance and he was either dead or far away.

And there it was. It seemed he'd spent a good part of his life chasing things only to see them disappear just when he thought he could touch them. People, evidence, opportunities. They all flew away.

Mulder shook his head and tried to refocus on the letters SRSG but he couldn't concentrate. He was having a lot of trouble concentrating lately.

The psychologist in him warned, <Depression will do that to you. Shut up. I'm dealing with this.>

Yeah, right. Scully was so worried she hardly let him out of her sight. She knew he was falling apart. He knew it too.

Leaning back in his chair, he wrapped his arms around his chest, trying to put up a barrier between himself and the darkness that was threatening to smother him. Not for the first time, he thought of surrendering himself to it. Then there would be no more pain and no one else would die because of him. His mother would be next. She was deteriorating daily. As much as he expected the phone call, he feared it. When it came, he'd be alone. Oh, he'd still have Scully, but it was just a matter of time before they got her again. Leaving him with absolutely nothing.

Hot tears scalded his face and he could hear his own anguished sobs. A knock sounded at the door and he heard it but he couldn't gather the energy to acknowledge it. Not that it mattered. The knocker was opening the door. It was too big to be Scully. No, it was definitely male. Through blurry eyes, he could see Skinner standing, reaching out for him. He pushed away.

"What are you doing here?" The pathetic sounding voice was barely recognizable to its owner.

"I was working late. I noticed your car in the garage so I came down to see why you were still here." The older man paused, then said quietly, "Why don't you give that to me?"

"That what?" Mulder had no idea what Skinner was talking about until he followed the man's eyes and saw the gun. It was in his right hand, the black ugliness and the stinging cold of the steel an accusation. He knew what Skinner was thinking. The hell of it was he didn't even remember picking it up off the desk.

"I wasn't going to use it. Please don't tell Scully," he pleaded, his voice edgy as he handed Skinner the weapon. "Please."

Skinner tucked the gun into his pocket but he wasn't making any promises. "Let me take you home. You're exhausted. You need to get some sleep."

Sleep? That was a joke. The nightmares that assaulted him had become so relentless that he was sleeping only a couple of hours a night.

"I can't. I still have work to do. I have to find out what this means." <Don't take this away from me. It's all I have.>

"Mulder," Walter started as if speaking to a recalcitrant child. "You're very tired. You can't be getting anything accomplished in this state. Let me take you home." It was an order now, not a request.

"I can get home on my own," Mulder said through clenched teeth. Skinner had a lot of nerve thinking he could just walk in here acting like nothing had happened between them.

"Are you willing to take the chance that you might fall asleep at the wheel? You may not care if you die but what if someone else does? Do you want to be responsible for that?"

"No, I've already been responsible for too much death," the agent said quietly, suddenly so tired he could scarcely get the words out.

Words spoken with such conviction told the tale. Mulder had honed his talent for guilt to a very fine edge. The man blamed himself for everything and Skinner had just handed him more ammunition.Brilliant.

Mentally kicking himself, he reached for the younger man and pulled him to his feet, expecting a protest. It didn't come. Mulder was too tired to even get mad when Skinner put an arm around his waist and helped him to the door.

The ride to Mulder's apartment was silent. Fighting the urge to touch, Skinner stole a glance over at his passenger. The younger man was slumped in the seat, eyes open, staring at nothing.

Seeing Mulder with his gun in his hand had scared Skinner more than any sight he'd ever seen, including Nam, including the old woman.Visions of Mulder slumped over his desk, blood pooling around him assailed his imagination until he pushed the thought aside. Fox Mulder was on the edge. His muttering incoherence in the hospital corridor and his behavior since that day was proof of it. His quiet, heartbroken weeping on Scully's shoulder had torn Skinner apart.

Skinner had wanted to comfort Mulder so badly that day. He wanted to do so now. Hold him, touch him, console him, protect him, heal him. But he'd slammed shut the door on that, hadn't he? Through his own cowardice, he'd pushed Mulder so far away, had hurt him so badly that he'd probably never have another chance.

