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Life From The Ashes: Book 4 (2/2)

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Life from the Ashes - Book 4: Chapter 1 by Jo B.

Alex's side ached as he ran down another long corridor with the griffin still on his tail. He looked back as he rounded the next corner and smashed headlong into an immovable object. Alex landed on his ass, looking up. He tried to back peddle as the garishly painted face of the Batman statue loomed over him. The statue of Spender bent and snatched him up in its arms. Alex twisted and fought madly, but it was like hitting a brick wall. The statue held its prize securely as it ran toward a window and crashed through glass. It took flight and soared out over the ocean.

Alex's face was cut by glass that also ripped through his clothing. A large, sharp shard embedded in his side. He groaned and turned his face toward the cold stone of the statue, away from the bitter cold that was lashing at his exposed flesh and freezing his blood.

The smoker cursed himself for his carelessness with handling Alex. However, with Alex firmly in his grasp and on his way to the mountain fortress, he could now focus his attention on the remaining people at the palace. His son was gone and so were all the other immortals. He wasn't about to go home empty handed. Not when he still had his creations fighting.

Skinner succeeded in shattering the dragon's leg and then blew its head apart. The griffin and elf statues entered the fight.

MacIver quickly turned to flee the room with his son. He had been foolish to stay and help the others destroy the winged-horse and fight the dragon. However, now that all of the children and their friends had safely fled the entertainment room, he could take his son to safety, too.

MacIver made it three steps out of the room when he was hit from behind. He fell to his knees. He was careful of the small life he held lovingly in his arms as he fought to stay consciousness, but darkness was descending upon him. Duncan was suddenly snatched from his arms. MacIver caught a brief glimpse of the beautiful angel statue before he blacked out.

The Batman was more cautious with the baby than he had been with Alex. He had the statue shield the baby protectively as it flew out the window.

Major Kazuo Sawada came storming out of the entertainment room. He skidded to a halt in front of the shattered window. "Damn!" he swore, as he hopelessly watched the statue fly away with their son. He then knelt next to MacIver. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and tried to stem the bleeding from the back of his friend's head. "Hang on, Rory."

Gabriel and Skinner had just finished destroying the elf and griffin when the palace's security forces stormed onto the scene. The whole battle had taken less than ten minutes.

***

Mulder huddled on the floor in the kitchen, protecting his children. He remained invisible until he heard Walter's voice telling him telepathically that it was safe.

*Fox, where are you?* Walter's voice rang in his head.

*The kitchen! Can you send someone to help me with the children?*

*I'll send Nurse Olson, Vicky, and a couple of the royal guard.*

Mulder sighed with relief. He tried to contact Alex telepathically but still couldn't reach him. His stomach lurched uneasily. *WALTER!*

*What, Fox?*

*I can't reach Alex! He has our girls with him!*

Nurse Olson ran into the kitchen followed by Vicky and two palace guards. While Mulder waited for an answer from Walter, Olson took the bassinet with Sergei and Hunter from Hans.

River didn't want to let go of Mulder as Vicky knelt down next to him. "C'mon, River, everything is going to be all right. Your Daddy Walter destroyed all of those nasty statues." She succeeded in coaxing the little boy into her arms.

*Hope and Faith are with Ari...* Walter paused, and said softly, *Alex is gone. He's not on the island.*

"NO!" Mulder cried as he hugged his seraph daughter against his chest. Everyone turned to look down at him. "No, please...please no..." Tears welled up in his eyes at the prospect that he might have lost his lover.

"What's wrong?" Olson asked.

"Please, take Angelique...I have to go and find Alex," Mulder said, passing the infant over to the nurse. He ignored her frantic cries as he fled the kitchen, heading first toward his daughters' bedrooms. He refused to believe that Alex was gone.

Skinner shared Mulder's heart wrenching grief and headed out of the entertainment room determined to console him.

Mulder came upon the shattered remains of the fairy statue. A glimmer of glass caught his eye, and he knelt to examine it. At the realization of just what the object was in his hand, his face blazed red with pure rage. "I'll kill him!" Mulder growled and sprinted off toward the elevator with the object tightly clenched in his fist.

"FOX! WAIT!" Skinner screamed, as he raced after his lover just as the elevator doors closed.

Mulder seemed not to hear him or was ignoring him. The elevator started its descent before Skinner could reach him. He used his powers to stop the elevator, but was surprised when it continued its descent. "Arty! Bring him back up! NOW!"

Arty's voice was a weak whisper. "Sorry, Your Majesty. No can do."

"What! Are you disobeying a direct order?"

"Right now he scares me more than you do. You want him? Then you're just going to have to teleport yourself onboard," Arty advised.

Skinner was exhausted from his recent battle and wasn't physically up to teleporting himself anywhere. "Have the southwest elevator waiting for me, Arty! I want to know exactly where Fox heads once he gets off the elevator!" He spun around and sprinted down the long corridor toward the other elevator. Skinner didn't know what had gotten into Fox. Instead of running out of their apartment in a blind rage, Fox should have been working with him to protect their family and restore order to their household. He stepped onboard the waiting elevator and waited impatiently as it descended.

"He's heading for the front entrance, Your Majesty," Arty said.

"Good! Order the guards to hold him until I get down!"

Mulder strolled purposely toward the front gate with his mind focused on revenge. He was determined to get to the village and confront the bastard responsible for terrorizing his children and abducting his lover.

The guards at the gate came to attention as he approached.

"Prince Fox, the King has ordered us to detain you until he gets here..." the guard's voice trailed off as Mulder vanished.

Skinner came barreling across the foyer a couple of minutes later. "Where is he?"

"Ah...he just disappeared into thin air. One minute he was standing there...and the next poof!" the befuddled guard tried to explain.

Skinner focused his powers on pinpointing his lover's location. It wasn't easy. Being invisible made it nearly impossible for Skinner to sense his lover's essence or make contact with his mind. If Skinner hadn't been intimately familiar with every inch of Fox's body and mind, he never would have been able to find him. "He's heading for the village!" he growled and stormed out the front gate.

Several of the palace guards followed him over the frozen, snow-covered ground toward the village. Skinner, for the life of him, couldn't figure out where in the village Mulder could be heading or why. Most of their friends were at the palace.

***

Special Agent Andy Nelson was enjoying a beer in the village pub with several agents from the FBI and a few of the palace guards who didn't have family to spend Christmas with. They had been invited personally by the King to Christmas dinner in the palace's main dining hall, but not upstairs to the private family gathering afterwards. Nelson was more than glad that he and his friends were excluded. He couldn't stand to see Skinner with Mulder and Krycek. They were too selfish and self-centered to give Skinner the love and loyalty he deserved. Nelson knew that only he could give Skinner that type of devotion. He would see to it, after Mulder and Krycek were gone.

Before everyone's stunned eyes, Nelson was suddenly yanked out of his seat and violently shaken. They watched in disbelief as Mulder suddenly appeared, his face mere inches from Nelson's.

"You spineless little weasel!" Mulder growled, shaking Nelson again. "How fucking dare you harm my family and friends!"

"I didn't do anything..."

Mulder angrily backhanded Nelson, sending the smaller man to the floor. "Liar!"

The acrid smell of urine filled the air as a wet stain appeared on Nelson's crotch. The smaller man never imagined he'd be caught. "I didn't do it! Honest!"

Skinner and the palace guards burst through the door of the pub. "Fox! What the hell is going on?" Skinner bellowed! His face was red with anger.

Mulder unclenched his hand and tossed the object he had been holding to Skinner. "Here's what's going on!"

Skinner looked at the object, baffled. It was a round camera lens. "Do you care to explain just what I'm looking at?"

"That was inside one of the statues. One of the statues that he checked!"

Skinner's eyes narrowed as what Mulder was saying sunk in. His mind quickly pulled together the missing pieces of a puzzle that had been bothering him for almost a year. The bomb blast that had killed Mulder -- if only for a brief period of time -- but killed him nonetheless. He now saw clearly that Nelson was the one responsible. Skinner couldn't believe the young man's innocent boyish looks had fooled him -- there had to be more to it. "How fucking blind could I have been?" Skinner stared Nelson in the eyes and probed the younger man's mind. "You're a clairvoyant?" he said, more a statement of fact than a question. Now it was becoming clearer how he had been so easily duped.

Skinner turned to his guards. "I want Agent Nelson placed under arrest! Then send for our top clairvoyants! I want everything he knows drained out of him!"

"Please, I did it for you...," Nelson begged as he was dragged out of the pub. "I LOVE YOU!"

Mulder stopped at Skinner's side, watching Nelson being dragged away. "Can't say that I care much for your secret admirers, Walter," he said tiredly.

Skinner looped an arm possessively around Mulder's waist. "Fox, come on. Let's go back home."

Mulder allowed Skinner to lead him out of the pub.

"Fox, how did you know where to find Nelson?"

"Hmm, oh, I heard some of the agents mention that they were coming here after Christmas dinner. I assumed Nelson would be here, too," Mulder answered absently. His mind was on other things. Halfway back to the palace he broke down in tears, turning to bury his face against Walter's broad shoulder. "Oh God, Walter...don't let anything happen to Alex. It's my fault. Alex wanted to toss those statues into the ocean...I should have let him. Dammit! Why did I have to be so pigheaded?"

"Fox. Shh... You didn't know."

"I should have!"

"Beating yourself up over this isn't going to help Alex!" Skinner pushed Mulder away. Holding his shoulders, he shook him a little. "I need you focused on helping me to rescue Alex! Can you do that?"

"Yes...," Mulder replied weakly. "I want him back more than anything."

"Good. C'mon, we need to get back. The sooner we organize a rescue party, the quicker we'll have him and Duncan back."

"Duncan?"

"He was taken, too."

"Why? What would that madman want with Shinji and Rory's son?"

"You want my guess, Fox? I think he mainly wanted you and our children, but you and all the other immortals had vanished with the children. Duncan was with Rory and he saw him as an easy target." Skinner took Mulder's hand. "Fox, you're not responsible. Let's go back."

"Shinji saved our daughter's life when he could have rescued his son. He saved Kaylie instead." Mulder didn't think he'd ever get over the deep guilt he felt over causing his friends so much pain. If anything happened to Duncan, he didn't think Shinji or Rory would ever be able to forgive him.

The two men walked the remaining steps to the palace quickly. When they got back to their floor, the clean up crews were already repairing the damage. They found their family and friends in the kitchen. Skinner quickly took Angelique from Nurse Olson. The baby had been shrieking her displeasure since Mulder left. She quieted as Skinner rocked her against his chest.

Ian was comforting River as River's dog Rex sat on his haunches at the boy's side. The little boy saw Mulder and ran to him. "Did you find Daddy Alex?"

Mulder knelt next to River. "River, Daddy Alex was taken from us. It might be a while before we see him again."

River's lower lip quivered as tears welled up in his eyes. He threw his arms around Mulder's neck and broke down, bawling.

Mulder picked him up and hugged him. "Shh, we'll get him back. I promise." As he comforted River, Mulder looked around the kitchen. Hope and Faith were being held in Duffy's powerful arms. Neither toddler appeared in the least bit upset as they played with their kittens that were perched on Duffy's massive shoulders. Jeffrey was holding Kaylie. "Where's Shinji?" Mulder asked.

"They went back to their apartment. Rory was injured when Duncan was taken and Shinji healed him, then needed to rest afterwards," Jeffrey explained. He and Ian had been down in their apartment making love when the statues had attacked. Jeff had rushed upstairs to help as soon as the first noises reached them, but the fighting was over by then.

Guilt gnawed at Mulder's heart. He was desperate to get the rescue mission underway. "Walter, you know they're being taken to White Mountain. If we hurry, we might be able head them off! Those statues can't possibly fly fast!"

Skinner frowned sadly. Fox had not been involved in any of the long talks he had with Jeffrey about their father's powers. "Fox, they're more than likely already through the barrier surrounding White Mountain. CGB Spender has the ability to bend space and time."

"Then I'm going there to get them!" Mulder snapped.

Skinner cradled their daughter in one arm and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Fox, you're not going anywhere!" Then he sighed loudly, "And neither am I. You need to be here for our children -- and I need to be here for you." It was an impossible situation that Skinner hated, but with Mulder off the anti-pheromone medication, his withdrawal symptoms started after forty-eight hours. No way could Skinner leave him.

"Walter, you can't stop me! I'll exchange myself for Alex and Duncan. I'm positive that bastard of a father of mine will agree to it! Then..."

"NO!!! DAMMIT, FOX! Didn't you hear a word I just said?"

Angelique and River started crying again, which caused Hope and Faith to start crying. The kittens were forgotten. Soon all the infants were crying.

"Don't leave, Daddy!" River cried, hugging Mulder tightly around the neck.

Mulder hugged River back and looked around the room in distress. He was trapped. He couldn't leave no matter how much he wanted to. "Shh, River. I'm not leaving you." He looked with sadness at Skinner. "Walter, I need to do something. I just can't sit here and do nothing."

Skinner rocked Angelique, trying to quiet her. "Fox, you can help me negotiate for their release. I'm also going to organize a rescue team. We'll get them back."

"Walter, please go with the rescue team. Alex needs you."

"I can't, Fox. You and our children need me here."

"I'll be fine."

"No, you won't. You won't be able to feed our babies, if withdrawal pains incapacitate you. Our children come first! Fox, I'll select our best sorcerers for the rescue team."

"Why don't you go and do that now. Tom, Vicky, and Sean will help me put the children to bed, then I'll join you," Mulder said softly, resolutely.

Skinner hated to leave Fox, but Alex needed him more and he'd wasted enough time. He kissed Mulder then placed his hand soothingly on River's back and the boy turned his face to look up at Skinner. "River, I need you to be brave for your sisters and brothers. Can you do that?"

River lifted his head off Mulder's shoulder and nodded. "Y-yes, Daddy."

"Good. I promise that I'll do everything I can to see that Alex is returned to us. You have my word on that, son." Skinner brushed the hair out of the little boy's sapphire eyes. "Will you let Tom hold you? Daddy Fox needs to take your sister from me."

"I don't need to be carried. I'll be brave."

Mulder smiled softly and set him on his feet, then took Angelique from Skinner. "I'll be down as soon as I can."

"I'm counting on that, Fox," Skinner said as he hurried out the door. He telepathically contacted his staff to meet him in the throne room.

***

White Mountain
Monday, December 25
7:20 p.m.

"Gently you fool!" the smoker growled, as the statue carelessly dropped Alex's unconscious body on the bed. Alex's clothing was covered with blood from the still bleeding wound in his side. When he hit the soft surface, he stirred briefly.

"Look what your carelessness has done!" Spender bellowed. He bent and pulled a long shard of glass from Alex's side. Then he used the housecoat off the statue to stem the bleeding by holding the cloth firmly pressed against the wound. "You're just lucky he's an immortal! That wound would have killed a lesser man by now!" He watched Alex's face for any sign of awakening as he held the cloth against the sable-haired beauty's side.

A few minutes later, the angel statue flew through the window carrying Duncan, who was crying unhappily.

"Give the baby to Fyodorov!" he ordered.

Marat Fyodorov had been standing out of the way watching the whole situation. He quickly stepped forward and took the baby from the statue. The baby's skin was cold. Fyodorov opened his shirt and placed the baby underneath against his warm skin. Duncan continued to cry. "Master, what should I do with the baby?"

Before the smoker could answer, Alex moaned and opened his eyes. It was a moment before recognition appeared behind his emerald eyes. CGB Spender watch hungrily as the thickly-lashed lids closed briefly, fanning out over the creamy skin before reopening and the emerald eyes focused their owner's rage and hatred on him.

"I'll kill you! You old, disgusting, perverted, cancer-ridden, winged monstrosity!" Krycek snarled. He tried to use his powers, but discovered they were gone. So instead, Krycek kicked out with his foot, hoping to crush the smoker's larynx as he struck him full force in the throat. An audible sound of a bone snapping could be heard. "Ugh!" Krycek curled up in pain and held his injured foot. "Fuck! Dammit! Son of a bitch!"

Spender smiled down at him. "Would you like me to kiss it all better?"

"Shut the fuck up!" Krycek hissed through clenched teeth. The rush of adrenaline he had upon seeing the smoker had evaporated and all the aches and pains came forcefully back. A soft whimper escaped his lips as his broken foot throbbed painfully.

"Stop being such a baby, Alex. Most of your wounds are nearly healed."

"Fuck off, Bat-brain!" Krycek tried to climb off the bed regardless of his foot, but the smoker grabbed him and forcefully pushed him back down.

Holding Krycek's shoulders pressed firmly to the mattress Spender looked him in the eyes and growled, "You belong to me now, Alex! I suggest you learn some respect for your new Master!"

Krycek's eyes narrowed as he attempted to twist out of the cold steel hands holding him. He found it impossible to move even an inch. He tried to avoid looking at Spender's face. The creature was even more hideous than the statue and yet he was still clearly recognizable as CGB Spender. Krycek felt dwarfed by the sheer size of Spender.

Spender's gaze traveled lovingly over the bloodstained angry face. The source of the blood had long since healed over. He smiled with the knowledge that no matter how rough he was with Alex, the young man would be able to survive, unlike the men he kept in his kennels, whose numbers had dwindled to only two. "You need a bath, my dear. Since you broke your foot I shall have to carry you."

Alex struggled as the Batman scoop him easily off the bed. "Put me down, freak!" He was distracted from his struggles by the sound of a baby crying. "What's that?" he asked looking around and noticing Fyodorov for the first time. "What's that traitor doing here? Whose baby is that?" Alex couldn't get a good look at the baby bundled against the smaller man's chest. He could tell that the baby was too large for one of his, Walter, and Fox's infants.

The smoker held Alex effortlessly as he headed for the door. "He belongs to your pretty Japanese immortal friend Shinji and that Scottish rogue you have for a business partner." Spender smirked at the outraged expression gracing Alex's face. "I consider little Duncan a consolation prize because unfortunately I underestimated my son again. He vanished with my grandchildren before I could claim any of them. I intend to use Duncan as a bartering chip." Spender stopped in the doorway and turned back to the small Russian. "Fyodorov, can't you keep that child quiet?"

"I'm trying, Master. I think he's hungry..."

"Well feed it already!"

"With what?"

"Fyodorov, he's six months old! At that age he should be able to eat mushy foods and there are several cases of formula in the pantry." Spender had been stockpiling supplies with the hope he'd have all of his grandchildren here eventually.

Krycek was stunned that the smoker knew so much about his friends. "You're not going to get away with this! Walter and Rory will string you up by the balls!"

"They may try. But, Alex my sweet, I'm no longer the weak old man that I once was." The smoker smirked as he carried Alex down a dark corridor.

Krycek frowned, looking away from the hideous leering face. He studied his surroundings instead. The fortress walls and floors were stone and lacked any warmth whatsoever. They were as hard and cold as the arms holding him. He chewed his lip and recalled what Jeffrey and Ari had said about this place, and how nearly impossible it was to escape. Walter's force had tried several times to penetrate the barrier and failed each attempt. Krycek knew he was in deep shit. The realization that he was on his own, and that he shouldn't - no couldn't rely on anyone to get him and Duncan out of this situation felt like a lead weight in his belly.

He forced himself to concentrate on every detail as the smoker carried him down the corridor, then down a dimly lit staircase. They seemed to go down forever. Krycek counted each step. The air was becoming humid and condensation clung to the stone walls. By the time they reached the bottom and stepped out into a large cavern, the reason for the heat and humidity became instantly clear as his eyes fell upon a heated underground pond. The walls in the cavern were phosphorescent and thick vapors rose off the surface of the water, giving the cavern an eerie atmosphere. Alex jumped when his clothes vanished from his body and he renewed his effort to escape.

The Batman carried him struggling into the naturally heated water until they were chest deep. Then he dunked Alex under the water. Pulling a sputtering Alex back up he dunked him under again. This time when he brought Alex back up, the smoker placed him back on his feet.

Alex coughed and spit up water. He kept most of his weight on his uninjured foot, although the pain from his broken foot was now only a minor irritation. He focused all of his hatred on his enemy. Spender towered over him by more than a foot.

"I was not trying to drown you, Alex -- at least not this time. I only wanted to get your hair wet so I can wash it," he said, holding up a bottle of shampoo.

"I can wash my own hair!"

"You will do only what I allow you to do," Spender said calmly, squirting some shampoo in Alex's damp locks. The bottle vanished as he brought his hands up and started washing the young man's hair.

Krycek took one step backward and swatted his hand away. "Keep your *fucking* paws off me, asshole!" Suddenly he was unable to move or talk.

"Open your mouth, my dear," the smoker said softly.

Not being able to resist the command, Krycek opened his mouth and gagged as Spender inserted a large bar of soap. Tears of rage streamed down his cheeks but he was unable to spit out that awful tasting object.

"I hope your memory is good. Anytime you swear in the future will be met with the same punishment." The smoker continued to shampoo the young man's hair.

In the past, Krycek had been able to separate himself from hellish situations by fantasizing about Mulder, but it didn't work for him this time. His mind was controlled and wasn't cooperating. Instead, he shivered with dread as the Batman's hard erection pushed against his body just above his stomach, making him realize just how vulnerable he was. His eyes widened when he realized that there were hard bristles running the length of the creature's enormous cock. The bristles seemed to move of their own accord.

The look of fear in Alex's eyes pleased Spender. He had forgotten how dangerous his former subordinate was and it satisfied him immensely that Alex feared him. He chuckled. His former self would have been afraid of the pretty spitfire, but he had nothing to fear. Not now. He was the one to be feared! Alex belonged to him. Soon, he would train the beauty to satisfy his every desire -- attend to his every need. The smoker was looking forward to the training. He marveled at the silken thickness of Alex's sable hair. The sheer beauty of the immortal was almost painful to behold. He removed the bar of soap from Alex's lovely mouth, then held Alex tenderly and lowered him back under the water to rinse out the shampoo.

Krycek didn't have the will to even close his eyes. The nearly hot water stung his eyeballs as he stared up through the water at the Batman. Suddenly the spell was lifted and his freewill returned. He came up sputtering, spitting out the awful taste of the soap from his mouth. The desire to tell the Batman to fuck off was strong and it took all of his willpower to keep quiet. He had learned long ago that sometimes it was better to play the role of the obedient subordinate, while waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He was glad it was he who was in this position and not Fox. Fox had never learned to be subservient to anyone. Even if it were in Fox's own best interest, his smart mouth would always get the better of him. So Alex controlled his desire to lash out. He would bide his time for now.

"You're a fast learner, my dear," Spender purred, as he ran a soapy washcloth over Alex's shoulders and chest, marveling at the flawless ivory flesh. He traced a finger from his other hand down the long scar in Alex's side. Soon the flesh would be smooth and flawless again. He stopped when the washcloth passed over Krycek's navel. Pulling it away, he pressed the tip of his finger against the navel and pushed. Alex hissed and stepped back. However, the smoker held him in place as he continued to probe the younger man's bellybutton, unable to penetrate it. He had had the claws from his fingers clipped so he wouldn't cut his lover by accident. Spender caressed Alex's stomach, rubbing small circles over the tender flesh as he talked. "I intend to check your navel daily. The moment you complete your transformation into a hermaphrodite, I intend to fuck you there. I will fuck you continually throughout your first cycle, until your belly is swollen with my offspring."

Alex's face paled. He felt physically ill. The possibility that his old enemy could impregnate him had not even occurred to him until that moment. His blood ran cold in his veins as he looked up at the abomination that had once been human. He didn't want to become pregnant, and he most assuredly didn't want to have anything growing inside him that would resemble the Batman.

The smoker had been delighting in the sensation of his organ getting thicker and harder while he was washing Alex. The anticipation that he'd soon fuck that gorgeous body was almost as much of a thrill as the act itself would be. The look of horror on Alex's beautiful face had Spender's cock twitching and leaking its seed into the water. His balls had swollen to the size of grapefruits. They felt like they'd burst if he didn't find release quickly. He spun Alex around so his back was to him. Then held his lithe body tightly pressed against his chest as he worked a bar of soap up and down between the beauty's firm buttocks. Then the smoker slipped a soap-slicked finger inside the tight hole working it around in circles as he tried to quickly loosen the young man. He ignored Alex's pain-filled protests as he sank another finger inside him.

"Stop! It hurts!"

The smoker chuckled. Alex would soon discover true pain when he filled his perfect ass with his cock. After long minutes he pulled his fingers out. "You're so wonderfully tight, Alex. I'm going to really enjoy the feel of your body constricting around my cock." He placed the large cockhead against the tiny opening.

Krycek's eyes widened. He never felt anything that large between his buttocks. Even Slava's cock didn't compare to what was straining against his anus, trying to penetrate him. "Please! No! Don't! You're too big..."

"Nonsense, my dear. You'll get use to my size in time. I find that my new body is a hundred times more virile than my old one. I need to fuck at least five to six times a day." The smoker used his foot to spread Alex's legs further apart as his arm held the young man securely around the waist, bending him until Alex's face was just inches from the surface of the water. "Just think of all the human lives you'll be saving."

Alex closed his eyes against the discomfort as the smoker pushed harder against his opening. The blinding blaze of pain flared up as the cockhead suddenly forced its way past his anal muscles and opened his body. Alex had never experienced such pain! Spender continued to push his large organ further inside him. The hard bristles scraped along his rectum. It felt like his whole ass was on fire. He couldn't help screaming. The pain was too intense to remain stoically silent.

Spender moaned with pleasure. The strong grip on his cock was incredible. Alex was tighter than any of the humans he had fucked. Even those who had claimed to be virgins weren't this tight. Their asses didn't grip his cock so firmly. Only Spender's other immortal lovers had come close. He was only a third of the way in and having trouble going deeper. He rocked his hips pulling out a little then pushing back harder. Spender was determined to get all the way inside.

"Oh God! Stop! PLEASE!" Krycek felt consciousness waiver and he prayed that he'd blacked out as Spender violently shoved the rest of his cock up his ass. "AAAUUUHHH!"

Spender threw his head back and howled. His wings fanned out behind him. He tightened his arms around Alex's trembling body and pulled him back against his chest.

Alex struggled weakly. When the smoker straightened to his full height, Alex's feet no longer rested on the pond's sandy bottom. He was held impaled on the smoker's cock. A faint moan escaped his lips as the bristles stroked painfully up and down his rectum.

Spender glanced around the cavern. It was a given that he'd never be able to find enough leverage to fuck the young man in the center of the pond without drowning him. He started walking them toward a large boulder sticking out of the water.

Havock watched from the shadows inside a tunnel. He had become hard at Alex's cries of pain. Inflicting pain on others had always been a sexual turn on for him. The sorcerer was glad that Krycek was here to meet the Batman's sexual needs. With only two humans left alive, Havock had been worried that Spender would soon turn to him to fulfill his sexual appetite. He watched as the Batman laid Alex over a boulder.

The rock was smooth against Alex's chest and belly. He folded his arms across its surface and buried his face in his arms as he tried to ignore the throbbing pain coming from his ass. He closed his eyes tightly as the smoker started to thrust relentlessly in and out of his body. The pain became distant as his body became numb as shock set in. Alex never imagined he'd be in such a situation again. After being raped by Havock and King Gullbrand, he swore that no one would ever touch him against his will again. Fox and Walter never knew how badly being raped had affected him. He never allowed them to see his shame. He made it a point of talking tough in front of them. Pretending that everything was fine. That nothing had changed. It had changed though. Soon after he had become an immortal...an object of other men's lust. He never allowed his lovers or anyone to see how much he had hated it. He pretended that it didn't matter -- that he still was the same. Damn! Now his only two sons were immortals, too. How would he be able to protect them when he couldn't even protect himself? Silent tears slid out from under tightly-closed, thick-lashed lids.

Spender was in heaven as he rammed his cock into the deliciously hot body of his -- mate. Yes, his mate. He'd make their union legal and hire a minister to marry them properly. His hands pulled back on Alex's hips as he thrust into him. Each hard thrust sent water splashing over the rock. He was going to come soon. He felt the first signs of his impending orgasm. The bristles on his cock started to harden, fanning out. He thrust one final time into his mate! The bristles locked him deeply imbedded inside the young man's body. He could no longer move as his orgasm pumped out of him, filling his lover with his milky come.

Krycek bit into his arm to keep from crying out. The only satisfaction he had as he felt Spender's release filling his bowels was that he had remained flaccid throughout his rape. As long as he didn't get aroused, he was still his own man. The larger man's weight settled across his back.

Grabbing Alex's hair Spender pulled his head back so he could kiss those sweet bowed lips. He devoured Alex's mouth as he waited for his bristles to loosen their hold so he could slide out.

Alex's lips remained slack and unresponsive as Spender's pointed tongue raped his mouth. He was helpless to fight off the more powerful being. His mind finally found refuge in memories of his lovers and children. They were safe. He would survive this for them. The slide of the smoker's cock as it pulled out of his body bought Alex back to the present. He didn't know how much time had passed.

"I am hungry, my dear. Let's retire to the dining room," Spender said, lifting him off the rock. He allowed Alex to walk of his own accord as they left the pond.

Alex moved very slowly. His ass hurt. He held his side, doubling over as painful cramps tore through his belly. Waste fluids mixed with blood and semen flowed out of his body and into the water, and were washed away by the pond's gentle undercurrent.

"I have clothes for you to wear up in our bed chamber," the smoker said, drying himself. He then started pulling on his clothes as Krycek made it the rest of the way out of the water and stood quietly watching, plotting. A slow stream of blood snaked down his long, lean legs and sinking into the sand at his feet.

Spender's new body appeared indestructible. Krycek forced himself to focus on his enemy's body, despite the pain he was in. He tried to find any weakness, as his eyes roamed over its length. He avoided looking at the creature's powerful sex organ.

"Do you like what you see, Alex?" Spender purred, his hand smoothing over his stone hard chest and down to flat stomach.

Krycek clamped his lips tightly together and looked away.

"I'll take that as a yes." The smoker's eyes traveled appreciatively over Alex's naked body. "I certainly like what I see. Do you still have to work out or are those muscles naturally part of being an immortal?"

Krycek continued to ignore him.

"Azure and Aton weren't built like you are, Alex. They were lean and had beautiful firm bodies but not the muscles that you have. I will assume that you need to work out to achieve such a splendid result." Spender took Alex's hand and led him back up the stairs. "I shall see that a weight room is set up for you. Is there anything else you require?"

"Besides being set free?"

Spender chuckled. "You have developed a delightful sense of humor."

"I would like to take care of Duncan."

"No."

"I want to know that he is safe."

"He's safe enough in Fyodorov's care. I don't want the baby getting in the way of our relationship." Spender rested a hand on Alex's round buttock as they walked side-by-side up the steps. Alex flinched as Spender squeezed it affectionately. "Besides, Alex, you'll have plenty of babies to take care of soon enough."

The air became colder the higher they climbed and Krycek shivered as goosebumps graced his flesh. He was not going to have the smoker's demon child. He had to escape before his first cycle. However he had no idea when the final change would happen. Ian had only recently changed. "Whatever...," he muttered heartlessly.

***

Fyodorov sat humming softly as he fed the baby some runny mashed potatoes and gravy. The little one seemed to like it. The Russian smiled gently down at the little face. The baby was absolutely adorable. His oval-shaped face and small nose definitely came from Shinji. He saw Rory in the baby's eyes and ears. Fyodorov didn't have much experience with children, much less babies. However, he found himself warming up to this little innocent life. To be honest, he was lonely. Living these many months with the Batman had been horrible. The creature was clearly crazy and unpredictable. Most of the time he was afraid for his life. He had felt somewhat safer since Havock had come into their lives. He and the Australian sorcerer were making plans to escape. He only hoped his friend would be agreeable to taking the baby with them when they left. "Moi precious little one. Would you like some milk?" Fyodorov purred, kissing the top of the baby's head.

Duncan looked up at him confused, then grinned toothlessly. The man looked like Uncle Melvin. "Ba-ba-ba-ba..." he cooed.

***

Crystal Palace
Tuesday, December 26
2:20 a.m.

The discussion around the round conference table had gotten heated when MacIver joined the group. He wanted all of their forces to storm the fortress without further delay.

"Rory, we still need to break through the barrier. I promise you that as soon as we find a way through I'll launch a full scale attack," Skinner said tiredly. He wanted to stop arguing and get his men into position around White Mountain.

MacIver wasn't about to be put off. "I'm going to try on my own! I can't wait for our scientists to figure out a way through. Kazuo and I were successful..."

"No! We weren't, Rory. The only reason we got as close as we did was because Ari poisoned the Batman. The barrier was only weakened, we would never have gotten through on foot," Major Sawada said.

MacIver wasn't to be put off. "If anyone can disable the Batman it would be Alex! We need to be prepared to attack when the barrier is weakened again!" he growled.

Skinner was getting a headache. They had gone over this already. "Rory, I intend to station several units around the barrier in the event that we get the opportunity to break through."

"I want to be in charge of one of those units!" MacIver's eyes blazed, daring Skinner to turn down his request.

"I had planned to ask either you or Kazuo to head up one of the units," Skinner conceded. "As much as I would like to, I cannot leave the palace to command our army. So, I am relying on you, Hunter, and General Kline to spearhead our forces."

"Good!" MacIver looked across the table at Major Sawada. "Kazuo, you take good care of Shinji until I return with our son."

"I will, Rory."

Skinner was glad that was decided. He wanted to get this operation underway. "Helicopters are standing by to fly you and our troops into Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. The commander at the base has been informed to expect you. Are there any further questions?"

"Your Majesty, do we have time to say goodbye to our families?" Hunter asked.

"Of course, Gabriel. Take the time you need." Skinner rose. "If you'll excuse me, I would like to attend to my family." He was worried about Fox. His lover had been down earlier but had had to rush back up to their apartment.

Skinner was bone-tired as he exited the elevator on their floor and made his way to their bedroom. Fox was in bed with River cradled in his arms. They were both soundly asleep. Rex was lying on the rug at the foot of the bed. The dog looked up at him and Skinner knelt and scratched behind his ear. "Good boy," he whispered. He was quiet as he stripped out of his clothes and pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms. The mattress sank as he climbed under the covers and scooted close to Fox, wrapping his arms around him and their son.

Mulder stirred and look over his shoulder at Walter. He hadn't realized that he'd fallen asleep...he hadn't meant to. "Sorry. I-I wanted to go back down to the meeting, but I couldn't leave River alone again."

"Fox, don't apologize. Our children come first." Skinner kissed his shoulder.

"Have they left?" Mulder asked.

"No. Gabriel wanted to say goodbye to Hans first."

"He's pregnant again, you know?"

"Hans?"

"Yes."

Skinner stiffened behind him and it was a moment before he answered. "I didn't know. D-did his compulsions come back?"

Mulder smiled sadly at the nervousness in Walter's voice. "No. He wanted another baby. You know what having a large family means to Hans." Mulder felt Walter's hot breath against his neck as his lover let out a relieved sigh.

"That is a relief!" Skinner caressed Mulder's hip. "I love our kids, Fox, but I'd like to go a few more years before having any more children."

"Me, too. But we may not have a few years, unless Shinji is successful in finding a drug to control our compulsions." Mulder's arms tightened around River who was snoring softly and drooling against his chest. "Don't forget that Alex will probably have a baby within the next year or so. Walter, we have to get him back before he changes..."

"We will, Fox. We just need to figure out Spender's weaknesses."

"Maybe Andy Nelson might know something."

"Maybe. Let's get some sleep. We can discuss this in the morning."

"Okay." Mulder closed his eyes as Walter spooned closer behind him. Walter's large body wrapped around his comforted Mulder greatly. He peered through half-closed lids at River's head. The little boy felt hot in his arms -- his pajama top clung to his sweat-dampened chest. River had cried himself to sleep. Mulder's mind turned back to Alex. He knew deep down that that creature of a father of his had already raped his lover. Mulder could feel Alex's pain and distress deep down in his soul. He prayed that Alex would be able to remain strong.

***

Winter Palace

St. Petersburg
Tuesday, December 26
6:20 a.m.

The Tsar was enraged. He ordered his elite forces together. They were going to White Mountain, Alaska within the hour. Slava hurled his glass into the fireplace. "No one touches Alexei and lives! This monstrosity is going to pay! I'm going to peel the flesh from his bones!" he hissed angrily, then turned to face one of his aides. "Did you contact him yet?"

"Yes, Moi Tsar. I have King Walter on the phone for you," Major Dynkin said nervously, holding out the receiver.

Slava grabbed the phone out of the smaller man's hand. "Skinner! How dare you allow Alexei to be kidnapped right out from under your nose! If he is harmed, I'm holding you personally responsible! You should have allowed him to be with me in the first place! If you had, he never would be in this current situation!"

"Slava, I did not allow Alex to be abducted! And for your information, his place is here with Fox and me! Not with you! Our conversation is over!" Skinner growled. He started to disconnect when Slava's voice stopped him.

"You need my help, Skinner! You cannot leave Fox to rescue Alexei. You need me..."

"I don't need anything from you! My men are working toward rescuing Alex."

"Ha! Without you to lead them, your men are useless! I'm going to free Alexei myself, then take him back to Russia with me where he belongs!" Slava growled.

"I forbid you to interfere!" Skinner barked.

"Don't get in my way, Skinner!" Slava said, slamming the phone back in its cradle. He turned back to his aide. "Get me Lord Oda on the phone!" Slava knew that with Shinji's son Duncan being kidnapped along with Alexei, he'd be able to count on Oda's help in freeing Alexei and Duncan. The Japanese Shogun would do anything to win Shinji's heart.

***

Crystal Palace
Tuesday, December 26
6:30 a.m.

"Walter, let Slava help," Mulder said softly.

"NO!" Skinner growled, pacing. "I don't want him anywhere near Alex! Not after what he did to you!"

Mulder switched Sergei to his other nipple. "It doesn't matter what he did to me. If he can rescue Alex and Duncan for us then we should let him."

"He wants to keep Alex for himself."

"Alex won't stay with him. He'll come back to us."

"Fox, you forget he's bonded to Slava!"

"Physically, yes. However, our bond is deeper than merely physical with Alex. Slava could never hope to hold Alex. He'll come back to us in time."

Skinner stopped pacing and sat next to Mulder and his son on the loveseat. He watched as his son suckled. "So you're willing to trust Slava to allow Alex to come back to us?"

"No. But I'd rather have Alex with him than that smoking son of a bitch! Wouldn't you?"

Skinner sighed. He caressed his son's cheek with his finger. "Yes. I'm hoping that we'll get to him first, but I won't stop Slava from rescuing Alex if he can."

"DADDY!"

River's cry of fear had Walter leaping to his feet and racing to the bed. "Shh, River. I'm here. You have nothing to be afraid of. Daddy Fox and I will always be here to protect you." He pulled the little boy into his arms.

"I want Daddy Alex, too!"

Skinner sighed. "Son, we're trying to bring Daddy Alex back home."

"I don't want him to have wings!" River cried.

"What?" Skinner looked over at Mulder.

"Don't worry, River. Daddy Alex is an immortal. The Batman can't give him wings like he did Uncle Jeff," Mulder said, shrugging his shoulders at Walter.

"Is that really true?" River looked at Skinner for confirmation.

"Yes. Your Daddy Alex can't be killed or changed."

"I want to kill the Batman!"

Skinner looked thoughtfully at the little five-year-old. "Come on, son, let's get you dressed. Then we can discuss just what it means to kill." He scooped the boy up in his arms and carried him next door to his bedroom, where he set him on the floor and removed his sweat-dampened pajamas. "I think you need a bath. Would you like me to help you?"

"Yes, please. Daddy Alex always fills the bathtub and washes my hair."

"Well then, until Daddy Alex is back home with us, do you mind if I wash your hair?"

"No. Daddy Alex always reads to me and plays with me."

Skinner started the bathtub filling. "River, I'll try to do as much with you as Daddy Alex did, but I know I won't be able to take his place."

"Daddy?"

"What, River?"

"I love you."

Skinner smiled and hugged the little boy. "I love you too, son. Now get in the bathtub."

As Skinner knelt beside the bathtub washing River's hair, he questioned the little boy. "Tell me what you think it means to kill someone?"

"It means to make them dead," River said.

"What does it mean to be dead?"

"My Mommy and real Daddy are dead. It means that I can never see them again."

"River, to kill someone cannot be taken lightly. The only time I've ever killed anyone was in self-defense or to protect innocent lives."

"So I shouldn't kill the Batman?"

"At your age you shouldn't kill anyone." Skinner rinsed the shampoo out of the boy's hair.

"But I want the Batman dead!" River pouted.

"So do I, River. But whether he lives or dies will depend on the circumstances involved when we try to arrest him for abducting Daddy Alex and baby Duncan."

"Oh. Do you think Daddy Alex misses me?"

"Yes. I'm sure he misses you a whole lot."

***

White Mountain
Sunday, January 7th
10:20 a.m.

Krycek stood looking out the barred window at the snow. All the windows were barred since he had jumped out of one to his death four days ago. It afforded him only two days of rest. While his broken bones healed, the smoker couldn't touch him. He'd been locked inside this fortress for nearly two weeks now, with no sign of a rescue or of a way for him to escape in sight. He pulled the floor-length sable fur coat tightly around his nude body. He was continually in agony from being used for Spender's sexual pleasure. Krycek thought he'd become accustomed to the smoker's size, but no such luck. To make matters worse, he was constantly humiliated each evening by being made to stand naked in front of the fireplace while Spender probed his bellybutton.

His blood had turned to ice the first time he had seen Havock standing in the doorway grinning at him. Spender knew about Havock and Gullbrand raping him. However, Spender assured him that Havock was not allowed to touch him. That Havock was being saved for Fox.

Krycek was determined to kill Havock before he was allowed to lay a hand on Fox. No way would he allow this man to go on living. Krycek jumped as hands pulled him back against a hard chest.

"Come back to bed, Alex. You know that I hate the day and I expect you to keep me company throughout the night," the smoker purred, pulling Krycek back across the room to their four-poster bed.

***

End of chapter 7 - White Mountain


Life from the Ashes Book 4 - Yours, Mine, & Ours
by Jo B.

Rating: NC-17
Keywords: M/Sk/K SLASH
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, Walter Skinner, Jeffrey Spender, CSM, the Lone Gunmen, Kimberly Cook, Senator Matheson, Bill Scully, the morph etc. are the property Chris Carter, 1013 productions and Fox Broadcasting. All other characters in the series are mine.
Summary: This is an Alternative Universe Story. It takes place after an alien virus has killed off most of the world's females and caused mutations in forty-five percent of the remaining males.
Authors Notes: This is the fourth book in my AU series "Life from the Ashes - Yours, Mine, and Ours." You might want to read the prequel and the first three books of the series to understand this one.
I would like to thank my beta-readers Nicole, Laurie, Tarlan, Dawn, Cerulean Blue, Kiyoko, Bee Lan, Susan, and Helen for all their hard work and patience in editing this story and plot suggestions.
Feedback is always welcome. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
WARNING! This story contains explicit Sex/Romance between two or more men. Turn back now, if the subject matter offends you.
Okay to Archive: please ask first.


***

Chapter 8
A Matter of Time

Krycek waddled down the long, dark corridor on his way to the kitchen. The rough, uneven stone floor was cold and hard against the tender soles of his bare feet. Feet he could no longer see because his large belly was in the way, and his feet and ankles were so swollen that his shoes would no longer fit. He now had a first hand understanding of what the term barefoot and pregnant really meant. He placed a hand on top of his belly as he continued his journey. The corridor seemed to go on and on. Just as he thought he was getting closer to the kitchen, it seemed to expand and he had to continue walking.

His stomach growled hungrily. He'd been having strange cravings since becoming pregnant with the Batman's brood. Krycek licked his lips in anticipation as he finally made it into the kitchen. He couldn't remember walking through kitchen doorway. He was just suddenly there and starving. He made a beeline for the refrigerator. He pulled out a couple of Tupperware containers and a bottle of blood. He knew it was human blood, because that was what the label said. He poured himself a tall glass and set it and the bottle on the table, then opened the containers. One contained grub worms and the other grasshoppers. Krycek was appalled, but couldn't stop himself from digging his fingers into the wiggling mass of worms and bringing them to his lips, sucking each worm off his fingers. He found he enjoyed the way they tickled his tongue as he swallowed them alive. Next, he reached for a grasshopper and plucked its legs and wings off before popping the remaining succulent morsel into his mouth and chewing it contentedly. He followed that with a sip of the burgundy beverage. Krycek remained standing as he ate. He knew if he sat, he wouldn't be able to get back up without assistance.

The smoker strolled into the kitchen, puffing on a cigarette. He looked admiringly at his mate stuffing his face at the kitchen table. "How's my precious little preggy-kins doing?" he asked, bending down and kissing the top of Krycek's head, while his clawed hand lovingly caressed the immortal's swollen belly.

"I'mfime," Alex mumbled with a full mouth. He swallowed and reached for the bottle. "Batty, we're almost out of blood. Why don't you be a dear and go fill another bottle for me," Krycek said, pouring the rest of the bottle into his glass and handing the empty to Spender. *Batty!* Why was he talking affectionately to Spender?

"Anything for you, my pet."

Suddenly Krycek moaned, "Oh. Oooh...Oooooh..."

"What's wrong?" Spender asked anxiously.

"I think our babies have decided that they want out, Batty."

"Okay! Don't panic!" The smoker rushed to the kitchen door and shouted, "Fyodorov! Havock! Get your worthless butts in here!"

