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Chemistry - Book 3

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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 3: Defended (Chapters 1-5)
Pairing: Mulder/Krycek
Rating: NC-17 for male/male sex.
Spoilers: Season 7: Orison. Takes place after the Red and the Black. Canon altered at this point.
Warnings: Mild kink.
Note 1: I like my Krycek with one arm and my Mulder not color blind so he can fully appreciate those beautiful green eyes.
Note 2: I altered the episode Orison for my own purposes and used dialogue from the episode.
Note 3: I didn't want to deal with HIV issues here, so I didn't. Too bad real life isn't so simple.
Beta Thanks: Loren Q, Ness, Zoe Takashi, Lyrical Soul.
Inspiration Thanks: Aries' Admission. And Tatalya in These Men of Honor inspired my original character, Natalia. Thank you, Phyre and Rachel!
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
7 January 2000

** Krycek **

Now that I knew I was getting out of prison, I started to worry again. Exceeding my expectations by about twelve months, Mulder was still visiting me every week when he was in town. But I couldn't allow myself to think that nothing had changed between us.

He wanted me and I wanted him. Sounds simple, but I'd never been in a relationship. I didn't even know how.

I was due to be released on Tuesday. Friday morning came and so did Mulder. He was grinning like he'd just received his first kiss. He took one look at me and his smile faded. "You're leaving here on Tuesday. What could possibly account for your bleak demeanor?"

"Believe me, Mulder, I'm looking forward to getting out of here."

"But?"

"What happens to... to us when I get out?" Why was it so hard to say that? Us.

"Well, we get to touch each other for the first time in over a year." Mulder's tone was testy. "Won't that be nice?"

"Nice doesn't begin to describe how it feels to touch you."

A hint of a smile showed through the irritation. "I'm glad we agree on that. You said you'd live with me. Have you changed your mind?"

I hesitated.

"What's bugging you, Alex?"

I made myself look at him. "Mulder, our... this rela-" Another tough word. I repeated it to myself in my head. Re-la-tion-ship. "I don't know if I can do this, Mulder."

"Do what?"

I ignored his question, as I struggled to find something to say to him. "I... You know, other men... they... I haven't exactly been uh... faithful in here."

That made him look at his shoes. "I didn't want to think about that, but it's okay. I...I hope no one forced you, but it's okay either way. It doesn't change anything."

God damn his perpetual state of optimism! "That's just it, Mulder. You want to believe that nothing has changed, but I... Things have changed."

"I know." He closed his eyes for a moment. "I... my feelings haven't changed. Have yours?"

"How can you know your feelings haven't changed? That's my point. I'm a fantasy to you now, not real anymore."

"You didn't answer my question, Alex." His tone was flat, but his voice wavered.

"I don't know the answer. I... I'm-" I stopped myself... couldn't say it. I was afraid.

Mulder just gave me a hurt puppy look. I didn't know what to say. No, I knew exactly what to say. I just couldn't say it.

He sat silently for a long time. I was lucky he didn't just get up and walk out on me.

Finally he asked, "Do you even want to try? To be with me?"

"Yes." I wanted it very badly. "I'm just not very good with people."

A look of recognition passed over his face. He suddenly seemed more sure of himself. "I love you."

That took courage on his part. To say it when I was acting so... distant and difficult. He had more balls than I did. "You haven't even been around me in over a year. How can you say that?"

"It's a feeling, Alex."

"But how will you feel in a week or a month?"

"I don't know, but I'd like to find out. I want you in my life if we can make it work."

I could barely force myself to speak, but I had to say something before he gave up on me entirely. "That's what I want, too."

"Then try not to be so afraid."

"I'll try." My eyes were getting wet. I never cried before I met Mulder. My life used to be so simple.

After a beat, he replied, "It'll be okay, Alex."

He put his hand on the glass and I laid mine over his. We were both thinking there would be no glass between us the next time.

Mulder left some clothes for me so I didn't have to depart in prison wear. Tuesday morning, they gave me the bag he'd brought. New Jockey briefs felt good on my ass. He'd sent my best, charcoal gray suit. It fit perfectly at one time, but I guess I'd lost weight skipping prison meals. Still, it was my suit, not orange prison garb. The cotton of the white T-shirt he'd sent was a deliciously soft knit. The white dress shirt--not mine, must have been Mulder's--was the finest textured cotton with a band collar. I had to ask the guard to fasten the right cuff button for me--a minor humiliation I was willing to endure to look good getting out of here. Brand new black loafers slipped on without a fuss.

In my new clothes I felt like my body belonged to me again. I was getting out.

I had to fill out a form, then meet with my parole officer in a dingy holding room. I was determined to keep a good relationship with the man who could send me back to prison on a whim. Jason Holly was a tall skinny man with black hair and blue eyes. He looked about twenty years old at first glance, but the lines around his eyes suggested he was really in his thirties. I shook his hand, not knowing what to expect.

"Alex, I'm Jason."

"Hi."

"Congratulations on your parole."

I nodded.

"A lot of cons see me as the enemy, but I'm really here to help. We both want to keep you out of prison.

"I'm glad to hear that you have a job waiting for you. That's one of the best things you can do to stay out of trouble. You're required to meet with me once a week for the first six months of your parole. I've scheduled our meetings for Tuesday at 9 A.M. If there's any problem with your employer, you need to contact me in advance so we can reschedule. Okay?"

"I understand."

"Do you have a place to live?"

"Yeah."

"Is it a safe place? Living with other criminals or drug users is going to make it harder for you to go straight."

"That won't be a problem."

"Here's my card, Alex. I want you to call me if you have any questions or any problems."

I took the card.

He shook my hand. "Welcome back to society, Alex."

Resisting the urge to roll my eyes, I gave him an earnest nod.

I was left in the holding room for forty-five minutes, not sure what would happen next. Eventually a C.O. came in to tell me that some FBI guy was coming to see me before my release. Twenty minutes later the door opened and I stood, anticipating his touch with a shiver.

As I waited for the face I most wanted to see, the door opened and the face I least wanted to see greeted me. Walter Skinner. I shrank back as he came toward me.

"I'm here to give you some advice, Krycek."

