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Eventuality

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Eventuality

Eventuality

by Lashala

[Story Headers]


Title: Eventuality (From the What's In A Dream? series)

Author: Lashala

Rating: NC-17.

Keywords: M/K, Slash, Aliens, War

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

Summary: AU. Present time and a retrospect of past events. If you haven't read the previous stories, this would be a good time to do that.

Author's Note: Just my take on 'fighting the future'. I get a little dark here; but then times are dark.

Archive: Sure...but ask first! I've already had some grief and I'm a sensitive writer.

Thank you's: As always, thanks to Tammy for beta'ing and bearing with my mad ways and many, many thanks for my web page (noted at the end). I owe ya gal! Thanks to Dimitry, my 'Muscovite muse' for continuing to channel his 'inner Krycek'. I couldn't do this without you!

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


Present Time

A large suburban luxury estate
Private residence, address classified
Alexandria, VA
Friday - 10:00pm

I drive up to the wrought iron gate, roll down the window, press my palm to the panel, say 'Adam-twelve' and smile as it beeps in confirmation.

It's good to be home.

As it swings open, I drive through, pause on the other side and lift up the Luger, turning in the seat to ease my arm out. Waiting. I watch the gate close; lock, the faint blue spark confirming the current's back on. Anyone that tries to climb it now, gets fifty-thousand volts.

The bordering brick wall looks easy but it's a double wall with a twenty-foot space between. A moat. Unless you're Carl Lewis, you probably won't clear it. Don't, and you land onto rings of razor wire. The signs are clearly displayed all along the walls in ten languages: 'No entrance without authorization. Premises patrolled by armed security!' Too bad if you can't read one of them. We have a thing for privacy. Me, most of all.

I don't like it, none of us do, but it's necessary.

I pass the patrols marking the grounds, nod as several pop quick salutes, hand signals we all know and I return them. Good thing too, they're armed with anti-tank launchers that could turn my ride into a Swiss-cheese coffin in two seconds. By day, they're the best landscaping and ground maintenance staff money can buy.

By night they're something better.

I roll the Infinity up to the warehouse-sized garage as the door automatically senses my car and rises. I roll over the marked parking space, kill the engine and wait, chuckling at the three stretch limos, four Mercedes, two Rolls, the Ferrari, Lamborghini, six Kawasaki Ninjas, four Harleys, several lesser cars, SUVs and Skidoos. I try to drive and ride every one save the limos. Whenever, how often I can. One must maintain an image and boys love their toys.

I'm disgustingly rich, what can I say? I like shit.

A few seconds later the elevator engages and I begin the three-level descent to the true entrance. What you see above is for show and what we want you to see. The real deal is underground and if you're not supposed to be here you'd be dead before you even got down the driveway.

When it stops, I climb out grabbing my gear. It's been a week; a long assignment but it's done. Like always, I complete what I do.

I lean into another panel on the wall, press my eye to it and murmur, "McQueen." It beeps; the door unlocking and I walk in. It clicks shut behind me and I sigh in relief. The place is a fortress, with more high-tech hardware than any sci-fi show's yet to conceive and every bit of it works. Some, dangerously so.

These guys we know called 'The Lone Gunmen' can do some amazing shit.

I enter the 'cave' that's our departure room, lower the bag on the counter by a large industrial sink and unzip it. Turning on the tap, I let the water wash the blood off the knives. I didn't have time before; besides the bag's got disposable pouches just for that purpose. I don't leave evidence. Never have. Never will. I've been trained by a master.

You see, I'm an assassin. Killing's my thing. I'm good at it, too. Very good and it's easy, very easy. That still scares me sometimes. The 'very' parts.

I unscrew the silencer from my gun, ease it back into its space and pop out the clip. I'll clean it later. It's safe here. Right now, I want a shower, a drink and some private time. Not all in that order.

I exit the room, move down the gunmetal black corridor towards the sounds of combat - the heavy whap of bodies landing on mats. I stop at a large open room and watch several young men and woman flying about. One spots me, leaps up with a shout 'good evening, sir!' and the others are on their feet snapping to attention.

The instructor, a petite unassuming Asian woman, turns and bows, thick bangs damp on her face. She looks like a gymnast - one that just happens to be a Grand Master in Aikido and damned dangerous. I still ache from time to time remembering my classes.

As she looks at me, my hands slowly, casually move to my back; brush two Barettas stuffed in the waistband of my leather pants and I wait; my expression composed into a disinterested 'don't mind me' kind of look.

I strongly suggest that you do.

"Good evening, Number Two."

Her voice is as soft as her features, a true porcelain doll. Delicate. Until you piss her off. I nod back. "Evening Makiko. Everything good with the universe?"

It's a code, asking how the day's training and intelligence went. She nods, smile fierce on her face. "Right as rain, sir."

That's good. All her teams reported back safe. No deaths. I'm grateful. We've lost enough good people already. I smile then, lowering my arms. If she hadn't said it, responded properly, I've have shot her and dropped everyone in the room before they could move. She's good with her fists but I'm 'death' with a gun and we were infiltrated once before. When we were just coming together. We paid heavily for our lack of preparation. No more.

"Good. Carry on."

She nods and turns back, the students bark out another 'good evening' and I'm moving down the hall again. I pass barracks, rooms of weapons, explosives, maps, gear; enough to field a third world country's army and there's more. Lots more. Resistance cells all over the world are stock-piled like this. We've seen to it.

We're at war. One only we and those with us know about.

As I continue down the corridor I pass others, old and young, men and women; doctors, scientists, soldiers. Many pass with only a respectful nod; others pause and salute, each greeting me with veiled yet grateful pleasure.

"Evening, Number Two."

"Good to see you, sir!"

"Number Two, sir!"

They all know who I really am, my name, but don't use it. Not that I told them not to but my codename serves them better. We all have them yet I try to use a first name when I can. Try to give them the respect they deserve. Same as they give me. Sometimes I still trip on that. I don't know when I earned it but it means a lot, so I make sure to learn their names. Every name. Try to use them instead of a military or medical salutation.

They may die for what we do and that means I should at least know them before I have to mourn them.

Didn't think I could care, huh? I learned not to show it. Much.

A young man with soft blue eyes and a slightly pimpled face stops, snaps a salute nearly slapping his eye and extends a clipboard. "Number Two, sir! Glad to have you back."

I give him a real smile. "Glad to be back, Jeff. What do we have?"

He hands off the clipboard before dropping to 'at ease'. "Update from our New Mexico forces, sir. And Mr. Praise. Our teams took out another breeding ground. He and the other telepaths have a prisoner. No update as yet on the interrogation."

Gibson Praise. Whiz kid. Perhaps the most gifted child we've ever known. Prodigy is an insult. Boy (well he's grown now) is scary. Wise beyond measure. He, a girl named Emily and some other younger people I'll probably never meet all over the world now help us to locate alien dens; their uncanny ability to 'see' them even in human disguise giving us a huge advantage.

Like bloodhounds, they 'sniff' them out, we go in and x-off another group of baddies from our list. They've done an incredible job but the list is miles long and world-wide. Still, without them we'd be way behind.

I start to flip over the papers but ask before I need to. "Casualties?"

I sense a pause and look up. Jeff sighs. "Yes, sir. Phillips and Fitzgerald. But they took out a host of slime before they went down. We cleaned up the rest."

I close my eyes with a deep sigh. It's the only reaction I allow myself to show. For now.

Phillips. Fitzgerald. I always admired how they accepted us, our leadership, straight off. No questions asked. Two good men. Older and career military. No immediate blood families to leave behind to grieve. It's a small blessing, minute, in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, we'll take over that department.

I glance at the casualty report. Both died from gunshot wounds to the chest. The aliens like our weapons. Straight-forward and usually direct. At least they can be viewed. Most can't. I hand back the clipboard sadly. "When?"

He knows what I'm asking. "Monday, sir. Services are at one."

"We'll be there. Make sure the teams are notified. Ask for volunteers for two patrols and give the rest leave if they'd like to attend. Civilian dress, all groups. No exceptions. 'Level one status' armament, though. Handguns only. We don't know what else may be there watching. And Jeff? Call the accounting firm and advise them. Have them coordinate with our attorneys to review the final estate matters and regards to any surviving kin. I'll call in authorization to pay first thing tomorrow. Call Doctor Bruger and have his team make the preparations for the bodies. Standard death certificates. Have Chaplin Marks prepared for nondenominational graveside services."

"Yes, sir."

I wish we could do more for these good men but Marks will know the right words to say. It's not that we don't have the faith here with us, they are, but what these men and women have seen has shaken some to the very foundations of their beliefs. Most left, taking our secret with them. We know they'll keep it; very few in today's life would believe them anyway. They also know what we do may insure that there'll be someone left to preach to; offer guidance and wisdom in the future.

Others stayed, took up weapons and fought for planet and god. Many died. We buried them too.

Jeff knows all this, knows what to do but it's become routine to say. We have our own funeral teams, even have our lists of 'causes of death' and official documents to send to the families. Every cell around the planet does. The letters are always the same; acknowledging the loss, stating the appropriate 'cause', commending the person on his or her 'job', noting the body too damaged for anything more than an immediate burial or unrecoverable.

You see, we can't ever send them home. Some answers would only bring unanswerable questions. These men, like all the rest, will be laid in unmarked graves. Unknown save to us. Waiting for the day when we can acknowledge their great sacrifice and all the others to the world. Unsung heroes for now yet heroes all the same.

A few days later the families receive an untraceable amount of funds in their native currency with deep sympathy for their loss. And that's it. No further contact is made. We have no choice. The world isn't ready to know how its sons and daughters really died. Or why.

Not yet.

We never know how this is all received out there. We can't worry. It's not that we don't care, we do, but for the grieving family any further investigation is useless. They can't locate us. The documents they receive and the condolence funds can't be traced. They can't ask for more than what they get. We're deep underground. Invisible. We learned from the Consortium's best at being undetected; being able to make things vanish. Learned more. We don't exist!

And you thought 'Men In Black' was only a movie? Get real! Will Smith would shit if he saw what we've seen!

I give Jeff final instructions. "Tell Bruger we want the best. New suits, top caskets, everything. They deserve our deepest gratitude."

He folds the clipboard under his arm and salutes again. "Yes, sir. We're already on it. We'll give them the very best."

I know he will. They were family too. "Very well. Goodnight, Jeff."

"Sir!"

I approach another elevator, walk in and pull a key from under my shirt. Sliding it in, I turn it. "Privacy level."

A digitized voice queries. "Identity, please."

"Superstar."

The computer's voice comes back. "Confirmed. Welcome home, Number Two."

I replace the key and lean back against the wall. The ride up is slow, quiet, gives me time to relax my mind. I don't have time to grieve much. Maybe later, if we survive, I can cry my eyes out. If we win, I'll reserve the time to hurt then. I have friends here, we all do. If I give in to the losses now, the enemy wins. I can't allow myself to weaken.

Besides, there's one here that loosing would kill me. That thought can't be allowed free reign either. Still, it rears its head now and then just to remind me. Doesn't have to.

I know!

A lot has changed in the past couple of years. Our world is on the brink of extinction, fueled by those who believed they were above the madness. It's my job to correct them. Permanently. However, my work tonight is done. Now, I'm just me.

One man, needing to touch another.

When the door opens, floor to ceiling wine racks sliding back, I walk through into the ground floor's bright, spacious industrial kitchen. I always have to blink against the shock of color - a far cry from the main operation's starkness. It's a riot but well coordinated.

As the racks lock back over the hidden lift the cook, a Frenchman named Pierre, with a delightful wit and a better flan turns to me and nods. "Good evening, Number Two. I trust you had a good trip?"

He talks about our missions like this all the time. He knows what's really out there but prefers to address it in the oblique. I guess it helps keep him from running off screaming. Can't blame him. I'm surprised I don't have to buy more underwear than I do.

That's when I wear it.

I nod walking over to him. "Yes. No casualties save some shrapnel gashes. We were lucky. This time."

He nods and turns back to his work. "I heard the latest from New Mexico, sir. I'd like to attend if I may."

"Sure. Take the time off. We're going as well. You can ride with us."

"Thank you."

There's a moment of silence we both need, then I tip my head at the bowl he's working on. "Um...what are you fixing?"

"P't de foie gras. In case you and 'Number One' are hungry later. Hans will come on duty at oh-eight hundred."

"He...he didn't eat? Again?"

Pierre makes a noncommittal sound but he's ticked. "A peanut butter and jelly sandwich." He shakes slightly and I know he's upset. "That is not nourishing in any good cook's view. We need him strong. A decent meal would do that. I'd even take fast food, that garbage he's always eating to that! Still, it's not my place to speak, sir."

Pierre accepting fast food? Now I know things are bad and nod. "No, but you do it anyway."

He turns to me with a soft smile and I have to grin back. It's his way. He's more than our head chef; he's an ally, partner, friend, confidant and family. Part of a unit. Everyone here's the same. Lose one and the whole aches, gets madder, determined to not let it happen again and we go after the reasons more committed. Our anger management has a powerful outlet.

Good thing too. I can get pissed off.

"Did you remind him what I said, Pierre? About behaving?"

"I...mentioned it."

"And?"

Pierre arches a brow. "I mentioned it, sir, no more. I like living."

"He's not that bad."

Pierre looks at me. "That is not true. I've seen you both fight. You are...how do you say? A tiger? I'm glad to be in your cub."

I make a note to work with him on his slang more. Give me time and I'll have him cussing in twelve languages. "Think of me as a wolf. That would make you part of my 'pack'. Our pack."

He scrunches his nose then nods. "Yes. Of course. As I said, I did mention it, sir."

I lower my head, sigh and shake it. I can't blame him. Some people can be difficult when you least expect it. Forceful, blooding, grumpy, surly, bitchy...okay, I'll stop there. You get it.

"Thanks, Pierre. For telling me. I'll talk to him but he's not that bad. He just tends to be...grouchy when he broods."

Perrier dodges that totally. "Sir? Don't forget tomorrow's benefit at the Kennedy Center. Miguel has pressed your tux. Alan will drive you to the event at nineteen hundred."

"Of course," I moan. It's not that I don't like to support but next to what I'm really doing, this stuff pales to invisibility. "What is it for again?" I already know but Pierre likes to do this.

"For the new burn center at Washington Memorial."

A burn center. God knows we'll probably need it and more. Especially if our enemies up their plans. They could do more than just scorch land. "Right."

"Hans, Candice, Edward and I will report in at fourteen hundred Sunday to set up for the dinner."

"...Dinner?"

He smiles at me in a fatherly manner. "Sir, we're hosting the charity for the World Children's Orphanage."

I sigh to that as well. Another orphanage. There're already too many. If our enemies win there many be thousands more needed, however briefly. We all know if they win those children won't be around long enough to feel displaced.

I make another mental note to have the moat covered and triple the security. Especially around the press. They nose too far and we've got big problems. I hate being put under a microscope and can't resist bitching again.

"Pierre, I don't mean to sound like ah, merde, but..."

He smiles at my French. Shit, however you say it, remains the same. He knows where I'm going with this. He always knows. I've done this before and his answer is always the same. "Yes sir, but we must keep up appearances. The real work you do is by far more vital if forever forced to remain unknown. Still, these things assist as well; may be worth more in our future time."

I grip his shoulder and grin at him. "What would we do without you, my friend, I can't even comprehend."

He covers the p't in clear wrap with a chuckle. "Starve, for one. Now, this will be in the fridge when you want it."

I check my watch, his shift is nearly done. "Well, have a good evening. Give Marie my best."

He smiles, lips lifting up a small mustache. "Yes, sir. Good night."

"Pierre?"

I don't get to finish as he sighs and tips his head towards the hallway. His expression is neutral but the brown eyes show concern. "Yes. Same as always. He'll never stop worrying, sir. We've all tried in our way to help. Give that up."

I hear it then, soft music and sigh. He's still awake.

Pierre knows. They all do. Yet not one is bothered about it. My personal life, my partner's, is ours alone. All these people will say they care about, is that we lead them. To victory. How we live our non-combat lives is just that. Ours. Still, what they don't say is equally revealing. They do care. I have to appreciate that. Marvel at it more.

People care about me. Freaks me still.

"I have to try, Pierre. Otherwise he'll grow old too soon."

"May we all have that chance, sir. To grow old. Later. Good night, sir."

"Goodnight."

Turning, I make my way to the fridge, grab a cold beer and twist off the cap. Sipping slowly, I walk the hall past the Matisse, the Monet, the Warhol, the Dali, and enter the cavernous chamber that's the living room of our home and HQ. The one we acquired when we took control of what was left of the Consortium.

I own it now, control it. With another.

In total, counting the larger lower three levels, three hundred, fifty thousand square feet of re-enforced concrete and steel, bullet proof glass, infra-red security systems, internal fire prevention, high-trained security, a complex computer system and a gate that could barbeque enough pork for a town picnic, surrounds us and our teams; but for my partner and I, this top level is home. Our home. Just for the two of us.

Actually, it's not that big when you move around it.

Centered on twelve acres and now worth thirty million dollars, it took three years to build to our designs; a team of contractors and crew hired under our private construction firms working night and day to complete. Our U.S. teams use it as their staging ground and training center. Each and every one, from the cleaning service to the cooks, learns all our codes, know they change at random and you better remember them all. ID yourself but forget one... Sorry. We'll make sure the urn is a nice one.

We don't have a choice anymore. Thanks to them.

The Consortium. The scourge of all our current woes. None of us really knew how deep their roots were, buried under and into more government agencies, businesses, organizations and even educational institutions, until we tried to pull them up. Finally, we took them all. They give us the means to move openly by day and the massive funds to do what we must at night. In time we'll be forced to come up in full and they may all be sacrificed, but for the moment they support our visible identity.

So we took it: all the wealth, the assets, the connections; built this 'conglomerate' if you will, and use it. No one makes apologies for it, least of all me. I suffered badly for their madness; went through levels of pain and agony you wouldn't want to. What they left I felt was more than due me.

This top level is our private dwelling, where we can unwind for a bit. Sometimes we bring the teams up, kick back and watch a game on the wall screen. You know how it is, the wealthy; always with the hangers-on, the entourage. Ours look just as causal until you move wrong.

Sometimes we gather to watch the results of our handiwork, news flashes of a plant explosion or the unfortunate death of a scientist or researcher. Mostly, we hear of the disappearance of one. It's always the same theme. Bio-technical.

The aliens want to find a way to make us passive, dull, brainless sheep marching in single-file to the axe. Hence experimentation. They take one of our brightest, best minds and put themselves in its place. Move about us gathering everything they can. They need test subjects, we're readily available.

The abductions of the past were written off as the fabrications of disillusioned and delusional minds; the suggestions of 'tests' laughed off to the need for fifteen minutes of fame. Thing about all that is that there are tests. They're no laughing matter. And they're still going on. We know. Some of us have been there. Sadly, most don't ever come back to speak before a microphone at all now.

For the most part, the world keeps spinning like it always has, unaware. Only now and then strange events occur that can't be explained. Most shrug them off to weirdness. We know the weird and it's nothing to ignore. So we go after it, take it down then sit back shaking our heads like all the rest on these 'interesting' newscasts.

Most of our work never makes a channel, too insignificant to bother or occurring somewhere far away. Those that do are quickly moved back behind more 'vital' matters. We're usually a footnote behind the latest pro-ball score or Middle East conflict. We don't mind, we're not divas. In fact, most of the time it's planned that way. Merely a public thanks for our work subtly given.

You see, we've got some friends in the media, all levels; people that were once a part of our teams. Still are. They help us, uncovering events, covering up more. Most of the time our world agents step in, usually removing so much evidence the lower official channels (those that we haven't got control of yet) just close the file and shove it in the freezer - a rapidly dwindling, forgotten matter completely forgotten over time.

These friends often come here, when we host big events, know the right questions to ask and the wrong ones to help us avoid. Sometimes they can't, and the real press shows. Then we tighten things up; cover the moat, double-code the doors. Keep our security closer. I hate that because someone's hand always gets broken for reaching wrong. It's not happening as much now but it still causes messy moments.

We all know as we move in the dark that we walk a fine line between shadow and pitch black. We try to stay on the softer side. We don't want to become like them; the ones that put us in this mess, made my life a living hell. We're holding on so far, still skirting that edge. Staying just in the shadows.

One of us stepped into the dark years ago. Was nearly destroyed by it too. I'm glad I got him out.

Me? Nah, I like the dark. It fits. The thought of darkness reminds me and I look around the room.

I finally see him, by the curtains, in the shadows moving. He's dancing. Like he does every night. The same CD, same song, played over and over; the same slow, flowing movements. It's a ritual for him now - a physical mantra he needs every night he's here...

And I'm not.

It's Sting's 'Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing)'; the lyrics inconsequential in and of themselves but when he moves to them they tell the story of his soul. A soul that might have been very different if not for one small chosen preference and tons of un-requested larger demands. But it's the chorus, those few lines that speak everything he feels right now.

Late at night in summer heat.
Expensive car, empty street
There's a wire in my jacket
For this is my trade
It only takes a moment,
Don't be afraid

I can hotwire an ignition,
Like some kind of star
Just a poor boy
In a rich man's car
So I whisper to the engine,
Flick on the lights
And we drive into the night

Oh, the smell of the leather,
Always excites my imagination
And I picture myself,
In this different situation
I'm a company director,
Two kids and a wife
I get the feeling
That there's more to this one's life

There's some kind of complication,
He tells her he's alone
Spends the night with his lover,
There's a trace of her cologne
And the words of his mistress,
As she whispers them so near
Start ringing in my ear

Please take me dancing tonight,
I've been all on my own
You promised one day we could,
It's what you said on the phone
I'm just a prisoner of love
Always hid from the light
Take me dancing,
Please take me dancing tonight

I imagine his wife,
She don't look nothing like a fool
She picks the kids up from some private school

She remembers what he told her,
He was late and worked alone
But there's more than a suspicion,
In this lingering cologne
And the kids just won't be quiet
As she runs a traffic light
And she drives into the night

Please take me dancing tonight,
I've been all on my own
You promised one day we could,
It's what you said on the phone
I'm just a prisoner of love
Always hid from the light
Take me dancing,
Please take me dancing tonight

So here am I,
In a stolen car at a traffic light
They go from red to green
So I just drive inside the night

Please take me dancing tonight,
I've been all on my own
You promised one day we could,
It's what you said on the phone
I'm just a prisoner of love
Always hid from the light
Take me dancing,
Please take me dancing tonight

It's a promise we made. To each other. On the day of our full victory we'd go dancing. Dance the night away and if we dropped, hearts too old to carry on, we'd have earned our eternal rest.

We made one more... We want to be buried together - one coffin, side by side. Like we've been since the day we dreamed. It's a stupid request and the way things may end, improbable, but it's one of only two we made. Someone will try to keep it for us, I'm sure.

When the final strike is ready, our bio weapon sure of killing them and only them, we'll both be there. To either end the day dancing our asses off or having them rest in a box. Only time will tell the outcome. Either way, he'll be there with me.

Slowly I move towards him, glide past the huge sectional, lean my butt against the back and lower the beer onto a side table to watch.

He moves like a snake; sensuous, sleek - a mysterious presence in the soft lighting. I'd never seen him dance before until he came here; didn't know he could. It's just one more thing about this intelligent, yet complex man, I'm only beginning to understand.

I watch quietly as he moves balancing like a ballerina on the balls of those big, beautiful feet; hips rotating as he turns slowly, moving in a pattern I know intimately. I can't wait anymore and speak.

"Hey...beautiful."

He turns at the sound and pauses, eyes searching mine.

It's the same, every time one of us parts; the hours, days and sometimes weeks wearing heavily until we reunite. Then we're tense those first few hours; like two people on a blind date.

