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Steal Your Fire Away - Part 5

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Steal Your Fire Away - Part 5

Steal Your Fire Away - Part 5

by Claire Dobbin


Notes: The previous sections of this story and be read here:- http://slashcity.net/claired/X%20Files%20page.htm Disclaimer: No, they are not mine, but they will respect me in the morning! Thanks to my betas - Bertina and Anika for patience, time and interest.

Steal Your Fire Away
Part Five

When Skinner turned the key in the door and stepped into the hallway he noticed, for the first time, that the house smelled like home. He took his key from the lock and closed the door behind him with a grateful sigh. He'd spent the weekend working and for convenience sake had stayed in Bureau accommodations close to the Hoover. So it was good to be home, even if having no Alex there to greet him, made him feel lonelier than he had in the anonymous apartment.

Several months before it had been agreed that Alex would fly down to join the Svetlov Easter celebrations in Florida, and though he was glad that Alex's relationship with his family continued to strengthen, the four days they had been apart had passed very slowly for Skinner.

At least he'd managed to get a great deal done in the quiet hours spent in the office after the bustling day shift was gone. So much so, that the backlog of work, generated by the transition from his old job to his new, was completely cleared and he could finally make good on his promise to Alex and ease back on the number of hours he was putting in daily

Hanging up his raincoat in the hall closet, he carried his weekend bag and a bundle of letters from the mailbox through the living room and dining room to the kitchen, adjusting the thermostat on his way. He wanted the house to be warm for Alex returning north from Florida, where spring was much further advanced. He dropped the mail onto the table and went to the utility room to put his laundry in the washer. Back in the kitchen, he took off his jacket and loosened his tie. A glance at the kitchen clock told him there was plenty of time before he needed to start dinner so he took a beer from the fridge and settled down at the table to go through the mail.

The letters were quickly sorted into three piles, his own, Alex's and the junk. He tried to ignore the seven white business envelopes addressed to Alex and instead to concentrate on his own, but his eyes kept being drawn back to them, so when he had given his bills and statements a cursory glance, he set them aside and picked up the letters for Alex. He shuffled them, looking at the corporate logos. None of them looked promising. Tossing them back onto the table, he leaned back in the chair and took a long swallow of the beer.

They'd both known that it wasn't going to be easy for Alex to find a job, but neither had anticipated just how demoralizing and depressing it would turn out to be. It had taken an entire weekend to craft his resume, so that, with no more than a little creative bending of the truth, a few omissions and a flexible approach to dates, they had a document that read well and was credible.

Once it was ready Alex spent his days trawling the newspaper ads, employment agencies and the internet for vacancies in computing or security. He'd already filled in over a hundred applications and attended a dozen interviews, all of them for jobs in the security sector and none of them producing anything other than to leave him worn out and edgy.

Almost from the beginning both of them realised what the problem was, though neither one was willing to put it into words. It was too early and too hurtful to admit the possibility of failure. But, whichever way he looked at it, Skinner couldn't see a way around the plain truth that while Alex could make a computer sit up and beg, he had none of the qualifications in IT that could get him beyond the application stage, and that faced with the reality of his disability at interview no security company was going to hire him.

The galling thing for Skinner was that he had a solution to the problem. With the contacts he had built up over the years he could put in a good word for Alex with any number of blue chip companies. But he knew without asking that such a solution would not be acceptable to Alex, any more than Alex's solution had been acceptable to him, for when he'd found him circling ads for 'third shift security personnel' he'd taken the paper from him with a firm, "No."

The noisy ring of the phone interrupted his train of thought and he thankfully put the problem to the back of his mind. He hoped it was Alex. They had only spoken on the phone twice over the weekend. Skinner had not wanted to tie up too much of Alex's time with his family, so he'd restricted himself to a quick call on Thursday afternoon to check he had arrived safely and a longer, less personal one on Easter Sunday to wish the family a joyful celebration.

"Hello."

"Oh, hello Walter," Olga replied. "How are you?"

Skinner covered his disappointment and answered.

"I'm fine. Everything okay?"

"Great," she assured him, "I just need a quick word with Alex."

That awful empty feeling in the pit of the stomach hit Skinner and he leaned a hand against the wall.

"Alex isn't here right now, Olga," he said carefully.

"That's okay, I just wanted to let him know his watch is here. I found it in the bathroom when I came back from the airport. I've been expecting him to call. Hasn't he missed it yet?"

Skinner forced himself to concentrate on her words.

"He hasn't mentioned it to me," he told her truthfully. "I'll ask him to call you."