Gee, I'd really been wanting some advice. Nice of Walt to stop by. I scowled at him and muttered under my breath, "I can hardly wait."

He took several deliberate steps until he was close enough for me to smell his aftershave. "You're going to make me a promise before you leave here. One you're going to keep if you want to remain breathing."

His baritone was classic alpha male. I could see his broad chest lifting with every steady breath. If he got nasty, he was going to win. I doubted I could take him, even with two arms. I felt my body automatically tense, ready to defend myself. Then I remembered if I hit him, I wouldn't be going home today. He had to know it, too. Smug son of a bitch.

I said nothing, but met his eyes to try to hold my ground the only way I could. His jaw was rigid. Someone might describe his brown eyes as warm. Not now. Not for me anyway.

"You're getting off easy, boy." His eyes never left mine as he took my left shoulder in one massive paw. I didn't like him touching me there, but I tried not to show it. Maybe if I didn't start something he'd leave it at that. "You're going to stay away from Mulder, Scully and me. And our families and friends."

His fingers dug painfully into my flesh. It would have hurt even my right shoulder, but I made my body go rigid against a flinch.

"Say it, Krycek. You're going to stay away from us. All of us."

"Fuck you, Skinner."

I should have lied about it to get Skinner off my arm and out of my life. However, it pissed me off too damned much that the bastard wanted to take away the only good thing in my life.

He wrapped a hand around my throat--not tightly, just letting me feel the pressure. I could feel my body twitching, ready to strike out and break his arm. Instead, I could only struggle to not fight back. I was minutes away from being free of this place.

His voice dropped even lower when he continued, "Repeat after me: I will stay away from Mulder and Scully."

"It doesn't matter what you do to me, I won't make that promise."

A giant fist slammed into my gut. I fought to remain on my feet. My right arm rose to return the blow, but he blocked my countermove. He hit me again in the ribs and I slumped down on to the floor. "Just say it and know that I'll kill you if you don't stay away."

"No," I panted.

"Or maybe I should just kill you now? You think they won't believe you attacked me?" He kicked me hard in the belly. As I tried to squirm away, I saw the bottom edge of the door swing open.

Then there was a voice. "Get your goddamned hands off him!" Mulder's voice. I looked up and saw him grab Skinner from behind and forcibly rotate him away from me.

Skinner allowed himself to be moved and assumed a conciliatory tone. "What is it, Mulder? I'm just trying to make sure this bastard keeps away from us."

Mulder seethed, his chest heaving, hands ready to strike.

Skinner stood there stupidly, probably too confused to take a fighting stance.

My petulant lover couldn't shut up. "Leave him alone. Get out of here, god dammit!"

A guard watched through the open door.

Skinner looked bewildered, then a light went on in his face. Like he was starting to connect the dots. It made me afraid for my lover. "All right, Mulder," he said, his voice cold. "Krycek, do what I said or I'll make you a corpse."

Mulder kept his body between Skinner and me, as I lifted myself cautiously to my knees.

The big man didn't even try to approach me. He gave Mulder a dangerous glare, then turned and stalked out.

Mulder kicked the door shut and knelt beside me. He was still breathing hard as he looked me over, his face part anger, part concern.

"I'm okay."

Mulder reached for me and I fell into his arms. He was touching me. After so long. His body felt so warm and real. I felt safe in his arms, like I'd never felt before.

My eyes stung. "You shouldn't have done that. Skinner's going to cause trouble. Don't out yourself to him."

"I couldn't let him hurt you."

"I appreciate your concern, but he knows something isn't right."

"We'll deal with that later." He helped me to stand, with an arm around my waist. "Let's get you out of here. Do you need a doctor?"

I shook my head, adjusting my shirt and coat. I extracted myself from his grasp as we exited the room.

The C.O. escorted us through the corridor and into some rooms I hadn't seen in over a year. A clerk asked me to sign another form. I didn't read it. I would have signed anything to get out of there.

Mulder stood next to me while the warden gave a short speech. "You've done wrong and you've paid for your crime. I don't want to see you again." He shook my hand. It was a surreal little ritual to remind me that I was a citizen again. "You're free to go."

Mulder led me through the visitor's lobby and out to the parking lot. The air felt cool on my face. It seemed fresher than anything I'd breathed in 14 months, even though it was just around the corner from the prison yard. I ran my hand across my chest, feeling the rich texture of my shirt. A wet spot caught my attention, and I looked down at a few drops of my own blood on Mulder's clean white shirt. I searched my face with fingertips and found a cut at the side of my lip.

He asked, "Are you sure you don't want Scully to check you out?"

"I'm sure. Nothing's broken."

Mulder led me to his car and held out the keys. "Wanna drive?" he asked with a coy smile. Apparently, Skinner couldn't ruin his day. Mine either.

I shook my head and went to the passenger side. He followed and opened the door, shutting it behind me. I had to laugh at his over protectiveness.

I looked out at the world as he drove. It seemed tackier than I remembered. Advertisements everywhere. Noise. Too many cars. I felt overwhelmed and oddly unsafe.

When he finally spoke again, his voice was warm. "How about I take you out to breakfast? Anywhere you like."

"Just take me to your place."

"Fourteen months in prison and you want to go to my apartment?"

"Yeah. Can we just... I want quiet."

"'Kay, Alex." He accelerated the car onto the expressway. "I took the rest of the week off."

"I'm glad. Let's just stay home and... and... be together."

He rested a hand on my thigh and squeezed. I was beginning to feel embarrassed by his attention.

I don't know if it was the beating Skinner gave me or if I'd have been like this anyway, but I felt afraid of the world. My head had been kept busy for over a year calculating the many dangers of prison life. But now I hardly remembered how to assess the dangers of life outside.

Mulder entered the door to his apartment first, then turned and waited for me. I closed the door and he took me into his arms. "Welcome home, Alex," he whispered. He kissed me hard. I was glad to discover that his mouth still had the same familiar taste. Tangy. Sweet. Mulder.

His hands ran down my back to my butt and I could feel my cock responding. But I didn't want sex. Sex still seemed like some ugly prison encounter.