I know this man, he knows me but as I said before, we were infiltrated once. People died before we could take the alien down. We lost six soldiers, four biologists and two doctors. We moved here right after, destroying our old base to useless rubble. We can't help but be a bit cautious in greeting now; can't afford to react too fast either way. The thought of accidentally killing one of the real 'us' would kill us both.

I really don't need to give him a signal, he knows it's me. Knows my mind, my heart. If I wasn't who I appear to be I'd have never made it this far. I'd already be dead. Still, I give him something we both recognize.

"You're going to wear the grooves off that thing."

He smiles slightly, face shadowed in the room. "Then I'll buy another one."

Fuck, it's so good to be home!

I match his earlier movements as I approach him, press against him, let my hands drift down to his hips and urge him to move again. We sway off-time to the music's rhythm but it doesn't matter. We're in sync with everything else. The important stuff. As our hips move together he nuzzles my face, presses a faint kiss on my cheek.

"You get it done? Everyone safe?"

I nod, move in closer, hips grinding against his. He's not hard. Neither am I.

Right after a 'hit' neither of us is charged for sex; more introspective instead. We still have remnants of our souls. We do this because we have to, not because we want to. Most of our world's governments, our leaders, nearly all of them, no longer serve the people. No longer serve humanity.

After all, not many of them are human.

We know this. So do some others. Most of the world sleeps in ignorance. Better they do for now. This truth would end the human race as we know it sending us into a planetary civil war if not outright hysterical chaos. In time, it'll all come out. Hopefully by then it won't matter. Hopefully, we'll still be here - the original owners.

Our country is human, its leaders still blood red inside and out. We've seen to that, placing our top people, most trusted followers, where we could. The rest we know aren't with us. They never have been. Those that are know what we're fighting for and what we're fighting against.

We've been at it a long time already, day by day, year by year; taking back one town, one city, one state, one country. Each victory is sweet, each defeat agonizing. We've had more than a few of those, too.

So we take them out - the aliens - one by one. Replacing each with one of our own. A human. Trained to covertly blend in, gain information, and keep us one step ahead. So far, we're succeeding. They still believe we're clueless, small factions easily routed and destroyed but we're here to stay. Taking back our lives, our countries. In time, our world.

And every time we go out, more come in; a never-ending flood of those that believe either due to seeing it first-hand or being rescued by us before they became a host. There are now over five hundred cells like ours, their true volume and some locations unknown even to us. It's safer that way. Like a colony of arts working on each level, we send out signals, working in teams toward a final all-inclusive goal-

Survival.

The body next to mine moves slower, taking the beat and easing it down for us both. My breathing slows, matches his. My karma is this man. I don't need to meditate, he calms me, keeps me sane. After all, this new life isn't what I would have chosen. In fact I didn't. Not until I had to.

"You heard about New Mexico?"

I nod keeping the movement gentle. "Yes... It happens."

"Doesn't mean we have to like it!" he snarls to my ear. He cares. Always has. He's emotional but he tries to check it, stay tough. Don't think he doesn't care or hasn't. You don't know him the way I do.

"Services are Monday. At one. I told Jeff we'll be there."

"Of course we will! Those guys were good! Ours! They deserve to have us pay respects! We owe them!"

Told you he cared. "You gonna be okay?"

The head next to mine nods slightly. "Yeah. Yeah. Now that you're back, sure."

It's a casual remark but I know better. His head lifts; eyes glowing with warmth and my whole world for a moment is compressed to only six feet of love and strength.

"I missed you, Fox."

Okay folks, you can pick your jaws up off the floor anytime now. Didn't I say things had changed? Think I wouldn't too? I'll get to that in a while. Right now I need some time with my baby first.

I sigh, pull him back and settle my head at his cheek. "Missed you too, Alex."

"Dana okay?"

"Yep. She pitched a major bitch on the way back, though. Broke a nail punching out some guard but other than that, no problems. I promised her we'd cover her next manicure."

The humor goes right over him. "Then everything's taken care of?"

I give up trying to relax him for now. Despite the dancing, he's charged up. I cradle the spring-tight body next to me and nod.

"Uh-huh. Scratch one alien bio-tech lab in Seoul and one fake Nobel Prize winning physicist. Our people there are pushing an 'accidental chemical explosion' to the press. The alien slimed completely, won't leave anything to discover in all that fire. We retrieved some interesting samples. Already got them on the way back to DC for analysis with Scully. We also got word of a possible 'super soldier' breeding ground in China. I'm sending Doggett and Reyes in under our pharmaceutical cover. Skinner's checking with our Hong Kong combat teams to back them up. I'm with the staging operations in Kowloon. We go in seven days from now at oh-one hundred their time."

"Seven days. You know, if you follow the 'Good Book', the world was made in seven days."

I know where he's going with this and nod against his head. "We'll hold it, Alex. I swear."

He sighs against me. "Not much time, is there?"

"There never is." I lean back and offer him my most caring look. "But we'll take what we have and...I need two F-16s for the mission."

He rolls his eyes in mock-disgust. "Knew there was a reason behind this sweet moment. I indulge you too much but I'll call Andrews. You'll have them by noon tomorrow."

"Thanks."

Alex looks at me curious. "Just how do you plan to explain two U.S. military jets over Chinese air space?"

I give him a sly smile. "Our Asian team. They actually set it up for us. It's a cover. An air show. Germany, Israel, Russia, several counties have been invited. The 'Blue Angles' are going in to cover us. While people are marveling at their skill we'll be flying over the fringes of Mongolia and blowing the aliens to bits."

"You've gotten a bit horny over Pratt and Whitney F100 engines, you know that?"

My body trembles and I know my expression's sappy. Can't help it. Ever since I learned how to fly (I'll get to that later), I love these planes. "Oh yeah," I moan. "Really love those curves and the thrust..."

He ignores that (bless him) and tries something else. "You know they'll want 'in' on this one, Fox. We can't keep the army out of it forever."

"Alex..." I sigh, "We've gone over this before. They remain in the background until we're ready for the final strike. We keep the labs destroyed, keep the alien's forces limited and they can do the clean up. We told them a large-scale, full military and naval operation world-wide now would be like waving a red flag before a bull. Push the enemy so deep we'd never dig them out. While they think we're unaware, we move incognito for the time being. That's the agreement we made when they gave us the lead on this. Don't tell me they're backing out?"

He shakes his head, a dark lock grazes his brow and my quiet moment heats up a bit. "No, but you know how it is. The army boys don't like to sit on their hands waiting."

"I know but they'll get their chance. I only hope they survive long enough not to regret their enthusiasm."

"Okay," Alex moans. "I'll call Skinner and have him set up a meeting with the rest of the Joint Chiefs. Smooth over any ruffled feathers. God, I know he's going to rim me for this one."

I chuckle knowing how uncomfortable that call will be. "He'll get over it."

"I still can't believe he went military again. I choke every time I have to call him 'General' or...'sir'." He makes a gross, overdramatic face and whines in a falsetto. "I mean like eeew!"

I sympathize some. "I know but he loves hearing you squirm like that. Humor him."

"He hates being called off the front line."

It's said whiney and pleading but I'm not going for it. Instead, I grin broadly. "Kinda feel like the Commissioner calling Batman, huh?"

Alex nods, missing my joke again, still serious. "Exactly, 'cept this bat's got much broader wings! He's a big man to piss off, Fox."

I understand the reticence; can't blame him. His past with my former AD hasn't been the stuff of legends (depending on how you look at it) and regardless of what he's doing now, there still exist some old worries.

I find myself thinking back to that night. It was the night Alex and I decided to bring Walter Skinner into our group. The night we decided to tell him all the truths.

Oh, man.

In retrospect, we should have all handled things better. Most of all me.

It was after the events on Mount Weather (a situation I'll cover more on later) and I'd returned to DC and retired from the FBI. I was living a quieter life as a psychology professor at Georgetown University. A cover merely but a useful one.

Scully arrived at my door on schedule, Skinner in tow no doubt thinking he was along to visit; enjoy the likes of a nice social evening. It almost became his last.

As I opened the apartment door and he walked in, he took one look at Alex sprawled on the sofa, 'TV Guide' flopped over his chest, hand idly surfing the remote and the man was on him like white on rice. Skinner had an eye blink to snatch Alex up, pop him in the jaw, slam him against the wall then lighting struck him. All one hundred seventy pounds of high voltage.

Me!

For the first time in Skinner's life he saw the dark part of me I know he knew was always there; has seen it too often recently but right then...I shocked the shit out of him!

I had him in a flash, arm wrapped around his neck in a perfect position to snap it, my mouth to his ear warning him I'd kill him if he moved. He believed me. Good thing too, I would have. I was pure, white-hot anger. Dangerous then, let it fuel my work now...

Very fatal.

So there we all were: Skinner in a death grip, me near mindless with rage, Scully quickly drawing her gun to wound me again, if possible, before I committed a crime punishable by death and Alex nearly imprinted into the plaster.

Messy.

And Alex, the guy you'd never expect, saved us all.

He could have killed Skinner easily, anytime, without breaking a sweat. He's strong (very) and Skinner had no clue then. Instead he took it, let himself get pounded and I ended up the psycho flake hell-bent on leveling their personal playing field. He wouldn't let me.

Instead, he asked me to let Skinner go. Peeled himself off the wall, noted the man's reddening face, walked right up and asked me. Said it gently, casually. Like we were playing. Asked Skinner to hear us out. Promised if what he had to say wasn't acceptable he'd go with him. Quietly. No tricks.

He was so calm, so bland and rational. So...

In that one moment the dreams we'd shared, the ones that brought us together, made their reason known in a way that made us both draw in a sharp breath. I think he finally saw what I'd looked at all this time - the savage, brutal killer he'd been to me. I saw the quiet, thinking being he'd come to grudgingly respect, and later love, reflected back.

Yes, we finally understood. We're two halves of a far greater whole; two persons that working as one can't be stopped. I can be downright dangerous when I really get pushed, Alex can investigate and research with the best of them. We've learned from it, believe me. Scully did in that moment as well, eyes flickering between us and her expression going wild with surprise.

Skinner calmed quickly, nodded and I let him go; checked myself, moving to pace along the window ignoring the raw wheezing and pants. He knew I'd still make good on my warning if I had to. I could feel Alex's eyes on me, could sense his understanding and maybe his sorrow. I learned too much it seems.

What have I learned, you ask? Isn't it already obvious? Well...follow along now; there's even more to tell.

Poor Scully, it shook her. Convinced her once and for all my feelings for Alex are more than some mere preoccupation with a strange series of events - the unexplained dreams that nearly drove me mad. She realized it then; completely. I really love him! Will do anything to protect him. Even kill those I call friends. If they push me. Skinner got that as well and sat down where she asked him to.

Scully - my friend, ally, external support system. She's been through it all with me. Stood by me even then, asked Skinner to hear us out. I don't know why she did it except I'd asked her to trust Alex and me before. I worked like a sonofabitch to do it. Turns out, there was no need.

She'd been dreaming too.

Not so much living our lives (thank heavens!) as being more the 'fly on the wall'; sharing our moments of joy, sorrow and pain. Watched as I screamed in helpless frustration as Samantha was spirited away; rocked in horror and agony as Alex's arm was severed, and blushed as he and I dreamed of making love. She saw it all and knew.

She confronted Alex that last night as he fled my apartment after we'd started to realize our feelings - and as usual, fought. Made us both say the truth face to face with a witness and helped us finally make peace.

I often think back to that moment - the time in Alex's small home - the three of us there, me hidden. Watching. I remember marveling as they talked, really talked; felt shock when they easily set up a first name basis I'm still having to work at with some...okay, with anyone much, even now.

It was interesting watching them; Scully meeting Alex's sarcasm word for word, their tones almost complementing in terseness. It was like she understood him, me; understood us. As men.

I've wondered about that all these years. I've never asked though and she's still letting me. Like any woman, she can be subtle when she wants to. I think there's more to her dreams than she's telling. Has told. I know I may never get an explanation but the fact she stood by me then and now; stood by Alex, is enough. She knew I loved him. Let me.

And what did I do later? Showed her in the most shocking way I could.

I confirmed my feelings all right, hands around my former boss' neck and I felt bad. Somewhat and much later, but right then I didn't give a damn. Scully didn't say a word. Understood through the shock. She'd seen me at my worst before and stood by me then.

I always said she was my friend.

She brought Skinner to us, didn't expect the greeting he got but she pushed through the moment; helped him accept Alex's offer.

What did he offer? The world. I'll get to that in just a moment. Stay with me now, okay?

Scully... The steely voice of reason amidst the chaos. We've all come to sound her out on a great deal of things, Skinner most of all. Alex and I think we know why but that's something we won't elaborate on. All I will say is that when Skinner comes to HQ, she takes some time off.

Think what you will. Time changes all.

I know I've changed - the game has too. I'm playing to win. There's no other option. The second place team won't survive to try again if I don't. If that means I've turned into something I'd rather not be, you're right. I don't want to do this, wish with all my heart I didn't have to but I have no choice. I'm fighting oblivion! For billions now and those yet to come. Tell me that kind of pressure won't change you.

Alex once said, 'you do what you do to survive'. Man's a prophet.

Speaking of Alex, let me get back to the meeting.

He talked that night. A lot. Spilled it all, confirming things we already knew, shocking us with things we didn't; giving us more to work with than all the years we'd worked the X-Files. All in one night. I wasn't the only one that changed that evening.

Skinner listened then, well and long. Asked a few questions, got confirmations on what he already knew and a lot he suspected. He asked Alex about the KGB, his involvement and I doubted we'd get much on that, but Alex was full of surprises that night. He told us the truth and it shocked me beyond anything before.

Remember me once saying how deep Alex and I were in the muck? Well, pull up your pants legs because it's about to get really thick!

Skinner stared at him, eyes hardening in his face as he settled onto the sofa. I sat down next to Scully, my old partner between us. In truth I knew if Skinner decided to slam my ass down she wouldn't be the slightest deterrent. I kept myself quiet for once as my former boss glared at my lover.

"Okay Krycek, what I want to know is why you sold us out back then? Why did you help out the Russians?"

Alex managed to smile back, but it was a dark smile. We all sat up a bit more as he growled. "I didn't give them anything they didn't already know, Walter, but it's how I gave it to them that mattered."

"Oh?" Skinner snarled right back. Maybe he didn't like the first name usage, I don't know. "And just what was it you gave them?"

"I told them it wasn't the U.S. government that was their enemy. At least not the whole government but there was a smaller faction that was a problem for both sides."

Suddenly it began to make sense, awful sense and Skinner barked at him. "What did you tell them?!"

"That the Consortium was planning to sell them, Russia and the whole population out. To the aliens. I told them they were going to be part of the biggest test project of all!"

My expression must have changed because Alex looked right at me nodding. "Yeah Fox, you got it. I set the two most dangerous shadow organizations against each other. I started the war for them!"

Oh, my god.

"What the hell did you do that for?!" Skinner all but screamed at him. "Do you realize you could have instigated a third world war?! What the devil did you think you'd get from it?!"

"Revenge!" Alex yelled back at us. "Revenge for my parents!"

I glanced over to Scully and her expression was clearing, going wide with understanding. Even Skinner looked amazed. Yeah, I think we were starting to get it. Shit!

Alex began to pace back and forth, eyes down and his face a mask of hatred. "You have to understand how it was! Back then Soviet Russia didn't just let people leave the country whenever they wanted, you know that. You either defected or you stayed." He stopped, turned and glared at us. "My parents didn't want to leave, not exactly. The KGB let them come here. So they could spy on the Consortium!"

Oh god, no. No!

Alex looked hard at us. "Oh yes, they knew about each other. You know that I wasn't the first KGB operative here, don't you?"

Skinner nodded then and sighed, "We know that, Krycek. We know."

"The KGB, Politburo, they all knew about Roswell. Why do you think they launched Sputnik? Where do you think they got the technology? You think our little aliens out in New Mexico were the only ones that landed?"

We must have all reacted to that as Alex let out an 'oh, I don't believe these people' kind of snort. "Ever since the alien threat was uncovered, both sides have been trying to 'one up' the other; get control of all the technology. Take note, some people that defected here weren't trying to escape persecution or even a bad way of life. Some were doing what they were ordered to do; were told to report back or things would get bad. Some did, most took the chance, stayed and faded away. My parents got the same instructions. They were told there'd be people here to help them, get them settled and adjusted. There were! And they handed them right into the Consortium's hands! To spy and report back everything they learned!"

Alex's face changed from outrage to pain. "The Consortium didn't kill my parents, they just finished the job. The KGB murdered them! The day they sent them here!"

Right then I wanted to get up, go to him and hold him in my arms but I stayed where I was. I knew if I touched him he'd break down, fold in and probably never speak about this again. He needed to talk and for once I let him. So I sat there aching and listened as he continued.

"Listen up, now. I paid a lot to get this information. I greased a lot of palms to get people to talk, killed more to keep them silent but I needed to know about my parents. Why they were allowed to leave when most couldn't. When I left for Russia, I went to find someone that could answer my questions. Put it all together. Someone that I was told I could trust. His name is Boris Novikov."

When none of us react, he manages a slight smile. "Didn't think you'd know him. He's not that important in the scheme of things now but back then...he was 'helpful'."

Skinner's voice takes on a slight edge and I try not to panic. "You went to Russia? When?"

"A couple of years ago."

Skinner's eyes flick to Scully and me, graze over us and the look isn't happy. I think he's figured out what happened to Alex when we apprehended and unfortunately 'lost' him back then. I don't really care, I don't work for him anymore, but Scully does. I hope my profiling of them, the indication I've gotten that they're more than just supervisor and subordinate is true or she's in deep shit.

Skinner's expression darkened as he hissed, "Why?!"

Alex rolled his eyes and I flinched. Not good to play with Skinner right now. "I just told you. To find Boris."

"Who is he?"

Alex smiles back just as tense. "Does it matter?"

"Maybe."

Alex nods at that. "Okay. If it helps, he's not known here or of any circumstance, but in Russia he's got clout. 'Underground clout' but a lot of it."

Skinner leans back picking it up fast. "The Russian Mafia," he breathes and Alex nods back.

"Yep. Big time. He's still got it, too. More than you want to play with, so pretend you didn't hear the name, Walter. It's only important to the story. Understand?"

Skinner looks at him tightly for a moment then sighs in resignation. "Okay. Go on."

"My parents and Boris grew up in the same village after World War Two. My grandparents died in the battle and he made himself a sort of 'big brother' to my mother; watched over her and eventually introduced her to my father. Played matchmaker. I guess he did a good job. They fell in love. From what I can remember, they were very happy together."

Alex stops for a moment and looks away, his eyes going a bit unfocused as he murmurs and I almost have to strain to hear. "We were happy together."

Scully makes a soft sound in her throat and I feel the same way. Wish it had stayed that good for all of them. Alex twitches slightly, refocuses and goes on.

"My father worked in a factory making coats. He was young then, maybe in his early twenties but he'd advanced to be a manager in the material section. He was a good worker, serious, dedicated to his job. A rarity I guess from what you've probably heard. Look, not everyone was complacent with the hard Socialist regime; some actually tried to thrive in it. Father took pride in his work; did his best for the Motherland but he wanted to do more. From the propaganda they were fed, he knew that the U.S. capitalist way would have the best factories, conditions and methods that might help. So he started writing to people, anyone he could, explained his idea to come here and study with a factory managerial group so that he could return and help build the business up. I don't think he ever expected to get a response, much less approval. That was the Cold War, but both sides were trying to get along. There were a few joint projects, small things done together to keep the peace. I'm sure he was shocked when he got a 'yes' to his presentation. He was told he and my mother could come here for a year as part of a joint-business exchange. Of course, no one came from the states to Russia but they never knew that, I'm sure."

Scully spoke up then. "Didn't that worry him, Alex? Suddenly being allowed to leave? With his wife as well? I'm sure that wasn't the norm."

"No, it wasn't," Alex nodded. "But my parents were good people, Dana. They were faithful. They believed in people. My father used to wear a cross. He wasn't supposed to; not in a society that was anti-religious, but he did. He kept it hidden under his clothes but I saw it. As best I remember he never took it off. He believed in people."

I glanced over and noticed Scully gently fingering the cross she always wore. I didn't speak and Alex went on.

"Anyway, they were given visas, permits to work here and allowed to leave but no other relatives were mentioned, allowed to go. I don't think it registered then. After all, they were planning to return in a year. They never did."

Skinner nodded again. "Can't say I'd blame them Kry...Alex. So go on."

Alex warmed to his name and managed a brief smile. "Okay, then. My parents were taken in by fellow immigrants here; 'friends' they called themselves. People that helped them get settled, got them a place to stay, helped them learn their way around, all that. They both spoke and read English so there was little trouble blending in and the others helped where they could. Eventually they 'suggested' that my parents meet some businessmen who could help them get jobs; good jobs, while they were here. Would do the very best for them. Even help them to stay here if they decided to. My parents had no idea, so they went along with it. Next thing they know they're handed off to people and the 'friends' suddenly disappeared. They gave them right to the Consortium exactly as the KGB planned!"

Skinner sat back swearing and I felt the same. My anger for Alex had long faded by now, my sympathy and compassion built even more. Remember all that shit about him not having a choice? I finally realized he never did. Truly never did. He was in trouble before he was even born!

"Shortly after they got here, Mother realized she was pregnant with me. They knew that now it was more than they who needed a better life. More chances. The Consortium told them they could stay and would help them get asylum. But it would come at a price."

Of course it would.

"They did everything for us; got my father a job at a local textile plant, helped Mother land a job teaching Russian at a local university. They did well here, people. They started to feel a sense of pride I'm sure they'd never felt back home. Then I was born. The first son. The first American son. To be their only son; only child. It changed them. They wanted more for me. My parents decided to stay here. They were told everything would be taken care of, that they needn't worry. Were assured it would all be settled; simply, easily. After all, they were just two 'ordinary citizens' that wanted a better life. That was what America was founded on. The Consortium would help the Soviet Union to understand and everything would be okay. They did and everything was perfect! For them! They told the KGB my parents had defected, turned on them, and they knew everything!"

Scully gasped, I wanted to scream and Skinner's face went so pale I thought he'd pass out.

"That's when the KGB made my family suffer for my parent's decision. It took decades for me to learn that every relative I had back in Russia was rounded up, interrogated and either shot outright, shipped to a Siberian prison to freeze to death, or something much worse."

He looked up and those beautiful green eyes were laced with pain. "They didn't know a thing; couldn't tell the KGB anything but it didn't matter. They were accomplices as far as they were concerned. That was all the KGB cared about, having someone to blame! They held them responsible and made sure no one knew they were the real cause. They leaked to the press what had happened and my entire family was disgraced, arrested and destroyed! Every single relative; by blood, marriage, whatever, was linked, located, taken away and killed! No one survived!"

He stands there for a moment, face filled with an outrage that would have scared me any other time but not now. I was furious myself. Then he looked at Walter. "You need to really understand what I'm saying here, people! No one in my family save my parents and me survived this purge and now they're dead, too."

I swallow slowly, scared to do this, scared to ask and bring Alex more pain but I have to know. "Alex..." I speak softly, gently. "Who told you this?"

He turns to look at me and his eyes are weak with hurt. "Boris. It was years later. Long after my parents had left. He never told them, wouldn't have told me if I hadn't pressed for it. I'd already been all over the countryside, village to village, city to city; paying people to tell me anything...having to kill a few that wanted my cash free of bother. This time I wasn't on any 'assignment', people. I was just asking around; trying to find older people that might have known my kin. Everywhere I went people either slammed doors in my face or told me they didn't know anyone. Something else was the same wherever I went. The people were scared. The closer I got to Moscow, the more frightened they were of my questions. I had to finally find a man on his deathbed; an old soldier that knew Boris as a young officer and my father. He barely had strength to breathe but he managed to speak to me. He died a few seconds later but I finally had a name. A name to link for all the pain and suffering my family endured. But I needed to know if it was the same one I wanted. Boris confirmed it was."