Krycek in the meantime continued to eat and drink as the contractions grew stronger.

"What are you doing?" Spender bellowed!

"Mmuwhaf?" Krycek said, his mouth stuffed with grasshoppers.

Spender swept his hand across the table and knocked the Tupperware containers and glass to the floor. "You're in labor, goddammit! Do you want our babies to fall out and land on the floor?" He scooped Krycek off his feet and laid him on his back on the kitchen table.

"You called us, Master?" Fyodorov asked, as he rushed into the kitchen with Havock. They were both dressed in white nurses' uniforms.

"Yes. Tie my mate's arms and legs to the table legs. I don't want our babies injured while my mate thrashes around in pain." The smoker, in the meantime, had removed the maternity robe Krycek was wearing.

Krycek lifted his head and looked down at his large belly. It was squirming like the bowl of worms he had been eating out of moments before. Suddenly, a small face protruded from his flesh and then another and another.

"Oh look, honeybunch. It's our babies!" the smoker cooed happily.

Krycek frowned. Something was wrong. "Hey, shouldn't they be in pouches?" he asked, puzzled. Suddenly, sharp pain racked his body as one of the babies clawed its way out of his navel. "UGH!" Krycek pulled on the ropes holding his arms down. His eyes widened in shock at his baby's hideous appearance. It looked like a miniature CGB Spender...a bat baby. The thing looked at him and hissed, then crawled up his body to latch onto his nipple. Its sharp teeth drew both blood and milk from him. "Oh God! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!" Krycek screamed, as three more bat babies were born. They scurried across his chest, fighting for a turn at his nipples.

The Batman was jumping up and down clapping his hands. "Oh, they're so adorable, Alexkins."

Suddenly, Krycek was no longer tied down to the kitchen table. He was standing in the cold, dark corridor holding a net. His babies were flying away from him and he had to catch them. It was their bedtime, but they didn't want to go to sleep. "Get back here at once! Pride, Envy, Sloth, Greed! Stop!" he shouted, as he chased after them. He didn't see the staircase until it was too late, and he stumbled down it. Falling and falling and falling...

Alex sat bolt upright in bed screaming. The bed and room were momentarily spinning. He leaned over the bed and dry heaved, spitting up a little bile. Grasshoppers! He shuddered. As he settled back against the mattress, he reached under the covers and touched his navel. To his relief, he still hadn't gone through the change yet. God, it was only a dream!

The smoker walked into the bedroom and glared at him. "So, you're finally back among the living!" he growled, walking up the bed. "Dammit, Alex! You have to stop killing yourself! It's beginning to piss me off!" he snapped angrily.

Krycek received a great deal of satisfaction from pissing the smoker off. He watched with disgust as Spender stripped out of his clothes. His impressive erection leaped free. It was swollen with need from being denied its desire for so long.

"By the way, my sweet, my last two human dogs died because you were unable to perform your spousal duties! Their deaths are on your head!" He pulled down the bedcovers and exposed Alex's nude body, pale and breathtakingly beautiful against the black silken sheets.

Krycek shivered as the chilly air brushed over his flesh. He had met the two abused humans the smoker mentioned. They would have more than welcomed death over their present existence. Krycek wasn't sure how much time had passed since he had poured kerosene over his head and lit himself on fire. He hoped longer than a couple of days. He'd noticed the more drastic his death was, the longer he took to heal. When he'd stabbed himself through the heart with the steak knife, that had only taken a little over a day to heal. Krycek didn't even attempt to fight as CGB Spender climbed onto the oversized bed and roughly spread his legs wide as he knelt between them.

"How long?" Krycek finally asked.

"Five days." The smoker pushed a lubed finger into him. "Alex, if you ever attempt to kill yourself again, I will tie you down to this bed until after our first batch of children are born!"

"Whatever," Krycek muttered, turning his face to the side so he wouldn't have to watch the creature taking him. Five days was the longest. If he could get his hands on more kerosene... His thoughts were shattered as the hideous creature took him.

***

"Are you ready, yet?" Havock asked impatiently.

Fyodorov was wrapping the baby in an extra layer of protective clothing. He had just fed and changed the baby's diaper. He placed food and formula for little Duncan in the duffel bag. "We're ready," he said.

"Are you sure you want to take it? It will only slow us down!" Havock asked. He wasn't too sure about the wisdom of taking the baby with them. He would have ordered Fyodorov to leave it, but something deep down inside him was telling him that the baby could come in very handy. Not knowing which voice to listen to was causing him untold agitation.

"I won't leave him here!" Fyodorov growled, as they made their way down the stairs to the subterranean pond. If the baby didn't go, then neither would he.

"We don't have time to argue about it!" Havock snapped. "It's now or never!"

They had discovered that whenever the Batman was having sex with Krycek, he wasn't able to focus on anything except the immortal. They had the length of time the smoker would be fucking Krycek to get through the underground tunnels. Spender would have a difficult time detecting their presence once they were on the other side of the barrier. Havock led them to the side tunnel in which he had discovered a small hole concealed in the shadows. It was sheer luck that he had stumbled upon it. He had been further amazed that the hole led to another tunnel -- a tunnel that ran underneath the barrier and came out in a cave several miles away. Havock could have escaped at that time, but he had been waiting for the smoker to bring Mulder to him.

Fyodorov hugged the baby, crooning softly to him in Russian. Duncan babbled and smiled at the little man as they made their way down the dark, cold tunnel. The only light was from the flashlight Havock carried.

"Okay! I'll go through first then you pass the brat to me!" Havock said. Getting down on his knees he started crawling through the narrow hole. He came out in a wider tunnel than the one they'd been in. Turning back toward the hole, he stretched his arms out and took the baby from Fyodorov. He stood with the baby in his arms and stared down in disgust at the small, trusting face. "I hope you are worth the trouble, brat."

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, January 29th
8:20 a.m.

Mulder carried a tray with hot tea and biscuits into Shinji, who was sitting in his bedroom wrapped in a blanket staring sadly out the window. Shinji smiled gently as his friend set the tray down. It had been over a month since his baby had been kidnapped. He and Mulder had talked, and although he didn't hold Mulder responsible for his son's abduction, Mulder still took the complete blame for it upon himself. What made matters worse was the Batman's offer to exchange Duncan for Mulder. Mulder was more than willing to exchange himself, but Shinji and Walter wouldn't hear of it.

Mulder handed Shinji a cup of tea, then sat next to him.

"How are your children doing, Mulder?" the younger man asked.

Mulder yawned tiredly. "Sorry," he said covering his mouth. "Sergei has finally slept five straight hours without waking up, demanding to be fed. His brother and sisters have been sleeping six hours between feedings for the past week. Faith and Hope keep asking for Alex. I've been worried that they might forget him. River is sleeping back in his own bedroom most of the time, but he still sneaks into bed with Walter and me when he's scared."

Shinji sipped his tea. "Little Sergei does have a healthy appetite, doesn't he? Duncan was always very fussy. I had a hard time getting him to nurse. I think he takes after Rory...I was half-tempted to drink a couple of bottles of ale before trying to nurse him," he said, smiling sadly, remembering. Then he wiped at a tear in his eye. "My milk has dried up..."

"Shin, I'm sorry..."

"Don't be. Duncan will just have to get used to drinking formula when we get him back." He took a sip of tea, his hand shaky. "I heard from Rory yesterday. He says that Slava and Lord Oda have moved their troops north of his position. He had a run in with Lord Oda a couple of days ago..."

"Yeah, I know. Walter told me." Mulder wrung his hands nervously in his lap. "Shinji, if you promise not to tell Walter, I'll let you in on a secret," he said quietly.

Shinji wasn't sure he should make any promises not to tell Walter whatever Mulder wanted to tell him. "What, Mulder?"

"Promise me first."

"Mulder..." Shinji said, exasperated.

"Promise."

"Okay. I promise that I won't tell Walter." His curiosity outweighed his better judgment.

Mulder pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Or anyone else."

Shinji glared at him. "Or anyone else. Now tell me what you're up to?"

"I've started mixing formula with my milk in the babies' bottles. I'm hoping to get my babies used to drinking only formula within the next couple of weeks," Mulder said.

"Mulder! You shouldn't be doing that!" Shinji said aghast. "Our milk is a thousand times more nutritious!"

Mulder ignored him. "Once they're used to the formula, I'm going after Alex and Duncan on my own."

"Mulder, we have our best sorcerers trying to rescue them. You can't expect to do any better than them."

"Shin, they've been trying for over a month now! I won't stand by any longer while Alex is being raped and victimized. I need to do something!" Mulder growled, leaping to his feet and pacing around the room.

"Getting yourself captured isn't going to help the situation any!" Shinji scolded.

"I won't get captured." Mulder sighed. "Before I became an immortal, I was quite skilled at breaking into places. With my new powers, I'll be able to walk right into the fortress and out with Alex and Duncan right under that smoking bastard's nose."

"Why do you think you'll be successful when Ari wasn't? He wasn't even able to get within half a mile of the barrier before having to turn back," Shinji argued.

"I'm not easily frightened, Shinji."

"Mulder, please think about the consequences of what you're considering. Think about Walter and your children first. How would River handle losing you, too? Walter isn't going to take you ditching him too kindly."

"He's not going to lose me. I'll be back with Alex and Duncan in a couple of days."

"Mulder, I wish you would reconsider."

"No. Alex needs me. As soon as the babies have adjusted to drinking the formula, I'm leaving."

"Take Walter with you then!" Shinji pleaded.

"I can't tell him. If I did he'd stop me..."

"Mulder, Walter would have gone after Alex himself, but he's been stuck here taking care of you. It isn't fair to him! What about your withdrawal pains?"

"Shin, he'll never agree to my plan. He's too protective of me where CGB Spender is concerned. I'm the only one with any chance of getting past the barrier and into the fortress undetected. As for my withdrawal pains, I plan on taking an anti-pheromone shot before I leave."

"Mulder, then take Kazuo..."

"No. I'm not putting anyone else's life in danger."

Shinji was exasperated! He didn't know what else he could say to talk Mulder out of going. He never should have given Mulder his word not to tell anyone what Mulder had told him.

***

White Mountain
Monday, January 29th
10:20 a.m.

Krycek regained consciousness and noted the dim light coming in through the window. It barely lightened the room. He hated Alaska for its long winter nights when the sun hung just below the horizon, giving the day at best only a few hours of murky dimness. He slowly pulled himself off the slumbering Batman's cock, which was still imbedded in his backside after a long, relentless session of sex. Krycek assumed the perverted creature was making up for lost time. Five hours of being forced nearly left him lame, as he limped to the bathroom to relieve himself. He would have loved a nice long soak in a hot bath, but Spender had removed the bathtub after he'd used it to drown himself. That death didn't last very long at all. It was hardly worth the effort. Krycek turned the shower on as hot as he could stand it and stepped under the spray.

He closed his eyes and let the hot spray wash over his face, neck, and shoulders. So far, killing himself by fire had lasted the longest. He doubted that he'd get another chance to do that again. Now if he could only figure out a way to decapitate himself. Alex was sure he'd get at least two weeks rest. He turned his back to the spray and looked around the bare bathroom. It had absolutely nothing he could use to harm himself. Krycek sighed. He couldn't even leave the bedroom any longer. The smoker had made the doorway leading out into the corridor vanish, sealing them both inside until the cancer-sucking bastard awoke.

"God, Walter, Fox, why have you forgotten me?" he murmured sadly. It hurt, not hearing any word from them. Deep down, he knew that his lovers were doing everything in their power to rescue him. Fox would have come if it weren't for their babies. He was sure of that. But where was Walter?

***

They approached the exit to the tunnel cautiously. Both men were freezing. The temperature in the tunnel was almost as cold as the frigid surface temperature. Havock needed Fyodorov's clairvoyant abilities to help shield them from the smoker as they made their way across Alaska and into Canada. Only the former American air force base was left in Alaska, as most of the lifelong residents had fled south, far away from the menacing presence of the Batman. If they could make it to the base, he would be able to steal an airplane and fly them as far away from Alaska as possible.

The closer they came to the exit, the stronger Havock's powers became. It had been months since the Australian sorcerer had his powers. The first thing he used them for was to scan the area outside the cave. His eyes widened in surprise and a wicked grin graced his handsome face at what he had discovered. "Marat, my friend, you've been carrying little Duncan for hours! Your arms must be tired. Let me carry him for the next few hours."

Fyodorov's arms were getting tired, so he smiled tiredly. "Thanks, Beiran, I could use the help." The little man opened his coat, where he had the baby bundled protectively against his warm skin.

Havock took the baby from the little Russian and smiled down at Duncan's cute face. This baby was his ticket to riches. Cradling the baby in one arm, he pulled out a knife with his other hand.

Fyodorov adjusted the duffel bag on his shoulder and then turned back to make sure Duncan was okay. The Australian moved so quickly that Fyodorov never saw the knife. He was puzzled at first, looking down at the pearl knife handle sticking out of his chest. Havock gave the knife one upward twist and the little man fell to the ground, dead. The last thought Fyodorov had was to hope that Duncan made it back to his parents unharmed.

Havock stared down at the body for a moment. He could easily have stopped Fyodorov's heart with his re-emerged powers, but that might have alerted the Batman to their whereabouts. He couldn't take that risk. Not when he was less than an hour away from certain freedom. "Well, brat! Shall we go find that bastard of a father of yours?" he asked as he opened his coat and shirt, placing the baby protectively against his warm chest. He then bent and retrieved the duffel bag from Fyodorov's body.

Snow had fallen since they had been down in the tunnels. Havock carefully made his way across the pristine landscape. He judged by the murky dimness that it must be noon. It was hard to tell. Night would be falling shortly. It took him a little under an hour to reach his destination. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by a few dozen powerful sorcerers.

"Lad, I hope you have a very good reason for being here!" MacIver growled, as he stepped forward. He hadn't been able to read the stranger's mind. It wasn't until he was close enough that he saw who it was that his men had captured. "YOU! What are you doing here! You mangy, good for nothing, piece of DUNG!"

"I was looking for you as a matter of fact, MacIver," Havock replied softly.

"Why? What are you up to?" MacIver hissed. He had had nothing but unpleasant dealings with the Australian in the past.

"I just escaped from the fortress. That bat creature has been holding me captive for over four, torture-filled months!"

MacIver's eyes narrowed. "If that were true, why would you be looking for me, instead of trying to get as far from here as possible?"

"I didn't escape alone," Havock said, opening his coat.

Duncan yawned and turned his little face to look out at all the men gathering around him.

"Duncan! My beautiful son!" MacIver shouted and rushed forward to take his child from Havock. "Oh, my darling little boy," he purred, raining kisses over his son's tiny face. Duncan looked at him and giggled. "I'm in your debt, Havock," MacIver said teary-eyed.

"I'm a changed man, MacIver. Spending over four months in the presence of pure evil has made me see the error of my ways." He smiled charmingly. "God must be looking down on me today. I had no idea that you'd be out here, MacIver. It's saved me a long walk back to civilization with your son. I packed enough diapers and formula for the baby to last a week." Havock passed the duffel bag over to one of the other sorcerers who stood watching in amazement. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a long walk ahead of me."

"Walk? Why would you need to walk? Just tell me where you're going and I'll see that you are flown there promptly." MacIver was so overcome by happiness, he wasn't thinking too clearly.

"Rory!" Gabriel Hunter said, as he appeared suddenly in the middle of all the men.

"Gabriel! Look! My little Duncan is safe!"

"Rory, why don't you take him home to Shinji at once? I'll take over for you here," Gabriel said, smiling gently, while his eyes fixed Havock with a look of distrust.

"Good idea! Havock, would you like to fly out with Duncan and me? You can be my personal guest at the Crystal Palace!"

Gabriel interrupted, "Rory, I think it would be better if he stayed here for a little bit."

"MacIver, thank you for the offer, but I doubt that King Walter would be too happy with my presence at his palace. I did have an unfortunate hand in raping his brother. An act that I have come to regret deeply," Havock said, looking remorseful.

"Our King is a fair man. If he sees that you have mended your ways, I'm sure he'll show you leniency!" MacIver cuddled Duncan, breathing in his delicious baby scent.

Havock knew he had a likely ally in the Scotsman. He just needed to cement MacIver's support. "MacIver, I have no doubt that King Walter is a fair and just man. However, it wasn't just any man I raped. It was his brother. Even the fairest man would have a problem maintaining his objectivity in the face of that. I don't think I want to chance spending the rest of my life in jail when I could be going forth and helping my fellow man."

Gabriel rolled his eyes. "Rory, I need Mr. Havock to show us how he got out of the fortress and through the barrier."

Havock could tell that Gabriel wasn't buying his story. He needed to convince the blond sorcerer if he was to be successful. "We escaped through a tunnel that runs underneath the barrier. Unfortunately, the Batman will have discovered the tunnel by now. His servant had followed us and I was forced to kill him. The tunnel would be too dangerous now. And believe me, you wouldn't want to be trapped on the other side of the barrier with the Batman. He employs some method to steal your powers, leaving you helpless and at his mercy," he shuddered.

"I would still like to see this tunnel," Gabriel said, just as the Batman alighted on a nearby tree.

Spender had been listening to the last few minutes of their conversation. "So, Aussie! You have escaped and killed my faithful servant. I should have given you more credit for being shrewd and ruthless."

Gabriel turned and faced the Batman angrily. "You finally show your hideous face, Spender! Prepare to die!"

The Batman threw his head back and laughed. "You are a formidable opponent, Mr. Hunter! But if you don't kill me with your first blow, then I will kill little Duncan. His blood will be on your hands! Now you will allow me to have my say. Afterwards, I will depart peacefully."

Gabriel paled. He looked over at Rory, who was holding his son even more protectively in his arms. Gabriel wasn't sure he could kill the Batman with his first blow. He couldn't chance the Batman killing Duncan. It wasn't worth the risk. "Have your say, then leave!"

Spender smiled. "A wise decision, Mr. Hunter." He turned back to face Havock. "I can easily take you back with me and these men could do nothing to prevent it. However, I will allow you your temporary freedom. Just keep it in mind that I can take back you anytime I choose." With that said, the Batman took flight and vanished into the hazy sky.

Hunter glared after him, then turned to Havock. "There is a warrant out for your immediate arrest, Mr. Havock. It looks like you'll be going to the Crystal Palace after all."

"I'll go any place as long as it's well away from here!" Havock knew what was behind Spender letting him go. He also knew that if he wasn't successful in impregnating Mulder that Spender would take him back to the fortress, where his head would be mounted next to Spender's other enemies.

"My men will escort you back, Mr. Havock," Gabriel said, dismissing him as three sorcerers stepped forward and led Havock away.

MacIver had been watching the exchange quietly. "Gabriel, thank you for not putting Duncan's life at risk. I'm not sure I could have protected him from the Batman."

"I would never place a child's life at risk. Now get your butt back to Shinji."

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, January 29th
5:00 p.m.

Shinji stared anxiously up at the approaching helicopter, his hand tightly clenched within Kazuo's. Mulder, Skinner, and their friends all waited with them as MacIver's helicopter circled the landing pad. They held their collective breaths as the helicopter descended to the ground. Shinji couldn't keep the tears of joy from his eyes as his husband and son climbed out of the helicopter. "My baby!" he wept. Letting go of Kazuo's hand, he went and hugged Rory, then took Duncan into his arms.

"Ba-ba-ba-ba!" Duncan bounced and babbled excitedly, recognizing his father instantly.

Shinji kissed his temple and breathed in his scent. "Rory, he looks so healthy. I was afraid that he wouldn't be well-cared for," Shinji said, cuddling his son to his chest tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Beiran Havock had a large hand in taking care of Duncan. If it weren't for him, our little Duncan would still be inside the fortress," MacIver said.

"Havock?" Mulder asked, his eyes widening.

Skinner put an arm around Mulder's waist. "Shh, babe, it's all right. He's been flown to the north side of the island to our prison facility. We'll have him transferred to another prison on the mainland after the trial."

MacIver spoke up, "Walter, he's not the same man he once was. He's mended his ways. I hope you take that into consideration."

"Rory, he brutally raped Alex and was responsible for several serial murders in the eighties!" Skinner growled.

"People can change, Walter! Look at me! I was a ruthless mercenary and a smuggler before I fell head over heels in love with Shin!" MacIver stated vehemently.

"You were never a murderer, Rory."

"Alex and you were..."

Skinner glared at the smaller man. "I only murdered Bill Mulder to protect Fox!" he snapped. He hated talking about that brief period in his life, when he had been blackmailed into working for the consortium. However, he never regretted killing Bill Mulder.

River tugged on Mulder's pant leg. "Daddy, who's Bill Mulder? Why did Daddy Walter kill him? Did he try to hurt you?" he asked. He had been standing between Skinner and Mulder.

Mulder knelt down and scooped River up in his arms. "I'll tell you later, champ." River rested his head on Mulder's shoulder as his dad walked over to Shinji. He squeezed by their mutual friends who surrounded the Japanese immortal. "I'm happy for you, Shin."

Shinji smiled sadly. "Thanks, Mulder. I'm sorry that Alex wasn't rescued, too." Their conversation from this morning was weighing heavily on his conscience. He hated knowing that his friend would soon be placing his life in danger. Shinji adjusted Duncan in his arms. His little boy kept trying to get at his nipple, and here he had been sure Duncan would have forgotten him. The baby started crying, not happy being denied. "Sorry, Duncan. No more milk. Your daddy has gone dry."

"Maybe we should take him inside and get him a bottle," Kazuo suggested, as Duncan's crying grew louder.

"I think we should," Shinji said, rocking his son. He interrupted MacIver, who was still arguing with Skinner. "Rory, we're going back to our apartment. Are you coming?"

"I'll be up in a moment, Shin." MacIver turned back to continue his discussion with Skinner.

"Look, Rory! I'm willing to take into account Havock's good deed of taking care of Duncan these past five weeks and rescuing him. If he has truly reformed his ways, then I'll be willing to give him a lighter sentence," Skinner said. His attention wavered as he watched Mulder carry River back toward the palace.

"That's all I'm asking, Walter. Now I'd better get back to my family..."

"I better get back to mine, too?" Skinner said, turning and heading back toward the palace. These past five weeks had been impossible for him. He was desperate to have a more active hand in rescuing Alex. Although he had been in constant contact with Gabriel, MacIver, and General Kline several times a day over the past weeks, it wasn't enough. He wanted to be there himself!

***

White Mountain
Monday, January 29th
5:30 p.m.

Krycek was happy for the first time since being abducted. He no longer had to worry about Duncan. The smoker had informed him that the baby was now safely back home with Rory and Shinji. Spender said that he had freed the child to show Alex that he wasn't such a bad guy. Alex hadn't believed him at first, until the Batman showed him a brief news clip of Rory getting off a helicopter with Duncan.

Krycek sat quietly as the cook placed a heaping plate of food in front of him. All of the meat had been cut into bite-sized pieces. The smoker only trusted him with a spoon. His eyes scanned the room as he absently ate and listened to the smoker drone on about sending Fyodorov and Havock out on a diplomatic mission. His eyes lighted on a bell cord. It was long enough for his purpose... The cord suddenly vanished.

"Alex, you're not hanging yourself. You can get that notion out of your pretty little head."

Krycek pursed his lips and went back to eating, keeping his head down and his attention on his meal.

Spender smiled at the pretty, bowed head. He knew Alex was avoiding looking at him. How he longed for those green-jeweled eyes to look upon him with love and admiration, instead of hate and disgust. "I have a surprise for you, my dear," he said, taking a long drag on his cigarette. He went on as Alex continued to ignore him. "I have the nursery ready for our children. I think we should shoot for six babies for your first pregnancy. What do you think, dear?" He smiled as Alex visibly trembled, his attention diverted briefly from his meal. "After all, Fox had four babies and you are built more sturdily than he. I think you could easily handle six."

Krycek's mind was screaming as he calmly finished his vegetables and picked up the wine glass. He wouldn't allow the smoker to see his distress.

Spender watched the beautiful face for a reaction as Krycek calmly sipped his wine. "Alex, I bet you're the type that would become quite plump while pregnant. I'll have to make sure to monitor your diet. We wouldn't want you gaining more weight than is necessary."

Krycek finished his wine and glanced over at Spender. "May I have some more wine?"

"Yes you may, dear. But first, it's time for our nightly inspection. Remove your clothes."

Krycek sighed, pushed back his chair and stood. It was pointless to resist. The few times he had, had only gotten him further punished and humiliated. He pulled the soft angora sweater over his head and folded it over the back of the chair, stepping out of his penny loafers -- shoes he normally wouldn't have been caught dead in! He then unzipped his wool pants and shimmied out of them, folding them on top of his sweater. He left on his thong as he walked over to the smoker's chair.

Spender looked at him in admiration. "You're so beautiful, Alex." His hands caressed Krycek's hips and up his sides, then back down. He reached around to squeeze the beauty's taut buttocks. He lowered his head to Krycek's belly and used his tongue to probe his navel. Spender pulled his head away in disgust. "I bet you would have changed by now, if you hadn't slowed the change down by killing yourself!"

Krycek ignored the smoker's rant and stared over at the wall with the severed human heads mounted on plaques. He admired the sharp sword hanging above the heads. It might be possible...

"STOP THAT!" the smoker growled. Pulling Alex over his knee suddenly, he started spanking the beautiful immortal's ivory buttocks. "You're not going to decapitate yourself!" SWAT-SWAT-SWAT! "Is that clear?" SWAT-SWAT-SWAT-SWAT!

Krycek closed his eyes and bit his lower lip to keep from crying out.

"IS...THAT...CLEAR!" Spender growled, delivering several more hard blows to Krycek's now flaming red buttocks.

"YES!"

Spender stopped spanking him. "Good. I hope you finally learned your lesson!"

"Yes."

"You can have another glass of wine, then we shall retire down to the subterranean pond. I think we both could use a nice soak in its warm mineral waters."

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, January 29th
6:20 p.m.

Havock sat on the bed in his cell looking humbly up at Skinner who stood glaring down at him. The Australian sorcerer wore a power control cuff around his ankle, which eliminated his ability to use his sorcerer powers. Neither man was aware that Mulder stood invisible in the corner of the cell. Skinner could have discovered him if he used his powers to search the cell, but he had no reason to do so.

"I want to know everything you can tell me about how my brother is being treated by CGB Spender!" Skinner growled.

"The batman is in love with Krycek and can't keep his hands off him," Havock said shrugging his shoulders.

"I want to know everything!"

"I don't think you're going to like it, Your Majesty."

"Tell me!"

"He rapes Krycek several times a day. It has gotten so bad that your brother has taken to killing himself, just for the brief rest death would bring him."

Mulder gasped and quickly covered his mouth, he thought sure that the two men might have heard him, but they continued talking.

"How?" Skinner asked quietly. His heart aching with sorrow.

"The first time he leapt out of the fortress upper window. Next he drowned himself. After that he drove a knife through his heart. The last time he set himself on fire..." Havock grinned. "Krycek has been really driving the Batman crazy...I think your brother gets a sense of victory from that."

"Thank you, Mr. Havock. If you can answer a few more question for me, I will take your cooperation into consideration when sentencing you," Skinner said.

Mulder couldn't take anymore and fled the cell. He was now more determined than ever to rescue Alex.

***

Skinner office
Thirty-minutes later

MacIver rushed into Skinner's office. His clothes were disheveled as if he had hurriedly put them on upon receiving Skinner's telepathic message to meet him in the throne room at once.

"Have a seat, Rory. Can I get you a drink?" Skinner asked.

"A whiskey would be ideal," MacIver said, taking a seat in front of the fireplace.

Skinner poured them each a stiff drink, then took the chair across from MacIver. "I want to ask a favor of you, Rory. This is really hard for me, but I see no other way and you're the only one I trust."

MacIver sipped his drink and waited for Skinner to continue. He could tell that the larger man was agitated.

"I want you to take care of Fox for me, so I can join our forces at White Mountain."

"Take care of, as in have sex with?"

"Yes."

"Have you discussed this with Mulder yet?"

"No. But, I'm sure he'll agree. Fox wants Alex back as much as I do. He knows that I stand the best chance of rescuing him." Skinner hoped that his lover would agree. He couldn't picture Fox not agreeing, since it was for Alex. His only problem would be if Fox wanted to come with him, but since he was still nursing their children, Skinner had a good excuse not to take him.

"Okay, if Fox agrees. I also want to discuss it with Shinji and Kazuo," MacIver said.

"Rory, can I ask you a personal question?"

"What?" MacIver asked, as he got up to pour himself another drink. He had abstained from alcohol all the while he was at White Mountain.

"Are you and Kazuo lovers?"

MacIver gave a throaty laugh. "God, no! Having sex with Kazuo would be like fucking my own brother..." He blushed suddenly, realizing he had just put his foot in his mouth. "Uh...no offense, Walter."

Skinner chuckled. "None taken. I know that my relationship with Alex is far from conventional." He held out his glass as MacIver poured a little more whisky into it.

"Walter, why don't you take Mulder with you to White Mountain?" MacIver asked, sitting back down.

"He's still nursing our babies."

"I'm sure Hans, Justin, and the other immortals would step in to help nurse them. Mulder might be able to help you break through the barrier," MacIver suggested.

"No. We tried breaking through the barrier with Ari. I doubt Fox would have any more luck. I think it's best that he remains here."

"I think you're underestimating Mulder..."

"Rory, I know my lover like the back of my hand! If I thought there was a chance that Fox could get us inside the barrier, I'd take him with me!"

"What would it hurt to try?"

Skinner sighed. "I don't want him anywhere near that smoking bastard. Rory, I can't lose Fox, too."

"Well, it is your choice, Walter." MacIver drained the rest of his drink. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I haven't had sex in five weeks and I'm hornier than a bitch in heat."

Skinner watched Rory depart and glanced at the clock. His and Fox's love life had been nonexistent since Alex was kidnapped. They only took time to fuck when Fox's withdrawal pains started. The act had no romance associated with it. That would stop tonight. He wanted to make love to Fox before he departed for White Mountain.

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, January 29th
8:20 p.m.

Skinner sat up against the headboard of River's bed, reading a story to his son.

"Daddy?" River interrupted.

"Yes, son?"

"I'm happy that baby Duncan is home."

"Me, too."

"I'm happy that Uncle Rory is home. Is he going to stay or go back for Daddy Alex?"

"Uncle Rory is going to stay. I'm going with Uncle Kazuo to help rescue Daddy Alex."

River smiled. He knew if anyone would be able to bring his missing Daddy home it was Daddy Walter.

"Hi guys," Mulder said as he walked into the bedroom. Rex lifted his head from the rug and barked. Mulder bent and scratched behind the dog's ears, then smiled up at Walter. His lover looked so cute in his undershirt and flannel pajama bottoms that he just wanted to cuddle with him. "How's story time going?"

"Daddy Walter's reading me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." River smiled. "Did you know that Daddy Walter and Uncle Kazuo are going to fight the Batman and rescue Daddy Alex?" he asked suddenly.

Mulder's eyebrow rose questioningly. "No, I didn't know that, River." He looked into his lover's nervous brown eyes for confirmation.

"Fox, I was going to tell you as soon as I finished putting River to bed. With Rory back..." Skinner stopped when his lover's face became grim.

River could tell his Daddy Fox was upset. "Don't worry. Daddy Walter is a much more powerful a sorcerer than the Batman."

"River, if you're through with Daddy Walter, I'd like to talk to him back in our bedroom," Mulder said through clenched teeth. He turned and stormed out the bedroom door, barely keeping his temper in check.

River looked up at Skinner and whispered, "Oh my, you're in big trouble. He didn't even kiss me goodnight."

"I think you might be right." Skinner climbed off the bed and tucked River under the covers. He gave him a kiss goodnight. "I need you to do me a favor, son."

"What, Daddy?"

"If you need to come into our bedroom tonight, please knock first," Skinner said and ruffled River's hair lovingly.

"Okay."

Skinner took a deep breath and walked out to meet his fate.

"How could you?" were the first words out of Mulder's mouth when Skinner walked into their bedroom.

"Fox, Alex needs me! I didn't think you'd mind. You've always put Alex's needs ahead of your own," Skinner said.

Mulder glared at him. "You're not going to have anymore luck than Rory, Gabriel, and General Kline have had! In the meantime, you expect me to stay here and be fucked every other day by Rory! Isn't that right, Walter?"

"Fox, Rory's serviced you in the past...I trust him not to touch you beyond having anal intercourse with you..."

"Gee, thanks so fucking much, Walter! Your love for me holds no bounds!" he snarled sarcastically.

"Fox, don't be this way. I love you more than I've ever loved anyone in my life and you know that! I love Alex too, and he needs me more right now. Even if I can't break through the barrier, at the very least I'm hoping to get close enough to communicate with him telepathically. He needs to know that we haven't given up!" Skinner rallied.

Mulder looked sadly down at the floor as tears pooled in his eyes. "Okay, fine. Go."

"Okay? Fox, you're giving in this quickly?"

Mulder shrugged his shoulders and sat down on the bed. "You're right, Walter. Alex does come first, and if you're able to telepathically communicate with him to tell him that we love him and are doing everything we can to free him, then I can tolerate being fucked by another man," he said remorsefully. Besides, Mulder thought guiltily, what right did he have to be angry? Alex was in this situation because of him. He had been planning to ditch Walter for the very same purpose as Walter was leaving him. At least with his lover out of the way, he could speed up weaning his babies off his milk more quickly.

Skinner let out a relieved breath. He'd been sure he'd eventually convince Fox that this was the best course, but he had thought it would take a lot longer. He sat on the bed next to Fox and put his arm around his waist, pulling Fox closer. "I would like to make love to you before I leave. We haven't made love since Alex was taken from us. I would like to have at least the memory to tide me over until I can return to you with Alex."

Mulder turned and melted Skinner's arms, hugging him tightly. "Walter, please promise me that you'll be careful? The smoker is insane...I don't want him to get his hands on you."

"I'll be careful. Why don't you get ready for bed?"

Mulder sighed. "Yeah. We might not see each other again for a while." He rose and walked into his walk-in closet to remove his clothes and toss them into the laundry hamper.

Skinner locked the bedroom door, then closed the French doors leading into the nursery. All babies were sleeping quietly. He removed his glasses and placed them on the nightstand. Then he stripped out of his undershirt and pajama bottoms. Skinner pulled back the covers on the bed and fluffed the pillows. He chuckled suddenly, looking at the pillow in his hand. They had become like an old married couple.

Mulder gave him an inquisitive glance as he walked out of the closet naked and headed for the steps to their bathroom. "What," he asked, at his lover's chuckles.

"Us. Remember when we didn't have to worry about kids interrupting us, or the state of our clothes after we'd ripped them off each other? We have a routine that we go through each evening before bed now. You always strip in the closet then head to the bathroom. You'll brush your teeth first, then you'll clean yourself out and afterwards you'll take a shower and shave your pubic areas..."

"Walter, you know I don't always give myself an enema before we have sex..."

"But you're planning to tonight because we aren't just having sex, we're making love. Am I right?"

Mulder hated to admit that Walter was right. He had been planning to clean himself inside and out. "Okay, so you're right. But, I see nothing wrong with having a routine. It only means we're comfortable around each other and there's nothing wrong with that."

"I never said there was. Fox, I find our daily routines reassuring and comforting."

Mulder's eyes grazed appreciatively over Walter's muscular body and rested briefly on the large organ resting between his lover's strong thighs. "I find a lot of things in our lives comforting," he said, and started back up the steps. "I'll be down in a bit."

Skinner's cock twitched as his eyes traveled lustfully up Mulder's long legs to his firm ass. Licking his lips he asked huskily, "Would you like me to give you a hand with your enema?" He was positive Mulder would say no. He always had in the past.

"Sure."

Skinner was momentarily stunned. It took several seconds for his legs to unfreeze, so he could hurry after Mulder. His cock thickened as he watched Mulder at the sink brushing his teeth. Their eyes met in the mirror. Mulder spat and rinsed. "I don't know why you're always wanting to give me an enema. Enemas are so gross."

Skinner chuckled, hugging Mulder from behind and kissing the side of his lover's throat. "I don't find anything about you gross, Fox." He spun Mulder around to face him and covered his full lips with his own, hungrily drinking in his lover's minty taste.

Mulder's arms went around Skinner's neck as he lost himself in the kiss. He moaned as his lover's fingers clutched and kneaded his buttocks. Their groins rubbed together back and forth, up and down, in an erotic dance of need. Mulder broke the kiss first and took Skinner's hand.

"Come on! You wanted to give me an enema. We might as will get it over with." Mulder led him into a small room off the main bathroom. It had several hoses with nozzles attached along the wall, two benches, an overhead shower and a large hole in the middle of the floor covered by a wide meshed grate. Mulder selected a hose then and dipped his finger into the lubricant and greased its nozzle, handing it back to Walter. "I think you know what to do from here," he said, putting one foot up on the bench and bending over.

Skinner placed one hand on the small of his lover's back, then placed the nozzle against his anus and slowly pushed it in until it was firmly seated. "How much of the solution do you usually use?"

"Turn it on and I'll tell you when to turn it off," Mulder said. He was surprised that he wasn't more embarrassed, like he'd been in the past.

Skinner opened the valve and watched as the liquid traveled down the clear tubing and into his lover. "You don't have set amount?"

"No." Mulder wasn't about to admit that he had really begun to enjoy the sensation of water filling him and at times would use more than was recommended. "I usually just use enough until I start feeling uncomfortable," he said, then looked under his arm at Walter's passion-filled face and chuckled. "Would you like me to give you an enema next, Walter?"

"Uhh, maybe some other time."

Mulder smirked. "I'll hold you to that." A glassy look came over his eyes and he said, "Okay, turn it off."

"Do I leave the nozzle in?"

"No take it out and hang it back on the wall."

"Shouldn't I wash it off first?"

"Walter, we have servants who do that for us."

"Since when have you gone upper-crust on me?" Skinner teased.

Mulder glared at him angrily. "Since I'm not a fucking sorcerer and I can't just wave my hand and have it all magically done! I have seven kids for crying out loud! I need some fucking help!" Mulder gritted his teeth against the sudden cramping.

"Hey, I was only joking. Of course, you should have all the help you can get."

"It w-wasn't funny, Walter."

"I know. I'm sorry." Skinner rubbed Mulder's back as his lover trembled from both anger and discomfort.

Mulder rested his head on Skinner's broad shoulder. His bowels were cramping painfully. He had five more minutes before he could relieve himself. They stood there quietly for several minutes. Mulder finally pulled away.

"Walter, would you mind leaving? I need to..." he glanced over at hole in the middle of the room then back at Skinner.

"Okay, Fox, but you have nothing to be embarrassed about. I'll go and heat up the shower for us."

Skinner kicked himself as he walked out of the room and crossed the bathroom to the shower. He should have known better than to tease Fox about domestic issues. Skinner himself was overtaxed being King, but Fox was stuck with four infants, two toddlers, and an inquisitive five-year-old to deal with during the day. Even with their nannies to help him, Fox was still the center of their children's universe -- a universe his lover wasn't accustomed to -- and sometimes Skinner wondered if he even wanted it.

Mulder finished rinsing himself off. He hadn't meant to snap at Walter over something so petty. He was just so stressed out lately from wanting to go to Alex, but not being able to because of the babies. Then finding out that Walter was going to White Mountain while he was still stuck here seemed really unjust. To make matters worse, he was afraid for Walter's life. Mulder wouldn't put it past CGB Spender to try to kill his lover. He didn't know what he'd do if that happened. He gazed lovingly at Walter's powerful physique as his lover turned to face him. Their eyes met and Mulder tried to convey all the love he felt for Walter in that one look, as he slowly made his way across the bathroom. He stepped into the shower, shoved Walter against the tiled wall and kissed him hard. "Walter, I haven't told you how much I love you lately. I do -- more than I can ever convey in words. It scares me that you'll be placing yourself in danger. Please, promise me that you won't go beyond the barrier and into the fortress? The smoking-bastard is going to try and trick you..."

"Fox, give me a little credit. I'm aware of what happens to a sorcerer's powers on the other side of the barrier. I plan to wait him out. He'll have to leave his fortress sometime and when he does, I will kill him! Then it will be safe to go in after Alex." Skinner pulled him close. The water cascaded down their bodies. "You have nothing to worry about. I'm not about to do anything reckless when I have you to come back to."

Mulder was relieved. If anyone was going to be reckless it would be himself. Skinner's hands had traveled down to his ass and were lovingly caressing his buttocks. "Walter, let's get clean. I want to make love in our bed for once."

Skinner chuckled, his finger teasing the opening to his lover's body. "We do have a tendency to let ourselves flow with the moment. Okay, the bed it is," he murmured, pulling his finger away and picking up a washcloth.

They spent long minutes washing each other and sharing tender kisses. By the time they were done, both men were more aroused than they'd been in weeks. Skinner didn't even bother drying as he bent down and hefted his lover's wet naked body over his shoulder and carried him down the steps.

Mulder squeaked as he found himself upside down, looking at Walter's gorgeous ass. Then he was dumped in the middle of their bed and his larger lover climbed on top of him, smothering his face with wet, sloppy kisses. Mulder couldn't help chuckling as Walter's tongue and lips covered every inch of his face before settling on his lips in a long passion-filled kiss. He laced his fingers around Walter's neck, pulling him closer.

Skinner let out a moan as his senses were filled with his lover's scent and taste. Mulder's pheromones still affected him as strongly as they had the first time his lover had changed into an immortal.

"What are you thinking about, Walter?" Mulder asked, his hands caressing up and down Skinner's broad back.

"Doctor Wells..."

"I haven't thought about him in months! Why would you think of him now of all times?"

"I was remembering the first time I saw you after you changed into an immortal. Remember I had to strong-arm that doctor out of the room after he tried to kiss you? He wasn't able to resist you because of your pheromones."

"Yeah, I remember. Those were some of the most difficult weeks of my life...I was so alone...so isolated," Mulder said sadly.

"I still regret that time, Fox. I wish I hadn't been such a selfish ass when you needed me."

"We all have regrets. I regret wallowing in self-pity instead of forcing you to tell me what was wrong." He looked into Walter's warm earth-hued eyes, as his hands trailed lovingly over his lover's large biceps. "Let's forget the past. I love you, Walter Sergei Skinner, and if you don't fuck me so hard that I'll be able feel it for the entire time that you're gone I'll..."

Skinner silenced him with another kiss as he shifted his body until he was kneeling between Mulder's parted thighs. He slowly worked his way down Mulder's body, stopping to feast at his nipples.

Mulder cried out at the sensation of his lover's lips suckling him, his cock growing even harder. "Oh God, if you don't stop I'm going to come!"

Skinner grinned as he tugged playfully on the nipple with his teeth. He sucked harder, swallowing the sweet fluid as Mulder arched off the bed and came, spilling his seed between their bodies. Skinner smiled up at him, before moving down to Mulder's navel, where he continued his oral assault.

Mulder was panting hard as his lover's tongue invaded his bellybutton. The sensitivity of the orifice had him erect again in seconds. His fingers dug into Skinner's shoulders, as his lover mercilessly brought him to a second orgasm in a matter of minutes.

"You're becoming quite sticky. Would you like me to take care of it for you?" Skinner asked, as he started to lick the creamy come from Mulder's belly. His tongue traveled over Mulder's cleanly shaved groin.

"Oooh..." Mulder moaned, as Walter's licked along the length of his flaccid cock, rousing new life from it. "I can't..."

"You can and you are," Skinner chuckled, as he lapped around the cockhead of his lover's rapidly reawakening organ. His fingers cradled his lover's sacs, as he slowly took more and more of his length into his mouth.

Mulder's eyes closed and his fingers clutched the blankets as his cock swelled inside his lover's mouth. He smiled as he thrust his hips up. He couldn't imagine anyone being more oral than his precious Walter. The magic his lover's mouth was able to work on his senses was amazing. "Oooh, God!" Mulder moaned.

Skinner sucked harder, massaging Mulder's balls, until his lover was shooting his release down his throat. He lapped it all up greedily, enjoying the rich flavor.

Mulder sagged lifelessly to the mattress. Seconds later when he felt Walter's cock enter him, he was too boneless at first to respond. As his lover picked up momentum, his hips pushed back automatically, meeting Walter thrust for thrust. Then Walter's hands wrapped around his cock and started pumping it, forcing it to become hard once more. Mulder's legs wrapped tighter around his lover's waist as he was slammed into harder and harder, faster and faster. It was too much, as his orgasm took him for the fourth time, his anal muscles clamping down on Walter's cock.

Skinner held back for as long as he could, but the feel of Mulder's internal muscles bearing down on his sensitive organ was more than he could stand, and he shot his release deep into his lover's bowels.

Both men sagged tiredly in each others arms, still joined. It was several moments before they realized the pounding they heard was the door and not their hearts.

Skinner pulled out of Mulder then climbed out of bed and pulled his flannel pajama bottoms back on as he stumbled to the bedroom door.

River stood there looking frightened clutching his rag doll rabbit to his chest. "I knocked."

*Fox?* Skinner sighed telepathically.

*Just get rid of the wet spots, Walter, and let him in,* Mulder replied tiredly.

Skinner used his powers to eliminate any sign of their activity from the bed.

River scurried around Skinner and ran to the bed, climbing into Mulder's arms.

Mulder pulled him under the covers and cuddled him reassuringly. "Did you have a bad dream?"