I kissed him on the forehead and pulled away to sit on his sofa. When he joined me, I put my head on his shoulder. I wanted to stay like that for a long time. He let me. There wasn't much to say.

Eventually, I got up to piss. His bathroom seemed pleasant. I shut the door, because I could. The rug under my feet was cushy and soft. All cotton towels seemed luxurious. I opened the medicine cabinet and found my old brands of deodorant, shaving cream and after-shave. At first, I thought he was using the same brands, but the caps were off. Like I always left them. He'd gotten them for me. I sniffed the after-shave and it reminded me of me. From a previous life.

He was waiting when I returned to the living room. "You must have some food cravings. What do you most want to eat?"

"Pizza," I offered without hesitation. I'd been dreaming of the night I seduced him. "Pepperoni and onions. From that place. You know."

So, Mulder had lunch delivered. He ordered two giant pizzas with pepperoni and onions, not sure how much I would want.

I didn't stray from the apartment that day. I stayed close to Mulder, too, our sides touching on the couch as we watched his three non-porn videos. We kissed a lot, but when the heat started to build, I backed off. It was obvious I didn't want sex. I was grateful he didn't ask why.

We had leftover pizza for dinner and there was still one whole pizza left.

A couple hours after dinner, there was a forceful knock on the door. Mulder checked the peephole.

"What do you want, Skinner?" he barked through the closed door.

"We have to talk, Mulder."

"I'm on vacation. Leave me alone."

"Now, Mulder." Skinner's baritone was tense; Mulder was going to get his ass kicked.

"He's your boss," I whispered. "I'll go in the bedroom." With a sense of dread, I disappeared down the hall.

** Mulder **

Skinner barged in past me. "Where is he?"

I gave him a hostile glare. "You said you wanted to talk."

"Okay, Mulder. I'll talk. You listen." He helped himself to a living room chair. "I went to Annapolis today and talked them out of a copy of that tape--the Schweck killing."

I had no idea where this was going, but anything having to do with Alex made me apprehensive. I sat down on the sofa and crossed my arms.

"After this morning, I remembered something on that tape that bothered me. So I took it to the FBI and showed it to Agent Karlsson. You know him, the deaf guy who works for Kersh?"

I nodded, trying to keep my shoulders from knotting up.

"He reads lips, Mulder. I finally found out what Krycek was saying on that tape."

I was certain that the bastard had another crime he could pin on Alex. I had to try to head that off. "What do you want from me?"

"I want you to tell me it isn't true."

Having no idea what he was asking, I didn't respond. I had never seen the tape.

"Tell me Alex Krycek isn't your lover."

Oh, that. I was quite relieved.

Until I heard Alex's voice from the hall. "It's none of your fucking business."

Skinner rose and charged toward Alex.

I followed, grabbing my gun from the desk and pointing it at my boss. "If you can't keep your hands off him, I want you out of here. NOW." I clicked off the safety to demonstrate my sincerity.

Skinner's eyes blazed. "Well, I guess that answers my question. You'd shoot me to keep me from getting rough with that fucker?" The A.D. held his body in a fighting stance, facing Alex even though I held the gun.

I kept it pointed at Skinner's chest, but said nothing.

Alex appeared stricken, but said nothing.

"What has happened to your judgment, Agent Mulder? I don't care if you're queer. Let's even forget about the fact that I could fire you for associating with a known criminal. What I really can't believe is--could you have picked a bigger louse to invite to your bed? This man you say killed your father..."

Both Skinner and I watched as Alex carefully and slowly moved around to stand behind me. He touched my shoulder gently and said, "Mulder, put the gun away."

"No, I don't have to listen to this in my own home. In our home."

"He's your boss." I'd never heard such a placating tone in Alex's voice. "Don't make this any worse than it already is."

Skinner appeared stunned by what passed between us.

Fuck. Eyes glaring at Skinner, I reluctantly and slowly clicked on the safety, tucking the gun into my waistband. "Don't touch him again," I said venomously. "This is about your own anger. I've dealt with mine. And yours is not my problem."

"Mulder, you can't really want this... this thug in your home?"

Alex's hand found my shoulder again, trying to soothe. "Calm down, Mulder. He's right. I am a thug and you know it." The nervous energy in his body contradicted his conciliatory words.

"I do want Alex in our home. Thug or no, he's mine." Suddenly, I felt very tired. "If you honestly think that this relationship is going to compromise my work, then do what you have to do. Otherwise, butt out of my life."

Skinner's eyes flashed back and forth between Alex and me. Finally he said, "I'll see you in my office on Monday. 7 A.M."

"Yes. Sir." I replied icily.

Skinner's trench coat swooshed and he was gone.

"I'm sorry." Alex's voice was small. He stroked my chest.

"It's okay, Alex." I pulled the gun out of my pants and placed it on the desk. Turning, I took him into my arms.

"Mulder, you have to listen to me. Skinner's treatment of me is not unjustified. You've hurt me worse yourself, even after we became lovers."

It didn't help to be reminded of that. Since I didn't want to ruin Alex's first night free, I went to the bathroom to be alone and calm down.

          

Chapter 2

** Scully **

My doorbell rang around ten. I let Skinner in and offered him a drink, which he declined. He was obviously upset, but not his typical angry self. I could see something else in his eyes. Frustration? Disappointment?

We sat on my sofa.

At first, the man couldn't bring himself to speak, but he finally said, "I assume you knew Mulder was having an affair with Alex Krycek?"

Oh, that. I wondered how he found out. I nodded.

"How long has this been going on? Why didn't you tell me?"

Not wanting to give Skinner more information than he already had, I thought carefully before speaking. "I didn't tell you because it wasn't any of your business."

"How could it not be my business? The man and his friends assaulted me. One of them tried to kill me. How can you take this so lightly? These men abducted you and murdered your sister."

He was directing his anger at me, but I forced myself to stay calm. I might be the only person who'd try to stop him from ending Mulder's career at the Bureau. "I wasn't--I'm not pleased about it myself. But I've seen them together. I want Mulder to be happy and his feelings for Alex are very strong."

"How could he have feelings for that killer?"

"They're feelings, sir. Perhaps they can't be judged rationally. Mulder didn't plan this. It just happened."