I'm almost scared to ask again, fear I'll know it but I do anyway. "Who is it, Alex?

"Not who you think, Fox."

That relives me only a bit. "Then who?"

He looks at me steadily. "General Vladimir Vokolvich. You never met him but you know his business. A certain gulag? A certain room with thick chicken wire?"

I feel the blood drain from my face and only Scully's arm keeps me from sliding off the sofa. I only have strength to nod and Alex sighs softly. "I didn't know, Fox. I didn't. If I had known who was behind it and why, I've have killed him then and gotten you out of there. I didn't because I thought it was the safest place for you. I mean, you didn't know the land; didn't speak Russian. I know what you thought of me back then but I left you there thinking you were safe. Left you there until I could convince the warden that you weren't a threat. I was talking to him when you grabbed me. Had just learned what else was going on. I'd just made a deal to get us both out of the country when you grabbed me and threw me in the truck.

I suddenly think back to that day; careening down a horse path, Alex out cold in the flatbed and realize if I'd just left him... Just let him...

Oh...my god.

I can't say a word. Not one. Blessedly, he doesn't let me.

"One family, the Pavlovs, my grandmother's kin were taken to that gulag, Fox. Subjected to Black Oil tests and worse. They all died there, too. My aunts, uncles, cousins; two whole generations wiped out in one month!"

I feel sick inside already, know there's a lot more and keep silent.

"Look, let me get back to my parents. Boris and I talked at length on this. Vokolvich gave the order to kill my family just as he gave the order to send my parents here. He as much killed them too! But he didn't do it just to hide his involvements in the Consortium's deception. No, he did it to make my mother pay. For not taking him as her lover."

My head snaps up in shock.

"My mother caught his eye in their youth. He tried to use his prestige to win her but Mother was a more practical, aware woman than he realized. She wasn't impressed with him. She'd already chosen my father, Sergei."

At that, Walter looks up and for the first time that night he actually smiled. Sadly Alex had turned away and missed it.

"Vokolvich never forgave her for spurning him. In fact Boris found out he'd had her watched from that day forward. He knew everything about them but never made himself known. Stayed low but watched them. Knew what they were doing. He didn't bother them then. Probably because he didn't have the clout but when he got it... Well, Father's only mistake was writing people about his interest in working abroad. Vokolvich had moved up by then; was deep in the military and political factions there. Headed up immigration affairs at the time but don't let that title fool you. It was a cover, a misleading description for the real purpose. Getting rid of troublesome and troubling people and situations."

Alex paused for a moment, stared off again with a slight smirk. "Some people, political dissidents, human rights activists, whatever, often talked. Loudly and too much. Some were too famous, too well known and respected by the populace to simply vanish without question. Vokolvich and others knew this, hence the immigration department. They would allow people to 'leave' to get rid of troublemakers but not without plans. Many were allowed to go but I'm betting all were told to send back information. Spy, discretely of course, or those that remained in the Soviet Union, their loved ones, would pay heavily."

Skinner nodded understanding it all. "Let me guess... Vokolvich heard about your father's idea."

Alex turned back and chuckled weakly. "Give the man a cigar! Yeah, he did. His people intercepted the letters and it couldn't have been more perfect for him. He could use my parents to spy on the U.S. and if they were caught and arrested, the better for him. Or if they failed and were deported, he could have them shot as a warning to defectors. Either way, it would take him off the hook and give him the one thing he wanted. Revenge. According to Boris, it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway; Vokolvich was up high with both groups by then. He had cars, prestige and...women. Still, I guess he felt he owed them for the past so he took my father's honesty and hopes and turned it against him. All for jealously."

He turned to look at me. "Fox, you've always though of me as self-preserving, you all do. Think I would do, say anything to survive. You're right but not the way you think. I'm the last of my lineage. Do you really think I care that much about living? I don't! The only reason I'm still here, fought everything to keep alive, is because I was asked to. By my father."

"What do you mean, Alex?" I said.

"The Consortium came to our house one night, began yelling at my folks. I was a kid then, didn't know English that well. We still spoke Russian in the house but I was in school and learning. I didn't understand all the big words but I got some right off. 'Spies'. 'Trouble'. 'Jail'! I watched U.S. TV too, you know! I didn't understand what it had to do with my parents but the tone, the anger, said a lot. I got up from bed and opened the door. It was blocked. A man turned and looked at me. He spoke Russian; told me to go back to bed and everything was okay. They were just talking with my parents. I did as I was told. I obeyed people back then."

We all smiled at that and he chuckled weakly. "Yeah. Back then. Anyway, I went back to bed but I stayed awake. After a while the yelling stopped and Father came into my room. He knew I was awake and sat me up in the bed. He hugged me, told me he had to go away for a few days and to take care of my mother. I was scared, asked him if something was wrong. He said there'd been a terrible accident at his job and people were hurt. He was needed to fix things. That was why Mother was so upset, the men so angry. He promised he'd return and for me to be good. He kissed me and left. I heard Mother trying to ask him when he'd be back and he didn't say. I could hear him packing stuff, moving around the room, the men telling him to hurry. I got up and went to the door. This time it opened."

Alex paused for a moment and I again fought the urge to go to him. He looked at us sadly. "I remember that night, the night my father left with these men. The last thing I saw was that smoking prick! He stubbed out a cigarette on our house floor and closed the door behind him. A few days later my father returned, changed. He was harder, tougher; the smiles and laughter were gone. He began to focus on me, talked to me; taught me things. Told me to listen well and learn. I did, never really understanding what it was he wanted me to do with all this, but I did it. Then they came for us both. Smoking Boy was there again, puffing away. They took us away; left Mother in tears. Father went one way and I was taken another, the cancerous dick's hand on my shoulder. I never saw my father again but I remembered that bastard all too well!"

I nodded slowly at that and Alex started pacing again. "I did everything they asked, learned everything. Languages, weapons; all they taught me, I got good at. The best. I seldom saw my mother but I knew they were caring for her. And watching her. One day I was told she'd died. Sickness they said but they didn't provide more. I was allowed to go to the funeral but that was all, I... I think my father's disappearance, maybe mine broke her heart. I...I don't know but she died."

The pain in Alex's voice tore through me like a hot knife. I wanted to cry, scream, rush up to him but I didn't. I stayed there dying some inside and let him finish.

"My training intensified after that and eventually I ended up with the FBI. You know the rest."

Sure we did.

"As I got older, I remembered what my father said to me back then. Began to put the factors of that night together and realized the truth. I began to understand and knew what I needed to do. So I did it."

"What was it, Alex?" Scully murmured before I could. "What did he ask you to do?"

Alex stopped and turned to us, hands clenching to fists. "He said 'make them pay, Alexei. Whatever you have to do, do it! But make them pay! Make all of them pay!'" He turned back and began to move again. "They lied to my parents, destroyed my family, broke my father and his beliefs; drove my mother to illness and death and took my childhood from me. Raped, Fox? You don't know the half of it! Or the when!"

Skinner flashed me a look that asked a big question. Scully's hand over his made him turn. I saw a look in my partner's blue eyes that lifted Skinner's brows. I left it to her to explain all that when she could and focused back on my distraught lover.

"So don't blame me for wanting revenge, Fox. You weren't that clean hearted yourself!"

If I hadn't realized it before, I did then. Alex and I are brothers in a way. We've got scores to settle, he and I. Even thirty some years later he wanted to settle his. I wanted him to as well. First! Mine were nothing to the debt he planned to pay back.

And he did pay them back, everyone. It took a lot of time but he did. Especially the one that he owed the most.

I'll get to that a bit later too, so don't give up on me now!

Alex looked at me then, sadness and apology on his face. "I didn't know what they owed me back then but I learned! Anyway, I did what my father asked of me, got in good with the Consortium. So well, I even suggested I'd be a good double agent. In time, they sent me back to Russia. As a high-school exchange student. They sent me there under another name, Krycek would have been too known and they wanted me back. That's when I turned on them. Father told me if I ever got the chance to return, there was one person that he trusted who might help me. Boris. I managed to get an appointment with a military recruiting office, under the pretense of wanting to interview an officer for my educational project, and let his name slip. Next thing I knew, I was being delivered to the KGB training facilities outside..."

He stops then and smiles slyly. "That's old hat now. Place doesn't matter anymore." He ignores Walter's disgusted look at being denied some tip and goes on. "Boris was there, then. He recognized me almost immediately. Could see my parents in my face and realized what had happened. He managed to get himself assigned to my 'indoctrination' as it was. Trained me as a KGB agent but he had his own secrets. He was a Consortium mole within the KGB. Just like Vokolvich."

I lean back getting the whole thing now and realize as much as I thought my life was twisted by the Consortium, compared to Alex's it was nothing. His was already a pretzel.

"So Boris took me under his wing, let me live with him for that year and we drew close. I met people, made connections. I also made a few mistakes." His expression changes slightly, goes hurt and I sit up worried. His eyes flick to mine, seem shamed and dance away. "Suffice they were personal matters, personal mistakes, and not important to this at all. Forget I said any of that."

I haven't. There's something there that bothers me, nags a bit. Still does even today. I've tried to ask since then, dig, and Alex clams up every time. Looks irritated and that's enough I've let it go. Maybe one day he'll tell me.

Maybe.

Let's get back to that night.

Alex nodded at us. "I got in good with the KGB, the very people that cost my parents their lives. I told them the Consortium had killed my parents when they refused to return to Russia; refused to spy on their native origin. I told them I wanted revenge. Told them they'd taken my family name and cursed me with something that defied my life. I told them I wanted my Russian name back with pride, wanted my Russian history as well. They took me for the foolish little American turncoat I pretended to be. I let them and swore my allegiance to my heritage. Swore that I'd bring this accursed capitalist regime to the ground. They gave me the chance."

Skinner finally spoke up. "How much of a chance, Alex?"

Green bored us all. "I was a Captain by the time Fox and I went to Tunguska." He glanced over to me. "All I had to do was order it and those prison guards would have crawled over broken glass naked for me."

He paused and laughed then. It was a dark, gloating laugh but I knew there was no pleasure in it. Not really.

Suddenly I thought back to that time in Russia. Tunguska. Realized why Alex played it the way he did; the tough talking to the guards, the 'good buddy' attitude with the warden. He was walking the tightest wire of anyone. Realized if I'd only let him tell me the truth instead of pound on him we might have changed it all right then. Instead I slammed him into a prison wall, didn't listen, stood there wanting him dead as he yelled at a guard and watched as he walked off.

Later, when I was led out onto the prison grounds I couldn't just flee on my own. Oh no! I had to play the hero and bring home the bad guy. I didn't. Instead I let him lose an arm. Lived with his hatred until he got it back. Alex was by far safer in that prison that I was away from it. If only...

Scully was right. When I mess things up I go at it big. I looked up at Alex with sorrow in my eyes but he was already going on.

"Anyway, I was perfect. The foil both sides wanted and both sides got, only I was too good! For everyone. I was in deeper than I realized at first; didn't know how badly I needed help. Guess since I'd never had it before I thought I didn't need it, could go it alone. Until I knew I was too deep in it. Then I met all of you. I realized why we met and what I needed to do but I was still confused. I'd been told so much shit I didn't know who to trust anymore, if at all until they started going after me. Then you started to discover things, the stuff I'd begun to learn as well. We were also in...bad straights, then."

I managed a weak smile. We loved each other then. Hated each other more. Yeah, we were in deep shit.

"I did as I was instructed. Learned everything they wanted me to and told the Consortium everything they wanted to hear, while feeding the KGB what they needed. Played both sides like a grand chess game. I even passed on the info that there was a separate faction within the Consortium itself trying to advert their plans."

Skinner suddenly sits up and his eyes blaze with anger. "Do you realize what you did because of that? Do you know how many people died for that?! How many could have?!"

Right then I think of 'Deep Throat', 'X'; a host of people that paid with their lives and feel just as sick. Alex only manages to look back frustrated.

"No, I didn't! Not then. I was angry! Only wanted to make them pay. Everyone. It took years for me to realize it but at that time I didn't even know all the players involved. By the time I did, the game was going on deep and I was deeper."

Yeah. Weren't we all?

"Fox, I finally began to figure out you were just like me, trapped into something well before you knew it. I dug into info and found out about you. You were into it before you realized it as well. Thanks to Bill Mulder. I thought maybe you could help me; together we could straighten the whole mess out. Big expectations, that, but I thought you could. So I tried to tell you things, all of you, without giving away my own intentions. Obviously, I didn't do too well at that, huh?"

//No baby, you didn't. Then none of us passed muster that well back then either.//

Alex ignored our mutual looks of shock and smiled carefully. "Fox, I know I told you I was going back to Russia to find my family. I told you the truth, in a way. I did find my family. All dead. I did find a family of a sort. Boris. He offered to help me. Made a deal with his associates to send men and weapons. We took out the gulag, destroyed the lab, everything we could. Then we went after the remaining KGB-Consortium head group."

That gets us all. Walter actually looks more shocked than I think I've ever seen him, Scully can't seem to catch her breath and I'm too shaken to do more than gape at him.

"When the conflict within the inner circle started, a lot of the higher-ups were called back here. After some time a few went back to Moscow. We were waiting. The Consortium in Europe is mine now. All of it. When that was done, I came back to finish things up here."

"What things?" Skinner pushed.

Alex smiled back, almost casually. "The whole ball of wax, Walt. I own the Consortium here too, now. Everything. Every business, every building, every dime. It's under my control."

I could barely believe it as he talked. He'd taken over the Consortium, destroyed any remaining leaders that hadn't perished in the initial wave of chaos, the remaining techs, scientists, and thugs were now under his control. He's put them to good use. When he left me to return to Russia, he'd already made a few deals with those who were ready for a change. They decided to join him.

The remnants of the KGB section that betrayed him probably never knew what hit them. I'm sure some were lucky and died outright. Others... Let's say Alex can hold a grudge when he wants to. And a long memory.

I didn't ask what he did. I think I know. Wonder if there are any really good prosthetics makers in Russia. For many peoples' sake, I hope so.

Walter sat up a bit. "Alex, where's Vokolvich now?"

"Dead."

I don't know why Skinner even asked. Should have known.

"You're sure of that?"

Alex sneered slightly. "Very. I killed him."

//No Walter, you shouldn't have asked.//

Alex's eyes go dark, dangerous as he smiles. "I wanted him, Walter. That's why we attacked the gulag. We even had the prisoners to back us up, had some inside help. And Vokolvich was there. Before we attacked, even while we were fighting and killing, it was made clear that he was mine!"

Walter nods in understanding. "You shot him then."

"No."

We all look up as Alex's smile darkens. "I wanted him to pay for not just me, my parents, but for everyone he ever hurt. Even those that took extreme action to save themselves."

"What did you do, Alex?" Walter whispered. I think I already know.

"I let him see how it felt to suffer for nothing more than being in the wrong place. For being the child of two people who loved each other. I cut off his arms, only this time I didn't bother heating the knife!"

Dear God, I was right. Only Vokolvich would never need prosthetics.

"I stood there and watched him bleed to death. And smiled the entire time. Then I set his corpse on fire and left."

Scully looks away slightly sickened; Walter merely stares down at his feet. I wish I could actually feel repulsed by this but I'm not. I understand completely. Same as I did in New Mexico.

What about New Mexico? Just... Please, hang in, okay? This is important now. I'll get to all of it in time.

Alex clears his throat hard and now he actually looks at us nervously. "I... I make no apologies for what I did, people. I made a promise. I kept it. I thought my parents were the only true friends I ever had. Boris turned out to be one I'd not expected. At first all I thought was I was surrounded by enemies, so I played it out like that. By the time I realized who my friends were, could have been, I'd pretty much destroyed them. And me. But I know who they are...now."

He turns and walks up to Skinner, his eyes fierce again, fire sparking in them. "I'm telling you all this because I need help! I'm finally asking for it! What I've done is only a small fraction of what remains and you know it. Help me stop this, Walter. Once and for all. Help me end this madness before other innocent people pay." He glanced at Scully and me, then back. "Help us stop it. Please!"

For a moment Skinner seemed to be considering something. "Do you think this...Boris, might be interested in forming a 'union', Alex?"

He looks at us; all of us, then nods at Walter in understanding. "He knows what we're going after; planning to do, yes. He says he owes me. I think he might relish the chance to pay me back sooner than later." He looks steadily at Walter. "You do know who you'll be dealing with? What he does?"

Skinner shrugged. "I think there comes a time when you're in an alley fight, that you finally realize you need to fight back just as dirty."

I've learned that myself. Alex used to say 'resist or serve'. Damn if I plan to wait on anyone!

Skinner points to Alex's arm. "Nice prosthetic, Alex. Almost looks real."

That gets me a surprised green-eyed look. "You didn't tell him?!"

"No," I shake my head. "I felt that was your call."

"Tell me what?" Skinner asks.

"It's real, Walter. I found the rebels, their healers. Or rather, they found me. They altered my DNA more and it...it grew back."

Skinner's eyes flick to Scully and me then back. "Uh-huh."

There's a world of doubt there. He's seen a lot but nowhere near what we have. Alex sighs, turns and walks over to the living room closet, opens it and digs about. Closing it, he turns back welding an iron pipe and Skinner tenses. I tense too until Alex holds it out.

"Here. Bend this."

Skinner's look at him like he's mad. "What?!"

Alex smirks at him. "Come on, Walt. Bend it! You're a big guy."

"Alex, this is..."

"Bend it!"

Sighing, Skinner takes the pipe in his hands and flexes his arms. He's wearing short-sleeves (rare for him) and the muscles in his biceps bunch with the effort. I get a splash of icy reality. There's power there no matter what. I never should have grabbed him the way I did.

I have so got to control my temper!

After a moment he sighs, shakes his head and hands the pipe back. "Your point, Alex?"

"Only this." Alex takes the pipe in his right hand and bends his left, the metal actually screeching as it twists, curves, Alex bending it once, twice; forming a neat two-ringed coil before lowering in onto the coffee table. "There. A little free-standing modern art piece for you, baby."

Skinner stares at the pipe in shock and I merely smirk. "Nice. Thanks, lover." Scully glares at both of us.

Skinner looks up at Alex, down to his arm then back. "They did this to you?"

"Yeah."

"It's real?"

"Yep."

Skinner seems even more shocked but like always, he's cool. "I see."

Alex nods on it. "By the way... Those little aliens of ours? The bad ones? The ones we know are the intelligent wing of their species. They're more brains than brawn. What's coming to pound on us is a lot bigger and nastier."

"Super soldiers?"

Alex shrugs. "Some, but it's much worse. You guys ever seen 'Aliens'?" We all nod and he shrugs again. "They've been doing another little pet genetic project on the side. What they've got makes that an over-sized iguana..." His eyes narrow. "...with a nice personality."

We're in major deep shit!

Skinner gets that, too. "Then I think we need to seriously have a chat with Boris, Alex."

Alex could only smile back. "I can get word to him; find out if he'll join us. I think he'll be very beneficial. He's got connections, Walter; lots more now, I'm sure. I can't be certain but I wouldn't doubt many of them to be 'world-wide'."

Walter sat for a moment more then he rose and extended his hand. "Whatever you need, Alex, I'll find a way to get it to you."

Alex took that hand, shook it firmly and I stared breathing again. We were set. That night I don't doubt, even now, that none of us expected to survive this long but we were united. For the first time. That was all that mattered.

Skinner advised he'd be in touch. He gathered up his coat and with a single nod headed for the door. Scully followed him, rising on tiptoe to gently peck Alex's cheek, pausing only to look at me quietly. Then she managed a slight, cautious smile and they were gone.

She kissed Alex, the former killer; looked at me like I'd just snapped kittens and puppies necks. I'd never seen her look at me like that.

As I closed the door I wondered if they'd return. Either with a team to have Alex and I both arrested, or worse, shot. I'd threatened my former boss, was a hair's breath from killing him. I deserved arrest at the least; shot... Well it wouldn't be the first time.

More, I was wondering if they'd come back just to come back. Visit. I realized I wanted them to but I didn't expect it.

I walked over to Alex, gathered him close and held him quietly for a moment then leaned back to brush my fingers gently over his eyebrows, traced down the ridge of that delicate nose and let them kiss those perfectly bowed lips finally settling on his jaw. Skinner's punch was swelling it and I frowned. "We need to put some ice on that."

He looked at me, green eyes blinking silently before managing a soft smile. "I'm fine, Fox. Really."

"I said we should put some ice on it!"

I didn't mean to snap and checked it with a smile. Alex's eyes flickered just a moment then he nodded. "Sure. That'll be good." I turned for the kitchen.

"Fox?"

"Yeah."

"I'm okay, really. You didn't need to threaten..."

I cut him off growling, "No Alex, I did!" and once more went to retrieve the ever useful ice bag. "Now let's get that jaw taken care of!"

He didn't say a word as he followed me into the kitchen.

I was lucky. Scully came back the next afternoon, under the pretext of wanting to check on Alex. I was luckier that she came alone and not with a full psychological team and restraints as I'd expected. Skinner obviously felt Alex's explanation was enough. Enough to ignore my moment of insanity.

Like usual.

He joined us that night, moved with us; did his part. Even saved my lover on a mission taking out an alien sniper that had Alex in his sights. Took a shot in the gut for it.

God... I remember...

It was when we all first battled together. It was a local battle not far from our previous location and one of our first attacks. I'd gone in with the first wave; shooting up everything in sight to give Alex, Skinner and their boys room to plant the explosives. As we pulled back we were sure we'd gotten them all. That nearly cost us. Alien bastard must have been taking a shit or something.

I remember seeing them coming down the hallway of our old HQ later, Skinner's side wet with red, blood dripping from his fatigues, trailing on the floor and the man's face ashy with shock. Alex had him in a sure grip; arm wrapped around him tight but careful, voice roaring for medics. He eased our former boss down on a gurney and nearly lost his mind.

I tried to calm him, nearly got a punch in the face as he stormed past me, past everyone, people trying to dig into the walls to avoid him. I followed off a pace until he rounded a corner. He leaned against an empty ordinance cart and began to rock it, the metal squeaking hard under his weight and anger.

He does this, rocks, whenever he's angry, frustrated or tense. A slow sway of his body. It seems calming but he's like a cobra this way. You're so mesmerized by the motion you don't realize you've been bitten. I've learned to watch him carefully at times like this; try to gauge the mood the rocking's supporting. This time I didn't have to. He was pissed. He's deadly when he's like this - raw, unbridled anger that needs an outlet bad. Alex may have changed some, calmed in places, but that temper...

That just recycles.

He's a killer, has killed. Don't ever forget it. Alex. Is. Dangerous. Don't forget he's stronger now, enhanced. I got a hard reminder that night.

He rocked harder, the cart squealing, looked at his hands red with blood. Skinner's blood. It triggered him. Suddenly he leaned back roaring in rage, balled a fist and drove it down into the metal shelf of the cart - all three metal shelves - lifted it up and threw it down the hall. He wasn't so much as nicked. Then he turned, stormed down another corridor. I took a risk, he can hurt himself, and followed.

He stopped a few paces ahead, leaning into the wall and seemed to curl inward. I stood off to the side, away and watched him rock; eyes staring off hard and angry, seeing nothing. Then he did something I'd never seen him do in all this time. All the years I've known his name.

Alex Krycek prayed.

I'd never heard the 'Lord's Prayer' in Russian until that night. I've never forgotten.

Many think Russian is a somewhat coarse, guttural language, but the words he said flowed with a beauty and purity I finally understood. Understood the Russian spirit; the one he always tried to describe when talking about his ancestry - talked about people dealing with long cold winters and longer lines for food. People that endured a brutal war, genocide by their own leaders, and later, oppression. I understood an indomitable resilience; one that faith supported even then, hidden from the governmental view but never from the people.

Alex is Russian. Then and now. He was raised American but that spirit, that driving need to survive no matter what, was ingrained from his birth. Despite everything he suffered, did, it never wavered; kept raising its head time and time again. It's why he's still here. That kind of fierce will can't ever really be removed. Or destroyed.