"Yes. I dreamt that the Batman took you from me, too," River murmured his eyes filling with tears.

"I'll always be here for you, River," Mulder said. "I'm stronger than the Batman."

Skinner wrapped his arms around Mulder and River. "Fox," he warned.

"I am stronger, Walter," Mulder said quietly.

Skinner sighed. "Fine. If that is what you need to believe."

***

Crystal Palace
Sunday, February 7th
4:20 p.m.

Jeffrey cuddled Angelique against his chest as he fed her the bottle. She looked up at him trustingly. He glanced over at Mulder, as his half-brother placed Sergei in the bassinet, then picked up Hunter out of the other.

"Thank you for giving me a hand, Jeff. With Walter gone, you're the only other person that she'll allow to hold her."

"No problem, Mulder. I don't mind helping you with the babies, and considering that Ian will be sleeping for two more weeks, it gives me something to do along with some practice for when our child is born." Jeffrey sat on a stool his wings fanned out behind it. "By the way, it was nice of you to send all of your nannies on a paid week to New York City," Spender said.

"They deserved some time off." Mulder wanted them out of the way while he got his babies accustomed to drinking formula. "So, are you excited about the prospect of becoming a father?" Mulder sat down in the rocking chair and placed the nipple of the bottle to Hunter's lips.

"Very!" Jeff said, watching Mulder closely. "Don't you still nurse the babies?"

"I'm trying to get them used to the bottle so I can go back to work," Mulder said, only slightly lying, as he watched his son suckling on the bottle. The whole bottle was filled with formula only. He would wait one more week to make sure they were fine before he left to rescue Alex. If anything happened to any of their babies, Walter and Alex would never forgive him. His main worry was River. Their son had been sleeping with him every night since Walter left. River didn't feel he needed to put on a brave front for Mulder as he had for Skinner. Mulder knew he'd have to sit down and have a long talk with River before he left.

"I don't know why you want to continue working? You have everything, Mulder. A beautiful home, family, two men who love you..."

"Jeff, I'll admit that I love my children more than I thought possible, but I also need time away from them. I want to go back to work..."

"I would think that your children would come first?"

"They do come first." Mulder sighed. "Jeff, I don't see why I have to explain myself to you."

"Children need one of their parents available at all times. Mulder, my mom wasn't around much. I hardly knew my father..."

"Jeff, we're not like your or my family were. My children will never lack for love. People who love them fill this place. Like you. You'll be here for them if something should happen to me?"

"You know I will, Mulder. Besides, you're my only blood relative."

"No I'm not, Jeff."

"Our father doesn't count, Mulder."

"I wasn't thinking about him." Mulder smiled down at Hunter. His green eyes framed by thick sable lashes were watching his face intently. The look was so like his beloved Alex's. "Jeff, all of my children are related to you by blood. Even Angelique."

***

White Mountain
Sunday, February 7th
1:20 p.m.

Krycek had been feeling exhausted for the past week. More so than usual, as he dragged his sore and abused body into the bathroom, hoping that a cold shower would help. The smoker's loud snores seemed louder here than in the bedroom, as they echoed off the tiled walls. He stepped under the spray and shivered as cold water cascaded down his body. Picking up the bar of soap he cleaned the semen from his flesh. He paused over his belly as a strange sensation washed over him. Krycek dropped the soap in horror and tentatively probed his navel with his finger. It sank into his body and was tightly clenched by the muscles of his new orifice. A rush of pleasure coursed through him.

***

End of chapter 8 - A Matter of Time


Life from the Ashes Book 4 - Yours, Mine, & Ours
by Jo B.

Rating: NC-17
Keywords: M/Sk/K SLASH
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, Walter Skinner, Jeffrey Spender, CSM, the Lone Gunmen, Kimberly Cook, Senator Matheson, Bill Scully, the morph etc. are the property Chris Carter, 1013 productions and Fox Broadcasting. All other characters in the series are mine.
Summary: This is an Alternative Universe Story. It takes place after an alien virus has killed off most of the world's females and caused mutations in forty-five percent of the remaining males.
Authors Notes: This is the fourth book in my AU series "Life from the Ashes - Yours, Mine, and Ours." You might want to read the prequel and the first three books of the series to understand this one.
I would like to thank my beta-readers Nicole, Tarlan, Dawn, Cerulean Blue, Kiyoko, Bee Lan, and Susan for all their hard work and patience in editing this story and plot suggestions.
Feedback is always welcome. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
WARNING! This story contains explicit Sex/Romance between two or more men. Turn back now, if the subject matter offends you.
Okay to Archive: please ask first.


Chapter 9
For Love of Alex

White Mountain
Sunday, February 7th 2001
1:20 p.m.

*Alex, are you okay?* Skinner asked telepathically.

*N-no. Walter...I'm scared. Please, help me...* Hot tears flowed freely down Alex's cheeks as he leaned up against the shower wall for support. The first time he'd heard Walter's voice inside his head a week ago, he had been comforted by his presence. The only time they could secretly communicate was when CGB Spender was soundly asleep.

Skinner had never heard such total despair and fear coming from Alex. *Alex, I'm doing everything that I can to rescue you, but that cancer-ridden SOB is just too powerful.*

*W-Walter...I don't want to have his ba-babies...please do something. Can't you kill me from there? Make my heart stop beating...p-please. I-I-I...* Alex choked down tears and sank to the floor of the shower stall. He couldn't stop shaking and wrapped his arms around his knees as he huddled in the corner. *I've changed. I'm a hermaphrodite now. Please, Walter, help me...kill me...*

Skinner's stomach lurched with panic, their time had run out. He couldn't bear the prospect that the Batman might impregnate Alex! It was just too dreadful for him to imagine. *Alex, are you having your cycle?* he asked anxiously.

*How the hell should I know! I've never been a fucking hermaphrodite before!*

"Do you have an uncontrollable desire to become pregnant?*

*HELL NO!*

*Good, that means that you're not going through a cycle yet. I think when you do you'll know it.* Skinner paced, back and forth in the command tent.

*Okay,* Alex murmured weakly.

*Alexei?*

*Nikolai?* Alex gasped.

*I'm here for you, Beloved.*

*Get me out of here, Nikolai!*

*Slava, stay out of my conversation with Alex!* Skinner growled.

*No. I've tried for weeks to make contact with Alexei and the only way I seem to be able to get through to him is over your telepathic link! I do not intend to stay out of this conversation! He's my lover!* Slava snapped back.

*Walter, please let him talk to me,* Alex begged.

Skinner sighed. He hated Slava and saw only bad things happening with the Russian's presence in the area. Lord Oda had the good sense to leave as soon as Shinji's son was rescued. *Okay, Alex, if he makes you feel better.*

The smoker's sudden angry voice stopped them all cold. *Neither of you is allowed to talk to my LOVER!* he barked. *So this is what you get up to while I'm asleep, Alex! You shall be punished severely for talking to them!*

Skinner was about to respond when their communication link was cut off abruptly. *Slava! This is your fault! He'd never would have detected our conversation if you hadn't intruded!* Skinner growled!

*Go fuck yourself, Skinner!* Slava snarled and broke off communication with the large American, knowing that Skinner was right. His interference might have caused Alex further suffering.

Skinner clenched his teeth angrily. He picked up the radio. He needed to talk to Fox. His lover was the only one who could soothe his frayed nerves. "God, Alex, if he hurts you, I'll make him pay severely!" Skinner growled, waiting for Mulder to pick up.

"Mulder."

"Fox, it's me," Skinner said, calming slightly at the sound of his lover's husky voice.

"Walter, what's wrong?"

"It's Alex...he's gone through the final change."

Mulder collapsed into the chair next to the radio. He clutched his hands together to stop them from shaking. He was unable to speak --time had run out for Alex and them.

"Fox?" Skinner could hear his lover panicked breathing. "Alex hasn't started his first cycle yet. Can you remember how long it was until your first cycle?"

Mulder tried to concentrate on Walter's question. "No. I-I thinks it might have been a week, but I'm not really sure since I was too freaked out at the time. But, Walter, afterward they've always occurred during a new moon." Mulder clearly remembered his second cycle; Walter and Alex had tried to rape him. They had lost all control.

"When is the next new moon?" Skinner asked.

"Does it matter? My first cycle might not have occurred during a new moon."

"You don't know that. Fox, you aren't even sure that the second cycle wasn't your first cycle." Skinner sighed, "Oh, shit this is too confusing."

"Walter, how's Alex holding up?" Mulder asked softly.

"He's fine, Fox. Don't worry...you know how tough Alex is." Skinner couldn't bring himself to tell his lover the truth, that Alex was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. What good would it do to worry Fox further? He had enough to worry about with their children and running the kingdom in his absence.

Mulder relaxed slightly. "Yeah, Alex is tougher than both of us combined. Walter, *we* need to get to him before that smoking bastard has the opportunity to impregnate him!"

"Don't worry, Fox, I will," Skinner said, without the slightest clue as to how he would be able to do it.

Mulder frowned. Hearing the *I* will instead of *we* will he knew he could never tell Walter his plans for rescuing Alex. He wished that Walter had confidence in him, but since becoming an immortal his lover had a hard time looking beyond his exterior to the man he once was. Mulder was on his own in rescuing Alex, such as he had been on his own for most of his life. "Walter, I love you...never forget that," he murmured.

"Fox, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, Walter, I just wanted to make sure you knew that I loved you."

Skinner didn't like the nervous feeling he got from Fox's words. "Fox, what are you up to?"

"Walter, I'm not up to anything...just take care of yourself," Mulder said, disconnecting before his lover could probe him further for information. He rose and walked back into the room with his children.

"Mulder, what's wrong?" Jeff asked.

"Alex has completed his change," Mulder said quietly, picking up Sasha and cuddling the infant to his chest.

"Oh God, Mulder, I'm sorry."

"Me, too."

***

Krycek woke in a haze of pain and pleasure. Pleasure coming from his belly and pain coming from his back, butt and thighs. When he opened his eyes he was staring up at the pockmarked ceiling then he fearfully looked down his body to where the smoker sat with a finger fully inserted inside his navel. Krycek tried to pull away but found he couldn't move more than a few inches, he was chained to the bed.

CGB Spender leered down at him. "It's remarkable how your new orifice is milking my finger. I can only imagine how wonderful that sensation will be on my dick. Shall we commence with making babies, my dear?" he purred.

Krycek turned his face away from that hideous leering mask. It didn't matter; he wasn't going through his cycle yet...that meant he couldn't get pregnant, at least he hoped that he couldn't. He swallowed hard as the bed creaked and the smoker straddled his hips. He closed his eyes tightly as he felt the wide cockhead press against his bellybutton. When the smoker slammed into him, Krycek's body arched off the bed as far as the chains would allow. At first he couldn't see past the blinding pleasure he was feeling. Then he found himself floating up through the heavens and finally coming to rest on the cool, moist grass along the bank of a sparkling pond. He sat up and watched a rainbow form across water cascading down the rocks from a forty-foot waterfall -- it was so beautiful.

Krycek took a deep breath. The air was filled with the fragrance of flowers and the scent of the fresh green grass he was sitting upon. The grass felt soothing against his naked and abused bottom. The sound of splashing coming from the other side of the pond drew his attention in that direction. His eyes fell upon another immortal who smiled and waved at him then started swimming across the shallow pond, coming out in front of Krycek. Krycek gaped at the slight swell of the immortal's pregnant belly.

"Hello, I am Khalid. Who are you?" the immortal asked, lowering himself with a little difficulty to the ground next to Krycek. Khalid didn't appear disturbed by the presence of a naked immortal sitting in his private gardens.

"Alex. Where am I?"

"You're on Empyrean. How did you get here?"

"I don't know. You're pregnant," Alex stated the obvious.

"Yeah. It's hard to miss isn't it, and I'm only four months along? I have three Seraph mates and I'm carrying each of their babies. One of my immortal brothers is also pregnant, but you could hardly tell since he only has one Seraph mate," Khalid said.

Krycek became curious. "Couldn't this single Seraph have been impregnated your immortal brother with several babies if he wanted to?"

"No." Khalid chuckled at the strange question. "Only one. Unless he is pregnant with twins."

"So, it isn't possible to become pregnant with multiple babies by one partner at one time?"

Khalid laughed, "No, you'd need several partners to get into the state I'm in! Why? Did you and your lover want to have multiple babies at once?" The Egyptian immortal saw the mixture of relief and anxiety flash in Alex's eyes. The green-eyed immortal's strange questions told Khalid that Alex had not yet become pregnant.

"The creature that I'm with is not my lover! He's my abuser, kidnapper, rapist, take your pick. CGB Spender said that he would get me pregnant with six of his brats during my first cycle," Krycek's voice trembled, tears of anguish and rage formed in his eyes.

Khalid gasped when he recognized Spender's name. He reached out and touched Alex's arm reassuringly. "You're being held by the Batman? Well, Alex, if it is any comfort, it is not possible for him to get you pregnant with more than one baby," he said, shuddering. Thinking one would be too many but not voicing his thoughts.

Krycek's eyes widened as it finally sunk in just whom he was talking to. "You're Khalid Kirah. Ian told us about his and your imprisonment by Spender."

"How is Ian doing?" Khalid asked eagerly.

"He's fine. He is getting married to Jeffrey Spender in May."

"Ah, that is good, Jeff is a nice man. I am happy for Ian..." Khalid's eyes widened as Alex's body began to fade away. He didn't know how he knew it, but he knew that Alex was being drawn back to his real body on Earth. Earth. Khalid hadn't thought about Earth in months, he could barely recall what his home world looked like.

When Alex came back to himself, CGB Spender was covering him up with a blanket.

"That was absolutely the most incredible fuck I've ever had!" Spender said as he stretched and stroked his cock that was covered in a thick pinkish fluid. He brought his hand to his mouth and licked the sticky fluid off. "Mm, I didn't even need any lube. You rest up, darling. I'm going to have our chef prepare you something nutritious. We want our baby to have only the best, don't we?" the smoker said, leaving the bedroom.

After Spender left, Krycek tried to get out of bed and found that his ankle was chained to the bedpost. He laid back down, staring up at the ceiling as he went over what had just happened to him. He took some satisfaction in knowing that he wasn't pregnant. No matter what Spender thought.

***

Crystal City
Saturday, February 13th 2001
8:00 a.m.

Mulder allowed his robe to fall back into place as MacIver tucked himself back into his pants. "Thanks, Rory," he said, walking over to the bedroom door and unlocking it.

"My pleasure, Mulder," MacIver said. "Shin wanted me to invite you and your children downstairs for lunch today."

Mulder smiled sadly. "Tell Shin thanks but I've already made plans for today. I'll call him later this morning." His plans were to be flown to White Mountain, Alaska.

"Okay, Mulder. But if you should change your mind I'm grilling steaks and hamburgers on the veranda," MacIver said, standing in the bedroom doorway then turning to leave.

"Wait a second, Rory," Mulder said, stepping out into the hallway. "River loves your barbecued hamburgers. Would you mind taking care of him for me? Maybe he could spend the night? I could really use the relief." Mulder thought this might be the ideal solution. If River was with Shinji, Rory, and Kazuo, he wouldn't know that Mulder had left him, and Mulder would be back with Alex and Walter before he found out.

"Hey, no problem, we 'd love to have the lad! And if it helps you out, Mulder, we both benefit," MacIver drawled.

"Thanks, Rory. Just go easy on teaching him how to cheat at poker," Mulder smiled, he knew that River loved Rory. The Scotsman definitely had a way with kids. Mulder hoped that Rory would be able to keep River occupied during his absence.

"Mulder, I only try to depart skills that I think our children will need later in life."

Mulder chuckled, "Yeah, like never hit when the dealer is holding a sixteen."

"Exactly!"

"I'll have River to your apartment by noon," Mulder said, standing in the hallway.

"See you then," Rory said, ambling down the hallway.

Mulder would confide in Shinji later, he knew his friend would take good care of River for him. Suddenly Rex darted down the hallway past him on his tail were his daughters' two kittens. They had grown quite a bit in the seven weeks since Christmas. He bent and stopped Hope and Faith as they tried to run by him chasing the kittens. Vicky was right behind them.

"Thank you, Prince Fox. They really are quick," Vicky said breathlessly.

Mulder hugged his two daughters as he lifted them off their feet and supported one on each hip. "No problem, Vicky. So are my beautiful little girls hungry? Would you like Daddy to make you a special breakfast?"

"Yes, Daddy!" Hope said, looking at him bashfully.

"Yes, Daddy!" Faith parroted giggling.

"What would you like?"

"Waffles and berries!" Hope shouted.

"Boo Berry!" Faith shouted.

"Count Chocula!" River said, running down the hallway carrying the two kittens.

"Okay, Waffles for Hope and me, and cold cereal for you two," Mulder said, setting his daughters on the floor. "I'm going to take a shower and get dressed first."

"Me shower too, Daddy," Hope said.

"Me too!" Faith mimicked.

Me three!" River shouted.

Mulder grinned down at his kids. "Okay, everyone can take a shower with me." He looked at Vicky who was watching them with amusement. "Vicky, can you help Sean and Maggie with the four little terrors?" he joked.

"Sure, Prince Fox," she giggled, following them into Mulder's bedroom. She crossed over to the nursery where the other two nannies were feeding babies. Vicky opened the door and stepped into the room, closing the door behind her to give the family some privacy.

River set the kittens down and shut door after Rex entered. He stripped and ran naked up the steps to the bathroom. Mulder chuckled watching him and knelt to remove his daughters' pajamas and training pants. Hope and Faith then ran up the steps after River. Mulder followed and took off his robe in the bathroom and turned on the shower.

He stepped into the shower with his kids and took his time shampooing their hair and washing them before taking care of himself. They enjoyed splashing around in the water and just being with their Daddy. Mulder hated himself for having to leave them today. It wasn't right, but he had no other way to bring Alex home.

"Daddy, do you want to help me make Valentines today?" River asked as they stepped out of the shower and Mulder dried them each with a large, white, cotton towel.

Mulder closed his eyes. He had forgotten that tomorrow was Valentine's Day. "I'm sorry, River. I can't today. Uncle Rory is going to be taking care of you today and tomorrow. I'm sure Uncle Rory and Shinji will help you."

"Where are you going?" River pouted with a look of anxiety in his big, sapphire eyes.

Mulder found he couldn't lie to him. "Let's get dressed and I'll tell you and your sisters over breakfast."

Mulder dressed, then carried his daughters to their room and dressed them. River came in dressed for the day and carrying his rag doll rabbit Peter. Mulder sighed. River only needed the doll at night. He hated to see River dependent on it during the day. "River, you really don't have anything to be afraid of. I'll always be here for you, and your Daddy Walter and Alex will be back soon."

"You're leaving me, too. That's why you're sending me to Uncle Rory's!"

"Champ, it will only for three days at the most. I'll come right back to you even if I'm not able to rescue your Daddy Alex. But I have to try to save him."

"I don't want you to leave me. I love you, Daddy, please stay."

Mulder knelt and pulled the little boy into his arms. "River, I love you and your sisters and brothers, but I love Daddy Alex, too. He needs me more than you do right now. You'd like to see him back home with us wouldn't you?"

"I don't want to lose you. Please, don't go," River cried, tears streaming from his eyes.

Hope and Faith started crying, too. "Please, don't go bye bye, Daddy!"

Mulder eyes misted over. He hated causing of his children to cry. No one had ever needed or wanted him as much as his children and lovers. "Let's go eat breakfast then I want to show the three of you something. If you want me to stay afterwards then I will."

"Promise?" River sniffed.

"Promise," Mulder said, taking their hands and walking them to the kitchen. He realized that Hope and Faith had started to forget Alex. Over the last three days they hadn't asked about him at all. River was still broken-hearted and missing Alex, and he hoped to use his son's love to get River to understand why he had to go.

Mulder smiled at their personal chef who was already in the process of making the waffles. Vicky must have told him what they wanted. "Hi, Jacques."

"Good morning, Your Highness. So are my little River and Faith going to break Jacques' heart by choosing cold cereal over my delicious waffles?" the chef said, feigning sadness and setting the boxes of sweet cereal on the table.

"Don't be sad, Jacques, I'll eat both Count Chocula and --Boo Berry," River giggled, thinking that was a good joke.

The chef grunted shaking his head.

Mulder set his daughters in their booster seats at the table and sat in the chair between them. "Hope and I get to have real blueberries on our waffles," he said as he filled Faith's cereal bowl with the purplish-blue colored cereal.

"Put real booberries in my cereal, Daddy," Faith ordered.

"Say the magic word, Cutie."

"Please," she grinned sweetly.

Mulder ruffled her hair then spooned some blueberries on her cereal and added milk. Jacques in the meantime set a plate with a large waffle top with blueberries and whip cream in front of Hope. He had cut it into bite-sized pieces. Mulder realized that the kids will be on a sugar high for the rest of the morning.

After they had finished breakfast he brought them into the family room and sat them down in front of the television. He selected a tape and popped it in. It was of Christmas morning. Alex had set up a video camera on tripod and had it recording them throughout the morning.

Faith got up and ran to the television her tiny hands slapping at Alex's image. "Daddy!" she cried.

River started crying, burying his face into Mulder's shirt.

"Shh, River," Mulder said, pulling the little boy onto his lap and hugging him reassuringly. "River, I need your permission to go and bring your Daddy Alex home to us."

"I-I-I don't want to lose you, too!" River sobbed.

"You won't, champ. You know that Daddy Fox can make himself invisible. The Batman will never see me or your Daddy Alex when I rescue him."

"Really?" River lifted his face and looked at Mulder.

"Really."

"Are you more powerful than Daddy Walter?" River asked.

"Much more powerful at some things. Your Daddy Walter isn't able to become invisible or walk through solid objects like I am," Mulder said, feeling confident with his new abilities, although he didn't have offensive powers. His defensive powers were better than anything Walter or Alex was capable of. "I can walk into the Batman's castle and out with your Daddy Alex without him even knowing it."

River hugged him around the neck and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. "Okay, Daddy. Please bring Daddy Alex back to us. I miss him and Daddy Walter a lot."

Mulder hugged and kissed him back. "I will, son. We'll all be one big happy family again really soon. Now you have to promise me that you won't tell Uncle Rory where I'm going. Uncle Shinji knows, but your Uncle Rory and Kazuo are sorcerers they tend to think they know what's best for non-sorcerers."

"Okay, I won't tell them," River said.

"Me, too," Hope said, climbing onto Mulder's lap. She wasn't sure what was going on but wanted to be part of it.

"Do you want to go spend the afternoon and night with your uncles downstairs?" Mulder asked.

"Uncle Shin?" Hope asked wistfully.

"Yes, mouse, your Uncle Shin."

"Me wuv Uncle Shin, Daddy," Hope said.

"I want Auntie Dana," Faith shouted.

"What? Doesn't anyone want to stay with me!" Frohike bellowed as he walked into the room.

Hope giggled and snuggled closer to Mulder. "No stay wiff, Melvin!" she said, looking sheepishly up at Frohike from the protection of her daddy's arms.

"What! What! You don't love me!" Frohike cried, advancing on the sofa he started tickling Hope. She squealed with delight.

"Wuv you," Hope laughed.

"Frohike, if you make Hope wet her training pants. Then you're changing her," Mulder scolded.

"Spoilsport." Frohike stopped, tickling her. He sat on the sofa and pulled Hope onto his lap. "I wouldn't want to cause the mouse to wet herself. Don't worry about your kids, Mulder. Hans and I will help take care of them until you get back."

"You know then?" Mulder asked cautiously.

"Yes. I've known for quite a while. Don't worry I'm not going to try and stop you."

"You've had a vision, didn't you?"

"Yes. But, Mulder, it's not only Alex who needs you...it's Walter."

"What do you mean?"

Frohike looked at the children listening to their conversation. "Why don't we get the munchkins downstairs to Shinji, then I'll tell you as much as I can about my vision."

Mulder couldn't imagine why Walter would need him as much as Alex. Unless the smoker had tricked his lover into going on the other side of the barrier. Walter wasn't that stupid though, so it had to be something else.

***

White Mountain
Saturday, February 13th 2001
2:00 p.m.

Krycek stared absently up at the ceiling not really seeing it. He had been chained to the bed for almost a week. The chain wasn't even long enough to reach the bathroom, so he was forced relieve himself in a bucket the smoker had left by the bed. He felt totally degraded and humiliated.

His only freedom had come when he was being raped through his navel and subsequently transported to another dimension within his mind. At least he assumed it was within his mind since his real body had remained behind. To make a worse situation even worse he was on the verge of his first cycle. Unlike Fox who had no idea what to expect, Krycek had been waiting for the symptoms. Walter had mentioned that he'd know when his cycle began, and it turned out that Walter was right. He was physically having symptoms, he knew that it would be only a day or two before his first cycle began. He had so hoped that Walter would have been able to rescue him before then.

Sitting up against the headboard Krycek spread a hand over his navel. The compulsion to have a baby filling his belly was there but still faint. He could easily fight such a compulsion as he had fought and overcame his addition to heroin in his teens. Fox had fought the compulsion for many months before giving in, and Krycek was sure that he was stronger than Fox, but he'd never get the chance to find out. He sank back down on the bed and tried to lose himself to sleep.

***

White Mountain
Saturday, February 13th 2001
5:00 p.m.

"Mulder, good luck," Agent Jack Sullivan said, extending his hand for Mulder to shake.

"Thanks, Jack. Noah, I really appreciate you guys flying me here," Mulder said.

Noah Logan was in the pilot's seat and he turned to watch Mulder as his friend pulled on his backpack and climbed out of the helicopter. Logan had landed the helicopter over thirty miles from the barrier so as not to alert Skinner or any of the other sorcerers in the area to their presence. Mulder had saved his life over a year ago when he had been thrown into a pit filled with decaying corpses at the Amaranthine compound outside of Utica New York. Logan owed his childhood friend a lot more than he could ever hope to repay.

"Be careful, Mulder," Logan said.

"Don't worry, Noah. I have no plans to allow myself to be captured, there's too much at stake." Mulder turned and headed out into the woods.

The two men watched him for several minutes until the dense forest swallowed him up.

"I hope you don't mind living in exile, Noah," Sullivan said. "Skinner is going to toss us both out of the country on our asses for bringing Mulder here."

"Yeah, but someone had to. The King is too blinded by love to see that Mulder is the best man for the job." Logan glanced at his watch. "Well, Mulder should be through the barrier in around fifteen hours. So, do you want to split or go find our King and throw ourselves on his mercy?" Logan asked.

"We'll need to wait until Mulder is on the other side of the barrier first. So let's give him fifteen hours then we can go find Skinner. Besides, Skinner needs to know so he can be there to help Mulder when he brings Krycek back out through the barrier."

"Okay, so what do you want to do in the meantime?"

"Ever make it in a helicopter," Sullivan asked, climbing into the back. His lover smiled at him and joined him.

***

Sunday, February 14th 2001
1:00 a.m.

Mulder licked his lips nervously as he stood one hundred feet away from the barrier. It loomed darkly in front of him as far as his eyes could see. Fear tore at every fiber of his existence as he took an involuntary step backwards. He shook the fear off with images of Alex being raped by his hated nemesis. Concentrating on Alex needing him gave Mulder the courage to step forward. Tentacles arched out of the barrier toward him and passed through his ethereal body. He had become invisible twenty miles back. Mulder couldn't chance Walter discovering his presence in the area. His lover would have tried to stop him.

Closing his eyes, Mulder entered the twisting and withering mass of terror that made up the barrier. Loud shrieks and moans filled his ears and a foul stench of death wafted through and around his body. It took him nearly a half-hour before he finally exited the barrier on the other side. He heaved a sigh of relief. His whole frame was trembling with fear, he didn't think, he'd have the courage to pass through the barrier again.

The fortress towered in front of him. He started over the frozen terrain toward it. It was built into the side of the mountain. Mulder couldn't see how to get inside without arousing the smoker's notice. The only way up appeared to be an elevator. No other doors or windows were at the base of the fortress. According to Jeff and Ian there were rooms at the tower's base. Mulder took a deep breath, he hated walking through stone walls but he saw no other way to get inside. He stepped through the wall, experiencing a moment of claustrophobia before coming out inside a cell. He started as his gaze settled upon several bodies left there to rot and he hurried out of the cell through the iron bars then went in search of a way up to the living quarters.

***

The moment Krycek had dreaded since becoming an immortal was upon him. He was feeling incredibly horny and he had a strong desire to bear a child. It repulsed him to think that not only would he become pregnant, but it would be with the hideous Batman's baby. He tugged uselessly at the chains holding him bound to the bed frame.

"Well, my dear, you smell differently than you have ever smelled before. Do you think that might mean it's the start of your three-day cycle? How nice if our first child was conceived on Valentine's Day." The smoker purred as he hurriedly undressed and walked up to the bed. He removed the chains holding Krycek's ankles spread between the bedposts so he'd be able to comfortably straddle the young man hips. The smoker climbed onto the bed and straddled Krycek's body as he positioned his cockhead against the immortal's bellybutton and thrust in hard. Spender bellowed in pain as his penis suddenly finding no resistance slammed into the hard mattress. Krycek had disappeared.

Krycek stood dazed as he stared into Mulder's hazel eyes. One moment he was on the bed, and the next moment, he was being held in his beautiful lover's arms. Chains no longer bound his wrists. "F-Fox?" Krycek voice trembled and his eyes filled with tears.

"Shh," Mulder said, hugging him.

"FOX!" CGB Spender's head shot up and he looked around the empty bedroom. He had clearly heard Alex say Fox. "Show yourself, Son!" he growled. His body was still doubled over in pain.

Mulder rolled his eyes as he supported Alex who was having trouble standing, and helped him walk out of the bedroom and toward the staircase.

"Alex, we must be very quiet, he can hear us when we talk," he whispered. While being invisible silenced the sound of their hearts beating, and the sounds of their footsteps, it didn't silence the sound of their voices.

Krycek clung to Mulder for warmth and support as they descended the steep, stone staircase to the subterranean pond. Krycek couldn't believe Fox had come for him. He was half afraid that he might only be hallucinating his lover. Could he still be upstairs chained to the bed and being impregnated by that creature? It felt real, but then so had Khalid and Empyrean. He whimpered and clung on tighter, praying to any God who would listen for this to be real.

Keeping one hand on Alex at all times Mulder shrugged out of his winter parka and helped Alex into it. He clenched his teeth to keep an outraged scream from passing his lips as his eyes beheld the hand-shaped bruises that were on Alex thighs and hips. Alex had lost a lot of weight, too. Mulder could clearly see each of his ribs. He wished he knew how to kill the Batman! He opened the backpack and pulled out two pairs of thick wool socks and put both pairs on Alex's bare feet. Next he pulled out a pair of sweatpants and helped Alex into them. After he had the pants on Alex, Mulder removed his hiking boots and put them on his lover's feet. He hoped that it would be adequate to keep Alex warm. He hadn't counted on Alex being naked when he rescued him.

Mulder dressed only in a sweater, jeans and socks, had decided to try to get out through the caves that Havock had spoken of. He knew from experience that a sorcerer wouldn't be able to detect their presence through layers of rock and ore. Mulder was hoping that would hold true for the Batman. He was about to help Alex to his feet when the smoker suddenly came rushing into the cavern like a bat out of hell, sniffing and looking around frantically. Mulder pulled Alex closer and huddled unseen against the stone wall.

"FOX! SON! How dare you steal from me!" Spender spun around his eyes scanning the cavern they traveled briefly over Mulder and Krycek moving on. "I'd be willing to share him with you!" He growled continuing to look around the quiet cavern. Empty. He reasoned that Mulder must be making for the barrier with Krycek. He still had a chance to head them off if he increased the strength of the barrier. He turned and flew back up the staircase.

Alex was trembling violently in Mulder's arms. Mulder kissed his brow and held him until the trembling quieted. He wanted to whisper soothing words to his lover, but he didn't dare make a sound. He pulled Alex to his feet and held him as they made their way along the ledge to the caves on the other side of the pond.

***

Crystal Palace
Sunday, February 14th 2001
7:00 a.m.

Shinji stood tiredly out on the veranda watching the sunrise. Last night had been hard. He had his first cycle since giving birth to Duncan and with it came the compulsion for another baby. He ended up leaving his lovers' bed and going in to sleep in the guestroom. Shinji didn't want another baby so soon after his last disastrous pregnancy. However, unlike Mulder he didn't think he could resist the urge for long.

"Shin, what's wrong?" Kazuo asked, stepping out on the veranda.

"I'm having my cycle."

"Already?"

"Yes. I think it's because I'm no longer lactating. My body assumes it is ready for another baby," he sighed.

"Oh, Shin, I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do to make this easier for you?" Kazuo asked, hugging him from behind. He stood holding him as they watched the sun crest the horizon.

"Maybe we could try sedating me like Walter and Alex did with Mulder during his cycles."

"I'll go call Doctor Pendrell, Shin." Kazuo kissed the side of his throat and went back inside.

Shinji sighed and turned to follow, then he suddenly stopped and started laughing.

Kazuo rushed back to him. "Shin?" Concerned Kazuo led his lover over to the sofa and helped him to sit.

MacIver and River came into the room with the three little toddlers.

Ayako climbed onto the sofa next to her fathers. "Daddy, laugh?" she said, touching Shinji who had tears of laughter running down his cheeks.

"What's going on?" MacIver asked Kazuo who was holding Shinji as the young immortal laughter turned into hiccups.

"He's started his cycle again," the Japanese Major whispered.

"Yeah, I was sure by his scent that he did," MacIver said softly.

"Rory, you don't seem very surprised."

"No. We knew that he'd start his cycle again someday, and it has been eight months since he gave birth to Duncan."

"But, none of the other immortals have started their cycles again. Shin thinks it is because he is no longer lactating..." That started Shinji into another fit of giggles.

"Shin, what is so blasted funny?" MacIver asked.

Shinji wiped the tears from his eyes and got himself back under control. "It's not really funny, and I shouldn't be laughing. But you see, Mulder stopped nursing his babies so he could go and rescue Alex. If his milk dries up then he'll be in the same boat I'm in and he's only given birth two months ago."

"No shit! Poor Mulder that will be a real blow!" Then MacIver's eyes twinkled with mischief. He had been pissed when he found out that Mulder had left without telling him. "But it would serve Mulder right for not trusting us to help him. I would have gone with him to rescue, Alex, and the other immortals would have helped nurse his babies until he got back."

Shinji looked at MacIver suspiciously. "So what are you saying, Rory? That we shouldn't tell Mulder that I believe our cycles are tied to our bodies lactating?"

"No. We can tell him in a month or so."

"You're a cruel man, Rory." Shinji grinned. At least he wouldn't be going through another pregnancy alone.

River tugged at MacIver's pant leg to get his attention. "Uncle Rory, what's lactating and what are cycles?"

MacIver knelt next to River. "Lactating is when an immortal or a female produces milk to feed their baby. Cycles are when an immortal's body is ready to have another baby."

"So does that mean my Daddy Fox is going to have another baby?"

"Yes, but your Daddy Fox is a stubborn man, so it might be a while before he is pregnant again," MacIver said.

"Cool, I want another brother and sister."

"I'm sure your Daddies would all like another baby, too."

***

White Mountain
Sunday, February 14th 2001
8:00 a.m.

Skinner gazed in stunned amazement at the barrier. For the past six hours it had grown in size and intensity. He and his men had to pull back forty additional miles to keep out of its range. Something was happening inside the barrier and he needed to find out what that was. Skinner's attention was diverted from watching the barrier by a palace helicopter landing on the main road just beyond their camp. His curiosity was piqued when Sullivan and Logan climbed out, looking nervously at him.

Dread clutched at Skinner's belly. "NO! Dammit! NO! Tell me he didn't! Tell me you didn't bring him here!" he bellowed. All heads turned to their leader and the two men approaching him.

"He did and we did," Sullivan said, finding the courage to face his former boss' angry scowl.

"Fuck! Have you loss all common sense! How could you be stupid enough to bring Fox here!"

"From the look of that," Sullivan said, nodding toward the barrier. "I'd say Mulder has been successful in getting Krycek away from the Batman."

"Do you have any idea how Fox is going to get Alex through that?" Skinner growled.

"I don't, but I'm sure Mulder will think of something."

"You better hope he does!" Skinner barked, getting in the other man's face.

Sullivan didn't back down, instead he got angry. "Sir, stop selling Mulder short! He's more than capable of rescuing Krycek, and making it out in one piece!"

Skinner was about to argue when his face suddenly lost all color. "Damn! Who's taking care of our children?" He rushed for his tent and got on the radio to the palace, muttering about how incompetent his lover was for leaving their babies in someone else's care.

"Spender," Jeff answered, holding Angelique cradled in the crook of his arm.

"Jeff, how are my children?" Skinner asked.

"They're fine, Walter. River, Hope and Faith are staying with Shinji, Rory and Kazuo. They are spoiling them rotten. Scully, Frohike, Hans, and I are helping the nannies with the babies..."

"Did Fox leave any milk for them?" Skinner interrupted.

"Uh, he uh, he weaned them off his milk and onto formula..."

"HE WHAT!" Skinner was fuming. He couldn't believe how selfish Fox could be! They had discussed the importance of using Fox's milk to feed the babies for the first six months. Fox hadn't been keen on the idea and wanted to start them right off on formula. However, after much discussion he had reluctantly agreed. All of the other immortals didn't have a problem with nursing their infants and it proved what a remarkable difference there was in their infants' development over infants on formula. Skinner wanted only the best for his children.

"Walter, Mulder only did what he thought was best. He thought he stood the best chance of rescuing Alex. Is he okay?" Jeff asked.

"I don't know. He's on the other side of the barrier." Skinner looked through the flap of the tent toward the twisting, angry black mass. If Fox had been captured, the smoker wouldn't have needed to increase its strength. He prayed that his lovers were okay and Fox was successful. Maybe, Sullivan was right. Maybe, he wasn't giving his lover enough credit. Fox deserved more faith than Skinner had been able to give him since his change. Fox had been a highly successful FBI agent. It was just at times Skinner couldn't see past his looks. It took a moment for Skinner to realize that Jeffrey had been calling his name.

"Walter? Walter?"

"Sorry, Jeff, my mind drifted," Skinner sighed. "Please take care of the children. I'll call you as soon as I hear anything from Fox or Alex."

"Okay."

***

They had been traveling through the tunnels for miles. Mulder hated to admit that he might be lost. His flashlight landed on the boulder. "Alex, I think we should rest."

"Shh, don't talk! He might find us!" Krycek hissed.

"No, Alex. We're too deep within the mountain for him to hear our voices." Mulder helped Krycek over to a boulder and eased him down on it. Alex's scent had been driving Mulder crazy with lust. It took all of his willpower to fight the urge to lower his lover onto the sandy ground and take him. "How are you holding up?" Mulder asked, pulling a bottle of water from the backpack and holding it up to his lover's lips.

Krycek drank greedily. Then he looked Mulder in the eye. "Fox, I want you to impregnate me."

"No, Alex. Not here! Not now! It's only your first cycle..."

"Yes, here. Fox, please!"

"Why?" Mulder asked, taking his lover's cold hands in his and blowing on them, trying to warm them.

"The smoker will if you don't. Fox, if we could stay out of his hands for two more days then he won't be able to impregnate me even if he captures us. At least not for seven months. Not while I'm pregnant with your baby. If he captures us and I'm not pregnant, then he'll be sure that I am at my next cycle in a month. Please do this for me...for us. If I must become pregnant, I want it to be with your baby."

"We'll get out of this. I didn't rescue you just to be recaptured by that bastard!"

Krycek started shaking again. He had to make Fox see how important this was to him. "Fox, please...please do it. If you love me, you'd do this for me. Please..." He collapsed into Mulder's arms and started crying as worry and anxiety frayed his nerves.

Mulder had never seen Alex this broken or emotional. "Shh, Alex. Okay, if it will help ease your mind then I'll do it. I just didn't want to take advantage of you when you're clearly hurting."

"I won't hold it against you, Fox. I-I am able to make decisions and I want this...please." Krycek leaned forward and captured Mulder's lips in a kiss.

Mulder kissed him back and licked the salty tears from his lover's lips as he deepened the kiss. His hands went inside the parka and caressed the smooth flesh of Alex's back, pulling him closer. They spent several minutes kissing and caressing before Mulder touched Alex's navel and played with the opening.

Alex moaned against his lips and his hands went for the zipper on Mulder's jeans. "Fuck me, Fox."

Mulder pulled Alex's hands away and lowered him down to the cold sandy ground. He had often wondered what it would feel like to fuck a fellow immortal through their navel. The pleasure he had being fucked there was beyond anything he had ever experienced before. He hoped that he was doing the right thing. Mulder didn't want Alex to hate him later for taking advantage of him when he was clearly vulnerable.

As if reading his mind Alex touched Mulder's face and looked him in the eye. "I want this, Fox. Do it for us. For our family."

Mulder kissed him one final time then positioned his cock against Alex's opening and pushed in. He looked down at Alex's face and watched as his lover's eyes glazed over with pleasure...the same pleasure he felt as the orifice started milking his cock in a tight, loving grip.

Krycek was amazed by the sheer pleasure he felt, and that he had stayed within his body this time -- with Fox. He smiled blissfully arching his head back so he could look up at his lover's beautiful face, and watched in wonder as Fox quickly orgasmed, his release flowing into him. Krycek achieved his own orgasm moments later.

Mulder pulled out of Alex panting. He'd never experienced anything like it before, and to think that his lover might be pregnant with his child made the experience all the more intense. Mulder rolled onto his back and pulled Alex on top of him off the cold ground. Mulder's temper flared once again at Spender over how much less Alex weighed.

Krycek head rested against his lover's chest. He nuzzled his nose into the crook of Fox's throat and breathed in the delicious soothing scent that was uniquely Fox. "God, I love you, Fox. Thank you," he sighed, feeling safe and protected for the first time since Christmas.

Mulder turned off the flashlight and kissed the top of Alex's head, which was nestled under his chin. "Get some sleep, Alex," he murmured, hugging him close. He knew they should keep moving, but he couldn't deny Alex a much needed rest.

***

Skinner kept his powers focused on the land surrounding the barrier. He was prepared to go to his lovers' aid the moment he felt their presence.

"Walter, I need to talk to you," Gabriel Hunter said, walking up to stand beside Skinner.

"Gabriel. Do you sense them yet?"

"No. I only sense anger and hate...but that is coming from the CGB Spender. I cannot feel Mulder's or Alex's presence at all." He cleared his throat. "Walter, we need to pull back further...the men aren't able to control their fear of the barrier. I'm worried that some are ready to flee."

Skinner looked thoughtfully at his men. The fear and anxiety was clearly visible on their faces. "Gabriel, pull them back another twenty miles. I'm staying here. I can't be that far away from the barrier." Skinner was feeling fear himself, but only the love and need to protect his lovers kept him firmly focused on the task at hand.

"I'll come back to help you as soon as I have them situated around the outer perimeter," Gabriel said.

Skinner nodded dismissing him as he turned back toward the barrier.

***

Krycek slowly opened his eyes, he was lying on a soft but lumpy bed, it took him a moment to realize he was sprawled out on top of Fox. It was pitch black in the cave so he fumbled around for the flashlight, but it went on before he could locate it.

"Looking for this?" Mulder asked, smiling up at him.

"Yeah, how long have I been asleep?" Krycek ask, laying his head back on Mulder's chest, he was reluctant to leave the protective warmth of his lover's arms.

"About six hours. How are you feeling?"

"Much better...I-I don't have the compulsion to have a baby any longer. Do you think that means I'm pregnant?"

"Yes. That's usually how it works. If you're feeling up to eating? I brought you a treat," Mulder said.

"I'm starving. What did you bring me?" Alex asked, reluctantly climbing off Fox's body to sit beside him on the sandy ground.

Mulder pulled out several containers from his backpack. "Cold fried chicken, bread, cheese, and baklava."

Krycek's eyes lit up at the mention of his favorite dessert. "Give it here."

"Don't you want to eat the chicken first?"

"No." Krycek took the small container with the sticky, honey-laden dessert and pulled out a piece of the pastry. "Mm, you're too good to me, Fox," he said, munching on it and scooting closer to Mulder. He looped one leg of the top of his lover's thigh as he leaned up against his side.

Mulder grinned this was the first real spark of life he'd seen in Alex since rescuing him. He wrapped an arm around Alex's waist and held him close. "We should get moving as soon as you're done eating."

"You're not eating?"

Mulder picked up his knife and cut a slice of cheese and ate it with a chunk of sourdough bread. They ate quietly taking turns sipping from the second bottle of water Mulder had produced from the backpack.

"Our kids really missed you. River was making a Valentine for you when I left. I promised that I'd have you home so he can give it to you," Mulder said.

"God, I miss them so much. How's Duncan doing?"

"Fine. You should have seen the joy on Shinji's face when Rory handed Duncan to him." Mulder rested his head against Krycek's. "I've missed you, Alex. I wanted to come for you since Christmas, but I couldn't because of the babies."

"What changed? They're all right aren't they?"

"They're perfect, Alex. They started sleeping through the night and I-uh, I switched them to formula." Mulder felt guilty, he had promised his lovers that he'd nurse their children for six months.

Krycek leaned in and kissed him. "Fox, thank you. I know how hard breaking your word must have been. I'm sure they'll be fine on formula."