"Thanks, Walter. I'll talk to you soon."

"Olga," he said before she could hang up.

"Yes?"

Desperate to learn more without making alarm bells ring in Florida, he decided to take a chance. "Well ... it was an early start this morning."

"You can say that again. We were at the airport before six, even though the flight didn't leave until 7.45." He could hear the smile in her voice. "I guess he couldn't wait to get home, Walter."

"I guess so," he answered, his mind racing, trying to assimilate the information, trying to come up with a reason why Alex would take an earlier flight without telling him, trying not to be hurt by the knowledge that Alex wasn't in such a rush to come home to him.

"Olga, the ... um ... family get-together, it went well I take it?" he asked, searching for a reason to explain Alex's behaviour.

She gave an amused chuckle.

"So it's not just me then?"

"Excuse me?" he questioned, confused.

"It's not just me who has trouble getting information out of Alex?" she explained. "Getting him to volunteer information is like ... pulling teeth."

"Yeah," Skinner said, not distracted enough to miss the irony. "I don't think we've quite cracked the whole communication issue just yet."

"To put it mildly," she said. "But as regards the visit, it was good. I know he and Peter had a long talk out in the barn and I know it wasn't easy for either of them, but I think they are through the worst."

"That's good to know," Skinner said with a certain ambiguity. Loathe though he'd be to see Alex experience problems with his family it might be a more palatable explanation than some others that sprang to mind.

"Of course, Peter, though he doesn't see it, is having a bigger problem with the sibling rivalry thing than he is with you and Alex being ... you know ... 'in a relationship'. For him, that's just a convenient issue he can focus on."

"Really?" Skinner asked absently, his thoughts spinning off on other tangents.

"I know how it works with my own boys," she was saying. "If Alex hadn't been taken, he would have established himself at the top of the pecking order and Peter would know his place. You know the sooner they get it sorted out the better for everyone, especially Mom, who's kind of caught in the middle, trying to give them both what they need."

There was a lengthy pause in the conversation.

"Walter?" Olga said.

"Eh ... yes ... " With a conscious effort, Skinner closed down the images of flight and mayhem that were playing in his mind and forced himself to concentrate. "We should talk about this, but I need to check on dinner ... "

"Sure, Walter," she said, taking the hint that the conversation was ended. "Let me know what Alex wants to do about the watch."

"I will," he told her. "Good night."

He hung up the phone and sat down heavily at the table, a feeling of numbness overtaking him as the initial panic ebbed away. He watched the hands on the clock make their way slowly round to 6.35, the time at which Alex's plane had been scheduled to land at Dulles. When the red second hand reached twelve he roused himself, ruthlessly clamped down on the doubts and fear that filled him and began to prepare the welcome home dinner he'd planned so carefully.

Methodically he washed and chopped the vegetables and made the marinade. Somehow the ordinariness of the tasks soothed him and made it seem more likely that there was a perfectly simple explanation for the earlier flight, that Alex was on his way home and that soon they'd be sitting down to dinner together laughing about the misunderstanding.

He clung onto that hope until the phone rang again, its shrill note causing him to drop the knife into the sink with a clatter as he reached for the receiver before it could ring a second time.

"Walter?"

"Yes, Alex."

"I'm going to be late getting home."

"What's the problem?" He had trouble recognising the calm voice that asked the question as his own.

"There's something I need to deal with. Something unresolved ... from a long time ago ... something I can't leave any longer. It's just that it's taking longer than I thought."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm okay. I can handle this ... and I want you to know nothing's going to happen that you need to worry about."

"That's good to know, Alex. Is there anything I can do to -"

"Trust me?"

Skinner froze in position, his hand almost crushing the phone.

It was crunch time. All the talk and the sentiment and the promises came down to this moment.

He swallowed hard.

"I trust you, Alex."

"Thanks, Walter. I won't let you down."

There were a few seconds of tense silence and when Alex did speak again it was only to end the call quickly.

"I've got to go. I'll be home as soon as I can."

The line went dead.

Skinner hung up the phone and stared at it.

Fuck it, he thought, what the hell is going on?

But the anger he felt was more directed at himself than Alex. Why hadn't he asked the questions? Why had he stood there like a tongue-tied idiot? Why wasn't he lifting the phone to find the answers? God knows he had the means. All it would take was a single call and a priority authorisation.

But that was hardly the definition of trust.

Jaw clenched he turned away from the phone and went back to the counter top where he finished preparing the meal. With no indication of when Alex would be home, and with his own appetite long since gone he sealed the food into airtight containers and put it away in the refrigerator. Finally, he wiped the work surface clean and made himself a pot of coffee.