Yes they, the Consortium, beat it down, stepped all over it. Crushed it many, many times. Cut it. Burned it. Even I, back then, did it damage. But every time it was really needed, called on, perhaps for the last time, it was there. Bright. Powerful. A phoenix rising.

So Alex took the part of him that was there all along, balled up that will, that determination, that need and sent out a plea for help of an even more powerful kind.

What? What's wrong with him doing that? I think he prays a lot. What? Never heard of a sinner praying? Trust me, he didn't do it for himself but he did it all the same; asking for blessing for another.

Alex doesn't want to lose anyone but this was a particular fear. Skinner had put himself in harm's way for him. It rattled him completely. He wasn't alone. So he prayed for a man that wasn't even a good friend then, just a fellow warrior. Maybe that was all that mattered.

So he prayed; went through Psalms, things I'd forgotten. Maybe wanted to. So I thought. A few moments later I was surprised when I started saying them with him. In Russian.

Not what one would expect from a triple agent, a killer; a man that didn't like the other, right? Not what you'd expect from me either. I'm not much better but we were calling for divine intervention for another. It seemed the right time and place to put a little trust in someone else.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm very glad there wasn't a busy signal.

When Scully came around the corner, medical coat red-stained and told us Walt would make it, I rushed her, hugged her with a wild shout of joy. Alex merely nodded once, thanked her and walked to the elevator. No one followed.

Later he came back, eyes moist but clear. No one said a word but everyone there was surprised when he pushed open the medical area door. That he stayed right there in Skinner's room in a stiff old chair, glancing up at the slightest sound, wide awake all night in case Walt needed something, was equally revealing.

The man that he was sure would one day more likely kill him (after me) had nearly died for him. That spoke volumes and made something happen. Something...wonderful.

He stayed right there day in, day out until Skinner actually had two soldiers toss him out of the room. Literally. He didn't even fight back, just smiled and with a nod to his former boss walked off. When I peeked in, Skinner was laying back with his hands folded behind his head chuckling away. I still wish I'd gotten that on camera.

I really wonder if my old boss understands now, the feelings I have for this beautiful man. Understands why I didn't kill him that day. Because I was asked not to. Wonder if maybe, at some point, he might have dreamed as well; knew that Alex was worth keeping. I wonder. Skinner's ex-Marine. Tough. Well-trained. Before he joined us.

Angry or not that day in my apartment, compared to him, I was really a toothpick.

He could have hurt me, killed me easily. Scully would have probably wounded Alex rather than have him join me, but Skinner just let me grab him. Maybe he knew. I can only wonder.

I've never asked him either and I won't. Knowing what I dreamed, Alex, even Scully, I don't dare. Remember what I once said about some things better left unknown? This time I'm the one that doesn't want to know! If he did dream about us, Alex and I, he's probably still in shock.

All I will say is that when he visits and Scully vanishes, she always returns happier, more focused...and deeply satisfied. As to Skinner... Well, he really does have the most beautiful smile and it always pops up when he spends time with her. You should see it sometime. Amazing.

Uh-huh, I'm smiling. You are too, aren't you? Good, 'cause that's all I'm going to say about that. Instead, let's get back to that night Skinner was wounded...

Everyone there saw something they'd never expected to see and it changed us all for the better. That night two men, once antagonists, stood up for each other and turned a rag-tag idea into a fighting force devoted to a cause and each other.

Few know the story of Alex and me; know the one with Skinner better. It changed all of us.

Ask 'em about that day, those moments and they'll both wave you off. Mumble something vague and walk off with a quick 'I have duties'. They're respected, maybe idolized some and they don't know what to make of it. Better to act like it's not there than have to deal with it. Their humility intrigues me to this day.

I still don't think they realize what they did for all of us then. Maybe they do but Alex's debt for saving Skinner that night in my apartment was paid up in full. They've been more than civil to each other ever since. They've gotten rather close, like two competitive brothers; always pushing, poking, goading the other but when one's in the lurch...he knows his back's covered.

Alex will never confirm it, Skinner'd never admit it, but I think I've got them both profiled now. They respect each other; maybe love each other. Okay, they respect each other.

True, Skinner's still that gruff, serious-minded man I remember staring at from across a polished desk but he's a good man. Fair. Saved my life a number of times back then at the Bureau; pulled my bacon out of more fires than he should have, many I lit myself. He paid for some of those, got burned as badly as any of us, but he stood his ground. He did some things too I'm sure he regrets, some I know about, many others will die with him but that's okay. He's proved himself to us now and that's all that matters.

I still don't know why he did it, got in the sights and nearly got himself killed for Alex. Maybe he finally saw something in my lover, something worth saving. Maybe he finally understood Alex didn't have the chance we had; got tangled up in a mess well before he knew it. Maybe he just did it for me. Knew I couldn't go on without him. I'll never know. He doesn't need to explain, I owe him regardless.

We gave him a position to help us, the third most powerful man in our organization keeping us safe. He'll do it, you have my word. And his.

Oh yeah, I never did apologize to Walt for that night in the apartment. Don't ever plan to. He had a point; I merely made a better one. Alex is my responsibility, mine to protect, and to that end the rule of 'one out, one in' came about. He's been pissed with me ever since. Love him for it, too.

He's not the only one, Scully's just as ill. You see, she's 'Number Four'. Skinner's back up. Rules are the same for them too. We need to be here to call the shots. One of us. Hopefully two if not all. So far we'll all here, the four of us. Hope we stay.

Alex makes a mewing sound and I focus back to the present.

"I really don't want to bother Walt needlessly, Fox."

He's still whining on about that? Lord! I hear the stalling tactic and don't let up. "Hey, comes with the job. Remember, he took the top office with pride. He knew he'd have to spend some time calming nerves and bruised egos in-between kicking alien ass. That the military's even onto this is because of his connections. They know the truth, Alex. The stakes. They've seen all the proof and they know. They turned to him and picked him to lead. Even the real brass that had the right to one-up him. Everyone accepted he could do the job the best. They voted him in."

Alex chuckles finally giving up. "Yes, but I don't think he likes having the uniform. Still, he wears it well."

I know how he feels. When I saw Walter being sworn in as the new head of the 'Joint Chiefs', the top dog for our entire military wing, our liaison to the guys and gals that comprise our 'Armed Forces'; a ton of hardware pinned to the broad chest I never knew about, I almost had a stroke.

Let me explain that.

Years ago, I nearly got toasted. Tossed into a military prison on trumped up charges. Turned out I was going to go down to an alien inquiry. Gibson Praise got there first. He spotted an alien in the tribunal, called him out and blew the alien cover. It was the beginning of the end for the Consortium. Our ultimate villain, Cancerman, paid shortly after. He's dead now, all of the leaders are. We're the beneficiaries.

That's how we have all this, use it. There weren't any survivors to keep it and these men didn't have much, if any, family. No one's ever asked why. We all have suspicions. I mean if you'd sell out your wife, your kids, to alien experimentation what will you have left?

Um...moving on to Skinner.

Anyway, he got me out, him and Kersh, another A.D. we'd dealt with. He came along too, died in a grisly battle in France but he saved four teams. Didn't know him as well as I should have, but he hasn't been forgotten.

Alvin Kersh. He helped me that day. So did another.

I remember that all too well... It was a few weeks into the dreams and I was a mess. A lost, needy mess.

I'd finally made peace with Alex or tried and or course, I fucked up. He came to my door one night, told me he too had been dreaming. We admitted our feelings and had just begun to make out when we both lost it. I was too desperate too soon, he was still edgy. He accused, I yelled, and finally threw him out.

Don't ask for details...I was stupid. Let's just leave it at that.

Anyway, Scully had tagged his car with a tracking device and went out after him, me following them both. We located his home and she confronted him. Gave him the worse chewing out I'd ever witnessed from my old partner. Together we managed to convince him we were there to help him, that I really...loved him. He finally believed it.

So I thought.

We made love that night and I woke up the next morning to find he'd bailed again. Scully had tagged him this time and I trailed him to an old warehouse. We talked more; I convinced him we had a plan to finally free him. We'd make him a 'federally protected' witness. Give him a new name and life. He agreed and we went back to his place, made love like crazy and fell asleep again. Then I woke up.

Sometimes, I fucking hate waking up!

Alex told us to go ahead with our plans - that he would flee and we could establish a new identity for him. What I didn't realize was he planned to bail for real!

Scully and I ranted and raved; tried our damndest to convince him he didn't have to run but in the end he reminded me of a dream. One in which he'd said he might have to in order to keep me safe. Alex was calling in that marker.

I had no choice but to let him.

We enjoyed a few days together, dealt with Scully and her medical madness (I'll talk about that later) and declared ourselves to our love. Then he said it was time for him to go. For a moment, just a moment, my heart had thought I'd won. Convinced him that he could stay with me. I really thought I'd won it all. Turns out I'm a worse player than I knew. I'm glad my dreams of playing for the Knicks never panned out.

In the end, Alex made his plans clear and there was nothing I could do to change them. I watched him pack a bag, felt his lips touch mine and he was gone.

As you know now, I thought he was going to find his family. You know what he did find but before all that...

A few days after he left, a package arrived at my apartment. In it were keys to his Lexus, the registration noting the car owned by a Daniel Arnett (nice), a maintenance schedule and instructions from Alex that I care for it until his return. Sadly there was no date or indication as to when that might be.

There was also a document for a local bank indicating I was his executor to handle his affairs in his absence; authorizing me to draw funds from Alex's (damn...Daniel's) account as needed for that maintenance and...anything else that might be needed. That both were legally documented indicated Alex had had plenty of time to plan. Prepare. Control. As always.

He'd known all along.

I sat there with the package wrapped in my arms and did the only thing I could... Cried like a child.

Scully was hanging out with me that weekend, working with me to catch up some paperwork and returned from a brief grocery run to find me sitting on the kitchen floor, package tight to my chest, sobbing like I'd never stop and rocking the way Alex did whenever he was tense or upset. She managed to pry it from my fingers, read the notes, the legal papers and knowing my mental state (or lack thereof), hauled me to my feet and into a local restaurant and bar.

Yeah...I was shocked too.

There, with two nice steak dinners before us and a few carefully regulated drinks, she played psychologist better than I'd done all my life. Told me that by doing this, Alex was placing his trust in me to care for his car and that on his return he'd no doubt expect it to be in top condition.

Note that positive 'on his return' tossed in.

"You have work cut out, Mulder. Everyone's seen your car. Don't go there with his," she said to me, eyes sharp and her voice firm. All I could do was nod slightly and worry my fork at a red potato but she was right and I got the message. I did need something to focus on and caring for a Lexus (the right way) would help.

I've said before many times but I have to repeat it. I love this woman. She's the best friend I'll ever have. Alex told me a few times here and there I was luckier than I imagined. I'm starting to figure that out. I am. I'm very lucky.

We dinned quietly after that, she drove me back to the apartment and the next morning I set out to make Alex's car a shining beacon to guide him home.

I washed and waxed it by hand, vacuumed it out and leather-cleaned the seats; polished the glass to sparkling. I parked it away from any other vehicles; away from pollen coated trees and poop-laden birds. I even bought a cover for it. I guess I got a bit obsessed.

Like always.

I drove it a bit, only after Scully ragged me to do so; reminding me that it needed some activity. She sounded like a trainer reminding the stable boy to take the Derby winner out for a cool-down walk. I'm a good driver but I was terrified of letting a thing happen to it so I only drove it on weekends; small errands about town then returned as quickly as I could to wrap it back up and tuck it safely in its protective 'stall'.

After all, it was the most physical reminder of my lover I had. He'd gotten his jacket back from my apartment before he left.

The car smelled like him; a faint remnant of cigarettes and more of leather. Once (um, okay...often), I slept in it; curled in the back seat with my pillow and blankets, nuzzling my face into the scent of processed bovine and took long, deep breaths trying to fill my lungs with the addictive fragrance that would let me go on a bit longer. I was already in bad shape.

It would get worse.

Scully and I went on with our plans, packed up his place, stored all his stuff and gave him a new name. Waited for him to return to claim it. Days turned to weeks, to months and still I waited. Tried to work.

When the months turned into a year; two...more, tried to live.

Now I understand how military wives and husbands feel - waiting for the day their loved one returns or the day they're told they won't ever return, only for me it was much worse. No one was going to come knock and tell me the bad news.

I wanted him to be alive. I needed him to still be alive! I didn't risk my career, my long friendship with Scully, my borderline trust with Skinner just to have Alex die cold and alone in a cold, lonely place. Sadly, I had no answers and millions of questions.

Same as always.

I went back to the 'X-Files', tried to focus on what we needed to do, got into deeper messes and eventually got myself arrested by the military. On those trumped up charges I mentioned. The aliens had finally agreed it was time for me to die and by my own species' hand if possible. Alex and I once talked about plausible denial, keeping your head above it all. The Consortium was the 'Dream Team' of deception and I hadn't a chance. That's when Skinner and Kersh stepped in and got us out.

Scully and I fled to Mount Weather, followed what Gibson Praise had told us to do and he was there. Smoking Man, Cancerman, and a name we'd only learned nearly too late...

Spender.

We entered a cave, found the cause of every pain and grief I'd suffered my whole life sitting there in a wheelchair, tubes and wires protruding from nearly every part of his body. Listened to air wheeze in and out of him. He was dying - years of inhaling acrid death finally taking its toll.

And still he played the game.

He taunted us; told us the day of the alien invasion, gloated that even in death he'd have the last laugh and I wanted to kill him more than I'd ever wanted to before. I took a step towards him.

Something dark and fast beat me to it.

I don't know where Alex came from, how he was there, but suddenly all one hundred and eighty-five pounds of him hit Spender, threw the wheelchair to the ground. There was a flash of silver, a wild terrified yell followed by a horrible scream of pure rage.

Scully screamed in shock, my throat locked in horror. The blade rose and fell, the sound of grizzly death sinking into flesh seemed to reverberate in the cave. I couldn't move; stood there frozen by time, shock and perhaps...justice.

I watched Alex stab Spender again and again. Mercilessly. Saw blood spray the air, Alex; heard Spender's hoarse screams quickly rise then vanish, and still Alex kept stabbing, all the while screaming in a voice that echoed with righteous fury.

When it seemed I'd stood there rooting into the ground, my lover finally rose up, staggered away from the near pulpy remains of our mutual enemy and turned to me. He was covered in gore, face so blood-stained I feared he'd also attacked himself; a punishment for all the wrongs he'd done. His eyes were wild - wilder than I'd ever recalled seeing them; filled with a savage animal gleam that chilled the blood in my veins.

For the first time in my life I saw the true potential of 'Alex, the killer'. It terrified me. He terrified me!

I watched his hand, the knife held in it slick and dripping, rise up slowly; watched him drag it over his mouth as he started to smile at me. That smile alone scared the shit out of me and I held my breath. Then he spoke.

"It's over, Mulder."

As he gazed at me I merely nodded once. We were even. I started breathing again, gasping in relief. I took a step forward and he turned the blade towards me.

"Back off, Mulder!"

I froze, instinct telling me my beloved 'cat' didn't want caressing right then. Alex's claws were fully extended and I knew I could get cut up as badly as Spender. Perhaps worse. The gleam in his eyes told me everything. Alex was in 'full killing mode' and dangerous as hell. That he called me by my last named warned me. He was on instinct and those were focused on attack. I needed to get him to focus on 'us'!

I looked at him with a calm expression (I still don't know how I did it), filled my voice with worry and love. "Alex? Baby, it's Fox. What's wrong, love?"

"Leave now. Leave and don't come back."

"Leave? Alex, leave what?"

He reached under his coat (thank god, he hadn't worn his leather jacket) pulled out a waterproof pouch and tossed it to me. "Everything you'll need is in there. Now go, Fox. Go south. Take Scully and go! Way south! Wait for word."

"Wait for what?! What word?!"

He looked at us then with the saddest expression I'd seen to date. "For word if there's anything to return to," he whispered.

While I stood there trying to grasp his meaning, he looked up at the ceiling of the cave, tipped his head and growled, "They're coming, Fox! Now go! Take Scully and run!"

We heard the helicopters a few moments later.

Scully seemed to sense it, the woman's intuition still scares me sometimes. She was already heading for the cave entrance. Then we were hauling ass, Gibson's voice screaming in my head to 'move it!' and Alex at my back. We cleared the cave just as the missiles struck. The explosion threw Scully and I to the ground. I rolled over, reached for Alex and grabbed nothing but dusty air.

For a few moments my heart actually stopped. I know it did, I felt it! My vision dimmed and my life began to flicker before me...then I saw the blood, the red-stained boot prints moving across the desert, vanishing, but there was still blood. Splashes of it for a few more feet then it too vanished. Alex had been covered in blood; looked like a stand-in extra for 'Carrie'. I knew whose, though. He was okay.

Then, I didn't seem to grasp why I was glad he'd escaped. I know now.

His debt was paid to Spender. I learned later he'd already paid back the KGB or what was left of it. Now this too was done. I'd wanted to kill the bastard myself but Alex wouldn't let me do it. Wouldn't let me destroy that part of me he's tried to keep safe and clean...

My soul.

I didn't have the heart to tell him he was already too late. A lifetime too late. Thanks to my 'father' (whichever one you want to thank or blame) it was far too late. Maybe he'd figured it out and left me to think. On whether we could work together...

And what I was really inviting home if we did.

I wished he'd given me a chance to tell him I'd made my choice well before; that I'd finally realized I couldn't win this war playing nice. That I knew what was really needed and who I needed to help me but it was too late. He was gone. Again.

Like always.

He saved my life that day; one of many if you really take a moment to look at the full perspective. By doing it he finished his promise to his father. He made them pay. All of them. Alex's debt to his parents was done and another personal demon vanquished. I understood him better with every day.

Scully and I fled, escaped until we could regroup and plan. Eventually we returned but more time had passed, another year. And still no Alex.

I tried to find him, talking walks late in the night, hoping to feel that hot body suddenly appear at my side but it didn't. I left messages at some of the places we'd encountered each other (as allies and enemies); taped a plea for contact - the letter 'A' on my living room window. Nothing happened.

Scully tried to keep me calm, assuring me that Alex was okay; would contact me soon but as time passed she slowly stopped. Perhaps she realized how hollow the words were sounding with every day that passed and I remained alone.

All I wanted was Alex in my arms again. All I had was a pillow.

I didn't see him again until one night he arrived at my door, quiet and solemn. I stood there looking at him with a mixture of elation and apprehension. He stared back the same way. Remember, the last time I'd seen him he was covered in blood; had just killed a man and looked ready to kill me. He knew it, too.

After a few nervous moments he finally smiled at me and said, "I'm back, Fox. Back to stay. If...you still want me."

Want him? Want him?! I answered the only way I could right then. I leered at him and said, "I want you alright and if you don't get in here, I'll fuck you right in the hallway!"

His smile was the most beautiful thing I'd seen.

I reached out, grabbed his arm and jerked him through the threshold slamming the door behind him, added him to the door a breath later. I was all over him, arms, legs, body; pressing into him as much as physical flesh would allow, my emotions and hormones battling for supremacy.

I was barely aware of his fingers - the left hand's fingers - stroking my neck, rubbing carefully. I knew what he was looking for, didn't fault him, and let him search. After a moment when they moved up, carded through my hair, I knew I was accepted. Then as my lips settled against his, Alex did something I hadn't expected since we'd made peace.

He bit me.

Hard!

I jumped back, away from him; startled and shocked. Felt the anger of old building so fast I could only gasp, lift my fingers to my bleeding mouth. I stared outraged at green eyes that stared back and for a moment, just a moment, those eyes changed; went yellow and I saw an angry panther before me, ears flat to his head and fangs bared ready to rip me apart. Then it hit me.

I knew this was Alex, but he didn't know me!

Slowly I lowered my hand, turned it outward, crimson-stained fingers facing my lover as I stared him down; let the blood on my mouth drip to the floor as I sneered at him. "Satisfied it's me or do you want to bite my arm off?"

It was cold, nasty and terribly cruel. Exactly what he needed to hear. Expect from me. I watched the 'ears' prick up, 'lips' cover the fangs and the 'claws' retract. "F-fox. Fox, I..."

"It's me, Alex. No one else would greet you like that." I stare at him carefully now, lowering my arm and ask him in a stern voice, "Or would they?"

My meaning's very clear. He was gone a long time and I'd heard nothing. Maybe it wasn't me that had changed.

Alex stood there and began to tremble; the vicious animal a moment before long gone. Instead, he let out a mew like a small housecat left out in the rain and cold; miserable and sorry for whatever got him tossed out of his warm, cozy home.

"No... No one else. Never anyone else. I..."

//No more, baby. Don't worry anymore.//

I moved, wrapped him in my arms and just held him. Felt that heartbeat I knew so well thump against mine, took a moment to realize I was crying. One more that he was as well.

"I was so worried about you!" I sobbed, not caring that I sounded like a whiney old wife. I felt like one in a way. He slipped his arms around me and pulled me almost into his chest.

"I'm sorry, Fox. I had to leave that day. I... I needed to do some things."

I didn't want to hear them, didn't care, and pushed him away just long enough to grab his face then I jerked him back and did my best to weld our mouths together.

The taste of him, even through my blood, the feel of his tongue desperately tangling with mine nearly got me off then. I was shaking, delirious with joy and need. My hands fell from his face, one landing on his shoulder pulling him in even tighter; the other finding his hip, gripping his ass like I'd never let go. I didn't want to let go! It was Alex that managed to get some oxygen working back through his brain and spoke, pulling free of my panicky grip.

"Fox, I need to talk to you. I need to explain why I was gone so..."

I didn't want to talk. I took my hand off his shoulder and pressed it to his lips. "Sssh, Alex. Just hold me."

"No Fox, I really need to tell you..."

"The only thing I want to hear from those lips right now is that you love me. I know I still love you."

That earns me a look of shock mingled with gratitude. I guess he didn't expect it. "I never stopped loving you, Fox."

"Then why don't you take me to our bed?"

His eyes leave mine, glance at the hallway, the door beyond then flick back as he licks his lips. "I don't think I should..."

He looks nervous and I get it. "Oh. Oh! No, Alex, no. It won't be like the last time. I didn't get to fuck you then. I want all my options this time!"

He actually smiles and looks hopeful. "Then maybe you should take me to bed."

I watch the smile go smirky and realize just how much I missed that smart-ass mouth. How much I want it doing something more than talking. Like situated between my legs sucking me off!

I reach out and grip his hand. "Come on, baby." He follows me quietly to the bedroom, pushes the door shut and stands there looking at me carefully. "What's wrong?"

Green gazes back at me so quietly I'm not sure I know who this is. "You're not mad at me."

"Mad at you? How could I be...?"

"Fox," he sighs at me shaking his head, "I left you years ago and now that I'm back, you act like I merely went on a business trip for a few days. No yelling at me, no grilling me on where I was; what I did. I..." Suddenly he takes a hard step back from me and the green goes dark again. "Who the fuck are you?!"

I smile at him not frightened in the least. "Not a clone or a shifter if that's what you're worried about. I think I've already proved that or do you need to bite me again?" His eyes weaken slightly and I chuckle softly to excuse him. "Alex, it is me. The reason I'm okay is I've known you were, too. I didn't know where you were but I knew you were okay. I've missed you but I knew you were safe."

He looks at me even more carefully, if that's possible, then smiles back. "I knew you were okay. I knew you were worried and I wanted to call but I didn't want you coming after me. The whole time I was gone I felt like... I could 'sense' you. There was one time for a while, a time when I felt nothing; like a 'dark spot'. I couldn't 'see' you for want of a better word then it lifted. Still, the whole time I... I felt you were okay."

I decide not to tell him there was a clone of me back then; one that died. Don't doubt for a moment what that 'dark spot' was and I don't need him starting to doubt me. We stand there for a moment then he closes his eyes; that pert nose wrinkling and I smile at him, curious. "What are you doing?"