"Thanks for understanding, Alex. I hope they'll be okay. It's just that they're healthier and more alert than Hope and Faith were at this age." Mulder smiled. "Look at us, talking about our kids when we could be planning that long overdue honeymoon."

"I thought you wanted to go to a Knick's game for our honeymoon?"

"I've changed my mind. Frohike's cousin has an Inn in Vermont. It's a really beautiful place out in the country. I like the idea of just the two of us spending a relaxing week together away from family and friends."

Krycek smiled. "Me, too. Arrange it with Frohike. We'll go as soon as I sleep through my first month of pregnancy."

Mulder leaned in and licked some honey off Krycek's chin. "Okay. Do you want a piece of chicken yet?"

"Sure."

When they were done eating they left the empty containers in the cave and headed out in the direction Mulder hoped would take them beyond the barrier. Mulder made them invisible again. He found it helped against the cold. In addition, the sharp stones on the tunnel floors didn't dig into the soles his feet.

After another five hours of walking they came out into a small cavern that opened to the outside. They found Fyodorov's frozen corpse lying near the wall, but that didn't faze Mulder because the sight beyond the cavern had him frozen with fear. The cavern's exit was block by twisting mass of the barrier. Mulder turned to Alex and placed his finger in front of his lips. They were too near the surface now and couldn't chance talking. He then took Alex's arm and wrapped it around his waist, while he encircled his arm around Alex's body. They were both trembling with fear as Mulder reached up and placed his hand over Alex's eyes, silently telling his lover that it would be easier if he didn't see where they were going. They held on tightly to each other as they stepped out of the cave into the barrier.

It was more difficult going through the barrier this time than it had been the first time Mulder had gone through it. He felt his strength ebbing and he feared that he might not be able to remain invisible much longer. It was like walking through molasses, the movement within the barrier kept trying to yank Alex from his arms. Mulder held on tighter, he'd die before being separated from him again. It took much longer from them to make it through this time. They stumbled out of the twisting mass and walked up a hill several hundred feet away before collapsing in a heap in a snow bank.

Mulder was too exhausted to remain invisible. He just needed a half-hour of rest, to regain his strength. The two men hugged each other and laid on the cold ground.

"Son, you were a fool thinking you'd be able to steal Alex from me!"

Both men started at the sound of Spender's voice. Krycek held onto Mulder tightly as the smoker landed on the ground before them.

Mulder tried to become invisible, but he just didn't have the strength to do it, and he felt something within him was changing.

CGB Spender smirked at the two men huddling together. "Fox, I'll allow you the privilege of watching as I plant my seed inside our beautiful Alex. Just imagine you'll get to see your new sister or brother being conceived."

Mulder pulled a knife. He knew that it was useless, but he had to do something. "Keep away from him, bat breath!"

"Ha! That puny knife couldn't even give me a scratch!"

"It might not be able to, but I can, asshole!" Skinner growled.

All three of them spun toward the sound of Skinner's voice. The large man stood there with a look of absolute rage on his handsome face. He struck out at the smoker, hitting him squarely in chest with a lightening bolt. Spender was thrown back and slammed into a tree, toppling it. He regained his feet and struck out at Skinner, knocking the enraged King back. At that point Slava joined the fight coming to Skinner's aid. The two sorcerers took turns attacking and retreating.

The fight went on for more than an hour. Mulder moved Krycek behind some boulders. His strength was returning. It was more difficult this time, but he managed to make them invisible. They heard a loud explosion and a wail of pain, then silence.

"Fox? Alexei? It is safe. Show yourselves."

Slava's voice carried to their hiding place. Mulder placed his hand over his lover's mouth when Krycek tried to call to Slava. Where was Walter? Why wasn't Walter calling to them?

"Fox! He's dead!"

Mulder's heart stopped beating, until Slava's voice continued.

"The Batman is dead! If you don't want your precious Walter to die too, you'd better give Alexei to me! Skinner has been mortally wounded, only you can heal him..." Slava stood and waited.

Mulder was sure that Slava was telling the truth as he replayed his conversation with Frohike. His friend had told him that Walter would be mortally injured and would need Mulder to heal him. Mulder was about to take Alex with him to find Walter. When Alex suddenly hit him.

"LET GO! Dammit, Fox! I want to be with Nikolai...I love him more than you!" Krycek had been worried that Fox would put his life ahead of Walter's. He had to force Fox to leave him and go to Walter.

Mulder felt like he'd been slapped. He let go of Alex and rushed blindly down the hill past Slava to search for Walter. He found his lover's body lying crumpled beneath a fallen tree. Walter was barely breathing.

Slava smirked at Mulder as he passed with his arm around Alex's waist. "Fox, it was so nice seeing you again. Too bad I cannot stay and chat."

"No. Slava, please, you have to help me! Please, just remove the tree!" Mulder had tried to make them invisible so he could pull Walter out from beneath the tree, but he was no longer able to.

"Sorry, Fox, you're on your own," Slava said, using mind control to keep Alex from rushing to Mulder's and Skinner's side.

"Nikolai, you have to help them!" Alex hissed.

They were too far away for Mulder to make out what they were saying.

"No, I don't, Alexei! They've gotten between us far too often. If Skinner dies, I have no doubt that Fox will easily find another lover to take his place, and if he beg nicely I might even take him back." Slava forced Alex to follow him quietly.

Mulder watched in disbelief as Alex, holding Slava's hand, followed him up the hill without showing the slightest concern for Walter's life. Mulder kept one hand on Walter keeping his heart beating. As his numbed mind replayed Alex's words in his mind. 'I love him more than you.' Tears ran down his cheeks, he had lost one lover and was on the verge of losing another.

It was nearly two hours before Gabriel's voice reached him. The blond sorcerer knelt beside him and made the tree vanish off Skinner's limp body. Mulder was exhausted from keeping Walter alive for two hours, but he used the last of his reserve to heal his lover. He then collapsed into blissful oblivion.

***

St. Petersburg
Monday, February 15th 2001
4:00 p.m.

Alex stood with his hand on over his belly, looking out the window. He didn't know if Walter was still alive. All he knew was that he was pregnant with Fox's baby and now Nikolai's baby. His Russian lover had raped him on the plane on their way to Russia. It didn't matter how much he had protested. Nikolai's only concern was impregnating him with his child. He thought back to the airplane. His lover strong-arming him into the bedroom compartment and ripping his clothes off his body, then the press of the cockhead against his navel.

'Please, don't, Nikolai!' he had shouted, struggling violently.

'You promised me, Alexei! You promised that you would have my baby first!' the Russian Tsar growled, before slamming into him.

'I'm having Fox's baby first!' he had shouted, spitting into his Russian lover's face. However, Slava didn't seem to notice the saliva running down his face, he was too deeply enjoying fucking his lover.

Alex sighed, tears flowing freely from his eyes. It didn't matter. Nothing matter now, except Walter's life, and the look of pain and desolation on Fox's face, when he told Fox that he didn't love him as much as he loved Nikolai. It had been a lie. He'd never loved anyone as much as he loved Fox. It wasn't possible to love anyone more. He said it to save Walter's life. Alex had been worried that Fox would chose to protect him over going to Walter. He regretted his choice of words. He should have told Fox that he loved him, but Walter needed him more.

He looked out the window at the canals. Only an ocean separated him from his lovers, and Alex was determined to get back to Fox and Walter -- one way or another.

***

Crystal Palace
Friday, February 19th 2001
6:00 p.m.

Mulder sat in front of the fireplace curled up in his bathrobe. He hadn't felt like getting dressed today. He hadn't felt like doing much of anything, since Alex told him that he didn't love him. It had been five long days since he had lost Alex to Slava, with no hope of ever getting him back. Mulder glanced at the calendar on the wall. Alex would have started his month's long sleep. He wished his former lover and husband only happiness in the life he had chosen. If anyone deserved to be happy it was Alex, who had suffered so much because of him.

"Fox," Skinner said softly, coming into the room. He crossed the room and knelt at Mulder's feet. "Fox, Alex loves you. You know deep down in your heart that he does. I'm sure he had a good reason for what he said and did. Don't forget how much he suffered at the hands of the smoker...he wasn't himself."

"Walter, I want to believe but..." Mulder sighed, "I need to talk to Alex alone without Slava around. Maybe he did something to Alex to turn him against us." He didn't have a clue on how he'd be able to accomplish getting Alex away from Slava long enough to talk to him.

As if reading his mind Skinner said, "I'll find a way, Fox."

***

End of chapter 9 - For Love of Alex


Life from the Ashes Book 4 - Yours, Mine, & Ours

by Jo B.

Rating: NC-17
Keywords: M/Sk/K SLASH
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, Walter Skinner, Jeffrey Spender, CSM, the Lone Gunmen, Kimberly Cook, Senator Matheson, Bill Scully, the morph etc. are the property Chris Carter, 1013 productions and Fox Broadcasting. All other characters in the series are mine.
Summary: This is an Alternative Universe Story. It takes place after an alien virus has killed off most of the world's females and caused mutations in forty-five percent of the remaining males.
Authors Notes: This is the fourth book in my AU series "Life from the Ashes - Yours, Mine, and Ours." You might want to read the prequel and the first three books of the series to understand this one.
I would like to thank my beta-readers Demi-X, Laurie, Dusk, Cerulean Blue, Bee Lan, and Susan for all their hard work and patience in editing this story and plot suggestions. Special thanks to Demi-X for some great Krycek!Torture ideas.
This story is dedicated to StarWindDancer who is expecting twins shortly.
Feedback is always welcome. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
WARNING! This story contains explicit Sex/Romance between two or more men. Turn back now, if the subject matter offends you.
GROSS CONTENT WARNING! Four of my beta-readers were really squicked by a couple of scenes in this story. So if you don't want to be squicked then skip the whole Krycek delivery scene.
Okay to Archive: please ask first.


***

Chapter 10
Alone in the Dark

Crystal Palace
Wednesday, March 10th 2001
11:20 a.m.

Mulder was feeling anxious as he scanned over the final reports from White Mountain. He kept shifting around in his chair and chewing nervously on the tip of his pencil. It had been a month since he had rescued Alex, and Walter had killed CGB Spender. The smoker's body had been moved directly to a deserted morgue in Fairbanks. It was only yesterday that it was flown to Washington D.C. and placed into a cold storage unit. Mulder had refused to allow it on the island. Scully had been excited over the prospect of doing the autopsy. She wasn't too thrilled about having to fly to D.C. to do it, but Mulder just couldn't have that creature's body on the island. It was too close to his children. Still that didn't account for the weird feelings he was having... His eyes suddenly widened as he realized what was wrong with him.

"Oh shit! No! It can't be!" He shouted, shooting out of his chair.

"Fox? What's wrong?" Skinner asked from the doorway. He had come home to see if Mulder wanted to have lunch with him. He'd been concerned about his lover's lack of appetite over the past month.

"I-I... Walter, I'm having compulsions to have a baby again," Mulder blurted out quickly.

"Are you sure?" Skinner asked. His stomach knotted with worry as he stepped up to Mulder's desk.

Mulder plopped down in his chair. "Christ. Yeah, I'm sure." His cycles had started up again after giving birth, but he hardly noticed them without the compulsion being there. "Walter, how could this be happening? None of the other immortals are having compulsions yet!"

"Are you sure? Have you talked to them lately?"

Mulder looked at him then picked up the phone. He dialed Ari first. The Australian had been the first of their group to give birth. "Hey, it's Mulder. Ari, can I ask you if you're having compulsions to have another baby yet? ...Okay, thanks. No. No reason. Sorry to bother you." Mulder looked at Skinner and shook his head then dialed Shinji. "Hey, Shin. It's Mulder. You're not having compulsions..." Mulder stopped talking and listened, his face turned pale then he hung up the phone without saying another word. "Shin started having compulsions a month ago. He said it was because he's no longer lactating. He would have told me earlier but he promised Rory that he wouldn't." Mulder looked up at Skinner angrily. "I don't suppose you could throw that Scottish bastard into the dungeon?"

"We don't have a dungeon, Fox."

Mulder buried his face in his hands and sobbed. "God, this is my fault, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is your fault. You were still lactating when we got back from White Mountain. You could have started nursing our children again."

"Thanks for being so supportive," Mulder said sarcastically.

"Fox, you know that I didn't agree with how you went about rescuing Alex. I further more didn't appreciate you depriving our children. Besides, if you asked for my help upfront I ..."

"You never would have let me go in alone to rescue Alex! Don't deny it! You know that it's true!"

"No! I don't know that it's true! Fox, you have always been able to convince me to go along with anything in the past..."

"That was before I became an immortal. Walter, you barely listen to me anymore on important issues."

"That's not true, Fox." Skinner looked around Mulder's office and walked over to the large aquarium. "I didn't get in your way when you wanted to continue working for the FBI. No matter how much I wanted you to quit, I wouldn't do that to you!"

Mulder sighed. "Can we just drop it. I have more pressing problems right now," he said, placing a hand over his stomach. "God, I don't want to have another baby! I don't want to go through that again!"

Skinner kept his mouth shut. He wasn't too thrilled about having another baby this soon either.

***

Four months later
Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 3rd 2001
6:00 a.m.

Mulder closed his eyes and sighed as Walter pulled out of his navel. He'd gone four months without giving into the compulsions. Shinji had only made it three months. However, he knew it would be inevitable that he would give in to the compulsions. And since this cycle fell on both Walter's forty-ninth birthday and Faith's second he didn't want to miss either of their parties by being sedated. "Happy Birthday, Walter," he said softly.

Skinner looked down into his warm hazel eyes and kissed him long and hard. Ending the kiss, he rolled onto his side and pulled Mulder into his arms hugging him close. "You know this was the best present I could have received for my birthday," he said, lightly caressing Mulder's stomach.

Mulder sighed. "Walter, neither one of us wanted another baby this soon. It's my fault. I'm sorry for not trusting our friends to help me rescue Al..." he swallowed and couldn't bring himself to say Alex's name. He had a hard time even thinking about Alex. Their attempts to convince Slava to allow them to talk to their lover had failed. Even the spy Walter had in St. Petersburg wasn't able to get close enough to the palace, let alone to Alex. Slava was keeping their lover under tight guard.

"Fox, you did what you thought was best. Don't forget, you did get Alex away from CGB Spender..."

"Yeah, but I lost him to Slava. I wish I knew that he really did leave willingly." Mulder rested his head on Walter's chest. "I hate the thought of Alex having been forced to leave us against his will. More so than the thought of him no longer loving me."

Skinner shook his head sadly; they'd been over this a thousand times. "Fox, Alex loves you. How can you doubt it? I saw the way he would look at you..."

"He said he loved Slava more. How could Alex love the man who raped and abused me and won't allow me to see my daughters?" Mulder bit his lip. Then he said, "I don't want to talk about this any longer, Walter. It hurts too much." He climbed off the bed and headed up the steps to the bathroom.

***

Winter Palace
Sunday, June 3rd 2001
6:00 a.m.

Krycek couldn't stop the tears from falling. It was his daughter's second birthday and he was missing it. He had been so emotional lately that it was embarrassing. He turned his face into the soft pillow. His body stiffened as Slava pulled him back against his broad chest. And the larger man's morning erection pressed between his buttocks.

Krycek struggled to pull a way. "I'm not in the mood! Let go!" he snarled.

"Well I am!" Slava growled. "It's bad enough that you're getting fat! I'm not going to be denied from taking my pleasure from your body before it is too repulsively large!"

"That's your fault! Not mine! I wouldn't be in this large if I was only pregnant with Fox's baby, but you had to rape me... Ouch!"

Slava slapped Krycek's buttock. "I did not rape you! And I don't want you to use that term ever again! You came willingly with me, and you consented to having my baby a long time ago, Alexei!" He slipped a finger up his reluctant lover's anus. It was still slick from their earlier love making many hours ago. He pulled it out and quickly mounted Krycek. His arms wrapping around the younger man's body and pulling him closer as he thrust into him. Slava's hand jerked away in revulsion as it encountered the slight swell of his lover's pregnant belly. He didn't know why it revolted him, but it did. He should be pleased that his lover was carrying his baby. Slava thrust harder and faster wanting to get off quickly, so he could end the contact.

Krycek closed his eyes as Slava's cock twitched inside of him and his lover shot his seed deep into his bowels. He escaped again into his mind, until he could no longer feel Slava's hands touching him or hear his grunts in his ears.

Slava grunted and pulled out then shook Krycek's shoulder. "Come on! Get your fat ass out of bed!" Getting no response Slava snarled and climbed out of bed, walking around to Krycek's side, he scooped his naked lover up into his powerful arms. He had become used to Krycek's constant nightmares and his lover zoning out over the past months. He had found the perfect method for waking him up. Slava carried him into the shower and set him on the floor with his back leaning up against the shower wall, then he turned on the cold water.

Krycek started, sputtered and swore, glaring up at Slava's smirking face.

"Get cleaned up and dressed, Alexei! We will be going down to breakfast now!"

"I'm not hungry!"

"Ha! You're always hungry!"

"Fuck you, Nicky!" Krycek was embarrassed. He had been having awful cravings for the past two months.

"Watch your mouth, Alexei!"

"Or you'll what? Beat me? Rape me?" Krycek wrapped his arms around his knees as he sat staring up at Slava from the shower floor.

Slava sighed, looking down at his beautiful lover with water dripping off his long, thick lashes and his wide green eyes peering up at him angrily. "No. I'm not going to hit you, Alexei. I love you..."

"But you're disgusted with how I look." He was barely showing signs of his pregnancy, but Krycek felt fat and undesirable. It was enough to disgust him and Slava. He wondered how bad it would become when his body really looked pregnant.

Slava stared down at him. Krycek's belly only had a slight swell to it, and his lover had a little puffiness in his face. "Alexei, I don't like the idea of your beautiful body puffing up like a balloon."

"Nikolai, I want to go back to Fox and Walter. Walter and I loved the way Fox looked throughout his pregnancy and he was much bigger than I'm likely to get."

"No! I won't allow you to see or talk to them again! They kept you from me, so I'm doing the same to them!"

"Like you're keeping me away from my daughter and sons! It's Faith's second birthday today! I doubt that she even remembers who I am any longer! Hunter is seven months old already! He was only two weeks old when I last saw him! I've missed so much of their lives because of you!" Krycek yelled.

"I'll call Fox and ask him to send us your children," Slava said.

"NO! You're not taking Faith, Hunter, and River from him! You've kept Fox from seeing his daughters! I won't allow you to do that to him, too!" Krycek rose shakily to his feet. He wished he had his sorcerer's powers, but they had not returned since he'd been with Slava. Anytime he tried to strike out at his lover, Slava would use mind control to subdue him.

"You have a right to see your children, Alexei. I'm sure Fox would be agreeable to allowing them to come for a visit, if I send him three of *my* daughters in exchange." Slava watched Alex's face cloud over with rage. "Especially, if Fox thought it would make you feel better. That is if he still gives a damn about you, Alexei. Your words really hurt him bad. He probably hates you now."

Krycek shoved past Slava. He was sure that Fox would never agree to send their children to Russia. Even if he did, Walter would never allow it, knowing how much losing the children would hurt Fox. "I hate you for hurting Fox in the past! And I'll never forgive you if you hurt him again! I was a fool to allow myself to fall in love with you! However, our love is only because we are genetically bonded. The love I have for Fox and Walter is far beyond that! Something you could never understand."

Slava smiled and pulled Krycek against his chest and kissed him hard. It took only a few moments before Krycek was melting into the kiss and kissing him back. Then Slava pushed him away and smirked into his lover's dazed expression. "Stop fooling yourself, Alexei! You love me more than you can ever possibly love Fox or Skinner. Now finish dressing! We're going down to breakfast."

Krycek closed his eyes and blushed. He hated himself for responding to the kiss and feeling love for Slava. Could he have hurt Fox enough by his words that his lover would never take him back?

***

Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 3rd 2001
2:00 p.m.

Faith came running over and dropped the cotton and lace items in Mulder's lap. "What do we have here, Cutie?"

"Big giwl's panties," she said proudly.

"Did your Aunt Dana give you these?"

"Yes. Purty," Faith said, patting the floral underwear.

"Very pretty. Since you haven't had an accident in over three weeks I guess that means you can start wearing these instead of your training pants. Why don't you show them to your Uncle Walter?" Mulder said, handing the pairs of underwear back.

Faith grinned brightly and carried the underwear across the room to her Uncle. "Put them on me," she ordered, dropping the underwear in Walter's lap. She lifted the hem of her party dress and started to remove her training pants.

Several of the guests snickered at how quickly Skinner pulled her dress back down and scooped her up in his arms. "Cutie, it's bad manners to show a room full of men and boys your butt."

"But, I saw your butt lots."

Mulder couldn't help laughing at the color red Walter's face turned. Neither could the rest of room. Mulder stood and went to his lover's rescue. "Cutie, have you seen any of our guests' butts?"

Faith looked around at the guests. "No, Daddy."

"Then you shouldn't be showing them your butt."

"Okay, Daddy." She grinned broadly.

Scully rolled her eyes at that logic. "Mulder, that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say."

"Why?" Mulder thought it made perfect sense.

"Jonathan is her pediatrician and he's not about to show her his butt in order to examine her," she said, arching an eyebrow.

Mulder blushed. "Oh. I see your point." He turned back to his daughter and set her on the floor. "Cutie, we'll talk about this later. Why don't you open the rest of your presents?"

Skinner grabbed Mulder's arm, before he could head back across the room, and hauled him down on the loveseat next to him. "Thanks for the save, babe."

"It wasn't much of one." Mulder grinned sheepishly. "Let's face it, Walter, our kids are going to embarrass us from time to time."

"What do you suggest we do?"

"The only thing we can do. Wait until they are older and get even." Mulder watched Faith as she excitedly ripped open another present. "She's forgotten him," he murmured.

"You've done your best to keep reminding her, but it's been over six months, Fox. At her age she was bound to forget," Skinner said.

Mulder nodded and looked into the playpen at Sasha. It was set up next to the loveseat. "Sasha has never even gotten to know him. Alex didn't see his son sit up or crawl for the first time..." Mulder looked away, he didn't want to cry again, not in front of their guests. "Walter, I could see him leaving me, but not our kids. He never even called to see how they were or sent a birthday card to Faith. Slava must be holding him against his will, no other explanation makes sense."

Skinner reached over and squeezed Mulder's hand. He was glad his lover was finally coming around to his way of thinking. "I agree with you, Fox. However, Alex would never have left you willingly either. You mean as much to him as our kids."

Mulder leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Thanks. I really wish I could believe that." Then he grinned as Sergei stood up in the playpen, holding out his chubby little arms to Skinner. He was almost a head taller than his brother. "Hey, our little guy is standing."

A big grin lit up Skinner's face as he stood and lifted their son out of the playpen. "Is Daddy's liddle widdle piggy-pooh trying to walk?"

"Da-da-da--" Sergei stuck his fingers in his father's mouth and laughed when his dad clamped down on them. "Eeeeee!"

Skinner set him on his feet and held his hands, watching lovingly as his son tried to put one foot in front of the other. Sergei would have fallen if his dad wasn't there holding him up.

Mulder watched the love in Walter's eyes as he helped their son. Mulder absently rested his hand over his stomach and wondered if they would have a boy or a girl? He turned his focus back to Faith, who was the center of attention with most of their guests. Mulder's gaze wandered around the room. Frohike was holding Hope while he chatted with Byers and Langly as they watched Faith open her gifts. Hope seemed to enjoy being with the gunmen and Mulder had a sudden image of her wearing thick-framed glasses, gloves without fingers and a tailored suit. He shuddered at the image. River was across the room playing with Matthew and Yori and Lev's sons. Jeff was holding Angelique on his lap while his other arm was wrapped around Ian's shoulders. The two men watched Faith while talking to Hans and Gabriel. Gabriel was cradling his three-day-old infant daughter in his arms. Hans had his and Frohike's daughter Marsha sitting on his lap. Mulder looked at Hans' face, his friend was radiantly happy. At least it was Hans' decision to have another baby, unlike he and Shinji who were forced by their body's extreme urges to become pregnant again. Bill Scully was sitting with Kyle Pendrell and holding Mulder and Skinner's daughter Kaylie. The two men had been dating since Jeff and Kyle had broken up. Everyone was having a good time. Mulder looked back at the playpen and noticed that Sasha was staring around sadly and looked about ready to cry. He stood and quickly lifted his son out.

"Oh, Sasha, come to Daddy. Did your brother Sergei desert you?"

Sasha brightened up immediately. Mulder smiled and gave him a sloppy kiss, making the baby giggle. "Would you like to come with me to work tomorrow?"

Sasha was a quiet baby. He hardly ever cried or made much noise at all, unlike his brother or sisters.

"Well, sweetie, I'll take that as a yes," Mulder murmured. He had been taking Sasha to work with him lately. Mulder needed to feel close to Alex. The only way he found that worked was holding their son, who looked so much like his Russian father that it nearly broke Mulder's heart.

Skinner sat down next to Mulder with Sergei in his arms. "They're so different aren't they?"

"Yeah, our little boys." Mulder asked suddenly, "Are you happy, Walter?"

Skinner sighed. "I find it hard to be happy without Alex here. I do try to be for our kids, for you, but..."

"Me, too. I keep thinking that in three months Alex is going to give birth to our daughter and I may never see her, or him again. I want to kill Slava for what he has done to our family, but Alex loves him..."

"We'll get Alex and your new daughter back, Fox. Nothing Slava can do will keep them away from us forever."

"Walter, we don't even know if Alex would want to come back to us. He's hopelessly in love with Slava," Mulder said sadly. He turned back to watch his daughter rip into another present.

Skinner was about to protest, but decided not to press the issue during his niece's party.

***

Crystal Palace
Sunday, August 13th 2001
2:00 p.m.

It was sweltering outside. The heat was clearly visible as it shimmered in clear waves against the blue of the ocean. Mulder rolled onto his stomach on the beach blanket. He was two months pregnant and not showing in the slightest. Mulder sighed with contentment as Skinner straddled his thighs and started rubbing suntan oil onto his back and butt, planting an occasional kiss as he went.

So far this pregnancy hadn't been difficult to endure, unlike last time. Other than the cravings he had for watermelon and pizza. Not just any pizza, it had to be flown in from the restaurant in NY that he and Walter had gone to last summer. Walter was suffering more than he was, since Mulder would make his lover get him whatever he was craving.

"Daddy Walter, can you play catch with me?" River asked, walking up carrying a beach ball.

Skinner looked up at his son as he finished applying the suntan oil to Mulder's flawless skin. "Sure, River, let me wash my hands in the ocean first."

River knelt next to Mulder as Skinner walked out into the ocean. "Daddy, why do you like being naked on the beach? Daddy Walter wears swimming trunks."

Mulder peered up at River and grinned. "Daddy Walter is modest and I'm not. Besides, I don't want to get a tan line."

"I think you should wear swim trunks, too."

Mulder looked at his son's serious little face. "Does it embarrass you that I sunbathe in the nude?"

"Yes. My friends' older brothers are always talking about how hot you are," River said.

A blush spread across Mulder's cheeks. He hadn't realized that he had become the object of teenage lust. He groaned and buried his face into his arms. Since River had started attending special summer preschool classes at the palace's K-8 school, he had made friends with several little boys his age. Mulder had thought nothing about allowing River's little friends to play on their private section of beach. The little boys' older brothers or fathers always accompanied them. As Mulder thought back, he recalled how the boys' older brothers were always playing or talking nearby where he laid. He lifted his head and looked back up at River. No little kid wants to hear their parent spoken about in a sexual manner. "I'll tell you what, River. I'll only sunbathe nude on our veranda from now on. I'll wear a bathing suit when we come down to the beach."

"Thanks, Daddy," River smiled.

Skinner smiled down at them. Leave it to River to succeed at convincing Fox to do what he'd wanted him to do for weeks.

Mulder sat up and reached for their beach bag and pulled out his speedos and slipped them on. He sat cross-legged on the blanket as he looked around their secluded section of beach. It was quiet and peaceful today. Mulder licked his lips and looked over at Walter as he had a sudden craving. "Hey, Walter, can you run up to the palace and see if Jacques can whip me up a peanut butter and banana sandwich?" He smirked when his lover gave him a disgruntled look and tossed him the beach ball. Mulder had refused to eat anything that Walter whipped up with his powers. He could taste the difference.

"Fine, you play catch with River until I get back." Skinner turned and started jogging back toward the palace.

Mulder could have gone for it himself, but one of the luxuries of being pregnant was making his spouse play fetch and retrieve for him. He stood and walked over to River carrying the beach ball. His son was giving him a funny look.

"What?" Mulder asked.

"Don't you have swim trunks more like Uncle Melvin's?"

"No. Now do you want to play catch with me or not?"

"Okay, but just until Daddy Walter gets back," River said.

***

Winter Palace
Sunday, August 12th 2001
10:20 p.m.

Krycek stood in front of the bathroom mirror, looking at his pregnant image. While he wasn't as large as Fox had been, he was a hell of a lot larger than the other immortals had gotten. His ankles were swollen and his back hurt. "Shit, I can't even see my dick," he sighed looking down at his belly. Krycek pulled on a pair of black, maternity pants and a loose fitting black shirt. He stepped into his sneakers, which he had removed the laces from; they didn't fit otherwise. One of the babies kicked and he paused to touch his belly and murmur softly to the small life inside him.

He started for the door then stopped suddenly. "Shit!" He turned and unzipped his pants and walked back over to the urinal. Krycek hated the constant need to pee more than anything!

Slava looked up as Krycek walked out of the bathroom heading for the bedroom door. "Where are you going, Alexei?"

Krycek frowned. He knew his lover was going to give him flak. "To the kitchen."

"Don't you think you've had enough to eat today?"

"I'm still hungry! Don't forget, I'm eating for three!"

"Believe me, Alexei, that would be impossible to forget!" Slava growled, looking at his pregnant lover with disgust.

Krycek blushed and stormed out of the bedroom. He had a bit more freedom lately. Mostly because Slava couldn't stand the sight of him. However, the guards outside the bedroom door still followed him down to the kitchen. As he wallowed in self-pity, Krycek didn't notice the looks of lust in their eyes as they watched him move about the large kitchen. He and Slava still had sex daily, but it was usually just a quick fuck. He pulled a jar of honey out of the cupboard then opened a tin of anchovies. He drizzled the honey on the anchovies then got a small fork and started eating the salty, honey-coated fish.

If he could just figure out a way to escape from the palace and make his way back home to Fox and Walter. He needed some sort of distraction. The guards were starting to get sloppy the bigger he got. They didn't consider him much of a threat. Krycek thought he'd be able to escape when they weren't paying attention. However, that still left him without a means to travel back to New America. His eyes lit up when an idea came to him. The harbor wasn't too far from the palace. If he could stowaway on one of the large freighters or merchant ships going to New America or Canada then he'd be able to contact Walter when the ship finally docked. He frowned. Which still left finding a ship and getting out of the palace. He'd only have one shot at it, so he'd have to be patient and bide his time.

***

Crystal Palace
Tuesday, September 22nd 2001
2:20 p.m.

Mulder sat behind his desk going over a report while Sasha played on the floor. Walter had sentenced Havock to a hundred years in prison for his past crimes. Andy Nelson was sentence to life with no possibility for parole.

"Hey, Mulder, here's the forensic report on the Nylaine case," Agent Sullivan said, stepping into the office and placing the report in Mulder's overflowing in box.

"Thanks, Jack."

Sullivan bent and picked up Sasha. "Hi, Sasha. How's my favorite little boy?"

Sasha grinned, but didn't utter a sound.

"A quiet little guy aren't you? If your dad's not careful I might just steal you."

Mulder smiled, looking up at them. Sasha was so quiet and easy going that Mulder couldn't resist bringing him to work. The baby had become the department's mascot. Everyone stopped in during the day to see him. "Jack, you can't steal him but you can take him for a walk if you want."

"How about that, Sash? Would you like to go for a walk with your, Uncle Jack?"

"There's a bottle of apple juice in the refrigerator that you can give him," Mulder said as his son and friend headed out the door. After they left, Mulder leaned back in his chair and stared at the calendar. It had been over seven months since he'd lost Alex to Slava. He wondered if Alex had given birth to their child yet. Their contact in Russia hadn't been able to get any information about Alex's condition for two months. Mulder sighed sadly and went back to work.

***

Winter Palace
Tuesday, September 30th 2001
11:20 p.m.

Krycek wasn't at all happy. He was at least two weeks overdue and was being forced to attend a reception with Slava. The reception was to show off how virile Slava was to the Russian people, by parading his pregnant lover in front of the television cameras. Krycek chuckled bitterly. His lover had been intentionally keeping him out of the public's eye. The sight of him embarrassed Slava. However, Slava's advisors finally convinced the Tsar that the public wouldn't be repulsed by his lover's appearance. Krycek gasped as one of the babies kicked. God, his back was killing him and his feet were so swollen that he was reduced to wearing slippers instead of shoes.

"You veady?" Slava slurred.

Krycek rolled his eyes. His lover had already started drinking. Slava seldom touched alcohol before Krycek was pregnant. A lot had changed. Now, they even slept in separate bedrooms, which was fine with both of them. The further along he had gotten in his pregnancy, the less Krycek found Slava attractive or wanted to be touched by him. "Yeah, I'm ready." They only had sex twice a week now.

Slava led the way out of their apartment and to the main staircase. It wasn't until they were standing at the top of the steps that the Tsar took Krycek's hand lovingly in his and painted a smile on his face. Most of Slava's subjects didn't share his revulsion over seeing Alexei's body distorted by pregnancy. Therefore, the Tsar tried to pretend that it didn't bother him either. It wouldn't be long now, and he'd have his beautiful perfect Alexei back.

Krycek glared down at the men, looking up at him as they descended the steps. He felt self-conscious as he gazed out over the crowded foyer and beyond. The place was packed with guests. A smile crept on his lips. Crowds were good for distraction. He might be able to sneak out of the palace with such a crowd. All that he had to do was get Slava drunk and his lover was already halfway there.

They made their way around the room with Slava staying close at his side. Krycek watched as the Tsar knocked off several more glasses of vodka. He noticed that most of the guests were getting inebriated, too. It amazed him just how drunk everyone was getting. If he wasn't pregnant he would be drinking, too. He would never have noticed the state the other men were in. It was while he was talking to one of Slava's governors that Krycek overheard two men talking about returning to their ship that would be setting out to sea before dawn for Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ship's name was the Melia.

Krycek was determined to be on that ship when it sailed. His eyes scanned the room, and he noticed one of the new order of Russian clergy heading into the washroom. The stout man was wearing a black-hooded robe.

Slava had long since let go of his hand and wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention as Krycek headed toward the washroom for the sixth time that evening. Krycek smirked inwardly. His weak bladder was finally working in his favor. However, the palace guard was paying attention to him, and followed him into washroom. Once inside the door he turned and clutched his belly, crying out in pain. When the guard came to his assistance, Krycek nailed both him in his Adam apple with the heel of his hand. When he dropped to his knees, he knocked him out with an elbow blow to the temple.

The clergyman stood quivering and wide-eyed, not believing that he'd just seen a very pregnant immortal take out a muscular guard. He swallowed as Krycek locked the washroom door and advanced on him, backing him up against the open window.

"If you want to live to see another day, I suggest you hand over your robe," Krycek growled.

The frightened man obeyed. When Krycek had the robe in his hands, he knocked the overweight clergyman out. He put the robe on, then tried to climb out the washroom's window. It was a bit too high for him to easily maneuver his pregnant body up to the sill. He looked around for something to stand on. Smiling, he pulled the clergy's body under the window. Then drag one of the unconscious guard over and piled him on top of the clergyman. He used them as a stepstool to get his butt on the windowsill.

He swung his legs outside and pushed off the sill, dropping six feet to the ground below. He cursed as the simple leap knocked the breath out of him. He stood for a second with his arms wrapped around his middle, cradling his belly against the slight cramping. He straightened and pulled the hood of the robe over his head and started across the brightly lit square. He forced himself to ignore the discomfort he was experiencing in his belly and moved as quickly as possible. He should be able to lose himself in the dark alleyways and narrow street on the other side of the square.

It took him twenty-five minutes of weaving in and out of the alleyways to reach the docks. Then another ten to find the Melia. They were still loading cargo on board. He hid behind several crates. When the coast was clear he dashed over to one of the large metal containers to be loaded onto the ship. The side he was on was nicely hidden in the shadows. He opened the latch on the container and swung the door partly opened. It was packed with boxes of caviar and smoke fish. He shifted some of the boxes and was able to squeeze inside. Krycek secured the door to the crate from the inside and hoped that no one would notice that the outer latch wasn't engaged.

Krycek guessed that his presence should be missed at the palace by now. He hoped that Slava would be too drunk to think about closing the ports, until after the ship was underway. He felt the crate shift as the men hooked a crane onto it. Krycek held on tight as the crate was raised into the air and swung over the side of the ship, then lowered into the cargo hold. He pulled his legs up against his belly as he huddled in the dark container, waiting and hoping they'd be underway soon.

***

Crystal Palace
Wednesday, October 1st 2001
4:00 a.m.

The pounding on the bedroom door pulled Skinner from a sound sleep. He looked at the clock as he eased out of Mulder's warm embrace and staggered over to the door. Pulling on his robe before opening the door. General Kline was standing in the hallway.

"Clay, what's wrong?" Skinner asked, stepping out of the bedroom and closing the door quietly behind him.

"Our contact in St. Petersburg called. He said Slava is tearing the city apart searching for Alex. He's closed down all the airports, ports, train stations, and roads going out of the city. No one is allowed to enter or leave St. Petersburg."

"How long after Alex disappeared did he closed down the city?" Skinner calculated that it would be eleven o'clock in the morning there.

"Six hours. Our source said that Slava was pretty drunk when Alex disappeared...and, Walter, Alex is still pregnant."

Skinner face showed a little relief at that news. They hadn't been able to get any word on Alex's condition for the past two months. "I want a list of all the planes, trains, and ships that left St. Petersburg within that six hour window." Skinner stepped back into the bedroom and turned on the light as the General rushed to follow his King's order. "Fox, get up," he said, shaking his lover.

"Whatimesit?" Mulder mumbled and squinted against the bright glare of the overhead lights.

"Time to get up," Skinner said, walking over to his closet. "Alex has escaped from Slava." He opened the closet door and stepped inside.

Mulder leaped out of bed and rushed over to the closet. "When? Where is he? Is he all right?"

"Sometime this morning. We don't know where he is, or if he's all right. General Kline is pulling together a list of all the planes, trains, and ships that left St. Petersburg before Slava closed down the city." Skinner looked at him seriously. "Fox, he's still pregnant."

"Oh God." Mulder didn't know if he should be grateful that Alex was still carrying their daughter or scared for his lover's health. "I'll get dressed and contact Frohike. Maybe he can help pinpoint where Alex is." Mulder turned and rushed across the room to his closet. He was both anxious and excited as he started dressing. His stomach fluttered and he knew this time it was from nerves and not the movement of the small life growing inside his womb. Was it possible that Alex was escaping back to them? That maybe Alex did love him as much as Slava.

Skinner quickly dressed not wasting time for a shower or a shave. He rushed out the door, heading downstairs to his office to coordinate the search and rescue mission.

Mulder, in the meantime, woke Sean up to watch the babies while he went downstairs to talk to Frohike.

***

The Melia
Wednesday, October 1st 2001
noon

Krycek was extremely sick. The lurching of the ship made him nauseous. He had already puked up everything in his stomach. He was so sick that he was getting severe stomach cramps. Krycek held his belly as he searched the dark cargo hold for something he could use to make a bed. He needed to lie down more than anything, but he didn't want to do so on the rat infested floor.

The only light into the hold came from the red safety lights at the doors. He blindly wandered around until his foot struck a metal box. Looking down, he realized, to his relief, that he had stumbled upon a toolbox with a flashlight sitting next to it. He picked up the flashlight and turned it on, arching its beam across the hold. Several large rats scurried away from its bright glare. Krycek walked over to the nearest steel container and started searching its contents. By the time he finished, he had searched ten containers, finding a dozen thick fur coats and hats. He used them to make a bed inside one of the large steel crates. Krycek also found a case of juice and some Russian delicacies. He piled them in a corner then closed the steel door to crate to keep out the rats.

Krycek doubled over as another cramp knotted his belly. He shakily sat on the bed of furs. His breath was coming out in short pants. It suddenly occurred to him that he was in labor. "Okay, okay, don't panic," he muttered as he turned off the flashlight to preserve its batteries. Krycek was trembling at the thought of having his babies alone in the dark. He'd sell his soul to be with Fox and Walter. A tear came to his eye. He only hoped that Fox still wanted him. His pregnancy had affected the genetic-bond he had with Slava. Krycek spent the last couple of months seriously thinking about his relationship with Fox. He couldn't believe how understanding Fox had been about his need to be with Slava. Krycek felt shame for putting Fox in that position. Slava had raped and mistreated Fox, and here he had taken that man into his bed, not giving Fox's feelings any consideration. Krycek let out a sob. No way would Fox take him back. Not after everything he had done. He'd just go and give Fox their daughter then bow out of his life forever.

***

Crystal Palace
Wednesday, October 1st 2001
1:00 p.m.

Mulder stood momentarily frozen. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. He sank to his knees in front of the television and touched the image of Alex on the screen. "God, Alex, you're so beautiful." He was watching the news. It was showing a taped telecast being broadcast out of Germany. The telecast was of the reception from last night, which Alex had escaped from. Someone must have smuggled the tape out of St. Petersburg before the city was closed. Mulder was a little baffled about Alex's size. He wondered if it was possible that his lover was having twins? Then he heard the reporter asking Slava about whether he hoped for a boy or a girl. Alex was having Slava's child, too? Their contact hadn't reported that Alex was pregnant with Slava's baby.

The whole image was off. Instead of a happy smiling couple, Alex looked sad, and Slava was clearly inebriated. Mulder wanted so much to hug and comfort Alex.

"Please, please, Alex, come back to me."

"What are you watching, Daddy?" River asked.

"A news clip of your Daddy Alex." Mulder smiled, putting his arm around River's waist as the little boy walked over to him.

"He's fat."

"He's pregnant."

"Oh. So he's going to have another little boy to take my place?"

"No one could ever take your place, River. Alex loves you."

"No he doesn't. Bobby's brother said that Daddy Alex left because he was in love with the Tsar of Russia."

Mulder sighed. That was the crux of his problem, too. He really didn't know if Alex left him because he really did love Slava more, or if he was forced to leave by Slava. Was Alex really escaping to come back to them? Or did Alex have a lover's spat with Slava? Mulder wouldn't know the answers until he talked to Alex. He looked sadly back at his lover's image. It made his heart ache to see Alex looking so sad.

River saw the sadness in his father's eyes. "Don't worry, Daddy. I still love you."

"Alex loves you too, Mulder," Frohike said, coming into the room. "He's worried that you might not take him back."

"You're reading him?" Mulder asked, standing.

"I can read his emotions from how he was behaving on the TV news report and get a sense of what he is thinking. He hates Slava, but hates himself more for hurting you. Alex only said what he did to save Walter's life. He was worried that you'd be too reluctant to leave him to help Walter in time," Frohike said.

"Shit. How could I've been so blind?"

"More likely blinded by love. Alex needs you, Mulder, he is close to shattering."

"Can you see where he is, Fro?"

"He's on a ship...but I can't see anything beyond that."

***

The Melia
Wednesday, October 1st 2001
8:00 p.m.

Krycek bit down on a leather belt to keep from crying out in pain. Although, no one was likely to hear him if he screamed, he still didn't want to take the chance. The contractions were coming closer together and were almost impossible for him to endure. His hand rubbed his bare belly. He had removed his clothes as the contractions had gotten closer together and stronger. Krycek shifted his body, until he was kneeling on all fours over a dirty canvas. It had been covering some boxes in the crate. He hadn't wanted to soil his fur bed. So he had spread the canvas on the floor of the crate.

The gravity of his new position helped ease the pain in his back. Despite the cold temperature, sweat dripped off his face and onto the canvas. He grunted as another contraction knotted his belly. Suddenly fluids erupted out of his navel, splattering down on the canvas. He quickly reached underneath to support the crown of his baby's head. Krycek bit harder on the piece of leather as he bore down with the next contraction. With one hand he guided the baby as it left his body. He spit out the badly bitten piece of leather from his mouth. While staying on his knees, he brought the tiny infant up and laid it on the satin lining of a fur coat in front of him. Krycek flipped on the flashlight and marveled at the tiny life covered in a pinkish colored gel. He cleaned the baby's mouth out and lightly slapped its bottom. The newborn started crying.

The infant was just a little bigger than his hand. He counted its fingers and toes and noted it's tiny penis. This would be Nikolai's son, he thought. He knew that Fox's sperm would only produce a female child. His son was shivering in the cold air of the storage crate. Krycek frowned. Having no water to clean the infant, and thinking it wouldn't be healthy to leave the gel on the his flesh, Krycek did the only thing he could think to do.

"Well, Nicholas, cats do it with their young," he murmured, making a face, he started tenderly licking the pink gel off his newborn's skin. To Krycek's relief, it was almost tasteless, with only a small hint of sweetness. It was the gel from inside the pouch. He paused briefly in his task as he had another contraction and the pouch plopped down on the canvas.

"Gross," he said, looking under his arm at it, then went back to the task of cleaning his son. It didn't take him long. The infant was so tiny.