From here on in, he knew the drill well. A night watch filled with anxiety and caffeine was all too familiar to Walter Skinner.

ooo00O00ooo

Awareness of the presence beside the bed broke into his uneasy sleep. He opened his eyes. They stung and he had difficulty focussing in the flickering light of the muted television, but he knew it was Alex, standing there, watching him. He struggled up and turned on the lamp. The bedside clock read 3.27. His neck, after an hour of being held at an awkward angle by the bunched up pillows, protested the movement.

"Are you okay?" he asked in a sleep-filled, croaky voice.

The only response was a nod of affirmation and despite it Skinner knew that Alex was not okay. He looked like hell. Even in the warm glow of the lamp, his face looked white and drawn. His right arm was wrapped protectively around his body and he seemed to be cold. The last of the fog of sleep evaporated as Skinner threw the comforter back and got out of bed to stand beside him. He pulled Alex to him and held on tightly.

"Are you hurt?" he asked.

A shake of the head.

It didn't convince him either and he stepped back and began to strip off Alex's leather jacket to check for himself. That brought a reaction from Alex. He reached up to run his hand along Skinner's cheek.

"I need you," he whispered urgently.

"What ... ? Where the hell have you been? Do you have any idea how fucking worried - "

"Please?"

Sex was the furthest thing from Skinner's mind but the single, desolate word was enough to tell him how lost his lover was and how much he was needed. So setting aside his need to know he pulled Alex tightly against him, his mouth finding the younger man's to give him the physical comfort that words could not provide. Alex latched onto him, soaking in his closeness and his body warmth, his arm twining around Skinner's back, urging him even closer. Skinner responded by dropping his hands to Alex's ass, squeezing and working it, encouraging Alex to thrust his hips forward to meet the answering moves of his own body.

They both hardened quickly and Skinner began impatiently tugging at Alex's stubborn clothing. When he succeeded in untucking the plaid shirt from the jeans, his hands forced a way between their bodies to unbutton it, but it was much too complicated and instead he roughly jerked the sides of the shirt apart, feeling the satisfying give of the material as the buttons popped off. Alex released his hold on Skinner to allow the shirt to be stripped from his body and it hit the floor a second after the buttons bounced away noisily across the polished wood.

Taking advantage of the small breathing space that had opened up between their bodies, Skinner caught hold of the hem of Alex's undershirt and yanked it up.

Immediately Alex gave a gasp and his face contorted in pain. Skinner's hands froze, mid-movement.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"S'okay," Alex murmured before biting down on his lip.

Skinner let go of the undershirt and ran his hands over Alex's chest. He could find nothing wrong. Reaching round he did the same to his back where he felt a dampness spreading across the fabric. He stepped around Alex and despite knowing what to expect his stomach lurched uncomfortably at the sight of the old and fresh blood stains.

Gently this time, he lifted the undershirt again to find that his first rough tug had detached it from where it had been stuck to the skin of Alex's lower back, and had re-opened a myriad of little cuts. It was a mess, the skin badly grazed over an elongated darkening bruise.

"Who the fuck did this to you?" he demanded, anger replacing sexual heat.

"No one," Alex mumbled, "it's nothing - "

"It's not fucking nothing," he stated, his voice loud in his own ears. "Tell me how this happened. Who did this to you?"

"I told you no one. It was an accident. We were playing football out in the yard and I fell back against the porch steps. That's as sinister as it gets."

"This happened in Florida?" Skinner asked incredulously.

"Yeah," Alex told him, turning towards him and trying to see the injury over his shoulder at the same time. "I thought it was okay but it must have started to bleed again after my shower this morn ... yesterday morning."

Though Alex's frankness about the injury dispelled Skinner's suspicions, it did not diminish his concern. He physically turned Alex back and carefully this time, stripped off the undershirt.

"It looks raw," he commented, examining the angry, red patches of skin around the wounds. "What did your Mom put on it?"

Alex didn't answer.

"Didn't you get someone to look at this?" he asked as calmly as he could.

"I didn't want to make a whole big thing out of it. A couple of days and it will be healed."

"Yeah, right" Skinner growled. "Getting cut up like this on a farm and doing nothing about it. Where are your brains, Alex? If I didn't know for a fact that your tetanus shots are up-to-date because of the physical before you left ... " he stumbled a little "... the hospital, I'd be kicking your ass down to the emergency room."

Alex's opposition subsided and he allowed himself to be seated on the edge of the bed where Skinner removed the prosthesis.