"Sssh. Just listen."

I do, looking around before speaking again. "What am I listening for?"

One green eye opens surprised. "Me," he murmurs. "Can't you tell what I'm thinking?"

It never worked that way before (if you don't count that time I was drugged) and not now. "No. Nothing."

"Not a peep?"

"No baby, but I could take a wild, vulgar guess. Still, that could just be blamed on the fact I'm so fucking horny right now I don't know why we're even trying to do this!"

Both eyes open on me. "But I thought you could..."

I shake my head chuckling at him. "Alex, the last time we were like this, in your bedroom that time, I told you I could sense what you were feeling but not thinking. It's still the same. I can't tell your thoughts but I could sense that you were okay out there. As safe as you could be." I stare at him, smile carefully. "And that you weren't alone. I don't know exactly how but I knew you had...protection. I still worried, though."

He looks at me openly amazed. It's just so beautiful. "Fox, while I was there I think I had a kind of daydream. A few, actually. I thought you..."

The cheeks under those beautiful green eyes flush and I don't need him to finish. Oh my. "Um, no. I didn't get any of that feeling, Alex."

"Ah."

"But I'd sure love to get some of that right now!"

The eyes sparkle at me. "Yeah. I bet you would." Then he shifts slightly and the color fades a bit. "Fox, I need to talk to you."

Oh, no you don't. Not now. I'm not going to be his 'wailing wall'. Not tonight. "Alex, I don't want to talk right now. What I want is to give my baby a nice warm bath, tuck him into a soft, clean bed and fuck him 'til there's no tomorrow."

He smiles at me again, a bit more sure of himself and breathes out softly. "God... You're such a romantic."

I take that as my cue, move back in and slide my arms around his neck. "Let me show you. Please, Alex. Tonight no talking, no discussions. Just you and me. Together. Alone."

"Were you planning to invite someone?"

//Oh yes! Thank god! He's back!//

I can't resist. I toss my head back, hoot with happiness and pull him in for another wild kiss. This time he gives it back just as passionately and I know he's going to be okay.

We fell into my bed and made love until dawn.

It was rough; we were both tight. Celibate tight. Alex kept his promise and so had I. We were also a bit shy. We undressed each other so slowly, gently; no clothes were torn off this time. Instead, we actually had some trouble - a button getting stuck here, a zipper not moving there. We were virginally awkward, passionately beautiful...

And deeply in love.

Finally, we managed to get naked and that's when it hit me. Alex left me in beautiful shape. He came back even better. Now he was devastatingly gorgeous!

His biceps, on his restored arm as well as the right, were thick with power; his chest more pronounced, muscles rippling along his pecs, stomach washboard ripped with strength. His legs were thicker, more defined with muscle; better than mine and I've run for years. I could barely handle it. I still think he read my shaking body as overwhelming joy and not the ravaging lust that made me nearly helpless. Outside the trembling, I was otherwise immobile.

I lay there on my side stunned, unable to do a thing for a few moments, realizing how hidden under the clothes this secret rested. It was only when his arm brushed mine, giving me back a surge of life that I was able to move.

We spent some time simply touching; trying to awaken those pleasure spots we'd almost forgot. By the time we were ready, we were both so desperate with need, so shaky we almost jumped each other raw. Somehow I managed to think of lube. We used up an entire bottle desperate to do it right. To do it all night.

We did.

He let me take the lead this time, without a word. Merely looked up at me, smiling softly, those deep green eyes glowing with contentment and something I'd missed deeply. Thought I'd never see again in any fashion from this beautiful man. Trust.

I intended to make sure he never forgot it.

I couldn't get enough of him; his skin, his taste, his smell. I was pure animal instinct, rutting need, and I accept it. Admit it. Proudly.

I spent minutes just smelling him, burying my nose everywhere I could; inhaling deeply, loudly, snorting like a bull while he sighed here, chuckled there. I kissed his lips, his nose, neck; worked smooches along that lean, beautiful throat. Nipped firmly before laving my tongue to ease the sting, all the while breathing in the scent of him. I buried my face in an underarm, got a loud chuff of merriment, a little slap on the head to 'get away' and quickly retreated only to find another armpit unguarded.

I even sniffed his feet much to his horror; both having been in boots for hours. I know he thought what I sensed should have driven me away. Actually, what I smelled was the equivalent of a spring pasture of love...the scent of my Alex in all his majesty and power.

He finally gave up and let me smell to my heart's content. I snuffled like a pig; sniffed him all over, my big nose finally proving it was more than just an unfortunate decoration on my face. I've memorized Alex's complete pheromone pattern now. I took my own sweet, fucking time doing it, too!

Finally, I got down to the heart of the matter - Alex's cock. That beautiful thick rod of love was happier to see me than I was to see it. It thumped against Alex's stomach - a single drumstick marking the beat of his life. Mine.

Groaning like a dying man, I buried my face in the thick thatch of fur surrounding it, breathed in again and smelled Alex; the scent of him and leather. The scent I was sure I'd never smell again assaulted my nostrils and I really understood the need an addict has for his drug. I said long ago I was addicted to him, now I know how badly. Those years he was gone, years of withdrawal, nearly killed me; made me look for alternatives to ease my pain and loneliness. Made me reckless and nearly cost me my life yet again.

Now I realize how much I need him, need this. Need him! I don't know how I survived without...

Oh, god!

Suddenly I was on him like a living flood.

I couldn't de-bone myself; couldn't simply flow over him like a cloud, like water, like fog, but I tried my fucking hardest to be exactly that. I couldn't expand enough to cover him in a caress of pure love and desire but every fiber of my being wanted to do just that. I think when I started crying again he knew.

He lay there, waiting patiently until he could sense I'd gotten a grip then I felt his fingers glide down over my head, the left hand combing through my hair. I've felt the strength of that hand (briefly). I should be scared. I'm not.

Do I trust him? Yes. Even now, I trust him. Even years later, even in his absence, I trust him. After all, he's letting me fuck him. If you know his past (and I know you do), you understand why I don't fear. In fact, I purr happily through my tears; nuzzle his hand encouraging him to comb more.

His sigh, deep and so relaxed it's almost hypnotic, lulls me.

I lift up, smile at the smile back, and gently lift his straining cock to my mouth; press a soft kiss on the tip and it cries in joy. Keeping my eyes on his, I flick out my tongue, gather his flavor and slowly crawl up the bed; over his body, my tongue out for his inspection. He lifts up, hands - both of them - gather around my face and pull us into a slow kiss. Our taste together makes us both groan.

I can't wait any more.

I pull away, moaning my need and he nods in agreement. I'm back down the bed in a flash; hands finding the bottle of lube on the bed. I want him to do the honors and lift it up to him. He takes it, pops the top, and I hope I can keep it together enough to make us both feel good. It has been a long time.

I hold out my hand, glance up when fingers wrap over mine to coat it thickly. He's grinning at me and I smirk back; let our fingers slip over each other briefly, then I'm moving back down to the business at hand.

For a few moments I just stroke him; let my fingers trace that tight opening and marvel at how cool I am, how stable when I should be screaming for it. I still don't know what took over but I was calm, relaxed and content. I slid one finger inside him, gasped at the heat I was sure I'd never feel again; groaned with Alex then gasped again as he pressed his heels into the bed bearing down, pushing my finger in deeper.

That nearly snaps me but I refuse to rush this. I want us both to be completely satisfied and that means I have to hold on. Need to please Alex first. Sometimes my courtesy amazes even me.

Alex rocks against my finger slowly, moaning deep in his throat and I ease back to add another. That gets me a deeper, more satisfied moan. I'm close to loosing my mind but I need to do this right. We've been apart too long, need to feel close, so I work him gently.

I hang in long enough to ease a third finger into the slickness of him and the heat I feel now seems to be flowing out of my lover. It flows over my fingers, hand, rolls up to encompass my arm, shoulder; flows over me moving down my chest, my stomach, to finally land right between my legs. The result is incredible.

I glance down stunned to see my cock dripping like a bad faucet. I'm wet! Not in the way a woman would be, but for a guy what I am right now would scare. I watch precum ooze out of me and realize my cock's so hard the head's a deep purple, plump and full of blood. I stare at it surprised. Wonder why it doesn't hurt...

I'm a psychologist. I should know the dangers of subliminal suggestion.

Suddenly I feel my balls, so tight and aching, I've surpassed 'blue balls' by a line drive. My cock's throbbing now. Suddenly I throw back my head and howl with the pain. I don't know what my fingers did right then but Alex answered me a second later.

Our cries rose, blended together into one short but sweet tone that spoke all our feelings - two lone wolves that had finally found the other. We were finally mated. Forever.

I dropped my head, lips pulling back and snarled at him, 'fangs' bared to the gums. He snarled back and I fell on him again. I opened my mind, pulled up every scene of every porn video I'd every rented, ever owned, and unleashed a round of foreplay to make the record books.

I couldn't lick enough, suck enough. I kept him on the edge, me; balanced us there, him, then snatched us back every time. When his head started rolling back and forth on the pillow continuously, and mine felt like it was going to explode off my shoulders, I knew it was time to get to it.

I ease back, reach out and pull his hips closer, smile as he wiggles down in the bed to accommodate me. I grip my cock, pray I won't come the moment I'm in him and push against him slowly...

Suddenly long legs wrap around mine tightly, push, and I slide in hard and fast. Alex screams in English and I shock us both, howling in Russian.

God, he's so hot, so tight; muscles ripple over me like ocean waves and my head starts to pound in time with my shocked heartbeat. He feels so fucking good! My body goes weak and I tumble down against him, panting in shock. "A-ah! Allleeexxxx," I groan.

His arms wrap around me, pull me tight against him and I lay there for a few breaths, feeling the body I'd almost feared would never touch me again settle us close. His chest rises in counter to mine, lets us both draw in slow breaths. I twitch against him, his ass clenches against me and we sigh as one.

"I missed you, Fox."

//Oh baby, I missed you! More than I can ever convince you, I know!// "M-m-missed, you!" is all I'm capable of saying.

He rocks slowly then, a slight dip of his hips in the covers, a faint lift of hips to push me in deeper. I know he's asking to set the pace. I let him and rock slowly back.

We hold each other like that, moving leisurely, a steady rhythm that lets us both enjoy the sensations as we want. His head turns slightly, lips find mine and he kisses me equally slow. It's a deep, sweet kiss; every bit of love, happiness and care oozing out of his soul to feed mine. I drink in every drop and give it back in triplicate.

He starts moaning, increases his rocking and I sense his growing need for it to go to a level higher. I whine against him, shift my hips wordlessly asking him to give me room. He obliges, legs moving to lift up, wrap around my hips, ankles hooking against my ass. I move back and thrust as deep as I can. Get one hell of a beautiful moan out of it, my name easing out on the end.

Looking back, I wonder why we started making love that way. We definitely didn't finish the same. In fact by the time we were done, the headboard was broken on one side, two slats had cracked and we still wanted more. But right then, in that moment, I could have moved like that for all eternity.

Of course, Alex got his usual burr up the ass (or rather, Fox up the ass) and started to rock more. I got that message and picked up the pace until we were slamming into each other, growling and roaring like always.

God, I missed him so much!

I tried to shift, reach between us to pump him off and he yelled, "Don't! Fox, let me..." and I stopped. He wanted it this way, wanted us to just move. The way he was sobbing, crying out, I knew he'd come without me touching him; knew I'd go off right after him. I actually beat him to it, jerking up, away, flinging my head back shrieking his name just as he met me, screaming, arching under me and covering us both in a thick stream of cum. My arms gave out and I fell forward, chest hitting his with a wet, sweaty 'smacking' sound.

We lay there nearly insatiate, hearts slamming against each other, breathing like bellows and his hand moved from my back to comb through my sweaty hair; held my face to his, our cheeks touching.

"Th-Thank you, Baby."

That single sentence, that simple touch, washed over me; triggered feelings I was trying desperately not to let go of again but it was no use. He was here, back with me, holding me; letting me make love to him and I couldn't fight it anymore. I slid a hand under his back, felt the scars of his life traced there, slid the other to cradle his head and cried as if my tears could wash us both clean. Clean of pain, fear and worry.

He didn't try to calm me, assure me, just let me cry; his tears silently given, adding to mine. Through the outburst I could feel him hardening against me, felt my cock responding, filling him again and we began to move once more; crying in love.

We drifted off a bit I think; then woke hard as hell, happier than we had a right to be and hornier than ever! I managed to find another bottle of lube and we picked up where we left off the night before. This time, all the heavy emotions were done. Now we were fucking like we had years to go and only a few hours to catch up.

Yeah, that's when the bed broke, I'm sure of it.

I was over him, around him, under him, above him, sideways to him, him sideways to me, in me, over me, behind me, me behind him... We were fucking everywhere!

The bedspread went first, the sound of tearing fabric barely heard over my screaming, then I think two pillows went airborne landing propped against the window muffing Alex's wails. The fitted sheet at some point tried to garrote me in the midst of getting fucked through the mattress and finally Alex ended up near mummified wrapped in the fitted sheet.

Yeah...Yeah! That's when the bed broke, no doubt about it. There was this horrific crack!, the bed dropped right on time, and sent us both screaming over the edge. Believe me...the earth didn't just move, tilt on its axis; it fucking went horizontal!

I'm having that bed bronzed. I don't care how much it costs!

When we couldn't scream anymore, could only sob in worn-out bliss, we stopped. By then the tangled sheets were soaked and I could have cared less. It was a laundry day I'd look forward to - carrying them out with all the pride of a victorious gladiator; them, my vanquished opponent.

Oh, did I mention Alex and I seem to possess the ability for multiple orgasms? No? Well, we do. Whether due to being altered or simply our fanatical love for each other, I don't know nor care. All I'll say is that then, as now, we take full advantage of it!

We slept again for a while, neither complaining about a wet spot (considering the whole damn bed was a wet spot, why bother?!) woke together and after a quick change of bed linen, a shower (no, we really did bathe!) we were back in the bed, and snuggled close. It was only then, both of us too boneless to do more, that we finally talked. He told me some of where he had gone and what he'd done.

It was greatly abbreviated. Mostly he talked about Russia, the countryside, Moscow, the food and just seeing his heritage again. He was like a travel guide; telling me about the cities, the local people and nightlife.

Still, I could hear the underlying tone in his voice, the one that was trying to find the courage to tell me the truth and wasn't yet ready. Neither was I. I didn't push; I knew I'd learn soon enough. I did. I got the full story that night along with Scully and Skinner.

Looking back, it was rough; listening to what he'd dealt with in his life, did in Russia, but I think somewhere deep down I knew what he was going to do. I'm sure I did, if not in a way I could readily understand.

Back in our bed I let him talk; listening half-heartedly until he told me it was time for us to get back into the war. On the same side. I agreed with him. With a few conditions.

I'm sure you already know what they were.

I looked up when his fingers brushed over my mouth, gently touched the cut of his bite swollen from our kisses and he looked devastated. "I'm... I'm sorry I did that, baby. I..."

"You really thought it wasn't me."

There's no question to it and he nods back evenly. "Yes. I... You have no idea what I saw out there, Fox. I've come to be even more cautious. I'm sorry I doubted."

He's not and I can't blame him. I snuggle closer; nuzzle my head under his chin. "You're forgiven. I guess after all we've both seen, I can hardly blame you."

We lay there close and warm and I think of something; lift up to find him looking back curious. "What?"

"You haven't asked about your car."

His faces pales and it's all I can do not to fall off the bed laughing when he whimpers, "Do I have to ask? Oh, god!"

Yes, I have missed him!

We spent the first few weeks getting his stuff out of storage, setting up his apartment on the floor above me but he spent more time in mine just the way I planned and wanted. Much to the disgust of my neighbors.

Uh-huh. I thought you'd know why.

We were wild those first weeks, making love like animals - screaming, yelling; wild shit. We couldn't help it. I missed him, he missed me. Our passion was more than just sexual release (although we released a lot, believe me!); it was more a need to know we were together again. Free. For a while.

Alex did a lot to win points for both of us, turning his vast array of skills to playing 'helpful maintenance man' for the building. I was amazed when he plumbed a few leaks and wired some light fixtures, all the while flashing a bright look and a dazing smile. The ladies in the complex quickly learned where his heart lay but he charmed them all the same.

Then he turned his talents to the men, inviting a few over for impromptu apartment tailgate parties. A good game, better beer, a round of cards afterwards (he always let them win) and word quickly circulated we were 'okay'. We were forgiven our 'different' life.

Remember me saying Alex was complex? I didn't realize the half of it until then. Who the hell would have thought a trained killer could also be a 'handy man' and a good neighbor?

He began to change then, becoming the man I know now. I was proud of him. Get more so with every day.

Yes, the time was good for us. We enjoyed our life together but we also worked. I started to learn a lot from him. Things I would need later. Much later.

Weeks grew to months and finally I knew we couldn't wait it off any longer. We called Scully and a few days later she and Walter arrived at my door. But you already know about all that and I'm getting a bit side-tracked. We were talking about Skinner...

Yes, I ramble sometimes but I always manage to get back to my point, don't I?

So shortly after Scully and I bailed, Skinner's military connections touched base with him under pretext. Praise's little show at my inquiry shook them. They'd started to question some things that quickly grew to many. Noticed that officers, officials that had made unusual and sometimes confusing demands, were disappearing. Slipping away leaving more questions. It didn't take long to figure out who they were and where they had gone because nearly every military secret we had went with them.

The pouch Alex gave us that day in New Mexico contained money and fake ID's. We hid out as he'd instructed, learning later Skinner had received a similar pouch. One that told him where we were and what to do. He waited for the precise date then called us back. After Alex had eliminated the last vestiges of our greatest foes, stopping the oilen testing and keeping them from using more unwitting humans as hosts. Kept them for getting a deeper toehold on our military and our remaining weapons.

He'd given us all a timeframe - on how long it would take to exact his revenge on the Consortium and the KGB. He kept it to the day.

Yeah, he still scares me sometimes as well.

That's why we're here, why we lead; the real military's best weapons may already be in the hands of the aliens waiting to be used against us. We still have them but it's hard to pull out a 'secret weapon' when it's on everyone's drawing board. Except us. Skinner knew that.

We became the new weapon for the future, moving in ways a full scale force couldn't: in twos, threes, whatever was needed. Slip in as a tourist, take out a shifter, a breeding den, slip back out and have some great photos of your trip.

How do we get through security with stuff? We have aliens for allies, remember? The rebel group. I've met them, seen them. They mean business. They've got a real nasty 'revenge thing' going on; want their people that have been doing this shit for years all over the universe to stop.

Maybe they've been used too, by their own. Turned into slaves or worse. We know something about that. Maybe they just hate the whole 'oppress the universe' thing. I don't know and no one's asked but they go where we can't blend in, get us the info we need and slip away. Right before we come in to clean house.

So we have the military on one hand, an advanced technology on the other. Two support systems that kick ass in different ways. The aliens have even gone so far as to take on their brethren at our sides.

They've gone back, some of them, easing into their people's hierarchy; maintaining the guise of the hard-line while sending out every bit of information they can glean. New labs, breeding grounds, advanced colonization plans, anything and everything manages to slip back to us. Some get caught, pay with their lives; most stay and do whatever they can. They take risks too and we know it. We owe these rebels for their help so we try not to kill them; warm them to bail when we're riding down on them to take something out.

You'd think by now someone would have figured it out. I guess it's hard even for them to distrust their own. Know about that too. We believed in a group of men, until they made the ultimate betrayal; sacrificed an entire world to a force that wants nothing from us but a means to make more of them. These men, my father included, sold us out for power. What nearly all of them got was a messy death.

I'm working to make amends. I have a personal interest...on several levels.

Do we trust them? The rebels? It's been hard but they keep providing info, weapons, knowledge (what they think we can handle) and many have died for us, some by our sides. Yeah, I guess we do.

They've gone out with us, killed their own for us. They're the 'real thing' and they're got stuff James Bond would drool over. One's called a 'jammer'. Put it in a case of AK-47s, load it onboard a plane and flip a switch. It's set to whatever we want. A hologram activates; a damn near real on. You can touch stuff. Even if you open it, all you'll see is some families' undies and the wife's vibrator. Suitcases usually get closed back quickly after that.

It jams anything, even x-rays. One alien tried to explain it to us and the 'Gunmen' even wigged. That told me enough. I left it alone. It works. That's all I need to know.

We can walk right past alarms, everything and never set off one. Sometimes we use our own stuff: jeeps, SUVs, jets we have. The military's with us, give us access to everything we need, too. So I learned how to fly. Jets, bombers, helicopters, all of it. Alex always could. We travel where we have to, set up our attacks and get out.

The rebels say when it's all done, when we've won back our world, they plan to leave it. They'll take back everything too; all the technology, weapons, whatever we've been given or discovered. They say we're still too young a species to have this now. Guess they're right. We'd probably just finish ourselves off for everyone if we did.

I guess they know that better than most. They've been here for a while, living amongst us. They know we're a problem to ourselves but all our petty squabbles are nothing compared to what's in the alien deck of cards for us. They know what we're hunting; know without some support we'd have been wiped out in nothing flat. So they help us and make sure we know what we're getting a bead on when we line up our sights. Wouldn't do to shoot wrong.

We're not after humans, only non-ones. We're no danger to our fellow man. In fact, we're trying to keep them around. We've done a good job so far...and we've made a mess of it too. One particular time springs to mind. When we were first assigned 'backup' from the military to help us.

They sent us a group of their best, Green Berets. You know the name, the history, the tradition. We knew the difference. Tried to have them stand on backup. No luck. These guys were tough, ornery and spoiling for a fight.

They got one.

We landed on the outskirts of Baja. Ninety in the shade and the oppressive heat started the tempers early. Scully and I had the call and that wasn't appreciated; my long-time pal being there was particularly nasty but when you refer to her as 'doctor' the attitude fades some.

We located the huge warehouse facility our scouts had discovered, went under a relatively mild wire fence and headed in; planting C4 charges everywhere. We packed a couple of hundred pounds of it and headed in deeper, locating stairs to lower levels. So far, nothing; no one. Silent as a grave. The 'green boys' weren't concerned, my team and I were scared shitless. This had a bad feeling.

The commander, a guy named Berkley, was just digging into me about this being a waste of time and we turned left. As we rounded a corner, there it was: a breeding nest and the Berets saw the truth for the first time. Good thing the floor was already slime covered. Their little additions didn't do a thing.

As we moved through taking pictures, video of what we'd found; the men staring at the bodies, husks of what had once being living, breathing men and women, the shock began to wear off to icy reality. Berkley turned a pale face to me and understood. I think the man found religion, too. All he could do was moan, "Jesus, man."

That summed it up pretty well.

One fellow was off to the side staring at a chamber. Finally he bent over and puked violently, crying at the same time. It sent an alert and we moved to his position. What I saw steeled my resolve, made the others close to screaming.

She couldn't have been more than twelve, fifteen at the most. She was still alive, but bleeding internally. Blood ran down her legs from both orifices, from her mouth. She jerked, heaved, and a mass of flesh splattered out against the chamber. A man behind us moaned. It was a half-eaten part of her kidney.

We watched in horror as 'something' rippled under the skin across her belly, swollen in a way that sobered every man. It was eating her alive. From the inside. I looked up into eyes soft blue, filled with terror and agony. It took a few moments to read her lips through the blood and gore.

'Kill me.'

What child would ever ask that of someone? Normally?

I hit our radio to confirm with Scully the explosives were set, told her to move her team for the entrance and we were on their 'six'. Then I pulled out my Sig, pressed it to the chamber at the girl's forehead. She managed to smile.

'Thank you.'

I fired and the whole place suddenly filled with super soldiers.

We were on the run, firing Teflon coated bullets right into their faces, through their necks, watching them drop into puddles of fast dissolving goo but there were too many. And the 'green caps' knew it.