The contractions had slowed and Krycek figured he had a while before his daughter would be born. So, he moved up to his bed of furs and cuddled his son in his arms. He pinched his nipple, rolling it until fluid started flowing from its tip. He had watched Fox nursing their babies a number of times, so he knew just what to do. "Okay, Nicky, time for your first meal." He nudged the baby's mouth open with his finger then inserted his nipple. It took a little coaxing before the baby started suckling. Krycek cringed at how painful it was at first. God, the things Fox had gone through for him and Walter. Had they ever showed Fox how much they appreciated him? Add that to the list of things Fox must hate him for.

Krycek sighed as he laid on the soft furs. It was a welcome change from kneeling on the rough canvas. He flipped the flashlight off and listened to the sounds of the baby suckling.

Six hours had passed as he lay holding his son in the dark. He fed the infant twice more as he stoically endured the contractions, counting the minutes that passed between each one. When the pain became unbearable and the contractions close together, he wrapped his son in furs to keep him warm, making sure that the infant was able to breathe, before he left him. Krycek turned on the flashlight and shakily crawled off the furs onto the canvas. He folded one end over the previous mess. The contractions seemed to be coming on top of one another now. He knelt on all fours like he had before, hoping to let gravity take its course. Krycek's pain-filled scream echoed throughout the crate as the baby's head suddenly crowned. His whole body trembled as he reached under to support the tiny body as he bore down with the next contraction pushing her out.

He set her on the satin lining in front of him. He cleaned out her mouth then turned and slapped her bottom. She started shrieking loudly. "You're louder than your brother, little one." He smiled tiredly and stroked her cheek with his finger. Then he bent to the task of licking her clean.

Krycek stayed kneeling on all fours, waiting for his body to deliver the afterbirth. It took longer this time for the pouch to be expelled. He looked down at the mess on the canvas then took a moment to fold it into a ball, which he planned to dispose of later. He then picked up his daughter and moved up on the bed of furs to lay beside his son. Krycek pinched his nipple to get the flow of milk going then placed it into his daughter's mouth. She didn't hesitate as she hungrily latched onto the nipple. Krycek watched her tiny lips as they suckled. "Well, little one, I think I will let Fox name you." He smiled suddenly, as he thought of the perfect nickname. "Foxy, you're beautiful. I'm sure your Daddy Fox will agree."

When she was done nursing, Krycek rubbed her back gently until she emitted a small burp then placed her beside her brother. He moved down on the furs and pulled one of the coats over his tired and cold body. He carefully rested his head beside his babies, making sure that his body was well below theirs, so he wouldn't accidentally roll over on them. The moment Krycek closed his eyes he was out like a light.

He awoke an hour later to a foul smell and Nicky crying. Krycek fumbled for the flashlight and flipped it on then pulled the fur cover off his son. The baby was lying in a black tarry mess. "Shit." He lifted the infant and hunted around for something to clean some of the mess off his bottom. He lay the infant on his belly across his lap as he tore several pieces of fabric from the clergyman's black robe then used one to wipe as much of the tarry poop off his son's butt. Making a face, Krycek bent to the task of licking the rest of the mess off his baby, knowing that if it was left on, the acid from the waste would burn the infant's tender skin. When he finished, he spit onto the soiled coat, trying to get the foul taste out of his mouth. Then he used the another piece of the robe to diaper Nicky who was now crying hungrily. "In a second, Nicky," he said as he picked up his daughter and quickly diapered her, too. He knew that she would be pooping for the first time shortly, and he didn't want their bed wrecked further.

Krycek moved her to another spot on the bed and disposed of the smelly coat in the corner next to the ruined canvas. He then picked Nicky up and started to nurse the infant again. As his son finished nursing, Krycek felt a wetness on his arm from Nicky's diapered butt. The infant had pooped again. Krycek groaned, then repeated the previous task of cleaning and diapering his son. After putting Nicky to bed, he went about making more diapers from the robe. God! He spit, but he couldn't get rid of the foul taste in his mouth. His eyes fell upon the forgotten box of fruit juice. Krycek swore! He was an idiot, he could have used the juice to clean his babies then lick the sticky sweet fruit juice off. Smiling with relief, he walked over to the box and pulled out a bottle of cranberry juice. He really needed to locate some water. But he couldn't leave his newborns alone, not even for a minute.

***

Crystal Palace
Friday, October 3rd 2001
3:00 a.m.

Mulder stood out on the veranda staring out at the moonlit ocean. His mind was on his missing lover, husband, friend. Three days and not a word. St. Petersburg was one of the busiest cities in the new world. Three dozen ships had sailed out of its harbors in the five hour window before Slava had closed down the city. The Gunmen were secretly tracking the ships. While Walter focused his attention on the planes that had flown out of St. Petersburg. His lover had not wanted to arouse Slava's suspicions by openly searching for the ship that Alex was on.

"Fox, come to bed," Skinner said as he stepped out on the veranda. He was freshly showered. Having arrived home twenty-minutes ago, he had immediately prepared for bed.

"How can I sleep with Alex out there all alone?"

Skinner wrapped his arms around Mulder's waist and rested his chin on the younger man's shoulder. "You need to sleep...for our baby." He spread his hand across Mulder flat belly and pressed gently, feeling the hard shape of the pouch containing their child.

"Walter, our baby could care less if I'm sleeping or awake."

"Fox, you haven't slept in three days. Come to bed. You don't have to sleep just lie down beside me."

Mulder sighed, resting his hand over Skinner's. "Okay. But I'm not sleeping."

Skinner led him into their bedroom. Then he waited for Mulder to strip and climb into bed, before climbing in behind him and taking him into his arms.

***

The Melia
Saturday, October 4th 2001
8:00 a.m.

Krycek finished making a second carrier from his shirt. He looped two straps over his neck and fastened the other straps around his waist. He then picked up each baby and placed them in the cloth pouch against his chest. He pulled on one of the fur coats and buttoned it over his sleeping babies. Krycek needed to go in search of water and something to fasten diapers out of. Their fur bed wouldn't be usable if he didn't take care of that problem soon. But Krycek wouldn't leave his babies alone, even to search the nearby crates.

The Russian peeked down his coat at their two sleeping faces. He smiled and became invisible. Hoping his babies would remain sleeping. He walked through the steel hatch going out into the ship's lower passageway. He found the stairs going up to the next level. He was searching for the galley. It wasn't hard to locate; he just followed the scent of food cooking. The galley was abuzz with activity as the cooks went about preparing breakfast for the ship's crew.

Krycek opened the canvas sack he had slung over his shoulder. He pilfered several slices of buttered toast, a jar of jam, a few strips of bacon, a bottle of olive oil, and thermos full of coffee that had been set-aside for the ship's captain.

He smiled broadly. This was too easy. No one in the kitchen could see or hear him as he stole some white dishtowels then a whole gallon of water. All of a sudden Nicky woke up and started crying. The heads of all the ship's galley crew turned and looked toward the sound of the crying.

"Mick, do you hear a baby crying?" a burly tattooed man asked.

"Yep. Help me search for him."

Krycek in the meantime had set the container of water down and opened his coat. He positioned his son at his nipple. The baby quieted as he started to nurse. Krycek kept one hand supporting his son and picked up the gallon of water with the other then quickly left the kitchen.

"Did you just see that, Bud?"

"Yeah. The jug of water just vanished into thin air."

"I think the ship's haunted."

Krycek made his way quietly back down to the cargo hold. Instead of walking through the door of the steel crate, he walked through the side. He set his stolen goods down and gently lifted his babies out of the pouches, placing them back on the bed of furs. Nicky whimpered, not liking his meal being interrupted. Krycek kissed his son's forehead. "Shh, Nicky, Daddy will finish feeding you in a second." He went to work stacking boxes in front of the door of the crate. If anyone came down to search the hold, they would assume that this container was full of boxes.

When he finished, Krycek sat and picked up his son who was wailing unhappily. The infant calmed as he located his dad's nipple and started nursing again. Krycek looked down at his daughter who was sucking on her tiny fist as she slept. He pulled the sack over and started munching on a slice of bacon. Fumbling with one hand he opened the jar of raspberry jam and used a pilfered knife to liberally spread the fruit on a slice of toast. Next he poured himself a cup of coffee from the thermos. Krycek knew that he shouldn't drink too much caffeine while nursing, but he couldn't resist the hot beverage. It helped against the chill of the hold.

He kept his eyes on his son's tiny face as he suckled. Nicky kept drifting off to sleep, only to wake and suckle some more. Krycek suddenly felt a wetness against his chest, looking down he watched as his son peed against his chest. He sighed, "Okay, Nicky, time for your first real bath." Krycek poured some water from the jug into a porcelain bowl he had found in one of the boxes. A small amount of his sorcerer's powers had returned after he had given birth. He had just enough power to heat the water in the bowl and to keep the temperature inside of their crate comfortable. Unlike the rest of the cargo hold where the temperature had fallen close to freezing.

Krycek gently placed his son in the bowl of warm water and used one of the stolen kitchen towels to wash him. Nicky didn't take to being bathed and started to cry. "Shh, it's okay. You'll get used to taking baths. At least you better, your dad can't continue to lick you clean." Krycek grinned. His heart was filled with love. He wondered if this was how Fox felt whenever he looked at their babies. It was a special type of love that only a person who had given birth could feel. His daughter started crying, echoing her brother's unhappy wails.

"Okay, out of the water with you. Your sister needs me." Krycek used another kitchen towel to dry his son. Then he folded a third into a makeshift diaper. He rubbed a little olive oil on his son's bottom to make it easier to clean Nicky when he pooped. He then fastened on the diaper. Nicky finally stopped crying when his dad wrapped him in a warm cloth and laid him on the soft furs.

"Okay, Foxy. I suppose you're hungry?" Krycek said, picking up his daughter. "I'll feed you first. Then it's your turn for a bath. I hope you handle it better than your brother." He positioned her at his nipple and whispered softly, "Just between you and me...Nicky was a bit of a baby about it."

***

Winter Palace
Thursday, October 9th 2001
9:00 p.m.

Slava looked up as his general stepped into his office.

"My Tsar, we have a lead on Alexei Krycek."

Slava rose. "Where?" He had been frantic to find his lover. It had been nine days since Alexei had disappeared. Despite his revulsion over Alexei's pregnancy, Slava was still deeply in love with him.

"There were reports from a freighter sailing toward Halifax, Nova Scotia of a baby's ghostly cries and objects vanishing into thin air. We think it might be him."

"Alexei, must have given birth to my child." Slava smiled. Therefore, his lover's body would once more be beautiful. "Where is this ship presently?"

"It will be docking in Halifax within the next two hours."

"Prepare my private jet. I want a contingent of troops sent to Halifax to search the ship and the city for Alexei and our child."

"At once, My Tsar." The general bowed and rushed out of the office.

***

Crystal Palace
Friday, October 10th 2001
4:00 a.m.

"Fox, I'll contact you as soon as I find Alex," Skinner shouted over the roar of the helicopters. They were racing against the clock to beat Slava's forces to Halifax. The Melia docked three hours ago and Skinner hoped that Alex had remained hidden nearby.

"Be careful, Walter!" Mulder shouted. He had decided against going with his lover. Some instinct deep inside was telling him that he would be needed here.

"Are you sure you don't want to come with me?" Skinner asked again.

"Yes. I can't explain it, Walter. But I must remain here!"

Skinner leaned in and gave his lover a quick kiss then rushed off to board the waiting helicopter.

***

Krycek looked out at the tranquil ocean as the large fishing boat sped toward Martha's Vineyard. He had been damned lucky for once that his old friend still lived in Halifax and agreed to take him home on his boat. Krycek looked over at the old man he had once worked with at the United Nations. Martin's hair was now completely gray and he was sporting a white beard. His face was deeply lined with hints of the rough adventurous life he had once led.

Martin met his eyes and smiled. "It's a good life, Alex. Don't look so sad."

"I just never pictured you spending your retirement fishing."

Martin chuckled. "And I never pictured you settling down and raising a family. Much less giving birth and nursing your babies." Martin nodded toward where Alex's daughter suckled at his nipple. He had been shocked to find Alex outside his boat seven hours earlier, carrying two infants.

Krycek blushed and smiled down at her. He then looked at Nicky, who was in the other pouch, strapped to his chest. His son was wide-awake and looking around. "I never would have imagined it either, Marty. I wouldn't give them up for anything." He'd been embarrassed at first, nursing his babies in front of Martin, but their constant need to be fed left him little choice on this small boat.

"What did you say your babies names were again?"

"I never said. My son's name is Nicholas, but I call him Nicky." Krycek took pleasure in the knowledge that Slava would be infuriated by the nickname. "My daughter doesn't have a name yet. I'm going to let Fox name her. Since I picked the name for Fox's and my son Hunter." Krycek smiled, looking down at his daughter's cute face. He swallowed as a lump came to his throat. Would he be able to give her up, if Fox wanted nothing to do with him?

"You look tired, Alex. Why don't you take your children below deck and take a nap. We won't arrive at Martha's Vineyard for three days."

"Yeah, I am beat," he said, sadly. "I haven't had a good night's sleep since...December twenty-third." He sighed, "I won't have another one, until my son and daughter starts sleeping through the night."

"Go to bed, Alex. I'll keep you and your babies safe."

Krycek grinned. He felt safe with Martin. His friend was still dangerous even at sixty-seven years of age.

***

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sunday, October 12th 2001
2:00 a.m.

Over two days the war had been raging between the Russian and New American forces. Skinner was in top form as he pushed Slava's forces back to the edge of the city. He wasn't about to leave without Alex. Skinner was sure that Alex was hiding with his babies until the fighting died down.

He frowned sadly as he looked around at the burning buildings and the sunken ships. Most of the city and the surrounding communities had fled when the two forces had arrived, and the fighting had begun.

"Slava is calling in reinforcements," Gabriel said as he stopped beside Skinner on the dock.

"I've contacted General Kline. He is sending a couple hundred more sorcerers up to assist us."

***

Krycek wiped a rag across his sweaty brow. He was feeling like shit. It was as if all of his nerve endings were on fire. His eyes-widened as he remembered experiencing a similar pain before, when he was first with Slava. He had assumed once his sorcerer's powers had returned that he was not susceptible to them any longer. But what if he only had a higher tolerance and it took longer for them to appear?

"MARTY!" he yelled as the pain seized his body and he became dizzy.

A few moments later his old friend poked his head through the door of the cabin. "What, Alex?"

"How much longer?"

"Not long. Only about thirty-hours and we'll be docking." The older man looked at his former colleague critically. "Alex, what's wrong?"

"I'm having sexual withdrawal pains. Can you call the palace when we're within an hour from the island and have Walter Skinner meet the boat when it docks?" Krycek doubled over. "Oh God!" He had never felt such pain before in his life. This was even worse than when he had set himself on fire or when he gave birth. In addition, he knew from Fox's experiences that it would only get worse.

"Sure, Alex. Is there anything I can do?" Martin asked, rushing over to his friend's side, he helped him down on the bed.

"Y-yeah," Krycek said shakily, waiting for the pain to ease before he continued. "I'm not going to be able to hold my babies to nurse them. I-I need you to do it for me. Please take care of them for me, Marty..." As if on cue his daughter started crying.

"Of course, Alex. Just lie back and rest. I'll go get her for you." He walked over to the old battered sea chest that Alex had removed the lid from and made a bed inside for the infants. Martin nervously picked her up. His old gnarled hands shaking slightly. He wasn't very experienced with babies, having only held his late sister's kids a few times.

"You'll need to change their diapers, too," Krycek said as he showed Martin how to position his daughter at his nipple.

Martin made a face and said jokingly, "You're going to owe me big time, Alex."

"I already owe you big time." Fighting back tears of pain, he said softly, "Marty, I'm going to get much worse. Please, don't let anything happen to my babies, and tell Fox that I love him not Slava. I always have."

Martin looked down into Krycek's pain-filled eyes as he held the baby against the young man's chest. "Don't worry, Alex. I promise to look after them and I'll contact Skinner as soon as the ship is close to Martha's Vineyard."

Krycek gave him a weak smile then closed his eyes, trying to block out the pain.

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, October 13th 2001
11:00 a.m.

Mulder, MacIver, and Shinji rushed out of the palace heading toward the harbor. They had a contingent of the palace's guards with them.

"Are you sure about this, Mulder?" MacIver asked for the twentieth time, since Mulder had informed him that Alex was going through withdrawal pains. He had asked MacIver to service Alex as he had serviced him in the past.

"I'm sure, Rory. Alex will be in too much pain to even be aware that you are having sex with him. I wouldn't ask if Walter would be back soon. But he won't get back here for hours, if not days, he has to help repair the damages his and Slava's forces caused in Canada." Mulder wouldn't allow Alex to suffer any longer than he had to. He was all too aware of how painful the withdrawal pains could be.

"Rory, just don't enjoy it too much," Shinji warned. He didn't particularly like his lover being used for stud service.

"Shin, how can I possibly get any pleasure when the person I'm fucking isn't even aware of my presence?"

Shinji glared at him. They had arrived at the boat and were greeted by a grizzled fisherman.

"I'm Fox Mulder. This is Rory MacIver and Shinji Takeda. Where's Alex?" Mulder asked hurriedly, jumping across and onto the deck of the boat.

"Mr. Mulder, I'm Martin Chase. I used to work with Alex in the UN. We..." Martin paused. He could tell Mulder wasn't too anxious for further conversation. "C'mon, follow me. He's below deck." The old man led them down the steps and into the cabin.

Mulder rushed over to the bed and dropped to his knees, draping himself over Alex's unconscious body and hugging him tightly. "Oh God, Alex!" he cried, feeling the pain-filled shudders against his chest. He buried his face between Alex's shoulder and head, taking a deep breath of his lover's scent.

Martin cleared his throat to get Mulder's attention. "Mr. Mulder, Alex wanted me to tell you that he loves you, not Slava."

Mulder gave him a weak smile as he tenderly smoothed Alex's hair with his fingers. "I know. I never should have doubted him." Then his eyes moved from the old man's face to follow the sounds of a baby crying. He rose shakily to his feet and walk over to the sea chest. "Shin, look, it's Alex's babies." He wanted to pick his daughter up, but it was the baby boy crying, so he scooped him into his arms instead. The baby looked so much like Slava. Dark black eyes and the few strands of pitch black hair.

"Shh, short stuff. You're hungry aren't you?" He smiled, rocking the baby against his chest. Nicky started to quiet. "We'll just have to wait until Uncle Rory makes your dad all better," Mulder murmured. "Do you have a name?" He looked over at Martin to answer his question.

"Alex calls him Nicky. He mentioned that he wants you to name your daughter," the older man said.

Mulder grinned broadly at that news.

MacIver in the meantime walked over to the bed. "Hey, guys, take the babes and go. I don't particularly want an audience!"

Shinji rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, "Rory, as if I'd want to watch you fuck another man!" He turned to Mulder. "C'mon, Mulder. Give me the baby boy and you go and hold your daughter. Let's give the old man some privacy."

"Hey! I'm not that old," MacIver growled.

Shinji whispered in Mulder's ear as the agent picked up his daughter. "He's very sensitive about his age, being in his forties you know."

"Hey, I'm forty today," Mulder grumbled, looking longingly at Alex as they headed out of the small room.

As he stepped into the bright sunshine, Mulder got a really good look at his little girl for the first time. She was beautiful. She looked slightly like his mother's sister. Blond hair and blue eyes squinting against the bright glare.

"Mulder, do you have a name for your daughter?" Shinji asked, hugging Nicky.

"Yes. Summer."

"Summer?"

"Yeah. She looks like a bright summer day." Mulder looked down at the tiny face. "Hey, Summer. Welcome home," he said, kissing her forehead and cuddling her close. They stood on the deck with the guards from the palace as they waited for Rory to finish servicing Alex.

MacIver positioned Krycek's unconscious body on the small bed. He looked at his beautiful business partner. He had had fantasies about Krycek. "The things I do for you guys." He unzipped his pants and slid them down along with his briefs. He then slicked his erection with lubricant before climbing on the bed behind Krycek.

Krycek moaned as MacIver pushed into him. Through the haze of pain, he was dimly aware that he was being fucked. The strangest thing was, he could swear he heard Rory's voice. As a fluid spurted into him, the pain started to ebb.

MacIver pulled out of Krycek and watched as the younger man's pain-filled face smoothed out and his eyes opened. "Alex, I'll send you the bill covering my stud services tomorrow," he quipped, climbing off the bed and pulling up his briefs and pants. "Oh, welcome back." He smiled at the incredulous look on Krycek's face.

"You fucked me! Where's Walter?"

"Walter's up in Canada having a small war with Slava and won't be home for hours or days. So Mulder asked me to make you all better, baby," the Scotsman said, smirking.

Krycek looked around for his clothes, finding them laying in a tangled mess on the floor. "Fox is here?" He nervously pulled them on, fastening the belt around his waist to keep them up. The maternity pants were the only item of clothes that he hadn't cut up to make diapers out of. He had stolen a shirt and shoes from one of the ship's crewmen. Krycek hoped he could convince Fox to take him back.

"He's up on the deck with Shinji and your two babies. By the way, Alex, they are cute."

"Thanks." Krycek grinned nervously, as he headed out the cabin door and climbed the steps to the deck. What would he do if Fox told him to go to hell? he thought sadly.

Mulder turned toward the sound of footsteps and smiled as Alex appeared. "Welcome home, Alex."

Krycek's heart was stilled by the unconditional love he saw in Mulder's eyes and the sweet smile on his lover's full lips. His concern had been ill founded -- Mulder didn't hate him. He was welcoming him home with open arms. Tears of relief filled his eyes as he closed the distance between them. Krycek looked down at their daughter in Mulder's arms then back up into his lover's beautiful hazel eyes. "I've missed you, Fox. I wasn't sure if..."

"Shh, Alex, it's all right. You're home now. All is forgiven." Mulder leaned forward and kissed Krycek. He pulled away snickering. The two weeks growth of beard on his lover's face tickled his chin. "You need a shave and a shower, babe."

"Yeah...well, the crate I was living in for the last two weeks wasn't exactly five star accommodations."

Mulder grinned and looked down at their daughter, then back up at Krycek. "Alex, I've never received a nicer birthday present, thank you. I think my birthday curse has finally been broken."

"She is something, isn't she?" he said, trying to take her from Fox. But his lover pulled her away and grinned, kissing his lips again.

"I wasn't talking about our daughter. I was talking about you, Alex." He held the infant cradled in one arm as he pulled Alex against him. "I love you, Alex. You coming back to me is the best gift I've ever received."

"Fox..." Krycek sighed and closed his eyes resting his head against Mulder's. He was home and finally able to relax. "Spender hurt me so badly, at times I didn't want to go on living. I now know what it must have been like for you with Slava. I should never have allowed Slava to come between us after what he did to you."

"Alex, what are you saying?"

"I'm no longer bonded to Slava. I think being pregnant with his child broke the bond. And since I was never really in love with him, I was finally able to see him for what he was. A cold selfish bastard."

Mulder smiled. This was the best news he'd ever heard. Nicky started crying again, and Mulder felt a sudden wetness against his chest. He looked down as Krycek pulled away. His lover's nipples were leaking.

"Damn! This happens every time one of them cries," Krycek swore, pulling his damp shirt away from his chest. He blushed as he noticed the stain he caused on Mulder's shirt. "Sorry, Fox."

Mulder smirked, touching the wet spot. "I'll let you borrow my nursing undershirts."

"Thanks," Krycek sighed, taking his son from Shinji. This was so embarrassing. "Do you think we could go home so I can feed, Nicky?" He really didn't want to nurse his son in front of their friends or the palace guards.

"Sure, Alex." Mulder turned to the old fisherman. "Mr. Chase, you're welcome to stay in one of our guestrooms."

"Thanks, Mr. Mulder, but I think I'll be more comfortable sleeping on my boat. I'll stop up later for a visit before I shove off for home."

"Thanks, Martin," Krycek said.

"Anytime, Alex. I'll see you later. Go take care of your son."

The walk back to the palace was noisy with both babies now crying to be fed. Once inside, Shinji and MacIver headed off to the dining hall, while Mulder and Krycek stepped on the elevator for the trip upstairs.

Now that they were alone Krycek started unbuttoning his shirt.

"Alex sweetie, welcome home."

Krycek sighed. "Arty. I see Walter hasn't unplugged you yet." He positioned Nicky at his nipple. He hadn't mastered nursing both babies at once as Fox had.

"He's tried, but he hasn't been able to find my off switch," Arty said.

"It's driving Walter nuts. He just can't find a way to turn Arty off," Mulder chuckled. "Which is fine with me. I've grown attached to Arty. He's very good at watching our kids and letting me know what they're up to. Even when I'm at work on the other side of the palace."

"Thank you, Your Highness," Arty chirped as the doors opened.

"Since when has Arty started treating you with respect?" Alex asked disgruntled.

"Since I discovered where his off switch is," Mulder said, smiling as they headed toward their bedroom.

"Oh. Do you think you can tell me?"

"Daddy, Daddy," River called as he ran down the hallway. He stopped short when he recognized Krycek. "Oh you're back. Is that your new little boy?"

"River. I've missed you so much." Alex smiled as he knelt down next to the little boy. He used his pinky to disengaged Nicky's lips from his nipple and the infant started crying again. "This is your new brother, Nicky."

River frowned and looked into Alex's eyes. "Did you really miss me?"

Seeing the uncertainty and hurt in River's eyes, Alex said softly, "Yes. More than anything. You're my son and I love you with all my heart."

River smiled, being careful of the baby, he threw his arms around Alex's neck and hugged him. "Thanks for coming home, Daddy." He giggled, patting Alex's cheek. "I don't like your beard, it's scratchy."

"I plan on shaving as soon as your new brother and sister finish eating." Alex resumed nursing his son as he rose.

"Will you take a shower, too? You don't smell too good."

"A hot shower would be heaven," he said, taking River's hand as they walked the rest of the way to the bedroom.

"What's my new sister's name?"

"I've just been calling her Foxy. I want your Daddy Fox to name her."

"Foxy, Alex?" Mulder snorted. "I've already named her. It's Summer."

"That's Uncle Ari's last name!" River shouted.

"I know. Same as Hunter is your Uncle Gabriel's last name," Mulder said.

Krycek chuckled. "I guess I can live with Summer. At least you didn't name her Sunshine. That would have been too cutesy."

"And calling her Foxy isn't?" Mulder laid the crying infant on the bed, then helped Alex off with his shirt.

"I think it's a good nickname for her." Krycek smirked, his eyes sparkling with mischief.

"Brat. Sit on the bed and I'll show you how to nurse both babies at once." Mulder picked up Summer then positioned her in Alex's arm, moving Nicky over slightly until both infants were suckling contentedly.

River climbed on the bed and sat next to Alex. "I'm in kindergarten now. My teacher's name is Mr. Carter. He's really cool. I have a zillion new friends, but Sammy and Matthew are still my best friends. Did you know that it's Daddy Fox's birthday today. He's forty years old. That's pretty old isn't it? We're going to have a party for him later. Everyone is coming. I hope Daddy Walter makes it home in time. Did you know that Daddy Fox is pregnant again? I think that's pretty cool..."

"Slow down, River." Krycek looked up at Mulder who had been in the process of throwing away his soiled shirt and stolen shoes. "Fox, what does he mean you're pregnant again?" His lover didn't show the slightest sign of being pregnant. If Fox was, it must have just happened.

Mulder shrugged his shoulders. "I'm four months along. It hasn't been that bad this time."

"Was it an accident?"

"Sort of. We found out that once an immortal stops lactating his compulsions come back."

Krycek looked down worriedly at the two infants suckling at his chest. "Oh. Damn. So the moment I stop nursing I'll have the urge to get pregnant again. That really sucks. I'm dying for a nice chilled glass of vodka."

"Now you know how I feel." Mulder headed toward the door. "I'm going to get us something to eat, I'll be back shortly."

Krycek watched Mulder's round ass as he walked out the door. His cock stirred with desire. He wanted more than anything to make love to Mulder. To really know that it was all right between them.

When his children finished nursing Krycek carried them into the nursery. It was empty and he wondered where the babies were as he laid his daughter and son down in separate cribs. The room had a total of six cribs. It looked like they'd need to get another one when Fox had his baby.

"Are you going to shave your beard now?" River asked, following him around.

"Yes, and take a shower so I don't stink."

"Okay. I'm going back to my bedroom to work on Daddy Fox's birthday present."

"River, where is everyone? You weren't up here all by yourself, were you?" Krycek asked.

"No. Everyone is in the entertainment room. Besides, Daddy Fox has Arty keeping an eye on me and my brothers and sisters. Isn't that right, Arty?"

"Yes it is, River," Arty's voice chirped.

"See."

"Okay. I just wanted to make sure. You can go to your room now." Krycek walked up the steps to the bathroom. He stripped out of his pants and stretched, turning around in a full circle, breathing deeply. "God, it's good to be home."

He lathered his face and shaved first. His eyes kept wandering longingly over to the shower. It had been almost two weeks since he last bathed, and he was really looking forward to it. His eyes fell on his black velour robe as he finished shaving. He walked over to it; it had been freshly laundered. He really was home at last.

***

Mulder walked back into the bedroom and set the tray of food down on the table. He could hear the shower running. The shower went off as he was lighting the candles. And Alex came down the steps a couple minutes later, wearing his black robe and looking more delicious than honey.

"Mm, something smells really good," Krycek said, walking over to Fox and pulling him in for a long overdue kiss.

While they kissed, Mulder undid Krycek's robe and reached inside, wrapping his arms around his lover's back, pulling him closer. "Much nicer without the beard," Mulder murmured as they ended the kiss. His hands dropped down to rest on the sweet curve of Krycek's buttocks. He was becoming extremely hard with desire, and wanted to give himself to Alex for the younger man's pleasure.

Krycek nuzzled Mulder's neck. "I've missed you so much, Fox."

Mulder smiled as he felt the hard shape of Krycek's erection pressing into his hip. "Hmm, I can feel how much you've missed me."

Krycek grinned as his hand grabbed the hard bulge in Mulder's pants. "I think the feeling is mutual." His stomach growled as he went to pull his lover's zipper down.

Mulder's hand stopped him. "I think we should eat first. You'll need your strength." The agent could tell that his lover hadn't been eating too well over the past couple of weeks. Alex looked too gaunt.

"Okay," Krycek sighed and reluctantly moved away. He looked down at the table and his mouth watered, he really was starving. "I think I've just died and gone to heaven," he said, sliding into a chair and picking up a slice of greasy pizza dripping with cheese and tomato sauce.

Mulder grinned sitting next to him at the small table and helping himself to a slice. "New York style pizza has been one of my saner cravings lately."

Krycek chuckled. "During my pregnancy I had to have honey on just about everything I ate. It drove Nikolai nuts when I smeared honey over the smoked fish and oysters. He started insisting that we eat separately from each other. He really hated the sight of me, and would tell me how disgustingly fat I was," he sighed, shaking his head sadly at the memory as he went back to eating.

"I'm sorry you had it so tough, Alex."

"It was for the best. It really opened my eyes to see Nikolai for what he was. A selfish, greedy bastard."

Mulder squeezed his hand and held it as he asked, "You gave birth to our babies alone didn't you?"

"Yeah." Krycek slid his chair closer to Mulder's. "Fox, I was really scared at first, but I just kept thinking about when you gave birth. It helped having that memory as reference. They're beautiful, aren't they?"

"Yes." Mulder leaned in and licked the grease off Krycek's lips and chin. "Mm, you taste good." His face lit up at the joy he saw flash in the younger man's eyes. "You should see Faith and Hunter. They've grown so much since you've been gone. Hunter took his first steps last week. I think we have a family of early walkers. Sergei has been walking for two months now. He's such a big boy."

"I can't wait to see all of them." Krycek moved even closer until their thighs were touching. He wanted to climb onto Mulder's lap and melt into him. He couldn't believe he was finally home with the man he loved more than life.

Mulder held out a slice of pizza for him to bite. Grease tripped down the older man's hand and wrist. "You know we are going to have to take a shower when we're finished."

Krycek had other plans on his mind as he slowly munched on the slice of pizza, his eyes never straying from Mulder's face. "Fox, I want to fuck you."

"Hm. I want you inside me, Alex. I've missed you so much." Mulder's grease-covered hand slipped underneath the table and started stroking Alex's penis until it was rock hard and dripping.

Krycek had stopped eating. The pizza slice dropped from his hand as he watched Mulder kick off his shoes and slip out of his pants and underwear. He remained seated as Mulder pushed his chair back and straddled his thighs.

Mulder reached behind him and grasped Alex's slick cock and positioned it against his tight opening. He sank down forcing the head into his body. He kept sinking until he was sitting on his lover's lap. The position didn't allow him to get as much of Alex's cock inside as he would have liked, but it did give him access to his lover's incredible mouth. "I'm not too heavy am I, Alex?" he asked sweetly, pulling Alex's head back and kissing his lips.

"N-no." The stunned expression on Alex's face turned into a smile as his hands slid under Mulder's shirt and tweaked his nipples. "God, Fox. I forgot what a slut you can be."

Mulder turned and grabbed another slice of pizza off the table. "Are you still hungry?" he asked, taking a bite. Then offering it to Alex who shook his head no.

Krycek groaned, "Fox, if you don't start moving I'm going to topple this chair over backwards and..."

Mulder dropped the pizza back on the table. Taking Alex's face between his greasy hands he kissed him long and hard. Then he pulled off his cock and sank down, frowning. "Damn. This position just isn't going to work," he said, pulling off completely. He shoved the pizza and plates out of the way as he draped himself over the table and smirked back at Alex, wiggling his ass. "What are you waiting for? A gilded invitation?"

Krycek was out of the chair in two seconds flat, and mounted his lover with one fluid thrust. He held onto Mulder's hips as he thrust frantically in and out of his body. "Oh God, Fox! I've waited so long."

"C'mon, Alex, harder. Make me feel it," Mulder growled, knowing that Alex needed this to regain some sense of control. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the delicious slide of the cock inside of him. As it pushed against his prostate and sent shivers of delight throughout his body.

Krycek screamed with pleasure when Mulder tightened his anal muscles around his cock. "Ugh!" He pushed in harder and faster until the sound of their flesh slapping together was louder than their moans and cries. He reached around and found his lover's cock and started jerking Mulder off in time with his thrusts. It didn't take long for Krycek to come. It had been a long time since he had last had sex this good. He held Mulder's hips in a bruising grip as he shot his seed inside the tight body. Mulder moaned once and came, his orgasm spurting out over the table. Both men collapsed, breathing heavily. Sated.

Mulder started laughing. "Alex, get off me...I'm laying in the pizza."

Krycek pulled out and helped Mulder to his feet. He laughed as he wiped some cheese and tomato sauce off Mulder's cheek. His lover's shirt was covered with grease and sauce. "C'mon, Fox, let's go take a shower. Then I want to see our children."

***

Their shower was slow and leisurely as they took their time exploring each other's body. Alex was amazed when he felt the baby move underneath his hand as he pressed down on Mulder's belly. His lover was hardly showing at all, unlike he had been at four months or Mulder had been during his first pregnancy.

"So, I guess the trick is not having more than one baby at once?"

"The trick is to find a way to eliminate the compulsions in the first place. Shinji is working really hard now on finding a cure." Mulder smiled softly and hugged him tightly. "Let's get dressed and I'll reintroduce you to your kids."

They dressed and retrieved Krycek's two infants before walking down to the entertainment room. All six nannies were there, looking after Hope and Faith and the four babies. Hope and Faith were watching a cartoon on television and didn't notice them. Krycek's heart stopped as his son Hunter looked up smiled, and toddled over to them. He raised his arms for Mulder to pick him up.

Mulder knelt beside him holding Summer in his arms. "Sash, do you want to meet your new sister?"

The baby looked at the infant in his father's arm quietly. He turned and looked at Krycek as he knelt beside Mulder.

"Fox, can you take Nicky, too? I'd like to hold my son," Krycek said softly.

Mulder smiled and took Nicky. "Sash, this is your Daddy Alex."

Krycek scooped the little boy up in his arms and hugged him tight. "You don't remember me do you? Don't worry, we're going to become best buddies."

Sasha looked at his father face and touched his nose. He remained quiet.

"Ball--ball--ball," Sergei said, waddling over carrying a rubber ball.

Krycek smiled. "He is a big boy and he's talking already."

"He says a total of six words," Mulder said. "Hunter hardly utters a sound let alone talks."

"Is there something wrong with him?" Krycek asked, concerned. As he looked at his beautiful little boy who was sucking on his thumb.

"No. Kaylie and Angelique aren't talking either, but they make a bit more noise. He's just quiet and good natured."

"Daddy!" Faith cried, running over and hugging Mulder around his legs. "Whose babies?"

"Ours. This is your new brother and sister. You remember your Daddy Alex don't you, Cutie?" Mulder asked.

"Hi, Faith," Alex said, kneeling next to her.

"You're my Daddy?" she questioned shyly.

"Yes. I've been away for a long time, but I'm back for good now."

"Will you play baby dolls with me?"

"Yes, whatever you want to play," Krycek said. He glared up at Mulder as his lover snickered. "And your Daddy Fox, will play with us, too."

"Me play dolls, too," Hope said, running up to them.

"Ball," Sergei said, pushing the rubber ball against Alex's chest as he tried to climb on Alex's lap.

"No, Sergei! He playing with me," Faith shouted, pushing the baby down.

Sergei fell on his diapered bottom and the ball rolled away. He started crying. Alex quickly set Hunter back on his feet and scooped up his nephew. "Faith, that wasn't very nice," he scolded.

Mulder looked around at their nannies who had all gathered around. He could tell that they didn't know if they should interfere with the family reunion to restore order or not, when Faith and Sasha started crying, too. However, when the two infants in Mulder's arms started crying. The nannies rushed to pick up the other children.

Mulder shook his head as the crying just got louder. "Alex, sit down in the easy chair. Give Sergei to Sean and you can have the babies back to nurse them."

"Here? In front of everyone?" Krycek asked, blushing.

"Alex, everyone here is family. They will see you at some point."

Vicky smiled, holding Sasha. "Welcome back, Prince Alex. We promise we won't watch."

"We'll be on the other side of the room with the children," Sean added, holding his hands out for Sergei.

"Okay. I'll learn to live with the embarrassment," Alex sighed, handing Sergei to Sean.

Krycek opened his shirt and sat, allowing Mulder to help him position the babies at his nipples.

Mulder eyes sparkled with mischief. "Just wait until my birthday party this evening. River has invited several of his little friends. Then all of our guests are bringing their children. You think our kids are loud just wait!"

Krycek grinned broadly. "It's good to be home."

***

End of chapter 10 - Alone in the Dark

Coming soon: The final chapter of book 4 - chapter 11 - The Honeymoon


Life from the Ashes Book 4 - Yours, Mine, & Ours
by Jo B.

Rating: NC-17
Keywords: M/Sk/K SLASH
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, Walter Skinner, Jeffrey Spender, CSM, the Lone Gunmen, Kimberly Cook, Senator Matheson, Bill Scully, the morph etc. are the property Chris Carter, 1013 productions and Fox Broadcasting. All other characters in the series are mine.
Summary: This is an Alternative Universe Story. It takes place after an alien virus has killed off most of the world's females and caused mutations in forty-five percent of the remaining males.
Authors Notes: This is the fourth book in my AU series "Life from the Ashes - Yours, Mine, and Ours." You might want to read the prequel and the first three books of the series to understand this one.
I would like to thank my beta-readers Demi-X, Nicole, Laurie, Dawn, Cerulean Blue, Kiyoko, Bee Lan, Susan, and Helen for all their hard work and patience in editing this story and plot suggestions. Special thanks to Demi and her perverted inn keeper suggestion. :)
Feedback is always welcome. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
WARNING! This story contains explicit Sex/Romance between two or more men. Turn back now, if the subject matter offends you.
Okay to Archive: please ask first.


***

Chapter 11
Honeymoon

Monday, October 14th 2001
9:00 a.m.

Slava cursed under his breath as he looked around his empty bedroom. He was an idiot...a fool...a thoughtless jerk. His insensitivity had caused his beautiful Alexei to leave him. Slava could not help himself; nothing he tried would change the way he felt seeing Alexei pregnant.

However, when Alexei was back with him again, he'd show the younger man just how much he loved him. And the next time Alexei was pregnant with his child, Slava was determined to have his lover cloistered in a special wing of the palace, where he wouldn't have to watch Alexei's body become fat. Slava would afford his lover the best of care until their child was born. He was sure Alexei would understand the second time around.

The Tsar sat behind his desk to write an apology letter to his lover and beg his forgiveness.

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, October 16th 2001
2:00 p.m.

Skinner raced through the palace and onto the elevator. "Get this thing moving, Arty!" he barked.

"Of course, Your Majesty," the computer answered with a bored voice.

The large man couldn't keep still as he paced anxiously back and forth in the small, enclosed space. Alex was back. He had wanted to come straight home immediately after Fox had called him with the good news three days ago. However, he had obligations in Canada that needed to be met first. It seemed like forever since he'd last seen his brother and lover. He missed him so much. The elevator doors slid open and Skinner sprinted off down the hallway heading for the kitchen, where he sensed Alex's presence. Skinner arrived in the kitchen's doorway and stood drinking in Alex's figure. His eyes were solely focused on the younger man and didn't notice anyone else in the crowded, noisy room. It took a few seconds before Alex noticed him and smiled.

"Alex," Skinner said softly and walked quickly across the room, pulling his lover into his arms. "God, it's good to have you back." He couldn't keep the tears of joy from falling shamelessly down his cheeks.

"You missed me?" Krycek questioned, touching Skinner's damp cheek.

"God, babe, more than you can possibly imagine!" Skinner murmured and claimed the younger man's lips in a deep passion-filled kiss, showing him just how much.

Mulder sat holding Summer cradled in his arms as he watched his lovers' reunion. He wiped at the tears filling his eyes. He'd never seen a more lovely sight. Mulder recalled only a short time ago that the two men had hated each other. Now their hearts were filled with nothing but love. These two men were the core of his family and he'd never been happier at the prospect of their future together

Alex wrapped his arms around Skinner's neck and deepened the kiss, pressing his body against his lover's. He felt completely loved and cherished in Walter's strong embrace. How could he have given this man up for Slava? "Walter?"

"Hm?" Skinner purred, kissing down his throat.

"Fox was forced to ask Rory to fuck me." He didn't know why he told Skinner that, but it had been bothering him for over two days now.

Mulder's eyebrows shot up and he looked embarrassed as Walter's stern eyes met his.

"Alex, what do you mean?" Skinner asked, not taking his eyes off Mulder's surprised expression.

"I was going through withdrawal pains and couldn't wait for you to get back, Rory had to fuck me! Dammit, Walter, that bloody Scot is gloating about it!

"Fox, would you care to explain?"

Mulder shrugged his shoulders and said softly, "I didn't want Alex to suffer until you were able to come home."

"Fox, if I had known, I would have flown back immediately!" Skinner growled.

The kitchen staff made themselves scarce; they didn't want to get in the middle of a fight between the three men.

Mulder felt ill suddenly. He stood and placed Summer back in her bassinet then headed for the doorway. He paused and said quietly, "Walter, you have never flown back for me. I only assumed..." What was he to think? Gabriel had flown back to service Hans. Walter had told him that as King it was Walter's duty to be there with his troops, no matter how painful it was leaving his lover to Rory's ministrations. Mulder needed to some fresh air...he needed to think. He was feeling overly emotional as it was, what with going through his second pregnancy and the changes it was causing to his body.

"Fox..."

Mulder ignored both Walter and Alex calling to him as he quickened his pace toward the elevator. He wanted to be alone.

"Fox, wait!" Skinner shouted from down the hallway.

Mulder wouldn't look back at him as the elevator doors slid closed. "Down, Arty."

"He's just going to teleport onboard," Arty said as the elevator started down.

Echoing Arty's words, Skinner suddenly appeared next to Mulder. "Fox, don't be this way!" he growled.

"Don't be what way?" Mulder asked, looking at him mildly.

"Sulky, playing the helpless victim..."

"Is that what you think this is about? Is that what you think of me? Helpless?"

"You're mad that I would have come home immediately for Alex when he needed me, while I wouldn't come home for you. Fox, there is a big difference between the two situations," Skinner said.

Mulder really didn't want to hear anymore. He realized that Walter loved and respected Alex more than he did him. Alex was still a sorcerer and Walter considered him his equal. If Walter loved him as much, he would have come home yesterday when he'd needed him. "Walter, I'm sorry. I screwed up. I realize that now. I should have called you immediately about Alex's condition. I'll apologize to Alex when I'm done with my walk. Now go back to him. He needs you. Alex has been through hell and back. Please, just go to him..."

"Fox, you're not listening! You're being pigheaded again!"

"Walter, what is there to listen to? I understand. It's only natural for you to have a deeper connection with Alex and respect him more than me. He's your brother and you're both sorcerers. I can understand why you'd want to spare him any degradation. I'm sorry I didn't call you immediately about his condition." He sighed as the elevator doors slid open.

Skinner grabbed his upper arm preventing him from leaving. "Fox, you can't possibly believe that I want to see you humiliated? To have another man touch you?"

"You would have come back immediately for Alex..."

"That was only because the war was over. Alex was the reason I was in Canada fighting Slava in the first place..."

"You knew he was back for three days now. Why didn't you come straight home?"