Skinner looked down at me, a grim expression shadowing his face.

"Look, I know Krycek's not the kind of man you'd want a friend to pair up with, but I've been watching him. I think he's trying to clean up his act because of Mulder. It doesn't make everything right, but it's something."

"So, what? Killing Schweck was part of some self-improvement program?"

"Schweck ordered the attack on Mulder. When he was shot at the supermarket."

Skinner offered me an exasperated sneer.

"I'm not saying what Krycek did was right, but he did it to protect Mulder."

"This is just too sweet." His tone was anything but sweet. "Mulder drew a gun on me to keep me from hitting Krycek. Krycek went to jail for Mulder. I think I'm going to be nauseated."

"Well, you think about it, sir. Think long and hard when you're home in an empty apartment and have no one to share your life with. Think about what you'd sacrifice for someone to be close to. I know I've thought about it. And maybe I'll never forgive Krycek, but I've forgiven Mulder."

His surly frown told me my argument hit the target. He rubbed his forehead. "Even if I did forgive Mulder, I'm his boss. I may have to dismiss him."

"You and I both know Mulder would never compromise his search for the truth in any investigation."

"Hasn't he already? What about the interrogation of Krycek last year? Didn't Mulder back off because of his feelings?" He said the word 'feelings' like it was a disease.

My voice came out hard, my words terse. "For your information, Mulder asked me to prepare all the questions myself, because he was concerned about his bias. He was there for the interview, even though he was still weak from the shooting. We both asked Krycek a lot of hard questions. Mulder followed the script, asking every question I wrote--exactly the way I wrote it." I shook my finger at him accusingly. "You were there. You know Krycek wasn't talking. And you can be sure he was properly threatened--excuse me, motivated to talk, because you did it yourself. By the way, you returned him to lockup unable to defend himself with a serious injury to his only hand. Maybe Krycek isn't the only thug."

Skinner opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted. "And don't you ever question Mulder's integrity again. He may violate a few Bureau procedures, but he is an honest and decent man. And you know it." I got up and paced the room a few times. "Are we done?"

Skinner's voice was leaden. "Yes, Agent Scully. We're done." He left without another word.

I picked up the phone and dialed.

"Mulder."

"Mulder, it's me. Skinner just left here."

"Spreading happiness wherever he goes?"

"Did you really draw a gun on him?"

"Hey, you got to point a gun at him without losing your job."

Mulder's flip tone just made me crankier. "Yeah, well, I hope it works for you, too."

"Somehow I doubt it." For the first time, he sounded defeated.

"Are you okay?"

"I'll probably be unemployed by this time next week. On the other hand, the man I love is lying in my arms. Things could be worse."

That a depressive like Mulder could see the bright side of life because of Krycek affirmed exactly what I'd said to Skinner. And made me more than a little envious. I shrugged away the feeling. "Should we be talking about career plans?"

"Dammit, Scully. What else would I ever do for a living? At least you're an M.D."

I knew it wasn't time for a real talk about his career, so I faked a serious tone. "Lots of things, Mulder. Consider your skills. You could be a faith healer. Palm reader. Abductee counselor. Science fiction author. How about a psychic? You could apprentice to the Stupendous Yapi."

I could have gone on, but he broke in with, "Night, Scully," and hung up.

** Mulder **

Alex and I lay on the sofa, tucked together like spoons. I used the remote to turn off the TV. "Bedtime?"

"Mmm."

I took his hand as we walked to the bedroom. Once there, he tensed up a bit and pulled away from me. He undressed, leaving on his briefs. He never wore clothing to bed. The message was clear. He didn't want to have sex with me. It hurt. Maybe he didn't find me attractive any longer?

My own cock responded to the sight of his bulge trapped by the white cotton. I remembered buying those shorts and thinking about how good he'd look in them. He looked even better than I'd imagined.

I undressed completely and joined him in bed. He tensed a little when I wrapped my body around his back. "Shh. It's okay. I just want to be close."

He made an odd snort of frustration. I held him for a long time, but I could tell he wasn't asleep. One of my arms became stiff and my lower back started to grab. But I didn't want him to fall asleep alone his first night free. Finally, I heard his breath take on the fondly remembered sounds of sleeping Alex. I held him a little longer just for my own need.

Sleep didn't claim me for several hours. I lay thinking, trying to understand why he was pulling away from me. When I wasn't reliving adolescent insecurities, I was certain Alex wanted to be with me. I remembered that our intimacy had scared him before. But at that time, he'd used sex to distance himself from the intimacy.

I made myself consider what I'd refused to think about before. The entire 14 months, I'd been in denial about Alex having non-consensual sex in prison. I told myself over and over again that he'd miss sex and relieve himself with some other inmate. I made that okay in my mind, so I wouldn't feel threatened by it, but mostly so I wouldn't have to imagine some convict raping him. It was what I had to do to endure his incarceration.

Now that he was free, it was still unbearable to contemplate, but I had to. If he had been raped, it would explain his disinterest in sex.

Putting on my psychologist's hat, I knew he might need some time to feel safe again before having sex. Assuming he was raped, he was most likely penetrated anally, an act that Alex did not like under any circumstances.

I had to let him know that he had plenty of time and I wouldn't pressure him. But if I could get him to talk about it, he'd feel much better.

I knew I could be patient. Besides my own hand, I hadn't had sex of any kind in 14 months. Before the night Alex seduced me over pizza, it had been almost two years since I'd had a sex partner. So I would wait for him to be ready. His emotional well being was more important than my hard-on.

But the touch and scent of him were incredible turn-ons. I vowed to jerk off in the shower as much as possible, so he wouldn't feel pressured by my inevitable erection.

In the morning, I awoke to find his arm around my waist. It was good reassurance that he still wanted me. I snuggled closer and whispered into his ear. "Alex, it feels so good just to have you here." I kissed his ear lobe. "There's no hurry about sex. Whenever you're ready, you let me know. 'Kay?"

I saw his eyes close tightly as I spoke. Too tightly. He rolled onto his side, away from me. I spooned him and stole a look over his shoulder at his body. His cock was hard. Very hard. I knew he had to be hurting to ignore that erection.