They covered our escape, took up positions to flank us; Berkley yelling at the two with the evidence to go on, report what they'd seen. He and the rest, some twenty men stayed; screamed at us to blow the place as soon as we were free...

God, I didn't want to.

Scully did.

We've never forgotten them.

Like I said, it took me a while to get through this. Whenever I think I'm about to give up, break, that girl's face is there, the memory of what I saw and I kill her again. To save her. Remember Berkley and those brave guys giving us a way out and fire again, and another alien that could do it to someone else dies.

Those photos, taken that raid, are standard military training documents along with other film from labs, breeding grounds we've destroyed. Most of the folks that see them aren't in a rush to train with us; some still think they can handle it. That's when we bring out the 'exhibits', corpses of what we've killed. That usually does it. They decide to wait; think we're crazy. We probably are.

That's when the reality sunk in, that we're good at what we do and maybe best at it right now. Skinner knows that; now sends only the ones that have a certain fire in their eyes. Or a certain madness.

He promised Alex whatever he could do for him, for us, he would. He kept his word.

The military called him back and for all intents and purposes, he'd never left. I don't know how they juggled the paperwork but Brigadier General Hank 'The Hammer' Davis (yep, the codename fits, too) has been career all along. Working quietly, gaining recognition until the current administration selected him as the new 'Head of the Joint Chiefs'; the top dog to all the military groups.

Skinner likes it, thinks it works for him. It does and so does the uniform. Jesus, the man always could wear a suit but put him in military blue...

By the way, Alex had a crush on him. Until Skinner learned about him. He's never told him and I'm not saying a word either. Besides, Alex has me now. I don't share and that's all I need to say! So let's get back to Alex and me.

Oh yeah, thanks for staying with me through all that. I tend to talk and think a lot. I know there's more to tell, explain, and I promise I will but I need to get back to time with my lover.

I'm pulled back to Alex's comment, Walter's uniform. I know he isn't thinking along the same lines, he actually made a respectable peace with my former boss but I can't resist teasing. "Oh yeah, he does wear it well. Damn...I love a man in uniform."

That gets me a tighter grip. "Really? Should I be...concerned?"

It's said fiercely, with a hint of true anger. I don't tease that much anymore. Life's too serious. "No and you know it. My taste definitely runs to leather and black."

I let my fingers feather through his midnight hair and he smiles. "Smart man. Want to take this elsewhere?"

"Yeah, but I've got a weapons class tomorrow at ten."

"Okay. Sorry. I forgot the time change. You must be jet-lagged."

"Nah, slept on the way back. I'll be up usual time. I could use a jog though."

That hasn't changed. I always jog when I'm restless; pensive. Except I do it now with four huge German Sheppards at my side. Everyone here is part of their pack. Nothing gets past them that's not familiar. Nothing.

I know. Someone tried.

Three years ago, a super soldier was sent to take out two rising stars on the business ladder. Maybe the aliens knew who we really were. Maybe not. Still, we're visible, influential, and positioning two of their own in our places would have been a coup. By the time I was able to call off the dogs and a team came to my rescue, the solider couldn't have been fixed with super glue.

He thought he was invincible. Big mistake. He was just 'walking kibble'. Hard to put yourself back together when massive chucks of you are being torn out by four dogs with wolves in their ancestry.

It took us hours to get all the gore off my pals. Especially with them yapping and jumpin', knocking us over; all drooling tongues and crazy wagging tails. I am talking about the same animals, believe me. They were trained by the NYPD K-9 Division. Snap the collar, leash on and it's all business time. Take 'em off, toss a ball and you've got silly, fun-loving playmates. Those dogs are dear to us.

Alex's touch brings me back to the present. Fingers find mine and I squeeze them. They return the touch and I feel the control in so simple a gesture. He could crush my bones to powder and knows. Once again I think about why.

He lost his left arm to my drive years ago. In Tunguska. I caused it and he blamed me. We were nemesis before that but the lost accelerated our personal war until we almost killed each other. Then he encountered the alien rebels, the group bent on stopping their peers and they healed him, gave him back an arm much stronger.

It's real, his arm. Real and all his. He grew it back. The rebels did something to him, accelerated his altered DNA and restored it. All I know is that our bodies have always been capable of repairing damage but years of evolution and the lack of stimulus to restore damaged parts eventually canceled out the ability. The aliens' tampering gave us that ability back. The rebels used it. Alex's arm is his real one. Right down to the fingerprints.

I told him years ago when he was ready to talk about it, I'd listen. Nine years later he's still said nothing. I've stopped holding my breath for it, too. Suffice it's there, it's real and it holds me close just fine. That'll do for me. But it was still a shock.

When our paths crossed again - when we dreamed - he was still adjusting to it, the heightened feelings in it. They were painful, unnerving. Now he's adjusted, can control what he feels to normal or elevate it so that he can detect the slightest change in texture, heat; anything. He can crush bones to splinters or bricks to dust. He may get bloody but he heals fast. So do I. We can die but you'll work up a hell of a sweat before we do and you might go first.

Six months after we set up base here, Alex came to me and told me he had to leave. Said only that he was needed in Utah and that he had to go alone. I argued, we yelled, ignored each other for a full day but in the end he won. He left in our Lear jet to an undisclosed place.

And I aged a year in half the time.

When he came back he was different. Stronger. Much stronger. In both arms. He still hasn't said what happened but he hasn't had to. He went back to them, the rebels, and they enhanced him more. He's got two arms capable of bending iron, punching through concrete yet they can feel the texture of a robin's egg to the very cell; cradle me in our most intimate moments like a baby.

His hearing, vision...all his senses are improved. He can't leap over tall buildings but he can run for hours like a marathoner and not be too exhausted.

A few weeks after he returned, he called all our teams back from all over the world; for a private meeting at 'Area 51' and one I was expressly told I wasn't allowed to attend. It instigated yet another nasty personal moment between us but he won. When the teams were assembled he spoke to them and twelve men and women came forward. I learned two days later a cargo plane left for Utah.

They returned months later equally changed, as strong as Alex. He spent weeks working with them personally. Now they're one of our greatest squads, willing to always come forward first to take on our most dangerous and perhaps most fatal missions. So far, they're batting a hundred and the aliens zip. They heal fast, kill faster, and are totally dedicated to winning this fight.

They did this for a personal reason. They don't expect to survive, don't plan to. They allowed themselves to be altered to give us our greatest fighting force. A completely disposable one. I can't and won't condemn them. Instead I love them. Very much.

I gave them the name 'The X-Men' and they love it. Even went further, giving themselves code names like the characters. They could turn on us, wipe us out before we stopped them but won't. They are still human, just very...different. Perhaps like their namesakes, our next level of enlightenment. We're the only family they know now and they'll die to protect us. Giving them that right makes them special; something they never felt before. I trust them with my life, we all do, and that's made them the most loyal people I know.

Others came forward afterwards to volunteer for the next enhancement and Alex turned them all down; sighting the rebels don't want to do this anymore - their concern with altering us all conflicts with their goal to help preserve us as we are. Everyone accepted the reasoning but I had to dig a bit further.

I checked into the kids' files. Every one is from a broken or abusive home. Divorce, drinking, drugs, deaths, dysfunction, they struggled to keep their heads and wits above it. Some failed, got into trouble, we got them out. The others came on their own; runaways, foster cases, you name it. We took them all, welcomed them, changed their names and gave them new lives.

They've seen things - things that defy explanation - they know. Those that didn't, we showed them. They're with us, ready to defend our world, but not one feels they have much of a home to go back to once this is over. So they took the one we gave them and made sure they could defend it to the best of their physical ability. By getting a better one.

Alex didn't want me to know about it until it was too late. He knows me, knew I would have given myself to it as well. Hell, I was probably more on that way than anyone else but he managed to keep me out of the loop.

None of them has ever said one word on what happened. Ask them, you get a quiet, near dazed look. Like the light just flickered then they apologize, won't say a word and leave. I sometimes think there's a mental block there. Whether deliberately made or self-created, I'll never know. Maybe it's best I didn't get a chance to find out.

Still, I admire them. A great deal. Especially the one that went first. Alex senses my musing and rubs my fingers.

"I...I'll go jogging with you. Give the dogs a break. They've been on ground patrol every night with the teams since you left."

Sweet of him but risky. Both of us off the grounds together, out on the road alone... It's bad enough when we're out together at these functions. We're wealthy, known; in the public eye. It's not just the aliens that might consider taking advantage of our exposure and we know it. We changed our looks for it.

My hair's darker now. Deep brown; a highlight from black. Alex has a little gray at the temples. We have makeup artists here, some of Hollywood's best and we all use them. They can turn a twenty-something into a codger; good-looking to outright homely. They help our teams infiltrate around the world, help us everyday. The public world out there knows me by a thick mustache, Alex by a beard but here...here we drop the entire pretense; go back to our clean-shaven faces under the whiskers. When we're here we need to be ourselves. Just for a little while.

I'm not deceptive by nature. Least I used to not be. I'm brooding again before I realize it but he picks it up straight off.

"Fox, please take some men out with you."

I could but we have public matters pending. They'll be needed then. Our people go with us, dressed to the 'nines', milling about, ever watchful. Our personal Secret Service, just as devoted. They've done us proud so far but I don't want to use them needlessly. "Nah, I think I'll just workout in the gym. I could use the treadmill for a run."

"No more sleeping in?"

I miss the hopeful tone, too deep in thought. "That ended on New Year's Eve Y2K, Alex. You know that. Someone's got to make the doughnuts."

"Fox...a serious moment. Please? Think you can do that?!"

I drop out of my introspection fast, bite back anger. It's not his fault. We're like this every time. We're both tired, mentally and physically; terrified one day one of us won't come home. Then I remember something.

"Yes, I can. Pierre said you haven't been eating. Again."

The green of his eyes suddenly goes darker. "Pierre, needs to mind his own fucking business!"

//Oh, great. Here we go!//

We've been here before. Too many times and as always it was a casual observation given, a more casual comment to improve received. Not now. This one's about to get loud and ugly, I can tell. I'm glad there's a foot thick concrete floor under us, thicker carpeting. Still, I'm sure people are pulling up chairs and making popcorn. They've seen it, heard it all before. This is who we are. It makes us tough, makes us hard, makes us driven...

Makes us assholes.

Sometimes.

Still, these people stand by us. Amazing, huh?

He turns from me and stomps off a pace. I know this pattern as he spins back. I know him, he knows me. This won't resolve simply this time. He's had it. We're going to 'get into one' and he needs room to take his shots. I might as well tee off first.

"He's our top chef. Keeping us fed, on our toes, is important! He's only trying to do his job, Alex!"

"Then let him do it with the others, okay?! I don't need a goddamn fucking baby sitter!"

Right! Battle's on. I'm not going to back down either. I fold my arms over my chest, take a tight stance. "Obviously, you do! You keep doing this! What are the others going to think, say, if they see you worn down? Shaky 'cause you're not eating?!"

His eyes are nearly black now but a fire blazes in them I hope I never see extinguished. "They know to keep their mouths shut! I eat okay! Just fine. Leave it!"

No way. "Peanut butter and jelly", I pronounce in my flattest tone. "Work's for kids but not you. How often, Alex?"

"Oh, come on, Fox!"

"How often, Alex?!" I shout.

"Fox, please. I don't want to do..."

"How fucking much, Alex?!" I scream.

He's incredulous. Shocked. I'm really pissed about this. About food! It's a new one.

Look, this isn't really about peanut butter and jelly; none of this is. I like the stuff, grew up on it like many. What this is about is that since taking leadership, having others to care for, Alex tends to play 'omega male' in this pack. Refuses care until everyone else has been seen to. Eats last, if at all. He'd walk away and starve to be sure another had food. What's bad about that is that we have food. No one's going hungry. Except...

Don't let the fancy wheels, spacious digs or high-society illusions fool you, it's just that. Illusion. Like a team of magicians, we enjoy it, use it, but there's a real life out there we're more focused on by far. If Alex had his choice, we'd all be in bunkers kicking it out the old fashion way. He knows this subtlety works for all of us, keeps the chance of discovery at a lower level when it's not outright visible, but he doesn't get swept up in it that much. Hell, he still has that old Lexus of his. Won't give it up.

And he had the gall to once talk shit about my ride.

What I'm getting at is I used to think this man had zero compassion, too self-preserving and malevolent. He was, in a way, but the circumstances back then supported it. He's not the same man now. I admire more the man he's become but I'll be damned if I let him starve for anyone!

"How often are you eating just a sandwich, Alex? Answer me, damn you!"

Now he knows I'm serious. He avoids answering. I'm betting it's everyday, every meal. Probably the only meal knowing him (if we're that lucky) and he knows I'm on to him. I was a profiler once. With the FBI. You don't lose a skill that well used.

Okay. I admit Alex managed to get past me back then but I had a lot on my mind. Believe me!

He's still quiet. I've gotten good at reading a 'stall'. He's hiding stuff, bad stuff from my point of view and he knows it. He's in deep shit. "Alex?"

He drops his arms to plead with me. "But it's good stuff! Really!" He starts to count on his fingers. "Let's see...there's ah, peanut butter. That's a protein, we both now that! And...and jelly! Yeah, jelly. That's from...from fruit! Yes! Fruit! And then there's...there's bread. Bread! Right! That's grains and cereals! And...and I always have a glass of milk with it. Um, that's...dairy!"

He throws his arms back up in triumph, smiles broadly as he crows. "See?! I'm getting everything I need, baby!"

Not bad. Nice try. He might have made a good lawyer. He's precious, adorable and lying to me like a dog! He's not eating well, I know it! I just held him a few moments ago. His jeans are a bit loose. More than the last time.

I can't lose him. Ever. Especially not to starvation.

He nearly starved once before. I remember it too well and my fear then. We were barely friends at that time much less lovers. He landed on my apartment floor. Literally. His arm hadn't been repaired then, the stump infected. Sick with blood poisoning, he hadn't eaten in days. That didn't help his situation. The memory of him - pale flesh, dark rings under his eyes, ribs visible under his skin, the fainting, the fever - I didn't like it then, I don't want to see it now!

I helped him then. Scully did as well, pushing past her anger, hatred for him and helping him as a physician. Later, as a friend. Alex should have died then; should have been dead according to her. He was close the night he snuck into my apartment, collapsed. I think we all owe his survival not just to Scully's incredible medical ability but to the rebels. The aliens. They exposed Alex to DNA manipulation like me. I think that helped, kept his human physiology on the brink. Long enough for us to save him.

Still, if they'd never been here in the first place, I've have never gotten him involved. Never dug that deep, never uncovered so much. Never gone to Tunguska. Never let him get his arm cut off in the first place.

Never would have known him.

No, I'm not trying to absolve my own culpability in all this; I'm just stating a fact. I would have been happy then to have stayed naive and stupid - looking for the friendly ET's I thought were out there instead of finding the killers I did. Instead, my endless curiosity (like the cat's) expanded to include a 'fox' and a 'rat'.

Funny... In the end, the littlest of the three actually fought the hardest.

You see, I trust this man with my life now. Unfortunately, he'd give up his quickly for it. Too quickly. Yes, his excuse was a nice try. Too nice. Almost convinced me. Listening to him now, I'm pretty sure he hasn't eaten these sandwiches much at all; merely made them to keep Pierre off his back. Probably Hans, too. He hates being catered to.

No, I'm betting that four big, spoiled but trained dogs got the benefit. Our vet's going to kill us!

I don't want to rag him on this, Alex has a temper, but so do I. "Alex, you need to eat. More, and more than just a sandwich. You're out there everyday, training the teams, training yourself. You run a constant high-level, high-energy pace. You burn off calories like a brush fire. Hell, you do that even when you're standing still! I wish you'd take better care of yourself."

"I wish you'd back off! I'm fine!"

I know when he goes into 'Alex mode', that dark, gritty resolve that's kept him alive when he should have long been dead and dust, he forgets everything of himself - the teams, our cause, superseding his own well being. It's made him a leader. One we can't afford to lose. None of us. My resolve goes to Defcon Three.

//Okay. Time to pull out the heavy artillery. Sorry babe, but you asked for this!//

I lower my arms, soften my eyes to complete 'hurt' and shape my lips into a good, crushed pout. I hate to pull out my 'ultimate weapon' on Alex but he's giving me no other recourse. I lock my expression into one of deep worry and fear. His face drops the triumphant look almost immediately into one of devastation. I shift the pout, letting my teeth gnaw on my lip and his eyes go weak with pain. I don't use if often now but when I do the effect is still powerful.

"What... Oh, god. No, Fox. Do-don't. Please...baby, please don't be mad. Please!"

Oh, I'm mad alright, but this works better than any amount of yelling and screaming I could do. I don't let up and give him both barrels. I turn my back on him, fold up my arms and let the anger turn my body to a shaking mess. Turn the tightness of my throat to a whimper of fear. "Promise me you'll eat when I'm here and when I'm not. Better! Promise me."

"Fox...please."

"Alex..."

"But you have to under..."

"Promise me!"

"O...kay."

"Thank you." I wonder, turn back and give him a stern look through watery eyes. "Anything else you ate this week?"

He stares down at his feet and rocks slightly. He's lost this one, might as well surrender all the booty. "Fruit Loops."

"And?"

"Plain."

"And?"

He rocks more. "Out...out the box."

There's a heavy pause, hesitation and I push. After all, I know him. "What...else, Alex?"

He looks up, green eyes piteous. "Um..."

I stare back. //Give it up, baby. All of it!//

"Ummm...Twix bars. Five a day."

//Oh, baby...geez.//

Alex has a sweet tooth. Make that 'teeth'. His weakness is chocolate. He's major on this. No, I'm sure he's not sick or anything. He's not a diabetic or anything like that, just loves chocolate. Besides, Scully's our head physician. Our personal one, too. She checks us out on a regular basis, would know if anything's amiss. I mean her hand's been up our asses almost as much as...

Sorry.

Anyway... Alex's not sick, just weak on chocolate. I don't know why his teeth haven't rotted out but still... Five candy bars a day?! Fruit Loops?! No wonder Pierre was pissed. I am, too.

"You made a promise, Alex. You better stick to it!"

He can't resist taking a final shot, looks off sniffing like a petulant child. "I don't wanna eat... I hate stuff like...p't."

He's cute right now and I love him. I wouldn't do this if I didn't. "You'll learn to like it. All of it but just ask Pierre for what you do right now. He'll fix it, Alex. Anything..." I glare hard and he looks off again. "Except...PB and jelly, Fruit Loops and Twix! Got it?!"

He doesn't speak but gives me a jerky head nod. Victory! He'll keep his promise, has kept the ones he's made so far. Even ones I know he regrets ever having agreed to, but his word when made, is sound.

We stand there as the fire and dust from our little battle slowly descends and he looks at me carefully. "Do something for me. Please?"

I can't let up just yet and answer back tight. "Fine! What?!"

Those sea-foam eyes soften along with his voice. "Change the access codes to 'Level three-Aqua' starting at thirteen hundred hours tomorrow. I've already sent out the memo to our domestic teams when they come on duty."

Okay, we're done here; the real battle never straying that far from our minds. I ease up with a nod. "Got it."

I move back, make my way to a computer station in the corner. Typing in my code I update all internal and external departments, stations and teams. A series of lights flash across the screen finally concluding with a very flattering, if revealing photo of Scully - her face superimposed over the body of the Venus de Milo; the statue's normal gray sheen replaced by a full spectral coloration that looks like flesh. And pink nipples! I lean on the table trying not to collapse with laughter.

"Ohhhh, god. Frohike better lose that before Scully gets back tomorrow."

Alex moves to my side gazing at the screen. "I tried to tell him but you know how he is. He thinks it fits. She's his muse. What can you do?"

The mood lightens considerably. Bless Frohike. Guy will never know how much his unrequited love for our red-haired doc keeps us amused. And stable. I lean back and wipe my eyes.

"Don't worry; we won't have to do a thing except tell the triage teams to stand by. Remember what happened at Christmas? The mistletoe? I thought Skinner would choke laughing and Langley's way too skinny to do a decent Heimlich on anyone. If Scully sees this... Well, I hope Melvin's will is updated."

Alex manages to smile some. "I think I get all his conspiracy newsletters. That ought to be light reading. Come on. Let's go. I want to show you something."

He picks up a remote, kills the sound, dims the lights and we move down another hall toward the master bedroom.

"I want to go on this one with you, Fox. I want to be there."

I'm not ready for another battle so I finally let some exhaustion into my voice and plead. "Baby, I'm tired. Don't start this. Please, don't."

His hands clench to fists, uncurl slowly and he takes a step in front to move ahead. I won this one easy but his back makes its point, too. Alex isn't a gracious loser. Staring at the hard muscled frame, I remember something and speak to his back. "I almost forgot..."

He's sullen at me over his shoulder. "Yeah... You 'almost forgot'. What?!"

"Boris sends love."

That gets him to stop, turn, his face bright and I feel forgiven. "You stopped in Moscow?"

"Kiev, actually. He's got a base there now as well and about fifty thousand troops. The Russian Resistance managed to convince some of their people in the officer's level to set up a 'joint military' program with Ukraine and a few other republics. Naturally their officers agreed."

Alex looks cute at that. "Considering many of them are Resistance, natch!"

"Well, it went through. The base is impressive, Alex, and so's the staff."

He looks pleased. "All Russian?"

I shake my head on that remembering the numbers. "Russian, Ukrainian, Latvian, a few from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan; heck, even Chechnyans if you can believe."

He looks happy at that. He may have been born here but he is Russian at heart. Watching, hearing about the events there, the anger and fighting hurt him a lot. Especially when he knew something far more menacing was just around the corner ready to finish what our petty little squabbles started.

"So, Boris is okay?"

I nod. "More than okay. If fact he looks great. You told me he was fat! He's anything but overweight, Alex. Guy looks like a Marine. He's tall, big, but not obese."

He leans back against the wall and grins at me. "He said he was going to work on it. Had in fact the last time I saw him but he was still big. Looks better now?"

I'm not sure how to answer that and not have him reading it wrong. Boris looked really good for a man in his early seventies. Really good. I manage a diplomatic answer. "He looks fit, Alex. Fit and ready to lead the fight. He did mention he hated leaving behind the 'fun life' but said this was more important if there was ever going to be any fun for later."

How true.

Alex taps a finger to his lips. "Hum... That must mean he gave up borscht, eased up on the pheasant and cut back on caviar. That's got to have hurt."

"He, ah... He still likes his vodka."

That gets me a sly look and I know what's coming. I walked into it.

"Bad?"

"Very."

"How bad?"

I reach up to pinch the bridge of my nose and decide to confess. "Really bad. One bottle and I was soaked. Scully swears I was singing 'Kalinka' in my sleep on the way back."

He grins at me on that. "Just one bottle? You'd never make it in a real Russian celebration, Fox."

"I know."

We stand there for a moment and I struggle to think of a way to tell him the rest. Know there's no easy way so I just say it. "Alex? I do have some bad news."

He eyes me carefully, those dark brows knitting slightly and I hate to do this. "Boris told me that Grisha... Alex...Grisha died in a car accident."

His only reaction is a full-body twitch but his eyes lose color; look pained and I think I know what's wrong. What bothered me back that night he talked to us about Russia and sometime...before. I'm not going to ask though. If he wants to tell me he will.

"When?

I can hear it. Hurt. Deep hurt. Maybe layered over by the years but it's there. "Last...month."

He looks hurt now. Shocked after the fact. "What... What happened?"

"He was on his way to a soccer tournament. Traveled down a country back road and there was a farmer's truck broken down in the road. On a blind curve. He swerved to go around it and didn't realize the road took a sharp curve the other way. He lost control and went off the side down an embankment. He died instantly, Alex."

"Do... Does anyone know how? Why?"