"Fox, I'm King! I had to make restitution to our Canadian neighbors."

"But you would have come home immediately to prevent another man from touching Alex?"

"Of course I would have!"

Mulder sighed and pushed by Skinner as he stormed off the elevator.

"Fox, wait?!" Skinner tried to follow but he was thrown back against the wall of the elevator as the doors slid closed and the car started back up.

"Your Majesty, you've hurt him enough!" Arty warned.

"Arty, open these doors!"

"Not until you listen! And don't try to teleport off, I have erected a force field surrounding the car!"

"Why are you doing this? Fox needs me!"

"He needed you yesterday," Arty said.

Skinner looked baffled. "Why?"

"How far apart are Prince Fox's withdrawal symptoms?"

"Five days..."

"How long were you gone?"

"Six da... Oh shit!"

"Very good, Sherlock. Prince Fox had to go down to Rory's apartment yesterday and ask to be fucked. Do you know how humiliating that was for him?"

"I forgot! It was an honest mistake!" Skinner slammed his fist against the wall. "Shit, why didn't he call? Why didn't he wait, he's suffered through withdrawal pains before!"

"Duh, let's see! Could it be that he is pregnant with *your* baby? And he didn't want to put *your* baby's health at risk?" Arty said sarcastically.

"I need to talk to him, Arty. Take me back down!" Skinner growled.

"You need to talk to Prince Alex and see his babies. Allow Prince Fox some time alone."

"I am King, Arty! I'll do whatever the hell I please! Now let me off, I need to talk to my brother!"

Krycek was holding his infant son when Walter walked back into the kitchen. He had a guilty look on his beautiful face as he said softly, "Walter, I shouldn't have said anything. Fox did what he thought was best under the circumstances."

"I'm the one at fault here, Alex," Skinner said, kneeling next to the chair. "Can I see him?" He took the infant into his arms. "He's beautiful. I'm sorry you had to go through their births alone. It must have been extremely difficult."

"It's nothing I'd want to repeat," he said distractedly, wondering if he should go after Fox.

"Alex, Fox will be fine. He just needs some time alone."

"He seemed pretty upset."

Skinner sighed. "Did you know he had to go to Rory yesterday because he was having withdrawal pains?"

Krycek's eyes widened and he said sadly, "No. I guess that means my dismal sorcerer abilities aren't adequate for his needs."

"I'm going to assign more scientists to solving this withdrawal problem." Skinner stood cradling the infant. "C'mon, Alex, let's go find Fox. I need to apologize to him. I can't believe I forgot about his withdrawal symptoms!"

"You forgot about his fortieth birthday, too," Krycek said, standing to get the infant carriers.

"Shit...I'm a complete jerk. I'll add that to my list of things to apologize for."

***

Mulder sat cross-legged on a boulder staring out across the ocean. It was a beautiful autumn day. The trees were starting to change color and there was a refreshing crispness in the air. It was a shame the day had to be ruined by his melancholy mood. He hated himself for feeling jealousy. He wasn't normally this emotional. It wasn't as if Walter didn't love him. Besides, he had wanted Walter and Alex to love each other. He'd received everything he could wish for and more. However, Mulder just never expected Walter to love Alex more than him. He loved Walter and Alex equally; at least he thought he did. He rested his chin in his hands as he gazed down at the ocean below. Walter didn't care that another man fucked him, but he was outraged at the thought of another man's hands on Alex. Yeah, Alex who had thrown himself into Slava's bed with no regard for either his or Walter's feelings. Mulder threw a pebble over the cliff and sighed. No that wasn't fair, Alex couldn't help his feelings for Slava.

"I'd better just be satisfied with the leftover scraps I'll be getting from this relationship. Maybe I should advertise for a few sorcerer gigolos just in case Rory isn't available next time," Mulder muttered.

"You do, Fox, and I'll take you over my knee and tan your pretty bottom! Right after I kill any sorcerers who dared to answer your ad!" Skinner growled.

"You'd have to stand in line behind me, Walter," Krycek said, glaring down at Mulder. "If you let another man touch you again I'll make you wear a male chastity belt!"

"Why should either of you care? You have each other! I'm just the third wheel in this relationship. Besides, if the thought of another man having sex with me was so abhorrent, then Walter would have come home yesterday."

"Fox, I forgot. I'm sorry, it won't happen again," Skinner said, kneeling down beside his dejected lover, while being careful of the infant strapped to his chest. "I don't love Alex more than I love you. I love you both the same..."

"Walter, it's okay if you do. I'm used to it..."

"Oh brother!" Krycek sighed, rolling his eyes. "Fox, you have this self-pity act down pat."

"Self-pity? Well, thanks for taking my feelings so seriously, Alex!" Mulder looked at Alex and pursed his lips thoughtfully, then turned back to look out over the ocean. It's nice to know I have your respect."

Skinner glared at Krycek and mouthed. "You're not helping!" Then he turned back to Mulder. "Okay, I'll admit I've taken you for granted this past week, but I had a lot on my mind. I know that's no excuse and I promise never to let it happen again. Can we just put this incident behind us and move forward from here?" Summer started crying and Skinner rocked her as he spoke above her wails. "We have a lot to celebrate, Fox. Come back inside and let me make it up to you."

Mulder that they finally had what they've wanted for so long...all three of them together with their kids. realized that he was being petty and foolish and letting his hormones get the better of him. It was obvious from looking at his lovers that they loved him as much as he loved them. He decided to forget the whole incident. However, Walter's willingness to make amends had caught his interest. "Do you really want to make it up to me, Walter?" Mulder asked, standing and taking his infant daughter from Skinner. "Sh-h-h. It's all right, Summer, Daddy Alex will feed you in a second."

"Fox, I'll do anything to make it up to you," Skinner said.

"Anything?" Mulder asked, glancing over at Alex. He wasn't about to pass up this opportunity. They had put if it off far too long and he didn't want to wait another minute.

"Anything, Fox."

"I want to go with Alex on our honeymoon this on Thursday?" Mulder's eyes sparkled with excitement as he thought about the pictures of the quaint picturesque Vermont inn that Frohike had shown him.

Skinner frowned. He hadn't expected that. "Where?"

Mulder smiled. "To an Inn in Killington, Vermont. Frohike's elderly cousin has been running it for half a century. It would be beautiful there this time of year. The trees will be at the peak of their fall colors by the weekend." Mulder turned to Alex. "We can take long walks..."

Krycek sighed, interrupting Mulder. He looked down at Nicky's sleeping face. He really wanted to go. "Fox, as much as the idea appeals to me, I can't leave Nicky and Foxy alone. They're still too young."

"I wasn't planning on leaving them behind. We'll take them with us. It will only be for four days."

Krycek smiled, looking over at Skinner. "Walter will watch the other kids while we're gone. Won't you, Walter?"

Skinner wasn't thrilled, but he had seriously screwed up and needed to make it up to Fox. "Yeah, I'll watch our kids. However, I will be sending two hundred trained sorcerers to Killington as your personal security force. And I expect us to take a romantic vacation with you once our baby is born."

Mulder beamed and leaned forward, kissing Skinner on the lips. "Thanks, Walter. Maybe we could make plans to go someplace for our anniversary!" He turned and headed back toward the palace, cuddling Summer in his arms. The infant had stopped crying.

Skinner and Krycek watched their lover walk at a brisk happy stride. Neither one knew what had just happened.

"Mood swings?" Krycek asked.

"Yeah, mood swings," Skinner answered, nodding his head in agreement.

"Well, at least you didn't have to grovel too much."

"This time. Don't forget he still has ten weeks left of this pregnancy."

"Walter, I can put up with Fox's mood swings for ten weeks. We just need to watch what we say." Krycek smiled as they walked toward the palace with their arms around each other's waist. "God, it is great to be home."

***

Crystal Palace
Tuesday, October 17th 2001
1:00 p.m.

Alex refused to accept the delivery of the flowers and chocolates that Slava had sent him. He had them sent back unopened. It was the fourth such delivery from his former Russian lover, in as many days. Each one made him angrier.

"Why doesn't he just get the hint and leave me alone?"

"He loves you," Mulder replied shrugging his shoulders.

"He had a great way of showing it over the past five months. We were barely speaking when I left!"

"Alex, some men find the sight of a pregnant woman repulsive. I don't think they'd change their attitude over a pregnant immortal."

"It really doesn't matter, Fox. I don't love him and have no intention of ever talking to or seeing the bastard again!"

"What about Nicky? He might wish to see his father someday."

"Nicky is our son, Fox. If Nikolai had been interested in him, he should have treated me better than he did. For Christ's sake, the only reason I was pregnant with his child in the first place was because he raped me! Then he made it seem like it was my fault I was putting on weight! He wouldn't even let me call you or Walter to check on my children."

"Even so, Alex, Slava might insist on seeing Nicky and sharing custody."

"HA! No way in hell! Especially, after what he's done to you, Fox! The way he's kept you from seeing your seven daughters! He's not coming anywhere near Nicky! No way! No how!" Krycek snapped.

Mulder hugged Alex and kissed his cheek. "Fine. I just wanted to know where you stood on the issue. We'll deal with this situation as a family. Slava won't get anywhere near our son."

"Thanks, Fox."

"I'm going to my office to get some work done. Do you want to bring Summer and Nicky and keep me company?"

"I'll pass. No offense, but watching you do paperwork isn't the most exciting way to spend my afternoon. I'm going to take Foxy, Nicky, Hunter, Faith and River for a walk to get reacquainted with them. I'd like to take all the kids, but I know I couldn't handle them all by myself. I'll do something special with Hope, Sergei, Kaylie and Angelique tomorrow."

"Take the extra stroller for Sasha. He's only just started walking and isn't going to last through a long hike. River can push it as long as you remind him occasionally that it's not a race car," Mulder said, heading for the door he stopped. "Oh, and make sure you dress them warmly. It's chilly down by the ocean today."

"Fox, don't worry, I do know what I'm doing. Now go enjoy your paperwork," Krycek said.

***

Mulder entered his office and logged on to the Internet to check his email. He had a video camera installed on top of his monitor for having conversations with friends around the world. Mulder chatted on a regular basis with Cory Greene and three other immortals in foreign countries. The link for his video program was blinking indicating someone was online and wanted to talk to him. He flipped on his video camera and launched the program. Soon he was staring at Slava's face in a small window on his screen.

Mulder snarled, "What do you want?"

"Fox, you're looking lovely today."

"Nick, save the praise for someone who gives a damn!"

Slava cringed slightly at the bastardization of his first name. "Okay, Fox. I'll get straight to the point. I want you to intercede with Alexei on my behalf."

"Are you out of your fucking mind?" Mulder growled. "After what you did to him I'd rather kill you! You raped him, you sleazy son-of-a-bitch! Then you treated him like piece of shit during his pregnancy!"

"I know I was a complete jerk, but I couldn't help myself. If you could have seen Alexei's beautiful body go from drop dead gorgeous to swollen and distorted, you'd understand how I felt..."

"He was pregnant, what did you expect?"

"I expected to be able to deal with it! It didn't bother me to watch Justin Blaise give birth to his daughter! Dammit, Fox! I really thought I could handle Alexei being pregnant, but I was wrong. I need to apologize to him. Please! You have to help me! Just tell him that I love him and would like to talk to him."

"Slava, the bond is broken. Alex doesn't love you anymore. Just leave him alone..."

"No! I'll never just leave him alone. He's my lover! He's given birth to my son! I demand to see them both!" Slava took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. "Look, Fox, I'll give Skinner my backing and the support of my armies again, if you convince Alexei to see me. I'll also allow you to see our daughters. I'll bring them to the Crystal Palace myself."

Mulder sighed. "Slava, Alex's heart is not for sale. Walter doesn't need your support and I won't do anything that might cause Alex pain. Even if it means I'll never get to see my daughters. Now if there is nothing else, I have work to do."

"You'll come to regret crossing me, Fox."

"Oh, I'm sure I will. I already deeply regret ever seeing your face. Good day, Nick," Mulder replied curtly and ended the connection.

Mulder went back to reading his email and answering a few letters before he started on his paperwork. He was so involved that he didn't realize how much time had passed until he heard the knock on his door. Looking out his window he noticed the sun was riding low in the sky. The clock said it was seven o'clock.

"Fox," Walter said, stepping into the room. "It's dinner time. Come with me! I have a special treat for you."

"A treat for me? Why?"

"I missed your fortieth birthday party."

"Walter, it isn't necessary..."

"Fox, shut up and let me spoil you for once."

"Okay. Spoiling I can deal with as long as you're not going to embarrass me." Mulder shut down his PC and placed his completed paperwork inside a folder to take into work tomorrow. Thursday through Sunday he was going to be on his honeymoon with Alex.

Walter led Mulder to the elevator, which they rode down to the lobby level. Instead of going to the dining hall for dinner, Walter guided him to the palace's vertical lift. The palace was like a small city with shops, restaurants, movie theater, schools, a hospital, the FBI main headquarters and a slew of small businesses which had been setting up shop. The palace was constantly expanding.

"Walter, where are we going?" Mulder asked, as the enclosed car zipped them quickly to the northeast section of the palace.

"A new restaurant opened today on the tenth floor of turret two. I made us reservations."

"What type of restaurant?"

Skinner grinned. "You'll see." Major Kazuo Sawada had wanted to keep the restaurant a secret as a surprise for Shinji. And since Shinji and Mulder were best friends, they decided it was a good idea not to tell Fox that Takeshi Sawada, Kazuo's uncle, was opening up a Japanese restaurant. Takeshi had been a renowned chef in Japan, but since moving to the U.S. to be with his nephew and his nephew's family, Takeshi had missed cooking and managing a restaurant.

They climbed off the lift and walked the remaining half-mile to the turret. The northeast section of the palace was busy. People rushed here and there. Kiosks had been set up along the wide corridor with merchants selling all types of items. Mulder stopped at a stand that was selling sports jerseys and T-shirts. He held up a toddler's sized Chicago's Bears jersey. He paid for it under Walter's amused eyes.

"I thought you were a Redskin's fan?" Skinner asked as they continued on their way.

"I am, but Sergei is your son too, Bear, and something tells me he'd prefer this jersey."

Skinner chuckled. "Maybe you're right, but I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan."

Mulder grinned as they stepped onto the turret's elevator. "I don't know if Alex likes football."

"I don't think Alex is a big sports fan," Skinner said. He made sure he was watching Fox's face as the doors slid open onto the lobby of the Origami.

Mulder smile widened as Gou Sawada, Kazuo's father, walked over to greet them.

"Mulder, Walter, please this way. I have your table ready."

"Walter, what's going on?" Mulder asked as they followed the elderly man to a private dining area. They each slipped off their shoes on a mat and stepped up on the raised wooden platform to sit on a cushion at the low table. The table was set in front of a floor to ceiling window with a breathtaking view overlooking the bay. The sun was just setting, casting a beautiful orange glow across the water.

"Mr. Sawada, was Shinji surprised?" Skinner asked.

"He was very surprised. He and Kazuo are having dinner three rooms down." Gou chuckled and added, "Shin had a little trouble sitting. He has only one week left before the baby is due."

"Will someone tell me what is going on?" Mulder asked again.

"You're the investigator, Fox. Haven't you figured it out?" Skinner arched an eyebrow.

Mulder looked up at Kazuo's father. "Mr. Sawada, did your brother Takeshi open this restaurant?"

"Yes. We have been planning it for months."

"Congratulations, the restaurant is lovely," Mulder replied, looking around.

"Thank you, Mulder," Gou said, bowing.

A waiter came by and set a pot of tea on the table. "Would you care for something from the bar?" he asked.

"I'll have a sake and can you bring us a bottle of sparkling cider?" Skinner asked.

"Coming right up."

Mulder squirmed uncomfortably on the pillow. His back had started bothering him a couple of days ago. Then his baby moved. He placed one hand on his belly so he could feel her movement under his palm.

Skinner looked across the table at him. "Is everything all right?"

"Yeah, she's moving a little."

"It's still hard to tell you're pregnant." Skinner smiled. They stopped talking as the waiter placed their beverages on the table. Skinner poured himself a little sake and took a sip. He needed to unwind after a hectic day.

Mulder picked up the bottle of cider and poured a little into each wineglass. "I talked to Slava today. He wants to apologize to Alex for the way he has treated him." Mulder sighed, looking out the window to collect his thoughts, then back at Walter. "I know Alex won't have anything to do with Slava, but I'm still worried about what might happen if Alex speaks to him."

"Fox, are you worried that they will kiss and make up?"

"I know it's stupid, but yeah, I am."

"Don't be. Alex doesn't love Slava. He loves you, me, and our children." Skinner picked up his wineglass and held it in front of him. "We're here to celebrate your birthday, Fox. I propose a toast. May your next forty years be filled with love, peace and happiness."

Mulder grinned and clicked his glass against his lover's. "With you in it, Bear, how can it be anything else."

The waiter came back with their meal that Takeshi had prepared especially for them. They ate at a leisurely pace. After dinner, Skinner pulled a fancy-wrapped package out of his pocket and passed it across the table to Mulder.

"Walter, you didn't have to buy me anything," Mulder said, shaking the package.

"I think you'll like this."

Mulder unwrapped the package. Inside was a metal box which contained small, solid gold, rectangular plates. Each plate had the name and date of birth of each of their children with the month's birthstone. There was even a plate for Nicky and Summer. "They're beautiful, Walter. I take it you plan on hanging these somewhere?"

"Yes, in our bedroom on wall next to the fireplace." Skinner grinned sheepishly. "At the rate we're having kids, I'll need them to remember all their names and birthdays," he quipped.

"So what other surprises do you have for me?"

"I booked us a suite at the palace's hotel for tonight. Alex has promised to look after the kids."

"Alex was okay with that?" Mulder asked.

"He wants to bond with the children again. This is the perfect opportunity for him to do so."

"Hey, Mulder, Walter," Shinji said, stopping outside their dining area. Kazuo was standing behind him holding their daughter, Ayako's hand. "This place is so neat, isn't it?" He had one hand resting on his round belly.

"Yeah, it's neat. I'm impressed that they were able to keep it a secret from us," Mulder said.

Shinji smiled broadly. "I know. We'll need to keep a closer eye on them. No telling what other secrets they've been keeping from us."

"Come along, Shin. Let's allow them to enjoy their meal," Kazuo said, looping an arm around his lover's shoulders.

"Okay. Mulder, if I don't see you before you leave for Vermont, enjoy your honeymoon!"

"Thanks, Shin. I'll see you when I get back."

Skinner glanced at his watch. "Fox, I plan to have you for dessert in our hotel room. So if you're ready?"

Mulder grinned. "Did you bring any whipped cream?"

"No. I prefer my dessert plain...you taste better that way."

Mulder climbed to his feet. "What are we sitting here for? Let's go have dessert!"

***

Killington, Vermont
Thursday, October 19th 2001
1:00 p.m.

Morris Frohike shook his guests' hands. "It is an honor to have you both staying at my humble inn."

Mulder looked into the old man's pleasant gray eyes and felt instantly comfortable with the elder gent. "Melvin has told us a lot about your inn, Mr. Frohike, and he's bragged nonstop about what a gourmet chef you are. Alex and I have been looking forward to staying here."

Morris smiled. "When Melvin was a teenager he worked for me for several summers. I taught him how to cook. Here let me help you with that, Mr. Krycek. I'll show you both to your room. You must be tired from your trip," Morris said, taking the diaper bag and suitcase from Krycek, who had his hands full with his crying daughter and her bassinet.

"Thank you, Mr. Frohike."

Mulder followed Morris and Alex across the lobby to an old fashioned elevator. He was carrying Nicky in his bassinet and pulling a suitcase behind him. The inn looked like it was from the nineteenth century. The elevator lurched as it started to rise and Mulder was briefly worried about how safe it might be or even why the three-story inn would need an elevator.

Morris showed them to a large and comfortable room. It had a high four-poster bed with a canopy. A small three-stair stool stood next to the high bed.

After Morris left, Mulder set the bassinet on the bed and lifted Nicky out. The baby cooed and kicked his legs. "Do you want to feed our son or freshen up first?" he asked, walking over to turn the light on in the bathroom, where an old, claw-footed tub sat.

"I'll feed our rug-rats first. Then we can share a bath." Krycek was already stripping off his sweater and cotton-lined vinyl undershirt. He then lifted Summer out of her bassinet and went to sit on the window seat in front of a large bay window. "Can you bring me Nicky?" he asked as his daughter latched onto his nipple.

Mulder positioned Nicky in Krycek's other arm. However, Nicky wasn't very hungry and only played with his father's nipple instead of nursing.

"I'm going to unpack our luggage. Holler if you need any help," Mulder said as he lifted Alex's suitcase up onto the bed and started hanging up his lover's clothes in the wardrobe and transferring his socks and underwear to the dresser.

Neither man noticed the video camera lenses strategically hidden around the room and in the bathroom. Downstairs, Morris Frohike sat in the secret room off his office watching the monitors. He zoomed one of the cameras in for a close up of the baby suckling on the immortal's nipple. Her tiny hands kneaded against her father's flesh. Morris sipped on a sherry as he watched with glee. This video was going to make him a very rich man. He couldn't wait for the two men to make love. He had two cameras set up on the bedposts. The garland and canopy made them impossible to spot.

He turned his attention from Alex to the other monitor where Mulder had finished unpacking and was stripping out of his clothes.

"Alex, I'm going to start filling the bathtub. Do you want me to fill it with warm water, so we can bathe Nicky and Summer at the same time?"

Krycek looked down at his daughter and son, smiling. "Yeah, warm water. Nicky hates taking baths, so maybe if we take one with him, he'll realize it isn't so bad."

Mulder chuckled. "I heard how much he didn't enjoy his bath last night. For someone so small he has a great set of lungs." Mulder walked naked into the small bathroom and started filling the tub, then he walked back into the bedroom and grabbed the baby oil off the dresser. Mulder squirted a little under the faucet.

Morris adjusted the focus on the camera lens, hidden behind the two-way bathroom mirror. He zoomed in on Mulder's firm, round ass as the young man bent down to test the water. His attention was pulled to the other monitor when Krycek shouted to his lover.

"Fox! Can you give me a hand?"

"Sure, Alex. What do you need?"

"Foxy messed her diaper," he said. He chuckled at the look of exasperation on Mulder's face. Krycek wasn't sure if it was from the nickname he had given their daughter or because he was forcing Mulder to change her diaper again.

"Fine. I'll clean her and then we can all share a bath together." Mulder cradled the baby against his bare chest as he carried her over to the bed. He laid a towel down on the bedspread before setting her down. "Did Daddy's little stinky one make a doo-doo? Oh yes you did, my widdle stinky one," Mulder cooed, kissing her on the forehead.

Summer looked at him and grinned, grabbing for his nose.

Krycek in the meantime carried Nicky over to the bed and set him down. He removed both his and Nicky's clothes.

Mulder deposited the messy diaper and soiled wet wipes in a plastic bag that he threw into the wastebasket by the door.

"Ooh." Mulder placed his hand on his belly.

"What?" Krycek asked.

"She's moving a little."

Krycek frowned. Mulder wasn't outwardly showing his pregnancy yet. At this point Krycek's feet had been already swollen and he had a noticeable belly. "Are you sure you only have ten weeks left?"

Mulder grinned and walked over to him. Taking Krycek's hand, he placed it over his belly. "Feel."

Krycek felt the movement beneath his fingertips and smiled. "She's active. Fox, are you sure she's a she?"

"That is what the tests indicated."

"So have you and Walter decided on a name yet?" Krycek scooped Nicky up in his arms and followed Mulder and Summer into the bathroom.

"No. I think I might name her after your mother, if that's okay?" Mulder stepped into the tub and slowly sat. Summer's eyes widened when her small body made contact with the water. Then she made a happy cooing sound as she was cradled protectively in her father's arm with just her head above water.

"It is as long as you don't shorten it to Alex."

"If I shorten it to anything, it will be Alek or Sandra," Mulder said.

Krycek sank into the water on the other side of the tub. He was careful to hold Nicky out of the water in front of him. "Okay, Nicky. See? Daddy is in the water and I'm not crying. What do you say if we just get your feet wet?" He held his breath as he lowered the baby's feet into the water. Nicky continued to stare at his Father's face, not seeming to care that his feet were in the water. Suddenly he started to pee. The stream hit Krycek in the face and he quickly lowered his son into the bath water until his son's little penis was shooting under the water. Nicky's unhappy wails were drowned out by Mulder's loud gleeful laughter. Krycek cradled his crying son in one arm as he reached for a washcloth with the other. He wiped the urine off his face then joined Mulder in laughing.

"Oh God, Alex, I wish that I had a photograph of that! Walter is just going to die when I tell him!" Mulder wiped away the tears falling down his cheeks as he looked down at his daughter who was staring up at him with wide eyes. "Wasn't that funny, Summer?"

Krycek's laughter petered out and he sighed, kissing the top of his son's head. "Fox, I'm glad you don't have a photograph. That would be too embarrassing."

Morris adjusted the volume on the microphone. He would edit out any unwanted narration later. He was smiling broadly. The two immortals hadn't even been here an hour yet and already he had some exceptional footage of them.

***

Crystal City
Thursday, October 19th 2001
9:30 p.m.

Skinner yawned tiredly. He thought with Fox and Alex both gone, he'd turn in early for once. Lightning flashed outside followed by a loud crack of thunder. A couple minutes later, his bedroom door flew open and Hope and Faith ran in followed by River cuddling his rag doll rabbit.

"Can we sleep with you tonight, Daddy?" River asked.

Skinner looked down at the two little girls with their arms wrapped around his legs. "There is nothing to be afraid of kids. It's only a thunderstorm."

"We scared, Daddy," Faith said. She had taken to referring to her Uncle as Daddy when she noticed River called him that. It pleased Walter that she called him Daddy. All three men agreed that even if there wasn't a biological connection, they were all still acting as fathers to the children.

Skinner sighed. He had been looking forward to having the whole bed to himself tonight. However, that wasn't going to be. "Okay, kids, climb in and leave some room for me," Skinner said.

They left him a spot in the middle of the bed, then cuddled as close to his body as they could get. The storm was still raging outside, but the kids were soon asleep. Skinner dozed off a few moments later.

He was awoken several hours later to a warm dampness on his chest. Then the smell hit him along with the sound of River sobbing.

"Daddy, I'm sick."

His son had just thrown up all over him and the bed. "Okay, River. Hold on." Skinner used his powers to turn on the light. Then he made the smelly vomit disappear off him, River and the bedding. "Come on. Let's get you up to the bathroom and washout your mouth." He placed his hand over River's brow which was hot. As his son brushed his teeth, Skinner got the thermometer out of the medicine cabinet and placed one end in River's ear and pressed the button -- 100.5. If Fox or Alex were here, they'd be able to cure their son with just a touch of their hand. Well, at least Alex would have been able to help. Fox being pregnant wasn't supposed to dispense energy for healing. Skinner sighed. If River's temperature rose any higher, he'd have to call downstairs and have Jonathan come up and check him.

"DADDY!"

Skinner left River at the sink and rushed down the steps at his daughter's call. "Hope, what's wrong baby?" he asked, gathering her into his arms.

"I don't feel good," she sobbed, looking hot and feverish.

"Hold on, honey, I'll carry you to the bathroom. Do you feel like you're going to throw u...." He didn't have time to close his mouth as Hope's projectile vomit hit him squarely in the face.

Vomit dripped down Skinner's chin and onto his undershirt. Hope was crying even louder. Skinner gagged as he made the stinky mess vanish. Then he carried her up the steps to the bathroom. "Sh-h, Hope! It's okay. See? No more icky vomit."

River was sitting on the floor crying.

"Damn!" Skinner muttered. He couldn't attend to them both at once. He filled a glass with water.

"River, drink a little water."

"M-my head hurts, Daddy," he sobbed, snot and tears running down his face.

"I know, son." Skinner tried to focus on River as Hope cried bitterly against his shoulder.

It took him an hour, but he finally tucked them both back into bed. He was shutting off the light when the sound of someone throwing up reached his ears. "Not again," he sighed.

Hope started crying along with Faith, who had just thrown up all over her sister and the bed.

Skinner rubbed a hand over his face. It was two a.m. and at this rate, he wasn't going to get any sleep tonight. After he used his powers to clean the bed and his daughters, he carried Faith up to the bathroom. He wished one of the other immortals could help him, but Ari was gone on a trip to parts unknown with Duffy and Kat. Hans, Gabriel, and Melvin were on vacation in New York City, and all the other immortals were pregnant again. They had discovered that once they stopped nursing and tried using only a pump to extract their milk, that their body soon stopped lactating all together. Only Ari had continued to nurse his daughter and didn't have a problem.

"DADDY!" River cried from the bottom of the steps. The little boy had just had an accident in his pajamas.

Skinner sighed, thinking maybe he should wake Jonathan to check the kids.

Vicky knocked on the door leading into the bedroom from the nursery. "Sir, I heard the kids crying. Is everything all right?" she asked, stepping into the room.

Skinner looked down the steps at her. He was cradling Faith who was crying and coughing. River was standing at the bottom of the steps, crying, and the back of his pajama bottoms covered in runny diarrhea. "No. They're running a fever and have been vomiting for the past hour. Can you help River, Vicky?"

"Yes, sir." She walked over and took River's hand and helped him up to the bathroom and then out of his ruined pajamas.

"How are the babies?" Skinner asked.

"They're fine, sir." Vicky soaked River's pajama bottoms in the sink, then took a washcloth and cleaned him. He stood sobbing pitifully.

"I'm going to give Jonathan Carter a call. Can you watch them until I get back?" Skinner asked. He made it to the bottom of the steps but wasn't watching where he was walking, when his feet flew out from under him as he slipped on the slimy puddle of diarrhea. Skinner heard the bone in his wrist snap as he put his hand behind him to break his fall. He groaned as he felt the damp diarrhea he had landed in soak through his pajama bottoms.

"Sir, are you all right?" Vicky shouted.

"No. I think I broke my wrist and bruised my tailbone," Skinner said, having a difficult time trying to sit up. He made the diarrhea vanish from the floor and his clothes.

"Don't move, sir, I'll call Doctors Pendrell and Carter."

***

Killington, Vermont
Friday, October 20th 2001
8:00 a.m.

Mulder awoke to find his penis engulfed in a hot, wet sheath. Teeth scraped along its length, then the tip of a tongue pressed into his urethra. He gasped and his hips pushed up as his shaft was once more swallowed to the hilt. Mulder threw his head back in bliss. His hips rocked in rhythm with the mouth working his cock. It was four minutes of pure heaven before his balls tightened up and he came explosively. When he reopened his eyes, he was staring straight into Alex's amused emeralds.

Krycek rested with his head on Mulder's thighs, as his hand caressed his lover's belly. "You know, Fox. When you're lying on your back like this, I can make out the outline of the pouch containing your baby." Krycek leaned up and kissed Mulder's belly. Then he chuckled, "I still can't believe you went and got yourself knocked up again, so soon after having our quadruplets."

"Don't laugh, Alex. The moment you stop nursing Nicky and Summer, you'll be in the same boat I'm in."

"Hmm, maybe I won't stop nursing them for a while. It really isn't that bad. In fact, the sensation is rather pleasant," Krycek said, scooting up on the bed to lay next to his lover.

Mulder rolled his eyes. "Oh, I can just hear you now, Alex," he said, leveraging himself up on his elbow and looking down at his lover as he attempted to imitate Alex's voice. "Nicky, quit complaining! A lot of nine year olds still nurse at their father's tit." He snickered when Alex hit him with a pillow.

Krycek sighed. "We're screwed aren't we, Fox? Unless Shinji can find a cure for the compulsions we'll just keep having babies every two or three years."

Mulder stopped laughing as his mood turned sober. "Let's not dwell on it. Alex, this is our honeymoon, and we're supposed to be enjoying ourselves." Mulder's hand caressed Alex's penis until it was hard. "And, I'd really enjoy this beauty fucking me. What do you say, lover?"

Krycek rolled over on top of Mulder, grinning broadly down at his lovely face. "I think, I can be persuaded."

Mulder wrapped his arms around Krycek's neck and pulled him down for a kiss. They kissed passionately for several hot minutes as they ground their groins slowly together. Then Krycek pulled away and kneeled between Mulder's parted thighs, positioning his lover's long legs over his shoulders. He thrust smoothly into the tight familiar heat. They were so aroused and needy that no additional preparation was needed.

Morris sat in his secret room sipping from his cup of tea. His bathrobe was open and his erect cock jutted out. He had taken his Viagra before going to bed last night and had awoken with an erection this morning. Morris had retired as soon as Mulder and Krycek had fallen to sleep after an extremely long session of lovemaking. He had set his alarm so he would wake up before them. His seventy-six year old body didn't require many Zs. He set his teacup down and stroked his erection in time with Krycek thrusting into Mulder's beautiful body. The speed and strength of Alex's thrusts picked up as one and then both babies started to cry from their bassinets. The louder their cries became, the faster and harder Krycek fucked his lover.

Krycek looked exasperated as his babies shrieked to be fed. His nipples had started leaking at their hungry wails. God, he loved them, but they were wearing him out with their constant hunger. His eyes met Mulder's as an idea struck him, and he leaned forward and nipped Mulder's nipple. He circled his tongue around the hard nub, then started sucking on it hard. Mulder's back arched up off the bed and his ass slammed back on the hard shaft buried deep inside him.

"Oh Christ, Alex! Stop!" Mulder tried to push Krycek's head away from his nipple.

Krycek sucked even harder, stimulating the nipple into releasing a sweet rush of fluid. He grinned and moved on to the other one.

"Wh-what the hell are you doing to me?" Mulder moaned. His whole body was trembling with the intensity of the dual stimulation.

"Mm." Krycek licked his lips as he briefly removed his mouth from Mulder's nipple. "I figured you're far enough along in your pregnancy that you might start lactating again with a little help. And I was right," he said, rubbing Mulder's belly. "Until she's born you can help me nurse Foxy and Nicky."

"Bastard."

Krycek smirked. "Yeah, Babe, I know." He lowered his mouth again and sucked hard until his lover's other nipple released its fluid.

Mulder moaned as Krycek went back to fucking him. "You're going to help me nurse Aleksandra when she's born," he said with a strained voice, his legs dropping from Krycek's shoulders to wrap around his lover's slender waist.

"Fox, I was planning to help you all along."

Morris wiped the milky come off the monitor. He hadn't come that hard in years. The sight of Krycek sucking Mulder's nipples had sent him over the edge. He had been planning to sell this video to the highest bidder, but now he decided he'd make more money by putting it on a pay-per-view site on the Internet. Hmm, maybe he'd enlarge some of the images and make T-shirts to sell on the site. He leaned forward as he watched the come spurt from Mulder's cock, hitting the young man's chest and chin. Krycek threw his head back and howled as he came and then slumped into Mulder's arms.

Alex raised his head and tenderly licked the semen off Mulder's chin, then kissed his lips. He tried to ignore his babies for a few more moments. Krycek was feeling guilty about what he had just done to his lover.

Mulder sighed. "Let's feed the rug-rats before they wake everyone from here to town and back."

"Okay. Stay there, I'll bring you Nicky." Krycek rolled off Mulder. Then he climbed out of bed and walked tiredly over to Nicky's bassinet.

Mulder looked down at his chest. His nipples were red and leaking. Damn, being an immortal sucked. He was sure a woman's body would never have started lactating again this quickly. "Dammit, Alex!" he growled. "I really didn't want to wear one of those God awful vinyl-lined undershirts until after Alek was born." Mulder took Nicky from Alex and placed the baby's lips against his nipple. Nicky hesitated at first then he started suckling. Mulder flinched. His body needed to adjust to nursing again.

"Sorry, Fox, it seemed like a really good idea at the time." Krycek had Summer cradled in his arms as he slipped back into bed next to Mulder. Both babies were contentedly suckling.

"I'll keep that in mind if our situations are ever reversed," Mulder said. "You know he looks like Slava, except he has your cute little nose."

"My nose isn't cute," Krycek huffed, offended.

"Sure it is. It has an adorable little upturn..."

"Fox!"

Mulder smiled innocently at the threat in his lover's voice. He knew that Alex didn't like his nose, thinking it was too small for his face. Mulder thought it was perfect compared to his nose. "So do you want to take a walk on the paths down by the pond after breakfast?"

"Sure. Do you want to call Walter and check on the kids?" Krycek asked.

"No, Alex, this is our honeymoon. I'm sure Walter's getting along just fine. Besides if anything is wrong he'll call us immediately."

***

Crystal Palace
Friday, October 20th 2001
10:00 a.m.

Skinner sat outside on the veranda breathing in the fresh air. He was wearing his bathrobe and his wrist was in a cast. It had been a hectic night and morning. His children were in bed with a stomach virus. Even two of the babies had gotten sick earlier this morning, luckily, while Doctors Scully, Carter and Pendrell had been here fixing his arm and examining Hope, Faith, and River. The doctors were able to take care of the babies at the same time.

Skinner suddenly felt nauseous. He closed his eyes, hoping that it would pass. "Oh please, I can't be sick. Not now!" But, it didn't go away. It only got worse. Skinner opened his eyes and rushed back inside. He climbed the steps two at a time to the bathroom. He made it to the toilet just in time as he vomited up the remains of his breakfast.

Damn, first he broke his wrist and now he had the virus, too. Skinner wondered if it was due to bad karma because he forgot about Fox's withdrawal pains and caused his lover untold humiliation. He rested his head against the cool surface of the porcelain bowl. He would never allow another man to touch Fox or Alex again. No matter what it took, he'd always be there for his lovers.

"Walter, are you okay?"

Scully's voice pulled Skinner's attention away from his current misery. "No. I'm sicker than a dog. I neglected Fox to the point that he had to go beg Rory for sex. I haven't been the best lover to Alex. And I hardly have time for my children..."

Scully glared at him angrily. "Walter, stop it! You're this family's foundation! Its strength! You're the glue that holds everyone together! Without you, your family would be lost and their lives endangered. You're doing the best you can and have made great personal sacrifices to keep your family safe!" she scolded, as she went to the sink, wet a washcloth with cold water and carried it back to him.

Skinner took the washcloth and wiped his mouth and face. "Thanks, Scully. Sometimes I think my family could get along just fine without me."

Scully helped him up and over to the sink. "You're wrong. Mulder has told me how much he loves you. He would never have put up with the way you and Alex have treated him at times, if he weren't hopelessly in love with you both."

Skinner rinsed his mouth out with a glass of water. "I haven't always been respectful of him, have I?"

"No, you haven't. You've been overprotective, Walter, on the inside Mulder's still the same man he was three years ago. You have to allow him his freedom. You will both be a lot happier."

Skinner leaned up against the sink. "Scully, you don't see how men look at him or hear their lust-filled whispers. You can't read the dirty fantasies that their sick little minds have concocted involving Fox and Alex. I can. At times I've wanted to lock both of my lovers away to protect them. Other times, I've wanted to kill these men and n'thrals for having such thoughts."

"Walter, they're only fantasizing. Everyone has fantasies."

"I know, Scully. I'm only worried that someone might take their fantasies too far." Skinner walked down the steps and sat on his bed. "I promise to allow Fox and Alex a little more freedom."

***

Killington, Vermont
Saturday, October 21, 2001
noon

Morris stood on the roof of his inn with a video camera mounted on a tripod with a long-range telephoto lens. He was just barely able to get a good shot between the trees and foliage of Mulder and Krycek making love on the grass beside the pond. Their babies were sleeping on a blanket nearby. He wasn't able to get a video of them yesterday during their walk and make out session. Morris noticed them separate and start to pull their clothes back on, so he quickly carried his camera back inside. He needed to start preparing lunch for his two beautiful guests.

Mulder lifted Summer off the blanket and placed her in the Snugly he wore strapped to his chest. The baby had on a knit bonnet, a one-piece romper and was wrapped protectively in blanket against the chilly air. She yawned and peered up at him. "Hey, stinky winky, did you have a nice nappy wappy? I bet my widdle kiddle is hungry again? I know Daddy's starving." He looked over at Alex who had an incredulous expression on his beautiful face. Mulder shrugged his shoulders and grinned sheepishly. "It's Walter's fault that I'm talking this way. If he hadn't started it with our little piglet..." Changing the subject he said, "I hope Mr. Frohike has lunch ready."

"Me too. Although, I could use a quick bath," Krycek said. He shifted uncomfortably from one leg to the other as the sticky semen made his briefs stick to his skin.

Mulder smiled smugly, and patted his lover's denim covered ass. "If you weren't such a wimp you could have taken a dip in the pond."

"Fox, its fifty-eight degrees and that water's freezing! Do you want me to catch a cold?"

"Some Russian you are. Afraid of a little cold water," Mulder teased.

"Oh and you'd be willing to go for a dip?"

"Are you kidding? That water is freezing!" Mulder plucked a leaf out of Alex's hair and kissed him.

Krycek snorted and looped his arm around Mulder's waist as they walked back toward the inn. They could see it through the trees. "I like it here, Fox. We should make coming here a tradition. Mr. Frohike is such a sweet old man. I still can't believe he served us breakfast in bed this morning."

"Let's plan on coming back this winter with Walter and all of our kids. We can go cross-country skiing and sledding." Mulder sighed. "I miss them."

"Yeah, me too. Do you want to call them after lunch?"

"Sure."

***

"Scully."

Mulder hesitated, hearing Scully's voice on the other end of the line. He had expected to hear Walter's or one of the nannies. "Hi, Scully. Is everything all right there? Where's Walter?"

"Ah, Mulder. How's your honeymoon going?"

Mulder's met Alex's eyes. "Fine. What's going on?"

"Your children came down with the stomach virus yesterday, but they are already starting to feel better."

"Where's Walter?"

"He has the virus, too. He's in bed sleeping." Scully didn't want to ruin their long overdue honeymoon with the news that Walter had broken his wrist and had been in bed since yesterday afternoon.

"Scully, tell Walter we'll be home in four hours."

"Mulder, it's not necessary."

"Scully, just tell him. I'll talk to you later." Mulder hung up the telephone and filled Alex in. Then he called the Captain of their security team, which was stationed a mile away from the inn, encircling its perimeter. No civilian was allowed within two miles of the inn. They had rented all the rooms in the inn from Mr. Frohike.

Krycek was done packing by the time Mulder got off the telephone.

Mulder headed for the door. "Captain Lefevre will be here to pick us up in ten minutes. I'm going downstairs to tell Mr. Frohike that we are checking out early," Mulder said.

"Fox, would you carry the suitcases down to the lobby as long as you're heading there?" Krycek asked.

Mulder walked back and took the two suitcases from his lover. "I'll be right back up to help you with Nicky and Summer."

Morris was waiting for Mulder in the lobby when he came down. The old man feigned surprise when he saw the suitcases in Mulder's hands. "Prince Fox, are you leaving us?"

Mulder cringed at the title. It didn't bother him when the palace staff referred to him as Prince Fox, but he didn't like others using it. He had asked Mr. Frohike to call him Mulder, but the old man had refused, saying it was disrespectful.

"Our family is sick and we need to go home to them," Mulder said.

"I'm sorry to hear that." He was more sorry that he wouldn't be able to get any more video footage of the two immortals. Morris was happy that he had two days and two nights of them on tape.

"Thanks. Alex and I really appreciate everything you've done for us during our stay here," Mulder said, shaking the man's hand. "I better get back up and help him with the babies."

Morris watched Mulder head back up the stairs. He felt a tinge of guilt, but shook it off. Normal citizens had a right to see his videos. It wasn't fair that only the most powerful sorcerers were able to have sex with immortals. He was doing a public service and making a few bucks in the process.

***

Crystal Palace
Saturday, October 21, 2001
5:00 p.m.

Krycek and Mulder stepped off the elevator on the twenty-sixth floor of their apartment and immediately headed for their bedroom. Walter was sitting in front of the fireplace in his bathrobe, reading a story to Angelique and Hunter.

"What happened to your arm?" Krycek asked, passing Nicky's bassinet back to Mulder so Krycek could attend to their lover.

Mulder carried both babies into the nursery and placed them in their cribs. He then came back to catch the last of Walter's explanation.

"Then I slipped and landed on my ass, breaking my wrist."

"How are you feeling otherwise?" Mulder asked.

"Better. My stomach is still a little queasy. The kids are still sick but improving. The only ones who didn't get sick are these two. Skinner smiled down at Angelique and Hunter. "Doctor Pendrell thinks that it's because Hunter is already an immortal and Angelique has some built in immunity."

Krycek placed a hand on Skinner's forehead. With Fox pregnant, it wasn't safe for him to expend any energy healing, so that left it up to Krycek. "I'll heal you first, then see about making the kids better."

"Alex, don't worry about me. Go take care of our kids first. You don't want to wear yourself out. Remember you have two hungry mouths to feed. It wouldn't do them any good if you have to sleep for a couple days to recover..."

"Fox can nurse them if I'm incapacitated."

Skinner looked at him baffled. "What do you mean? Fox, you're not lactating already are you?"

Mulder glared at Alex, still miffed at what his lover had done. "Thanks to our precious Ratboy I am. Alex decided that he could use help nursing Nicky and Summer..."

"Alex, you didn't!"

Krycek shrugged his shoulders as he sent the healing energy through his hand and into Walter's body. "It seemed like a good idea at the time and considering our current circumstance, it was a good idea."