I got out of bed sooner than I'd have liked to keep him from detecting my own hard-on. I went directly to the shower and mentally rehearsed giving him the best and longest blowjob of his life. I climaxed while imagining his hot cum in my throat.

Soon, Alex.

When I returned to the bedroom, he was still hard. I felt a pang of sadness that he'd chosen to let himself suffer. I pushed the feeling aside, determined to give him an enjoyable day.

"There's a handsome man in my bed," I squealed, embarrassed by how camp my voice sounded. "I wonder if he'll let me take him out to breakfast."

I could tell by the look on his face that he really preferred to lie around and mope, but he pulled himself out of bed. "Okay."

The bathroom door shut loudly behind him. Then I heard the shower go on. When he came out of the bedroom, his erection was gone, but I still had a feeling he'd chosen not to jerk off. Cold shower?

He reached for his clothes from the night before. I took him by the hand and led him to the dresser. "We'll get you your own dresser, but in the meantime these top two drawers are yours." I opened the first. I'd stocked it with underwear, socks and T-shirts. The next drawer had sweaters, shirts and jeans. "I thought we could go shopping together for the rest."

Alex got that pained, uncomfortable look on his face like he had the last time I'd bought him clothes. It tore at my heart, but I pushed those feelings away, too. I had to be strong for him right now.

"I knew that if I didn't buy you a few things, you'd just be raiding my stuff."

"Thanks." He barely managed to push the word out. He pulled off his briefs and selected a fresh pair, still in the package.

I stuck one hand in the drawer and found a different pair. "How 'bout these?"

Even moody, he couldn't hold back a smile at the green polka dots. "God, Mulder. The tie thing... it's spreading."

"I couldn't resist."

"You really expect me to wear these?"

"Yes."

He hesitated.

"Who's going to see them besides you and me?"

Shaking his head and muttering, he put them on. I knew he wouldn't have done that for anyone else.

I showed him where I'd made space in the closet. A shelf for his prosthetic arm. A heavy wooden hanger for his leather jacket. He idly stroked the sleeve, greeting it like an old friend, before he slipped it on.

Suddenly his freedom and our planned life together seemed so real. Seeing Alex in my apartment wearing his leather jacket. Restored to his previous identity. I wrapped my arms around his waist and smelled the scent of clean Alex and leather.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, so I took him to a sidewalk cafe, thinking the sun would boost his mood. It seemed to work. He ordered a huge breakfast and ate all of it. Afterward, he let me take him shopping. I'd never been shopping for clothes with anyone except my mother. I told him we could use my credit card, but he refused until I agreed to let him reimburse me. I knew he had some money offshore, but I didn't know how long it would take him to get to it. And I really just wanted to treat him.

I waited on Alex hand and foot as he selected clothes for his new job. A half dozen dress shirts. I made him buy two with band collars, and had to work to convince him how good they looked. He made me buy one, too.

His taste in ties was much better than mine, so I let him pick those, urging him toward anything with a green that would complement his eyes. During the fitting, Alex was not the least bit embarrassed being seen in the polka dot shorts. But suits were painful, even though the clerk was smooth as silk. I could feel Alex tense as the young man fitted the suit coats around his arm.

"Any special instructions for the left sleeve, sir?"

"The same as the other one."

The salesman nodded, having earned his commission.

After the fitting, Alex whispered something to the young man and sat down again to wait.

In a few minutes, the clerk returned with a very dark gray, almost black, Armani. The solicitous employee held it up to me.

"I don't wear this color."

"You should," both of them replied in unison.

I bought the suit. I'd have purchased a yacht to see that simmering look in Alex's eyes.

On the way to the cash register, Alex selected two more ties, holding each up to my suit, so I knew they were for me.

I observed the salesman watching Alex and could tell he knew we were lovers. I smiled at him, proud to be the man on Alex's arm figuratively, if not literally.

The clerk winked at me.

For lunch, Alex requested Cuban food. So I took him to Mija, the littlest, dingiest restaurant near the Capitol. The superb food was home cooking without any pretenses. It was a busy, noisy part of town, but Alex seemed to have relaxed since the day before. He enjoyed the meal, and we both ate way too much.

It felt so good to be doing such ordinary things with him. No aliens. No guns. No law enforcement. It was the kind of day I wanted to go on forever. Unfortunately, I ruined it.

After we begged the waitress to take away the chips, I had a question for Alex. I chose my words carefully. "Alex, my great aunt died last year and left me a little money."

"Uh-huh..." He looked at me with suspicion as only he can.

"You're going to need a car. I was hoping you'd let me buy one for you."

His face became guarded. "Given all the goodies at the apartment, I guess I'm lucky you asked me first."

I just waited.

"Thank you for offering, but no. I have money."

"This is something I want to do, to help get you started in your new life."

He bristled at that. I think 'help' was the man's least favorite word. "You need to invest that money for your retirement."

"After taxes the inheritance is almost $50,000. I can buy a good car and invest the rest."

"Mulder, I've seen your Quicken data. You need the investment."

That, I hadn't expected. I'm not sure what kind of look I gave him, but he gazed back at me almost sheepishly.

"I hope no one paid you to examine my financial background."

He frowned, that delicious crease forming at the top of his nose. "No. Why?"

"You didn't do a very good job." I painted on my best smart-ass look, before continuing. "My father left me a trust. I haven't touched it, but it's enough to support you, me, Scully and the pizza delivery kid if we all retired today and lived to be one hundred."

His face tightened into a grimace. I shouldn't have told him. When he spoke, his voice was shaky. "I didn't know that, Mulder. I swear I didn't know."

I should have foreseen that he'd feel accused. "I believe you, Alex."

"I didn't worm my way into your bed because you're wealthy. I wouldn't..." He just gave up, looking away, his head dropped into his hand.

"I know that."

We were both silent for a long time. Finally, he spoke. "I don't want your money. I especially don't want your father's money. I'll buy my own damned car."

He rose to depart, but I grabbed his wrist. "I'm sorry, Alex. This was just something I wanted to do for you."

Yanking his arm free and giving me a lethal glare, he left the restaurant. I followed quickly, afraid he'd disappear. An elusive creature is the man I love. Relief flooded my system when I saw him leaning against a pillar in front of my car.

