Actions

Work Header

Chemistry - Book 2

Work Text:

 

Chemistry Book 1: Desired by Louise Wu

Chemistry
by Louise Wu ()
Warning: Violence. Rape. Heavy emotional angst. Rating: NC-17 for male/male sex.
Spoilers: Season 5 + Season 7 (Orison). Canon altered after The Red and The Black. Episode Orison modified.
Note: I prefer Krycek with one arm and Mulder not color blind so he can fully appreciate those beautiful green eyes.
Beta Thanks: Loren Q, Aries, Clio, Zoe Takashi, Lyrical Soul. And last but not least... midwife Ness.
Inspiration Thanks: This series was inspired by a scene in Aries' Admission. Find out which scene in Book 2. Thanks, Aries! Tatalya in These Men of Honor inspired my original character, Natalia. Thank you, phyre and Rachel! Thanks also to Clio for encouraging me to write Slutful!Fox.
Disclaimer: Chris Carter and 1013 Productions own the X-Files series characters. The rest are mine. No infringement of rights is intended.

Chemistry Book 2: Divided
Pairing: Mulder/Krycek
Rating: NC-17 for male/male sex, violence.
Spoilers: Season 5. Takes place after the Red and the Black. Warnings: Rape. Heavy emotional angst.
Note: I like my Krycek with one arm and my Mulder not color blind so he can fully appreciate those beautiful green eyes. And no HIV in my universe either.
Beta Thanks: Loren Q, Clio, Ness, Zoe Takashi, Lyrical Soul.
Inspiration: There's a bedside scene in Chapter 2 that's inspired by a very similar scene in Aries' Admission. My desire to take that one scene in a different direction led to the entire Chemistry series. Thanks, Aries!
Disclaimer: Krycek, Mulder, Scully, Skinner and other X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. All others are mine. No infringement of rights is intended.


Chapter 1
10 October 1998

** Krycek **

Tuesday was to be Mulder's birthday. Born in 1961, he would be thirty seven years old. I gathered that his birthday wasn't important to him. But I'd been seeing him for about four months and I wanted to do something.

I was more than a little anxious about it. I'd never really gone out of my way to celebrate anyone's birthday. I gave a girl a Valentine's Day card once, but I dumped her three days later.

The Saturday before, I went shopping. At first I really liked the idea of shopping for my man. I looked at clothes and thought to purchase what I wanted to see him wear. It made me feel deliciously possessive, like my sexy lover was mine to dress. But I wasn't sure if he'd like any of the items I picked. After a couple of hours, I got cranky and gave up.

I tried to dream up creative gift ideas. Tickets to an event? Too public. Sex toys? I didn't want to make sex the point. Massage oil? It's not easy to give a good massage with one hand. Jewelry? I'm not asking him to marry me. A book? Too impersonal. A tattoo? I loved the idea of marking him so that everyone would know he was mine. But, for some reason, I thought he'd object to having "Property of Alex Krycek" tattooed on his forehead.

By Sunday I was near panic until I realized that I could just do nice things for him. I came up with a plan and phoned, telling him I'd be coming over late on Monday night.

When I arrived around eleven, he was brushing his teeth. I kissed him on the forehead and retreated to the kitchen to put away my supplies.

Mulder eyed me suspiciously when he came out of the bathroom.

I spoke in what I hoped was an innocent voice. "Your kitchen is hopeless, Mulder. I just brought a few things."

"Okay." He kissed me on the temple. "I ran for over an hour tonight. I'm ready for bed. How about you?"

"I'll meet you there in twenty minutes."

He was already asleep by the time I crawled into bed. Perfect. I set my mental alarm clock for 5:45 and curled around his sleeping form.

The clock read 5:37 when I woke. Mulder was partially awake, snuggled up very close with his morning erection pressed between my butt cheeks.

I wriggled a little in his grasp and whispered, "Watch where you put that, Mulder."

Mulder moaned and slid his cock back and forth between the lobes of my butt. "You got somewhere better for me to put it?"

I extricated myself from his arms. "Yeah, I do." I slid down the bed, under the covers, my lips trailing down his chest and toward his groin.

I swiped the head of his cock with one big, sloppy lick. "Happy birthday, lover."

"Oh, yeah." I could hear the grin in his voice.

His legs opened automatically to make room for me. I scooted in between them and started licking his balls. His hand found my shoulder and held it gently.

I kissed and sucked around the base of his cock, lapping my way back to the tip. I let him feel my teeth, just a little bit, and he responded with a sudden intake of breath. He started to squirm, until I sucked in the head and began to swallow his thick erection.

I was working him with my tongue and throat, when suddenly his alarm clock went off.

"Fuck," he barked out, breaking away from me to turn off the damned thing. He bounced back into position quickly but not without jamming his knee into my forehead.

"Ouch! Watch it!"

"You okay?"

"Mfmf," I replied glomming onto his dick again. I sucked him right down.

"Oh, yeah. Suck me."

With a hand on his hip, I encouraged him to fuck my face. Soon he was doing most of the work as I steadied myself over his dick. His hips were writhing up and down at a sensual pace. I tongued and gnawed his cock until his whole lower body went rigid.

His hand found the back of my head, holding me to him as he shot into my throat. I swallowed eagerly and finished by licking him clean.

I pulled myself out from under the covers and leaned over him for a kiss. "Now that I've had my breakfast, why don't you jump in the shower and I'll make yours?"

"Don't you want to get off, Alex?"

"Later. It's your birthday. I want to spoil you a little."

Mulder smiled at me, happy but a little embarrassed by the attention. He looked sated and sweet. His fine hair was sporting a stand-up cowlick that Dennis the Menace would have been proud of.

For breakfast, I served the birthday boy homemade blueberry muffins and fresh orange juice. He drank his coffee and read the paper while I fed him bits of hot buttered muffin.

Before he left for work, he gave me an enthusiastic kiss. "Thank you for this morning, Alex."

I kissed him again, fondling his butt through Armani wool.

"I could get used to this, you know," he said enigmatically, slipping out the door.

That night I prepared French onion soup, hand folded pirozhki, salad and Valrhona chocolate tartlets. After dinner, I put on some music and we made out on the sofa, listening to the drug-inspired songs of Depeche Mode. When the CD ended, I took him to bed.

"Got something special planned for tonight?" Mulder inquired provocatively as he disrobed.

"As a matter of fact, I do."

"What?"

"Wait and see," I replied with a wink.

Once I was undressed, I guided a naked Mulder to the bed. I pushed him down, backside first, and pounced on him. I savored the sensation of his firm, muscular body under mine. We kissed. I nibbled and bit his ear lobes and neck. There was a spot on the side of his neck that, when properly stimulated, made him shiver and squirm. I nipped at it with my lips and laughed at his quivering reactions.

I slid off of him. "Roll over on your stomach."

"You gonna fuck me?"

"Not exactly. Have patience, Mulder." I slapped his flank to get him moving.

With a sigh, he turned over gracefully. I ran my hand down the nape of his neck, down his spine, across his ass, down one thigh and back up the other. Then I pulled on one thigh. "Open your legs," I whispered.

He complied. I sank down into the space he created and positioned my mouth over his ass. I licked, nibbled and teased the lobes of his butt and his upper thighs. After I'd amused myself sufficiently, I pried open his ass cheeks and settled my attentions on his anus. My tongue made circles around the little bud before closing in on it.

He moaned quietly when I reached the delicate tissue.

I laved and lapped and nipped at his anus until he could barely hold still.

His hips were thrusting into the sheets, mimicking the action he most likely wanted me to perform. "Please, Alex."

"Something you want, lover?" I replied innocently.

"Put it in me."

"What?"

"Your tongue, dammit. Fuck me with it."

So I did. At first I just barely poked the tip into him, removed it and lapped circles around his anus again. Then, at last, I pushed as far in as my tongue would go and fucked him vigorously.

It was such wicked fun to have my mouth and nose buried in this man's crack. And he loved the gentle but wild sensation of it, bucking and whimpering with the moist attention.

"Oh, god, Alex."

He could probably come this way, just from humping the sheets with my tongue up his ass, but there was something I'd wanted to do with him for a long time. I withdrew my tongue and lifted myself from between his legs. "Scoot over."

Ever impatient, Mulder replied, "Aren't you going to fuck me or something?"

"Scoot over, Mulder. I'll show you."

He moved. I pulled a condom and a bottle of lube out of the bedside table and lay on my back in the center of the bed.

He watched me, confused. "I'm gonna fuck you?"

"Sort of."

After rolling on the condom, I squeezed some lube into my palm and started coating my shaft.

He gave me an immature pout, his eyes never leaving the hand working my cock.

"Just a sec, Mulder." After thoroughly lubing myself, I said to him, "Show me your ass."

He knelt on all fours and maneuvered his butt in my general direction. My slippery fingers entered him and made sure he was wet and loose enough to proceed. He pushed back onto the invading fingers, helping me to get him ready. I removed my fingers and wiped my hand on a tissue.

"Okay. I want you to straddle my hips."

He turned to face me and I saw his eyes go wide. "Oh, Christ."

I gave him a lecherous smile for encouragement.

His eyes flicked from my dick to my face and back again. "Are you sure I can do this?"

"You're going to love it."

He situated himself over me. I helped guide him into position. Then I put the head of my cock at his asshole. "Whenever you're ready, Mulder. Take it slow."

He closed his eyes momentarily, as if saying a prayer, and began to use his leg and abdominal muscles to control his descent onto my cock. The feel of his tight ass taking me in was incredibly stimulating. I would come in just a few seconds if I allowed it. We groaned in unison as he slowly took everything I had to offer. When his balls touched me, I spoke again, "Just stay there for a minute. Get used to it."

His eyes were dilated with lust and he was biting his lip. After a few moments, he started to rock. Very slowly.

My Fox was an irresistible animal. No matter what I asked of him, he did it with enthusiasm.

Mouth opened in a parody of astonishment, he rasped, "Oh, fuck."

His hips and legs did all the work. I watched him experiment with the motions until he discovered how to stimulate his own prostate.

"Oh, Christ, Alex."

I grinned at him, a bit hazy with my own lust. "Do it, Mulder. Fuck yourself."

He began to move more quickly, making animal sounds deep in his throat. He braced himself and rode me hard, our bodies slapping together.

Mulder's head was thrown back as he gasped with the intensity of it. So gorgeous, with his wild eyes and a stray strand of hair dancing on his forehead...

Mindlessly, I encouraged him. "Oh, yeah."

"So fucking hot."

"Yeah. Fuck yourself on my dick."

Nothing made me hotter than this sweet man letting me control him sexually.

He shifted into a new position, finding a way to do it even harder. It felt so damned good to have him slamming his ass up and down on my cock. I wouldn't be able to keep myself from coming for long.

Mulder closed his eyes when my hand found his cock. He groaned loudly as I began to jerk him off. "Fuck, yes."

Soon we were both at a matched pace of him fucking himself, my hips meeting his ass and my hand on his erection. We pounded against each other, movements clumsy as control slipped away. My orgasm began just a split second before his. I could feel my dick spurting deep inside him as he shot all over my chest.

With a moan of satisfaction he slumped down onto my chest, my cock still buried in him. Neither of us moved for a long while.

Gradually I became aware of lips nibbling my forehead.

"Still alive?" I asked.

"I'm not sure," he replied. Arms at my sides, he raised his body weight off of me. A layer of lube and semen coated my belly and chest.

Blinking my eyes, I tried to make my feeble brain function again.

He eased his body off of my dick and slid down next to me. "Why are you so tired? I did all the work."

I chuckled at him and whispered the magic word, "Shower."

After we cleaned up, we both lay in bed, thoughtful, but not asleep.

"Alex?"

"Hmm?"

"When's your birthday?"

"June nine."

"1967?"

"Yes. Why'd you ask if you knew?"

"How much of the data in your Bureau record is real?"

"All of it."

"So you're really from Minneapolis?"

"Yes."

He had that look on his face again. Mulder was thinking. After a long while he finally spoke again. "Don't you like to be fucked?"

"No, I don't. I'd much rather fuck." I teased his pecs with my fingertips. "Is that a problem? Do you really need to fuck me?"

"I love it when you fuck me, but I'd like to fuck you now and then."

"You have, once."

"I haven't forgotten." He captured and kissed the fingers hovering over his chest. "Why is it punishment when I fuck you, but it's not when you fuck me?"

"I don't know, Mulder. I guess because I don't like it."

"But you wanted it that night."

"Yeah."

Nothing else was said. I knew he wanted to fuck me, but it wasn't in the cards. I didn't like how it made me feel.

Things with Mulder and me were becoming--if not exactly domestic, at least routine. I'd spend two or three nights a week at his place. We'd eat take out, watch movies on his VCR and fuck.

I wasn't working much, and I wasn't missing it either, but I was starting to wonder what I would do for a living. I just couldn't see myself coming home to Fox after a hard day of nefarious deeds. Dinner table conversation... 'Kill anyone interesting today, dear?' And I wasn't about to become Mrs. Fox Mulder.

My short-term solution was to do as little work as possible, which wasn't a major challenge. The Consortium wanted nothing to do with me once I set up my failsafe. To bring in a little money, I still did an occasional errand or favor for some of my other contacts. I didn't spend much. It would do for a while.

When Mulder was in town, I'd let myself into his apartment on weeknights around seven. If he wasn't home yet--and he often wasn't--I'd amuse myself by reading from his paperback collection. Sometimes I'd leave him little notes in the margins.

So I sat reading "The Haunting of Hill House" until 2 A.M. one Wednesday night in late October. No message from Mulder. No email from Mulder-travel. I left voicemail on his cell phone. "Where are you?" I finally gave up on him and crashed at his place. Much to my disappointment, his sheets neither smelled like him nor smelled particularly clean. It took me a long time to get to sleep.

Knowing Mulder's propensity for trouble, it was easy to imagine that something had happened to him. It could be anything. Eaten by werewolves. Lost in a time warp. Arrested for mouthing off to local authorities. I tossed and turned half the night. The other half I spent sleepily groping the bed seeking his warm body.

The next morning, I dialed his cell phone and got the message, 'cell phone customer not available at this time.' Shit. I replayed the last few messages on his answering machine and learned that his alterations were ready and his auto insurance needed to be renewed.

I drove by Scully's apartment, but found neither her car nor his. It looked like she'd picked up her mail yesterday. I phoned their office at the Bureau and got voicemail.

I fed his fish, reminding myself that he's a big boy and can take care of himself. Not reassuring. Mulder actually wasn't very good at taking care of himself. In many ways he was like a child.

By 10 P.M. my errant G-man still hadn't come home. Probably he was just running amok on some case, certain to give Skinner heartburn. He was probably just visiting his mother. But I was concerned, so I dialed his cell phone and got the damned 'not available' message again. I used the autodial to call Scully's home number. I got her answering machine. I wasn't about to call Skinner, so I decided to hunt through Mulder's computer files for Scully's cell phone number.

The only thing I found on the computer that looked like a phone list was coded with animal names and I couldn't decide which he'd assign to Dana. She seemed too assertive for Turtle, too pretty for Skunk and too svelte for Walrus. Short of dialing all 37 numbers in the D.C. area, I figured I should find another way. I did add an entry for Rat with my own cell number, thinking Mulder would get a kick out of it someday.

I perused his Quicken data and learned that he paid his own cell phone charges, which he submitted to the Bureau for reimbursement. He had a piddling $9,403 in his IRA and $348 in his savings account. Those government paychecks just don't go very far. Not much left after a few Armani suits. Maybe I should offer to help with the rent.

I went hunting for the cell phone bills, which I found 20 minutes later beneath two moldy apples on the dining room table. I identified three frequently dialed local numbers--one was surely hers. I looked for one that followed a call to Scully's home number and narrowed it to one number. So I called.

She answered, sounding weary. "Scully."

"Do you know who this is?"

"I thought you might call. How did you hear?"

The very flat tone in her voice made me go numb. "Hear what?"

"Why did you call?"

"I'm trying to find Mulder. What happened, Scully?"

The pause on the other end suggested that Scully was trying to decide what I should be told, if anything.

I was now far too worried to be patient--or to even breathe for that matter. "Tell me what happened to him," I demanded.

"He was shot Tuesday evening."

Chapter 2

** Krycek **

Oh, shit. Oh, fuck. "Where?"

"Outside a grocery store in his neighborhood."

"No, I mean where was he shot? Is he... alive?" I could hear panic seep into my voice.

"He was shot once in the chest and twice in the gut. He's got a collapsed lung and some serious abdominal wounds." She hesitated before she came to the point. "He's recovering from his second surgery right now. He's probably going to make it."

Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh. Shit. I felt immediately torn by two conflicting needs. First, I wanted to rush to him and hold his hand. Second, I wanted to perpetrate less-than-gentle bodily contact unto the person or persons who did this to him.

"Where is he? I want to see him."

Any vestige of warmth in her voice disappeared. "He's still under anesthesia. I doubt very much he'll be conscious until morning."

I needed to see him. Touch him. "So there's nothing I can do for him tonight?"

"No."

"Where is he?"

Scully gave an angry sigh and replied, "George Washington."

"Will someone be there to protect him overnight?"

"Yes. And I'm not telling you the details."

Oh, Christ, if he dies I'm gonna... I couldn't even think it. Crisis-mode Alex taking over... On to agenda item two. "Scully, do you know who shot him?"

"Probably one of your friends. Why don't you tell me?"

That hurt. "You don't think I-" I cut myself off. That wasn't the point. "I don't know. Did anyone see anything?"

"Give me one good reason why I should answer your questions."

"Maybe I can figure out what happened."

Silence.

"Please, Scully. For Mulder's sake... I need to know."

"Two witnesses saw Mulder walk to the side of the store with a tall, 30-something, black-haired Caucasian wearing a battered leather jacket. He had a small black tattoo in the web of his hand--a star-shaped object. Another witness saw a similar man drive out of the parking lot in an old black BMW two-door."

Oh, fuck. My car. The jacket was my trademark. I immediately identified the tattoo. Knowing who he worked for, I could guess why my look-alike had been sent to kill Mulder. The fuckers were dead.

"That wasn't me, Scully. I swear to you. You know I wouldn't hurt him." I needed her to believe me.

"You or your friends, Krycek. I don't care who pulled the trigger."

There was nothing I could say. Oh, Mulder... Shit! I had to stay in crisis mode. "Thank you for the information."

"Do you know who did this, Krycek?"

"I'm sorry, but I've got to run. Tell him I'll come visit in the morning. Bye."

I bolted for the door. There was something I had to do. In order to do it effectively, I had to keep my feelings at bay.

On the drive to Baltimore, I kicked myself for not even noticing that someone had borrowed the Beemer. Even knowing, I couldn't detect anything different about the old car. They'd been very careful or they'd used a look-alike vehicle. I should have kept a mileage log.

I did not allow myself to think of Fox dying in a hospital bed. I pretended that when I returned, he'd be sleeping peacefully in his bed. Our bed. I needed to see him, touch him, to reassure myself.

By the time I reached Baltimore an hour later, I had beaten back my fears. My anger brought me to a good focus. There was only one thing I could do for Mulder tonight.

I swore to myself that the bastards who did this would not live another night.

I remembered a promise I made to Mulder on a street corner one night. 'Promise me you'll never kill another innocent person.' I felt like I almost had his permission. All I had to do was not hurt anyone who wasn't involved in his attack.

When I pulled off the highway ten minutes outside of Baltimore, Fox seemed miles away. I was in full action mode.

At a deserted rest stop, I pulled over and opened the trunk, retrieving a dirt-encrusted New York license plate to replace the one on the back of my car. I removed the front plate. I took my prosthetic arm out of the trunk and sat in the car to strap it on; A one-armed man was just too easy to identify. Using the prosthetic and my teeth, I put a latex glove on my real hand. With greater ease, I slipped a black leather one on the prosthetic. A balaclava went in my pocket. I spread a towel down on the driver's side floor mat to catch fibers and other trace evidence.

I continued into the city and parked a few blocks away from my destination--a tiny house in a shabby part of downtown Baltimore. The clock said 1:00 A.M. I made sure the dead-end street was deserted before I got out of the car. First I had to identify the front of the house, since I'd only been there once. Then I backtracked and made my way to the rear.

I slipped the black knit balaclava over my head. It smelled like transmission fluid. Every breath of air was a toxic assault on my lungs. I sneaked through the yard of another house and hopped a fence.

Concealed in my target's back yard, I removed the stinky knit mask. I watched the house for almost an hour to make certain that no one was awake inside. I kept myself entertained with thoughts of cutting off this man's cock and balls and stuffing them into his mouth before I killed him.

Normally, I would have planned a hit in advance and away from the target's home. It's easier to take someone by surprise in some dark corner of the world. Homes have alarms, dogs and family members. But I clung to my vow. J.J would not live another night.

Tugging the balaclava back on, I entered through the kitchen. The lock was pitifully easy. Overconfident bastard. I paused in the kitchen for several minutes, memorizing the house sounds so I'd detect any changes immediately. Since the house was dark, I figured J.J. was in the bedroom, but I silently scanned the office, bathroom and living room. Empty.

I stood outside the open door of his bedroom for a minute. I could hear snoring, but no body movement. I saw only shadows, but it looked like two figures in the bed. One looked too small to be a person. I figured if it was a dog, it would be barking already, so it had to be a sleepover girlfriend. I did my best stealth walk into the bedroom, pulling my gun out of my pocket. In the dim light from outside the window, I could see the side of J.J.'s face and the face of a girl. Obvious jailbait.

Oh, shit. Here was the innocent Mulder had mentioned. Kill her and betray Mulder. Leave her alive and risk capture. Two seconds was enough for my adrenaline-hyped brain to resolve that one. I didn't like the answer I came up with, but I'd have to live with it.

I put my gun to J.J.'s head so he could feel it, and flattened my voice into a monotone. "Wake up, J.J."

His eyes opened, but he froze; he knew he was fucked. He didn't blink. One of his arms was on top of the covers. The hand clenched into a fist, distorting the tiny tarantula tattooed on it.

The teenaged girl leaped out of bed and flung herself against the wall. Shit.

I pulled the trigger, splattering J.J.'s brains into the headboard.

All the times I'd killed before, the only thing notable about how killing felt was that I felt so little. I'd been accused of doing it because I enjoyed it, but I didn't enjoy it. I just didn't care.

Now it was personal. It had been deeply satisfying to shoot J.J. I felt a flicker of guilt knowing that Mulder would despise me this pleasure.

I took off, praying the girl had been too scared to notice anything that could be used to identify me. I ran faster this time, but still trying to be quiet. I took the same route back, fumbling my vault over the wall and bruising my knee. Stupid fuck!

Yanking the smelly mask off and cramming it into my pocket, I walked quickly but quietly away from the house. I got to the car, started it and drove exactly 18 miles per hour out of the neighborhood and 23 miles per hour through downtown Baltimore. I took a major street south and continued to obey the speed limit in a boringly uniform manner.

I kept visualizing him at home asleep. If I hadn't, I couldn't have kept moving. I'd probably just pull the car to the side of the road and sob on the steering wheel.

Outside Baltimore, I found a southbound back road. I closely watched the scenery until I crossed a little bridge. Pulling the car over, I walked back to the bridge. In the dark, I did my best to locate what looked like the deepest part of the creek, wiped off the gun carefully with a paper towel and gently dropped it into the water. One of the rules of my business: kill a man, lose a gun. I had two more in the trunk, one of which I tucked into my pants.

I returned to the highway and worked my way in a circuitous route back toward D.C. Annapolis, actually. Once I got there, it still took me half an hour to reach the estate. I stayed calm because I had to. This was going to be more challenging.

Crisis mode. Stay alive, Alex.

I concealed the car a quarter mile away, on a dirt road behind a barn. After guzzling water from a bottle under the seat, I grabbed a toolkit and made my way to my target's gate. I found a grassy place to hide ten feet away. I watched for twenty minutes to insure I was alone and undetected.

Mulder had to live. He just had to. No, don't go there, Alex. Not now. Keep your focus.

This was the first time I'd broken into an estate. Like a business facility, it merited a review of building plans and a pre-hit inspection. But I needed the man dead. Tonight. These guys were arrogant. Most of them had only the simplest security systems, usually turned off for their own convenience.

I needed to get inside before sunrise. Locating a trip wire on the fence, I followed it half way around the house before I found the junction box. An old system, it would be easy to break. The junction box was a tiny little stainless steel container about the size of a wallet. It took me about twenty minutes, working with tools through the fence, to create a short and disconnect the box. It would have been a lot easier with two hands, but at least the prosthetic would hold the needle nosed pliers.

I put my full weight on the fence, then released it and hid behind a bush. Nothing happened for ten minutes, so I put the balaclava back on and scaled the fence. I went back to the circuit box from the other side and reconnected it. It appeared that the short circuit hadn't triggered the alarm, but there might be a diagnostic warning that someone would notice eventually. Or the gate wouldn't open when someone tried to leave.