The funny thing was, he'd been just about ready to go to Fox and apologize for his stupidity. Tell the other man that he wanted to be with him and damn the OPR, the FBI and Cancerman. And then this had happened. He looked over at Mulder again. He was asleep.

Easing the car to a stop in front of Mulder's building, he gently shook the younger man's shoulder, "Fox, wake up."

Mulder turned his head toward the voice and opened his eyes but his expression was blank. Skinner came around to his side and opened the door. Helping him out of the car, he said, "Come on, let's get you to bed."

Getting Mulder into his apartment was more of a challenge than he'd thought it would be. The poor kid was totally exhausted and barely able to move under his own steam. Having successfully maneuvered him to his bedroom, he undressed him and put him in the bed. Throughout this operation, Mulder had been seemingly oblivious but once he hit the bed, he pushed himself back up.

"Not the bed, " he slurred.

"Yes, the bed," Skinner replied sternly and was surprised when Mulder meekly laid back down and was asleep almost instantly.

Not wanting to leave Mulder alone, Skinner settled himself in the threadbare armchair in the corner of the room and kept vigil over the sleeping agent. Dozing lightly, Walter awakened instantly with Mulder's every noise and movement, ready should the younger man cry out or have a nightmare. But Mulder slept, if not peacefully, at least through the night.

The fierce morning light stabbed Walter's closed eyes and woke him. He unfolded himself from the chair, noiselessly working out the painful kinks in his neck and back while trying not to moan. Mulder was curled on his side, the covers pulled up over his head. All Skinner could see was a mound of brown hair but the younger man's even breathing told him he was still asleep.

Moving quietly, Skinner walked out to the kitchen where he bumbled around the unfamiliar room looking for coffee. He finally found it after opening several nearly empty cabinets. What does this man do for food?

Presently, he heard the sounds of Mulder moving around. The shower turning on and then off; drawers and closets opening and closing. The younger man wandered into the kitchen and leaned against the refrigerator, his eyes on Skinner as the AD fruitlessly searched for food.

"Why are you still here?" Mulder asked curtly.

"I didn't want to leave you alone." Skinner turned to face his agent, sensing his embarrassment, waiting for the walls to go up.

Deep, dark lines shadowed eyes that had long ago lost their spark. Despite several hours of sleep, exhaustion still slowed Mulder's movements. He looked like a man who was stretched to his limits and was near to snapping. Stubble rode his cheeks and his hair was uncombed. His suit looked at least a size too big. Not surprising, he'd been working non-stop since his mother's stroke. He didn't have time to eat.

"Well, you can leave now." Cold. Distant. Fearful.

"Can I at least have a cup of coffee first?" Skinner had no intention of leaving until they talked.

"Suit yourself. I'm going to work." Mulder turned and headed for the door.

Skinner nodded. "Well, you could do that but I still have your gun. And I'm not giving it back until we talk. Now, how about that cup of coffee?"

Mulder pulled out a chair, nearly toppling it in his haste, and sat, grabbing the pot and pouring coffee into his cup. Green fire blazed in his eyes and his jaw muscle twitched in a morse code revealing his anger.

"I think you need to talk to someone." Skinner plunged right in, no bullshit. "Not a bureau shrink, that way it won't be on your record."

"No!" Mulder stood abruptly, knocking over his chair. "You can keep my gun," he said as he headed once more toward the door.

Skinner was suddenly in front of him, blocking his way. "Damn it, Mulder. Don't make me order this. I'd rather you do it voluntarily. You need help. I'd be derelict in my duties if I..."

"Fuck you and your duties!" Mulder was shouting now. "What am I supposed to say to a shrink? I'm depressed because a shape shifting alien killed another shape shifting alien who was going to heal my mother? I'd get locked up. Hell, you don't even believe it, do you?"

"What I believe isn't at issue here. I found you last night with a gun in your hand. You are showing symptoms of depression. Technically, I should order you off field duty and into therapy. I should also take your gun."

"I told you I wasn't going to use it!" Mulder's desperation was palpable now.