Neither of us spoke as I drove.

Back at home, Alex planted himself in the chair by the bookcase. He found my old copy of Dune and started reading it again. I could tell he was agitated, because some of the page turning was in the wrong direction.

"Alex, I'm going to run a few errands and give you some time alone."

"Sure." His face was grim, but his voice gentle. "Thanks."

** Krycek **

I knew I was being a complete asshole, but it was probably a good thing he gave me some time alone to think.

My desire to be with him was frighteningly strong. I wanted him--and not just for sex.

And yet, I'd spent 32 years worried only about myself. Keeping Alex Krycek alive, reasonably healthy and sane, was no minor assignment. Now I had to consider how my behavior affected him. It seemed impossible. Half of the time I was confused about my own feelings. His were no less baffling.

It was way more than I felt ready to handle, but there weren't any good alternatives. He'd waited 14 months for me. If I wanted this, I had to do it now. I'd done some difficult things in my life, but this felt like the challenge that would undo me.

Mulder came back around dinnertime. He smiled at me and took a chair near the sofa. "I have something for you."

I grimaced a little. What now?

He shook his head. "Not a gift. It's already yours." From his pocket, he withdrew his key ring and removed something from it. The silver fox.

I'd completely forgotten about it.

He slid the fox onto a plain silver ring and added a few keys. Placing it on the table in front of us, he separated the keys. "These are for the apartment. This is a spare set for my car."

I rubbed my thumb over the fox charm. "Thank you."

He nodded.

Fuck. I'd been giving him such a hard time. "I don't mean to be ungrateful."

Mulder slipped onto the sofa next to me. "Shhh. 'S'okay." His arm wrapped around my waist. I was already forgiven and I hadn't even apologized.

That night, I slept in those awful polka dot shorts. I was starting to get blue balls. I wanted him. Badly. But I also felt so many intense things I couldn't understand. Pressure. Fear. Loss. I was a jumble of emotions I couldn't make any sense of. I wanted to be with Mulder, but I needed to be alone. So I shut him out.

Neither of us slept much.

I woke up around 3 A.M. thinking about what he'd told me. I'd made Mulder a rich man when I killed his father. It almost made me ill that something like that would turn around on me, punishing me through my relationship with him. It was crueler punishment for my ill deeds than my prison term.

Thinking back to before Mulder... it was a loser's life. I was a loser. Only two days out of prison, things seemed so totally different. Who was this Alex Krycek in this strange life? Surely not Mrs. Fox Mulder?

I couldn't cope. And when Alex couldn't cope, he ran. I'd run from far less.

The only thing worse than being depressed when your life was total shit, was being depressed when you just got what you wanted.

           

Chapter 3

**Krycek**

There was something I needed to do. My second morning out of prison, I phoned Scully while Mulder was out jogging.

"Scully."

"This is Alex Krycek."

"Is Mulder okay?"

"Yeah." I took a deep breath. "I was wondering if you'd meet me somewhere this afternoon." I thought to suggest lunch, but that was too civilized for the conversation I had in mind.

"Just you?"

"Yeah. I... I want to talk about... your sister's death."

"What?" I could hear a sharp edge in her voice.

"If you want to hear it."

"All right."

We met a couple of hours later at park in Alexandria. Out of habit, I got there an hour early to make sure we didn't have an audience. I dreaded the conversation and sat sweating in the cool air until she arrived.

She sat across from me at the picnic table. Neither of us bothered with the niceties of 'hello' or 'how are you.'

"I'm going to tell you about your sister's death, because I think you need to hear it."

Her blue eyes were cold as she nodded.

"You can ask questions, if you like. I'll answer if I can."

"What's to stop me from hauling your ass off to jail?"

"Mulder. Maybe nothing." I met her eyes and held my breath for a minute. "Are you wearing a wire or a recording device?"

"No."

I took a deep breath and began. "Luis Cardinal and I were sent to find the DAT tape. And to kill you."

"Who sent you?"

"I can't offer you that information."

"Then why are we here? What's the point?"

"You can't arrest these men. If you go after them, you'll only get yourself killed."

"And you care?"

"Because of Mulder. If you want to hear what I can tell you, I'll continue."

She offered a brusque nod.

"Cardinal and I entered your apartment, looking for the digital tape. Melissa came in and Cardinal just shot without thinking."

"That's extremely convenient since Cardinal is dead." A toss of her head flung a lock of red hair away from her eyes. "You're a liar, Krycek. Why should I believe anything you have to say?"

"I know you don't trust me. You have no reason to. But I'm trying to come clean here."

"I don't believe you." Her voice was low, with a murderous edge. I knew she wanted to hurt me, but she wouldn't. She was above that. I'd never understood how women could endure so much without getting violent.

"Did you even know that I'd been there before today?"

She didn't answer, just glared at me.

"I'm not trying to pretend I'm a good guy here. I've killed. Okay? But Cardinal shot your sister. By mistake. Believe me or not, that's what happened."

I saw the wheels turning in her head. She was considering the possibility that I might be telling the truth.

"I went to her. She was unconscious. I turned her over and saw it wasn't you." I paused, having to force myself to name my real responsibility. "We left her there."

A tremor of anger flickered across her face. She was silent for a long time. I waited. Finally, she hissed at me, "You bastard. You have no remorse, do you?"

"I didn't at the time. No."

"So now you're going to apologize?" Her voice was bitter.

"No. I'd apologize if I stepped on your foot. I don't think 'I'm sorry' is appropriate for what happened to your sister."

She frowned at me, but the look slowly dissolved into an apathetic disgust.

I had one more thing to tell her. "I don't expect to be forgiven."

"This would be a lot easier for me if you weren't Mulder's lover."

"Believe me, I know. For that, I'm sorry."

Scully used her fingers to pull back a lock of hair. Then she got up and walked away.

I was relieved. And grateful. Grateful she hadn't shot me or arrested me. I knew she must want to. She truly loved him.

As I walked back to my car, I realized I'd have felt better if she had done something violent. When Mulder beat me, he also gave me absolution.

Mulder was watching TV when I got back to his apartment. "Where've you been, Alex?" he asked in a soft voice.