"Stay put," he ordered and went to fetch the first aid kit.

Alex chafed at the care and attention Skinner put into cleaning the wound and taping on a dressing, but by the time it was finished he had to reluctantly admit his back was feeling more comfortable. Skinner went to the bathroom to get him a couple of painkillers, and when he returned it was to find Alex curled up on the bed, his back to the light and his arm covering his face.

He frowned at the defensive posture Alex had assumed and sat down on the bed. Leaning across the prone figure he held out the pills.

"Here," he said. "There's water on the nightstand."

Alex lifted his arm away and opened his eyes. He pulled himself upright to lean against the headboard and accepted the pills Skinner dropped into his hand. He tossed them into his mouth and drank deeply from the glass of water. Then he sat up straighter and looked at Skinner eye to eye.

"I suppose we have to talk about today," he began, his face now tinged with a greyness. "But, I really don't want to do that right - "

"Then don't," Skinner interrupted, quietly.

"But - "

"It's okay," Skinner interrupted again, taking the glass from his hand and putting it back on the nightstand. "There's time ... when you're ready."

He leaned forward and took Alex's mouth in a deliberately gentle kiss, while his hands unbuttoned and unzipped the fly of Alex's jeans. He reached inside and moved his hand coaxingly over the soft cock. Instantly Alex angled his hips up to deepen the contact and the tension flowed out from his body.

"Let's get you out of these," Skinner said, ending the kiss.

He stood up and pulled off the jeans and boxers. Tossing them onto the chair he stripped out of his own underwear and reached into the drawer for the bottle of lube. Alex had kicked the comforter out of the way and was settling himself on his back in the middle of the bed when Skinner slid in beside him, encouraging him onto his side.

"Here," he said, gathering the pillows in front of Alex. "Lean into them. I don't want you putting any pressure on your back."

Alex grunted his agreement and wrapped his arm around the soft, supporting mound as Skinner spooned in behind him, his thigh insinuating itself between Alex's legs. Lying together, they took their time, Alex doing little more than responding to the gradual and gentle arousal as Skinner's hands stimulated and readied him.

When Skinner entered him, Alex was still only half hard. Neither cared, it just gave them the chance to savour the intimacy of the act itself. As he thrust steadily and rhythmically, Skinner used his mouth to nip and lick at Alex's neck and shoulder, in between murmuring snatches about being safe and desired, and making promises that everything would be fine.

Their coming, punctuated by little sighs and gasps, was satisfying for them both, and when they were done, Skinner held Alex even closer, maintaining their connection until they fell asleep.

oo00O00oo

The following morning, Skinner dragged himself from the bed, leaving his bone-weary lover dead to the world. In the harsh light of day he found he wasn't in the mood to think about what had happened, so he boxed up all his worries and fears, choosing to leave them behind for the day, knowing that soon enough there'd be no choice but to haul them out and deal with the consequences.

After taking his shower and dressing, he stopped to glance in at Alex; still snoring softly into his pillow then headed downstairs. Alex's suitcase was in the hallway and beside it was a woven hamper. He picked it up and carried it to the kitchen. When the coffee was under way, he opened the hamper and checked inside. He recognised the contents at once and their smell brought back vivid memories of his childhood, in the days before his maternal grandmother had died and the family tie to the old country was broken.

He opened up the 'pashka' first, a sweet cheese, flavoured with vanilla and formed into a triangle. He traced the letters - XB - inscribed on its surface, before wrapping it again and putting it in the fridge. Then he took out the 'kulich', the special Easter cake. He smiled, remembering how his chubby fingers had 'helped' his grandmother's wrinkled hands to mix the candied fruit and almonds into the yeasty dough. He cut himself a slice and poured out a mug of coffee. The cake tasted as good as he remembered. It was a better start to the day than he expected, but then, like every thing else to do with Alex, it was best to be ready for the unexpected.

oo00O00oo

With the distraction of the busy day behind him, it took Walter Skinner the entire commute home to finally figure out why he felt so conflicted about the events of the previous day. Sure he felt angry and hurt at not being told of Alex's change of plans, but those feelings were intertwined with other, unexpected emotions. Most surprising of which was the realisation that what he'd said about trusting Alex was true.

He did trust Alex, and it was stunning, wonderful, breath taking. Alex had told him he wouldn't let him down and he hadn't. Whatever had happened, and Skinner was no longer sure he wanted to know what that was, Alex had been the one hurt by it. That much was very clear.