He should take the gun. He had every reason in the world to do it. Mulder was unstable. If anything happened to him, Skinner would never forgive himself. On the other hand, if he took the gun, it would go on Mulder's record. Which meant mandatory therapy. And Mulder was right, he could never tell the truth about what was causing his depression. He would be locked up. Skinner sighed. If he could only get Mulder to understand his position, maybe he could help his agent.

"I have a responsibility to the Bureau," he reasoned. "If I know an agent is in trouble, I'm obligated to make sure ..."

"Is that all you care about?" Mulder interrupted bitterly. "Your goddamned duty?"

Suddenly, he was so close that Skinner could feel the heat of his anger. He could swear those hazel eyes were staring into his soul as Mulder asked the question again, each word carefully enunciated so there would be no mistaking his meaning.

"Is that all you care about?"

Oh shit. Time to put up or shut up, Walter. He knew what he wanted. The question was, did he have the courage to pursue it? Expectation and fear warred with one another on Mulder's face. He made his decision.

"No, it isn't. Seeing you with that gun in your hand scared me. *I* don't want to lose you, Fox."

All of the anger seemed to drain from the other man, leaving behind the hurt. "If you feel that way why did you leave me that night? Do you have any idea how much it hurt to see you throw away my note? How could you do that to me? I trusted you."

That stung. Skinner knew how hard it was for Mulder to trust people. He'd worked hard to gain Mulder's trust and he had very nearly destroyed it.

"I'm sorry I hurt you. I had reasons for what I did, some of them were even good. But let's not change the subject, we can talk about this later and we will. Right now, I'm more interested in getting a promise from you."

"What?" Mulder asked warily.

"I know how important it is for you to find out what SRSG means. I know you want to find a way to help your mother. I don't want to take that away from you. I also don't want to get a phone call in the middle of the night telling me that you're dead. Imagine having to explain that to your mother when she wakes up."

One corner of Mulder's mouth turned up slightly in gratitude.

"So, I won't make you go to a psychologist--this time." Walter continued, "But you have to promise me that you'll tell me or Scully if you're feeling like you want to hurt yourself. I want you to give me your word." Walter knew that, once given, Mulder would never go back on his word.

"You have it. It's okay. I don't want to hurt myself. I don't know what happened last night. I was tired, frustrated, overwhelmed and yes, depressed. But I haven't given up. I'm a long way from giving up."

Saying it made it true and for the first time since his mother's stroke, Mulder felt the darkness partially lifting. With this man and his best friend by his side, maybe he could make it. He pulled Skinner into an abrupt, intense kiss that was filled with promise.

Walter broke the kiss with a reluctant groan. "I have to go. I've got to go home and change before I go to the office. Why don't you let me cook dinner for you tonight? You're obviously not eating right."

Mulder liked the shy quality in Skinner's voice and to tease him a little he said, "Is this a date?"

Clearing his throat, Skinner said, "If you want it to be."


That night, Skinner watched Mulder pick at his steak. They sat in Mulder's kitchen and he listened attentively while Mulder described another frustrating day spent looking for the elusive meaning of SRSG.

"You'll find it." Skinner touched the younger man's hand reassuringly.

"When? When it's too late? When my mother is ..." He couldn't say it.

"Have you ever stopped to think that it may have nothing to do with your mother?"

"Of course. But X told Scully that my mother had to be protected. So, it's possible that it does have something to do with her." He pushed his face into his hands and rubbed his eyes. "I went to see her today. She's still deteriorating."

"I'm sorry. Do you want to talk about it?"

"No, not really." He got up abruptly and started clearing the dishes away.

<Oh no you don't, you're not shutting me out,> Walter thought as he got up and crossed the room. Taking the plate from Mulder's hand, he turned the taller man to face him. "Talk to me," he said.

Mulder tried to turn away but Skinner's grip on him held him in place. "Let go of me, damn it," he hissed.

Reluctantly, Skinner let go but blocked his way so he couldn't leave. "Fox, I want to help but I can't if you won't talk to me."