Skinner felt instantly better. "I'm sorry that you both had to come back early from your honeymoon. Did you enjoy yourselves?"

"Yeah. Fox didn't stay mad at me for very long and we had a great time. We set a new record for the number of times I came in a single evening," Krycek said. "I'm going to attend to Sergei and Kaylie first, then I'll take care of the other kids."

Mulder picked up Angelique and sat next to Walter. "We did have a fun time. Mr. Frohike was the perfect host. I'm hoping that we weren't too loud. It would be kind of embarrassing if he heard us."

"Fox, I'm sure Mr. Frohike has heard a lot of people making love in his fifty years of running that inn."

"Yeah, he just seemed so prim and proper."

"He's Melvin's cousin isn't he?"

"Yeah, but they're as different as night and day." Mulder set their daughter on Skinner's lap. "I'm going to go and see Hope and Faith and our other kids.

***

Morris sat with his video editing equipment, painstakingly editing together the most erotic footage of the two immortals. He thought the scene where Mulder was imitating Krycek was amusing and sweet as the two men discussed nursing. It would allow others to see the lighthearted nature of the two immortals besides the great sex scenes he had filmed.

It was going to take him at least a month to get everything up on the web site. Morris wasn't stupid. He knew that he would have to leave the country. King Walter would be out for his head if he ever saw any of these videos. Morris was tired of Vermont and wanted to go somewhere else. He hated the inn and needed a change.

***

Six week later
Crystal Palace
Saturday, December 11, 2001
5:00 p.m.

"Happy Birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Sergei, Angelique, Hunter and Kaylie! Happy birthday to you!" The adults all sang as the four one-year-olds sat in their highchairs, looking at the large chocolate cake with the candle on top and the grownups with wide eyes. They weren't really sure what to make of it all.

However, Sergei knew all about cake. "Cake, Da da!" he said, pointing at it and looking up at Skinner.

Skinner looked down at his chubby little son with amusement. "Would my widdle piggly wiggly, like a piece?"

"Big piece, Da da," Sergei said. He was the only one of the four babies forming sentences. Hunter still hadn't uttered one word. Kaylie and Angelique could only say a few words.

"Not too big a slice, Walter," Mulder said. He was sitting at the table. His feet were killing him. He had three weeks left of his pregnancy and was really showing his condition. It looked like he had a football under his T-shirt.

Krycek lifted Hunter out of his highchair and sat him on his lap at the table. "You can share a slice of cake with me, sweetie," he said, positioning the spoon in his son's hand.

Hunter looked up at his Dad and grinned. He wasn't about to waste time with a spoon. He dropped it on the floor and grabbed a fistful of cake and frosting with his hand and stuffed it in his mouth. Most of it ended up on his face and shirt.

Krycek looked down at the tiny chocolate covered face. "So, does that mean you don't want to share your cake with me?" he asked.

Hunter grabbed some more cake off the plate and offered it to his Dad.

Krycek took the cake from his son's chocolate covered hand. "Thank you, sweetie."

Mulder smiled and passed extra napkins down to Krycek. He sat back in his chair and looked around the dining room. He wondered where Frohike and Gabriel had gone. They took off early this morning in one of the palace's helicopters. Mulder started feeling self-conscious. It seemed as if everyone was staring at him. They were staring at Alex too, but he didn't seem to notice that.

Shinji held his infant daughter Jasmine and was talking in hush whispers to Rory. "We have to tell them."

"We'll tell them tomorrow, Shin. Let's not ruin their quads birthday party. Besides we promised Frohike to give him a day to track down his asshole cousin."

River ran into the dining room and over to Mulder.

Mulder could tell that his son was on the verge of tears, so scooped him up into his arms. "River, what's wrong?"

"Daddy, you promised me you wouldn't be naked in front of other people. You lied."

"River, I haven't sunbathed nude since we had that talk. Do you want to tell me what has you all upset?"

River hugged Mulder and sobbed against his father's shoulder. "Daddy, I watched you on the computer. You were outside naked, laying on top of Daddy Alex." River blushed and whispered into Mulder's ear, "You had your penis in his butt."

Mulder's face turned bright red. "River, I want you to show me where on the computer you saw this." He looked over at Walter and Alex. Both men were focused on the quads and hadn't noticed him talking to River. "Walter, I'll be right back."

"Hmm?" Skinner glanced over at him, assuming his lover was making another trip to the bathroom. "Okay, hurry back. We'll be opening the presents in a few minutes."

River led the way down the hall to Mulder's office.

Mulder frowned. "You and your friends were using my computer?"

"I didn't want to, but Tommy's brother said he couldn't get what he wanted to show us up on my computer," River said.

Mulder sighed. "River, we have your computer set so you don't accidentally open any of those web sites not meant for little kids."

"Oh, I think that's what this site is. It wasn't meant for little kids like me."

The door to Mulder's office was wide open and the computer was still on. Mulder assumed that River's little friends had fled when River went to get him. River launched the browser and typed in the URL he had memorized.

Mulder gazed at the monitor screen in horror as it opened to a web site with large text and animated lights flashing around it. *Hot Immortal Sex Videos only $4.00 per minute!* Next to the text was a nude photo of him and Alex kissing. Down the screen was an area to enter a credit card number. Mulder couldn't place where the photograph had been taken.

"Where did your friends get the credit card number to enter?" Mulder asked.

"Tommy's brother used their dad's card."

Mulder typed in his credit card number and expiration date. River walked over to sit on his dad's leather sofa. He didn't want to see anything he shouldn't.

Mulder accessed the site. His heart was racing as he looked at the information on the screen. Each of the video clips was numbered and marked with a description:

*1. Alex nursing babies while Fox is strolling around naked. 15 minutes.*

*2. Bathtub scene no sex, a little humorous WS. 20 minutes*

*3. Marathon sex session with our two beautiful immortals taking turns being on top. 190 minutes.*

*4. Alex giving Fox a blowjob. 10 minutes.*

Mulder felt sick to his stomach when he finished reading the list, which included thirty video clips of their most intimate and private moments at the inn. He was going to kill Morris Frohike! Nice old man, indeed! At least now Mulder knew why Frohike and Gabriel took off in such a hurry this morning. He wondered how many of their friends had stumbled across this site. If River's friends' brothers knew, then chances were it was already all over the palace. That would explain the funny looks he had been getting.

"River, would you go and tell Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex that I'd like to see them in my office immediately."

"Yes, Daddy." River stood and paused, his lip jutted out. "Are you angry with me?"

"A little, River. You knew you weren't supposed to use my computer."

"I'm sorry, Daddy. I'll go get my other Daddies now."

After River left, Mulder ran into his washroom and threw up. He rinsed his mouth and splashed some water on his face. Walter and Alex came running into the office as he was walking out of the bathroom.

"Fox, are you all right?" Skinner asked, placing his hand against Mulder's flushed cheek and gazing into his eyes.

"No, I'm not! Walter, you need to do something immediately!" Mulder grabbed Skinner's upper arms in tight grip. He was on the brink of tears.

Skinner flinched. He'd never seen Mulder so rattled. "Fox, do what? What's wrong?"

"You have to shut down the fucking Internet! You're King dammit! You can make an edict that all web servers be destroyed!"

Krycek snorted, "Fox, that is the craziest thing you've ever said. Walter is only King in New America not of the whole world. Now why don't you tell us what's going on?"

Skinner led Mulder over to the sofa and helped him to sit.

Mulder sank back against the cushions and closed his eyes. His lovers could worry about it now. "If you want to know, go look at my computer monitor," he said.

Skinner and Krycek exchanged glances and walked behind Mulder's desk and looked at the monitor.

Krycek sucked in his breath and snarled, "I'll kill that dirty old goat!"

"What does WS mean?" Skinner asked, as he glared at the contents on the screen and clicked on the video clip. The small movie clip opened in the middle of the screen.

"Walter, don't watch that!" Krycek growled.

"I'm just curious about what WS stands for," Skinner replied, as he watched the scene of his two lovers taking a bath with their babies. If it wasn't for the circumstance the scene would have been sweet. Alex was talking soothingly to Nicky when suddenly the baby peed in Alex's face.

Krycek was standing beside him and hissed, "Happy now? Walter, for your information, WS stands for water sports! That sick, perverted fuck considers this erotic!"

Skinner face was livid as he closed the clip. Morris Frohike was a dead man. It was one thing to publish videos of his lovers on a pornographic web site, but to include clips of their babies in such a fashion was unforgivable. "I'll put out an order for Morris Frohike's arrest, then we'll track down the server that hosts this web site and force them to take it down!"

"Your Majesty, I can take it down now if you'd wish?" Arty's voice came out of the computer speakers.

"You can do that, Arty?"

"I can shut down the whole worldwide web if you ordered it," Arty answered.

"No. Just delete this web site." Skinner was relieved. At least that took care of the immediate problem. Now they only had to track down this old buzzard.

***

Winter Palace
Saturday, December 12, 2001
1:00 a.m.

Slava was in the middle of downloading a video clip onto his hard drive when he received an error message. He tried to access the site again, but it had been deleted from the web.

"Damn!"

He had been successful in downloading twenty-four of the videos. Slava opened the video that showed both of his former lovers nursing the babies. The Tsar sighed as he stared at Alexei's image, knowing that there was no chance that Alexei would come back to him willingly. On the clip, Fox was holding his son tenderly cradling him against his chest. To Slava's displeasure he kept calling the baby Nicky. He had made a big mistake by getting on Fox's bad side. It might take him years, even decades, but he vowed to get revenge on both Fox and Alexei for spurning his love. Suddenly an idea burst into Slava's mind, and the Tsar smiled. Since Alexei was denying him from seeing their son, when the time was right, he would steal Alexei's and Fox's son Hunter from them.

Slava would marry Hunter when the boy reached adulthood on the immortal's eighteenth birthday. Then once more Russia would have an immortal Prince and he would have his revenge. Slava had seventeen years to plan and scheme.

"Alexei, you should never have snubbed me."

***

One and a half weeks later
Crystal Palace
Sunday, December 24, 2001
11:00 a.m.

Mulder let out a sigh of relief as he hung up the telephone. It was Alex calling to tell him that they had captured Morris Frohike and retrieved all of the videotapes. Melvin Frohike, MacIver, and Sullivan had accompanied Alex to Canada, following the paper trail left by Morris. The old man might have been good at all of his other endeavors, but he was lousy at covering his tracks.

They had also had put a freeze on Morris' Swiss bank account. In the five days that the site had been open for business, it had made over fifty million dollars. Mulder thought at least the money would be put to good use helping orphans worldwide. During the summer they had constructed seven orphanages on the mainland and one on the island. Mulder was determined to rescue as many boys who needed help around the world as he could. With his help, MacIver and Ari had organized the rescue of five hundred boys from Africa and South America who had been forced into slavery. And that was just a drop in the bucket. So many children were still living in deplorable conditions around the world, including in New America.

Mulder looked around at his opulent office as he rested his hand on his belly. He and his family had so much. Hunter was playing with his blocks on the wooden floor. The baby smiled at him then toddled over to his chair carrying a toy block.

"See it's a X, Daddy," Hunter said.

Mulder smiled. He was pleasantly surprised to hear his son speak for the first time. He looked at the X on the block, then turned the block and pointed to another letter. "What's this, Sasha?"

"K."

"And this letter is?"

"O," Hunter said happily.

"What color is the O?"

"Orange, Daddy."

Mulder scooped the baby up in his arms and hugged him. "You are very smart, Sasha. Daddy Alex will be so proud of you." Alex had been worried that there might be something wrong with their little boy. Mulder sighed contentedly. Today was turning out perfectly. Morris was in custody and all the master tapes had been recovered. Arty had been tracking down and destroying copies of the video clips that he found on hard drives around the world. Mulder felt a little pain in his belly that he passed off as gas. He still had over a week before his daughter was due.

His office door opened and Skinner walked in. "Okay, you two! Quit working and come to lunch." The large man bent and scooped Hunter up in his arms. "You're getting as bad as your Daddy. Do you know who is coming night?"

"Santa Claus is coming, Daddy," Hunter said.

Skinner eyebrows shot up and he looked over at Mulder. "He just talked."

Mulder grinned. "Walter, not only did he talk, but he answered your question clearly. Better than any of our other kids have done at this age. He also knows his alphabet and colors."

Skinner smiled and kissed Hunter on the forehead. "You are going to make your Daddy Alex really happy, Hunter."

"Not Hunter. I'm Sasha."

Skinner smiled, and hugged him. "Sweetie, you're both Hunter and Sasha. Hunter is your real name and Sasha is your nickname."

"I like Sasha."

"Okay, then I shall call you Sasha." Skinner couldn't get over how clearly their son was speaking. "What do you want for lunch?"

"Grilled bologna and jam sandwich," Sasha said.

"Mm, that sounds good!" Mulder said, licking his lips and standing.

Skinner snorted. "You would think so, Fox."

"It just proves that our son has great taste in food like his father," Mulder smirked. "I suppose you and Sergei are going to have chilidogs again for lunch."

"Well yeah, and topped with cheddar cheese."

"Walter, leave the cheese off Sergei's hotdog. He doesn't need the extra calories," Mulder said.

They arrived in the noisy kitchen and Jacques was already cutting up Sergei's chilidog into tiny spoon-sized pieces for the chubby baby. Somehow, their chef had gotten River and the girls to eat a healthy meal consisting of chicken noodle soup and crepes stuffed with chicken salad.

"Hi, Jacques. Sasha and I would like a grilled bologna and raspberry jam sandwich," Mulder said.

"No. Grape jam," Sasha corrected, as Skinner placed him in his booster chair at the table.

"Okay, grape jam." Mulder kissed the top of his head and took a seat at the table next to Kaylie. Vicky and Sean were feeding her and Angelique.

"Hey, Sasha's talking!" River shouted.

Mulder grinned. "I have good news for everyone," he said. "Daddy Alex will be home in few hours."

"YEAH!" River and the girls shouted.

Skinner picked up his chilidog and took a big bite. He had just received a telephone call from Frohike and knew their lover was coming home shortly. Another major disaster averted. Fox and Alex were dealing with the humiliating situation as best they could. With Morris in custody and the master tapes retrieved, he hoped his lovers would be able to put the incident behind them. For once he hoped they'd be able to enjoy their two-week holiday with nothing to worry about.

Nicky started crying hungrily from his bassinet. Mulder sighed as he unbuttoned his shirt, then unsnapped his undershirt as Sean lifted the baby from the bassinet and carried him to his father. Mulder positioned Nicky at his nipple. No one in the room batted an eye, since this scene had been repeated countless times. Halfway through nursing his son, their chef placed the grilled sandwich in front of the agent. Mulder munched on the sandwich as he continued to nurse. He suddenly dropped his sandwich back on his plate. "Walter."

Skinner was just finishing his second chilidog. "Hmm, what?" He looked down the table at his lover's pale face.

"I'm in labor."

"Fox, you have over a week before you're due."

"Tell that to your daughter."

"Oh, shit." Skinner dropped the remains of his hotdog on his plate and rushed to Mulder's side. "I'll help you back to our bedroom, babe."

Mulder shook his head, he positioned Nicky at his other nipple and picked up his sandwich. "Walter, sit down and finish your lunch. We have plenty of time." Mulder looked around the table at his kids' anxious faces. "You or Alex is going to have to entertain our kids this evening. I don't want their Christmas Eve or Christmas Day ruined."

Skinner wrapped his arms around Mulder from behind and leaned down and kissed his brow. "Alex can entertain our kids. I intend to be with you throughout our daughter's birth."

Mulder leaned back in his chair and kissed Walter on the lips. "Thanks, Walter. I don't want to go through this alone."

"There isn't even a remote possibility that I'd not be with you throughout your delivery," Skinner said.

***

Crystal Palace
Monday, December 25, 2001
10:00 a.m.

Mulder peered down at the tiny life cradled in his arms. It had been a lot easier the second time around and giving birth in the privacy of their bedroom with only Doctor Pendrell and Nurse Olson present made a big difference. Nurse Olson had made quick work of cleaning the mess that his delivery had caused. They had only just departed a few minutes ago. Mulder looked up at Skinner's happy face. "Would you like to hold your new daughter, Walter?"

"Yeah," Skinner said, gently taking the newborn from his lover. "She's beautiful, Fox."

"Hmm." Mulder blinked, trying to stay awake.

Krycek stepped into the room leaving the door partly opened behind him. "Fox, are you up for a few visitors?" he asked as he walked up to the bed. He then leaned down and kissed his lover's sweat dampened brow.

Mulder sighed tiredly. "Sure, Alex. If I can keep my eyes opened."

Alex kissed him again and looked over at the newborn. "You did really good, babe." He walked over to the door and let the kids and their nannies in. "Come on in kids, but be quiet. Your dad needs his rest."

They all came into the room quietly. Vicky and Sean helped the one-year-olds up on the bed. Hunter crawled into his dad's arms and rested his head on Mulder's shoulder. Kaylie cuddled up to Mulder's other side.

"Did Santa bring you a lot of nice things?" Mulder asked.

"Yes," River said sitting on the bed. "Sergei got a football signed by all of the Chicago Bears."

Mulder chuckled. "Really?"

Skinner grinned. "They saw that picture of Sergei in the jersey you bought him." He sat on the bed with their newborn daughter in his arms. "Do you kids want to see your new sister Aleksandra?"

All the kids gathered around and looked at their new sister.

"She's little," Faith said.

"I love her, Daddy," Hope said.

"Baby," Angelique said, looking at her new sister.

Skinner smiled. "I'm sure she loves you too. Now why don't we all go back to the party and allow your Daddy Fox and your new sister to rest."

The kids left quietly after kissing their dad.

Alex came back in and sat on the bed, reaching out for Mulder's hand. "Fox, she really is beautiful. Now go to sleep. I saved some of the kids' presents to be opened when you are up."

Mulder squeezed Alex's fingers. "Do you think we'll be able to have a few years of peace now?"

Skinner placed Alek in the bassinet next to the bed. "God, I hope so."

"Me, too. I don't want to go through another year like the last one," Krycek said.

Mulder couldn't keep his eyes opened any longer and they drifted shut as he fell asleep.

***

Seraphim Homeworld

King Xowolfe looked down at the female baby seraph in his arms. It was his brother's and the human immortal Xokha's baby. She was the first female seraph born to their people in over two milleniums. No that wasn't quite true. His mate Xofox had the first female, whom he had named Angelique. The King had a recent picture that the morph had transmitted to him through the portal.

He carried the baby to the window and looked up at the star speckled sky. The invasion plans were set. In twenty Earth years his large space fleet would finally make it to Earth and the invasion would begin. All life would be destroyed on that tiny blue planet, except for the immortals.

***

End of chapter 11 -Honeymoon

End of book 4 - Yours, Mine, and Ours

 


 

Life from the Ashes Series - River
Jo B

Rating: PG-13
Keywords: M/Sk/K SLASH
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Alex Krycek, Walter Skinner, Jeffrey Spender, CSM, the Lone Gunmen, Kimberly Cook, Senator Matheson, Bill Scully, the morph etc. are the property Chris Carter, 1013 productions and Fox Broadcasting. All other characters in the series are mine.
Summary: This is an Alternative Universe Story. It takes place after an alien virus has killed off most of the world's females and caused mutations in forty-five percent of the remaining males.
Authors Notes: This is a standalone story. It takes place four years after book four. The story is told from River's POV.
I would like to thank all of my wonderful beta-readers Laurie, Tobiette, Nicole, and Demi-X for their edits and plot advice and suggestions. I want to thank Helen for her great editing, and Kiyoko, Dawn, Cerulean Blue, and Susan for their suggestions and feedback.
Feedback is always welcome. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
WARNING! This story contains references to male/male sex.
Okay to Archive: please ask first.


River
by Jo B

March 15, 2007

I look up at Yori as he comes out of the kitchen drying his hands on a towel. Sammy and I spent the afternoon playing video games on his family's computer.

"River, you're wanted back at the palace," Yori says.

"Why? Daddy Fox said I could stay and eat supper here tonight." I was looking forward to Lev's stuffed dumplings.

"Your new brother was born a few minutes ago," Yori says.

"He was?" I'm surprised. My Dad wasn't due for over two weeks, and I haven't even been gone four hours. "I better get home then! He might need me!" I grab my jacket and rush out of the cottage's door. "Bye, Sammy!" I shout over my shoulder.

I no longer pay attention to the guards who follow me as I take the cobblestone path leading toward home. This past year has been one of my most memorable. I think back to this time last year...

***

March 2006

The sunlight is streaming in through my large bedroom window directly onto the painting I have propped up on the wooden easel. Most of the morning, I spent working on the portrait of my sister Angelique. I plan to give it to my Dads for Father's Day in June. I use a fan brush to add more white paint to her wings. The tube of titanium white is nearly empty, so I grab a pencil and roll it over the tube, forcing the last bit of paint from it onto the palette. I've already used up most of the paints in the acrylic paint set Daddy Walter gave me for Christmas. I'm planning on using my allowance to buy more tubes of paint.

Rex is sleeping on a rug next to the bed and snoring loudly, he wakes up as my younger brothers come storming into my bedroom.

"River, can you play with us?" Sergei asks, running through the open doorway. Sasha follows him into the room and jumps up on the bed. Rex raises his head, looks at the two little boys, then climbs to his feet and pads out my bedroom in search of a quieter place to sleep.

"Sasha, stop jumping on my bed. You know that Daddy Walter doesn't like it." I am upset over having my personal space invaded by my four-year-old brothers. I wonder briefly where Ethan, their nanny is. Then I remember it is his day off and Uncle Langly had volunteered to watch them. My three-year-old brother Nicky isn't with them, which is unusual. The three of them are usually inseparable. Daddy Fox refers to my little brothers as the three musketeers, while Daddy Alex calls them the three terrors. I tend to agree with my Dad Alex's description. They become the four terrors whenever Duncan comes upstairs to play with them.

"But it's fun, River. Besides Daddy Walter isn't here," Sasha says, bouncing up and down, going higher into the air with each bounce.

I roll my eyes -- kids! Was I ever this lame? I'm going to be eleven in October, only two and a half more years and I'll be a teenager. I watch Sasha bouncing up and down for several seconds before I shout at him, "Get down, brat! I don't want you jumping on my bed!" Sasha giggles and ignores me, continuing to jump. I'm about to drag him off when I glance over at my painting to find Sergei running his fingers through the wet paint and putting them into his mouth. "SERGEI! You're wrecking it!" I quickly grab his hand pulling his fingers out of his mouth. "Are you nuts? You don't eat paint!"

"I wanted to see what it tasted like. It doesn't taste that bad," the little boy protests.

"C'mon, let's wash your hands off in the bathroom. Get off the bed, Sasha!" I yell over my shoulder as I drag Sergei into the bathroom and over to the sink. I put my hands around his waist and give him a boost up so he can reach the faucet. It takes most of my strength, since my little brother weighs more than I do, although he's eleven inches shorter than me. My Dads are always arguing about putting Sergei on a diet, but Daddy Fox and Daddy Alex always back down when Daddy Walter gets angry. I plop the bar of soap in his hands. "Use the bar of soap, Serg."

"Okay, River," the little boy says.

"Where's Uncle Langly?" I ask.

"He's in the kitchen with Nicky. He said it was okay for us to come and see if you wanted to play with us. Will you?"

"Only if I can pick the game."

"You always get to pick," Sergei pouts.

I lower him back to the floor and hand him a towel. "I'm older and it's a rule that the oldest always gets to pick."

"That's not fair!"

"It is too." I really don't want to play with them. But if I have to, then I intend to choose what we're going to be playing. No way am I going to play baby games like Candyland or hide and seek. I'm way too old for that stuff.

"It's not fair, River!" he yells, stomping his feet on the floor.

"Look, Pig, if you want me to play with you, then we play what I want to play!"

"Don't call me that!" Sergei shouts and plows into me...his little fist pounding against my chest. It is all I can do to hold him off without hitting him back.

"Stop it right now, you fat Pig!" I snap angrily.

"You're mean! I hate you!" Sergei shouts. He has tears running down his chubby cheeks as he tries to bite me.

I almost feel guilty, but not guilty enough to apologize or stop picking on him. "And you're a big fat cry baby!"

"I'm telling Daddy Fox!" he cries, running out of the bathroom.

"Wait, Serg!" I try to stop him. The last thing I need is to be grounded again. Out of all of our fathers, Daddy Fox is the strictest. He especially doesn't like name-calling and really gets mad when it involves Sergei's weight. He's even gotten mad at Daddy Walter for using the nickname piglet. Sergei is already out the door and racing down the hallway before I can stop him. I notice Sasha standing on the bed, his eyes wide. I can't leave him alone to chase after Sergei. That's one rule that all my fathers have - Sasha must never be left by himself. Being an immortal, they fear that someone might try to kidnap him or worse.

"What's wrong with Sergei? Why is he crying?" Sasha asks, jumping off the bed.

I look at him and sigh, "Nothing, he's just being a big baby."

"But why is he crying?"

I'm starting to feel really guilty now. "I called him a name that I shouldn't have. Now I'm going to be in big trouble. C'mon, let's see if we can catch him before he finds Daddy Fox." I take Sasha's hand and walk with him down the hallway. There is no doubt in my mind that Sergei is heading for our Dad's home office. The office door is open when we get there. I pause outside listening to Sergei crying and my Dad's soothing voice.

I decide that retreat is preferable to facing my Dad right now. "Stay here, Sasha. I'm going to the village to visit my friends." I turn to head toward the elevator, figuring to give my Dad some time to cool down.

"River, get in here right now!" Daddy Fox's voice calls out.

I stop in my tracks. Damn, how does he do that? I turn around and walk hesitantly into the room with Sasha following behind me. Daddy Alex is sitting on the leather sofa with his feet propped up on the coffee table and a file folder opened on his lap. He looks at me and winks. Sasha runs over to him and squirms his way onto Daddy Alex's lap. I turn my attention back to Daddy Fox who is sitting behind his desk, holding Sergei on his lap. Sergei looks over at me and sticks out his tongue.

Daddy Fox glances at me standing nervously by the doorway and asks, "River, would you like to tell me your side of the story?"

"No, sir."

"No sir?"

I stare down at the floor so I will not have to look into his eyes. If I look, he'll have me crying and begging for his forgiveness. I can't look at him. I love him too much to see the disappointment I will find there.

"River, look at me."

Damn, he knows. I slowly look up and meet his eyes.

"Son, I'm not angry with you. At times, we all get angry and say things that we regret. You do regret what you said, don't you?"

I can't stop the tears from forming in my eyes. "Yes, Daddy. I'm sorry."

"Apologize to your brother."

"I'm sorry, Sergei," I say it automatically. I really am sorry. I didn't mean to call him names. He's my brother and I do love him, even if he is irritating most of the time.

Dad smiles gently at me, he removes one hand from Sergei's back and holds it out, beckoning me. "Come here, River."

I walk over to him nervously. I wonder what punishment I've earned. My Dad has never hit me, but I'm still apprehensive. Even after six years, I still remember my uncle and his punishments. To my surprise, I'm pulled against Daddy Fox and kissed on my forehead and both cheeks, then a quick peck on the lips. He smells so good that I lean into him, no longer feeling nervous. I ignore Sergei, who is glaring at me as he rests his head on our Dad's shoulder. This is my Dad and I know he'll never hurt me. I feel foolish for being afraid.

"River, between school and your painting, you've been working far too hard lately. I'm going to cut you some slack this time since you apologized to your brother. However, you and I are going to have some downtime together. How about just the two of us go to the mainland and see the Knicks' game tomorrow? Then we can visit our favorite pizzeria and spend the night at the New York Hilton."

"Really?" My stomach flutters with excitement. Once a year, our whole family takes a shopping trip to New York City. It's usually before Christmas and we always stop to eat at Aurolio's Pizzeria. This will be the first time that it's just Daddy Fox and me going alone.

"Really, River. Besides your Daddy Alex and Daddy Walter need to spend some time alone together."

I glance over at Daddy Alex when I hear him groan. He's making a face at Daddy Fox.

Daddy Fox sighs and says, "Alex, we agreed. Since you became an immortal, you no longer have any genetic ties to Walter. It is safe for you to have his child."

"I know, Fox! It's just that I don't want to go through that again!"

"Alex, your cycle starts tomorrow and the sedatives aren't working any longer. You're not going to be able to resist this time -- you nearly caved last month."

I listen to this with interest. Daddy Alex has been having a difficult time lately. I'm not naïve...I know that he's been having compulsions to have another baby ever since he stopped nursing Summer and Nicky. My friend's brother explained all about immortals and their uncontrollable need to procreate. My Dads won't let me hang out with my friend David anymore. Daddy Walter said David and his older brother were bad influences on me. I probably shouldn't have asked my Dads if it was true that immortals needed to be fucked constantly. I know that word is bad, but it is what David's brother Chris told me.

"It wasn't as bad the second time around for me, Alex," Daddy Fox says reassuringly.

"Of course it wouldn't be as bad! Fox, you only had one baby the second time around after having quads!" Daddy Alex tosses the file folder on the table and rubs Sasha's back as he looks across the room at Daddy Fox. "What about you, Fox? How much longer are you going to try to hold off? Alek is already older than Nicky and Summer were when I stopped nursing them."

My Dad sighs and hugs Sergei and me closer. I can see sadness in his eyes. I've always been able to tell what sort of mood he's in by their color. Dark gray is his sad color.

"Alex, I didn't want us both to be pregnant at the same time. I'm going to continue nursing her for a few more months. Then I'll fight the compulsions for a few more. By then you should be almost ready to give birth to Walter's child."

Sasha's eyes grew wide. "Am I getting a new brother?" he asks excitedly, turning around and kneeling on our father's lap so he can look him in the eye. His little hands are tenderly petting the sides of Daddy Alex's face.

I watch as my Dad smiles and enfolds my brother in his arms, hugging him lovingly. "Yes, either a new brother or a new sister. Would you like that?" Daddy Alex asks.

"Yes, a lot." Sasha purses his lips out and looks over at me. "I want to go with Daddy Fox and River to see the Knicks game. May I?"

Sergei lifts his head, no longer showing any signs of being upset. "Me too, Daddy!"

I glance pleadingly up at my Dad. This is to be our time alone together and I don't want my baby brothers tagging along.

To my relief, Daddy Fox winks at me and says to Sasha and Sergei, "Not this time, squirts. This trip is for River and me. We'll bring you back a surprise, if you're good."

Sergei grins mischievously up at him. "Daddy, what if we're almost good? Do we still get a surprise?"

"Well then you get an almost surprise, Honeybear."

I grin at the puzzled look on Sergei's face, his brown eyes narrow in thought. It takes him a bit before he catches on.

"Oh, I plan to be a very good boy, Daddy. So please bring me a big *chocolate* surprise."

My dad hugs Sergei and kisses him on the top of his head. "I'll bring you and your brothers and sisters back some very sweet surprises. River, is there anything you'd like to go shopping for?"

"I'd like to go to the art supply store for some paints while we're there."

My Dad smiles and opens his bottom desk drawer and pulls out a brown paper bag and hands it to me. "Alex and I stopped at the art supply store on our way back home from Boston yesterday. I hope we picked up all of the colors you were running low on."

I open the bag and look inside. I'm in awe at all of the tubes of paint. Some of the colors I've never seen before. One thing about my Dads, they always try to avoid spoiling us. So I am surprised that they have bought these for me -- without my having to earn them. I smile at him and look over at Daddy Alex. "Thanks. Can I go back to my room now? I want to organize my new paints."

"Go ahead, River. I'll stop down later to help you pack your suitcase for our trip tomorrow."

I give my Dad a quick kiss then run over to Daddy Alex, clutching the bag of paints in my hands. I kiss him too, and he hugs me briefly then whispers in my ear, "You know, River, Fox and I had purely selfish motives in mind when we bought you those paints. We expect to have a new painting for our office at the FBI."

I whisper back, "Only if you take down those childish pictures I drew when I was a little kid." I really hate for people to think that I was ever that bad of an artist. I've been taking painting lessons for the past three years from Masataka Izumi. He is Kazuo's uncle. When I'm older, I want to travel throughout the world like Mr. Izumi has done.

Dad whispers, "I hate to break it to you, but you're still a little kid," he says gently swatting me on the butt. "Now off with you, brat."

I stick my tongue out at him and race out the door before he can respond. I'm laughing as I run back to my bedroom, holding the bag against my chest. I'm so excited about going to New York City with my Daddy Fox tomorrow.

***

New York City

We're sitting alone at a big round table in the crowded pizzeria. My Dad allows me to have a sip from his glass of beer. Our security force is standing guard throughout the restaurant and outside. They consist of twenty of the world's most powerful sorcerers. All the other diners are staring at us, but I ignore them and continue talking to Daddy Fox. "Dad, I really liked the basketball game. It was way cool sitting up front next to the players. Do you think we can come back next month?"

"I'd like to. But we should take a couple of your brothers and sisters with us to be fair," he says, picking up a slice of pepperoni pizza.

I'm trying to match him slice for slice as I grab my third piece of pizza. "I think we should take Hope and Faith with us next time," I say, then take a big bite. The cheese stretches then breaks, hitting my chin.

My Dad reaches over with his napkin and wipes the grease and tomato sauce off my face. "Hope doesn't like basketball, but Faith does. We can take her and your brother Sergei next time."

"What about Sasha? He loves basketball."

I watch as my Dad's eyes turn dark gray and he puts the slice of pizza back on his plate then takes a sip of beer.

"River, we can't take Sasha with us. It's just not safe. Your brother is an immortal and it's far too dangerous to bring him, unless your Daddy Walter is with us. Sorcerers from different countries would love nothing better than to get their hands on your little brother."

"What about me?" I ask. Like I said, I'm not naïve...I've pieced together everything that has ever been said around me for the past six years. Like Daddy Fox, I have an eidetic memory. I've wanted to discuss this with my Dads for a long time, but I've been too afraid to bring it up until now.

My father's eyes widen. "What do you mean?" he asks softly.

"I'm going to be an immortal. Isn't it dangerous for me, too?" I watch the color drain from my Dad's face as he glances quickly around at the other diners. He frowns, looking at the two men sitting at the table closest to ours. They seem to be listening to our conversation. My Dad turns and signals for Captain George Williamson of our security force. The Captain hurries over to our table.

My father looks up at him and says, "George, we're done eating. I want to go back to our hotel now."

"Dad, I'm not done eating," I say, taking another bite of my pizza.

My father glances nervously around the restaurant again. "River, I'll have room service send us up dessert. How about a slice of hot apple pie with ice cream?"

"Add caramel sauce and you have a deal," I reply smugly.

"River, you are as bad as Alex."

I smile. Daddy Alex has a notorious sweet tooth and I like being compared to him. My Dad takes my hand as we get up to leave. He is keeping me close by his side as we head out the door. I know that my comment about being an immortal has upset him. We climb into the back seat of our limousine and it only takes us ten minutes to drive back to our hotel. We have a penthouse suite on the top floor.

The first thing he does when we enter the hotel is to flag down one of the staff, who rushes over immediately all excited to be talking to my Dad.

"Yes, Prince Fox. How may I help you?"

"I would like a large slice of hot apple pie a la mode with caramel sauce, a cold glass of milk, and a pot of coffee sent up to my suite."

"I'll deliver it personally, Prince Fox," the man says, invading my father's personal space and openly drooling over him, which is making me mad. I'm about to kick the man when Captain Williamson steps between my Dad and the hotel guy.

"That won't be necessary. Anderson, go to the kitchen with this man and retrieve the items Prince Fox has requested."

After they leave, the Captain escorts us to the elevator. He motions for the other guards to take the other elevators as he steps onto ours. When the doors slide closed, he turns to my Dad. "Is there a problem that I should be made aware of?"

My Dad strokes the back of my head looking down at me, then back up at the Captain. "Yes, George. River may have inadvertently spilled the beans about what he really is." George has been the head of my Dad's security detail for over four years and Dad trusts him completely.

"Really is? What do you mean?"

"He's a pre-immortal. We've been trying to keep it quiet. We never even told him. We were going to wait until his sixteenth birthday, but the boy is a bit too smart."

"I'm sorry, Daddy," I say, realizing that I might have placed us in danger.

"It's okay, River. Those men in the restaurant might not have overheard you, and if they did, they might not have believed you."

The Captain shakes his head. "Not likely, Mulder. One of those men at the table next to yours was a journalist for the New York Times. I knew I should have insisted that you dine at a more secluded table."

The elevator doors open on our floor and I follow them out and over to the door of our suite. The guards, when they are alone with my father, always call him Mulder. My Dad doesn't particularly like being called Prince Fox.

Dad sighs, running his passkey through the reader. "George, I'm the one who insisted that we eat in the main dining room. If anyone is to blame, it's me. It's too late to do anything...the damage is done. It would have come out eventually..." He looks at me with sadness, then continues talking, "I need to have a private conversation with my son, so if you'll excuse us."

"Sure, Mulder. I'll assign six sorcerers to stand guard outside your suite tonight."

"Thanks, George."

I follow my Dad into the suite.

"Sit down, River. We're going to need some new rules if it becomes public knowledge that you're a pre-immortal."

"Rules?" I ask anxiously, plopping down on the sofa.

"Yes, rules. Rule number one, you will no longer be allowed to leave the palace alone to visit your friends. You will always be accompanied by at least three of the royal guards..."

"Ah Dad!" I didn't want grownups following my friends and me around. "My friends will think I'm a geek."

"River, I don't want to hear any arguments. I love you and I'm going to do everything in my power to see that you are protected."

"Yes, sir." I look down at my hands on my lap. The sofa cushion sinks down next to me and my Dad is enfolding me in his arms. I snuggle closer, climbing up on his lap. I'm shaking like a leaf.

"What is really bothering you, River?"

I blush. I know immortals have to have sex...at least that's what David's brother said. I am not sure how I can tell Dad my fears, so I just blurt it out, "I don't want anyone peeing inside me."

Daddy Fox makes a choking sound. "River, what are you talking about?"

I bury my face against his shoulder. I'm way too embarrassed to look at him. "W-when guys have sex, one pees inside the other's butt," I explain, wondering why I have to explain this, since my Dad should know all about it. I saw the video of him with his penis inside my Daddy Alex, and then I walked in on them a couple of times. I think, that was way embarrassing.

My Dad hugs me tighter and kisses me on the top of my head. "Son, that doesn't happen when two men make love. Neither of your Dads have ever peed inside me and I've never peed inside of them."

"Then why do you stick your penis inside...?" I blush, unable to finish.

My father sighs. "River, I didn't think I'd be having a chat with you about sex until you were at least thirteen."

"That's okay if you'd rather not..." I say suddenly apprehensive.

My Dad smiles at me. "I promise not to go into too many details, son."

There is a knock on the door and Anderson enters, carrying a tray. He sets it on the coffee table in front of us. My stomach is bunched up in knots and I don't think that I can eat the pie. Dad must have sensed my feelings. He rocks me against his chest and thanks Anderson for bringing the pie and coffee. After the sorcerer leaves, Dad starts talking softly.

"River, you have nothing to fear. When you're older, your body is going to go through some changes. It happens to every child when they reach puberty. It's what signals adulthood. As a male, your sex organs will develop and your testicles will begin to produce sperm. Your testicles will start hanging lower and by the time you're fifteen or sixteen, you'll be producing two hundred million sperm a day. This substance is what is ejaculated through a male's penis into his lover -- there is no pee involved, promise."

I've seen all my Dads naked, so I know what a man's penis and balls look like, but the news about producing sperm is new to me. "Two hundred million sperm, that's a lot. What do these sperm look like?"

Dad chuckles, "They are too small to see with the naked eye. When we get home, I'll show you a picture of one. River, when you're old enough to experience sex, you'll find that it is one of life's most pleasurable sensations. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. As an immortal, you'll experience different changes to your body as well. Every immortal in the world today, excluding your brother Sasha, became one when they were in their twenties or older. I'm hoping you go through the change in your twenties, instead of while you're still a teenager."

"Dad, when I become an immortal does that mean I'm going to have to start having babies?"

My Dad is quiet for a long time and his arms tighten around my body. He finally speaks in a quiet, sad voice, "Yes. Unless we can find a way to stop the compulsions."

"Don't be sad, Dad. I'm not afraid of having a baby. I want to be just like you and Daddy Alex when I'm older." I turn around on his lap and kiss him on the side of his mouth. "The ice cream is melting...I think I should eat my pie now," I say, scooting off his lap and sitting on the floor next to the coffee table. He joins me on the floor and pours himself a cup of coffee. I smirk at him as I take a bite of pie; he's not supposed to be drinking coffee in the evening. He's only allowed one cup a day in the morning, since he's still nursing Alek.

"Tattle on me, squirt, and I'll tell Walter who really shaved Hope's cat with his electric razor," Dad says, grinning around the coffee cup.

I giggle. "I won't tell. Does he still think it was Faith?"

"He only thinks it was Faith because Hope painted polka dots on Faith's cat. That's the reason he didn't punish her."

"Dad, I would have confessed if he tried to punish her." I love my sisters and wouldn't want any of them to get into trouble because of me.

"You never did tell me why you shaved the cat."

"I thought I'd be able to make some more paint brushes, but I only made a mess," I sigh. I wasn't able to wrap the hairs tight enough to prevent them from falling out when I tried to paint with them.

"River, if you need any painting supplies, just ask us. We will buy you whatever you need. This isn't like asking for a new toy or an expensive pair of jeans...we don't consider your painting to be trivial. You are a very talented artist."

"I don't want to be given more than my brothers and sisters. It wouldn't be fair."

"This isn't about being fair. If any of the other kids take an interest in something, we'll spend whatever it takes to support their interest, too."

"I need some new sable brushes." I smile as I pick up my glass of milk and add, "A studio would be nice. Preferably one facing north."

"Okay."

"Okay?" I was only joking, I can't believe he just agreed to give me a studio.

"River, we have dozens of empty rooms in our apartment. I think we can find a nice room facing north that you can use for your studio. Besides, I'd rather have you painting somewhere other than your bedroom. The room's a mess as it is."

"Is that a hint?"

"Yes. Consider it a big hint."

"Okay, Dad, I'll clean my room when we move my stuff into my new studio." I can't keep the big grin off my face.

***

Father's Day
June 2006
5:00 a.m.

I push the cart while my little brothers and sisters follow behind me. Everyone is carrying handmade cards. We're hoping to surprise them. Daddy Walter usually gets up at 5:30, so we'll be there before he wakes up.

Angelique's wings are fluttering excitedly, and making quite a bit of noise. "Shh, Angel!" I say.

"I'm sorry, River. Do you think they'll be surprised?" she whispers, trying to keep her wings still. She is holding onto our three-year-old sister Alek's hand.

"Yeah. I think so." I look back at all my siblings. At ten (and a half) I'm a lot older than them. My sisters Hope and Faith are both six years old and they helped me dress the other kids. We didn't want to wake the nannies. Jacques was up early to fix our Father's Day breakfast because he didn't want a repeat of the disaster that happened last year.

Sergei keeps trying to steal sausage links from under the metal plate covers and I keep pulling his hands away. Kaylie is holding Summer's hand, while Sasha and Nicky try to stay one step in front of the other.

We stop in front of the bedroom doors. Hope and Faith push them open and all the kids run in screaming, "HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!" at the top of their lungs.

"What? It's Father's Day?" Daddy Walter says as he sits up in bed feigning surprise. He has his pajamas on. I know he was expecting us, but the little kids don't. They are jumping up and down excitedly as our other Dads pretend to wake up. They are all wearing pajamas, which is a surprise.

"Happy Father's Day!" Sergei shouts, jumping up on the bed and into Daddy Walter's arms. The other little kids follow him until they are all snuggling in next to our Dads. Only Hope and Faith don't climb on the bed. I've made them my official helpers and they are supposed to help set the breakfast table next to the veranda.

"See what I made for you, Daddies," Angelique says, sitting on Daddy Fox's chest and handing him the handmade card.

"It's beautiful, Angel. Don't you think so, Walter, Alex?"

Before they can answer, all kids are giving them their handmade cards. I set the covered plates on the table. I glance back at the bed and notice that Daddy Alex is sitting at the edge with Alek, Summer, and Kaylie clamoring for his attention. He smiling at them, but he doesn't look well, he's slightly green.

"Girls, Daddy Alex needs to go to the bathroom," Daddy Fox says, sitting up in bed with Angelique and Nicky clinging to him.

Daddy Alex gives Daddy Fox a weak smile as he stands shakily and hurries up the steps. I'm hoping that he's not too sick to eat the breakfast Jacques made for him. Usually he's fine after throwing up. He's four months pregnant now and has a slight belly.

"Let me up, champs," Daddy Walter says, setting Sergei and Sasha on the bed, he hurries to follow Daddy Alex up the steps.

I can hear the sound of my Dad throwing up and Daddy Walter talking soothingly to him. Daddy Fox climbs out of bed with Nicky riding piggyback and Angelique and Sasha balanced on each hip. Sergei, Summer, Alek, and Kaylie are all holding onto his legs, making it hard for him to walk.

"C'mon, guys, let go of Daddy," Faith says, taking Sergei and Kayle's hands. I pull Summer and Alek off, while our Dad sets Sasha and Angelique back on the floor then he swings Nicky from his back into his arms and gives him a raspberry on his stomach before setting the giggling boy down, too.

"Where did the lovely bouquet of flowers come from?" Daddy Fox asks as he sits at the table.