Less uplifting was the second truth laid bare, namely, how shit-scared Skinner was of the way Alex had exercised his right to act independently for the first time since leaving White Oaks. It made him feel uneasy, threatened in a way he had no right to be and that made him feel ashamed.

Not that he had any intention of allowing that to distract him from letting Alex know just how pissed off he was about the whole thing, and sooner than he expected he was parking the car in their drive and letting himself into the house, all ready to lay down the law.

Alex pounced on him before he could close the door behind him. In between frantic kisses to his mouth and face and neck, he murmured, " ... what took you so long ... I've been waiting ... thought you'd never get here ... "

Skinner, in the light of his own failings, chose to let the comments go and to concentrate instead on his enthusiastic lover, whose mood was a complete turn around from the night before. Skinner was at a loss to understand it.

"Okay, okay," he grumbled, when Alex stopped kissing him and began manhandling him out of his coat and jacket. "What's going on?"

Alex looked at him, a wide grin on his face.

"I got a job."

"What? Where? Doing what?" Skinner demanded.

Alex went back to tugging on the coat sleeve. "Help me get you out of this thing and I'll tell you," he bargained.

"Let me," Skinner said, pushing him away firmly, "otherwise we'll be here all night."

Alex stood back and watched impatiently while Skinner took off his things and hung them in the hall closet.

"So," he prompted, as he closed the closet door.

Alex caught hold of his hand and guided him to the dining room. The table was set with their best china and two of the paraffin wax candles Skinner had bought in case of emergency burned in the crystal candlesticks Olga had sent them as a house-warming gift.

Alex handed Walter a bottle of champagne, nodding towards the cork as he said, "I'll get dinner."

He went into the kitchen and opened the oven. To Skinner's great relief he took out a baking sheet stacked with cartons of Chinese food, which he carried over and placed on the table, before going back for two heated plates.

"This morning, after I'd read another bunch of fucking rejection letters, I decided to go over to the university to pick up a prospectus for next semester." He stopped opening the cartons and looked over at Skinner. "I know we hadn't discussed it, Walter, but I was beginning to think I was going to have to go back to school for a while."

Skinner nodded approval as he stripped the foil cap off the champagne.

"Anyhow," Alex continued, "the campus is real nice so I went for a walk."

He spooned a large serving of rice onto Skinner's plate.

"Did you know there's a Centre for Russian and East European Studies on campus?"

Skinner shook his head and began pushing up on the champagne cork. Alex whooped when it popped and he quickly handed Skinner a glass to catch the foaming wine that was bubbling out onto the rug.

"I didn't know either, so I had a look around."

He took the glass of wine Skinner handed him.

"Big place. The notice boards were full of stuff on cultural events as well as classes and seminars."

Skinner filled his own glass then held it out towards Alex.

"Here's to full employment," he toasted.

Alex clinked his glass with Skinner's and they both drank deeply.

"Mmmm," Alex murmured appreciatively, before continuing. "There was a demonstration of Ukrainian pysanky going on and I went to -"

"That's egg painting, right?" Skinner interrupted as he filled his plate from the cartons and wondered about just how bored Alex must have been to be a willing observer of that demonstration.

"Yeah. So, I got talking to one of the grad students giving the demo. When he realised I could speak Russian he called the centre administrator. It seems they are short of language tutors. The admin guy had one of the professors check my fluency and when it measured up he asked me to start straight away." He nodded towards the food and wine. "My first pay check."

Skinner glanced up. "This is going to be a regular job, right?"

"It'll be casual until I go through the interview, but that's not going to be a problem. They're short on translators as well as tutors, so there's plenty of work and I'm exactly what they want. I could have worked tonight; there's a social function going on for visiting academics from Kiev," he looked over at Skinner from below down swept eyelashes, "but I have other plans for tonight."

Skinner grinned at him.

"I like a man who has his priorities right," he said, lifting his glass again. "Congratulations, Alex."

They drank another toast and settled down to enjoy the food. Diverted by the unexpected celebration, Skinner found it no hardship at all to let the whole mess of the previous day slip off the agenda. So, instead of laying down the law, he sat back and shared Alex's pleasure in the simple achievement of getting a job, maybe not the one they'd planned, but a job nonetheless. An achievement that would boost his confidence and self-respect and that would mean he could begin paying his way, a stressful issue for Alex.

When the meal degenerated into outright seduction they abandoned the dishes and climbed the stairs to their bedroom. Once there, Skinner let go his hold on Alex and laughed aloud. The four remaining candles from the pack of six he'd bought for emergencies were set about on the nightstands and dresser, each one roughly glued to a saucer with a dollop of wax.