"I know." He said softly, shoulders sagging in defeat. "It's just not easy for me. I've always had to hide so much. Dad..." his voice caught and he took a deep breath. "My father never wanted me or my mother to talk to anyone about anything. And I was never supposed to talk about Samantha. Not even to him." He laughed without humor. "*Especially* not to him."

"I understand but, you have to try, Fox. I meant it when I said I didn't want to lose you." Taking Mulder's hand, Skinner led him into the living room and sat him on the couch. The older man took a seat in the chair opposite.

Mulder took a deep breath and began, "I feel so damned helpless. I look at my mother and I see her dying and there's nothing I can do. Nothing. Jeremiah Smith was her only chance and all I had to do was bring him to her and I couldn't even do that. I allowed myself to get sidetracked. I..." He broke off, swallowed, then continued. "I put my quest above my mother's life. I let Smith drag me toCanada. I should have taken him to my mother first. But he said the magic word, "Samantha" and off I went like a dog on a leash. Now he's gone and my mother is going to die. And when she does, I'll be alone."

Hearing those words nearly broke Skinner's heart. He got up and went to sit next to the younger man. Gently taking him in his arms he said, "You won't be alone. I'll be here and so will Scully. I know it's hard losing your family. My mother and father died several years ago and I'm an only child. But you'll get through this. You know it's not your fault that your mother is ill, don't you? You have no control over that. And she may recover, Mulder, it happens."

"I know." He turned in Walter's arms and laid his head on the man's broad chest. "I'm trying to keep that in mind."

The phone rang. Mulder jumped and stared at it as if it were a cobra ready to strike. Walter rubbed his back in delicate patterns, trying to reassure him. He heard the younger man's sharp breath before he picked up the phone.

He watched as Fox's expression changed from one of deep apprehension to one of renewed hope. He turned to Skinner and mouthed "Scully" before returning to his conversation.

Mulder hung up the phone and dashed into the bedroom. Skinner followed. The agent had pulled a suitcase out from under the bed and was throwing clothing into it haphazardly.

"Scully thinks she's figured out what SRSG means." He spoke without pausing in his task or even looking at his boss. "Special Representative to the Secretary General of the UN. We're flying to New York. Can you keep an eye on my mother? I'll call you when we get there."

"Of course. I'll get your travel vouchers in order," the older man said dryly. Mulder finished his packing, grabbed an already packed suit bag. Pausing in front of Skinner, he said "Did I ever tell you what a great boss you are?"

"No, you never have." Mulder flashed him an almost maniacal grin and gave him a short but hungry kiss.

"You're a great boss."

Walter watched the younger man leave, praying that he found what he was looking for in New York.

New York City
October 21

Dana Scully sat in her hotel room randomly opening and closing the files in front of her. Her concentration was shot. She kept looking over at the stack of phone messages from Skinner that lay like a threat on the table. They were all for Mulder. There could only be one reason for the calls.

The depression that had lifted somewhat four days ago was settling on her partner again and was getting worse as each day brought new frustration and a new door slammed in their faces. And now this. She hoped he'd survive it. She hoped he'd let her help him.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the door flying open and her partner's shouts. "Scully! Scully!"

He barreled through the connecting door between their rooms. "Oh good, you're here. Look," he said, placing a photograph on the table in front of her.

She looked at the photo and then up at her partner. The spark in his eyes that had long been missing was back. It wasn't as bright as normal, but it was there. She hated to be the one to put it out.

"An assistant to one of the SRSGs gave me this. She said..."

"Mulder." Scully interrupted him quietly.

"Hmmm?" he grunted distractedly as he plowed through several piles of paper on the table.

"Mulder, Skinner called. Five times. He wants to talk to you."

He froze. His face went so white she thought he might pass out. Instead, he groped blindly for the chair and slumped into it. His eyes closed and stayed closed. When he opened them, they were black with pain.

"Do you want me to make the call?" She hated this. Why now? Why couldn't God or whatever give this man a break?

"No." A cracking whisper. "I'll call." Reaching for the phone, he hesitated before picking it up and dialing the number with a shaking finger.