Cautiously, I made my way closer to the house where I could keep watch. I knew he had a wife and two or three kids. He was too arrogant or too stupid to have a bodyguard, but he still might have armed company.

In my head, I played out the ways I could do this. If the old man left the estate, I'd have to wing it. But I believed he usually worked at home. An equestrian pal of my former employer, he liked to ride in the morning. I moved cautiously around the house until I could see the stables. I crept there and ducked down behind a hedge.

No surprise to me that the stable was wired. The man worshiped his pricey thoroughbred horses. However, the security system looked twenty-five years old--I could see the wires and clunky motion detector on the door. This system probably wouldn't have a control panel in the house. I clipped through the red wire, then the blue one and let myself in. I located the control panel just inside the door and cut the power. A horse chuffed from behind me, but didn't seem unduly upset by my presence.

The only window had a view of the kitchen. Perfect. I made myself as comfortable as possible, without hindering my view, and settled in to wait. The mask came off again. The horses weren't going to identify me. Every ten minutes I'd take a short walk inside the front of the stable to keep my body from getting too stiff. I avoided the stalls because I didn't want to alarm the horses.

The sun came up. A half hour later, I saw wifey in the kitchen. Then two kids. I hoped they didn't go riding with Daddy today. For the sake of a promise.

Then my target appeared. A minor rival of that Morley-fuck Spender's, he was younger than most of the old men. However, he was not going to outlive them. I waited patiently through breakfast. I resented the little scene of domestic bliss knowing that Mulder was lying in a hospital bed. I reminded myself not to fall apart.

Cry about Mulder later. For now, you're just a killer, Alex.

The family left the kitchen in stages. I couldn't track them elsewhere in the house, but I hoped the kids were getting dressed for school. About a half an hour later, I was rewarded with the sight of wifey and three children--someone didn't get any breakfast--leaving the house and heading for the garage. I heard a car start and got a brief glimpse of a Volvo in the driveway.

Time for your ride. C'mon you bastard.

An hour and a half later, he finally came out the back door and headed for the stable. I reached for the black knit mask, but he was alone, so I didn't bother. I quietly took a position inside the front door. He entered the building and stepped to the control panel. Before he could switch off the alarm, he had my gun in his face.

He tried to be cool, but I could see the fear. "Good morning, Krycek."

I came right to the point with a lie. "J.J. told me you sent him to kill Mulder."

"Spender wants him alive. I don't."

"Why not?"

"He says you've been spending a lot of time with Mulder. Given what you know, that's an unacceptable risk." He tried to look relaxed. Maybe he didn't believe I'd kill him. Thought himself too important to touch.

"So, why not kill me?"

"As we both know, you have information secreted away that would come to light if anything were to happen to you."

"I guess that walking ashtray didn't tell you that this information would also be released if anything happened to Mulder?"

"No, he didn't. Why should you care what happens to Mulder?"

"He's my lover."

I watched that sink in for a moment. Surprise at first. Then he realized that it changed the equation between us. This man had seen too much to self-destruct in terror. His face just turned blank and he swallowed hard. I put the muzzle to his temple and fired.

Killing the arrogant bastard felt good.

I probably made Spender's day by killing off his most vocal opponent, but that couldn't be helped.

I glanced down at the corpse. There was no point in wasting another shot or checking for a pulse. I resisted the urge to kick the body, instead cautiously exiting the stable.

After making my way back to the fence, I reconnected the short. I scaled the fence, but didn't bother reconnecting the system this time. Not seeing any witnesses, I dashed back toward the car. There were no vehicles on the road, but the corpse's neighbor was reading the paper on the front porch. I was able to avoid him by crawling on the far side of a hedge.

I got into my car and wedged the murder weapon in between the cushions of the back seat. I shucked both gloves and left them inside-out on the towel, to the left of the brake pedal. I thought about driving further down the road to avoid the neighbor, but I couldn't be sure the road had an outlet. So I just cruised by with my face turned the other way.

Once I was half a mile down the road, I laid down some speed. If I came across the police in this neighborhood, it would be because they'd been called. I had to get out of there while I still had the gun.

Please let Mulder still be alive. There was no one I could pray to, but I kept thinking it over and over again anyway. My mantra. I had to remind myself to keep my mind on the job. Just a little bit longer...

I made it all the way to the main road without seeing any law officers. I headed for D.C., again scouting for a place to dump the gun. I eyed some spots along the Patuxent River, but there were too many cars on the road, so I kept going. This would be more difficult now that the workday had begun.

I eventually located a reasonable creek side in Prince Georges County. I wiped the gun and dropped it. Kill a man, lose a gun.

About fifteen minutes away, I found a dirt road and pulled out of sight. I put the old license plates back on my car, hoping no one had a plate number from the attack on Mulder. Asking Scully would have been far-sighted, but I was too distressed to be that thorough.

I dumped the gloves in a weed pile. Slipping off my sneakers, I wrapped them in the towel from the floor of the car. The entire bundle went into a plastic shopping bag. After caching it in the trunk for later disposal, I put on a battered pair of running shoes that I keep in the car for just this purpose.

I returned to the highway and headed back toward D.C. At the first sign of civilization, I stopped and tossed the shoes and towel into a dumpster behind an old church. It was after 11 A.M. My adrenalin had dissipated and I was just starting to feel tired. As my defenses eroded, tears began to run down my cheeks.

When I got to the hospital, I parked in a back lot and approached cautiously. I found a pay phone and redialed Scully's cell number from memory.

"Scully."

"Are you at the hospital?"

"Yes."

"What room number?"

She hesitated, but told me. "140B."

"Is Skinner there?"

"No."

"Anyone else who might recognize me?"

"I don't think so."

"My name is David White."

"If you say so."

I hung up.

I made my way through the labyrinth of corridors with baffling directional signs and eventually found his room. There was an obvious law-enforcement type in a suit sitting outside the room, but no one I knew. I hoped he felt the same way about me.

Putting on my mask of sincerity, I approached him. "Hi. I'm a friend of Mulder's, David White." I shook his hand and asked in my most docile voice, "Would it be all right if I went in to see him?"

"Agent Scully?" he called into the room.

Scully came out and put a hand on my right shoulder. "David, how nice to see you. Come in." Her voice was flat.

She nodded at the Bureau man and escorted me in.

Mulder was asleep. He was deathly pale and looked hung-over. He was covered with a blanket, so I couldn't see the damage, but he seemed thin and fragile. I felt an ache deep in my gut, as if I'd been the one shot.

You've got to live.

I glanced back at Scully. She wasn't leaving me alone with him. I whispered to her, "Shut the door."

She complied and went to the window. I followed her, so he couldn't hear my question. "Is he going to make it?"

"Probably." The way she said it made me believe that she knew he would survive, but felt I didn't deserve to know it. "This was your fault, wasn't it?"

"What makes you say that?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's just that everything really bad that's happened in the past four years seems to have you in the middle of it."

That was like a knife in my chest, but I couldn't blame her. "You're right. It was my fault." My voice caught. "I did my best to fix it before I came here."

"Oh, great," she muttered under her breath and turned away.

"Scully."

She turned back to me.

In case she had missed the point, I added, "You don't have to look for the men who did this."

Scully understood immediately and gave me a curt nod. Anger burned in her troubled blue eyes.

She remained at the window while I returned to him, but she kept her eye on me. Maternal instinct, I suppose.

I sat on the side of the bed. He didn't stir. I took his hand--the one that didn't have an IV in the back of it. I stroked it and spoke to him in a soft voice, hoping Scully couldn't hear me.

"Hey, lover. I'm here. Alex." I didn't know what to say and I was struggling not to cry again. "It looks like you're going to be okay. I know you'll be just fine." Who was I trying to convince? "I want to tell you how much I care about you. I... I really... Your fish really need you, so you'll just have to come home soon and take care of them." Fuck, I was losing it. I decided to stop babbling and petted his matted hair instead. I sat there for a long time, trying to get my feelings under control.

Scully took a few calls on her cell phone. I just sat there watching him breathe. I needed to be near him. I wanted to be here when he woke up. To reassure him, or me?

I went to the window when a nurse came in and conferred with Scully. The nurse replaced the IV bags and left. He never woke.

I sat in a visitor's chair and dozed off a little, but he was still asleep when I woke. I paced, feeling responsible and helpless--a combination guaranteed to make me miserable.

If he'd just wake up and look at me, I'd feel so much better. I could only hope that seeing me would make him feel better, too. I stood there looking down at him and felt wetness on my cheeks. I didn't bother to fight my tears this time. I was beyond caring who saw me like this anymore.

I went to Scully, who was now working on her laptop. "Is he ever going to wake up?"

"He was awake this morning, but the pain was so severe they gave him a hefty dose of Demerol. He'll probably be out for at least a few hours." Her voice was a little kinder than it had been before.

I tried to smile my appreciation, then returned to the chair next to him.

Her cell phone rang again. After a few words, she closed it and came to me. "Skinner's on his way."

Shit. I needed to be here when Mulder woke up. At least I needed him to know I'd been here. I fished in my pocket and pulled out my keys. I removed the silver fox and fastened it onto his hospital name bracelet. I whispered into his ear, "Ya tebya lyublyu," and kissed his forehead.

I nodded at Scully and left.

Walking back to my car, I cursed myself for being such a chicken shit. 'I love you,' I whispered in Russian to my unconscious lover.

Back at his apartment, I fed the fish. The ones who needed him so damned badly... I felt better having something to do. Now I was really anxious. I picked at some leftover Thai food in his frig that was probably ancient. I hoped the peppers would kill whatever was growing in it. It made my stomach stop growling anyway.

In the bathroom, I found his after-shave and slapped some on my face.

I finally made myself go get rid of my car. Get framed for one assault. Kill two men. Lose a car. I loaded my tools into my gym bag and took it back inside Mulder's apartment. A quick trip to my apartment to pick up some cash, and I was on my way.

I drove to College Park and found a used car dealer who looked disreputable enough to handle stolen cars. I put on dark glasses and a fresh pair of leather gloves before going inside. I gave the dealer the legal pink slip, which had a bogus name and address. He gave me cash. A lot less than the car was worth and I didn't argue, so I knew he knew why I was selling it. It literally pays to be discreet in his business.

I took a cab to Alexandria. Being a criminal is time consuming. I found another dealer there and paid cash for a ten-year-old gray Toyota Camry. It was the only automatic he had on the lot. Boring, but safe because there were thousands on the road just like it.

When I got back to D.C., it was around 10 P.M. I found a payphone and dialed the number Mulder had listed for Bear. Skinner answered. I hung up and went to the hospital.

It was probably past visiting hours, but I figured I could lie my way into the room if I had to. The corridor was empty, except for the guard at Mulder's door. But before I got within forty feet of him, I heard a familiar snick behind me and felt cold metal at the back of my neck. Someone must have stepped out of a patient room. I knew I could probably tip off Mulder's guard, but I was afraid to draw Mulder into this. Whatever this was.

A voice. "Step this way, Krycek."

I recognized the voice. Koch. One of Spender's thugs. This was bad. Very bad.

He led me into a room and shut the door. He had my right arm cuffed before he'd figured out what he was going to do with other end. Not the Morley Man's brightest recruit. He finally attached it to a hospital bed. Too bad he didn't cuff it to the prosthetic; I know how to get out of that.

Koch stood back, keeping his gun at the ready.

Impatiently, I barked out, "Let's get this over with. I can smell your fucking cigarette. I know you're here."

The white privacy drape slid back. "Your feelings for him are touching, Alex." He blew smoke in my face. "But your work is careless. You might have gotten away with killing Schweck if you hadn't come to see Mulder."

Instant anxiety. I'd expected him to figure out that I'd killed Schweck, but not so quickly. "So, what? You're going to kill me because I took out your chief detractor. I did you a favor."

"Yes, you did. Unfortunately, you also created a problem. A big one for yourself. A small one for me." His voice had that smug tone I despised.

I was filled with a sense of impending doom. My mind ran through everything, searching for my mistake, but I couldn't find it.

Chapter 3

** Krycek **

He smiled at my attempts to figure it out. "The stable has two security systems. The first, a rather antiquated alarm system, which you effectively disabled. The second, installed very recently, a pair of microcameras."

Fuck. Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck. But that still didn't explain what the Morley bastard wanted.

"If you'd thought to inform me of your assassination plans, I might have gotten there first to dispose of the evidence. However, the Annapolis police arrived first and your photo is now on an APB."

I was totally and completely fucked.

My brain worked frantically to stay ahead of him. What does he want? Then I got it. He's worried that I'll trade his secrets for my freedom. However, as much as I'd love to blow the whistle on the Morley-smoking sonofabitch, I couldn't figure out how to do this without getting me and Mulder killed. The bastard knew it, too. "I see where you're going with this," I said, trying to suppress the fear from my voice.

"Do you?" He seemed delighted, as much as his wrinkled mug could show such a feeling. Tossing his cigarette on the floor, he crushed it with his shoe.

"If I knew a way to go public on the Consortium without getting killed, I'd have done it already."

"It's good to hear you're still a loyal member of the team, Alex."

Self-righteous prick. Fuck.

Retrieving a pack of Morley's from his coat, he inserted one between chapped lips. Koch had his lighter out before you could say lung cancer.

"Let's review the picture. You killed a prominent man and your photo is now in the hands of every law enforcement officer within a 100 mile radius." He blew smoke at me again. The smell of his cigarettes was loathsome to me. "So, you're going to be arrested. It's only a matter of time. And once in jail you'll be looking for something with which to bargain your way out."

I knew I was in deep. I didn't need his little monologue, but past experience taught me that there was no stopping him. Attempting to hurry him along would probably only lead to a black eye and further taunting, which was worse. I was only half listening. The other half of my brain was trying to find a way out of this mess. I'd have to leave town--probably the country. Dammit.

He continued. "Information about my work, or the Consortium, is not your bargaining chip. If you try to use it, some very unpleasant things will happen to you. And your loved ones. Do you understand, Alex?"

For a moment my anger got the better of my fear. But I forced myself to hold still. With this dangerous man, you need to know when you're losing and behave accordingly. I nodded at him, hoping that would be enough.

"So we will continue, as we have before. We don't bother you and you don't talk about us. Right, Alex?"

"Right." I hated him so badly, but I only had myself to blame. How could I leave town with Mulder in the hospital? He needed me. I'd have to be extremely careful until he recuperated.

"Good. I'm glad we had this little talk."

The smoking bastard turned toward Koch who handed him a cell phone. Important man like Spender doesn't even carry his own phone. He opened it and dialed. "Sgt. Quinn?" "Yes, he's in room 146B." And he walked out.

Fuck. Of course. I wasn't surprised that he turned me in. Koch kept his weapon on me until two Annapolis policemen and one policewoman burst in, guns drawn. Koch retrieved his cuffs. A cop with sergeant's stripes whipped out another pair and bound my right arm to his left. The female officer read me my rights.

I'd never been arrested before; I hadn't made very many mistakes. Certainly nothing of the magnitude of being filmed murdering a prominent citizen. And me without consortium cronies to make ugly problems go away... I was screwed.

They put me in a van and drove to Annapolis. I kicked myself, on Mulder's behalf, all the way there. If he was going to fall for a criminal, he should have picked one who was less of a fuck up. I knew I was going to prison. I had no useable bargaining chips. That Morley-fuck was right.

** Scully **

The next morning I sat at the table, reviewing a medical journal from the hospital library. Mulder woke up around nine. I joined him at the bed and gave him my familiar 'get well' smile.

"Hey," he said weakly.

"You're going to be okay, Mulder."

He nodded, obviously still groggy from the drugs.

I put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly.

Mulder gave me a dizzy half smile.

He seemed peaceful, so I went back to the table and my reading, just keeping an eye on him. He didn't pay much attention to me.

In spite of the fact that Mulder is older than me, I think of him like a kid brother. He's such a child sometimes. And when he's hurting, I watch him like a hawk. He can't be trusted to do what's best for himself, even when he's well. His expectations about what he can do while injured are ludicrous. So I guard him aggressively, ready at any moment to jump in and talk him out of doing anything foolish.

Twenty minutes later he called out, "Scully!"

I dashed to the bed. "What is it?"

He was holding his hospital wristband, his face radiant with delight. There was a little silver fox clipped to it. "He was here!"

I stared at him, dumbfounded.

"Alex! When was he here?"

"Yesterday. He came around lunchtime and stayed till about six."

"I wish I hadn't missed him." He frowned his disappointment.

"He'll be back. He only left yesterday because I told him Skinner was coming."

He nodded.

"How are you feeling?"

"I've felt better."

I sat next to him. Neither of us spoke. I'd been at his bedside so many times. Nothing needed to be said.

He'd been excited like a little boy when he realized Alex had visited. Whether he could admit it or not, he really loved the man. And, given what I saw yesterday, I think maybe Alex loved him back. I thought about what the killer had said. "You don't have to look for the men who did this." He'd killed for Mulder. It wasn't how I'd express my love, but someone like Krycek might say it with bullets.

I'd always assumed that he was a sociopath. Maybe he was, but they weren't supposed to be capable of love. For the first time, I felt sorry for Alex. I wondered what made him. He was caught between two worlds, not fully comfortable in either of them. At least not where Mulder was concerned.

My cell phone rang. I went to the table and retrieved it. "Scully."

"It's Skinner. How is he?"

"He's doing better, sir. He's in a lot of pain, but he seems more himself."

"Good. I've got more good news. Guess who was arrested yesterday?"

I knew immediately. "I don't know, sir," I said, afraid to hear it. Afraid to say his name and have Mulder overhear it.

"Alex Krycek," Skinner said triumphantly.

Maybe Krycek deserved this, but Mulder didn't. I almost forgot that Krycek was a criminal who ought to have been in jail. Instead, this just seemed like something else that would hurt Mulder.

"Scully, you there?"

"Yes, I'm just surprised." Then I remembered I wasn't supposed to know what he'd done. "Uh, what was he arrested for?"

"First degree murder. Robert Hamilton Schweck, the foreign currency guru. And get this, Scully, the dumbass killed him on camera. The entire thing was shot from two different angles. That boy is going to prison."

"Sounds like it," I replied without enthusiasm.

"I know you two were putting together cases against him on some other charges. Here's your chance."

"Well, we don't actually have much evidence." That was not a distortion of the truth.

"Assemble what you've got. I've already told Annapolis P.D. that we want him for a few days."

"Yes, sir."

"Tell Mulder. He's sure to appreciate some good news."

"Sir, if you don't mind," I said dropping the volume of my voice, "I think I'll wait. I don't want to get him excited."

"Whatever you think, Scully. Can you at least compile what you've got on Krycek and present it to me tomorrow?"

"Yes, sir." Oh, god. It was my job to try to find enough evidence to keep Mulder's lover in jail.

"Good."

I couldn't tell Mulder. I knew he'd be angry with me later, but I wanted him to have at least one more day of recovery without worry.

I needed to make another phone call, but for this one I stepped out into the hall. I found an empty maintenance corridor.

A man's voice answered, "Annapolis Police Department."

"May I speak with the sergeant on duty please?"

"Sure, who's calling?"

"Agent Scully. FBI."

A moment later, a different male voice answered. "Quinn."

"Sergeant Quinn. My name is Dana Scully. I'm with the FBI. I understand you're holding Alex Krycek."

"Yes, ma'am. Killed a good friend of the mayor yesterday. We got his ass, but good. Recorded the whole thing on digital video."

"Congratulations on the quick capture, Sergeant."

"Thank you. We're right proud to close this one fast."

I put on my best needy-woman voice. "I called to ask a favor. My boss, Assistant Director Skinner, has already requested that Krycek be sent to the Bureau for interrogation on some federal matters. If I could talk to Krycek for a moment on the phone, it would save us some prep time here."

"Well, sure. That's no problem, little lady, but I don't think he's going to confess to anything on the phone." He guffawed.

I held the phone away from my ear. "Thank you very much, Sergeant."

"You just hold on a sec and I'll get a phone in to him."

It took about five minutes before I heard Krycek's voice. "Yeah?" He sounded suspicious.

"It's Scully. I know you can't talk to me, because you have an audience, right?"

"Yes."

"Are you okay?"

"Yes."

"No one getting rough with you?"

"No."

"Mulder's doing better today. He was very happy to see the fox you left. I'm not going to tell him about you being in jail for a couple of days, because I don't want him to worry."

"I understand."

"Do you have a lawyer?"

"Not the kind I need."

"I know Mulder would want to help. Do you need assistance finding a good criminal lawyer?" It was the only thing I could do to protect Mulder's interests.

"Yes."

"Is there anything else you need?"

"Yes."

"Bring you something?"

"No."

"Uh... You want me to take good care of him, right?"

"Yes."

"I will. Anything else?"

"No."

"That's it then. Give the phone back to the sergeant."

After a moment, Quinn came back on the line. "Well, did ja get what you needed?"

"Yes. Thank you very much, Sergeant Quinn."

As Mulder lay in pain in his hospital bed, his life was crumbling. And he didn't even know it.

** Krycek **

I could have kissed her for that call. Scully was being good to me, or at least to Mulder, and putting her personal feelings aside.

About three hours later, one of the cops took me into a private room and I met Susan Peterson. My first impression was that she was a lesbian. She was tall, plump, impeccably groomed and very elegant. She wore a tailored suit every bit as nice as the ones Mulder wore. She smiled at me, which I didn't expect.

"Dana Scully called me and used her own credit card to pay my retainer."

Shit. It was damned good to have that woman on your side. "I assume that information is confidential?"

"Yes, it is. But why don't you tell me why an FBI agent took that unusual action on your behalf?"

I didn't want to answer, so I didn't.

"Everything you tell me will be kept private. The more I know, the more power I have to help you."

I didn't want to implicate Scully, but I guess she'd already done that herself.

Peterson asked, "Is she your girlfriend?"

"No. She's my lover's best friend."

She examined me for a moment, seeking an answer. "And your lover would be a man?"

"Yes."

"Does he have anything to do with this case?"

"Indirectly."

"Does Dr. Scully?"

"No."

"Does your lover have anything to do with the FBI?"

"Yes."

"Would you like to tell me his name?"

"No."

She gave me a stern look. "That's okay for now."

I don't trust easily, but I had a good feeling about this woman. She was forceful and direct--and smart enough to know how to handle me.

She gave me some documents to sign, and waited patiently while I read them. Her hourly rate was $350, plus expenses. I groaned inwardly and signed.

"Do you have the means to pay for my services?"

"I think so."

"If we go to trial, you're looking at a minimum of $200,000."

I looked her straight in the eye. "I don't expect to go to trial, and I have $90,000 in an account."

"Did you earn that money legally?"

I didn't like that question one bit. I'm not dumb enough to think that lying to your own lawyer is a good idea, but I also didn't want to lose the ability to pay her.

"I think that answers my question. We'll move on." Peterson was smooth.

She put the signed contract in her briefcase and pulled out a blank pad of paper. "Now, why don't you tell me what happened on Friday morning, starting a few hours before you arrived at the estate of Robert Hamilton Schweck."

Brushing past an instinct to deny ever having heard of the man, I took a deep breath. I thought back to Friday and began. "I was on my way from... from... another... location-"

She rolled her eyes, but then the look softened into a smile. "No harm in telling the truth to your attorney, Mr. Krycek."

I eyed her grimly. It went against all my instincts to tell anyone what I'd done.

"I won't be able to help you if you won't talk to me. I'm on your side, Mr. Krycek."

I made myself tell it. She just listened, taking very few notes. I told her everything about killing Schweck, without mentioning J.J. or Mulder.

"You've neatly circumvented an obvious piece of information. Why did you kill Mr. Schweck?"

I thought about that for a long while. "Revenge."

"For what?"

"Is that important?"

"It has a direct bearing on your conviction and the sentence you'll receive."

Ugh. "He tried to kill someone... someone I care about."

Something shifted in her face. I could tell she didn't believe me. "Robert Hamilton Schweck, the foreign currency trader, tried to kill someone you care about?"

When you put it that way, it was hard to believe. These men have such prestige, as if they're above crime. And Alex Krycek has anti-prestige. "He gave the assignment to a man who works for him. I know it's difficult to believe a man like him would do that, but it's the truth."

I don't think she was convinced, but she was ready to move on. "This someone you care about, would that be your lover?"

I nodded reluctantly.

"Is he okay?"

"He's in the hospital. It looks like he's going to live."

"What happened to him?"

"He was shot three times. In the chest and stomach."

"Did the police find the man who shot him?"

"No. And they might suspect that I shot him, but I didn't."

"Do you know who actually shot your lover?"

A curt nod was my only reply.