"I had to run some errands. Nothing important."

Woeful bluish-gray eyes flashed up at me.

"Nothing really." I sat down next to him.

He slid in closer and put his head on my chest. I could almost hear him worrying. I petted his hair and we watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Something I never would have done if I'd hadn't felt guilty.

I never felt guilty before Mulder. But he was giving me the world right now, and I was barely hanging in there with him. Evasive and moody. No sex. And he's so fucking loyal anyway. I've got to try to do better. He deserves more.

But when the program was over, he turned it off and immediately asked, "Why don't you want to tell me where you were?"

I pushed away from him and rose. "Dammit, Mulder. Quit treating me like a perp! I think I'm entitled to a little privacy." I stood by the fish tank, watching the trapped little animals swimming in circles.

His flat voice came from behind me. "I'm concerned, Alex."

"Yeah, well, don't be."

When his hand rested on my leather-jacketed shoulder, I pushed it away.

Mulder slept on the couch that night.

The next morning, he greeted me in bed with coffee and a cautious smile.

"Morning," I offered tentatively.

He kissed me on the forehead. "What would you like to do today, Alex?"

I wanted to touch him, but I didn't. "I need to contact my bank and buy a car."

We showered separately again.

He followed me around like a puppy all day, while I opened a local bank account and arranged for a transfer of funds from the Caymans.

Mulder pouted when I reimbursed him for my new clothes. I also paid for the suit and ties we bought for him. He didn't check the math, so he probably didn't even notice.

In the afternoon, he drove me to a couple of used car dealers and I bought a white pickup truck.

We drove back separately, and I stopped to get a haircut.

By the time I returned to the apartment, Mulder was in a funk. He inspected my haircut, sighed and turned up the volume on the TV. He was obviously hurt. Probably because I went somewhere without discussing it with him first.

Fuck. Even as a child, I never told anyone where I was going.

Hanging around in his vicinity, but not really being with him and enjoying his company, was worse than being alone.

I couldn't fix it. I just wanted to be alone. Mulder felt like a dead weight I had to carry around with me and I didn't know how.

Mulder joined me in bed that night. He curled up right next to my back and whispered. "I love you, Alex."

I wrapped a leg over his, just to let him know that I was still there.

** Mulder **

Things were still tense Saturday morning, but he agreed to let me take him out for breakfast. There was a long wait for outdoor seating at the pancake house, so we walked the neighborhood. Downtown Alexandria was brimming with families and dogs on the surprisingly warm January day.

Alex seemed bored by the shops, so I turned down a side street and we walked through the residential part of town. Most of the houses were forty or fifty years old, but well maintained. A fat orange cat m'rowed at us and wound her body between Alex's legs. He bent over to stroke her and she purred contentedly. Her affection for him was much like my own--inexplicable but intensely sensual. Alex rubbed her belly and chuckled at the cat's sluttishness. Then he rose and abandoned his feline suitor.

I watched him observing the neighborhood. His glance lingered on the more unique homes. He stopped to feel the leaves of an odd, tropical looking tree. A deflated basketball and other junk in a front yard sparked some sort of unidentifiable emotion in his deep green eyes.

I wanted to hold his hand, but was unsure how either of us would feel about the public display of affection.

Sound came from behind us and Alex reached for me, pulling me out of the path of a child on a bicycle. My lover's vigilance saved me from a collision with a grade-school-aged girl who saw us as easy targets. We laughed at the girl's ferocity and reclaimed the sidewalk behind her.

We circled the neighborhood, looping back in the direction of the restaurant. Three adolescent boys tossed a football in the street while two younger girls watched. As we passed, a red-haired girl called out, "Hey, Mister. Did a shark eat your arm?"

Alex squatted at eye level, his face a parody of insanity and his voice taking a maniacal tone. "I've never heard that one before, so I've decided to let you live."

Darting across the street, the girls shrieked at a pitch that made my ears burn.

We continued on our way for a few minutes before I asked, "What would you have done if you had heard that one before?"

"Jeez, Mulder. Killed them and eaten them for breakfast, what do you think?"

Later that afternoon, I found Alex in the kitchen going through the cabinets.

"What're you doing?"

His lips twitched and his eyes narrowed. "What does it look like?"

"Doing an inventory?"

"Yeah." Withdrawing a dusty box from one shelf, he held it out to me. "Pineapple upside down cake mix?"

I shrugged. "Don't know where that came from."

He jettisoned the offensive object into the trash. "If I'm going to cook anything, there are a lot of supplies we need."

"Okay, just make a list. I'll pay for whatever you need."

His hand froze on a cabinet door. Then suddenly, he turned to face me.

Involuntarily, I flinched and backed away from him.

"You know, Mulder. I have money and a job. I'm not some homeless charity case."

"Fine. You pay for the damned cooking stuff." I stomped into the living room and turned on the TV. As I flopped onto the sofa, my foot knocked a stack of magazines onto the floor. I kicked the pile to disperse it.

What was wrong with him? I tried to help a little and he got all pissy.

I mulled over the situation during a particularly bad Star Trek rerun. Maybe he was irritable because he wanted sex and wasn't getting any?

When he appeared in the living room an hour later, I decided to broach the subject. "Alex, sometimes when sexual feelings are repressed, it's stressful to deal with everyday problems."

He squinted at me with the most aggravated look I'd ever seen on anyone's face.

"Why don't you talk about whatever is bothering you. I'm sure I can help."

"What is your goddamn problem, Mulder?"

"My problem?"

"Yeah, your problem." He began to pace. "Christ, can't you cut me a little slack here? You've been all over me since I got out of prison. I just need some down time, dammit."

Standing, I walked over to him, but he did an about-face and paced faster in the opposite direction. I practically chased him across the room. "Something is bothering you and you need my help. I can't just ignore it."

His hand rose and pushed my shoulder. "I will decide when I need help."

No way, Alex. I tried that already. Didn't work. "If you'll just talk about what happened in prison, we can work through it."

"No." His mouth snapped shut with an audible clicking of his teeth.

"Were you raped, Alex?"

"I said 'no,' Mulder."

"You can't just bottle it all up inside. I'm your lover, you have to discuss it with me."