Scully sat on the bed and waited. Waited for the tears, the guilt, the self-recrimination. Or worse, the silence as her partner completely shut himself off from her. None of this came to pass and she was astonished to see the slow, blinding smile that spread across his face. The anguish that had been in his eyes just a moment ago had become a rarely seen joy.

She heard him murmur into the phone, "I'll be on the next flight. Thank you, Walter"

<Walter? What's up with...> was all she had time to think before she was pulled off the bed and hugged hard and spun in a circle.

Mulder stopped spinning her and held her at arm's length. "My mother's all right! She's going to be okay."

"What?" Scully couldn't keep the bewilderment out of her voice. Just yesterday, the doctor had told Mulder that it could be any time. And now she had recovered?

Her partner was on the phone to the airport. Turning to her, he placed a hand over the mouthpiece and said excitedly, "Pack, Scully. We've got to go. I'll explain everything on the plane."

Mulder's Apartment Building
November 9

After giving Mulder a chance to set down his bags, Walter held out his hand, "Come on, I have a surprise for you. Close your eyes."

"Why?" He didn't intend it, but the word came out suspiciously.

"I said, close your eyes." Walter repeated authoritatively. "Good. Now keep them closed."

The AD hesitated momentarily, his eyes fully on the young man who stood, eyes closed, a slight smile on his face. The joy of his mother's recovery had lightened him. He seemed younger, happier. The weeks spent taking care of his mother, who was progressing nicely and somewhat miraculously, had obviously been good for him. He even had a new haircut which accentuated his good looks and had nearly made Walter stop breathing when he'd seen him in the airport.

When Mulder had called him from Massachusetts this morning, Skinner had been surprised. He hadn't really talked to Mulder since delivering the news about his mother. He'd been even more surprised when the agent had asked him to pick him up from Dulles.

"What, is Scully busy?" He'd asked.

"I didn't ask Scully. I'm asking you." A simple answer and yet, full of meaning. So Walter had spent most of the day planning this surprise. He wanted everything to be perfect.

"Walter, are you still there?" Walter snapped back and met soft laughter and a devastating smile.

Walter pulled him close and held him, like he'd wanted to do weeks ago. Unspeaking, they stood, Walter concentrating on the feel of the younger man's body against his. Mulder's chest moving evenly against his own, long legs gently brushing his, lean arms wrapped around his waist, hands pressed against his back. He moved back; Mulder's eyes were still closed.

"I thought I was getting a surprise?"

"You are; it's on the roof." He tugged Mulder gently to the door, up the stairs and on to the roof.

Skinner stopped him in front of a table laden with Cornish game hens, broiled new potatoes, asparagus, a salad, cheese, crackers and wine. Candles flickered on the ledge of the roof casting lovely shadows. The caterers had done everything exactly right. "Okay, you can open your eyes now."

"What is this?" Mulder asked, clearly astonished, as they both sat down at the table.

"Dinner." Skinner said, a little obviously. Damn, he was nervous. What if Mulder laughed at him?

Mulder didn't laugh. Instead he said quietly, "Before this goes too far, I need to know something. Are you going to dump me on my ass again?"

Skinner sighed. "I'm so sorry I did that to you. I thought I had good reasons but, really I was just scared."

"Of what?"

"My feelings--the implications, the complications. That was the day the divorce was final. I was upset, I wanted to be with someone. You. I wanted to be with you. I've been attracted to you for so long. It solidified when I was arrested. You were the only one who believed in me. Even Sharon didn't believe I was innocent. She told me that she asked you if I'd done it." Walter laughed a little but it was a laugh intended to shut out pain.

"We made another go at it but it didn't work. I guess I knew it wouldn't but I had to try. I really did love her. But she wanted me to change and I couldn't. She never understood. She wanted me to open up and talk to her. How could I tell her about the things that haunt me? About things I saw in the war and in the FBI. I couldn't give her my nightmares. So that night, I came looking for you. You understood. You had seen those things and so much more. I was so nervous. I didn't know if you felt the same way. Then we kissed and you groped me."