She paused for a moment, gathering her words. "Do you think this individual would be available to testify at your trial?"

Peterson was being kind. If things hadn't been so grim, I would've laughed. "No."

"Let's move on." She adjusted her glasses on her nose. "What motive would Mr. Schweck have for wanting to kill your lover?"

I was a step ahead of her until she asked that. My mind churned on that for a while.

"Jealousy? Did you have an affair with Mr. Schweck?"

I'm certain I made a face. "No."

"Then you tell me."

I got up and paced the floor. "I'm going to have to be vague here, because if I told you everything and it left this room, someone else would get killed. Most likely me." I sat down again. "I was doing business with Mr. Schweck."

"Illegal business?"

"Yes." There was no way to say this without bringing Mulder into it. "All of this--everything I tell you is confidential?"

"Yes. I could be disbarred for violating your confidentiality."

"My lover, in the course of his work at the FBI, was trying to find evidence that would have adversely affected Mr. Schweck's business."

"And yours?"

"Yes, but I was in the process of leaving the business."

"That must have been complicated... having your lover trying to prosecute your business partner?"

"Oh, yeah." I felt an odd bit of relief at being able to share my insane life with someone. Even if I was omitting the less believable details.

"Does your FBI lover know you're involved in this illegal business?"

"Yes."

"Does he know you killed Mr. Schweck?"

"I don't believe he does, but he's sure to find out before he leaves the hospital."

"Is he still going to be your lover after he finds out, Mr. Krycek?"

"Probably." My answer made me a little embarrassed for Mulder. It made him sound like such an idiot.

She didn't miss anything. "Is your lover going to lose his job if the facts of this case become public?"

That had crossed my mind. Not more than a few dozen times. Peterson really needed to understand this. "That's one reason why I don't want to go to trial. And if we do, I won't allow certain facts to be aired."

"Mr. Krycek, you have been charged with first degree murder. I have every reason to believe the State of Maryland is going to ask for the death penalty."

I'd thought about that, too, but I didn't have any choice. Mulder might survive being outed as a queer, but he'd lose his job in a heartbeat if he was known to be my lover. I knew how much his job meant to him. I couldn't do it. I'd already hurt him too badly and it didn't look like I'd be around to comfort him about losing his job. "I understand."

Her voice took on a note of excited disbelief. "You're telling me that you're willing to go to death row so your lover doesn't have to find another line of work?"

I didn't want to answer. Saying it felt like accepting an engraved invitation to the electric chair. I wasn't feeling brave. I was fucking scared. I wanted to be in his arms again and it was looking like that would never happen.

"Answer the question!" She was getting tough with me.

"I'm not some kind of hero, Ms. Peterson. If we go to trial and I explain why I killed Schweck, I'm going to have to explain what my business dealings with him were, right?"

Peterson nodded.

"You walk out of here and tell the D.A. that's our case and I'll be dead by morning. I have to take my chances."

"If you're involved in something that heavy, maybe we can work a deal with immunity and witness protection?"

"Trust me, no witness protection program is going to be effective if certain parties decide they want me dead. In fact, if you value your own life, be grateful that I'm not talking."

She looked me dead in the eyes. "I'm not sure I believe you, Mr. Krycek. About your loyalty to your lover or about what's at stake."

I shrugged. More details wouldn't make my story more believable and it would get us both killed. There was nothing else to say.

Peterson gave a heavy sigh and continued. "Let's review your options. Normally, murder one means trial or plea bargain. However, with the crime recorded on film, the state doesn't have much incentive to give you a deal. Given your unwillingness to go public with certain aspects of this case, trial may be pointless. As soon as I can arrange it, I will have a conversation with the district attorney and try to get a sense of where that office stands on this. They might be willing to plea bargain for 20 or 30 years. Maybe I can do better. I don't know."

She shifted in her chair. "You need to understand the only thing I've heard today that would inspire a reduced sentence, is your belief that Mr. Schweck tried to have your lover killed. If we don't use that, we've got nothing. I want you to take a few days to think that through clearly. Perhaps you'll have a chance to discuss it with your lover?"

In my gloom, I'd almost forgotten a question I had for her. "Have you seen the tape?"

"Not yet."

"Does it have audio?"

"I don't know."

"Will they release it to the press?"

"I'll try to prevent that."

"Prevent it any way you can. I don't want that tape made public."

"Why?"

"I told Schweck why. It would out my lover."

Peterson nodded and put the pad in her briefcase. The paper was still blank.

"Mr. Krycek, I'll do the very best I can for you."

I nodded. She shook my hand and departed.

I sat in my cell afterward, anxiously trying to come up with a scheme that would get me out of this. I could only think of one that would work. Escape. I could probably pull it off, but I'd have to leave the country. The odds of ever seeing Mulder again were nil.

Of course 30 years in jail wouldn't do much for our relationship either. I'd have to wait and see how this played out.

One thought was floating in my mind and I had to keep shaking it off. One way or another, Mulder and I were already finished.

Chapter 4

** Scully **

Around lunchtime, a police detective interviewed Mulder. He couldn't remember much more than stopping at the market for coffee. I listened nervously. It seemed unlikely that Schweck had pulled the trigger himself and I didn't want anyone to find another body to link to Krycek.

I needn't have worried. The police had essentially no evidence, and the list of people who might want Mulder dead was too long to be useful. Mulder asked to see a list of registered owners of black BMWs, and the detective said he'd drop it by tomorrow. I had to get him off the case, before he solved it.

I went home to take a shower, but I returned to his room later that afternoon.

"Hey, Scully."

"Hi, Mulder." Today was his first day on solid foods. Knowing how he feels about hospital meals, I'd brought him an onion bagel and cream cheese.

"Thanks." Mulder unwrapped it and took a bite. He gave me a worried smile. "You haven't heard from Alex, have you?"

I was hoping for another day before I had to tell him, but I couldn't lie to him. "As a matter of fact, I did hear from Alex." I sat on the bed. "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

"What?"

"Alex is in jail."

His face turned pale and there was no disguising the apprehension in his voice. "What?"

I dropped my voice to a whisper. "He called my cell phone on Thursday night--looking for you. I told him you'd been shot. He asked for details. I told him about the black-haired man and the BMW. I realize now that I shouldn't have told him, but I did. I'm sorry."

Mulder just nodded, his eyes glued to mine.

"When he came to visit you on Friday he told me that--let me try to remember his exact words--'You don't have to look for the men who did this.'" I paused waiting for that to sink in. "Then I got a call yesterday from Skinner. Krycek was arrested for the murder of Robert Hamilton Schweck, a currency trader who lives in Annapolis."

"Where is he?"

"In the Annapolis jail. I called and spoke with him this morning. He's okay. He needed help finding a lawyer, so I had a friend, who works for a judge, refer me to the best criminal attorney she knew. Susan Peterson. I paid a retainer and she went out there this afternoon. I knew you'd want to help."

"Scully, we've got to get him out on bail. They'll kill him."

"I don't think there's any way to get him out, Mulder. They have a videotape of the crime."

He blanched. "They have a video of Alex killing Schweck?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Get me a phone."

"What, Mulder?"

He shouted at me. "Get me a phone!"

I gave him my cell phone. Soon he was talking to Sergeant Quinn. "Sergeant, there's something you need to know about Alex Krycek." He paused impatiently. "There are some very powerful men who'd like to see him killed. You need to keep a man on him at all times. Two would be better." He was biting the corner of his lip. "No, you don't understand, Sergeant. These men may have government credentials." He listened a little longer, and then just hung up.

"God dammit! Scully, do you think we can get Skinner to send someone to Annapolis?"

There was no tactful way to say this. "Mulder, keeping Krycek alive is not one of Skinner's top priorities. In fact, he's already asked to have him transferred to the Bureau for a few days, so we can question him."

"Shit. I don't know which is worse, Annapolis or the Bureau." He knit his brows for a minute, then phoned Skinner.

"I just heard that Krycek's been arrested." Short pause. "That's good. Do you know when they're sending him?" Long pause. "Do you think you could put a 24-hour team in Annapolis until then? I don't want anything to happen to him before we get to talk to him." Short pause. "I know that, sir. But remember what happened to Cardinal." Short pause. "I'd do it myself if I thought Scully would let me out of this bed." Short pause. "It's better than nothing." He closed the phone.

Mulder's obstinacy was rather reassuring. It meant that he was on the mend.

"He's going to ask the field office to put a man there overnight." I could tell he was still worried. "Scully, would you go visit him tonight?"

So I did.

** Krycek **

Scully came Saturday night. They put us in the lawyer/client room, so we could talk privately.

"Thank you for your help, Scully."

She nodded. "Are they treating you okay?"

"I've been detained in worse places."

"Mulder is worried that someone will try to kill you."

"Tell him not to worry about me."

"You know he won't listen." Scully looked at me sadly. "Do you think Susan Peterson is going to be able to help you?"

"She's good." I shrugged. Helping me was a tall order. "I'll pay you back for the retainer."

"No hurry. How does the case look?"

The door burst open and Sergeant Quinn stormed in. "God damn you feds! This was our case and you just couldn't keep out of it, could you?"

Scully stood, her eyes shining with anger at the intrusion. "What are you talking about?"

"As if you didn't know! I just got a call from the D.A. He said that he's been asked to send this case to the Federal Court, so they can prosecute it."

"What difference does it make who prosecutes the case?"

"It makes a lot of difference to us here in 'napolis. It was our own that he killed." He tossed me a sneer. I stayed in my seat and didn't say a word, not wanting to give him an excuse to act out.

Scully's voice was cold. "I didn't have anything to do with this, so you'll have to find someone else to blame."

"It must have been that Mulder fellow then. He was sure belligerent on the phone. You know him?"

She sighed blandly and ignored the question. "Sergeant Quinn, this is a private meeting room. I'd like to continue my interrogation."

He smirked at both of us and slammed the door as he departed.

"Do you know what this means, Scully?"

"No, I don't. But I'm certain Mulder had nothing to do with it."

That narrowed it down to one cigarette-smoking bastard but, like many of his maneuvers, I couldn't figure out where it would lead.

"The only thing I knew was that you're being transferred to the Bureau lock-up on Thursday for questioning on the Bureau cases."

"Questioning by who?"

"It would normally be Mulder and I, but I don't think he'll be out of the hospital by then."

"You do realize that, on the record, some of my answers will be less than candid?"

"Do what you have to, Krycek."

"Tell him. I don't want to have to lie to him, but I will. I just want him to know beforehand."

"I will." She pulled a folded piece of paper out of her blazer pocket. "Mulder sent this."

"A,
I'm feeling better and wish you were here to feed me soup.
My friend and I will do everything we can think of to help.
If you need anything, have your lawyer call me.
M"

Just thinking about him hurt. I was far more afraid of never seeing him again than I was of prison. When I looked up again, Scully passed me a piece of paper and a pen. "For a return message."

I took the paper and wrote.

"M,
I'm sorry I fucked this up.
I didn't mean to do anything that would take me away from you.
My cell is better than the one in Tunguska, but I miss the company.
It would be worth eating a few cockroaches just to see you.
Get well.
A"

I wanted to tell him how much he meant to me, but I was so afraid I'd never see him again. Better he not know. I was about to cry again. I folded the note and passed it to her.

She waited for me to calm down, but I wasn't sure I ever would.

"Go. Please."

Scully put a hand on my good shoulder and squeezed it briefly before she left.

I'd never done anything to deserve this woman's support, but I was grateful for it nonetheless.

The next morning they transferred me to the federal lock-up on Pennsylvania Avenue. They confiscated my arm, as if it was a weapon. I asked them to give it to my attorney, with my leather jacket, so it wouldn't disappear.

I'd been at the federal lock-up twice before to question suspects, but never in a cell. The cell was about the size of a small bathroom, but at least I didn't have to share it with anyone. I paced the damned thing half the night, which was absurd because it was only three paces across, but I just couldn't sit still.

I was still alive. I supposed I should feel grateful. But I had to work through all the possible outcomes in my head. Spender killing me seemed unlikely, but still it was hard to predict the man. I could be certain he already had a contingency plan in case my cached information went public. I didn't think anyone else would try to kill me, but maybe Schweck had friends who didn't know or care about the evidence I'd stashed away to protect Mulder and me.

Russians were always a possibility, but it seemed like things were pretty simpatico at our last encounter. They wouldn't do anything to help me, but I suspected they'd leave me be.

If I remained alive, prison was my next biggest problem. I had one ally I could count on to help me escape. Ming Li. My only friend in the world.

I didn't want to leave the country or Mulder, but it was a far better choice than life in prison. Once I was out, I could get to my apartment--assuming the cops hadn't located it--and get one of my false passports, some cash and my SVR ID. The Russians would be happy to have me, even if I could no longer meddle in American events. I had a few enemies in Moscow, but not nearly as many as I had here. It could work. I still had information I could sell.

But Mulder. Damn. I'd never before let feelings interfere with what I had to do. But it's not like being with him was a choice anymore. Prison or Russia. Fuck.

Mulder. I was a god damned fool for ever letting myself care about him.

Finally exhausted, I curled up on my bed and tried not to think about Mulder's luscious lips.

The next day, a guard came after breakfast and took me to one of the interrogation rooms. I'd interrogated a rapist in this room once. The guard cuffed my wrist to a fat steel d-ring built into the table for just this purpose, and stalked out.

I stared at the coffee stains on the wooden table and hoped to see Mulder, even though I knew he was still in the hospital.

About 15 minutes later, the door opened, but no one came in. Then I saw one wheel and a footrest come around the corner and I knew it had to be him. I fought to conceal my excitement. I think I managed to put up a good sneer.

Mulder's wheelchair eased through the opening. He looked haggard and pale, but he had a weak grin on his face. He rolled right up to me and, before I could stop him, he put his hands in my hair and pulled me into a kiss.

I pushed him away. "Mulder, who's in the gallery?" I whispered desperately.

"Scully." He smirked at me. "And she promised to phone if anyone else joins the party."

I practically leaped into his lap to finish the kiss he'd started. After a few minutes the frenzy dissipated. "I thought I'd never see you again."

He reached into a pocket and pulled out a key ring. He took the cuffs off me, then pocketed them and the key. He held my hand in both of his. "I love you, Alex."

"Don't! Please. I may spend the rest of my life in prison."

"We'll find a way to get you out of here."

I pulled my hand away roughly. "Fine, I'm in favor of that, but just don't count on it. Please."

He started to say something, but his cell phone rang--a pitiful little bleat.

I jerked myself away from him and tried to look hostile.

"Mulder." He nodded. "Okay."

He rolled around so his back was facing the mirrored glass that led to the galley. He winked at me. "You know what comes next, don't you?"

I gave him my best surly look, so he'd know I was ready. "Do what you have to do. I know you have to do it."

Scully came in carrying a box of cassette tapes and a thick file. Giving Mulder a worried glance, she whispered to him as she put the items on the table. "Put the cuffs back on him, Mulder."

He reluctantly locked my wrist to the table again. She loaded the tape recorder, started it and stated the date. "Interrogation of Alex Krycek. Federal lock-up. Agents present, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder." She rattled off badge numbers and half a dozen case IDs she'd written on the front of the file folder.

I no longer knew who was in the gallery, nor could I know who would listen to the tape. I'd be offering them very little truth today. I hoped they had enough good sense to play hardball with me or no one was going to believe this charade.

Mulder maneuvered his wheelchair so that he was slightly behind me and to my left. I could almost feel his heat. Having him in the room was good comfort against my fears of losing him.

Scully began. She situated herself across from me with her back to the two-way mirror. "I understand that you've waived the right to have an attorney present. Is that correct?"

I glared at her and nodded, forcing her to try to make me say it.

"I need you to speak for the tape recorder. You've waived the right to have an attorney present. Is that correct?"

I looked her square in the eye and said, "Fuck off."

Mulder jumped in, almost convincingly. "Krycek, you bastard, answer the god damned question." He leaned toward me trying to look threatening, but with him deathly white in a wheelchair he couldn't pull it off.

I found myself slipping into my old role, although it hadn't felt like a role at the time. "If you're trying to intimidate me, you could have done better than a 90 pound woman and a deathbed refuge."

I could see my venom surprised Mulder. Scully was nonplussed. "Okay, Krycek. I'm going to give you five minutes to think about whether or not you want an attorney. At the end of that time if you haven't asked for one, we're going to assume you don't want one."

She glanced at her watch. She looked at me. We sat in silence for five minutes. Finally, she spoke again. "If you want an attorney, this is your last chance to speak up."

After another minute's pause, she pulled a document out of the file. "We're going to begin with Duane Barry. Did you kill Duane Barry?"

"No." I'd heard people say that lying was a lot of work, but it wasn't. Lying was easy. Even easier when the interrogators expected you to lie.

Scully asked all the questions. Her voice was hard, but she was gentle with me. I gave so little new information, I almost felt bad for her. For them. So, out of the blue, in the middle of the discussion of Scully's abduction, I told them who killed the man Mulder called Deep Throat. The shooter was dead already and not key to anything that would upset anyone enough to come after me.

Otherwise I was belligerent, moody, evasive and dishonest. My normal charming self.

After questioning me further about Duane Barry and the Skyland Mountain tram operator, Scully turned off the tape recorder. "I need a five minute recess. Mulder, do you need anything?"

Mulder shook his head.

I was thirsty, but didn't ask for anything. I was half afraid they'd actually get it for me. I twisted around so I was facing Mulder, and facing away from the two-way mirror. I whispered to him, "Anyone in the gallery?"

He nodded.

"You're going to have to get rough with me."

He nodded weakly.

I lowered the volume even further. "I killed your father, you son of a bitch."

Hurt hazel eyes gazed into mine.

"Hit me!"

Suddenly, he halfheartedly slapped my face and yelped, "Leave me alone, you bastard."

I turned away.

Scully returned with coffee for herself and a Coke for Mulder. She passed him her list of questions. He reluctantly rolled his wheelchair around to face me and turned on the tape recorder.

"Did you participate, in any way, in Agent Scully's abduction from Skyland Mountain?"

"No." I'd been fooling myself. It was hard to lie to him.

"Did you know she was going to be abducted?" His voice was leaden.

"No."

"Who abducted her?"

"I don't know." Alex-the-thug was tempted to suggest that the whole thing was a figment of her imagination, but I wasn't feeling that obnoxious.

"Did you take control of the tram to keep me from getting to the top of the mountain?" His anger was starting to show in his tone.

"No."

"Did you kill the tram operator?" I remembered when he'd asked me that before and a glint of pain in his eyes said he did too.

"No."

"Did you injure the tram operator to get him away from the controls?"

"No."

"What happened to the controls while I was on the tram?" He said it loud. I could feel his tension.

"I don't know."

"Where were you while I was on the tram?"

"I went to the men's room."

"Where is the men's room?"

"I don't remember."

As I spoke something in his face changed. He pushed himself up from the wheelchair into an unsteady stance and screamed at me, "Oh, come on, Krycek! You prevented me from rescuing her. Admit it, you bastard!"

No question he was really angry. Part of me wanted to capitulate because it was Mulder. But the survival part of me was stronger. I sneered at him.

He reached across the table and grabbed my collar. Scully was too surprised to try to stop him. He squeezed the fabric of my rough prison shirt and shook me. "Admit it, you son of a bitch!"

"Get your hands off me." I yanked my body out of his hands and tried not to wince as he fell back into the wheelchair.

I sank into my seat, away from his grasp, as far away from him as the handcuffs would let me go. Krycek-the-thug was pissed at him. Mulder's lover was scared that we'd never get beyond our shared past, assuming I was ever free to see him again. My energy was sucked away, drained by the cost of maintaining these roles. All at once everything seemed so damned impossible. Loneliness took over. I knew I was going to be incarcerated for a long time. Or I'd have to leave the country. I huddled in my seat, hoping they'd just leave me alone for a few minutes.

It was silent for a long while before I heard his voice again. "This interview is pointless. He's not going to tell us anything." His voice revealed a struggle to maintain his anger, but I knew he wasn't mad at me any more. I buried my face in my knees to hide my relief, as I heard him wheel himself out of the room.

I sat up straight and looked at Scully. She just watched me, like she was expecting something.

Maybe she was. About five minutes later the door opened and in walked Walter Skinner. I was more than a little afraid of Skinner, but I knew Mulder would be in the gallery now. And Scully was here with me. Mulder got out because he couldn't stand it anymore.

I reminded myself that I'd been in situations much worse than this.

Skinner sat down across from me and flipped through the list of questions. "Let's start with something easy." His hard eyes met mine. "Who were you working for when you were first assigned to the Cole case?"

"That would be you, Skinner."

"That's bullshit. Were you working for C.G.B. Spender?"

"No, not unless you reported to him." I gave him a smarmy smile.

I swear I could hear his teeth grind as he clenched his jaw. Pissing off the man would be effortless.

"You and your friends beat me up in the stairwell of D.C. General Hospital. With my -"

"No." I held his gaze and put all the machismo I had into mine.

He stood up and loomed over me. "What do you mean, 'no?' You can't deny that one. I was there."

I can deny anything, Mr. Skinner. "I wasn't."

His body twitched with tension. He wanted to hit me so badly. "You stole the DAT tape."

"No."

A muscle in his jaw twitched.

I pulled back as far as I could, but those long arms could still reach me. I knew it would be a win if I could get him to take a swing at me.

"There were three of you in the stairs. You. Luis Cardinal. And a third man. Who was the third man?"

"I wasn't there. I don't know."

Skinner flinched. His right arm jerked forward, but he caught himself. I could see the tension consuming him.

Scully's eyes were glued to Skinner's face. She was ready to intercede if necessary. Her boss continued, "What were you doing in Hong Kong?"

"Eating dim sum."

"Did you and Geraldine Kalenchuk sell information taken from that tape?"

"What tape?"

A low growl came from deep in his chest. "The government tape encoded in Navajo."

"I've never seen it."

"You lying bastard." Skinner braced himself on the table and leaned over so his face was a few inches from mine. He yelled out the question. "Did you. Kill. Mulder's father?"

"No," I yelled back at him and watched him reach the boiling point.

He grabbed me by the throat. "You useless piece of trash. I ought to just beat you to death." I knew he wanted to do it. I could see it in his cold brown eyes. Had we been alone, without any possibility of being caught, maybe he'd have done it.

His hands loosened on my neck, enough for me to breathe. I was shaking a little, but I tried to hold my voice steady. "You won't do it. And we both know it."

By now Scully had her hand on his shoulder. She nudged him off of me. He let go, but kicked a chair. Hard enough to send it flying. He picked it up and slammed it on the table in front of me. As the wooden chair shattered, I felt a piece of it imbed itself like a knife in my cuffed hand. The wood was sharp enough to slide in so smoothly that it didn't even hurt.

Savoring my victory, I lowered my voice. "There's nothing you can do to me to make me talk without jeopardizing your career. You think it will be worth it?"

Something flared in his eyes. He turned off the tape recorder and for a moment I thought I'd misjudged him. Skinner swept the remains of the chair onto the floor. He yanked the wooden stake out of my hand and waved the bloody end in my face. "You're going to prison, boy." His baritone came out smooth and slow. "Even without giving up what you know. And if you live long enough to get out of jail, if you come anywhere near me, or Scully, or Mulder, or any of our families, you're a dead man." He jammed the wooden stake right back into my hand and walked out.

Chapter 5

** Krycek **

It definitely hurt the second time.

Scully escorted Skinner out and shut the door behind them.

I had to bend over the table to get the damn spike out of the web of my hand using my teeth. I spat it onto the ground. I kicked the table and cursed in Russian. I was mad, really mad. In my mind I beat the shit out of that balding bastard. For a few moments it was satisfying to imagine hurting him. After a while, I realized that, even with two arms, I was unlikely to win that fight. I cursed the peasants of Tunguska in their own language until my rage fizzled and I retreated into my despair.

Scully came back about ten minutes later with a first aid kit.

She sat down next to me. "You certainly know how to piss him off."

"'S'okay," I replied sullenly.

She left my hand cuffed, but examined it carefully. It seemed odd that she held it so gently. "Does it hurt?"

"Not really."

"You deliberately made him angry. Why?"

"I wanted to win."

Scully stared at me like I was a pathetic fool. She shook her head. "He shouldn't have done this, but you realize that he's just trying to protect us."

"Papa bear protecting his cubs?" I replied in a smart-ass tone.

She snapped at me, "I can hardly blame him. Every time you turn up one of us gets hurt."

I didn't want to admit it, but she was right. I had a real knack for bringing chaos into the lives of people around me. Mulder had been victim to my grim reaper many times. I tried to think of anyone whose life had been enhanced by my presence. Not a one came to mind. Looking at my terminated left arm, I couldn't even count myself on that list. If I had to be a fuck up, at least I excelled at it.