I try not to shrug; don't want to give any air of casualness. He's hurting and I know it. "Witnesses at the scene said he was driving a new Ferrari but not fast! The truck driver said he swung out wide. Too wide. There wasn't enough time to recover. The sports authority said he'd left their offices after a meeting had run overtime. He was trying to get to the tournament on schedule and took the road as a shortcut. They said they doubted he was familiar with it, traveling that far back in the countryside. It was an accident."

He looks at me carefully. "They're sure of that?"

I know what he's thinking. The Consortium may be gone, it's main leaders long dead, but one never really knows how far their tentacles stretched. Alex's revenge on them, on Spender, left many people dead or at least unemployed. If someone we don't know about; never suspected, discovered a link by which they could attack back... I need to give him some peace.

"Yes. They conducted an autopsy. No drugs, no alcohol. He even tried to compensate at the last moment according to several witnesses but there was nothing for the rear tires to grab onto. He slipped over the side. The car rolled over several times. His neck broke."

I glance away for a breath, but I can see the pain and shock; feel it like a force between us and wish with all my heart I wasn't the one telling him this as I look back. "It was quick, Alex. The coroner said he never felt a thing."

Alex is still leaning against the wall but now I brace to grab him. To my surprise, he stays upright but he looks shaky. "I'm so sorry, Alex."

"Me, too. I'm...sorry. To hear that."

"They buried him in Moscow. Boris didn't want to call you away from 'the mission' when they brought him home. He was going to contact you, but a sighting in Siberia sent him and several teams out shortly after. They only returned a few days ago. He planned to call you later this week."

He nods, turns for the bedroom and I grab his arm knowing he's got to be in deep shock. "Alex?"

He shrugs me off with a slight smile. "S'kay, baby. I'm sorry to hear that but so many have already died. More will before this is all over. Least Gri went out the way he lived. Fast and furious."

I let him go but I already know it's more than that. Know I may never get the full truth but I won't push. I think I know enough now that I don't have to; won't ever have to.

Boris waited for me to ask but I never did. Still, there was a look on his face I should have caught right off (maybe I did and preferred not to) but now it all makes sense. I can do the math. Grisha was about my age at his death, in his late forties. Alex is only a few years younger.

The way he's reacting says more to me than the way he's not.

Suddenly my thoughts are drawn back to a time shortly after he returned to me - a time I surprised him on his birthday with a bit of wild role-playing. As I fucked him, he voiced his pleasure in a way I'd heard a few times before and still blush over. What was said I don't dare repeat, much of it I still doubt is anatomically possible between a man and a woman, much less two men.

I was stunned by his words then as before but I'd never asked. Finally I couldn't resist anymore. I asked him where he'd come up with that. Where he'd learned to...voice his pleasure so...inventively.

I felt his body tense against me as he apologized. Listened as he used the excuse of the Consortium, his life dealing with the worst of the worst to play it off, but I could tell there was more. Even now, Alex tends to change his past as easily as you and I would clothes.

I didn't profile him then and I don't need to now. I know. I only wonder if Grisha ever did. Or cared. If Alex even let him.

Alex has been hurt in ways I'd never want to be; some I've already experienced. Through him. Through the dreams. But there's one thing I've never dreamed. His past. His life before we met. I'd only been allowed to view his existence from the point of our meeting but nothing more.

When we talked about the dreams, I learned he knew about me from my childhood. I had to wait until that night in the apartment, the night he talked to all of us to get a deeper look into his past; glimpse some of the life I'd wondered about since we met. He already knew nearly everything about me, more thanks to the dreams. I'm still resentful of the one-sidedness of it all but I'd had no say. I know he's lived my life from the earliest points, I wish I could say the same. Perhaps I'd have had all my answers.

Then again, perhaps I'm not meant to. Maybe for me, it will always be 'the questions' that carry the heaviest truth.

No, I never claimed to be Alex's first love. Still, I'm grateful at some point he had one even if he doesn't want to admit it.

"Come on, Fox."

I know enough to leave it for now and focus on a brighter moment. "Lyuda was there in Kiev. She sends love."

He smiles carefully at that. "How are the...kids?"

There's the slightest bit of hesitation there and I rush to quell it. "Fine, fine. They're two great looking boys, too. I saw pictures. Quite a handful, I hear. They're with Christian back in Athens. She was filing reports from the Balkan Resistance and was getting ready to return when we arrived. She's fine."

He nods at that in relief. "Good."

"By the way, she had four rifles slung over her shoulders and a few targets in her hands."

Now he grins broadly. "Still practicing, huh?"

I remember those rifles, those targets and shiver slightly. "Oh yeah! And she doesn't need to, believe me!"

He smirks at me. "Glad she's on our side?"

Glad an Olympic gold medalist in 'rifle' (finally, to her joy) is on our side?! I can't help but nod emphatically. "Hell, yeah!"

That gets me another laugh, slight but there and we move into our quarters. We enter our bedroom and I fight the urge to gasp as always. I still haven't gotten used to the size of it. We could play a full court pickup game in it but I love the space. I gaze around taking in the opulence, the custom-made curtains, designer furniture, and know it truly means little to us; barely more than an extension of the guise we both now wear.

Here, above the levels that hide the truth, two successful entrepreneurs entertain the crme de la crme; rubbing elbows with the top echelon, always looking for the false jewels among the gold, silver and diamonds. Shift through the furs for the truly 'fake' skins. They're out there. The fake ones. The false humans.

We hunt them. And I kill them!

Scully and Skinner have never said a word to me about my new chosen profession. I think she knew when I resigned where I was going to go, Skinner learned the hard way. We've all had to do things we haven't liked; we'll do lots more before this game is concluded. Still, it took me a while to grow into it.

No, I hadn't forgotten after all. See? I told you I'd get to all details. Just stay with me for a while more, okay?

Like I said, it was hard those first few times, seeing a 'human' face staring at me from the end of a gun barrel as they died but I no longer see them. What I see now are the real ones. The ones I've seen before, in labs, inside the bodies of 'hosts'. Breeding. Growing. Waiting for the day they leave residing inside the shells of my human brothers and sisters, bent on adding more to their list of 'controlled beings'; taking human females, crches of 'wombs' for their young to develop in. Won't happen too much longer if we can help it!

Now, when a human face stares back at me as I blow them away, I don't flinch. I know what they are. Like I said, I'm very good at what I do. And I sleep just fine at night too, thanks.

"Fox?"

"Ummm...sorry, Alex. What did you want to show me?"

I follow him as he walks over to what seems like a mile-long closet and opens up the huge oaken doors. There, hanging up, are four pairs of black leather pants and two jackets.

"For me?!" I chirp, rushing them.

"Yeah. Thought you could use some more. Think you can keep these longer than a few months?"

I run my fingers over the closest pair - they're thick, biker leather - smile and shrug. "No promises, lover. You know how I am. I play hard."

He stops by my side looking at the clothes, avoiding my face at all costs. "Yeah. I know. Look, Fox... About the China..."

"No! Alex, no."

His eyes harden, muscles in his jaw ripple and I force myself to smile, take some of the sting off. "You agreed..."

"I never agreed to this, damnit!"

//No, you didn't, baby. But you never said no either.//

I don't think he ever expected me to really do this, become what I have. I think somewhere, somehow, he expected me to maintain that heroic 'boy-scout persona' while saving the world. Can't be done. I learned I have to be as dark and nasty as what I hunt. He taught me.

I think he's beginning to regret how well he did.

He never wanted this, this life, for me. All he hoped to do when I asked him to train me was to give me all his survival skills; the means I could fall back on to keep my ass safe, maybe some others. I was the one that demanded I learn it all: the martial arts, the weaponry skills, the languages (I speak thirty now) and everything else. He counted on my eidetic memory to help me so he trained me the only way he could. The way he'd been trained...

As a killer.

I learned better than he expected.

Now, he doesn't know if it was the best thing to do. Wonders if Frankenstein ever felt the same way after he saw the monster. Realizes I'm a modern-day 'Jeckle and Hyde'. Knows he created me.

I'm a killer, just like him - dangerous, well-skilled, perfect - and he hates it completely. He says nothing, thinks it's his entire fault. If there's anyone to blame, it's a mutual accusation. He never expected me to go this far, want this so badly, but I did. I wanted to be able to be the cold-blooded, heartless man I thought he was; able to pull the trigger without conscious.

Thing about that is...you never really do. Never really are. It's always there; you just have to have selective memory.

"Alex...I have to do this. No more."

There's an unspoken sentence there we both avoid and I lean in to brush his lips in gratitude as I move past. "Thanks for the new gear. I'll take care of them." I walk over to the California-size king bed and tug on my Kevlar vest. "I should take a shower. I still smell like cordite."

"Yeah. If you want. I won't be five minutes."

As I start to undress, he moves to the bathroom, the tension in the muscular shoulders saying it all as the door closes. Didn't even take the time to undress here first; going to do it in there. He's upset, big time. I sigh but now the best thing I can do is nothing.

I know I should go after him, undress him slowly, bathe him gently but I also know it would give him the chance to push the issue. I don't want pushing right now so I stay where I am, toe off my boots and work the zipper on my fatigues down. Sliding them over my hips, I kick them off to the floor; sigh as my cock pops free. I don't wear underwear, haven't worn it much these past few years. Don't like to unless I have no choice. Like when I'm in public. It gets in the way. At night, Alex doesn't like obstacles.

Besides, I've put one in place he may never topple.

He's never begged me off, asked me to quit; never spoken it aloud, never will. But he hates this, the risks I take out there. I should stay here, help run the show but he knows me better. I'm still searching for the truth and every day we win, I grow that much closer to it. I have to do this. I owe it to them: Samantha, Mom, hell, even Bill, my...dad. Owe everyone else in my 'world family' that paid the ultimate price for our arrogance.

So he stays, calls the shots and I do the ground work. Sometimes he has to go out and I remain. Neither of us takes the risk of dying together. Not yet. Not until the final hour. For now, one must always remain, to lead, to show the way. Even our people told us this. It's usually him, the designer of the whole project; I go out - the work crew.

So we worry, in silence, never letting the other see as best we can. Always calm. Always sure. Confident. It hurts like a bitch. And it's gotten us this far.

The ringleaders of our greatest mistake are gone, any discovered remnants slowly being taken down and out; their alien allies with them. I pace the pack. He started the hunt but I have to finish it. I don't have a choice. In that, Alex and I are brothers.

For the past few years I thought I could bring him back, out of the darkness, back to the light. Should have known better. Should have known it's the only place for him - the only one that exists now - and that my place was by his side. It's his destiny...

Mine...is with him.

A few years ago a series of unexplained dreams brought us to this. We never found out how or really why they happened, but they united us, Alex and I, and turned us into a force that's changing the face of our planet. Made me leave all I knew to take on something I'm still trying to comprehend--

Being a hero.

Fox Mulder is dead. Three years ago on Christmas Eve. Yes, I wanted to go out a bit dramatically; call me sentimental. Anyway, I'm dead. Gone in a twist of mangled car metal and a gasoline explosion on a dark, lonely North Carolina road. A sad victim to exhaustion and carelessness, the 'FBI' (no, not really, but the suits looked good) suddenly there to whisk away one of its former brothers.

I had one simple request at death: to be buried with my parents. Allowed to rest next to Mother and Dad.

Oh, my mother? You didn't know? S'okay. She quickly but carefully cocktailed herself to death four years ago. Shortly after Alex and I got together and he opened up the first file on the Consortium. A lot aired out - the espionage, the lies, the dirty dealing. The treason. The alien 'truth' stayed low. We planned that but enough nasty stuff leaked. Dad had been in darker corners than he wanted anyone to know. When some came to light, even without Dad's name, Mother knew. She drank herself to death for it.

Many people walked away from the jobs and businesses they thought they knew. Alex and I walked in and took them over. After we had died and vanished.

Let me get back to that.

Like I said, I died. I was buried with full honors; laid to rest at my mother's side, Dad to hers. The closed casket was weighted properly of course, filled with upholstery ash and dirt but it hardly matters. Mom wouldn't have talked to me anyway, and I really had nothing I could say to Dad.

So my past is that. Tony Morales, multi-corporate CEO and export/import broker, emerged from the destruction. Reborn.

Alex vanished too. Years ago. On a quiet morning in early March. Right out from under the noses of two FBI agents that had apprehended him. My partner Scully and I planned it. Skinner rode our asses for days on it but we held up. It was what we needed and wanted.

We let the news slip out, through the right channels and with some help. The Consortium believed Alex was gone so low, buried so deep, he was as good as dead if not actually pushing up daisies. They left him alone. Their bad. Just what we wanted them to do. Gave Alex his chance to get revenge.

He did. A lot. See, it's really hard to convince people a 'ghost' is killing your organization off.

Now, Michael Knight is my business partner but at night he's still Alex. That will never really change. I wouldn't want it to.

It's weird. Out there, in the public eye, we're like two actors playing our roles. We respond to our aliases without thought. Call me 'Tony' and I turn right around to answer but get us back home, behind our fenced and wired enclosure and you could yell 'Tony' all day and I'd merely look around to see why someone hasn't answered you. In fact, I have. Alex is just as bad but we've never, never missed our cues out there. Guess after all these years we aren't going to.

By day, we're corporate brass, 'Fortune 100' leaders alongside the likes of Bill Gates and Oprah. By night, we're killers; taking our money and our people around the world wiping out those that have no right to be here; battling interplanetary terrorists.

Out there, our entourage travels with us; keeping us safe, looking like the normal crowd that follows a celebrity. We know better.

When she's not in the labs, working to improve our counter-weapon, Scully's out there with us - our press agent, Deborah Sallinger. A blond wig goes on then, blue eyes covered by brown contacts but make no mistake, the intelligence is never hidden. Any man that thinks otherwise gets a rude awakening the moment she speaks.

I love watching them slink off stunned.

The first time she stepped up to the microphone she had the press eating from her hand. Warm, charming and full of wit (to everyone's surprise, Alex and me included!) she won them over immediately. Now, she calls royalty and heads of state 'fans'.

She's worked well for us - often weaving our cover stories at benefits and affairs with skill; speaking for us when our 'humility' and gratitude at honors leaves us on the sidelines smiling gently. She's done a lot for us, and not just here. Thanks to her skill, out there as here, no one cares that Alex and I are lovers. Money, prestige, can make even that obvious 'flaw' tolerable. Out there, we have both and more. Scully makes sure with every check presented to a needy group on our behalf the world knows it.

As to 'Dana Scully', it's said shortly after my 'death' she left the FBI; moved overseas to work with medical groups in famine and drought suffering countries. Rumor has it she even got married. In no time at all, she simply disappeared as well. Not too long after, 'Tony' and 'Michael' met a talented woman named 'Deborah' who seemed just perfect to join their corporate team.

It was hard on Maggie and the rest of the family when Scully's letters stopped coming. Worried, they traveled to her last-known location: a remote village in Ghana. The tribal elders said she'd simply vanished. Like a spirit gone in the night. It was more surprising her clothes, tent, even her computer were still there; the latter had been found still turned on eventually running down when the villagers refused to touch it. Of Scully, there was no sign.

They looked, sending forestry rangers into the brush, everything they could to no avail. No one had seen, no sound had been heard and nothing indicated any ill play. No wild animal attack. Nothing.

Finally the village shaman, for want of a better word, simply told them she'd seen my old friend. A spirit now walking with a lion on her right and the swift antelope on her left. A sign that her strength had been called speedily elsewhere.

After some of our people there heard, I suggested that Gibson and the other telepaths go see this lady. She's turned out to be the real thing. An oracle of sorts. She's still there, sensing the places of danger faster than our telepath friends sometimes do and damn accurate.

Eventually as planned, Scully returned and Deborah even sounds a bit different from my old partner. That clipped and well-delivered tone has been refined even more. 'Years of broadcasting will do that.' is Deb's excuse.

Skinner left as well, opting to take an instructor position at the FBI academy only to suddenly suffer a debilitating stroke just before relocating. Sent away to a clinic in the mid-West for round-the-clock care, his name also faded from sight. 'General Davis' bares a slight resemblance to my former boss save for a thick grayed buzz cut on his head and steely blue eyes, so yes, you might confuse him with someone. Possibly.

None of us planned to be so deceptive but we've had no choice.

As I said before, we took everything the Consortium had their dirty hands in, gave it credit and built it into something to be proud of. Both outside and in. Out there, we're corporate executives that have made great things for life yet here, with the people that know us best, it isn't the 'material' they really care about. Or who we fuck. Just how well we're willing to fight.

The feeling's mutual.

So now, I walk the night as well; wearing a dark shadow of my own. It's not so bad. Especially when Alex walks beside me. Together we'll keep it safe if remaining veiled in darkness. We wear the same. We blend into the shades, working for the day when we can all once again watch the sun rise on a safe world. A human world. Ours.

This is a dream we all want to wake happy from.

As to the other dreams...

It was back at Alex's bungalow. The day after he and I finally sealed all our arguments, consummated our love and got some rest, Scully dragged us to the hospital (yes, that medical madness I mentioned earlier. I remembered, see?!); snuck us through the morgue and ran us through the full medical maze. I don't like hospitals, Alex hates them more, but she was determined to find the answers to the dreams.

Blood work, urine, spit; you name it, we gave it. Then she tested herself. Finally after everything we got our answer.

Having time to grill us properly, we discovered the trace element in our blood was the same found in many OTC's. A derivative of medicines used for colds and allergies as well as Valium. After all, many cold medicines contain sedatives to help you relax, rest. It made sense; I had just gotten over a twenty-four hour bug and Alex has hay fever.

We may be altered but I guess flu bugs and ragweed are universal.

Alex was slow to admit it, but he finally confessed to a toke; several, in the days before he came to my door. I admitted to a round or two of tequila (okay, a lot more than that) about the same and there it was. The elements, once reassembled to something understood, fell into place. Nothing more than a hippie and a quasi-lush having a good time.

You have to remember, we're altered now. Our bodies carry alien DNA amongst other things. Who knows what a few 'party' chemicals become once all that works on it. Still it wasn't much to bail the scientists out. In a nutshell, the lab boys fumbled badly and Scully knew it. She was so ticked!

I felt sorry for those boys, I really did. They work for her in our labs now and make no mistake, she's never let them live it down! They haven't missed so much as a dust mite since.

X-ray's gave up nothing as well. No chips, implants, not a thing. Right then Scully's hopes got squashed. She let us dress; leave and we both thought that was it but I'd learned a lot about my old partner, knew Scully didn't give up that easily.

Yeah...I know her. Damn.

A few days later, and more determined than ever, she got us back in the hospital for more tests. Alex nearly clawed floors up the whole way (I'm serious! There were grooves in the linoleum!), but we got him there and Scully dropped her sneakiest idea yet.

She tried one last attempt, called in a friend who was also a hypnotist. I've been there before, Alex was a different story. He refused at first, unsure what might come out beyond his control. Remember, the truce between them was only a few days old then. When Scully held up a paper of questions she'd prepared, advised him these would be the only ones asked, he relented. I was so proud of him in that moment.

I went first and went under fast. A few moments later as I was brought out, Scully's frustrated expression said it all. No imbedded memories, no subliminal signals, nada. She. Was. Miffed! I really felt sorry for her. Scully doesn't like to lose either.

I hope she and Alex never start playing poker.

Managing not to smirk, I eased from the chair and Alex settled in behind me, gripping the left arm so tight the metal creaked. Began to bend! Not knowing what the hypnotist knew or didn't, I uttered a soft apology and kissed Alex slow and deep. Easing back, I found the man had only lifted a brow in surprise. I nodded and he leaned in, stared right into Alex's love-misted eyes; began his talk and boom!

My beloved 'cat' took a nice nap.

He responded to the questioning in a soft, low voice, near emotionless. Suddenly I realized something and trembled. Opened my mouth to ask Scully not to...

Too late.

She'd wanted to know if we had been asked to do something; something we didn't want to do. Ordered to obey something that we still tried to fight. Alex had one order he'd obeyed for too long. He answered in a voice nearly a death rattle.

Behind me Scully gasped and I cringed. Remembered Alex sick in my apartment. Telling her what I dreamed he'd endured at our enemy's hand and she had proof. A truth she couldn't hold against him as a lie. Not anymore.

I learned the truth that the dreams had shown me, too well. That first night, in his bed, I made love to him. Every time, the demon that still had him, still made him fear, rose up like an apparition. Every time I fought it back. Later, he made love to me a few times as well (yeah, I am amazed at my strength!) and he was in full control. Didn't react beyond what I would have wanted and expected: sheer, wild, passion.

But touch him...

Alex had been programmed, brainwashed if you will, to submit to one thing and one thing only. The worst thing for both of us. Through subtle signals, sensations, he'd been trained not to give into his own desires. Needs. Not easily. Instead he'd been trained to deny all that in response to what he could take... Being used. Abused.

As he spoke to us, I began to profile the one person I should have long ago. Maybe better than I did the few times I thought to.

My...'father'.

Spender must have suspected his plan to use Alex against me had backfired. In the worst way. Alex didn't pretend to love me, to draw closer to me as part of the plan, he actually did love me. Enough he even tried to turn against his handlers; attacked Spender but it was his failure to kill Scully that earned him the punishment that changed him.

So he reprogrammed Alex to fear the one thing he wanted more than anything...

Me.

I'd said nothing. To no one. Those first days Alex and I had a good sex life (still have one) but whenever I wanted him, needed to touch him, please him, I was locked in a battle of wills - mine and the one deep inside him that obeyed automatically. One he relinquished control to without ever really knowing.

The rapes he suffered changed him, made him fear and left him vulnerable. Enough they could program him perfectly. Those walls he used to put up against his emotions were nothing compared to the fortress he placed around his own needs and sexual satisfaction because of it. Having me admit my desire to be his lover put the weapons along the top walls. For a while.

Whenever he didn't have control.

Don't let the dreams confuse you. I know what Alex was dealing with. I saw the dreams of his, the ones where he was always in control, always sure. I also saw the ones from my perspective - Alex frightened and wary. I think both helped me to better understand my lover and made me realize how much I needed him. And him, me.

I bore the frustration solely, never ever let Alex see it but it was there. The long nights; touching him, speaking to him, pushing through the terror and fear to make love to him were indeed long. Once I was inside him, he calmed, accepted. Submitted. Exactly as he'd been trained to do and everything I didn't want in him. Whether enhanced with drugs in the past or simply constant abuse, I saw it every night. Alex never knew. If the exhaustion of emotion showed on my face in the morning, I put a warm smile with it.

Those first nights, as Alex slept in my arms, I visualized killing Spender. Saw myself taking down our mutual archenemy in a variety of ways; each more violent than the last but Alex got there first. I should have known it needed to be him. He owed that bastard beyond any of us.

A faint cough brings me back to Scully, Alex, and the hypnotist.

I felt Scully's gaze at my back; turned to find her looking at me, eyes moist and deeply sad. She focused on me and smiled softly, nodded once and turned to her friend, whispering in his ear. He was sitting in shock, eyes tight and lips pressed hard in disgust. He looked to me and shook his head. Then he turned back to Alex and the look softened to one of sympathy.

I guess he didn't really care who we were, or what we did. Rape, anyway you spell it, is still a nasty four-letter word.

He leaned in, eased his hands over Alex's and began to speak. Smiled with his voice, assured with his words and told my lover than from this moment on, love was a tall man; need was a soft smile, sex was a pair of hazel eyes, strong arms and a warm heart. Told him he was safe now, free to leave the words he'd obeyed for so long. That a new one replaced them. Only one. Told Alex from this moment on, happiness had a new name...

Fox.

He motioned to Scully, fingers pinching the wrist of his other hand and she moved to take Alex's pulse. At my eyebrow lift she smiled, merely nodded to her friend and his words changed. Went stronger and he took Alex deeper. Pushed my lover down into the very bottom of the pit of his fear and pain...

And Alex screamed.