Skinner smiled at the memory and then continued, "It scared the hell out of me. I was afraid of the consequences of a relationship with you. I didn't want to give Cancerman or the OPR any more ammunition to use against you or me. So I left. I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you."

"Walter, you can't live your life worrying about consequences. I don't" He grinned a little. "Well, maybe I'm not the best example."

Skinner reached across the table and stroked Mulder's jaw with the backs of his fingers. "Tell you what," he said softly. "I'll try to worry about consequences less, if you'll try to worry about them more."

Chuckling, Mulder said, "Sounds like a deal."

Skinner looked down at their untouched food. "Eat up," he said. Then, grinning lasciviously, he added, "You'll need your strength."

"Well, they say the way to a man's pants is through his stomach," Mulder joked around a mouthful of potatoes.

Walter snorted a small amount of wine through his nose. "That's the way to a man's heart, Mulder."

"Oh, is that what it is?" the younger man replied innocently.

"Yes," Walter said seriously. "But I want both. I want into your pants and your heart."

"It won't be easy, Walter. I'm not good at relationships." Understatement of the year.

"In case you hadn't noticed, my track record isn't exactly great either. Why don't we just take things one step at a time?"

Mulder allowed the older man to kiss him then, gently at first, then gaining in intensity as their tongues danced together. When the kiss broke, Mulder looked up at the sky.

"What are you looking at?"

"I'm looking to see if the fox got the goose back." Mulder said wryly.

Skinner smiled at him affectionately, a new surprise for Fox forming in his head. Later. Now, all he wanted to do was kiss this brilliant, beautiful man again and again. So he did. He kissed Mulder until they were both light headed.

Mulder led the way back to the apartment, anxious to get Skinner inside. The anticipation of touching the other man and being touched by him was unbearable. Once there, he pushed Skinner up against the wall and kissed him hard, running his hands underneath the older man's sweatshirt, feeling the strength of his body under the satiny skin.

Mulder could scarcely believe he was being allowed to do this. Finally, something was going his way. It didn't matter that, undoubtedly, it would be taken away from him, like everything else. Pleasing Walter in the here and now was all that mattered.

Hands gliding over the broad chest, he pulled the shirt up over his boss' head. Staring appreciatively at the well cared for body, he took a perfect nipple into his mouth and suckled. Skinner's chest moved slightly in a sigh against his mouth.

Oh so slowly, he moved down the impressive body, lips kissing, tongue licking, teeth nipping down, down until he was on his knees in front of his lover. Mulder was anxious to get a look at the penis he'd only briefly encountered that night on the roof. Grinning saucily up at Walter, he undid the man's jeans and was delighted to find he wore no underwear.

"Forget something, Walter?" he teased.

"Didn't want to waste any time." The reply was punctuated with gasps as Mulder slowly pulled down Skinner's jeans to reveal a cock every bit as large as Mulder had imagined. And, he admitted to himself, he had imagined it quite a bit.

Taking Walter's cock in his hand, he lapped at the head, tonguing the slit before engulfing the entire thing. He alternated stroking and sucking, reveling in the hearty moans he was bringing from his boss. He ran his clever tongue around the balls, sucking them gently until Walter begged him to take his cock again. Which he did, wrapping his arms around Skinner's waist, taking as much of the penis into his mouth as he could.

His own cock was painfully hard and he pressed it against Skinner's leg. He sucked hard on Skinner's cock, using his tongue and teeth to whip his normally reticent superior into a frenzy. Skinner had his fingers wound in Mulder's dark hair and was thrusting into the agent's eager mouth.

Walter was getting close and, wanting to taste his lover's life as it poured into his mouth, Mulder intensified his sucking and licking. Skinner had other ideas and he pulled Mulder's head up. Kneeling down on the floor in front of the younger man, he gave him another of his soul snatching kisses. Mulder found himself pushed gently to the floor and relieved quickly of his clothing. Laying his body full-length on top of Mulder's, Walter stunned the man with still more kisses, trailing them over the slightly muscled chest, pausing at the large, dusky nipples. Laughing at Fox's reaction to having his nipples licked, he asked "Like that?" and not-so-tenderly bit one.