"Hope and I picked the flowers from the gardens," Faith says, leaning up against his chair.

"Thank you, Cutie," he says, hugging and kissing her. Hope hurries over, not wanting to miss out on receiving hugs and kisses, too.

"River, did the kids eat yet?" Dad asks.

"Yes, Jacques made us all breakfast."

Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex are coming down the steps from the bathroom now. Daddy Alex is leaning up against Daddy Walter...he still doesn't look well.

I hurry over to them. "Daddy Alex, Jacques made you a special breakfast in case you weren't feeling well this morning."

"Thanks, River. I'm not sure if I can manage even that. Did he send along any Seven-up?" Daddy Alex sits at the table in his usual spot. He looks under the covered dish as I place a bottle of Seven-up on the table next to him.

My other Dads already have the covers off their plates.

"Mm, my favorite," Daddy Walter says, looking at the eggs Benedict drenched in hollandaise sauce.

"Daddy, Jacques used crab cakes instead of Canadian bacon."

"Can I have a bite?" Sergei asks, leaning against Daddy Walter's chair looking up at him with big doe brown eyes.

Daddy Fox shoots Daddy Walter a warning look.

Daddy Walter sighs, "Sergei, didn't you eat breakfast already?"

"We only got icky oatmeal."

"Sergei, if it was icky why did you ask Jacques for seconds?" I ask smugly.

Sasha looks up from touching Daddy Alex's tummy. "The oatmeal was yummy! I had apples and brown sugar in mine. Is my new brother really inside you?" he asks, petting Daddy Alex's belly.

Daddy Alex looks over at Daddy Walter. "Do you want to tell them? It is your fault after all," he says.

"I'm still not clear on why it's my fault?"

"Because you're too fuc...you're so virile," he says.

I'm wondering what they're talking about. They've been sniping at each other for the past week, ever since they came home from the ultrasound that Doctor Pendrell preformed on my Dad.

"Fine," Daddy Walter says, reaching out and taking Daddy Alex's hand in his. He squeezes it gently; there is love in his eyes as he stares at Daddy Alex. "Kids, Daddy Alex is pregnant with twins."

"Twins, like in two babies?" Sasha asks excitedly, wrinkling his nose then resting his ear against Daddy Alex's belly. Daddy Alex rolls his eyes, but lovingly runs his fingers through Sasha's thick, sable-colored hair.

"Yes, twin girls," Daddy Walter says proudly, taking his hand back and picking up his fork. No one but me notices him slip a sausage link from his plate to Sergei.

"Yeah!" Faith and Hope cheer. They are excited about getting two new sisters.

Daddy Alex must be feeling better, since he's taken the cover off his cereal bowl and starts eating the oatmeal. I study him. Mr. Izumi has taught me to study every detail in the world around me. The way the light refracts off the different surfaces, the intensity of the shadows, the varying textures and hues. I study Daddy Alex this way. He looks different pregnant. His features are more surreal. The light in the room makes him appear to be glowing. He stands out from everyone else. I'm told that I look a lot like him. Not as much as Sasha does, but my features are similar, except I have blue eyes and jet-black hair. I shake myself from my thoughts, looking away. The kids are gathered around the table talking, I can't see how my Dads can follow all of their conversations at once. Daddy Fox laughs at something Nicky and Summer tell him, then he lifts Alek up onto his lap and gives her a sip of his orange juice. Daddy Walter has Sergei, Hope, and Faith talking to him. The other three kids are around Daddy Alex. No one is paying any attention to me. This is a perfect time for me to go to my studio.

"I have a present for you. I'll be right back," I say, running out of the room. I race down the corridors to my studio. It has two big windows. The only furniture in the room is my easel, taboret, stool and a chair. Daddy Walter is going to build me a custom rack to store all of my paintings and canvases. I pick up the painting of my sister Angelique. My Dads all saw it when I first started painting it in my bedroom. However, since I moved into my studio, they promised not to look. I think it looks beautiful. I'm painting Hope and Faith right now. They love to model. I want to paint Kaylie, Summer, and Alek next, then the three terrors. One day I want to paint my Dads. Rex prances over to me, he's started using my studio as a refuge from my brothers and sisters. Daddy Walter has put his foot down on getting any more pets.

"You're a good boy aren't you? I'll take you for a walk later. First I need to give my Dads their Father's Day present." I pet Rex, then leave the studio. He follows me back to my Dads' bedroom. They are done eating when I walk through the doorway. Rex hangs back, eyeing my brothers warily.

Daddy Walter's eyes twinkle when he sees me. He smiles and asks, "What are you carrying, Son?"

"A present for you, Daddies Alex, and Daddy Fox," I say shyly. If I am ever asked who my favorite Dad is, I wouldn't be able to say. I love all of them so much. They are so different and I count on them for different things. Daddy Walter for strength and protection. Daddy Alex for laughter and friendship. Daddy Fox for advice and wisdom. I smile thinking about how lucky I am as I carry the painting over to Daddy Walter.

He gasps in surprise as he holds it up. "River, I've never seen anything so...so masterful. It looks just like our Angel." I smile at the praise. My other fathers have gathered around Daddy Walter. Daddy Fox reaches his hand out and runs a finger over its surface. He has tears in his eyes. I begin to worry.

"It's beautiful, River. Thank you," he says, hugging me.

"Yeah, squirt. You did really good," Daddy Alex says, unable to pull his eyes away from the painting.

"That's me," Angelique says, coming to stand next to him.

Daddy Alex smiles down at her. "And you are so beautiful, Angel," he says, scooping her up in his arms and hugging her.

I'm on the top of the world. My Dads all love my painting. It feels so much better to give than it ever did to receive. I file that thought away for future consideration.

I watch as Daddy Walter wraps his arms protectively around Daddy Alex. I can see that my Daddy Fox feels left out as he picks up the painting and moves away from them. He carries it over to the table against the wall, placing it there for safekeeping. He then starts talking and joking with my brothers and sisters. I notice for the first time that he appears tired and sad. I am concerned. I don't like seeing my Daddy Fox sad. It makes me sad.

Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex must have sensed his mood because they walk over to him and pull him into a three-way hug. "Fox, it's going to be all right," Daddy Walter murmurs, kissing his cheek.

I don't know what they are talking about. What's going to be all right? I want to ask, but I don't want to intrude.

"You'll get to see them. Slava seems willing to deal now," Daddy Alex says, brushing his fingers over Daddy Fox's cheek.

"I don't want to see them, if it means giving into his demands," Daddy Fox says gruffly.

"We're not going to give into his demands. He will have to meet our terms," Daddy Walter replies.

"Guys, Slava's never going to bend. I'll never see them."

I now know whom they are talking about. It's been a couple of years since I've heard them mention his name. I don't like the man. He scares me. He's the one who took my Daddy Alex away from me for such a long time. I know why Daddy Fox is so sad -- he's never seen his Russian daughters.

"You'll see them, Fox. I promise," Daddy Alex says.

"Thanks, guys," Daddy Fox says. "Hey, why don't we all go down to the beach today?" He changes the subject to the excited cheers of my siblings.

"I think everyone agrees that is a good suggestion," Daddy Walter says.

I smile, glad that Daddy Fox seems to be feeling better.

***

July 2006
2:00 a.m.

I walk out onto the veranda carrying a tray with three glasses of lemonade. Daddy Fox is kneeling next to the lounge chair massaging Daddy Alex's swollen feet. They are both naked. Seeing them this way doesn't bother me, as long as we're alone in our apartment and my friends aren't present. My brothers, sisters and I don't have a problem seeing each other naked. We're family. Auntie Dana is the only one who seems to mind.

"Hey, champ, are those for us?" Daddy Alex asks reaching for one of the tall frosty glasses.

"Yeah. Jacques says you need to drink plenty of fluids. He also says it's too hot to be lying out in the sun in your delicate condition," I say, attempting to mimic our chef's voice.

"Delicate, my ass!" Daddy Alex snorts.

"After last night I think your ass would be pretty delicate," Daddy Fox quips.

I roll my eyes as I always do when they start talking about sex. "Dad, how do you know you're not hurting your babies?" I watch as he touches his hot sweaty belly and frowns.

"Maybe I should move into the shade," he says, climbing off the lounge. Daddy Fox helps him move it under the overhang.

"Alex, I don't think you need to worry."

"Fox, I wasn't worried. It is getting rather hot and I just wanted to get into the shade."

"If you say so, Alex." Daddy Fox winks at me and takes the tray setting it on the patio table. He picks up one of the glasses of lemonade and hands it to me, then takes the remaining glass. He sits on a padded chair under the umbrella covered patio table. "How's your latest masterpiece coming along?"

"I finished it yesterday. I'm just waiting for it to dry."

Sasha, Nicky, and Sergei come running out onto the veranda carrying their beach towels. They're all naked, except for rubber sandals on their feet. Their nanny Ethan follows them wearing a pair of cut off shorts; he nods to my Dads and takes a seat at the patio table. He looks tired.

"We going to sunbathe too, then go swimming," Sergei announces.

Last summer Daddy Walter had the veranda enlarged to include a swimming pool for the kids and them. It isn't very deep and my Dads like to sit in it to cool off. Daddy Fox still goes down to the palace's main swimming pools for exercise almost every day.

"Well then let me put some suntan oil on you all, so you won't burn," Daddy Fox says, squirting some of the oil into his hands he gently massaged it into Sergei's torso, arms, and legs. "Turn around, Honeybear, I want to do your face, too."

Sergei giggles. "Am I your favorite honeybear?"

"You're my absolute favorite honeybear. So sweet and cuddly," Daddy Fox teases, giving him a hug and a kiss. Sergei giggles and clings to him.

I smile at how tender my Dad always is with them. I still find it strange not seeing a bellybutton on Sergei or Nicky. It's even stranger knowing that Sasha's bellybutton isn't really a bellybutton, and that one day I'm going to change to be just like him and my Dads.

"Hey, can I have a little of that honey?" Daddy Alex asks.

Sergei smiles and runs over to him, wiggling his way onto the lounge and into Daddy Alex's arms. Sasha is drinking Daddy Fox's lemonade while he waits his turn for the tanning oil. Nicky is grinning impishly up at Daddy Fox as he applies the suntan oil.

"What are you grinning about, sweetie?"

"I love you, Daddy."

Daddy Fox scoops him into his arms. "I love you too, Nickster. Now spread your beach towel over that lounge chair, we don't want to get any of the tanning oil on the cushions."

Daddy Fox looks across the table at Ethan. "Tough day?"

"Yeah. I'm not as young as I used to be."

Dad smirks. "You're only twenty-six."

"Yeah. They've made me old before my time," Ethan quips.

Daddy Fox snorts and takes the empty lemonade glass from Sasha and sighs, "Thirsty, squirt?"

"I'm very thirsty, Daddy."

"We'll just have to have Jacques send out some more lemonade."

Ethan stands. "I'll go to the kitchen for it."

"Can you bring out a whole pitcher and a nice frosty mug of beer for me?" Daddy Fox asks.

"Fox!" Daddy Alex whines.

"Sorry, lover, but I only have one more month I can drink before I'm pregnant again and I plan on living it up!" Daddy Fox grins as he applies the suntan oil to Sasha.

"Can I live it up too, Daddy?" the little boy asks.

"When you're an adult you can live it up as much as you want, squirt."

"I'm an adult and I'd like to live it up!" Daddy Walter bellows as he steps out onto the veranda. He is dressed in a suit and tie.

"Daddy!" Sergei shouts, scrambling over Daddy Alex to get off the lounge, he runs over and throws himself into our Daddy's arms, getting suntan oil all over his suit.

Daddy Walter doesn't mind as he hugs my brother and kisses him. He's been away for two weeks and we're all so happy to see him.

"Hi, Dad," I say, getting a kiss out of him before going back to sit at the table.

Daddy Fox stands and walks over to them, he kisses Daddy Walter then takes Sergei from him. "I didn't expect you back until tomorrow, is everything okay?"

"Yeah. The meeting just ended early. Fox, I'm going to lose the suit. I'll be right back...save me some of that suntan oil." My Dad pauses before he goes back inside and walks over to Daddy Alex. He kneels beside him, placing a hand over his belly, he smoothes his fingers through Daddy Alex's hair with the other one as he leans down to kiss him. "You doing okay?" he asks.

"I'm fine, Walter. Fox has been spoiling me rotten."

"Good. I've missed you both," he says looking over at Daddy Fox, who's still holding Sergei.

"It's been a long two weeks," Daddy Fox says, setting Sergei down.

"How are those suppositories working?" Daddy Walter asks, walking back over to him.

"Like a dream. I haven't had a single withdrawal pain in two weeks." Daddy Fox grabs Daddy Walter's tie and pulls him in for another kiss. "Now that you're back, Walter, I expect something else shoved up there."

I groan and roll my eyes. The little kids are too young to know what they're really talking about. I can't believe I'd ever want to have sex. The whole concept just isn't appealing to me -- it's so gross. I make a face.

"Be careful, River. Your face might freeze like that," Daddy Alex warns, grinning at me.

"Yeah, whatever," I sigh, wondering what my future will be like.

Twenty minutes later, Daddy Walter steps out onto the veranda. He's naked like everyone else, including me. I stripped after he left. I'm in the swimming pool. It is two pools joined at the middle by a water fountain that shoots water across a small portion of both pools. The first pool is for the little kids and is only two feet deep and full of floating toys. The second pool, which I am in, is four feet deep and the water is up to my chin. The pools are twenty-foot circles and intersect in the middle with the fountain.

Daddy Walter steps into the clear cool water. It is just up above his waist. "Mind if I join you, Son?" he asks, leaning up against the side of the pool.

"No." I smile at him. It's good to see him again. Daddy Walter is our softy. He might look tough, but out of all of our Dads, he is the least strict and the easiest to get things from. People outside our family fear and respect him, but to us, he is very loving and more laid back than our other Dads. Sometimes Daddy Alex and Daddy Fox will become sad for no reason. Several times over the years, I've discovered Daddy Alex sitting alone in the dark crying. He'd always wipe his eyes and say he was fine. I know he's seeing a special doctor, who he discusses his problems with. Daddy Fox sees one too, but not nearly as often as Daddy Alex does. It seems to help, because they are both usually less sad after seeing their Doctor.

Daddy Fox walks over and squirts some tanning oil onto Daddy Walter's bald head and slowly massages it in. Then his hands move down to Daddy Walter's broad shoulders.

"Thanks, Fox," he says, tilting his head back for a kiss.

Daddy Fox starts kissing him. Soon it's more than I want to see. "Ah! Come on, Dads! There are kids present!" I shout.

They break apart and look at me. "We were only kissing."

I have gone through all the books Daddy Fox bought me about puberty, so I know what is going on. "If you're only kissing, then why is Daddy Fox's penis getting so big?" I challenge.

Daddy Walter blushes and shifts uncomfortably in the water. "Fox, get in the water," he growls.

My Dad sighs and climbs into the pool, looking at me calmly. He says, "River, we were only kissing. We would never have sex in front of you. Sometimes just being close to Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex causes my body to respond sexually to them. It is called being in love. There is nothing dirty or obscene about such a reaction."

"Ah, Dad!" I roll my eyes.

He smirks at me and says, "I'm marking my calendar, brat. Fifteen years from today, we'll have lunch together and you can tell me all about what it's like being a twenty-five year old virgin."

I stick my tongue out at him and then start giggling. "You're on, Dad."

"I want to be at that lunch," Daddy Alex says, climbing into the pool between Daddy Fox and Daddy Walter.

They both hug him. Ethan is back with the drinks. He kneels and hands frosty mugs of beer to Daddy Fox and Daddy Walter, then hands a glass of lemonade to Daddy Alex.

My brothers all flock around Ethan for lemonade. He serves it to them in plastic patio glasses. I swim over and he pours me a glass as well.

"Daddy, play catch with me in the other pool," Sergei says to Daddy Walter.

"Okay, Honeybear," Daddy Walter says, setting the beer glass down, then he climbing over the underwater ledge separating the two pools.

We spend the next six hours playing in the pools and sunbathing. The sun is hanging low in the western sky when Jacques shows up to announce that dinner will be ready in twenty minutes.

We all know better than to keep Jacques waiting. So, we reluctantly head back inside to dress for dinner.

***

October 13, 2006
2:00 a.m.

I cannot believe that I'm being allowed to watch the birth of my new sisters. Daddy Alex has decided to have them at home in their bedroom. When I asked if I could be present, my parents discussed it amongst themselves, then said yes. So here I am, staying out of the way, as Doctor Pendrell and Nurse Olson assist my Dads.

I've never seen my Daddy Alex in so much pain. I almost wish I hadn't asked to watch. Daddy Walter is sitting behind him supporting his upper body in his arms, while Daddy Fox is sitting on the bed applying pressure to Daddy Alex's lower back. I'd been pacing back and forth for nearly seven hours when all of a sudden pink fluid spurts from my Daddy's navel. It is so gross. His navel has expanded and I can see the top of the baby's head. I stand on my tiptoes to see more...I don't want to get any closer. I nearly jump out of my skin as the baby is suddenly pushed out of my Daddy's body. It is so sudden, but Doctor Pendrell is there to support the baby as she leaves the womb. He cleans out her mouth and nose, then hands her to Nurse Tom Olson, before turning back to check if my Daddy is all right.

I wander over to watch Tom clean my new sister. She is crying loudly and covered in pink slime. She is so tiny. I turn back to the bed when I hear my Dad gasp. "Gross!" I say as a dark blob shoots out of his navel. Daddy Fox winks at me as he spoons behind Daddy Alex's body, holding him as he murmurs lovingly to him. It gives Daddy Walter a chance to get up and stretch his legs. He walks over to us and looks at his new daughter, then turns to me.

"How are you holding up, Son?" he asks stroking the back of my head.

"I'm fine, Dad. It is pretty gross, but I wanted to see my sisters being born."

"Have you decided on names yet?" Nurse Olson asks.

My Dad nods. "Yes, this is Nadia. Her sister will be named Kira."

"Do you have a name picked out for the boy Prince Fox is carrying?" Olson questions as he wraps Nadia in a blanket and hands her to Daddy Walter.

"We're still discussing it. Fox wants to name him after his Scottish ancestor, but we would like to name him, Arman, after our mother's father."

"Aren't all of your sons already named after Russians?"

"Yes...?" my Dad looks puzzled.

"Prince Fox isn't Russian. So shouldn't one of his sons be named for his heritage?"

"Tom, he wants to name the boy Gawain, after a great, great uncle."

"What's wrong with that? It means white hawk."

"Don't tell me. Besides being Scandinavian you're part Scottish?"

Nurse Olson smiles. "Us Scots have to stick together."

"Tom, I'll take your advice into consideration. Gawain," Daddy Walter says, shaking his head. He hands Nadia back to the nurse then goes back over to the bed.

Daddy Alex looks exhausted but seems happy that my Dads are here to help him deliver the babies. Unlike last time when he had them all alone.

"Hey, babe, do you want to get up and walk around for a bit?" Daddy Walter asks.

Daddy Alex sighs, he looks content to just lie there spooning against Daddy Fox's chest. After some thought he says, "I need to pee and a hot shower would be nice."

"Doctor, is it okay?" Daddy Walter asks.

Pendrell nods. "Yes that's a good idea. His contractions have slowed down, it will probably be several hours before your other daughter is born."

Daddy Fox helps Daddy Alex up and both my Dads help him climb the steps to the bathroom. I follow them tiredly. I haven't slept since the previous night, so I walk over and lay down on a cushion-covered bench in front of the floor to ceiling windows. It has been a long night and I figure I could rest until they are done with the shower. Daddy Fox leaves Daddy Walter to care for Daddy Alex and walks over to me and kneels next to the bench. "Hey, Honey, it hasn't been too disturbing for you, has it?" He brushes the hair out of my eyes.

"Is it always so painful?" I ask, looking up at him.

"It's a good pain. Believe me, the end result is well worth enduring it for," Daddy Fox says, smiling reassuringly at me.

"I don't think I'll be able to endure it, Daddy," I say in a weak voice. I find it easy to confess my fears to Daddy Fox; he always makes me feel better.

"River, you're only eleven. You have years before you even have to worry about it. By then, you will be a big strapping young man and quite capable of enduring anything life throws at you. Plus we will always be here for you."

See what I mean? "Thanks, Dad. Nadia is cute even with all those wrinkles," I say.

"Who do you think she looks like?"

"Daddy Walter, she's bald after all," I say giggling at my own joke.

Daddy Fox laughs, "Most babies look like Daddy Walter." My Dad becomes quiet as he glances over at the shower. A soft smile graces his lips. "I'm going to get a blanket to cover you with. I want you to try to get a few hours of sleep."

"I want to see my sister Kira's birth," I protest, trying to sit up.

"River, it could be quite a few more hours. I promise that I'll wake you when Daddy Alex is close to delivering her."

He kisses my forehead, and then stands and heads back down the steps. From where I'm laying, I can see Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex in the shower. He is holding Daddy Alex tenderly as the hot water splashing down over their bodies. I smile closing my eyes. I want to find a man like Daddy Walter someday when I'm old enough to marry. Maybe I can find one who doesn't want to have sex.

I don't recall falling asleep, but Daddy Fox is shaking me awake.

"C'mon, champ, you don't want to miss your sister being born."

I shoot up off the bench, sleep falling off me like water on a duck. I rush down the steps ahead of him. I can hear him chuckling.

"River, we still have at least a twenty minutes."

Daddy Alex looks up at me with pain-filled eyes and smiles weakly. I walk over to the bed and climb next to Daddy Walter who's cradling Daddy Alex's head in his lap. I lean down and kiss him, petting the side of his sweaty face. "I love you, Daddy."

He just smiles at me, and then clenches his teeth as another contraction tears through his belly. A whimper escapes his pink lips. Both my Dads are immediately soothing and caressing him. I scoot off the bed to give them room and walk over to look at my sister Nadia. She's sleeping and doesn't look as ugly as she did when she was born. In fact, she looks rather cute for a baby.

The clock on the wall says it is now eight o'clock in the morning, so six hours have passed since her birth. I turn back to the bed at Daddy Alex's cry of pain, just in time to see the flow of fluid and the baby's head crown. My Dad is panting heavily as Doctor Pendrell eases his hand around the baby's head ready to support it when she is pushed out. I creep closer to the bed for a better view. I'm no longer grossed out like I was when Nadia was born. I watch with utter fascination as my new sister is born in a rush of fluids. Tom hands the Doctor a tube with a bulb on the end that the Doctor uses to clean the fluids out of my sister's nose and throat. She starts crying, which puts relieved smiles on my Dads' faces.

"You did really well, Alex," Daddy Fox soothes. He stays on the bed again as Daddy Walter climbs off and watches Kira being bathed.

I wander back to watch my new sister. I know I have a goofy grin on my face. I can't help but feel incredibly happy at being included in my sisters' births.

***

October 31, 2006
6:00 p.m.

I look at myself in the mirror. I'm dressed as Sherlock Holmes -- my latest hero. I've devoured all of the books about him and watched most of the movies more than three times. Only my Daddy Fox I consider to be a better investigator. He helped me purchase my Halloween costume. My friend Sammy is going to come as Doctor Watson. Hollywood still hasn't recovered since the failed invasion and new television programs and movies are few and far between. We are stuck watching old reruns and even older movies. It is so strange to see so many women and their relationships to men in the old programs.

Halloween is a big event at our home. Daddy Walter bought the little kids Sesame Street costumes. Last year my Dads dressed as Star Trek officers. This year with my sisters' births, they seem too busy to plan anything. I'm hopeful though -- Daddy Fox can be a bigger kid than me when it comes to Halloween.

"River, your friends are in the entertainment room."

I turn and look at my Daddy Alex as he steps into my bedroom. He is dressed in black jeans and a black shirt. He's carrying my new sisters in a snugly strapped to his chest. My Dad hasn't been in the mood to play much since having them.

"Is that your Halloween costume?" I ask, displeased.

"Yeah. I'm dressed as a cat burglar."

I frowned, unable to hide my disappointment.

Daddy Walter walks in the door behind Hope and Faith. My frown vanishes. My sisters are dressed as Xena and Gabrielle, and Daddy Walter is dressed as Hercules. "Holmes, I wanted him to dress as Iolaus, but he refused. Go figure," he quips.

"Walter, I wasn't about to dress in a costume that left my nipples exposed. It's bad enough that I'm leaking again, I'm not about to leak in public," Daddy Alex says, glaring at him.

"Alex, you could have worn an undershirt beneath the vest."

"Daddy Walter, I told you to get him the Ares costume," Faith says.

"Thanks, Cutie, Ares I would have worn," Daddy Alex says, swaying back and forth as one of the babies starts to whimper. She soon settles back to sleep.

"What is Daddy Fox wearing?" I ask, hoping it isn't as lame an outfit as Daddy Alex has on.

"I don't know...he wouldn't tell us."

Suddenly, my little brothers and sisters race into my bedroom dressed in X-Men's costumes. Following behind them on a motorized cart is Daddy Fox. I gape at him. He's shaved his head completely bald.

"I am Professor Xavier and these are my X-Men," Daddy Fox announces.

The little kids run around the room excitedly. Doing little kicks and punching the air in mock battle.

"Fox, what the hell did you do to your hair?" Daddy Walter growls.

"Professor X is bald." Daddy Fox smirks up at him, running his hand over his bald scalp. "Don't worry, Walter, it will grow back in a couple of days."

Daddy Walter shakes his head in disbelief and turns back to look at the little X-Men. "What happened to the costumes I bought them?"

"They were baby costumes, Daddy!" Kaylie says, dancing about. She's dressed as Rogue. It looks like all their costumes were professionally made.

Daddy Alex is chuckling. He frees Kira from the snugly and places her into Daddy Fox's arms. "Since you have a convenient mode of transportation, Professor X, you can help me with the babies.

Daddy Fox eyes him up and down. "What are you supposed to be?"

"A cat burglar...isn't it obvious?"

"No."

"I'm Wolverine, and I'm stronger than Hercules," Sergei says, brandishing his foam rubber claws menacingly and slicing at Daddy Walter's legs.

Our Dad bellows, "No one is stronger than Hercules!" Scooping my brother up into his arms and tickling him. Sergei falls into a fit of laughter before being set back on his feet.

"Wolverine's stronger," Sergei says again then runs over to Daddy Fox for protection.

"I'm Cyclops, Daddy," Nicky says, running over to Daddy Alex and looking up at him through the single frame glasses.

Daddy Alex kneels carefully next to my brother so he doesn't awaken Nadia. "My goodness, Nicky, is that really you? I thought you were the real Cyclops!"

"No, Daddy. It's really me...Nicky!" My brother laughs, thinking that he really fooled our Dad.

Daddy Walter chuckles, picking up Angelique. "And which X-Man are you?"

"I'm Phoenix. I wanted to be Angel, but he's a boy X-Men. Cousin Francis is coming as Angel. Kaylie is Rogue and Summer is Storm because she has white hair. Alek is Jean Grey."

Cousin Francis is Jeffrey and Ian's son. He has wings just like Angelique.

Daddy Alex is smiling at Sasha who is standing with hands on hips tapping his foot impatiently. "Gambit, are you ready to go to the party?" he asks.

"Yes, Daddy. Do you like my costume?"

"Yes, you are by far one of the cutest X-Men I've ever seen."

"I'm not supposed to be cute! I am supposed to be tough!"

Daddy Fox, snickers, "Gambit, you can be cute and tough. Look at your Daddy Alex, he's really cute and as tough as they come."

Sasha grins. "Okay, Dad...I mean Professor X. Can we go to the party now? I want everyone to see my costume."

I smile, this Halloween is turning out to be one of the best yet. I walk over to Daddy Fox and kiss him on the cheek, then rub his bald scalp. "Thanks, Dad."

Daddy Fox smiles at me and says, "C'mon, Holmes, let's go greet our guests." He backs the cart out the door, steering it with one hand while he holds Kira protectively cradled against his chest.

All the younger kids dash ahead of us, anxious to be first to the party.

Most of the guests are already in the entertainment room when we arrive. My best friend Sammy and my other friends Matthew, Danny, Michael, and Andy are there. They race over to greet me.

"River, cool costume! Your brothers and sisters look really neat!" Matthew says. He's Bill Scully's son and a couple of years younger than me.

"Thanks, Matt. I like your costume, too." He's dressed as a vampire.

I look around the room and smile. Most of the little children run over to greet Daddy Fox when he rolls into the room. It seems there has been a conspiracy going on within the palace, because they are all dressed as different X-Men. Duncan, Uncle Shinji's and Uncle Rory's son is dressed as Sabretooth. Marsha, Uncle Hans' and Uncle Melvin's daughter is dressed as Jubilee. Ari's and Duffy's daughter Kat is dressed as Mystique. Duffy is holding their two-year-old daughter Anna. Since Duffy isn't able to have children, there is a mystery surrounding who Anna's father really is. Neither man will tell anyone.

Hope and Faith race across the room to their friends Ayako, Grace Mari, and Emi Mercy. The three girls are dressed as characters from Xena, too.

Aunt Dana walks up to my Dad and rubs his bald head. "Mulder, you're still the craziest man I know."

"I am Iron Man!" Scully's five-year-old son shouts.

The music is blasting loudly and everyone is talking at once. I have to yell to be heard by my friends. We head out onto the veranda that runs the length of the room. It is much quieter outside. Torches have been lit to provide warmth against the chilly October night. We walk over to the balcony and look out across the moonlit countryside. The air is crisp and laced with the smell of burning leaves.

"River, is it true that your Dad is pregnant with another immortal baby boy?" Sammy asks me.

"It's Daddy Alex's baby, so they think he'll be just like Sasha," I tell them. The baby is due in April.

"Is it true that you're going to be an immortal?" Matthew whispers.

I look at him nervously. Since the scare at the pizza place in March, all my Dads have been worried about my secret getting out. However, since we haven't heard anything since...we have assumed it was safe. "What do you mean, Matt?"

"My Dad says it will not surprise him if you're a pre-immortal."

"Why would he think that?"

"Because you're far too pretty to be a normal human...at least according to my Dad," Matthew adds quickly.

I turn red. I don't like being referred to as pretty by my friend or my friend's Dad.

"Well, are you?"

"Matt, are you crazy?" I snap, bunching my hands into fists.

"Sorry, River. I didn't mean to make you mad. If you say you're not that's good enough for me."

I am relieved that he's taken my angry retort to be denial. I have never been able to lie. "Guys, let's go back inside and get something to eat."

Matthew, at the mention of food, starts for the open patio doors. Sammy and my other friends are looking at me strangely and I'm unable to meet their eyes as we follow our friend back inside. For the first time I feel different from them, not quite human. I need to talk to Daddy Fox, but his X-Men are surrounding him. My eyes search the crowded room for Daddy Alex. He's nowhere to be found. I see Daddy Walter across the room talking with his friends. No. I need to talk to either Daddy Alex or Daddy Fox. They would understand, being immortals themselves. I look back at Daddy Fox and notice he's no longer holding Kira. I immediately know where I can find Daddy Alex.

"Guys, I'll be right back. I need to talk to my Dad for a second." I don't wait for them to answer me as I'm hurrying out of the entertainment room. I find Daddy Alex in the guest bedroom nearest the entertainment room. He is nursing my sisters.

"Hey, Holmes. Why aren't you at the party?"

I take my plaid hunter's cap off and toss it on the bed as I plop down next to him. "Dad, I need to talk to you." I watch as my sisters' tiny mouths suckle noisily at his nipples.

"What about, River?"

"Me. Matt asked if I was a pre-immortal. He said that his Dad thinks I am."

My Dad stiffens and he looks at me with concern and something else. "What did you tell him?"

My eyes widen; I've never seen my Dad this menacing. "I-I asked him if he was crazy."

"And?"

"He took that to mean I wasn't an immortal."

My Dad's eyes study me for a long time. Almost as intensely as I have studied him.

"River, if Bill Scully thinks you're a pre-immortal, then others will, too. We need to take more precautions." He looks down at my sisters who have stopped suckling. "Pick up that cloth to protect your costume and help me with your sisters."

I grab the soft cloth and place it over my lap like I've seen my Dads do countless times. Then Daddy Alex lays Nadia across my lap on her belly and I start rubbing her back. "Dad. Do you feel a lot different from humans?"

"River, Immortals are a lot different. Why do you ask?"

"I never felt different before tonight. My friends were looking at me as if I were..." I struggle to think of the appropriate word. "Alien." My sister burps and I wipe the spittle from her mouth with the cloth. I wrinkle my nose at the sudden smell coming from her diaper. "Dad, she stinks."

"Do you want to learn how to change her?"

"No. I'll pass."

"Smart boy!" My Dad laughs, taking Nadia from me. He then turns serious. "River, you're just self-conscious. You're still very much a human boy and I doubt your friends see you any differently. I will have a talk with Bill Scully and our security forces. You'll need to be guarded more closely."

I feel comforted by his words. "I think I'll go back to the party. Thanks, Dad." I give him a quick kiss, grab my cap, and hurry out of the room, nearly slamming into Daddy Walter in my haste.

"Slow down, champ."

"Sorry, Dad," I smile up at him. He pats me on the back as he enters the bedroom.

"Alex, I thought you'd like a hand with our girls," Daddy Walter says.

"Pull up a diaper, Big Guy."

***

Christmas Day

Noon.

The mess from opening presents has long since been cleared away and I'm sitting at the coffee table pouring over a new book on famous paintings that my Dads gave me. The other kids are all running around the room playing with their toys, while my Dads sit relaxing on the sofa in front of a blazing fire in the hearth, drinking holiday punch and chatting. They are dressed in sweaters and dress pants. Daddy Walter insisted that all of us kids dress in our best outfits today. My sisters are all dressed in velvet and lace, and my brothers and I have sweaters and dress pants on like our Dads.

Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex have been behaving strangely all morning. They'd look at Daddy Fox and smile mischievously at each other. Something is up. I thought it might involve some Christmas gift that they bought him, but we've opened all of the presents and all they gave him was a new sweater and something he wouldn't show us kids. I thought that might have been it, but they are still looking at him funny.

General Kline walks into the room. "Your Majesty, your guests have arrived."

"Show them in, Clay."

I wonder who could possibly have been invited that the General has to show in. Most of my Dads' friends would just stop by unannounced. My heart stops as Nikolai Slava steps through the doorway. How could Daddy Walter invite him? Then I see the seven little girls behind him. I turn to look at Daddy Fox. His mouth is open in shock. He closes it, and climbs shakily to his feet.

"King Walter. Thanks for inviting us," Slava says. Then his eyes linger on Daddy Alex, before locking on Daddy Fox's face. "My Fox, you are looking beautiful. Girls, this is your father, Fox."

Everyone is still for a long time even my brothers are quietly watching. Daddy Fox moves first. He slowly walks over to them and kneels next to the little girls. It was all they needed as they launched themselves into his arms.
"Papa Fox," they chant, hugging and kissing him.

My Dad is crying as he kisses them back. He looks up at Slava and mouths. "Thanks."

They start telling him their names and my other brothers and sisters walk over to meet them. I hang back and watch. My focus is on Slava. I don't like how he is looking at my brother Sasha. He then looks at Nicky and glances over to Daddy Alex as if asking for permission.

My Dad reluctantly rises and takes Nicky's hand and leads him over to Slava. "Nicky, this is Nikolai Slava. He is your birth father."

"No, he's not," Nicky says, shaking his head.

"Yes, I am Nicolas," Slava says, scooping the little boy up into his arms.

"Let me down!" Nicky shouts, struggling violently.

Daddy Alex takes my brother from Slava and glares at him. "Nikolai, he doesn't know you yet. You'll only make him afraid of you, if you try to force him to accept you."

"Very well, Alexei. We'll be here a month. I expect him to get to know me in that time."

I can't stay silent any longer. "Daddy, are they going to be living with us?" I ask Daddy Walter who is like me, observing everyone.

"Not in our apartment. He and his daughters will be staying on the ninth floor. We've given him permission to see Nicky while he's here. As long as Fox gets to see his daughters."

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I want Daddy Fox to be happy, but I do not want that man in our home. He gives me the creeps and I don't trust him.

"River, come over here and meet your sisters," Daddy Fox says, holding out his hand to me.

Everyone's eyes focus on me as I hesitantly walk over to him. I glance up at Slava and the man looks directly in my eyes, his eyes widen briefly. He turns to Daddy Alex and I hear him ask. "River is of Russian descent, is he not?"

"Yes. Why do you ask?"

"I can see quite a bit of Cossack blood in him. He's a beautiful child, Alexei. Have you tested him for mutant genes?"

"River is a normal human male. He has no mutant genes," Daddy Alex says.

I'm amazed at how well my Dad lies. I am only half listening to Daddy Fox as he introduces me to my new sisters. I make a pledge to myself to stay well away from the Russian Tsar.

"Daddy, can I go to my room?" I ask.

"What's wrong, River?" Daddy Fox asks feeling my forehead.

"I'm a little tired. I kinda would like to take a nap before our Christmas Dinner." This is true. My brothers and I were up at two o'clock this morning looking at the presents Santa left. I know Santa isn't real but they still believe in him.

"Okay. I'll stop down later." My Dad kisses my cheek and I quickly leave.

***

The next month is exciting and aggravating. I've come to love my new sisters, but I grow to hate and fear Slava more and more. The man has a coldness about him that I can never learn to trust. I've become impatient for him to leave, even if it means taking my new sisters with him. However, Nicky and my brothers like him.

Since their arrival, I spend most of my time concentrating on my school assignments and artwork. My new sister Elizaveta who we've nicknamed Lisa, which is Russian for Fox, since she's the spitting image of Daddy Fox, shares my interest in art. Lisa isn't very good yet, but some of her crayon drawings show a lot of promise. She spends a lot of time in my studio drawing at the table my Dads moved into the room just for her.

I spend time teaching her things Mr. Izumi has taught me. Since they arrived at the palace, my art teacher has vanished. I have been told that Izumi hates Slava and will resurface to continue my lessons once the Tsar leaves.

It is Saturday and I'm up early working on my newest painting that I want to give to Daddy Fox and Daddy Alex for their office. It is of an alien landscape that I've created in my mind. I'm so involved in my painting that I don't hear the door open until Slava is standing beside me.

"That is remarkable, River," he says stroking the back of my head. I start and move out of his reach.

"What do you want? Lisa isn't here," I say.

"There is no reason for you to be afraid of me, River. I will never hurt you." He smiles and wanders around my studio, looking at the different paintings and drawings I have scattered about. "You are very talented for one so young. How old are you?"

"Eleven," I say, keeping my eyes on him.

"Your parents were Russian immigrants to this country. Someday you should come back home to Russia and I will show you the parts of the country where your ancestors hail from."

"He's not going anywhere near Russia, Nikolai," Daddy Alex says, stepping into my studio.

"You can't keep all of the immortals to yourselves, Alexei," Slava says.

My stomach sinks, he knows. I walk over to stand next to Daddy Alex.

"No one touches my son!" Daddy Alex growls.

"He's only your adopted son. He's a Russian immortal. His parents were killed before they could become American citizens, which makes River still a Russian citizen," Slava says.

I wonder how he discovered so much about my parents and me.

"River was born in America. He is a citizen of New America and my legally adopted son. You are to stay away from him or else the deal we've reached involving Nicky and Fox's daughters are off! Is that clear?" Daddy Alex is having a hard time containing his anger. I see anger burning behind the Tsar's eyes as well.

"That is quite clear, Alexei," he says. Then he turns back to me. "River, thank you for befriending my little Elizaveta, she talks nonstop about what a great teacher you are. Hopefully she will be allowed to continue to see you on future visits."

"I like Lisa, she's more than welcome to continue to visit me," I say, looking up at my Dad to make sure it was really all right.

"Of course Lisa is welcome here, River, she's your sister."

Slava looks at my Dad bitterly before leaving the studio.

It is hours later that I am walking past the library and hear laughter. I look in through the open doorway and see my Daddy Fox sitting on the floor with my Russian sisters gathered around him. He is reading to them. Slava is hovering over them. He is asking my Dad if he'd like anything.

My Dad smiles up at him. "Tea would be nice. You can tell Jacques. He knows my preferences."

"I'll return shortly with it, moi Fox. And with milk and cookies for our little Czarinas."

It is surreal to see my Dad this way, so relaxed around this man who has brought him nothing but pain. I don't know all of what has transpired between them, but I've overheard enough.

"River, don't just stand out in the hall, come in and help me read to your sisters," Daddy Fox says.

I walk into the room and sit down next to him. He pulls me closer and places the book across both our laps. It is a large illustrated fairytale book.

"Would you like to read the part of the Prince?" Daddy Fox asks with a twinkle in his eye.

I smirk at him, "No. I'll read the part of the princess my voice is higher."

My Dad chuckles, "Thanks, River. I owe you big time!"

"This is a one time deal, Dad," I say. I love to see him happy, and would be more than willing to do this for the rest of our lives just to see the smile gracing his lips.

"I really appreciate it, champ."

We read the story taking turns as the characters. This is the most fun I've had in weeks. My sisters are laughing by the time Slava and a servant arrives back pushing a cart with refreshments. By the time we go to the dining room for the final meal together before they head back to Russia, we are all quite happy, even Slava.

***

March 15, 2007

I'm impatiently riding the elevator back to my floor. I cannot believe Daddy Fox has already given birth. I had been hoping to be present as I was at Daddy Alex's delivery.

"How could he have had the baby so quickly," I mutter.

"Prince Fox had the baby aboard this elevator," Arty says.

"He did? How is that possible?" I ask. Daddy Alex's delivery lasted hours and hours.

"It was rather remarkable. Do you want to see it? I have a video recording of it," Arty metallic voice chimes.

"Yes."

The elevator comes to a stop and the lights dim. One wall lights up and I am watching the interior of this elevator as the doors open and my Dads, Uncle Rory and Shinji step inside. They are talking and laughing. Daddy Fox goes and leans up against the wall, he is smiling at a story Uncle Rory is telling him. Daddy Fox doesn't look well, but he is trying to conceal how he is feeling. Suddenly the front of Daddy Fox's white shirt is drenched in a dark pink liquid. He cries out and sinks to the floor holding his belly. Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex leap quickly to his side and rip open the linen shirt.

"Gross!" I can see a little foot sticking out of my Daddy's bellybutton.

"Shit! The baby's breech, we need to turn it!" Daddy Walter says.

Shinji kneels down beside them. "I'll do it, my hands are smaller."

Daddy Fox is sobbing in pain as Shinji gently pushes the tiny foot back inside, and inserts his hand. Daddy Walter is cradling Daddy Fox against his broad chest. I close my eyes. I am becoming nauseous by the sight of Shinji with his arm up to its elbow inside my Dad's body. My whole body tenses up at the screams of agony coming from my father and I squeeze my eyelids tighter together. I open my eyes several minutes later when I hear a baby crying. Daddy Alex takes the baby from Shinji, while Daddy Walter scoops Daddy Fox up in his strong-arms and carries him off the elevator. Daddy Fox isn't moving and I become extremely anxious.

The lights in the elevator come back on and it begins traveling the remaining distance to my floor. I run down the hallway only slowing when I approach my parent's bedroom. The door is open and I can hear talking. I step inside. Daddy Fox is soundly sleeping tucked under the bedcovers. I sigh with relief. Daddy Walter is holding my new brother while Daddy Alex is cooing at the baby. My brothers and sisters and their nannies are in the room, being very quiet.

"Hi," I say walking up to Daddy Walter and Daddy Alex.

"River, this is your new brother Gawain."

I look at the baby and am surprised to see a thick head of honey blonde hair. "He's blonde! He looks a little like Summer," I say.

"Is that so surprising? A third of your Daddy Fox's heritage is German and Austrian..."

"Yeah, I know, it's just weird seeing blonde hair on my new brother. Is Daddy Fox going to be all right?"

"He was in quite a bit of pain, but he should be fine once he awakens," Daddy Alex says walking over to the bed to look at my Dad.

"Would you like to hold Gawain?" Daddy Walter asks.

"Yes." I sit cross-legged on the bed and my Dad places Gawain in my arms. "Hi, little guy, welcome to the family," I murmur. I now have four brothers and eight sisters, fifteen, if you count my Russian sisters. One thing's for sure...I'll never run out of subjects to paint.

***

The end.

Coming soon book 5 "Generations.

Below is a table of the children. Don't read the table before the story, if you don't want the story to be spoiled.;)

The kids - Parents - Date of Birth

River - Their adopted son - October 15, 1995
Hope - M/Sk's daughter - May 1, 2000
Faith - M/K's daughter - June 3, 2000
Angelique - M's seraph daughter - December 11, 2001
Kaylie - M/Sk's daughter - December 11, 2001
Sergei - M/Sk's son - December 11, 2001
Sasha/Hunter - M/K's son - December 11, 2001
Summer - K/M's daughter - October 1, 2002
Nicky - K/Slava's son - October 1, 2002
Aleksandra - M/Sk's daughter - December 25, 2002
Nadia - K/Sk's daughter - October 13, 2006
Kira - K/Sk's daughter - October 13, 2006
Gawain - M/K's son - March 15, 2007

Mulder and Slava's daughters:

Ekaterina (Katja) - March 3, 2001.
Anatasja - March 3, 2001.
Raisa - March 3, 2001.
Marina - March 3, 2001.
Natalja - March 3, 2001.
Svetlana - March 3, 2001.
Elizaveta - March 3, 2001.