Scully found tweezers and removed a few minor splinters. Then she put a towel under my hand and poured on a large amount of--fuck, that hurt--antiseptic of some kind. Scully worked quickly and soon was blotting the excess fluid from my skin. She carefully sewed the cuts closed with a dozen stitches. She spread ointment over the stitches and bandaged the wound. "Keep it clean, if you can."

I nodded.

She left.

I sat there missing Mulder and trying not to think about how I was going to piss and eat with no good hands.

Ten minutes later, Mulder's wheelchair came through the door. "Scully's in the gallery again." He rolled over to me and put his arms around me. "You okay?"

I kissed him my answer. His mouth was so fucking sweet. I wanted to escape the wreckage of my life by crawling inside him. He kissed me for a long time, and then pulled himself away. "I'm going to talk to your attorney."

"Don't, Mulder. It's risky for you."

"I'll think up some excuse. I need to be sure she's doing everything she can."

I knew I couldn't stop him.

He pushed a stray strand of hair out of his eye. "I'm going to do everything I can to get you free."

"There's not much hope. They've got fucking video. Plus I'll have to face whatever charges the Bureau comes up with."

"There won't be any other charges. We don't have any evidence."

I stopped trying to conceal the frustration. "C'mon, Mulder. Skinner can testify that I beat him up."

"I'll think of something to try to prevent him from filing charges." He put his hands on my shoulders. "I don't know how, but the Bureau won't file any new charges."

I'd never heard his voice like that. Desperate. "Don't compromise yourself, Mulder. It won't do much good anyway. You can't make the video evidence go away."

"Schweck was in the Consortium, right?"

I nodded.

"You killed him because he had someone try to kill me, right?"

"Yes, but I can't prove it. Even if I could-"

He shook me a little to shut me up. "I'm going to do everything I can." His voice was final.

"Just promise me one thing?"

"What?"

"You won't out yourself or do anything else that will hurt you."

He gave me a guilty look and kissed me again.

"Mul-der."

"I have to go." He began wheeling himself away. "I love you, Alex."

I met his eyes and tried to let him see what I felt. I don't know what he saw in my face--fear, love, loss. I tried not to panic as he exited. I had to believe I'd see him again. It became harder to hold onto that dream after they took me back to my cell.

The next afternoon, I was escorted to a private attorney-client room. Peterson was waiting for me. She looked me over carefully as I sat down. She scolded me with a glance. "I understand you were interrogated yesterday. Why didn't you call me?"

"It was messy. I wanted to keep you out of it."

She responded with a grimace.

"We never even discussed Schweck."

She didn't look happy, but she accepted what I said and moved on. "Someone named Fox Mulder called me. Is he your lover?"

I met her gaze, but I wasn't going to answer.

"He wants to meet with me. Do you want me to meet with him?"

"Okay. Whatever he says, just keep it confidential."

"I can listen to him, but if he asks me about the case, I can't tell him anything."

"You can tell him anything you want to."

"You trust him with your life?"

"Yes. I do."

"All right. I'll talk to him." Peterson adjusted the cuff of her suit coat. "I met with the Federal judge, Judge Hernandez, about the tape. He's agreed to embargo it so it can't be shown outside of trial."

"Have you seen it?"

"Yes," she replied but there was something in her voice. She didn't like what she saw.

"You have a problem defending me?"

She gritted her teeth before she replied. "No. I don't like what you did, but I can still defend you."

"Does the tape have audio?"

"No. I watched the tape maybe a dozen times before I could guess what you said. And I was looking for it. I don't think the tape will out him."

"Thank you."

"The federal prosecutor and I also discussed bail with the judge. He won't consider it. If you want, you can request a bail hearing, but with the FBI talking about additional charges being filed, I think it would be a waste of money."

I didn't expect it. "I understand."

"The prosecutor is taking a hard line, but I might be able to convince her to go for a plea bargain of second degree murder, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years."

She waited for me to react. I was, of course, calculating my age at the end of that and not liking the answer.

"She and I are meeting again on Thursday. She'll probably make her first real offer at that time."

I nodded.

"I need to clarify this with you. If I can get a decent offer from her, you'll plead guilty to second degree murder?"

"Yes." I said it softly, so it would seem less real, but it didn't help much.

"It's my responsibility to explain what that would mean. If you plead guilty, it's the same as being convicted. When you get out of jail, you'll be a convicted felon. It won't be easy to find a job or even leave the country. You may find yourself getting singled out by the police for line-ups or getting hauled to the police station after being pulled over for speeding. Do you-"

I cut her off. "Do I have a better choice? Can I go to trial and say I've never been to Annapolis? Dye my hair, grow a beard and hope they won't know it's me on the tape? What?"

"They were very thorough at the scene. They have hairs, fibers, footprints. If we go to trial, they're going to work very hard to link that to you. Once they have just one piece of evidence besides that tape, you're going down. Probably for life."

"Work the deal."

"Okay." She packed her briefcase, but didn't stand. "You want to tell me what happened to your hand?"

"An angry G-man tried to put a chair through it."

"Your lover?"

"No."

"Do you want to press charges?"

"No."

"Will you let me have someone take a picture in case you change your mind later?"

"Whatever." My mind was on my age plus 20 years. I didn't care.

She left me and came back with a nurse and a camera. They took half a dozen shots of my hand. A nurse checked my stitches, applied more ointment and left. Peterson put her hand on my shoulder. "I'll do the best I can for you. I won't agree to anything until you've had time to consider it."

I nodded and she left.

** Mulder **

Peterson returned my call and agreed to see me. I took the earliest appointment she had and Scully drove me there. Scully insisted that I use the wheelchair, but I insisted that I not, so she insisted on walking me all the way into the lawyer's office. She meant it, too. She took my arm, walked me in to meet Peterson and waited for me to sit before she returned to the waiting room. And she thinks I'm stubborn.

The elegant, heavyset woman took her chair. "Mr. Mulder, what can I do for you?"

"I know you can't talk to me about the case, but there are a few things I want you to know."

She nodded.

With Scully's help, I'd prepared carefully for this meeting. "You may already know some of what I'm about to tell you, but I'm not going to take that chance."

"Are you wearing a wire, Mr. Mulder?"

That hadn't occurred to me. "No. Would you like to verify that for yourself?" It seemed odd that she'd worry about surreptitious taping when I was going to do most of the talking. My curiosity was piqued.

"Yes, I would." She rose and walked to me.

I stood silently while she thoroughly patted down my clothing and checked the pockets of my coat.

"May I see your driver's license and your Bureau I.D.?"

I showed her both. Anything to help Alex.

After carefully scrutinizing the documents, and jotting down my license and badge numbers, she sat down behind her giant oak desk. "Please go on, Mr. Mulder."

"Alex Krycek is my lover." I wasn't embarrassed to say that. In fact, it felt good. "Last week I was shot and left for dead in an alley. I've been in the hospital until earlier this week, with an armed guard posted outside my room. Alex believes Schweck ordered the attack on me and that he would have tried again."

Peterson just listened.

"Alex isn't the most moral man. But he killed Schweck to prevent the man from killing me. I believe that and I need you to believe that. And if that tape is what I hear it is, this is Alex's only defense."

Peterson looked at me for a long time before she spoke. "I frisked you because Alex gave me permission to talk to you and I was concerned you'd betray him."

"Thank you."

"Sarcasm, Mr. Mulder?"

"No. I'm grateful that you're protecting Alex."

She nodded. "Mr. Krycek won't let me use what you've just told me as part of his defense."

"Because it would mean outing me?"

"As the lover of a killer..."

"Unless you do that, he's going to jail for a long time."

"I agree. Perhaps you could get him to change his mind?"

I sighed grimly. I had a bad feeling about this. "I'll try, but it's difficult for me to talk to him privately."

"I understand." Something in the tone of this assertive woman's voice made me trust her.

"I'm not optimistic that I'll be able to persuade him. Is there something we can do if I fail?"

"I cannot act against his wishes."

"But I can."

"You can, but I caution you to be careful. You could easily destroy your career and accomplish nothing for Alex."

"What would you recommend?"

"I cannot make a recommendation that goes against my client's wishes. Try to convince him first. If that fails... you're on your own." Peterson opened a leather calendar book. "For your information, I'm meeting with the federal prosecutor, Grace Williams, Thursday at ten."

She'd just given me what I needed.

"Mr. Mulder, may I ask you some questions about your relationship with Mr. Krycek?"

"You may."

"Were all his criminal activities committed with such noble motives?"

"Probably not. It is ironic that this particular crime threatens to send him to prison."

"How long have you been seeing him?"

"I've known him about five years, but I've only been seeing him for the past six months."

I watched her make a mental note. "It doesn't seem like enough to risk your career over."

"It's...he means a lot to me. More than I've ever had."

"Did you know he was a criminal before you began seeing him?"

"Yes."

She looked a little sad. Sad for me? For Alex?

"Ms. Peterson, I want you to call me if there's any way I can help with his defense. I'll do whatever it takes."

She raised an eyebrow. "Whatever it takes, Mr. Mulder?"

I knew what she was asking, but I ignored it and gave her a nod.

"I'll do whatever I can to help him as well."

"Thank you for seeing me."

"Thank you."

I walked out of her office with trepidation. He needed more help than I could give. I knew I had to get in to see him again. Somehow.

I asked Scully to take me to the lock-up. I told them we were going to make another attempt at our interrogation, but that maybe he'd feel more comfortable in a private room. He used to be an agent after all. A guard showed us to one of the attorney rooms.

Scully spoke while we waited. "Mulder, I should leave you two alone."

"Please don't. It's more believable this way."

She relented. The half grimace on her face revealed her discomfort.

They brought him in after about fifteen minutes. He looked around suspiciously before he let me pull him into an embrace. I squeezed him as hard as I could, still feeling pain from my wounds.

I'd always enjoyed the feeling of his body pressed against mine, but now we were endangered. It was difficult to get past the irrational feeling that if I held him tightly enough, no one would ever take him away.

Scully looked away, trying to give us privacy.

"I spoke to Ms. Peterson today."

"Yeah?"

"She seems good. I like her."

Alex nodded.

I led him to the chairs and we sat side-by-side. "She agreed that your only decent defense is motive."

He looked away. "We're not going there, Mulder."

"I want you out of here, dammit."

"You'll lose your job. Plus I'll have to answer questions that will get us both killed. I've already hurt you enough." His frown was punctuated by that crease at the bridge of his nose, which I would have found endearing under any other circumstance.

"Fuck you! You think having you in prison will be painless for me? I can hardly fucking wait."

"I'm sorry."

"There's no choice that doesn't hurt me, Alex."

"I never wanted to hurt you."

"Fine, so tell Peterson to use motive."

"No."

"Dammit! You want to go to prison?"

"I'm going to prison anyway. They're not going to just say, 'He was protecting his boyfriend, so, oh, never mind.' At least this way, you'll still have your job. I'm just trying to be realistic."

"Realistic? Do you have any idea what it's going to be like in prison for a beautiful, one armed man? Not that it's a picnic for anyone, but dammit, Alex, I can't stand to think about what they're going to do to you in there."

He shrugged.

"Damn you! Would you listen to me?" I stroked Alex's hair and pulled him to my chest. "You're so fucking important to me." I started to cry. It took a minute to get control of myself again. "Please, call Peterson and tell her to use motive."

His face was impassive. "No. I'm sorry. I won't."

Stubborn bastard! "Fine!" I kissed him on the forehead and walked out, slamming the door behind me.

I stomped off all the way to the building lobby before I realized that Scully had the car keys. Out of breath far too easily, I found a dusty chair and sat, pulling out my cell phone. I left an urgent message for the federal prosecutor, Grace Williams, leaving my cell phone number.

Scully dropped me off at my apartment. I exchanged my suit for sweats and curled up on the couch, working out in my head how to approach Williams. The cell phone chirped.

"Mulder."

"This is Grace Williams. I'm returning your call." Her voice was high, almost squeaky, but the tone was serious.

"I need to talk to you about Alex Krycek."

"Yes."

"I have important information about the case that you're not going to hear unless I tell you."

"You're FBI, right?"

How could she know that? "Yes."

"I'll be at the Superior Court first thing tomorrow morning. Can you meet me outside the judges' chambers?"

"When?"

"8:30. Judge Raoul Hernandez."

"I'll be there."

She hung up.

Something in the conversation raised a red flag. She already knew who I was and seemed to want to talk to me. Very suspicious. I'd been prepared to convince her. It left me feeling off balance.

I dialed Peterson and left a voice message. "Hi, this is Fox Mulder. I'm meeting with Williams tomorrow at 8:30. I thought you should know."

** Krycek **

Peterson phoned for me around 9 P.M. They took me to a special private phone.

"Alex Krycek."

"Mr. Krycek, this is Susan Peterson." Her voice was confident and serious, but there was a hint of warmth. "You know I'm meeting with the federal prosecutor tomorrow morning."

"Yes."

"This is your last chance to speak up about your motive."

"I haven't changed my mind."

"I think you're looking at twenty years, Mr. Krycek."

"I'll do the time." Or escape, I thought silently. Life was fucked either way.

"If you change your mind, I need to hear from you before 9:00 tomorrow morning."

"I won't change my mind."

She didn't sound surprised. "Okay. I'll call you as soon as I learn anything."

"Thank you."

I was escorted back to my cell. I lay back on my lumpy mattress and tried not to think. I finally decided to ignore the lack of privacy and pulled out my dick. Not that I was especially hard, but I needed the comfort. I jacked off awkwardly, with my bandaged hand, trying to imagine that it was Fox's mouth on me.

Later, I woke up uneasy, but I couldn't identify a reason beyond the obvious fact that my life was wrecked. I sat up and leaned against the wall thinking about tomorrow and trying to convince myself that I was being an idiot. It was just one man's career up against a lot of years in prison. Shaving even a few years off of twenty was a good thing. It would be nice to get out in my 40's instead of my 50's, but 20-30 years seemed like forever.

The bottom line was I couldn't hurt Mulder again. I'd already done so much damage to his life. I couldn't do more. I'd heard what Mulder told me. I knew he wanted me with him, not incarcerated, but I expected that to change after I went to prison. I had no delusions that he'd wait for me. I just couldn't visualize him visiting me for endless years and then meeting me at the gates and taking me home as his middle-aged boyfriend. 'I'm so glad you're out, my darling ex-con.'

Any way I could imagine it, Mulder and I were finished. I'd destroyed what we had when I let Schweck's fucking cameras take my picture. I couldn't take Mulder's work, too. That meant everything to him. I couldn't live with myself if I cost him that. Besides, with my luck, I'd tell the federal prosecutor and still get twenty years.

I wanted out so badly. I tried frantically to work out another way. Who could I blackmail with enough influence to get me out? I couldn't think of anyone who wouldn't kill me or Mulder if I tried. And sadistic Spender knew enough to kill Mulder first to maximize my agony. Even if I tried to trade information for my release, Mulder might be the only one who'd believe me. I struggled to identify some mid-level consortium goon to barter for my freedom, but none of them would be useful enough to turn in.

Scrounging for a solution, I even considered suicide, but it's just not in my blood. I'm a survivor. I do whatever it takes. Suicide just doesn't compute. Ultimately I dismissed it as just one more way I could hurt Mulder.

I gave up on attempting to think myself to freedom and decided to try to sleep again. I slumped back onto my bed, when a shadow on the wall caught my eye. I leaped out of bed, eyes searching my empty cell frantically, before I finally calmed down enough to approach it. I knelt on the bed by my pillow and pulled it off the wall.

A Morley package, empty, taped on the wall over where my head had been. My spine felt like it was iced from the inside.

No fucking way I could have slept through that! But it appeared that I had. I couldn't believe it. I always wake up if there's any sound around me while I sleep. Shit! I was getting damned soft.

I noticed there was a note inside. Printed neatly it read, "I can get to you. I can get to him."

I wadded it up and tossed it through the bars to get it out of my room. My body started to shake. I curled up and hugged myself with my one arm, wishing I had two.

**

END Chapter 5

Chapter 6

** Mulder **

I drove myself to the courthouse, arriving twenty minutes early because I couldn't take a chance on being late. I found Judge Hernandez' chambers and told a clerk who I was. I paced outside the clerk's office trying to find a better way to say what I'd already rehearsed in my head dozens of times. The building smelled faintly of mildew and stale cigarettes.

I thought of Alex and tried to imagine him in a jail cell. I couldn't quite get the image to work in my head, but had no trouble recalling him in my bed. I saw him sleeping, his mouth a little open and eyes closed to the world. I imagined him awake, his face in my crotch, my cock buried in his throat. I remembered the time I bathed him in the shower and he cried. Even a night that painful sounded good to me now.

Finally another clerk came for me. I followed the click of her heels through a series of gloomy corridors behind the courtrooms. She tapped twice on a door and it was opened by a very skinny young woman. She shut the door behind me before introducing herself.

"I'm Grace Williams."

I shook her hand. "Fox Mulder."

On the other side of a huge desk sat a short, good-looking Hispanic man. "Mr. Mulder, this is Judge Hernandez."

"Your honor."

He shook my hand firmly and looked me over very carefully. "Please sit down."

We sat. I waited for a moment, in case one of them wanted to begin. Then I found myself worrying that the room was bugged. It didn't make any difference. I had to proceed anyway.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. As I told Ms. Williams, I have information about the U.S. vs. Krycek that you wouldn't have the opportunity to hear if I hadn't come forward."

Hernandez nodded.

"If possible..." My voice caught and I cleared my throat. "I'd like this information to be kept confidential. If it can't be, I'll live with that."

Williams made steeples out of her fingers, but she was paying attention to me. Almost too much attention... Now that I thought about it, both of them were rapt as if their own prison terms were at stake. Very fishy. I filed that thought away so I could stay focused.

"I work for the FBI." I hastily pulled out my credentials and showed it to both of them. "I was seeking evidence in a case that involved Robert Hamilton Schweck." They showed not one ounce of surprise at my naming Schweck as a federal criminal suspect. Interesting.

"To put an end to my investigation, Schweck sent someone to kill me. I was shot in the chest a week ago Tuesday but, as you can see, I survived." Again no looks of amazement at what I'd accused Schweck of. I turned to Williams. Poker face.

"Alex Krycek is my lover."

Hernandez' eyes opened wide. Williams stopped fidgeting. Now I knew they could be surprised.

"Krycek knew that Schweck would try again to have me killed." I paused for effect. "He also knew that it would be hard to convince anyone that a businessman like Schweck was involved in anything illegal. Therefore, he took the only action he believed would protect me."

I waited for what stretched out into an uncomfortably long silence. Finally the judge spoke. "Can you prove any of your allegations against Schweck?"

Now that was intriguing. Of all the questions he could have asked, he wanted to know if I could prove the allegations, but didn't ask what they were. Didn't ask how Alex or I knew Schweck had tried to kill me. I had a hunch that I needed to keep the pressure on. "Not yet."

"This does shed a new light on the case, Mr. Mulder." Williams had a conciliatory tone in her voice, but it was concealing fear. "Given this information, I think that I can persuade my office to be somewhat lenient toward Mr. Krycek."

Hernandez' harsh voice broke through. "Let's be realistic here. The suspect executed Schweck. I don't think the state is going to slap his hand and release him to 30 hours of community service just because he was doing you a favor, Mr. Mulder."

"I understand, your honor." I tried to look humble, but it's not one of my best looks. "What he did was wrong. I know that and he knows that."

I was stretching the truth a bit. Well, Alex did know it was wrong, but I doubted that he cared. Perversely, I felt a pang of warmth for him. He was a bad boy, but he was my bad boy.

Hernandez seemed to want to rub my face in it. "You realize that if I called the Bureau's Office of Professional Conduct and told them about your association with Krycek you'd be fired?"

"Yes, your honor." I suppressed a sneer. If we start examining professional conduct, you don't smell so good yourself, Hernandez.

"Your affection for this murderer appears stronger than your judgment."

I couldn't argue that. It was painfully true, but my humility was starting to chafe. I managed to spit out, "Yes, sir."

"Mr. Schweck is dead," the judge continued. "So is there any point in persisting in your investigation of his alleged illegal activities?"

Son of a bitch! Now, I knew what he wanted. I stole a glance at Williams who was trying to dissolve into her chair. I had to think this through carefully before I answered. It only took a moment.

I tried to crush the anger out of my voice. "The Schweck investigation..." What Schweck investigation? My integrity was on very thin ice. "... is not one of my primary projects. I suppose it might be difficult to find the motivation to finish it now that the man is deceased." I emphasized the word 'suppose.' Perilously thin ice.

"Good." Hernandez rubbed his hands together. "I think we understand each other, Mr. Mulder."

That was way too blatant. This conversation definitely wasn't being taped. They should have checked me for a wire.

I thought to negotiate for Alex--to force them to agree to the length of the prison term, to minimize the chance of them reneging on our shady agreement. However, I decided that their fear of Schweck's associates--and whoever was handling them--would motivate them better than I could. And I wanted them to worry if their offer would be good enough to keep me off the so-called Schweck investigation.

It was done. I rose and reached across the cluttered desk to shake his hand again. Harder for a man to betray me when I've looked him in the eye... The judge's face was hard. Rock hard. I knew he'd betray me in an instant if it was what he needed to do.

I didn't bother shaking Williams' hand.

Forty-five minutes later I was out of my suit and flopped onto the sofa. There was nothing else I could do. No one I could pray to.

I felt dirty, dealing with a bad judge to get a lighter sentence for Alex. It's not like I'd sacrificed a real investigation. I'd never heard of Schweck in connection with an X file.

I'd lied to a bad judge to try to get a lighter sentence for my lover, without any evidence that Schweck was even the man who'd ordered my death. Like many things related to Alex, I'd just have to live with it. I doubted that Hernandez, Williams or Schweck, if alive, would lose sleep over their own misdeeds.

I wondered if this was how Alex felt. If the world was filled with dishonest people willing to lie or kill to get what they wanted, did he feel like he should just do the same? Then why did he want me? Morally flawed, yes, but at least more-or-less trying to do the right thing.

Then I got it. I realized he'd told me the truth many years ago when he'd been my partner. "I want to believe," he'd said. He wanted to believe in human decency, but he didn't. And if it didn't exist, why bother? Why struggle like I had? Painfully aware of the elephantine weight of my ethical battles, I could visualize--just for a moment--the freedom of life without them.

I laughed out loud as I realized I was Alex's standard bearer for human decency. I felt so painfully inadequate as a moral icon. Pathetic. I'd beaten him just to vent my own rage.

Scully was my icon. I knew I'd never be that good. She was pure. I loved her for that. Alex knew. I remembered dinner at her house and he couldn't eat it. He felt dirty and inferior, like I did right now.

I was beginning to understand my mysterious lover. And I knew he loved me. I realized how much that hurt him, how much damage our relationship had done to his psyche. It uprooted everything he had believed.

I hurt for him and I wanted to hold him in my arms. So badly. Instead, I got up and turned on the TV.

** Krycek **

Peterson hadn't called, but I was taken to the private room around 3 P.M. and there she was. She was smiling.

I felt a trickle of hope slide down my spine, but I forced it away. 15 years in jail would probably seem like victory to her in this situation. I forced myself to sit before asking. "Well?"

"Three years?"

"What?" Hope was fighting my disbelief.

"All you have to do is plead guilty to second degree murder."

"You told them!"

"I didn't. Per your instructions, I did not tell anyone. I think your lover did."

"What!?"

"He left a voicemail for me last night saying that he was meeting with the federal prosecutor this morning."

I closed my eyes. I didn't want to think about what Mulder had done. Despair threatened to overwhelm my anger, joy and fear.

She lifted my face with two fingers under my chin. I let my eyes flutter open. "Don't worry," she said, her voice kind, "I made them promise to keep it out of all the documentation."

I was afraid to hope.

"I think he's in the clear." She shook her head. "I don't know what he said to them, but she seemed almost eager to help us."

Baffled, I just nodded. Three years. Three years seemed like a lot, but at the same time it could have been a lot worse.

As I started to relax, so did Peterson. "I've got more good news for you. You'll be eligible for parole in fourteen months." She grinned like a child. "You behave yourself and I may be able to get you out on your first parole hearing."

"Fuck." I couldn't quite believe that I might be able to get my miserable life past this hideous mistake. It didn't seem possible.

The wave of relief was followed by a growing suspicion. I couldn't think of anything Mulder would have said to them that would have been this effective. Then I remembered the empty Morley pack. Cancerman. He was using the carrot and the stick. He was afraid of what I'd do in prison without hope. So he gave me hope. "Oh, fuck."

"It's okay, Mr. Krycek."

"Alex. Please call me Alex."

"Alex." She smiled at me. I think she liked me, which seemed bewilderingly improbable.

"Thank you."