"You keep surprising me, Alex."

He caught hold of Alex and pulled him into an embrace.

Alex looked at him, unsure.

"That's good, right?"

"Sometimes. Mostly."

"Yesterday wasn't so good."

"No, it wasn't.

"I didn't say I was sorry."

"No, you didn't."

Looking a little shamefaced, Alex opened his mouth to say something then changed his mind. His expression morphed into a sly smirk.

"But, Walter, I thought to your generation being in love meant nev-"

"Asshole."

The answer was gruff but the warmth in Skinner's eyes and the worshipping way his hands began moving over Alex's body told a different story. He leaned forward and brought their mouths together. In the kiss and the response of the man beneath his hands, Skinner recognised the return of his sensual lover and his own blood began to sing.

He pulled back and ordered, "Naked. Now."

Alex obeyed and climbed onto the bed.

Watching him, Skinner shed his own clothes quickly and followed him, crawling on all fours into position over him, leaning down to lick and suckle at his nipples, making him moan and move his head restlessly from side to side. Loving Alex's response, he glanced up to watch the expressive face, noting the brows drawn together, the eyes tightly shut.

Satisfied and with a final firm nip on Alex's tit he straightened up to survey his lover. The sight of Alex's hard cock curving up over his abdomen was as irresistible as always and he moved back down the bed so he could take it in his mouth. He was rewarded with the familiar scent and taste of his lover and, as with every time he performed this intimate act, they blended together with Alex's frantic cries and gasps into the biggest turn on Skinner had ever known.

He took his time, meticulously and thoroughly servicing every inch of the cock in his mouth, stimulating the balls and crack beneath with teasing hands, enjoying the cycle of overload and withdrawal that was turning Alex into a quivering mass of need.

"Wal ... ter ..."

The desperate cry reminded him of his own, as yet, untouched need and he leaned over to retrieve the lube from its place on the nightstand. Settling himself on his haunches so that his balls jostled against Alex's with the slightest movement of his hips, he lubed up his fingers and reached back to find his own centre.

"Oh ... yes, babe ... " Alex mumbled, rubbing his hand up and down the corded muscles of Skinner's thigh.

"This gonna be okay on your back?" Skinner asked through clenched teeth.

"Uh ... my back?"

Skinner snorted. "Yeah, you know, Alex, your back ... one of your body parts that's not your dick."

Alex scowled at him and slid his hand up to grasp Skinner's cock, his thumb tracing patterns across its head in a way that brought the older man's hips surging forward into the stimulation.

"You were saying, Walter?"

"Fuck ... "

Alex's laugh was cut off when Skinner swiped his oily hand once along his cock and raised himself over it, intent on a swift penetration. Pausing only for a second to align the cockhead, he relaxed his muscle and dropped down steadily until his balls rested against Alex's abdomen.

Their groans filled the room as they settled into each other and Walter began to ride.

" ... so good ... babe ... gets better ... every time ... "

Walter growled, unhappy with the number of coherent words Alex could string together. He was obviously operating below optimum. He leaned forward and covered Alex's lips with his own, beginning a wet, sloppy strip search of his lover's mouth.

"Unnngrhh," was all Alex could manage in response to the tongue action and the rhythmic squeeze of internal muscles along his cock.

Vindicated and happy, Skinner smiled into the kiss before raising up enough to run the tip of his tongue once around Alex's lips in farewell. A broad swipe of his tongue across each nipple and he was back in the saddle, heading for home at a leisurely canter.

"Uh ... uh ... uh ... " Alex began to chant at the peak of each thrust.

Covering Alex's lax hand, with his own, Skinner gave it a quick pump to remind it of its duty, not that much more was required with the way Alex's cock was hitting the spot on each and every downward move.

The pace picked up and Skinner joined in the chanting as it grew faster and louder.

One strong, twisting thrust that nudged his prostate just right, made Skinner spill first. Taking his weight on his hands on the bed, he stilled for only a few seconds before continuing to ride his lover to completion, the deep, bass roar that poured out of him along with his come making it inevitable. Two strong thrusts later he felt the cock deep inside him jerk and spurt and he waited until Alex went limp below him before he fell sideways onto the bed, not wanting to add his weight to the pressure on Alex's injured back.

Concern about what damage might have been done to Alex's wound had Skinner up and out of the bed on shaky legs long before his heart and breathing rate even began to approach normal. In the bathroom he gave himself a cursory clean, then soaked a washcloth and gathered it up with a towel and the first aid kit. Laying them on the bed, he washed the come off Alex's chest and stomach and patted him dry with the towel.