Gasp. "My nipples are my weak spot."

"Really?" A wicked grin emerged and Skinner spent long minutes licking, pinching and biting Mulder's nipples until the agent was begging for mercy. Relenting, his fingers traced the line of dark hair that began at Mulder's navel and ended in a nest of curling hair. Oh yes. A deft tongue soon followed the same path, stopping to plant a few soft kisses at the base of the pulsing sex before he went on to lick and suck at it momentarily. Only momentarily. Mulder moaned in disappointment as the wet warmth that surrounded his cock moved away. Skinner wrapped his arms around Mulder's slender waist and pulled him into a sitting position on his lap. This was familiar.

"Are you going to drop me on my ass this time?" He was still scared. He wanted desperately to trust Skinner. After years of trusting only himself, then trusting only one, he wasn't sure if there was enough in him to give another.

"No, I have other plans for your cute little ass." Skinner lowered himself backwards to the floor, bringing Fox with him so that they lay flesh to hot, slick flesh. Stroking the firm flesh of Mulder's ass, he rocked his body, sending their erections into an erotic battle. Mulder sighed and buried his face in Skinner's neck, sucking on it.

"Don't you dare give me a hickey," the AD admonished. "At least not where anyone can see it."

The dark-haired man started to speak but could only gasp when Skinner touched between his ass cheeks, teasing the small hole. A question, "Yes?" rumbled in his ear. And the answer, "Oh yes."

Walter reached for his pants and dug in his pockets, pulling out a condom and a tube of KY. He coated his fingers with the gel and wrapping Fox in his free arm, pinned him down on top of him. He slowly pushed one finger inside and felt for the tiny gland. Screaming and clinging to Skinner's massive shoulders, Mulder writhed in teeth-gritting pleasure.

<I'm going to die> Mulder thought as his lover pushed the second finger in and began to twist them around. Oh god, oh god. He pushed up to meet the delicious hand but as soon as he did, it was taken away. Oh no.

Mulder rolled onto his stomach at Walter's urging and spread his legs.The sound of the condom being removed from it's wrapper was startlingly loud. Or perhaps it was just that he was so excited. Looking over his shoulder, he watched the older man roll the condom onto his cock and grease himself.

A delicious weight settled on him and he could feel the other man's heart beating wildly against his back. His own heart leapt in response when he felt the head of Walter's cock caress the opening to his body, followed by a delicious pressure. Walter was being gentle, advancing slowly, allowing Mulder to take him at this own pace.

The large cock eased along his insides, filling him completely and he let out a loud moan and lifted his hips, ready to take it all. Walter obliged and slid all the way in.

They lay together unmoving and connected. Seeming to sense that Mulder was ready, Skinner put his arm around Mulder's chest and rolled them over onto their sides, throwing a leg over Mulder's hip. Slowly, slowly, he began rocking and thrusting, gradually picking up speed and settling into a delirious rhythm. Using one hand to lightly stroke Mulder's cock, his other hand caressed the long, lean body that was his now.

His body tenderly cradled by his lover, Mulder was adrift in exquisite sensation. He could no longer think, only feel, as he was penetrated and stroked, his nipples petted and twisted. Skinner's tongue traced lazy patterns on the back of his neck, licking and nuzzling his hair like a cat. None of his lovers had ever been so intent on pleasing him. It was almost like being worshiped. And it was too much. He screamed as he came and came, hips bucking, impaling himself deeper on Skinner's cock.

Skinner held his lover tight, pleased at the shattering orgasm he'd given his oh-so-in-control agent. He waited for Mulder to quiet down, then slipped out of him. He stood and extended his hand to the younger man. "The floor's killing me," he said. "I'm too old for this."

Mulder's snorted and allowed Skinner to pull him up and lead him into the bedroom. He made to lay down on his stomach but Skinner stopped him. "I want to look at you," he said.