She nodded. "I'll have the papers for you to sign tomorrow. We'll be going in front of the judge to submit the papers and he'll ask for your plea. It's just a formality. You don't have to do anything except say 'guilty' at the right moment."

"They're even going to credit your time served, so your days are already ticking off."

Then I realized I was going to be leaving the plush accommodations of the Federal lock-up soon.

She must have seen it in my face. "What is it?"

"Where are they sending me?"

"I've asked for Cumberland because it's not too bad and it's close enough for your lover to visit."

I nodded. The thought of actually being transferred raised the specter of a whole new set of nightmares I didn't want to think about just yet. "Well, there's no rush. They can keep me here as long as they like."

"I understand." She set her briefcase on the floor. "I'll meet you at the courthouse. They'll take you there about an hour before the hearing." She rested her hand on my good shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. "You're going to get through this, Alex."

I nodded. "Thank you."

She walked to the door, but turned to me again. "I have a surprise for you." Then she left.

Mulder came in sporting a gigantic grin like I have never seen on his face. He shut the door and pounced on me, ignoring the acid look I was giving him. He sat next to me and pulled me into his arms, kissing my face. I tried to be angry, but I couldn't. He felt so damned good.

Finally I pulled away a little. "It's still over a year, Mulder. Maybe three."

"I know, but that doesn't seem like so much." He smiled and waited patiently for me to smile back.

I held it off. "You want to tell me about your conversation with the prosecutor?"

"Uh... no."

"Are you going to lose your job?"

"I doubt it."

I finally let him have a smile. I relaxed into his arms and stroked his hair. I inhaled deeply, trying to memorize the scent of him for later. It crossed my mind to give him a blowjob, but that seemed like a bad idea. Just the sort of thing that would not go over well with a parole board. We sat together, just touching, until Peterson returned and told us it was time to go.

Back in my cell, I allowed myself a full 24 hours of relief before I started fretting about the future. There were two big worries now. First, I was going to lose Mulder. He didn't want to admit it, yet, but it was inevitable. Hard as I tried, I couldn't see him being there for me when I got out. I'd have to prepare myself for that. And him. I needed to let him know that I knew and accepted that he wouldn't be waiting for me.

Second, as he said himself, I was going to be a target in prison. I was one hell of a fighter, but without weapons, and minus one arm, it wasn't going to be easy. If the worst happened, I knew I could survive being raped. It surely couldn't be any worse than having my arm chopped off. Although the idea of it brought up ugly images that I couldn't allow myself to experience. I shoved those thoughts away aggressively.

I was sent to the infirmary to remove the stitches from my hand. I was more than a little surprised when Scully showed up. She led to me a quiet corner and whispered, "Congratulations, Alex."

"Thank you for your help. I still owe you for the retainer."

She shook her head. "Mulder already repaid it." She cleaned the wound and it didn't hurt this time.

"Scully?"

"Hmm." She listened with half an ear while she extracted the black threads.

"Scully. I know you're here for Mulder. But I... You've been like a friend to me. Thank you."

She smiled as if she meant it while she rebandaged my hand. We'd come a long way since an awkward dinner I couldn't eat.

** Mulder **

Once the crisis was over, and I'd done everything I could do to help Alex, I calmed down. Way down.

November 21 was Samantha's birthday. I'll never forget her last birthday at home. I teased her mercilessly about her nose, her birthday presents... pretty much everything I could think of. If I'd known that she'd be gone six days later, I'd've been kinder. I suppose she knew that I teased her because I loved her. She had to know... but I could never be sure.

Every year at this time, I'd talk to her in my head--a sort of prayer. 'I loved you, Samantha. I still love you. I didn't mean to be an asshole big brother. I wish they'd taken me instead of you. I hope you're okay wherever you are.'

Samantha had become a fairy tale. Searching for her just a ritual... It's almost as if she never existed and I was programmed to keep looking for her. It was all very unreal. But the hole inside me was real. It had been there every day since she'd been taken. I wondered if anything could ever fill it.

Alex was very real. If he'd been here I might have been able to get past the November Samantha ache this year.

But I'd lost him, too.

I wondered if many years from now Alex would also become a fairy tale. The faded memory of a man who once cared about me, touched me with feeling and made me burn with lust in a way that no one ever had... How could something that intense just fade away to nothing? Would his feelings for me evaporate the way I imagined Samantha's had?

I used to watch videos to numb out the feelings, but the sex just reminded me of Alex fucking me. Even the het ones. Dammit!

I spent most of the four-day Thanksgiving holiday watching bad movies on TV. I had an invitation to join Scully's family, but I didn't want to be around people. Except Alex.

** Krycek **

I was surprised to still be in Federal lock-up on Thanksgiving. Mulder must have found some way to delay my delivery to Cumberland.

Thanksgiving dinner was tasteless slab of processed turkey and a glutinous lump of pumpkin pie that was too sweet to eat.

A few days later, Peterson came to see me. She brought Mulder and left us alone again in the private room.

Mulder sat next to me and put his head on my shoulder, one arm wrapped around my waist. "How're you doing, Alex?" He seemed subdued, like something was bothering him.

"Okay. You can imagine. There's not much to do, but I... it's all right."

"I brought you a couple of books." He passed me a Dean Koontz, a Michael Nava and a Valrhona chocolate bar. He was trying to be cheerful for my benefit, but he was really just sad. Me, too.

"Thanks."

"Is there anything else you need?" He kissed my forehead.

"Not really."

"Just tell me if you think of anything. I'll be visiting as often as I can."

"Mulder, stop this."

"What?"

"Playing the loyal wife. I don't expect that." He opened his mouth to object, but I interrupted. "Get on with your life, Mulder. Don't come back here."

"Is that what you want?"

I looked away. I knew I couldn't tell that lie so that he'd believe it.

"Alex, I never had much of a life outside of the X-Files. It's not like I'm going to be turning down a lot of other offers."

"You stubborn bastard. This thing between us was unlikely enough without me going to prison for three years. I don't want to wreck your life."

"That's up to me, Alex. You have to live with my decision."

There was nothing for me to say. We were both silent for a while.

"Alex, when you're in prison, I want you to know..." He took a breath and started again. "I want you to come out of there alive and well. Whatever you have to do... to keep yourself safe is okay with me. I just want you to... I don't want you to worry about what I'm going to think."

I grimly nodded my assent.

Peterson came back. "F.B.I. Assistant Director Walter Skinner has filed assault charges against you."

I'd been expecting that.

Mulder looked disappointed. "I'm sorry, Alex. I thought I had talked him out of it."

Peterson reached into her brief case and pulled out a photo. My torn up hand. She showed it to me. "Who did this? You said it was an FBI agent."

I hesitated and Fox started to speak. Instantly, I put my hand over his mouth. "Don't create any more problems for yourself." I faced my lawyer and said, "Yes, it was done by an FBI agent."

"Does Skinner know about it?"

I nodded.

"Perfect. I'm going to show him the photo and tell him to drop the assault charges."

I gave her a weak smile. "You're not even going to ask me if I assaulted him?"

"No, Alex." She shook her head like that was too ridiculous to contemplate.

My affection for the woman surged.

I wish I could have been watching when she had the talk with Skinner. The charges were dropped. Peterson did report that he recommended I stay away from him and his agents for the rest of my life. Politely recommended? Right.

** Mulder **

Alex asked me if I'd be willing to clean out his apartment in Alexandria. Peterson had already notified his landlord that he'd be 'moving out.' She also sold his car and passed his key ring on to me. I was tempted to put the silver fox back on it, but decided to put it on my own key ring instead.

He warned me about certain items I was going to find at his place.

I asked Scully to go with me for the cleanup. We went over on a Saturday morning and found a very old building in a declining neighborhood. Number 8 was on the second floor.

I opened the door to a musty smell. Having been closed up for over a month, it could have been worse. Scully opened all the windows.

It was a small one bedroom with worn hardwood floors. Alex's things were few, but neat. The living room contained a sofa that looked nicer than mine, plus a table with a bookshelf stereo on it. A bookcase with a few dozen books. History. Computer books. A few Cyrillic paperbacks. Mysteries. Thrillers. A few classic novels.

His bedroom was a tiny room almost completely consumed by a double bed. Sunlight came in through the window giving everything a faded look. It made me sad. I wondered if he'd ever brought a man here for sex.

I opened the drawer of the bedside table and found condoms, lube, a bottle of an herbal sleep remedy, a Bureau photo of me and a well-worn book. "1996 Best of Leather Sex." Alex! I took it to the living room and put it with my keys to take home. Something to keep me entertained in his absence, perhaps.

Returning to the bedroom, I went to the closet. At one end I found two really bad suits like those he wore when he was my partner. It made me smile to remember his awful greased down hair. A costume? Behind the suits I found another, much nicer one. Italian. Custom. Now I was certain the cheap suits had been a disguise. I pulled out the Italian one. Beautiful charcoal gray summer wool. I delivered it to the living room and hung it on a nail, thinking I'd take it to him to wear home from prison.

Checking out his bathroom, I remembered what he'd told me was under the floorboards, but I wanted to handle that last. I opened his medicine cabinet. Soap. Deodorant. Shaving cream. After -shave. All the bottles had the tops missing. Easier to use one-handed. I memorized the brands, so I could buy them when he got out.

I started to close it, but then stopped myself. I pulled out the after-shave and smelled the bottle. Eau d'Alex. I put it with the book by the door.

I heard Scully rattling in the kitchen and went to join her. It looked like half of a normal kitchen without even room for a table. I wondered if larger apartments had been broken up to make this unit. The sink was clean. There were only a few items in any of the cabinets.

"You okay, Mulder?" She was putting dishes into a box.

"Yeah. It's just strange."

Nothing furry in the refrigerator. Nothing at all, except for two bottles of Coke and an unopened Russian bottle that had to be vodka.

"He said to give away or throw away anything that doesn't look important."

"We can hit Goodwill on the way back." She opened the oven. It looked unused. He made muffins in my oven.

Next to the refrigerator, a trash can. Empty. But I looked again. It was perfectly clean. I looked under the sink and found a box of trash bags. Someone had been here already and taken his trash. I doubted they found much. Alex was too careful.

A haze of depression began its assault on me. Alex's former life seemed sad and lonely. I guess I wasn't surprised. Mine wasn't any better, was it?

I kicked around his things a little longer, looking for something personal. I found a bundle of photos in a kitchen drawer. A 40-something man who looked a bit like Alex. An old shot of his father? The supposed father and a pretty, slightly chubby lady with green eyes. That had to be mom. I chuckled at the thought of Alex running to her with a skinned knee. A small photo of a little girl. I didn't think he had a sister. Then I hit the mother lode. School photos of Alex.

I pulled up a chair and indulged myself. High school on top of the stack. What a handsome kid! Even then, the boy looked sultry. In one, he had a moustache--one of those wispy ones that a boy grows because he can, not because it looks good. "Oh, Scully. You've got to see this."

She looked over my shoulder. "What a baby! He looks like he's twelve." Her eyes met mine and I knew we were having the same thought--what made this boy turn out like he did?

I flipped through a few more and found a gawky adolescent shot where he positively sneered into the camera. I couldn't help but laugh. Earlier still, he started to really look like a kid. In the earliest photo he must have been five or six years old. He looked, well, sweet. He looked like a sweet child you'd want to take care of. I wanted to hug that little boy and I wondered if anyone had.

Stashing the photos of him in my shirt pocket, I started a box of things I'd keep for him. I put the other photos in the keeper box, which I brought back to the kitchen. I found some keys, a spare wallet with a ten dollar bill and a bookstore receipt in it, a comb, a bunch of change and an odd little medal with Cyrillic on it. Most of it went into the keeper box.

I noticed that Scully had finished the rest of the kitchen around me. "Hey, I'm sorry. You're doing all the work."

"It's okay, Mulder. You can buy me lunch when we're done."

"A really nice lunch."

"Antonio's."

"'Kay."

I returned to the bedroom. The medal made me think of jewelry and I wondered if he had any. I found a leather box on a shelf in his closet. Inside, a few tie clips, a pair of cuff links, a gold ring with a black stone and two watches--a cheap Timex and an elegant Alfex Chronograph. I carted the finds to the keeper box in the kitchen.

Back in the bedroom, I explored his small dresser. The top drawer had underwear. I copped a feel, but it wasn't very satisfying. His shorts just lay there deader than Schweck. In the back was a pair of red knit boxers. Nice, soft fabric. Looked hardly worn. I pocketed them thinking I'd wear them to remind me of him.

Second drawer, T-shirts. Third drawer, jeans. Nothing underneath them. He wore one size larger than I did. Fourth drawer, sweaters. I took out the best looking one. Emerald green wool. The color of his eyes. I held it up. Not quite my style, but I took it anyway. I'd buy him all new clothes when he came back to me.

It took us only an hour and a half to pack up everything he owned. I'd give away the stereo, but decided to keep his small, but bizarre collection of CDs. Depeche Mode. Wall of Voodoo. Madness. Saint Saens. Tchaikovsky. I tossed most of the English books, but kept the Russian ones, because I didn't know what they were. I asked Scully to keep the best of his clothes and toss the rest.

We loaded everything in the car and took most of it to Goodwill. I dropped her off at her place and said I'd be back in an hour. She knew what I was going to do, but I didn't want her to be a part of it.

I returned to face the cache in the bathroom. The linoleum looked like it was on good, but lifted away easily once I got it out from under the trim. Underneath, the floorboards looked dusty and untouched, but I could see the outline where he'd sawed into them. Using my pocketknife, I pried out a 2x4. I could see several guns and a paper bag. I lifted out a few more boards and revealed a large stash of weapons. Seven hand guns. Two serious knives. A switchblade. Two rifles.

He'd promised me he hadn't used these guns to kill anyone, but I wasn't taking any chances. I'd brought cotton towels and latex gloves. I put on the gloves and I used Alex's vodka to wipe each one down completely. My Bureau training came in handy for evidence destruction.

I packed up the guns in a box, grateful that I had one long enough to hold the rifles. As I handled each weapon, I wondered who'd been killed with it. Maybe not by Alex, but I suspected that each of these had led their own lives of crime. Inside the paper bags I found ammo. A whole lot of ammo. I wiped down the packages and put the ammo in a separate box. I cleaned the knives and the switchblade and put them in with the guns.

At the bottom of the cache I found a small, flat cardboard box. Inside was a ring with five small keys, four passports (none of them in the name of Alex Krycek--two for American citizens, one Canadian and one Russian), a register for a bank in the Cayman Islands (balance listed as $88,213.27), three birth certificates (one of them for Alexander Richard Krycek, 6/9/67), thirty hundred dollar bills, his FBI ID, a CIA identity card (in the name of Alex Krycek!), an NYPD police shield and some sort of identity card in Russian. Fuck!

I had to get rid of the weapons carefully, so I could be certain they wouldn't be used in some future crime. But I didn't want to get caught doing it. So I drove to the warehouse district near the harbor and found the most deserted corner I could find. I left my car in an alley and located a broken window. Making sure no one was around, I broke the glass further and lowered the weapons box through the window, onto the grimy concrete floor. Five blocks away, I stashed the ammo carton in a greasy old trashcan behind a vacant storefront.

Next stop was the Lone Gunmen's abode. They sent a synthesized audio message through a network of phone lines to the Alexandria Police Department telling them where to find both boxes. I concealed the passports and papers under the liner in the trunk of my car and went to take Scully to lunch.

Chapter 7

** Krycek **

Being sentenced changed things. If anything, I was more confused.

My first parole hearing would be Tuesday, January 4 in the new millennium. With my luck, the federal prison computer systems would crap out on 1/1/00 and I'd be held over until 3000.

I could still escape, but fourteen months--one month already served--wasn't a terribly long time. Escape or stay... Mulder would be lost either way. But if I stayed I could be a free man with a clean record when I came out. An ex-con, sure, but without pending warrants. That would mean I could try to find an honest profession. The only reason I wanted it was Mulder. But what was I thinking?! Life wasn't a fucking romance novel.

The mental image of Mulder and this ex-con living together in some kind of relationship was a joke. Even if I weren't in prison, I'd never done this relationship crap. Just because the sex was sizzling was no reason to delude myself about the future.

But Mulder was the only good reason not to escape. He and I were finished, but over and over again, I caught myself hoping against hope. What a fucking idiot I'd become. I told myself that it would take some time to accept his loss. Once I did, I'd send word to Ming, the only person I could count on to help me escape.

I'd been in Federal for almost six weeks when they finally transferred me to the prison. So my prison term had already been reduced to 55 weeks. Just a little more than one year.

My mantra on the bus ride to Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution was, 'I will be polite to prison staff. I will do as I'm told. I will not start fights. I will not kill men who start fights with me.' I had to psyche myself up for this. Be a good boy, Alex, and get parole.

So I was oriented at Cumberland and strip searched. A grumpy Corrections Officer escorted me to a stark cell. I sat there for ten minutes, just trying to get used to it. Two narrow bunks. Toilet. Sink. Two built-in drawers. And, of course, bars. Lots of bars. Privacy was a thing of the past.

That first day, when I entered the cafeteria, I felt a lot of eyes watching me. My guard was up, but I feigned a relaxed posture. A couple of country boys and a biker dude were staring at me with undisguised interest. One of the hicks called out, "Got a purty mouth. See ya in the showa." I decided to ignore them until someone got too close.

In line, I was given a tray of mushy food. I chose a table in the corner with no other occupants, hoping it wasn't anyone's territory. Eventually other men joined me, but they didn't seem to be much of a gang. I dismissed them as losers. One of them smiled at me, but it was a friendly smile. I failed to smile back.

Halfway through trying to eat some brown meat-like thing, which must have been beef at one time, I felt warmth enter my zone of comfort. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled.

A hand dropped onto my left shoulder. "You're my pussy. It's only a matter of time."

I responded instantly--rising out of my seat and visualizing my fist about twelve inches through his solar plexus. As my fist hit made contact, I identified him as the biker dude. He was trying to get air back into his lungs, when I wrapped my fingers around his throat and cut off his airway. He passed out quickly. Before his body hit the ground, I was back in my seat. Only then did I notice the adrenalin in my system. My heart pounded rapidly, but I faked calm and was eating the brown slop again by the time the guards arrived.

Something had changed in the eyes of the men around me. Good.

The risk was necessary for my own safety, but I was lucky that the C.O.s hadn't seen me drop the biker.

No one would tell them what happened. A guard put his hand on my shoulder, "What did you see?"

I shrugged and started eating the white crap.

They finally gave up on getting any answers and hauled off the biker, just as he was coming around.

When I returned my tray to the kitchen, a couple of inmates muttered their congratulations. "Way to go, man." "Nice work. Fucker deserved it." I responded with a curt nod, but I was glad to hear that I'd earned some respect.

My cellmate, Johnson, was a hyperactive little man serving six years for armed robbery. I was pleased to share my quarters with a man I knew I could easily beat in a fight. After a few weeks, it was clear the real risk was that he'd drive me insane. The way he buzzed around the little cell made me wish I had a fly swatter. I finally resorted to pushing him around to try to get him to calm down, but it seemed to excite him more. I just had to tune out the little fucker.

Johnson's least endearing quality was his constant masturbation. As long as he was quiet, it would have been bearable, but he invented a not-very-amusing game--seeing if he could hit my body with his semen. Now I was desperate for a way to control him. I finally discovered that my knee slammed into his nuts was the only way. He left me alone for about a week after that. And I was more than willing to do it as often as needed to keep his repulsive body fluids off me.

As for the rest of the prison population, I was glad to discover that the majority had a lack of interest in me as a person or a fuck toy. Relieved to realize that only Fox found me beautiful, I relaxed and settled into the mind-numbingly dull routines. Mostly, the men ignored me and I ignored them, almost content in my solitude.

I got the most attention in the yard doing pushups or working out in the meager weight room. Everyone liked to watch the one-armed guy. On Christmas day, this Cuban kid asked me to fight him in the yard. He didn't appear pissed off--in fact, he seemed almost friendly--so at first, I didn't comprehend what he wanted. Until he had one of his buddies tie his left wrist to his belt behind his back. A recreational fight. This drew quite a crowd and soon I was fighting somebody one-armed a couple of times a week. I didn't mind. It was good sport, helped to keep me fit and I almost always won the fights. I had a lot more practice using my body this way than any of my challengers. It was cheap entertainment and it earned me a lot of respect.

There were a few inmates who made me uneasy, though. In particular, one big black guy. He was at least 6'8" and had to weigh more than 280 lbs. All muscle, too. Mostly the blacks guys kept to themselves, but this one was always on the periphery watching me. I knew I was a goner if he ever wanted anything from me. Even the other over-sized black men were deferential around him. His glare was filled with loathing, but something else, too. Curiosity? He paid me a weird kind of attention, like he was waiting for something. It gave me the willies.

I found out his name was Scratcher, whatever the hell that meant. After about six weeks, he still hadn't jumped me or anything, so I stopped worrying about him. I figured if he really wanted something he'd have taken it already. Cons aren't generally masters of delayed gratification.

When Mulder was in town, he came to see me every Friday at 11 A.M. We had 20 minutes. I couldn't touch him, because there was a glass-and-wire screen between us, but once I got used to that, just seeing him was good. There was never a lot to say, but looking at him for 20 minutes was great entertainment compared to listening to Johnson's dismal repertoire of dirty jokes.

Each time Mulder came, he brought me two things. First, a cassette tape that he'd recorded during the week telling me about his adventures. I'd take them to the prison library and listen to him yakking about cases and the strange people he met trying to solve them. I couldn't tell if he was trying to make me laugh or just being himself, but I'd usually laugh myself into a stupor. I listened to most of them at least half a dozen times--even the ones when he was stuck in the office doing paperwork or working on cases he couldn't tell me about. The sound of his voice took me away from the drabness of prison life.

His second gift, every week, was a Valrhona chocolate bar. At first, they made me sad, because I remembered kissing him after he had tasted one for the first time. But, it was impossible not to appreciate the delicacy of the rich chocolate after a few weeks of prison dining. I couldn't eat a whole one in a week, so I found other chocolate lovers and bartered the extras for other edible snacks. Cumberland's meals were barely better than the cockroach-infested gruel in Tunguska.

Without fail, if Mulder was out of town and couldn't visit on a Friday, he'd get a message to me. I never had to wait and wonder. As the weeks went by, I was amazed that he kept coming back. My life had nothing to do with him anymore, but he always seemed happy to see me.

During one visit, in February, I probed a little. "Have you gotten laid recently?"

He looked annoyed and maybe a little embarrassed. "No."

"Why not? You deserve a little fun, don't you think?"

"C'mon, Alex. You know that's not what I do best."

"Just go to a bar and wink at somebody."

He rolled his eyes at me.

"I hate to think of you not getting any. That gorgeous body going to waste..."

He set his lip in a petulant little pout. "I hadn't had sex in two years before you."

It was my turn to roll my eyes. "Jesus." I had no idea he'd been a monk. No wonder seducing him had been so easy.

"So what about you Alex?"

I shook my head. "I can't. The men in this place are... well...you know... crude. Not in your league, Mulder. I'd rather jack off and think of you."

"There must be some attractive men."

"The physical therapist isn't too bad. I get to see him every other week to help me exercise the muscles around my left arm." I saw something in his eyes. "You have nothing to worry about, Mulder."

"I guess you can't really fuck the physical therapist?" His tone was a poor fake of disappointed.

"No. I haven't figured out how to convince him that any of the muscles below my waist are in need of therapy. Maybe if I was missing a leg."

He nodded, his face oddly serious, ignoring my joke.

Every visit, before he left, he told me loved me and put his hand on the screen near mine. I never said it back to him, but he was undeterred. I think he knew how I felt. Maybe better than I did. A truly frightening thought...

I considered telling him. In one sense he deserved to hear it. He'd been so good to me. On the other hand, he didn't deserve to be emotionally tied to a prison inmate. If I ever reached for him and saw guilt or obligation in his eyes I'd never forgive him.

Mulder got used to seeing me with bruises on my face. I told him about the recreational fights in the yard and let him assume they were always from that. Mostly they were.

After three months in prison, it seemed he wasn't just going to forget about me. When he couldn't come on a Friday, he brought two tapes the next week. Once he couldn't come for three weeks and he sent a long letter and a care package filled with chocolate, cookies, sunflower seeds, cigarettes (prison currency), magazines and a book of crossword puzzles. The guards or the cons in the mailroom ate most of the cookies before delivering the opened box, but I was delighted by the remains.

I swapped the cigarettes for backrubs from another prisoner. I even thought about buying a blowjob, but I didn't do it. There were plenty of men who'd have me in prison, even bottom to me. I'm not exactly sure why I didn't fuck anyone. I'd had meaningless sex in my life before Mulder. Faithfulness wasn't the point. It just didn't seem worth it.

** Mulder **

Alex was always glad to see me, but one day in April he looked almost happy.