"Roll over," he instructed.

With a reluctant moan, Alex did as he was asked, complaining loudly and at length when Skinner began teasing the taped dressing off his skin.

"Owww!" he squawked, when Skinner suddenly changed tactics and ripped the final strip of tape off in one sudden jerk.

"Jesus, Alex, don't be such a baby."

"It hurts, Walter, and not in a good way."

A loud smack resounded through the room as Walter's hand landed square across Alex's unsuspecting behind.

"Owww!" he squawked again, levering himself up to scowl over his shoulder at Skinner, outrage carved into the wrinkle above his nose.

"Better?" Skinner asked, all innocence.

The scowl transformed into a grin.

"Much," he replied, flopping back down into the pillow. "It's been too long," he continued, his voice muffled and dreamy.

"Let's make a date for Saturday," Skinner suggested, dropping a kiss on the centre of the pink palm print, before returning to his task.

"Mmmm ..."

The old dressing was disposed of and Skinner inspected the wound.

"This is looking a lot cleaner."

"Feels fine."

"It needs another dressing, though."

"Whatever."

Skinner sprinkled a dusting of anti-biotic powder over the cuts and taped a new dressing over them. He wiped his hands on the towel and closed up the first aid kit, before climbing back into the bed and pulling the comforter up over their cooling bodies. Alex draped himself halfway across Skinner's chest.

"I really am sorry, Walter ... about yesterday."

The words spoken unexpectedly into the quietness jerked Skinner back from the edge of sleep. He mentally shrugged to bring them into focus. He didn't like the memory they conjured up. The more time passed, it seemed, the more reluctant he found himself to deal with the issue.

"Can you talk about it now?" he felt obliged to ask.

"Sure ... no point putting it off."

Skinner ran his hand in soothing circles between Alex's shoulders and waited.

"Being at Mom's was good ... but ... I'm not really a part of it ... not in the way Olga and Peter are. I realised that when I saw how you are with your brother and sister."

With difficulty, Skinner, held his tongue.

"And, God, I want that ... I can't believe how much I want it ... I used to sneer at Mulder and his pathetic Samantha quest ... but now I understand ... about Scully too ... maybe it's just karma ... some kind of fucking cosmic revenge ... "

His breathing quickened and his tone took on a harsh edge.

"And I'm so fucking angry about it ... I want to rip someone's head off ... I want to hurt the bastards who did this to me ... who took this away from me ... I want them to know ... "

As quickly as it came the anger faded.

"That's where I went ... to see the only ones left ... the Kryceks ... "

"What?

Skinner sat up abruptly, manhandling Alex up with him.

"But they're dead," he protested.

"No. I faked the records. Arranged new identities for them, bank accounts, somewhere to live."

Skinner stared at him disbelievingly.

"Is it so hard to understand, Walter? They were all I knew ... all I had ... even if I'd known the truth ... I think I'd still have protected them."

"Then why did you go to see them?"

"Because I wanted them to know how much they hurt me ... and because ... I had to know ... how they could have me live with them as their son for twelve years ... and then ... throw me away like a piece of garbage ... " His breath hitched noisily in his throat and he dropped his gaze. "Jesus, Walter, ... what's wrong with me ... when she opened the door she didn't even recognise me ... "

Skinner took Alex's face between his two hands and gently tilted it up. He spoke calmly and deliberately.

"It wasn't you, Alex. You were just a little child handed over to couple of selfish, perverted bastards who were too twisted to see the beauty and the innocence they had been given. There is something wrong with them, not you Alex. And I'm not going to allow them to hurt you any more. Before I'll let them do that - I'll rip off their heads," he finished dramatically.

A bubble of nervous laughter rose up in Alex at the mental image.

But Skinner wasn't done.

"I love you, Alex. You are beautiful to me and I don't mean just physically, and if your innocence is gone then so is mine. We've both been given this second chance, and as far as I'm concerned the past and everything to do with it can go fuck itself. Do I make myself clear?"

"I'd say that's pretty clear," Alex answered, his face taking on a warm glow at Skinner's unequivocal words and at his lover's urging he moved into a tight embrace. "I just hope I don't let you down."

"Stop selling yourself short, Alex, your life isn't defined by me. Much as I might want it to be, that would be wrong. You're strong, Alex, you always have been or you wouldn't have survived. And while we're on the subject stop selling your family short too. They love you very much. Of course it's not the same as it would have been if that obscenity hadn't happened, it would be crazy to say otherwise. But you're part of them, and they want you to be. And hey, when it comes to family I'll be your coach. I know how it works."