Mulder laid down on his back and Skinner knelt on the bed beside him and simply looked. Savoring the slender body, his brown eyes travelled from the dark tousled hair to the large, well-formed feet. As if trying to memorize the body before him, he studied the angles of the handsome face, the slightly defined chest with its smattering of hair, the flat stomach, the long, long legs and the lovely cock, beginning to swell and flush anew under Skinner's scrutiny. Beautiful. His own cock was aching and ready for completion.

He shifted until he was between Mulder's legs and searched for the KY jelly until he saw it in Mulder's hand.

"Thank God one of us remembered," the agent said dryly.

Skinner applied more of the lubricant to himself and to Mulder and lifting the agent's legs, he once again entered his lover. So tight, he was so tight, so hot. Skinner moaned as his balls brushed that silky, firm ass with each thrust. Expressive green eyes met his and never wavered as Mulder matched his movements enthusiastically.

Then he was coming, shouting and shuddering and happily overcome with the force of it. Collapsing on his partner and withdrawing, he buried his head in Mulder's neck, panting.

They lay in a tangled heap of arms and legs, neither ready to move just yet. Skinner's face was still nestled in Mulder's neck and all Mulder could see was the top of his bare head. He'd wondered for a long time what it would feel like under his hand. So he stroked it. And then, he did it again.

"This is weird." Oh god, he hadn't meant to say it out loud.

"What, my head?" Skinner asked, lifting his head from Mulder's neck and looking down at the younger man, who was embarassed beyond belief.

But Skinner didn't seem angry, so he continued. "I've never had a bald lover. It feels strange." He smiled in apology.

"It's okay. How many male lovers have you had?" Not jealous, just curious.

"Not many. I had a bad experience with a woman in England so I gave up on them for a while."

"Want to tell me about it?" Walter began toying with the patch of hair in the center of Mulder's chest.

"Phoebe was a first rate mindfucker. I was really young and really stupid. She beat me up emotionally and I always came back for more."

"Phoebe?" Walter said, rolling the name around, trying to place it. "Not that Scotland Yard detective on the Cecil L'ively case?"

"That's her." The bitch.

"I didn't realize you two had a history."

"What we had was a sick relationship." Change the subject. "What about you?"

A teasing twinkle flared in Skinner's eyes. "You mean have I had any sick relationships?"

Rolling his eyes, Mulder answered, "No, men."

"I had a lover in Nam and another before I met Sharon but none since. And neither was as good as you."

Mulder groaned as Skinner touched the tip of his tongue to his right nipple and began stroking his still-erect cock with a feathery touch. "Well, you certainly haven't lost your touch."

Afton Mountain, Virginia
December 13

Walter stood at the window and watched Fox standing at the edge of the dock, his head back, looking at the stars. Walter smiled, knowing what the younger man was looking for. Bringing Fox up to this cabin had been a good idea. His lover had made it through the anniversary of Samantha's disappearance but Christmas was always hard on him. For the first time in years, Mulder was going to spend the holiday with his mother. Walter felt a pang of sadness that they wouldn't spend their first Christmas as a couple together. But Fox needed this time with his mother to become a family again. Maybe they could begin to heal one another.

Even from where he stood, he could see Mulder shivering in the cold. Stubborn man, he didn't have a coat on. Skinner grabbed the blanket that draped the couch and went outside to join his lover. Walter came up behind him and wrapped the blanket and his arms around him. "Looking for the Fox?"

Mulder didn't take his eyes off the sky. "I should be able to see it, right? It's dark enough here, isn't it?"

"Yeah." Walter pointed his finger at the Northern Cross. "See the Cross? Look right under it. See it?"

Mulder nodded, "Yeah, I see it. So that's it, huh? Not much to look at."

"Disappointed?" Skinner nuzzled into his hair and pulled him back into his embrace.

"A little."

Skinner smiled. He was continuously awed by Mulder's childlike qualities. "Come back inside," he whispered in his ear. "I want to make love to you in front of the fire. I promise you'll see stars that won't disappoint you."

"Oh? Are you going to put me into orbit?"

"I'll do my best."

Mulder gave the sky one last look before turning to his lover. With a teasing wink he said, "Hey, I think the Fox just got the goose back."

End