"Hey, Alex."

"I dreamed about you this morning, Mulder."

"What did you dream?"

"I don't remember, but I woke up with a hard-on."

What a sexy image. Alex hard. Simple, animal beauty. "You know, I found a book of S&M stories in your bedside table. I brought it home with me."

"Did you read it?"

"Yeah."

"Did you enjoy it?"

"It's better than videos, because I can imagine that it's you and me."

He gave me a lopsided grin I'd never seen before. "Which one is your favorite story?"

I was reluctant to tell him. "Permission."

"Which one is that?"

"Um, where the guy makes him beg for everything."

His clear green eyes opened wide. "You like that?"

Shit. My face felt hot. "Yeah, Alex. I do."

His voice dropped into a low rasp. "If we were home right now, I'd make you beg."

I was speechless at the thought of it. My cock was starting to feel constricted by my suit pants.

"You're naked on your knees in the living room. You're so sure that I'm going to let you suck my cock, but I just rub the tip of it all over your face. Your tongue slips out of your mouth, but I pull my cock away. I won't let you have it."

By this point I was suppressing a moan. Just looking at him was making me dissolve. His face smoldering with sexual tension, he gazed at me as if he owned me.

"Now that you understand the game, I can press the head of my cock to your mouth. I wipe it along the full length of your beautiful lips. You want it so badly, but you won't disobey me. You whimper and whine but I won't let you have it."

My Alex knew how to tease. I rolled my eyes at him, trying to control my face so I didn't make a scene that might attract the guard. I knew what he wanted from me, but there was no way I was going to beg him here.

"You're desperate to have my cock in your mouth. You can taste it. Imagine working the tip with your tongue... Taking it all the way down..."

My god damned mouth was watering. He was on the other side of a glass wall and yet he was controlling my entire body. I couldn't hold back a groan.

It only made him smile salaciously. "Do you want it, lover?"

I bit my lip and struggled not to give him what he wanted.

"Do you want to feel my cock in your throat?"

It finally came out as a hoarse whisper. "Please, Alex." I don't even know what I was asking for. Please let me suck your cock? Please stop teasing me?

"Open your mouth."

By this point I was so in his thrall that it was a major challenge not to do as he asked.

"I give you just the tip. You swirl your tongue around it. I'm already so hard it's a struggle not to come. My hand reaches for the back of your head."

The voice of the C.O. intruded. "Time's up, Krycek!"

A flash of disappointment passed over his face, but then it shifted into an evil grin. At the same moment, we both realized I had to go back to work like this.

On the drive back I had a long time to think about what had just happened and what's been happening to me since the day a sexy assassin delivered my pizza.

He's always been in control of our sex life. He decided what, when and how. I'd been hiding the truth from myself for months. I didn't tolerate it--I loved the way he controlled me. Even craved it. That damned book shattered my illusions, with more than a little help from the man himself.

It didn't exactly fit my self image. I didn't think of myself as submissive. The word practically gave me hives. I was certain that Scully would die laughing at the very idea. But alone with Alex, I enjoyed him taking the lead. It's like he culled it out of me. Those incredible pheromones of his... A few whiffs and I just needed to please him. I wanted to do everything for him. Anything for him.

I remembered when he fucked me bent over my dresser one night. I thought to prepare my ass on my own lubed fingers. The very idea burned in my groin. I wanted to do it, so he could watch me doing it for him. But I chickened out. What a waste. Now I couldn't even touch him and I had squandered a chance to give it all to him.

My own past should have taught me to take everything life has to offer every single day, because you lose the people you care about.

I decided that I would truly give myself to him when he came back to me, even if I was afraid.

I was horny all day at work. I considered stepping into the men's room for some relief, but it was hotter to imagine that he wouldn't allow me to jack off. So I spent the day suffering, pretending he was making me wait until I got home. Then he'd take care of me himself.

But I returned home to an empty apartment. I jacked off thinking about him fucking my face and the devastated look on his face as he came. Afterward, I started to get gloomy again, so I called Scully and took her to a movie.

I'd always spent a lot of time alone at my apartment doing nothing. But since Alex it seemed so lonely. I suppose I was lonesome before, but now it was worse. So I kept finding things to do out of the house. I played basketball. Spent more time with Scully. Invited the Lone Gunmen over for Sci-Fi movie night. Even went to their place, just to shoot the shit.

One day in the cafeteria at work I started a conversation with Kimi from the purchasing department. Kimi was a big, gorgeous woman I had to visit every time I lost Bureau property. I saw her frequently. On the way through the lunch line, she informed me that she'd tallied gun loss statistics and I wasn't even in the top three. I ranked a lowly nine. I promised to try harder.

She sat next to me and we gossiped about the FBI's most neurotic. At the end of the meal, she got quiet and then asked, "Would you like to go to a movie this weekend?"

"No, thanks, Kimi. I'm seeing someone."

"Oh, sure. It figures you'd be taken." She smiled, picked up her tray and departed.

That night I was lying on the sofa reading a paperback. I turned the page and found a tiny note scrawled in the margin. "This killer is pathetic. You could have solved this case on page 3." Alex's handwriting. I smiled at the page for a moment, and then I threw the book across the empty room. Dammit! Why wasn't he here? Because of me. He'd gotten careless because of me. Turning off the light, I stared at the ceiling half the night.

In April, on a Friday after visiting Alex, I took a shuttle flight to La Guardia and a taxi to Greenwich. I planned on staying just one night with my mother.

That afternoon, she showed me her garden. The crocuses had just passed away but the daffodils were blooming.

We dined at the country club, where she introduced me to all of her friends. Mrs. O'Reilly's son had been elected mayor of a small town in Ohio. My mother seemed almost embarrassed to mention what I did for a living and discouraged me from talking about it.

After dinner, I suggested a movie, but Mom wanted to read, so we just sat together in her living room. She perused a new Martha Stewart book on home decorating, twice stopping to get my opinion on window treatments. The drapes were excruciatingly feminine, so it was hard to find anything to say, but she wasn't listening to me anyway.

By the time I kissed her cheek and said goodnight, we were both eager for me to go home.

The next morning she made eggs and toast.

"Mom, there's something I want to talk to you about."

"What's that, dear?" she replied, her eyes on the frying pan.

"Um... I dated someone for a time last year and... "

She turned and gave me a quizzical look.

There was no easy way to say this. "It was a man. I was seeing a man." I watched her face turn sour as I said it. I was pleased to see a bit of shock, too. And amazed that anything could still surprise the woman.

"Fox, that's sick."

"He... he was good to me--very affectionate."

"Well, it sounds like it's over. I'm sure that's for the best." Her voice carried the tone of a reprimand.

"I'm going to see him again."

She scooped the fried eggs out of the pan onto our plates and sat down. "I know it hasn't always been easy for you to find women who will put up with your... your lifestyle, but-"

"Mom, I didn't go out with Alex because no woman would have me. I'm attracted to him. He's quite handsome--beautiful, even."

My mother looked like she'd just tasted wine that had turned. "Fox, there's no future for you in a relationship with a... with a... another... man. Sex may seem important to you now, but in the long run, it's the relationship that matters."

"I know that, Mother." I tossed a piece of toast on my plate in frustration. "I was hoping that you'd understand. Alex makes me happy. Isn't that what counts?"

She didn't say another word until we'd both finished eating. "Perhaps you should see a therapist. I know you're not that way, Fox. Maybe someone could help you."

She knew wrong. My father, on the other hand, used to call me a faggot. He was an angry drunk and I always disappointed him.

I gave up on my mother. Maybe she'd accept if Martha Stewart approved. Or one of her country club pals had a gay son who was also a Nobel laureate.

I'd achieved my goal for the day, which was to introduce the idea. Alex would be in prison for another eight months. That would give her plenty of time to think about it. And if she still couldn't deal with it, it would be her problem. I didn't need her approval that badly. Good thing.

It wasn't about me at all. My happiness was irrelevant. What she wanted from me was appearances. To make her happy, I should remain at a safe distance, turning up once a year to be paraded in front of her friends as a career success with a beautiful wife. Give her grandkids. I could rent them from a modeling agency as far as she cared.

I couldn't imagine what she considered love. Nothing that seemed to mean anything to me. Quite the contrary, Alex had never told me he loved me, but his love was real. When he looked at me he saw the real, fucked up Mulder. It was me he wanted, not some fantasy I could never live up to.

** Krycek **

In May, it began to feel like my incarceration might actually be endurable. I'd behaved myself. I hadn't completely followed the rules I set for myself coming in. I'd started a few non-recreational fights, but I made sure I didn't get caught. The staff seemed to like me as much as they liked anyone. I'd volunteered in the library--and had been called a sissy for doing it. But shelving books and reading Robinson Crusoe to illiterate inmates was more pleasant than sweating in the laundry or the factory.

I was surviving. But a problem loomed on the horizon. From a prisoner nicknamed Harley. Harley was a big, repulsive blonde with a fat knife scar across one eye and eyebrow. He wouldn't have been attractive without it. He was fat, but well muscled underneath. I'd seen him give me a bad look a few times before I figured out why. Eastman.

Eastman was what passes for a pretty boy in prison. Not what I'd call pretty, but certainly lower on the testosterone curve than most of the other prisoners. He was slim, about 5'7", with long black hair and warm brown eyes.

Eastman had been flirting with me for a few months, but I'd mostly ignored him. He was appealing enough. I thought about it. My cock even responded a little once or twice. But sex in prison just didn't seem worthwhile. Sure I could close my eyes and pretend it was Mulder, but I didn't want to face the disappointment.

Unfortunately, the more I ignored Eastman's advances, the more he seemed to lust after me. He'd cut in the lunch line and brush his ass across my crotch. He'd sit next to me and put his head on my shoulder. I'd get up and find another seat. He followed me into the shower once and I had to hurt him a little.

I had no idea why any of this bothered Harley, but one day I caught his glance after Eastman had made obscene, undulating tongue gestures at me. Harley was simmering. Trouble was on the way. I supposed that Harley was fucking Eastman, but possessiveness seemed rather pointless since it appeared that Eastman was doing half the inmate population. But I knew in my gut that he would start something. For some inexplicable reason, the way I was treating Eastman was eating at him.

Harley stewed for almost a month. He called me a few bad names, but I just ignored him. I wasn't about to start a fight I was going to lose. I considered trying to get my hands on a weapon, but being caught with one was a sure way to thwart parole. Instead, I stayed alert and tried to avoid him.

Then one day in the yard, a fight broke out between two gangbangers. The guards were letting it run its course, but the C.O.s, and just about everyone else, were watching. I was bored and made the mistake of wandering alone on the edge of the yard.

Harley found me.

Chapter 8

** Krycek **

Harley made a crude verbal attempt to get me to start something, but I just ignored him, so he slugged me. I blocked the first punch, but not with complete success. His technique lacked finesse, but he still had me on the ground in a few minutes and was giving me a serious beating. I was especially concerned about a blow to my eye. The thought of losing another valuable body part made my blood boil.

I got in some punishing blows of my own before he managed to get my arm pinned. Through the haze of my one-eyed vision I saw a brown blur watching the fight. Scratcher? Maybe this was what he was waiting for, I thought dimly. A sharp punch to my head made me dizzy and I was swimming in my skull for a minute. Then Harley was yanked off of me. Scratcher disposed of him with two hard blows to the chest and stalked off without even looking back at me.

I crawled up and took a brief look at Harley. I hoped he wasn't dead in any way that would interfere with my parole. I had to get away from the scene, so I dragged myself to the gate. I hung on the metal bars, waiting for yard time to end. The guard on the other side took a look at me and called something into his walkie-talkie. I guess I passed out, because I woke in the infirmary.

My head hurt like it never had before, but, as I lay there worrying about it, I realized that if I could worry about it I probably didn't need to. My left eye was covered. I didn't believe in god, but if there was one, he definitely had it in for the left side of my body. I was queasy and achy, but alive.

Later the old prison doctor told me that he thought my eye would heal up just fine. I met his eyes with my one good eye. He was among the walking dead--not even a hint of anger or any emotion in his face. Scary. Worse than a lot of the inmates.

Harley never turned up at the infirmary, and no one ever asked me about the fight, so I figured my parole situation was okay.

The next day the grim doctor took the bandage off my eye. I covered my good eye and took a look at the world. It was a blurry mess, but I could make out a few colors. The Doc silently handed me a mirror and left me alone. I had to laugh at what my good eye saw in the mirror. My left eye looked like something out of a horror movie. My eyeball was coated with red and black clumps. I could feel them when I opened and closed my eyelid. It was stomach turning. The skin around the eye was yellow, except for the bruised part, which was black and purple. It was certainly the ugliest thing that ever happened to me.

Back in the lunchroom, no one would sit at my table. Who wanted to look at that while they ate? If I had a cigarette for every one-arm/one-eye crack I heard in the next week, I could have bought a fix for every inmate in Cumberland.

Harley stayed away from me after that. He wouldn't so much as glance in my direction. Good.

By Thursday, some of the black bruise had gone to green and it was an award wining special effect. I didn't want Mulder to worry. I even thought about trying to phone him and cancel his visit the next day. I couldn't bring myself to do it, though. It was my only hope for a few minutes of happiness for another week.

Predictably, the conversation began with, "Alex, your eye?!" Mulder turned white, his face pained.

"Yeah. It's okay. I'll be fine." I gave him a good smile.

"Shit. What happened?"

"A fight. Doctor says my vision should come back eventually."

He nodded grimly, started to ask something and then stopped himself.

I had a question for him. I wanted to ask him if he'd paid Scratcher to watch out for me. I almost did ask, but I realized if Mulder had hired him, he wouldn't have waited so long to stop the fight. Scratcher watched before he intervened. I knew it had to be Spender. The bastard would care if I died, because my data on him would be released. He wouldn't give a damn if I was maimed and I could easily imagine him telling Scratcher just that.

"What is it? You have a nasty look on your face."

I lowered my voice--a deeply ingrained habit to speak softly when discussing Spender. "I think Cancerman bribed a guy in here to make sure I don't get killed."

Mulder's eyes opened wide for a moment, then his face relaxed into a resigned expression as he came to believe it. "Who?"

"Big black guy called Scratcher. I don't know his real name."

Mulder nodded and I could see his brain working. He didn't dwell on it for long; we didn't have time to waste. He shook his head, as if to get rid of the thought, and a lock of hair fell right into the middle of his forehead. "Um, Happy Birthday, Alex."

Oh. Next week. "Thanks." I smiled at the memory of how we spent his birthday.

"I wish I could be with you on Wednesday."

"'S'okay."

"I wanted to get you a special present--some jewelry or clothing or something, but the list of things they won't allow you to have in here ruled out anything really nice."

I was fidgeting in my chair. My birthday was never a big deal.

"And then I thought to give you a picture of me in a nice frame, but I was afraid you'd get shit from the other prisoners."

I nodded. He was right about that.

"So I brought you some more books. At least you'll have something to do."

"Thanks."

After he left, the guard delivered Mulder's presents. Besides the books, the chocolate bar and his weekly tape, there was a tin of cookies and a basket of fresh fruit. Most of it would be stolen by tomorrow, but I scarfed down a couple of the best looking peaches and a chocolate chip cookie right away. In prison it was easier to get heroin than decent food.

I concealed the goodies in my cell and then went to the library. There was a desk in the back with a cassette player. I'd thought about asking Mulder to get me my own tape player, but someone would just steal it. There was never anyone in the library anyway, so it was a good place to hide out and listen.

"This is the June 3 edition of Mulderbabble. Hello, Alex. I've been thinking of you, like I always do. I had kind of a boring week, so I've decided to do something special for your tape. I hope you don't mind. Happy birthday.

"Last week when I got back from Albuquerque, I was fantasizing about you being at my apartment when I got home from the airport. That's where this idea came from.

"I get back early afternoon on a Thursday, but I don't return to the office. Scully drops me off at home. I open the door and step inside. You're standing in the living room, waiting for me, wearing nothing but a worn pair of Levi's.

"You look so damned good. Your hair's still a little damp from the shower. You give me the barest hint of a smile. The muscles in your chest are pumped from your workout. I want to touch you so badly.

"I toss my suitcase on the floor and start moving toward you. You hold out your hand in a stop gesture. 'Take off your clothes,' you say in that incredibly sexy voice of yours. I toe off my shoes. You're just watching me. Your face appears impassive, but it's not. Something very intense is burning in your eyes. My cock twitches at the sight.

"Locking my gaze on you, I slip off my tie and throw it on the floor. I shrug off my suit coat and toss it, too. I begin to unbutton my shirt, but I see your hand moving slowly down your chest, and I stop breathing as I watch to see how far it will go. As your hand reaches the waistband of your jeans, your thumb slides inside and just rests there.

"I'm so fucking hot for you, Alex."

He was hot? Shit, my cock was tenting my pants. There was no one around, so I unzipped my fly and ran my fingers across my erection.

"In case you're wondering, my hand is in my pants as I'm telling you this story. I'm stroking myself, but I wish you were here to touch me."

Fuck. I saw his cock in my mind... and coveted it.

"So you say to me, 'Keep going, Mulder.' My shirt is on the floor and I unfasten my belt. Next, I unzip my fly and my pants drop to the floor. Now I'm only wearing my boxers. My cock is so hard it's opening up the gap in my shorts.

"I reach for the waistband of the boxers, but you stop me. 'Not yet,' you say, your voice almost hoarse with lust. Taking a seat on the couch, you gesture to me. I join you there and you guide me over your lap, so I'm lying over your legs, ass up. Imaging what you might do to me in this humiliating position makes me so damned hard that I can't stop myself from trying to hump your leg."

Mulder, you sweet fucking pervert... I was jerking my cock rapidly by this point.

"You pull down my shorts, so they're hanging on my thighs. I feel more exposed than I would completely naked. Your warm hand caresses my ass. I'm so anxious for you to do whatever you're going to do to me that I start to squirm. 'Please, Alex,' I beg, not even knowing what I'm begging for. Something. Anything."

Mulder's voice was starting to sound a bit shaky. I hoped he was going to make it until the end of the story. If he stopped part way, I would have to kill him. Or myself.

"Your fingers tease my crack, gliding across my anus. You could happily tease me forever. I'm terrified that you'll only toy with me. 'Please, I need it so badly.' I still don't even know what you're going to do to me, but I have to have it."

I heard a sound from the other side of the library, but it didn't come closer. I barely cared. My hand was working my cock furiously. I was seconds away from coming, but trying to hold out for the rest of the story, so I had to back off and limit myself to rubbing my balls.

"Your hand strokes the back of my legs, pinching the insides of my thighs. Then I feel your fingers stroking my balls. I'm so wound up I think I could come just from that. But you're still only teasing me. I'm so desperate for you that I whimper.

"Back on my ass, your hand caresses me lightly and then it's taken away. Smack! You're spanking me. I'm shocked. I need to be fucked. I need you to fuck me." His voice drops out for a moment, then he clears his throat and starts again. "But the sharp pain of your hand as it strikes my exposed ass is good, too. My cock is dripping pre-cum. Each blow burns and I find myself enthusiastically anticipating the next one.

"I'm such a slut. I'll eagerly take anything you dish out. You're spanking my rear end and it feels so damned good. I know I deserve it. Your blows move around until my entire butt is hot. It must be bright red. I'm embarrassed by my helpless position and what I'm allowing you to do to me, but I can't stop wanting it."

Oh, Christ. I was suffering more than Mulder. I had to completely remove my hand from my crotch, which left me twitching with need.

"And then you stop. Except for your legs, which I'm lying across, you aren't touching me at all. 'Please, Alex,' I plead. Your only response is a throaty laugh. I groan and attempt to hump your leg again. I know I shouldn't, but I'm beyond horny. I'm certain I'll die if you don't make me come. My body is all sensation--and need--and waiting is too much."

That sound was coming closer. The librarian. But he was still at least an aisle away.

"After an eternity, I feel your hand again, but it's wet." Mulder's voice had now dropped to an unnaturally low, breathy rasp. Incredibly sexy. "Lube, I think. The cool, slippery sensation finds my crack... uh... and you tease my anus. I call out to you, 'Yes. Please. Fuck me.' Ignoring me, you continue to ... massage my entrance. It feels so... so... good, but it's just not e... nough. I groan pitifully. I know you won't give me what I need un... until you're ready. No matter... how much... I beg."

With a loud moan, Mulder cleared his throat again, followed by a long pause. I imagined him trying to compose himself.

"I start to push my ... uh, butt... my butt toward your fingers, trying to get what I want, but you don't relent. 'When I'm ready, Mulder,' you say to me, your voice almost cruel. 'Please, Alex,' I moan," and he did moan, "but I know it's futile. My two functioning brain ce... ce... cells are desperately trying to think of a way to get you to fuck me, but I can't manage a coherent thought."

By this point, he was fighting to get the words out. Some words were over enunciated because of his distraction.

Fuck. I was about to come, hands free. Lust made my head spin. Another sound from the room indicated that the librarian was moving closer.

"Then the fingers are... with-drawn and you're not... not... touch-ing me. My eyes are getting wet. I'm a millimeter from hy-ste-ria. Your raspy... vuh... voice asks me, 'Did you enjoy being spanked?' 'Yes, Alex,' I reply huh... hoping my submission will bring your muh... muh... mercy. But you continue talking to me when I nuh... need your touch. 'Your ass is very red and very pruh... pret-ty.' I'm sobbing, barely able to brea... brea...breathe.

"At precisely the... uh... mo-ment I know I will die if you don't tou-uh-uh-ch me again, those fingers sliiiiide down my crack and pene... uh... pene... enter me. An animal grunt comes from my lips. 'Mul-der,' you say, 'I want you to huh-ump my leg.' I am un... unable to do an-y-thing but obey... oh, fuck, obey you at this p... p... point. I shift slightly so my dick is squeeeeeezed between my... uh... body and your ... uh... thigh and begin to ru-uh-ub across your lap."

I had to touch myself. My hand grabbed my cock roughly and I jacked off desperately.

Mulder paused to catch his breath, but it seemed hopeless. I heard him whimper deliciously into the tape recorder. "Oh, fuck. I'm losing it... Sorry, Alex."

After a moment, he continued, calmer. "Those wonderful fingers are withdrawn from... uh...me, but only for a moment and when they return there are more. I've lost count, but it feels like a lot of yuh... uh... you shoving into me hararard and fast."

I killed the scream in my throat and bit my lip as my head imploded and I shot into my hand. I could see the librarian's head over a low shelf, but he wasn't looking at me. Mulder was still talking and it was a struggle to make any sense of the words. My brain couldn't comprehend and his mouth could barely speak.

"There's nuh... uh... no way I'm going to laasst long like this. Your fingers are as-saul-ting my prost... prosssss... oh, fuck, you know what I mean... My c... c... cock is throb-bing with each move... uh... ment over your leg. My brain is jjjjello. Fuhhhck!" He gasps like a dying man into the recorder, trying several times to speak again, but it's hopeless for a while.

The howl of his orgasm made me half hard again.

Finally his voice was working again and he continued, "Um, sorry about that, Alex. Where was I? Oh, yeah. I come all over the floor, screaming incoherently, trying to communicate something that cannot be described." Mulder's words were now languid and smoother.

"When my brain starts to become solid again, I'm aware of your hand gently stroking my ass. It stings a little. I moan my contentment. 'Thank you, Alex,' I offer wearily. You don't reply, but you slip a hand under my chest, directing my movements until I'm sitting in your lap. I try to kiss your mouth, but my lips end up at your forehead. You wrap your fingers behind my neck and guide me to your mouth."

It finally dawned on my post-orgasmic brain to tuck my cock back in my pants. I zipped myself up just as the librarian passed by, giving me a quizzical glance that made we wonder if he knew.

"You still haven't come, Alex."

Wrong.

"So, I'm going to turn over the tape and um... I'll finish on the other side."

Fuck. If I stayed for the second half I wouldn't be able to walk out of here. As it was, my flaccid legs could barely carry me back to my cell.

I returned to the library after dinner for side two. The anticipation made me hard all through dinner. I adjusted the headphones, turned on the tape and closed my eyes.

"Hey babe, I'm back. I'm not going to jack off this time, so I can speak a little more coherently. 'Kay? I hope you appreciate the sacrifice."

Sure, Mulder. Fuck. Whatever.

"We were on the sofa, as you recall. After a good, long kiss, you push me off your lap and stand. You take my hand. I struggle to rise, my legs wobbly as you lead me to the kitchen. On the counter is a big jug of fresh orange juice. Room temperature, just the way you like it. I lean with my back against the counter. You straddle my legs, open the bottle and hold it for me. As I drink clumsily, a good amount of the juice runs down my mouth and onto my neck. You laugh at me and lap at my face and neck. 'You taste good,' you say in that husky voice."