My hands were moving for the hypnotist's throat when Alex screamed again, this time my name on his lips. He began sobbing in Russian, words flowing so fast I struggled to keep up. He was pleading with or for someone. Promising he would do better, begging not to be harmed and my heart stopped.

We were in Alex's rape.

I wanted the man to stop; to bring Alex out, now, but Scully suddenly gripped my shoulder, eyes hard on me. It was a warning to let this play out, hence her watch on my lover's condition.

Alex's wails of pain and fear tore through me and I turned, sobbing in equal pain remembering my 'dream' experience. This was his reality. Something this traumatic should have brought him out of it yet he remained deep in the horror. Took us down with him.

And the hypnotist kept at him.

Then his sobs changed, the tone moving into something I understood more; felt my body tense, face flush. No. I didn't want any of us going there.

Alex twisted in the chair, his groans going deeper, hoarser and I fought not to stop it. Listened as the hypnotist pushed my lover to accept the sensations in a different way - to take what felt like pain and realize it was pleasure. That no one was hurting him; only his lover was there. Each touch, every feeling wasn't pain but pleasure so intense only one person could give to him.

Me.

I stared at the man, my hands falling to my lap, in shock. His eyes flicked to me then returned to his patient and in that moment I understood. He wasn't doing this in support of us, our life, no. This was the commitment of one being to another. The devotion of one sworn to heal. I could accept that.

He spoke for I don't know how long; each word caring and kind and slowly Alex's expression seemed to clear - a small, bright glow suffusing his face.

I glanced at his body, realized he wasn't aroused and that shocked me more. Alex's torment was so deeply routed in his subconscious his mind simply disassociated itself from affecting his body this time. Understood my feeble attempts to soothe his terror weren't even close. I'd gotten lucky those first love-making sessions, found a small gem while digging never realizing the vein of wealth was still deeply embedded.

Now the hypnotist stared at me as he talked, pointed to my hands, then Alex's. I reached out slowly, slid my fingers over my lover's, gasped as Alex meshed them together tightly, moaning my name. And his love. Trembled as he asked me to make love to him again; felt my eyes water as he told me he needed me.

As my eyes stung, I realized if this worked Alex's lifetime torment would end, my full happiness with him begin. To my overwhelming joy that very night it did. Alex came to me; hungry, needy, ferocious in his passion and the moment we touched, wanted me without fear. Without hesitation. My life has never been more fulfilled.

Still, that night as Alex slept the sleep of the well-fucked, I let myself again profile the one I'd had the most trouble figuring out.

Yeah. Him.

I think he began to doubt Alex early; feared just what happened would. His best sexual weapon had been sexed-out. Defeated by something more. Me.

I think Alex must have given him all the indications too soon, before he could use him to bleed my soul dry. So Spender bled Alex of the one thing he wanted most. To want me.

His reactions, fear of intimacy, seemed so incongruent to the man that had encountered me at every turn; had stood close enough I could feel the lust but I'd never touched him like that. When I finally did...

Cocksucking bastard! He messed Alex up so much!

Something notched up inside me; made me gather Alex up in my arms and hold him close. In that moment, if I could have nursed him I would have. I realized that's what love feels like.

I love him.

Finally, the hypnotist finished and suggested Alex sleep. As my lover's head tilted he rose, motioned us off to the side and said he couldn't guarantee that Alex wouldn't regress; that intense programming like he was seeing wasn't easily removed. But he also said he felt Alex was strong and willful and suggested he use that whenever he felt panic in an intimate moment with me. I appreciated the man not using it to distance us.

There in the morgue I suddenly realized something. Alex had been screaming yet no one came to check it out. Believe me, screams from a morgue aren't the norm but no one came. In fact, no one had entered since we arrived. That too, isn't normal. I glanced over at Scully; she merely smiled back tilting her head. I followed the motion taking in the outer hall door and two men standing there with their backs turned to us. Watching the corridor. I turned back, Scully nodded and I realized yet again what a wonderful friend I have. That Alex now has.

Suddenly I realized that Samantha hadn't really left me, merely sent her spirit to perhaps another. She still lived, loved and cared for me; only now she wore red hair and smiled from blue eyes.

Slowly I rose, took Scully into my arms and held her quietly. Didn't say a word. The hug back spoke for us both. The tears that fell on her face sealed it all. I have a family again.

Alex and...my sister.

I managed to ease back, swiping at my face knowing Alex would wonder and composed myself. He didn't need to see this. Scully sniffed a few times, reached up to stroke my cheek, added a soft pat at the end; an old gesture always saying the same - her interminable patience with me. Slowly I turned and settled back as the hypnotist nodded he was done.

Alex came to a few minutes later, yawning contentedly until he saw us then jerked upright. He needn't have worried; the completely disgusted look that quietly formed on my old partner's face summed it up. The memories, the subliminal signal we wanted to find wasn't there. We'd never confirm what we did.

She thanked her friend who merely laughed at our 'alien' fears and advised us to 'stop watching all those stupid sci-fi movies'. We were surprised when she flipped him off as he closed the office door, laughing though to take off the insult. I could only smile in deep gratitude. He gave me my lover back.

I never got his name.

I tried to find him, a few days later, to thank him. It was only after my attempts began to worry the hospital staff, who assured me no one fitting his description had ever worked there, that I backed off. Apologized, now sure I actually had the wrong hospital.

Returning to my car, I realized why Scully hadn't given me his name; why I couldn't find him and why I'd probably never see him again or the two men that had guarded us. The rebels have healers. She's encountered them. They need to be kept safe. I decided not to ask anymore.

Have I ever said how much I love that woman?

Back at the hospital as we prepared to leave, Alex and I wisely said nothing as she told us she'd sneak us out through the morgue again. We knew she wouldn't find the answers to the dreams. What she and I did find, will go to our graves. Instead, Alex and I believe then as now, that something special, unique, happened to the three of us. Something that defies rational explanation.

A miracle? Perhaps. I'm not sure I have a right to say. Instead, I'll leave it to you to make that call, but I will say this... I got a great deal of them in that time.

I know she wanted a simple explanation; an easy way. Alex and I know life doesn't always give it. Something happened to us those nine years ago. Something if not alien in nature, supernatural. We stopped asking, accept with gratitude. I think she has too.

She finally told us, admitted she'd dreamed. Told us two years ago. Waited for us to give her hell for it. We never did. We knew. Then, her need for a scientific answer, any 'scientific' answer, said it all.

I once said in a dream she still had big doubts. At the time, they were Alex. Now she has none at all. She knows. We need her now more than ever before. Both of us.

The first time I confessed to her about my life, my desires, was when Alex lay sick, nearly dying in my bed. I expected her to condemn me, turn away; for several reasons, her faith and beliefs the greatest. Yet in true Christian spirit she didn't judge me; instead extended her hand and called me 'friend'. 'Family'. She stood by me long before that day and still stands with me now. With Alex too.

I realize now that everything I have, in a way, began with her. The day she came to my office was the day my life was forever changed. Good, bad, right, wrong, it all began with her. Fitting that whatever happens now she'll be with me to the end. Family...good family's like that.

I'm a profiler. Or was. Funny, it took all my life to realize the one I needed to profile the most was myself. Funnier Scully did it better than I ever could. She's my best friend still. That she shares it now with one more doesn't make a difference at all. Only makes it better.

As I return to 'now', gaze around the bedroom, realize I'm still here and still able to make a difference, a line from Dickens's 'A Christmas Carole' rises in my mind...

'I am a happy man. I am a truly happy man'.

Yes, Bob Cratchit, we are. And God bless us. Everyone!

I re-focus as I hear the toilet flush. The door opens and Alex walks out naked, the tanned skin flawless in its evenness. Being rich means never having to apologize for sunning in the nude in your own private, heavily-guarded yard. When you're not saving the world.

This is Alex's weapon against me. Himself. This body. I worship it, subtly; he's not big on being pampered and will tell you. You may have already noticed.

His hair, longer than before, is wet; ends curling against his shoulders. I like the look - a Russian D'Artagnan. He got a shower; he's fast when he wants to be. Okay, I'm usually the reason he takes longer than five minutes the other times but he never complains. He gets a back scrub. He gets fucked too. I smile at my good fortune all around until I see his eyes. They're red. He's been crying and my heart aches.

"Bath's free."

It doesn't really matter, his saying that. Damn thing's so huge with double shower sprays we could both bathe, have a disco in it and still have room for the London Philharmonic. I shrug, taking in the view before me. "I'll wait. No need wasting water when I'll need another in the morning."

"This from the 'QVC Shopping King of America'. Who's shit is in the garage? The gym? That stereo system? Since when have you ever worried about the water bill?"

Well! Humor! He's trying to unwind. Still, his voice is shaky so I force mine to remain light and jovial. "Since I'm the one that okays the CPAs to pay it. Along with all the other bills."

His head tilts. "Okay, fair enough. Now, are you sure about all that? I mean the part about needing another shower in the morning?" His expression is quiet but it blasts at me in a trumpet fanfare.

"Just as sure as my love for you. In fact, you'll need one too, Alex. Bet on it!"

His eyes weaken slightly and his teeth press his lip as his eyes moisten again. Even from this expanse I can see it, feel the tension drain, running out of him like the tears on his face.

"I...I can't hide my worry for you that well anymore, Fox. It gets harder every day. I..." His head drops. "Shit!"

I share his emotion, feel it in my heart and raise my arms out to him. "I know. I feel the same for you when it's you out there but I'm here now. You're here. Let's stop worrying for the moment."

He moves towards the bed, the feline grace I'd always admired even from the past still evident. He's older now as am I, but that power still emanates, encased in a fine-tuned, muscled body of pure action. I'm suddenly anxious to get some of that myself. I open the nightstand cabinet, pull out a bottle of lube and hold it out to him.

"Fuck me, Alex. Slow and all night."

As he slips under the sheets, moves towards me, I ease in, pat the light on the nightstand and plunge us into dark; broken only by the moon's light through the skylight. Our shadows on the wall meet, merge and begin a dance only we can understand. Can share.

He takes the lube, drops it between us and waits. When I turn to look at him, he rolls onto his side to face me, starts in with slow deep kisses that send shivers through my whole body and I'm hard in a breath.

We don't have any problems with that; don't need Viagra. That's not the problem. What is, sedatives would probably do better but no one goes there. Hell, we don't even get high anymore. Living is enough to excite us. This is just how we are for a while; we need time to mellow down. When we do...

He touches my hip gently and I settle onto my back, our signals so subtle they're almost instinctive. Internal. His left hand traces my arm, goose bumps rise and he sighs. I sigh back. Slowly the hand drifts down my chest, pauses to stroke, pinch my nipple until I whine. Won't change a thing, this is his call. I just need to hold on.

Yeah, right. How the hell do you do that with six-feet of walking, breathing sex stretched out next to you? So many years later and I'm still lost. Someone send me a fucking guidebook!

He teases my nipples for what seems like an eternity then his hand finally makes its way down to my cock, strokes it, fingertips making a little path up and down my length. I manage to open my eyes through the fog, find his closed; features so peaceful it's scary. His head suddenly tips and his expression goes thoughtful. It's like he's reading me - a physical book of Braille.

I have no idea what I'm saying to him but every touch talks to me in a big way. That hand could kill me right now, is in fact. That's just how good he is. This is torture of a kind no one else will ever be submitted to. Lucky them. Luckier me.

I think.

His thumb slides up, caressing the slit until it oozes precum. My hips jerk, thrusting and he purrs at me. "Uh-uh. Don't you dare."

//Bastard.// I growl low and he chuckles. "Don't think nasty thoughts, baby. I could do this all night, you know."

He can. Easily. I could die right here from need instead of out there in danger. Or am I in more here?

In bed, Alex has willpower too. Tons of it. It only shattered for me - the night we first made love. The night he let me touch him first and learned his deepest fear. Scully helped us tame it, coax it forward and gave it peace. Alex's willpower came back with a roaring vengeance shortly after. I've met it, matched it, but never broken it since. Pray I never do! It belongs to me. With me! That's all I need or want.

The hand moves again, cups my balls, thumb caressing me gently. This is the same hand I've seen crunch alien necks, bones and muscle to mush. Punch through concrete and metal. I should be scared shitless, the best I can do is sigh. I trust him. Implicitly!

Until the hand drops lower and fingers start playing 'Ring around the Rosie' over my hole.

//Fuck! Don't do this!//

"You want me bad, don't you?"

I'm actually scared to answer (he could turn it back on me, up the torment) until a finger presses in and I decide to sing like a canary. "Yes! God, baby yes! Fuck me, Alex. Now! Please!"

He chuckles, scoops up the lube and rolls onto me. I greet him with a flurry of kisses, trying to lick his face like a puppy. When I hear the top of the lube pop up, I start yelping like one.

"Easy, baby. You come now and I'll go back to the living room and watch a game."

//You vile, little shit, you!//

He can't read my mind but he knows me well enough. He lets out the first real laugh I've heard tonight and drizzles lube into his palm. Then I hear the bottle hit the nightstand. It skitters to a stop and I sigh slightly. He's got good aim without trying. The lamp costs seven-hundred bucks!

No, I'm not concerned but he bought it! And he would be pissed with himself come morning.

I feel him move back and shiver under him, all thoughts moving to only primal instinct. I need him too much for any more foreplay. He knows, lubes his fingers and preps me quick but firmly. As I feel him enter me, the burning already fading into that raw pleasure only he can give, I realize I'm alive.

He's alive!

Our lovemaking has changed over time, the screams and yells fading to a softer presentation of our emotions. That's not to say that we don't still go at it like wildcats but our bodies now display a passion that mere sounds often can't justifiably convey.

I feel him, sliding into me, rocking his hips to make my muscles tighten and every worry I've had this day along with every fear suddenly fades; gathered up by his love and held away from us both. It frees me more than anything I've ever known and I thank him in two breathy words.

"Allleeexxx. Ohhhhhhh..."

"Fox?"

It's a broken sob. Before I can speak, the dam breaks and he cries openly. Maybe in relief I'm okay, maybe finally in grief for Grisha; I don't know and I don't comment. I also do nothing to console him. I can't. I know he needs this. Needs to release the pain. He can still turn an emotion on a dime.

"I... I ca-can't...lo-lose you. Ca-can't."

Okay... Maybe he is worried for me. Maybe Grisha's death brings it all a bit too close. Either way, I know how he feels. He's said it before. Many times. So have I. We handle it the same way.

I respond silently, tightening my legs against him. I don't dare voice my own fears of losing him or I'll shatter what strength he has left. I can't allow him to worry for both of us. I need his strength to hold me up. He treats me the same when I start to crack.

Even when we don't voice them we don't make light of our concerns. This isn't a joke.

Scully, Skinner, all the rest, can give me their support in mountain loads, but not one can give me the love I need. The love this one man provides. The love that holds me, guides me, consoles me; lifts me up so that I can keep doing what I need to do. I need him.

Oh god, I need him so much!

He sobs above me, gliding in and out of my body in deep strokes that pull the air from me in matching groans. My hands slide up, find his face, tangle in his long hair and pull him down against me. My mouth latches onto his, I taste salt and swallow down his cries. I finally cry too, the tension of one more night survived washing from us both.

Neither of us have ever loved or been loved like this before. It's like this every time, the fear of being left alone to carry on tearing at us but we can't fail. Can't quit. Too many people are depending on us. Billions actually. So we do what we what have to - push aside our personal demons and take on the world's. We have no choice.

I know. I apologize. I'm getting tired of saying that, too.

I think back to our separate lives, the conflicts, the hate and anger we had. I used to accuse him of not taking a stand, he, saying he never had a choice. I always thought he did. I was wrong. I realized later I too, never had that many choices. Of my own. My destiny was carved out the moment I was born as well. My father, Bill, saw to that.

I changed it forever the day I joined the FBI.

Later, when we took Consortium control, we found manuscripts, documents of our lives; detailed to frightening exactness. Every thing I did, where I went, almost my actual thoughts, was carefully cataloged. Alex's life, too. They knew everything about us - favorite foods, music, even our sexual interests. That I was gay they recognized early; perhaps before I did myself and found Alex. Trained him for the time they would bring him into play.

He was perfect: bright, determined, focused...and fucking beautiful. They knew, knew he'd get to me. In time. They planned for me to fall. Hard. What they didn't plan on was Alex's wings getting clipped first.

They placed him at Quantico, where he trained, studied and watched. He learned everything he could about me, my work and believed. Not because he was ordered to but because he wanted to. Really. He admired me, respected me (yes, he did!) and was interested in me.

Okay... He was in love with me.

He studied my work on the X-Files with interest. He already knew something was on the horizon just not enough to be understood. By the time he did, he was a part of it and my nemesis. His actions later made things harder to accept once he did have answers.

And still...he loved me.

By the time we actually met, were teamed together, he was deep into their shit. Aware that he was set up to bring my downfall. He was hopelessly trapped - between doing what would keep him alive and doing what his heart didn't want. My total destruction.

And I, learned to hate him.

He paid for his choices; so did I. Even Scully, Skinner, the Gunmen, too many, suffered for both our passions. Until the unexpected saved us both.

I still have no explanation for those dreams, the weeks of my past that haunted me to action but I think, perhaps...there is a higher force out there. A true existence of spiritual power I've yet to know. I hope what I do now meets its expectations. In some fashion. Hope Alex does as well. Now, I can't imagine not ever having him with me forever. Even in death.

Suddenly he thrusts deep, hits my prostate, all my thoughts burn away and I scream like a cougar; wild and raw. I lose it completely, start to rock like crazy against him, desperate to get him pick up the pace. He's got other plans.

He slows down, ignores my howl of frustration and rocks back. Fingers grip mine carefully, pull me up. I go with it, settle into his lap with a cry, legs circling him fiercely. He knows this position drives me mad; I can feel him more this way. He knows. He's going to make me pay for the shit we went through earlier.

If only everyone had a lover this punishing. Think of all the wild nights, the few wars. Believe me, that phrase 'make love...' would be much better! It was designed for lovers like this! Gay, straight, doesn't matter, they know who they are.

"Baby?"

I pull myself from the fugue, stare down into eyes dark like the night that wraps us. I know their color by day; they remain even now - deep, beautiful green like the Caribbean Sea. Bright, warm and joyous. All for me. Don't know what I did to deserve it; want my entire life to hold it.

"Baby? Fox?"

"Uhhhh..."

"You okay?"

//If you move, damn it, I'll be fine! Make me come, Alex!//

"I-I could ma-make...lo-love to you like this...all... All night."

//God!//

I manage to find the air to form words. "Tha-that's what I wa-wanted. As-asked for."

We're not going to make it (not this round) but we like to challenge each other wherever we can. Even in bed. Hey, nobody loses...so?

His arms wrap around me as we move; matching each other completely, my mouth trying not to suffocate him. He stiffens against me, groans down my throat then comes with a wild wail. His body's trembling triggers my orgasm and we shake together, tears washing the pain from each other.

As we start to come down he rocks forward, eases us back to the covers like a slow crane. We lay there, muscles twitching, breaths matching in frantic pants. I grunt as he shifts some to give me air, lips brushing mine; starts a series of gentle kisses, licks, nibbles that turn my gasps to giggles. My hands slide down through the sweat on his back, drop lower and start to play a tune on his ribs.

He squirms above me, breaks into laughter trying to get away but my legs are still tight around him. We both stop, whining as I feel his cock slip free, soft and warm. He lifts up and I gaze at him. The skylight's glow forms a moonlit halo around his head illuminating his face in soft ethereal light and my heart skips a few beats.

He's...beautiful. Oh...my... God... He's beautiful. A tanned dark-haired angel! The sight shocks me quiet (rare for me) and he tilts his head.

"Fox? Baby, what is it?"

I can't tell him, he'd only make some smart-ass comment about me trying to read something into it that isn't there. Make him something he isn't. Special. He is, whether he wants to accept it or not, he is. Special to more people than will ever know him. People who may never know who he is, what he's done, but every day they wake alive, free and still human they'll owe to him.

Me? I'm just a soldier, at his side. This was his idea, his plan. He took the Consortium's money, info, businesses and organizations and turned their crime into a chance for hope. I'm honored to be a part of it.

He's become the man he once hoped to be, the man he wanted to be. A hero. True, he's still stubborn, temperamental, combative, and those are his best qualities; his compassion, courage and conviction, better ones.

I realized there's more to him than seen. That's why I try to keep him from going out, engaging the enemy. I want him to live to be recognized. He deserves it. I've had my day in the sun; his is still waiting to rise.

I've never had any more dreams like those that changed our lives. That Alex sleeps in my arms quietly, wakes quieter, I doubt he has either. I've never asked him, don't plan to.

I've already asked our alien allies, tried to get them to admit to the tampering but they, all of them, seem confused and unsure of what I'm wanting. I don't know if they're just being deceptive for their safety (some of those dreams wigged us both badly) or they truly don't know. Didn't do anything. Either way, they denounce what happened to us; claim they'd never tamper with our minds like their kinsmen might. Have even gone so far as to state they too, would not have used us like that; to give us the desire to unite never their intention.

Okay... Fine... Whatever they say.

I'd still like to know what happened, how those dreams began, but sometimes good things happen for no apparent reason. I supposed I can work with that.

"Fox? Baby? What's wrong?"

//What's wrong? Nothing, lover. Not right now. The world's just fine. As long as you're in it.//

"I love you, Fox."

Yeah, it's fine. Gonna get better. As long as we can keep love alive. And hope. "I love you too, Alex. Right back at 'cha."

His ministrations pick up, pull me back to the moment and I purr with pleasure as he's hard again. A few moments later, so am I. I chuckle as he rolls us, brings me on top and says something that makes me laugh, playful and happy. It's his turn. We don't control as much as share; our lives, duties, ourselves. We don't have many moments like this and those that we do, we treasure.

I groan his name, swear my eternal love as his hands stroke lube on me. Then he settles back, waiting for my touch. The moment I enter him the words he utters are soft, gentle and as sure as the first time he said them all those nights ago.

"Yours, Fox. Only...yours."

My slow, deep kiss is all the answer he needs.

"Fuck me slow. Sl-slow, Fox. Slow."

I ease up a bit, thrust slower, but deep. I know how he comes. It's intense, hard; a sharp pain racks him, balls going so tight I'm surprised they don't pop the skin. Then he comes screaming (he can't help that) and shakes hard, cum splattering us both. I love it!

I used to jerk him off as I fucked him. I don't anymore; he comes just fine without it. In truth, I'm scared if I did the overload would kill him. Wild, huh? I don't know if it feels like that because he's been altered or I'm that good. You'll pardon me if I take the latter. Can't help it.

I love him.

Love the way he feels when I'm deep inside him, love the way he feels with his body tight against me, love the way he moves when I love him, love the way he smells when he's aroused, love the way he sighs my name in our passion, love the way he comes so hard and long, love the way he cries out in pleasure, love the way he screams my name, love the way he wails out our love, love the way he shakes in my arms, love the way he sighs as he calms, love the way he nuzzles me contended, love the way he sleeps, body curled to mine.

All the blessings of my life are woven in the man that's woven around me.

As he rocks under me I hold him closer - my dark angel, my shadow force - and know I could never have changed him if I tried. At least not completely. He's me. My other half. My night. And I love him.

For now, darkness is my home. My existence. My life.

I don't know what the dawn will bring; the next night will hold, but as long as he's here, a part of it...

...I'll live.

End!


Well, that's it for the 'What's In A Dream' series. Hope you enjoyed. Going to take a little break now to rest the mind and the typing fingers but keeping checking in. There are many more adventures for our boys I've yet to tell; so if you want more, then feed my need!

Copyright 2006 by Lashala


 

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Series Name:  What's In A Dream
Title:  Eventuality
Author:  Lashala   [email/website]
Details:  Series  |  NC-17  |  228k  |  07/23/06
Pairings:  Mulder/Krycek
Category:  Drama, Romance, AU (Alternate Universe)
Sequel to:  Surprise!
Summary:  AU. Present time and a retrospect of past events.


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