"That's good, 'cause I don't have a fucking clue."

"It'll work out, but you're going to have to give it time."

"Even Peter?"

"Did he give you a hard time?"

"You could say that."

"Did he cause this?" Skinner let his hand drift over the bandage.

Alex looked up at him bemused. "How do you know that?"

Skinner combed the hair back from Alex's forehead. "From things you've said, something Olga told me."

Alex rested his head back on Skinner's shoulder. "Just as well I was on his team, huh? He gave a dry laugh. "And that we had our talk before the game. Luckily for me being bisexual is only half as disgusting as being a faggot as far as Peter's concerned."

"Prick," Skinner said with venom.

"Hey, that's my brother," Alex said.

"Now, see, that's good," Skinner told him. "The old 'blood's thicker than water' thing kicking in."

"Yeah, Peter mentioned that too ... because of it he's going to be able to ... 'look beyond' our lifestyle ... for the good of the family."

"How fucking condescending of him," Skinner observed, then he snorted. "Can I take it I won't be included in the invitation to the christening?"

"Are you kidding, Walter? No, you will be accompanying me as my 'life partner' and we are all going to be 'very grown up' about the whole thing, quote-unquote." He looked up at Skinner, and remarked, "Prick."

Skinner said nothing, his infuriation with Peter moderating a little as he realised the man was the first to put the words 'life' and 'partner' into a sentence concerning him and Alex.

"The real kicker is that he asked me to be a god-parent ... can you believe it?"

Skinner had to work very hard at keeping the incredulous look off his face. He knew he hadn't altogether succeeded when Alex continued, "Yeah ... I know ... me a god-parent. I don't see how that could be ... you know ... " he searched for a word " ... legal ... "

Skinner found his voice. "Are you prepared to act on behalf of the child's best interests?"

Alex raised a questioning eyebrow.

"I'm a god-parent several times over," he explained.

"Oh ... well then, this'll be something else you will have to coach me on."

"So you want to do it?"

"Sure ... the kids are great. I could do this, right?"

"Of course you can do it," Skinner said, sensing the pride Alex felt at being asked. His infuriation with Peter dropped several notches in intensity.

"You know, Alex, in his own way Peter is trying, and God knows I saw myself how he reacted when he thought you were being attacked. It's not his fault he's -"

"A prick?" Alex interrupted.

They chuckled together.

"I was going to say a spoilt mamma's boy. Which is not surprising considering how Vera and your Dad must have treated him after you were taken."

"I guess not," Alex said with a sigh.

Skinner could have kicked himself for turning the conversation back onto the painful subject of Alex's abduction.

"You know, in the 'in-law' stakes," he said, quickly changing the subject, "we've gotten off pretty lightly. Your family, apart from this hiccough with Peter, has been great, and mine is downright positive. Not like Sharon's mother. In the most genteel way possible that woman existed to make my life a misery."

"Bad, huh Walter?"

"The temperature dropped five degrees every time she entered the room. She didn't have to say a word, the sweaters said it all."

Much to Skinner's delight, Alex laughed out loud.

After, he settled back down onto Skinner's chest and said, "That's the first time you've mentioned Sharon to me."

"Yeah ... well, we broke a lot of new ground here tonight. I know it hasn't been easy, but I'm glad we talked. There's nothing we can't talk about." He hesitated before he continued, "And in that spirit I have to ask this - do you want me to have the Kryceks picked up?"

Alex's whole body stiffened.

"Fuck no, Walter. We can't draw that kind of attention to ourselves. And I won't put Mom through the stuff it would dredge up. I don't want to anyway. You are right about leaving the past in the past. They are no threat to me or anyone else. It was pathetic really. My dad ... I mean Rudi ... has Alzheimer's and Anna ... she's turned into a scared old woman."

Skinner wasn't happy with the thought that the Kryceks would escape unpunished, but Alex was right, pursuing the matter would bring nothing but trouble to their door.

"It's okay, relax, I wasn't going to do anything without your say so. We'll just let it go."

"Okay then." The body in Skinner's arms relaxed again.

They moved around, getting comfortable, the effects of little sleep the previous night and plenty of tough talking catching up with them. When he reached over to check the alarm, something on the nightstand caught Skinner's attention.

"By the way, Alex," Skinner said with a sleepy chuckle, "for future reference, candles work better when you light them."

The reply was even sleepier. "Mmm ... yeah ... next time ...."

TBC
 

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