I opened my fly and took out my cock. Trying to delay the inevitable, I just teased myself with fingertips on the shaft and a few squeezes around my balls.

"We both drink from the bottle again and then you set it aside. Pressing your body against mine, you rub our groins together. My cock is getting hard again. I can feel yours trapped underneath the denim of your 501's. I love the sight of that long lump in your pants. I just have to feel it.

"Leaning forward, you whisper in my ear, 'Take off my jeans.' I reach for the fly and tear down the buttons. Wincing at the sight of your cock, I fumble trying to get the material over your butt. Finally the jeans are around your ankles. You step out of them and kick them away.

"My hands are nervously reaching out to touch your plump erection. I'm not sure you'll let me, but I don't think I can stand to wait for permission. Those green eyes of yours are blazing at me. There's a lustful grin on your face as you watch my struggle, but I can see that you're suffering, too.

"'I can't let you touch me,' you say sadly, 'or I won't be able to come in your ass.' Your words make me half hard again. I rub my front against you. 'Please fuck me,' I say, my voice almost a moan."

Teasing was no longer adequate. I began jerking my cock in a smooth rhythm.

"You clear the counter next to me and gesture with your head. I twist around so I'm facing the tiled surface. 'Bend over,' you rasp breathlessly into my ear. I comply eagerly, my elbows on the counter. I spread my legs for you and wiggle my butt in a way that I hope is enticing. I hear your chuckle, then you say, 'Use your hands. Open yourself for me.' My cock goes rigid and I can barely breathe, but somehow my trembling hands find my ass and pry my cheeks apart.

"I feel so painfully submissive to you, offering myself like this. It hurts, but I need it, too. And I know that you're getting off on my obedience.

"Just the feel of your thighs brushing against the backs of mine is incredible. The tip of your cock finds my ass and I know you won't tease me this time, because you can't. You need it as badly as I do. After the briefest pause, you shove it inside me."

Mulder wasn't even touching himself, but his voice was getting breathless. Fuck. I was so turned on I could scream.

"I love the feel of your cock in me. No one but you has ever taken my ass. I hope to die knowing that it was always yours and only yours."

Oh, fuck! I shot mindlessly, gasping for air. I hadn't planned on coming so soon, but I was unable to prevent it. After a few minutes I had to rewind the tape, because I failed to comprehend anything besides Mulder's soothing, monotone voice.

The rewind gave me a repeat of my favorite parts.

"...shove it inside me. I love the feel of your cock in me. No one but you has ever taken my ass. I hope to die knowing that it was always yours and only yours."

My chest constricted as I listened to what he was saying. I was completely unable to deny how much I loved the man, no matter how desperately I needed to. I hungered for him so badly that prison seemed a particularly a hellish torment because I couldn't touch Fox Mulder.

"Pushing me hard against the counter, you begin to thrust inside me. You don't bother being gentle, because you know I like it rough... being used by you for your pleasure. I moan. My cock is completely hard, but I don't know if you'll let me come again."

I was stunned by his submission. I knew he felt it but I never ever expected him to admit it so openly. Too fucking sweet.

"Your hand wanders up my spine as you slam into me. You rub my shoulders and then those fingers slide to my front and you pinch my nipple. It hurts, but only in a nice way. You alternate between the two nipples as you fuck me. Deep inside me, your cock is grinding against my prostate. All the delicious sensation is making me dizzy.

"'Can I touch myself?' I ask you. Your breathless reply is, 'Not yet.' I clench my fists to try to keep them from reaching for my cock.

"After a long, low groan, you begin to fuck me faster. I know you won't last long. Your hand abandons my nipples and slides to my hip, guiding my hips away from the counter. I comply and feel your fingers encircle my dick.

"You jerk me quickly and furiously. Making wild animal sounds, you achieve your release and I feel you shoot deep inside me. You keep fucking me until I fall apart in my own orgasm, shooting onto your hand and the kitchen floor.

"I slump onto the counter and you rest on top of me.

"That's the end of my story, Alex. I hope you enjoyed it. I'm hard as rock here, so I guess I'll say goodbye and go relieve myself."

Oh, Mulder! Please leave the tape running. Oh, please.

"Um, maybe you won't mind if I keep the tape going while I jack off."

No, I won't fucking complain, Mulder!

"I might not say much, but you can be sure I'm thinking of you. I'm taking off my boxers. My cock is painfully hard. You're not here to touch it, so I'll have to pretend. Maybe you're sucking me. Yeah. I'm sitting on the sofa and you're on your knees between my legs licking the head of my cock.

"You take just the head of it into my mouth, massaging it with your lips. Oh, god, Alex. You... um... tease me lightly with... with your... teeth... and then nib-nib-ble your way down my... uh... my shaaafft. Oh, fu..."

Mulder's voice disintegrated into a half moan, gasping attempt to breathe. In my mind I could see the tortured face that went with that sound. So beautiful.

For a while the tape was silent, but then he returned. "Well, that was... you know... I wish you were here with me, Alex. But I know you'll be home soon. I love you. See you next week."

The tape made a clicking noise when he turned off the recorder.

Life didn't seem so bad that day. But I missed him desperately. I could no longer pretend he didn't matter to me.

I listened to that tape about a thousand times. It never failed to get me off, usually long before the end. With practice, I could see every moment in my mind's eye. In my cell at night, I didn't need the tape, just the will to remain quiet so I didn't share the experience with my cellmate.

My eye was healing quickly. A few weeks after the fight, I passed Scratcher alone in the yard. I'd seen him before, but always with others around and he ignored me. This time he mumbled at me, "White boy got a good friend outside."

I mimed smoking a cigarette. "Not my friend." I knew it didn't matter, but I didn't want anyone to think that son of a bitch was my friend.

"Wants you alive."

"Hack off my head and keep it going in a jar, he'd be happy."

He laughed--a deep hearty booming from his belly. You don't hear that much in prison. He started walking again.

"Thanks," I said to his retreating back.

Cumberland was supposedly air conditioned, but it was still unbearably hot that summer. I spent a large part of it in the shower, using the cold water to chill my overheated brain.

Sexual fantasies fell away to cooling fantasies--smoothies, cold beer, ice cubes--not a cube or even an ice chip to be had in prison--and going swimming, which I wasn't even sure I could do any more, because I hadn't tried it since Tunguska.

** Mulder **

I asked Byers to come over first because he had a gay brother. It would be easier to tell him, and he could inform me in advance if Langley or Frohike would have any problems with the new (and improved?) gay Mulder.

I doubted that any of the Lone Gunmen would give me any shit about it, but I'd never come out to anyone before besides Scully and mom. Men were so touchy about the faggot thing.

Byers arrived promptly at 6:30.

"You wanted to talk to me, Mulder?"

"Uh, yeah." I passed him a beer. "Sit down, John."

Byers waited patiently with that calm face he always wore.

"I'm kind of seeing someone..."

"You mean you're dating someone?"

"Yeah, kind of. It's... it's a man. I'm having an affair with a man."

I braced myself for his reaction, but he just sat there. "Don't you have any kind of reaction?"

"Well, Mulder, we've known you were seeing someone for a long time."

"What? How?"

"Two toothbrushes in your bathroom."

"Uh-huh..."

"Langley's the one who guessed it was a man. No sign of anything girly."

I'm sure my jaw was hanging open.

"But Frohike was the one who searched the bathroom. Two safety razors--in the medicine cabinet, not by the tub where a woman would leave hers. Two different brands of men's deodorant. Under the sink, a large economy sized bottle of ID lube. No het couple goes through lube like that."

Chagrined, I struggled for words. "You guys don't miss much, do you?"

"We are investigators. Not the same kind as you, but we get the job done." He smiled proudly before continuing. "What we couldn't figure out is why you haven't seen him lately?"

"And how do you know I haven't?"

"The red toothbrush looks like it hasn't been used in months. The level in the lube bottle has stayed constant. Frohike thinks he dumped you, so you don't want to get rid of his things. Langley is more inclined to believe you dumped him, but just haven't bothered to toss his stuff. So what's the scoop?"

"He's in prison."

That got a reaction. Blinking wide eyes... "Prison? For what?"

"Murder."

"No way, Mulder!"

"Alex Krycek."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, John. I've been having an affair with Alex Krycek."

"Oh, shit. The one who..." He stopped abruptly.

I knew what he wasn't saying. The one who killed my father.

"The guys won't believe this." Byers pulled his lower jaw back up with the rest of his mouth. "Krycek went down for killing that currency trader, right?"

"Schweck. Yes. Schweck had ordered a hit on me."

Mouth gaping, he looked even more astonished. "Krycek killed the guy because he was after you?"

"Yeah."

"Man, the guys will not believe. This is less plausible than Frohike's idea that the Cancerman killed JKF and Martin Luther King."

I gave him a grim grin.

"So, Mulder... Krycek? Wow. What's the attraction?"

"Well, you've seen his picture?"

"Oh, yeah. Even a straight guy like me can see that he's a looker, but what about... uh, what he does for a living?"

"Oh, that. He's trying to get out. The Schweck thing will probably make it a done deal."

John just eyed me skeptically.

My face flushed. "I didn't exactly go looking for consortium assassins as a dating pool. That was unfortunate. But I really care about the man, John. He's warm and funny and so intense."

"If you say so."

"Look, are the other guys going to wig out about this?"

"The gay thing didn't bother them in the least. I mean, Langley thinks it's cool that you're counterculture and Frohike's thrilled to have less competition for the lovely Dr. Scully. But the assassin thing, well, I'm not so sure about that."

Chapter 9

** Mulder **

Frohike and Langley arrived soon afterward. Byers insisted on playing twenty questions to have them guess the identity of my lover. Given that they already knew it was a he, it shouldn't have taken so long. Some of the intriguing guesses included Walter Skinner (sexy man, but his verbal reaming was more than adequate, thank you very much), Antonio Banderas (if he'd go for it, I sure would) and Senator Matheson (did have a bit of a crush on him as a kid). Langley finally got it on question number 113.

The room went awkwardly silent.

"Alex Krycek?" he repeated dubiously.

I nodded my head.

"Whoa. Scary dude. Didn't he kill your father?" Ringo was a master of tact.

I wasn't about to answer questions like that about Alex, even with my trustworthy, paranoid brothers. "He and I have discussed his past."

"Shit, man," replied Frohike. "You... You know your life just doesn't flow like other people's."

"Tell me about it," I grumbled.

Byers jumped in. "So why are you telling us this now?"

"Alex is getting out of prison in January. He'll be coming here to live with me."

"So no more Sci-Fi night in the new millennium?" asked Langley.

"Hey, I'm not giving up my friends just because I'm in a relationship, guys." I was a little miffed, like the suggestion was an affront to my manhood. "We can still do Sci-Fi night. When we do it here, Alex might be around. That's all."

"As long as he doesn't try to kill us, I don't see a problem," offered Frohike.

Even Langley rolled his eyes at his diminutive partner.

** Krycek **

In September, Peterson's secretary helped me order theatre tickets for Mulder. I wanted him to have something to do besides mope on his birthday. He would invite Scully and she'd take care of him.

As the weather cooled, the prospect of getting out of Cumberland began to seem real. Some days, I believed I'd get out. Other days, I was certain I wouldn't. I didn't know what I would do if I did get out. I started getting moody about the whole thing.

Behaving myself like a good little con who was about to be paroled became very important. I didn't tell anyone my parole hearing was coming up, because I'd seen other inmates take advantage of those who were about to be paroled, knowing they couldn't fight back without losing their chance for freedom. I didn't anticipate this could happen to me, since I hadn't told anyone.

And then a bad thing happened.

One morning after breakfast, I was in the gym with two other guys. One of the C.O.s, an Arab American with a lazy eye, came in and whispered something to the guy on the stationary cycle. When the cyclist got up and left, I had a bad feeling. Then the C.O. spoke to the only other man in the gym, who also departed. I rapidly lowered my weight to the rack and headed for the door, but the Arab staffer put a hand on my chest and shook his head silently. He had the look of a man who is doing something he believes is wrong.

Fist ready to strike, feet ready to sprint, I prepared myself for something ugly.

As the C.O. exited, two Arab inmates who looked slightly familiar entered. I tried to step around them to leave the room, but they blocked my path. I punched one in the stomach and managed to get to the door, but it was locked from the outside.

"Let me out, dammit!" I screamed through the thick door, but there was no response.

The taller of the two Arabs, was a large forty-something man with a pock-marked face. He smiled repulsively and reached for me. The younger man had a shaved head and was maybe twenty-five years old.

I managed to punch the bald one in the jaw, but Pock Marks got my arm behind my back. I kept kicking and biting, but I was unable to do enough damage to stop them. A blow to the ribs made me lose my balance and they got me on the floor.

Pock Marks sat on my torso while his younger partner removed my shoes and pulled off my pants. Being held down made me shudder, and then my adrenalin went into overdrive. My body was writhing with tension and the utter need to inflict pain.

Pock Marks shifted onto my legs and Baldy managed to tear off my shirt. I scored a hit with my elbow to Baldy's nuts, but he was still moving. Being held down by them brought up some ugly memories that I shoved down immediately. I forced myself to still, to give them an opportunity to get careless.

If I could get free of them, I'd go for the fire alarm. The C.O.s would have to respond to that. Then I'd try to separate them and break Baldy's neck.

Cold fingers pried my ass open and Pock Marks got his dick in me. It hurt, but the pain was nothing compared to my desperate need to kill these fuckers. Baldy sat on my arm. I tried to concentrate on my breathing... a kind of self hypnosis. My mind went away, only checking in every few seconds to determine if I had a viable escape opportunity.

When Pock Marks was finished, I got ready to take out Baldy. Unfortunately, these guys weren't as dumb as they looked. Baldy didn't even get up until Pock Marks was sitting on my back. There was a brief moment where my arm was free, but all I managed to do was scratch Pock Marks' leg.

Once Baldy was taking his turn in my ass, there was no point in fighting any more. I tuned out so thoroughly that I don't remember him pulling out.

Two rapid knocks on the door and it opened for them. I put on my clothes, except for my shirt, which was unwearable. I returned to my cell as stealthily as possible. An Aryan man in the corridor outside my cell took note of my condition and tried to touch me. I don't know exactly what I did, but I heard the snap of fingers breaking. In my cell I grabbed fresh clothes and a towel and went directly to the showers.

If I allowed myself to think, I could only think about a teenaged boy in Minneapolis. And what had been done to him. I couldn't bear that. So I didn't think at all. I stood under the tepid water for a very long time before it even occurred to me to clean myself.

Back in my cell that night, I skipped dinner to start planning my revenge. With a parole hearing on the horizon, I had to be especially careful.

By the next morning, I had a detailed plan. But the next afternoon that same son-of-a-bitch C.O. stopped me in the lunchroom by blocking my path. His right eye glared at me while his lazy eye seemed to take in the air duct overhead.

I wasn't going to start a fight, so I just stood there.

"I know what you're thinking, Krycek."

I looked away.

"If something should happen to my friends, you're going down for it. You've got about three months. The parole board will pay attention to anything that goes into your file from here on out."

Fucking bastard! I stood there visualizing the ballpoint in his pocket and driving it up his nose into his brain.

"You listening, pussy?"

I met his gaze, nonverbally informing the slime that he hadn't won. My heart was pounding, as my body experienced the physical need to injure him.

He turned and walked away.

I wanted revenge, but I needed to get out of Cumberland. I allowed myself to give up the idea of getting even and tried to just keep thinking about getting out of here.

Three and a half months didn't sound like a long time. But it was. It was long enough to seem like forever. I stopped eating any meals except lunch, which was usually slightly more palatable than the others. I didn't go back to the gym. I even turned down the one-armed fights, much to the disappointment of the Cubans. The only exercise I got was a little running in the yard. I didn't fucking care.

A week after the Arabs raped me, their C.O. buddy came to my cell to get me.

"Psychologist wants to talk to you, Krycek." The man gave off a vibe of doing something he didn't want to be caught doing.

I refused to go with him. He tried to drag me off. I couldn't hit him or parole was finito, so I clung to my bunk. He finally just smacked me around and gave up. He couldn't ask another guard for help if he wasn't really taking me to see the shrink.

But two days later he pounced on me in the hallway. The only other cons in the vicinity just scurried away like cockroaches. He pulled a gun. I wondered if he could shoot straight with that one eye looking off at a cockeyed angle. I also had to wonder what the two Arabs were doing for him to make this risk worth his while.

He could too easily kill me and claim that I rushed him. Who'd they believe? I wouldn't even be around to say he was a liar. I felt like I had no fucking choice but to do what he said. He led me to a maintenance room. Unlocking the door, he tossed me inside. I landed on the floor and found myself looking up at Pock Marks and Baldy.

Fuck parole. I stuck a leg between those of the larger man and twisted. Pock Marks landed on his ass next to me. I nailed him in the ribs with a kick and he fell away, but Baldy was on top of me. I thought I could take Baldy. I wrestled him until I had him on his back and just as I was about to inflict serious damage to his face, I was pulled off of him and thrown hard against concrete.

I blacked out. When I came to, I was face down on the floor and naked again. Pock Marks was pinning my arm and Baldy was sticking his cock inside me.

It was easy to not be present, because my head didn't feel right. I was dizzy, even though I wasn't moving, and the colors in the room were off.

Afterward in the shower, I decided I had to get even or I was going to get raped again. These two guys stuck together, but maybe I could get some help separating them. For a carton of cigarettes and one of my chocolate bars, one of the Cubans agreed to separate them after dinner one night. He lured Pock Marks down the hall to chat about some drug dealing scam. I was hiding in the hall between the lunchroom, where Baldy was, and where Pock Marks was meeting with the Cuban. Whichever one passed by me first was going to get nailed.

But Baldy must have sensed trouble, because he appeared with his pet C.O. The two of them pounded the crap out of me. Managed to do it without breaking anything, but it hurt to move afterward.

I didn't leave my cell for three days. The only thing I ate was the last of my Valrhona chocolate.

I struck back again during dinner. In the cafeteria, I waited until the two Arabs were in the food line. Then I returned to the cellblock. In their tiny cell, I expected to find their dope easily. I was wrong.

While searching, I pocketed three hundred dollar bills I found wound around the inside of a deodorant can. It took me almost fifteen minutes to reveal the heroin stash, cleverly concealed inside the electronics compartment of a battered boom box. I hurriedly stirred in my little surprise: the pulverized contents of an entire bottle of vitamin C. I wasn't even sure they used drugs themselves, but pissing off their customers would be even better revenge.

No one reported anything related to my crime for several days. Maybe the vitamin C didn't hurt anyone? But they had to be missing the money.

After almost a week, a homeboy at the table next to me announced that the Arabs were selling bad shit. Half a dozen guys in the infirmary with nosebleeds that wouldn't stop... One of them had been burnt so badly that his septum would have to be reconstructed.

Still the Arabs didn't even look at me funny. That made me tense. I didn't like the wait. Two weeks after my nefarious deed, I returned to my cell and noticed that the Frank Herbert paperback I'd been reading was no longer on my pillow. No pillow either. The milk crate I used for a bookcase was gone. My shaving kit gone. My clothes gone. Johnson's clothes gone. In fact, a careful survey of the space established that there was not a single piece of personal property left in our cell. Fortunately, my Mulder tapes were in a locker at the library.

Pretty wimpy revenge. Johnson would be pissed about the disappearance of his beloved collection of dirty postcards, but I didn't lose anything worth getting upset about.

But the next day I was hauled into the office of the Corrections Supervisor. Marshall was a stout little man with really bad teeth.

"Krycek, C.O. Almani saw you in Hafasthan's and Jurud's cell."

I shrugged.

"He says you stole six hundred dollars and a Sony Walkman."

"It's not true."

"I have complete confidence in Almani, Krycek. If you confess, this will go easier on you."

A complete waste of confidence since the man was a liar and criminal, like the rest of us... No fucking way I was confessing. I shook my head. I could survive a few days in solitary.

"Fine. I'm suspending your gym and yard privileges. And, you'll have no visitors. For 30 days." He glared at me. "Dismissed."

What the fuck! I'd never heard of anyone losing visitation rights. I strode directly to the pay phones and left a message for Peterson. I stomped back to my cell and kicked the bunk until it felt like my toe was broken. Dammit, I'd let those sons-of-bitches rape me before I'd let them cost me the only good twenty minutes in my miserable week.

I was homicidal for two days. Even Johnson kept his distance. Peterson got back to me. It was legal. They could do it. Those Arab-mother-fucking-bastards took Mulder away from me. And I was left to fucking wonder if they'd kept me out of solitary deliberately so they could continue to rape me.

Friday morning at noon, I phoned the message service used by my best criminal friend, Ming Li. The only person I could trust with anything. When the operator told me that she was no longer a customer, I yanked the handset off the phone and threw it across the wall. The hard plastic shattered loudly as I ran from the room.

My escape option was gone.

By the next morning, my anger was gone, too. I didn't leave the cell for almost a week. Johnson smuggled back a little food. I picked at it. I didn't say a word. After a while he gave up trying to get me to talk.

** Mulder **

In October, I got a depressing message from Alex's attorney. He'd lost his visitation privileges for a month. Peterson said it was legal. She said we could fight it, but we risked having them press criminal charges for what they claimed he stole. She felt it wasn't worth the risk with parole on the horizon.

I sent him a care package of snacks and books. I mailed Mulderbabble tapes every week. But it wasn't the same. The loss of those twenty minute visits was devastating. I'd conjure up his image in my mind--Alex smiling at me. It hurt more than it helped. Because what I really wanted was to touch him.

He didn't write me back, so I had no way of knowing if he was okay. I told myself he was fine. He was more than capable of taking care of himself. Right? I spent the entire time trying to keep my mind from generating prison horror stories.

It seemed like almost a year before the ban finally lifted. I found myself getting sad on the way to see Alex. Twenty minutes wasn't a lot of time. It felt like the clock was running as soon as I passed the guard gate. I couldn't touch him. Trying to communicate with just words and eye contact seemed so empty.

I stood behind the grid, waiting for them to bring him out. He took one step into the room and instantly, I knew something was wrong. He was walking funny and his posture was sloppy. At first I thought he was sick. As he came closer, alarm bells went off in my mind.

He slumped into his chair. "Hey, Mulda," he said with a juvenile grin.

Pressing my face to the grid, I got a good look at his eyes to confirm my suspicion. Pupils dilated. Alex was stoned out of his mind. I needed to grab him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. But I couldn't touch him at all. "Alex, what have you done?"

"Wha? I'm fi, Mulda."

I shifted my tone to an over-enunciated, authoritarian voice I used with drug addicts. "What did you take, Alex? The drug. What is it?"

"Her-oin. 'S good."

Oh, fuck. Let Alex be okay. But there he was so obviously not okay. I pressed my fingers at the grid. He pressed back, but it didn't seem like real contact. "What happened, Alex? Did something happen to make you do this?"

"Don wanna talk 'bout it, oh-kay?" He gave me an empty smile.

He was hurting badly, taking extremely addictive drugs and I couldn't do anything. I wanted to pound my revenge into someone.

"Did someone hurt you?"

"Yeah, but fi now. 'Kay, Mulda?"

I couldn't bear to consider what had happened to him. "Look at me, Alex."

His beautiful green eyes wandered a bit until they settled on my face.

"I'm sorry that you got hurt, Alex."

"'S'okay."

"No, it's not, Alex. I don't ever want you to be hurt."

A part of me wanted to throw a tantrum. But I had to stay focused on Alex. He needed me and I had to try to talk to him, even if it was hopeless. I couldn't be sure he'd remember our conversation, but maybe it would get through on some level.

His eyes kept roaming.

Loud again, I said, "Look at me, Alex."

He tried.

"I don't want you to take drugs anymore. Can you do that?"

"Do wha?"

"Stop taking drugs."

"No mo' her-oin?"

His hurt puppy look made me want to cry, but I had to keep it together. "That's right Alex. I want you to stop."

"I try, Mulda. But feels betta..."

A knife in the chest would have hurt less. "I know it hurts, Alex, but you have to stop."

"I try."

So futile talking to him like this, but I had to do it.

"Alex?"

"Yeah."

"After prison, you want to be with me, right?"

"Yeah, you an' me..."

"So, no more drugs. Or I'm afraid it won't happen."

"Wha won't?"

He slipped away from me, didn't even seem to know I was there for a minute.

"Alex? Alex? Alex, it's Mulder."

"Mul-da?"

"Yeah. Please stop the drugs so we can be together."

"Huh?"

"Stop. The drugs. So we. Can be. Together."

"No her-oin?"

"That's right, Alex."

The guard came for him.

"I try, Mul-da. Fo you."

"I love you, Alex."

"Love," he replied absently, as the guard pulled him away.

I barged into the Warden's office and demanded to see a counselor. A young black man named James Enright came out to see me. Enright led me to one of the attorney/client rooms.

"What can I do for you, Agent Mulder?"

"Alex Krycek, do you know him?"

"Yeah, the one-armed fighter."

"I just visited him. He's high on heroin."

"Do you know where he got it?"

"No, I don't fucking know where he got it. He can barely talk."

"Agent Mulder, are you going to tell me what you want? Because if you're just going to yell, I've got other things to do."

I tried to calm down. "What happened to him? When he got here, he didn't even drink a beer more than once every couple of months. Something must have happened."

"I can guess what happened to him, but I can't discuss it with you."

"Well, can you help him, dammit? He needs drug counseling."

"Agent Mulder, there are nearly 5,000 inmates at Cumberland. Probably more than half of them need drug counseling. My last group session had eleven people in it."

"I'm a psychologist myself, Mr. Enright, you can skip the lecture. Would you just talk to Alex when he's not high and see if you can help him?"

"What's your relationship to Krycek, Agent Mulder?"

In case it might help somehow, I told him. "He's my lover. Now would you talk to him, please?"

He eyed me suspiciously. "Okay, I'll talk to him."

"Is there anything at all that I can do?"

"You know that as well as I do, so I'll skip the lecture." Enright rose and departed.

I was agitated the entire drive back to Hoover. It took Scully about ten seconds to figure it out. "What's wrong?"

"Can we go for a walk?"

We took the path past the fountain, like we always did when we left the building to deal with something.

"I just saw Alex this morning. He was high on heroin."

Scully winced. "I'm so sorry, Mulder. You must be really worried about him."

"It's not just the heroin, although that's bad enough. Something happened to him to make him do it, but I couldn't get him to tell me."

"It's not difficult to guess."

I used to joke about what happened to men in prison. Almost everyone in law enforcement has used it as a threat with a suspect or witness. It wasn't funny any more. I couldn't stand to think of Alex being used by another man. He didn't even like me to fuck him.

"If I have to think about that, I don't believe I can survive the rest of his incarceration."

Scully put her hand on my forearm. "Mulder, I'm impressed by the loyalty you've shown Alex. He's been incarcerated for over a year and you still visit him every week. I know how much he means to you. But I think you also have to accept that the man who comes out of Cumberland may not be the same man who went in. Even if you continue to wait for him, the two of you might not be able to be together again."

"No. You're wrong. I won't give up on him. I love him. Just because he did heroin once doesn't mean he's not my Alex anymore. I'll do whatever it takes to get him out of there as healthy as possible. And if the worst happens, and he comes out addicted, I'll help him through detox. I won't give up on him, Scully."

She nodded sadly and gave up the fight.

I don't know how I got through that week. Sunday was Samantha's birthday. I'm sure I was a terror to be around. I can't imagine how or why Scully puts up with me.

Friday morning, I drove to Cumberland with dread. A two-minute wait in the visiting room seemed like an hour. When Alex came in, he wouldn't look at me. I took that as a good sign. He sat down and closed his eyes.

"I love you, Alex."

"I... I'm clean, Mulder."

"I'm glad. Thank you." I waited for him to speak, to see what he wanted to talk about, but he still wouldn't look at me. "Look at me, Alex."

His eyes flicked up for a few seconds before looking away again. "I'm sorry." He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry you had to see that. And I'm sorry I did it." He glanced at me again.

"What happened, Alex?"

His eyes fell away again. "I don't..." He just trailed off and wouldn't finish. His face was closed, like it had been before we were lovers. No one--not even I--could make him speak when he didn't want to.

"Okay, but would you talk to someone about it? I don't care who, just talk to someone?"

He nodded.

"Promise me."

"Okay."

"What do you need, Alex? How can I help you?"

"Just talk to me... about anything."

"I was so worried about you this week. I didn't do much." Nothing to say, but I'd try for him. "Been playing basketball. I'm getting good. You play in here?" It was almost a lie. I'd spent the better part of the past week lying on my couch moping.

"There's a hoop in the yard, but I haven't played." His voice was leaden. He was obviously depressed.

Such a passionate man--it chilled me to see him like this. I forced a smile. "Well, you'd better start practicing or I'm going to beat your ass when you get out."

"Okay," he replied with a false smile of his own.

"Are you still fighting the Cubans?"

"Uh, no, but maybe next week. This two-hundred pound white supremacist wants to take me on."

"Be careful, Alex."

"Don't worry, Mulder."

I grimaced. It was impossible not to worry, but I tried to keep the dialogue going for his sake. "Still working in the library?"

"Yeah, I'm teaching English to a couple of the Cubans." He took a deep breath. "I... Mulder... I'll try to stay clean."

"That would mean a lot to me, if you can do it." My eyes were getting wet, but I didn't want him to see me cry. "If... If you can't, it's all right. I'll help you when you get out."

He shook his head. "Mulder, dammit. I'm fucked up. I'm struggling to stay okay in here. I might not be worth anything when I get out. Do yourself a favor and stop waiting for me."

Chapter 10

** Mulder **

"Fuck you, Alex. I'm not just giving up on you."

"Even if it would be better for you if you did?" The grimace on his face made that distinctive crease form at the top of his nose. I wanted to kiss it.

"Even if. Reminds me of the night you first seduced me. You're telling me to go away, but you don't want me to. Convince me that you really want me to forget about you and I'll try."

His eyes got wet, too, a barely noticeable sheen over emerald green. "I can't do that." He held his hand up to the grid. I put mine on the other side.

"Take care of yourself the best you can, Alex. It'll be good enough."

He nodded sorrowfully.

** Krycek **

I was clean. I'd only done smack for a week and a half, until one day, before snorting it, I realized, in my dim, little, drug-craving brain, that high I'd be an easier target for the god-damned Arabs.

It wasn't too difficult to stop using--I guess because I hadn't used it for very long. I was nauseated for a few days. Felt like crap, actually, but I was so depressed that it didn't seem very important.

Staying away from the Arabs was important. They'd had me a total of five times now. I despised being fucked. It didn't help that both of them were ugly guys I wouldn't have looked twice at in the real world. But I knew how to shut myself down so it wouldn't feel real. I felt cold and empty during and after. I'd get lethargic for a few days--not eating and avoiding any activity. Then I'd realize it wasn't as bad as having my arm hacked off. Nothing ever was. I'd lived through that. So I'd start eating again. No question I was a survivor. I'd always known that.

But it had to fucking end. Even if it meant losing parole. Now that I had no help with escape, parole mattered. So I implemented the only plan I could think of that I might be able to pull off without getting caught.

I tried for two days to catch Scratcher alone somewhere, without luck. I finally followed him into the shower, a dangerously suggestive rendezvous location, but it couldn't wait. "Hey man, can I talk to you?"

"Yeah, what is it, Krycek?" He turned to me with a cool expression. He wore only a towel around his waist. The towel looked fluorescent white against his dark brown skin. It was beautiful, actually, a radiant deep chocolate brown. He was a buff, muscular man.

I stepped close enough for privacy, but not so close as to seem like a sexual invitation. "You know that pock-marked Arab and the bald kid who always follows him around?"

"Those muthafuckas? What about 'em? They fucking with you?"

I had to fight to keep my face flat. "Yeah. That Arab C.O. is their buddy and he's helping them."

Something in his cola-colored eyes shifted.

I twitched and tried to hold my ground.

"And you want me to take care of 'em?"

"Yeah, Scratcher. I want them off my back."

His gaze had a distressingly proprietary air.

Fuck! I didn't want to prostitute myself for this. "I'll pay you."

"Don't want your money." His eyes flickered down my body, leaving no question as to what he did want.

I almost said no. My ass would belong to him for the duration if I let him do this, but anything was better than the Arabs. My jaw clamped down, fighting my face against communicating my answer, but somehow I managed a nod.

He smiled at me--a lecherous smile with a weird touch of boyish delight.

I suppressed a shiver. "Scratcher, I need an alibi. Tuesday at 2:30. I'll be in the clinic until 3:30."

"Gotcha, man. Your problem will be gone."

On Tuesday, I surreptitiously slipped into his cell at lunchtime. He joined me a few minutes later with a huge grin on his face. He pulled out his cock and waved it in my direction.

After an awkward gulp of air, I got down on my knees. Not surprisingly, given his size, his cock was huge. I managed to swallow most of it, taking it down without any foreplay.

He didn't seem to mind.

It was a work of art, really, his smooth purple cock. Under other circumstances, I'd have sucked him with enthusiasm.

Scratcher was an unexpectedly gentle lover. He didn't try to fuck my face. He took what I gave and softly muttered, "Suck it, man."

I was an opportunistic whore. I used every trick I knew to try to bring a man off quickly. His soft groans demonstrated his appreciation, but the fucker wasn't coming. Maybe he was one of those guys who needed more stimulation than you can get from a blowjob? Desperately not wanting to do anything else with him, I tried to work him harder, even using my teeth a bit.

"That's good, man," he crooned. Then he pulled out of my mouth and gestured toward the bed.

Fuck. I froze for a moment, while he waited patiently. Then I stood slowly and dropped my pants.

"You have a pretty ass, Krycek."

Lucky me. The prettiness of my ass shouldn't have been any of his fucking business. Suppressing a growl, I knelt at the edge of the bed and bent myself over it. This was more difficult than being raped, because I had to offer myself. It required every ounce of my fucking willpower to keep myself there.

I felt the intense heat of his body as he positioned himself behind me. An odd squirting sound suggested that he was using something for lube, but I didn't know what. He skipped the foreplay, too, and just pushed his thick, slippery dick inside me.

Scratcher fucked me slowly while I lay under him with gritted teeth. Every stroke rubbed against my prostate. My body was aware that it both hurt and felt good, but I just hated having this done to me. No amount of consent on my part could make me want this. The whole time, I lay there thinking that maybe being raped was better.

To my utter amazement, after fucking me for a few minutes, Scratcher reached around and wrapped his fingers around my dick. He stroked me to orgasm seconds before he came himself. Then he passed me a towel to clean myself up with.

"Uh, thanks." The man was straight out of Emily Fucking Post.

I pulled up my pants and snuck out of his cell in a daze, making my way back to mine. I left early for my physical therapy appointment. Let the clinic staff see me sitting there for a half an hour.

I walked back to my cell afterward. About forty minutes later, my cellmate, Johnson came in with exciting news.

"Hey, Krycek. Somebody killed a C.O. and two of those Arab dudes."

I tried to act surprised. Later in front of the television, I, and half the inmates in my cellblock, got the whole story from the gangbanger who found the bodies in the yard. All three Arabs were gutted with a kitchen knife. Their internal organs were removed and arranged all around the yard. Six eyeballs were lined up looking in the window to the library. Six bloody testicles were skewered on the sharp ends of the wire fence. Scratcher had played with the body parts.

I'd killed plenty of men myself, but this was so far beyond anything I was capable of. Scratcher had enjoyed the crime in a very crude and disgusting way. I was nauseated, but not out of any misplaced sympathy for his victims.

And I couldn't help but wonder how he'd pulled it off. Surely he didn't just invite the three of them to join him for an unscheduled yard visit? The sick fuck was clever, too.

I lay in bed late that night, dreading the thought that this man would be fucking me again. The next time he passed me in the hall, he winked. My muscles went rigid and I blanked my face. Much to my relief, he didn't seek me out right away.

After about a week, Scratcher appeared in my cell at lunchtime. I was afraid of him in a way that I'd never feared anyone before, but I tried hard to keep my expression neutral so he couldn't see it.

Scratcher just stood there smiling at me. Oh, fuck.

My voice cracked as I asked him, "You want me on my knees? What?"

A huge hand came down on my shoulder. "No, man. I'm not a rapist. You can keep your ass. We straight. Smoking dude pay me and I had fun taking out your enemies." He squeezed my shoulder and gave me that cheesy grin. Then he stalked out.

I was so relieved I could have peed in my pants. I was blown away, too. He could kill three men and use their body parts like sandbox toys, but a consensual exchange of sex for protection didn't seem right to him. Twisted.

And Scratcher had been such a polite lover. Truly bizarre.

I started going to the gym again and that increased my appetite. Soon I was back into my routine. Two weeks after the murders, I was summoned into the office of Corrections Supervisor Marshall.

He got right to the point. "I heard a rumor that you had C.O. Husseni and those two Arabs killed."

Ah, fuck! I had to wonder where they came up with that. The only person I was certain knew about my trouble with the Arabs was the Cuban who separated them for me. He wouldn't rat me out. "Huh?" I replied, concentrating on controlling my face.

"The yard murders. Someone told me you paid to have them done while you were in physical therapy."

"Was I in therapy when that happened?"

"Awfully convenient that you have an alibi," he said with a sneer that showed off his hideous, crooked, yellow teeth.

I shrugged. If he had proof, he'd use it. If he didn't, I wasn't about to help him make the case.

"I've subpoenaed your financial records."

"Good luck finding them." I don't have a bank account. Not in any country that would report on my transactions, anyway.

The little man tried to loom over me. "I'm watching you, Krycek."

"Are we done?"

After giving me a good long glare, which I ignored completely, he muttered, "You're dismissed."

I was anxious about it for a week or two, but eventually gave up on them making the case. As far as I could tell, they hadn't even spoken to Scratcher. Without him, they couldn't get me since I had an alibi. Parole, on the other hand, was probably screwed. Totally, fucking, completely screwed. Why would they let a murder suspect go free?

I called Peterson. She told me that she was optimistic about my chances, but I figured she probably hadn't seen the latest entry in my file. It seemed unwise to tell her about my specific concerns over the telephone.

I tried not to worry about the yard murders. They'd blow over. Maybe after I was turned down for parole, Mulder would get more realistic about us. In spite of all my efforts to send him on his way, it was humiliatingly obvious how much I'd miss his visits. I'd never felt like this in my life. The old, independent Alex seemed deader than an Arab rapist. Fuck!

Along with the other unwanted changes in my life, Mulder had wrecked my chosen profession. I'd get parole eventually. And what the fuck was I going to do for a living when I got out of prison? I had finally managed to sever the cords that tied me to the Consortium. What next?

A counselor at the prison encouraged me to take his skills assessment inventory, but I could just imagine the results. 'Like many of our inmates, you're highly qualified to be a criminal.'

Unfortunately, I'd hit the Mulder ceiling in my criminal career. My brain hadn't sprouted a moral code. But I knew that as long as there was even a tiny chance of being with Mulder, I had to find another line of work.

I tried to do my own skills inventory. Careers in law enforcement? Private detective? Nope--a convicted felon can't get a license or carry a gun. Bodyguard? Nope--who would want a one armed, unarmed bodyguard? Security guard? Nope--background check. Plus, I'm not that desperate. Security consultant? Nope. Boring. Besides, the way I was caught for Schweck didn't exactly advertise my abilities.

It bugged me that Mulder hadn't said a word about my future employment. I knew he expected me to come live with him. Did he think I was going to just be Mrs. Mulder? Christ, the man could barely cover his own rent. I knew I should discuss my career with him, but I couldn't bear to use any of our 20 minutes on a depressing topic.

When I ran out of employment ideas, I got really desperate and found a career book in the library. I opened pages at random. Fireman? With one arm? Accountant? I'd rather be Mrs. Mulder. High school teacher? Convicted felon. Graphic artist? Talent required. Hair Stylist? Uh, no. Dog trainer? Well, I didn't have a snappy answer for that one, but it didn't seem like the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I reshelved the book.

Finally, I decided that I'd take a few months off on the outside. I had enough money to live on. I'd figure it out later. Probably much later. I stopped thinking about it completely. Mulder never did ask.

A couple of weeks before I was to meet with the parole board, one of the C.O.s came to my cell just before bed check. He made a show of cuffing me and even reading me my rights. Then he dragged me off to Supervisor Marshall's office. My heart started to pound. Not now. I was too fucking close to my parole hearing. Not fucking now.

Marshall stood up and came to me, kicking my legs out from under me. As I sprawled across the floor, he looked down at me, eyes hard. "We finally got the evidence to link you to the yard murders."

Something in his face gave him away... trembling lower lip. He was bluffing.

I calmed down substantially.

I never said a word. He roughed me up as much as he could without leaving marks he'd have to explain. Finally, totally frustrated, he had the same C.O. drag me back to my cell.

Peterson came to see me a week before the parole hearing. They took me to a private room. I wished I could've met Mulder there.

"Hey, Ms. Peterson."

"Susan," she said plainly. "How are you, Alex?"

"Not the best year of my life."

"I've been getting ready for your parole hearing. The Warden gave me your file. You've done a good job of staying out of trouble."

"What?!" I gaped at her. "There's nothing in my file?"

She gave me a smug smile, clearly understanding the meaning behind my surprise. "There are legal requirements about what they can write in your file without evidence. A brief and weakly worded mention of an alleged theft last summer is the only thing they documented. I don't think the parole board will even take it seriously."

That was a major fucking incredible relief. I expected to be named as a suspect in the three yard murders. They could have included an affidavit from a murdered C.O. about the theft, which would implicate me in the murders. I was one lucky convict.

Parole was a possibility again. A surge of hope was obliterated by a wave of anxiety. My life was... I didn't know. The only thing I knew for sure was that it wouldn't be the same life it had been before.

"I'm going to present your case. Then we're allowed two character witnesses."

I'm sure I turned green hearing that. "I can't think of anyone who'd improve my odds of getting parole."

"I've already found one. Hazelton Smith, the Librarian."

I had to laugh. Smith was a 50-something, 250 lb., bald ex Marine. His exterior was hard as nails and inside he was a pussycat.

"He said he thought you were becoming a 'fine young man.'" Huh. He must have been more clueless than I thought about all those j/o sessions.

"Well, I'm sure I can't do better than that. Two witnesses, huh?"

"Have you seen Dana Scully this year?"

"No. Plus it's too risky for her to say she knows me."

"How about your physical therapist?"

"See him every other week. Seems like a decent guy."

"I'll talk to him and find out what he thinks of you."

"Okay."

"You'll have to answer some questions from the board."

"I'll put on my best repentant face."

She suddenly got very serious. "Don't overdo it, Alex. The parole board sees felons who want out all week long. They know all the games. You're going to have to be the real Alex Krycek."

"Yeah, but why would they want to let him out of prison?"

"I'm serious. You need to be real. Earnest."

I groaned. "Earnest?"

"You can do it."

"I'll try." I rubbed my bad eye, which was a little dry and itchy since the injury.

"The panel allows Schweck's family an opportunity to speak. I called his widow. I told her that if she speaks, we'll present evidence regarding her husband's illegal business dealings. I think she knew about him. She said the family would not attend the hearing."

Christ! I was glad she hadn't asked me about that before she did it. I couldn't offer any evidence without getting myself, and probably Mulder, killed. I shoved down that mess of anxiety, thankful that this aggressive woman was on my side. "What're my odds of getting out?"

"Maybe two to one, in favor."

I gave her a curt nod.

"There's something else I want to discuss with you. It would improve your odds of getting parole."

"I'm listening."

"How would you like a job?"

My mouth hung open.

"I've needed someone for a long time. Like a research associate. Someone who knows the ins and outs of the federal agencies." She paused gauging my expression.

"I'm interested."

"The work won't be exciting. You'll spend a lot of time at the libraries and trying to get information out of the Bureau or the local police department. This is work I've been doing myself for years, but I've got more clients than I can take and my billing rate is too high for me to do it anymore. I can start you at $3,200 a month. You could even do a little investigation, as long as we don't call it that."

This was starting to sound great, so of course my skepticism clicked in. "Why me?"

Peterson nodded, expecting that question. "I tried to fill this job a year ago, but no one with experience in law enforcement wanted it. They think criminal attorneys are scum."

"No, just their clients." I gave her a wry grin.

"Look, I know you're not the most ethical human being on the planet, but I have a good feeling about you. You've been straight with me. I respect that. And... I... admire how you protected your lover." She gave me a stern look. "We'd have to agree on some boundaries. No drugs. No guns. You don't miss meetings with your parole officer. Do you think you could do that?"

I had to think. "Drugs. Parole meetings. No problem. I'm not so sure about guns."

She pulled back a little, her face drawn with concern. "You know you can't carry a gun without violating your parole."

I held up my hand in a placating gesture. "I know. But I've got some ugly ex-associates still out there. There have been times in the past when I'd have been killed without a gun. It could happen again, even if I try to avoid those people. I might take a chance on my own life, but not Mulder's."

She considered that carefully, and then nodded. "Would you be willing to sign an employment agreement that says you won't carry a gun?"

"Yeah."

"If you get caught with a gun, I'll have to fire you."

"I can live with that."

"And, of course, they'll revoke your parole."

"I understand."

She nodded and looked at me, just thinking. "So you want to come work for me?"

"Yes."

She smiled. I could tell she was excited. Excited to have me on her payroll. I couldn't believe my good fortune. "When can you start?"

"As soon as you get me the hell out of here."

The next day was a Friday. I couldn't wait to tell Mulder. In all those months in prison, it was the only thing I'd ever had to tell him that was good news.

He was there waiting for me behind the screen. I leaned in to him. "If I get parole, I have a job!"

"What?"

"I'm going to do research for Susan Peterson."

"That's great, Alex." He was taken off guard, but I could tell he was happy for me. It gave me a little hope that he and I might work something out together.

Mulder came to the parole hearing. I'd encouraged him not to--for his own sake--but the stubborn man came anyway.

My two character witnesses were great. I couldn't believe they were saying those nice things about me. I was very nervous about my own Q&A session, but I'd prepared myself. I was going to pretend that Mulder was asking the questions. That was as earnest as I thought I could get. I only hoped they didn't ask me anything that would require me to lie. I wasn't positive I could pull off earnest while lying. Not that I hadn't done it before.

The attorney who asked me the questions reminded me a little of Schweck, but I tried to shake off that image to keep myself from sneering at him.

"Mr. Krycek, what are you planning on doing with your life if you get parole?"

"Uh... I have a good job waiting. With Ms. Peterson."

"Yes, we know. She seems to think rather highly of you."

I didn't know if I'd answered his question, but he kept looking at me, so I continued. "I just want to get on with my life. Do normal things." You know, help little old ladies across the street.

He nodded, so I shut up. "Tell me about your prison experience. What did you learn there?"

Oh, shit. How could I be earnest with kind of question? "Well, I learned..." I fought back the temptation to lie and struggled to find something that I'd truly learned there. "I learned... that I'm not the worst person on the planet."

"And not the best?"

"I already knew that." Half the board laughed. I looked anxiously at Peterson who gently smiled her encouragement.

The old Schweck-looking guy continued. "Do you regret your crime?"

Fuck. Peterson should have warned me about these questions. Real. Real! Think Mulder. I took a deep breath. "I know Mr. Schweck appeared to be a good man. But he was not. But neither am I." I hoped that was good enough.

"If the victim's family were here, would you apologize?"

"I don't know. They never harmed me, but I... I hurt them."

"Mr. Krycek, you've served fourteen months of a three year sentence. Do you think that's reasonable for the crime of murder?"

I knew I couldn't argue a decent case for that. "No." The word came out funny. I swallowed hard. I forced myself to look him in the eye. "No, sir." It was a lie of sorts. Killing Schweck was no murder in my mind. Preventative maintenance, really.

"That's all. Thank you." His voice was cold. I couldn't read him. But after those last few questions, I wasn't optimistic.

It was Peterson's turn to speak again. She explained to the panel that I had been given a short sentence, because I'd killed out of fear for a loved one. I fought to suppress a groan and prayed to the board in my head not to ask her who, since he was sitting in the fucking room.

She reviewed my prison record and the testimonies of the librarian and physical therapist. She reminded them of the overcrowding of the prison system. Lastly, she said that she was willing to take a chance on me and asked them to give me a chance to make something better of myself.

I would have paroled myself after that speech. And I know better. But my Q&A had to be bad news.

The panel took a recess. They took me to a private room. Peterson followed. I was filled with doom by the time we got there. "Is there still a chance?" I asked her solemnly.

"I thought you did well."

"Are you kidding? Shouldn't I have begged to apologize to the family?"

"They knew you weren't lying. They see that every day. I think you earned their respect."

Shit. It seemed unlikely. But two hours later, she came back with a smile and a document. I gaped at the paper in disbelief. Then I saw my name and a box checked, "Parole Granted." My first thought was that the parole board must have really low standards, if they were letting me out. But I was going home in a week. I couldn't believe it.

An escort came for me. As we left the room, I saw Mulder sitting outside the hearing room. He gave me a silent, but jubilant smile. I tried not to smile back and give him away.

**

END Book 2

In Book 3, the boys are reunited, but Mulder struggles to hold on to his restless lover.

Feedback, please, or I'll have Mulder leave Krycek to have babies with Scully.

Louise Wu ()

Web Site: http://lzl.dreamhost.com/Stories/Chemistry.html


Archived: August 28, 2001