"No. I. Don't." Before I could blink, he'd grabbed his leather jacket and headed for the door.

I ran to him, my hand reaching for his shoulder. "Alex, I can help."

He slid out from under my grasp and out the door.

Fuck!

** Krycek **

I drove to Stingray Point. Off-season, there weren't many people at the beach. A few folks walking dogs. A jogger.

I walked on the sand and gravel, cursing Mulder. The man was an Olympic-caliber irritation machine. After I calmed down a bit, I cursed myself. I didn't think I wanted to go back. This was too damned difficult.

Too much pressure! The weight of Mulder's needs and demands felt like it would crush me into something no longer identifiable as Alex. Trying to make this relationship work seemed destined to fail. Best to get out before I humiliated myself.

The gentle sound of the tiny waves lapping the shore soothed me. And after a few hours, I decided to return. Because... Why? Mulder was an infuriating, arrogant asshole, but he was also damned sweet and sexy. And no other life I could imagine had anything that nice in it.

Once I'd made my decision, I still didn't head back. I walked half the night, because I couldn't psyche myself up to face him. Finally, when the clouds started to spit an ozone-smelling drizzle, I gave up and headed for the truck.

Walking down the hall to his apartment was a trial. After I shut the door behind me, I went to him immediately, before I could chicken out. "We need to talk." Fuck, I did not want to talk.

He nodded and we sat down next to each other. It was ominous sitting on the couch with a fucking psychologist to try to talk about my feelings.

"Since I got out of prison, you've done nothing but try to take care of me and I've treated you like shit."

The corner of his mouth turned up as he suppressed a grin.

"Getting out is... difficult. And being in a... relationship is... I don't know. I've never really been in a relationship. It's always been sex." I chewed on my thumbnail. "I've always done everything I wanted to, when I wanted to, only for me. And now... shit. I feel so... dependent."

Mulder just listened, barely moving.

"Before I went to prison, I had my own life, job, car, apartment, clothes... Now, I live in your apartment. You picked most of my clothes. And every fucking decision I make affects you. And this relationship is probably going to cost you your job." I closed my eyes, unable to continue.

I felt a warm hand on mine and I could hear his mouth open.

"Shut up, Mulder," I growled at him. "I don't want to cause you more pain. Part of me is hoping you'll throw me out. I can think of ten good reasons why you should and none why you shouldn't. I've even thought I should just leave, but you're the only thing that really matters to me right now." I squeezed his warm fingers. Opening my eyes, I discovered sad grayish-green eyes looking back at me. "You may speak now."

Mulder gave me a momentary glare. "I was lonely before we got together. I'd put everything I had into my work and the rest of me was dying." He looked away for a moment to pull himself together. "I've been in a few relationships, but no one ever got through to me the way you do. And I decided that I deserved to have you care about me."

My eyes were burning. Fuck. I despised this shit.

"Even with you in prison, I felt less lonely. Maybe I couldn't touch you or even see you very often, but you were there for me. I don't mean that you went to prison for me, even though you did." Mulder gave me a glance, as if to way 'and we both know it.' "I mean, even if we weren't together, I knew you cared. And that meant more to me than I had ever imagined."

I put my arm around him and we just sat there for a long time. Even though he was the sole reason for my anxiety, his presence soothed me.

After a long time, he spoke again. "Isn't there something else, Alex?"

I nodded and pulled away a little. "I didn't know I made you a wealthy man when I killed your father." This was so difficult I had to stop and just breathe for a while. "I never wanted to hurt you. Even as I betrayed you, I didn't want to hurt you. I'm sorry."

Mulder opened his mouth again, but I stopped him. "Let me finish."

He nodded.

"It's painful for me, too, Mulder. Every day I'm with you, I remember what I did to you--to you, not him." God, saying those words out loud felt like the emotional equivalent of having my arm hacked off. "And the idea that you might spend his money to... help me is just intolerable."

"The money came from my great aunt."

"But without the trust fund, you'd have the good sense to invest it."

Mulder accepted defeat on that argument with a reluctant nod.

I wanted to stop talking and not ever have to discuss feelings again, but I didn't want to wimp out on him either. "I was a lot more comfortable with this relationship when I thought you had less money than I did. I knew you came from money, but except for your suits, I never felt outclassed. Now, somehow, I feel like your adopted third-world child. Or maybe your own pet needy ex-con..." I was about ready to crawl under the sofa at that point.

Mulder didn't speak until he was certain I was finished. "I'd like to try to convince you that some of what you've said is wrong, but I guess they're your feelings." He gazed at me in a gentle way. "Money doesn't mean much to me. As long as I have enough to pay the bills and keep Armani in business, I'm happy. I know it's easy to feel that way with a guaranteed retirement fund in my pocket. But what matters to me is my work, the truth, my friends and you. Money's just a thing. I have some and I want to share it. It doesn't matter where the money came from. It's just a thing."

We both sat quietly for a while. Just accepting each other's feelings was so intense it was scary. No argument, just listening. It exhausted me.

"Let's get something to eat."

"Sure," he replied, but his eyes said he knew we weren't finished yet.

** Mulder **

Alex Krycek wasn't the classic macho man by any stretch of the imagination, but I was still surprised by his candid discussion of his feelings. I could easily see how difficult it was for him, but he didn't give up. It was the clearest proof of his love for me. That felt good, but the sight of him in pain still hurt. Wasn't it my job to make sure he was never unhappy?

I heated some frozen leftovers and we ate, watching a Bogart movie until about 3 A.M. Afterward, I was in the kitchen trying to wash the dishes when he stepped into sight.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

He'd caught me at the sink with my left hand behind my back. My face must have looked like a kid caught with dad's Playboy. "Uh... washing dishes?"

I watched his scowl dissolve into a smirk. The sound of his hearty chuckle reassured me that everything was going to be okay between us. "Jesus, Mulder, you moron." He nudged me aside with his hip and showed me how a real one-armed man washes dishes. In less than half the time it would have taken me, the dishes were done. I wondered how quickly he could have done them without me wrapped around his waist.

I woke late to the smell of bacon and found Alex in the kitchen making breakfast. There were only three strips of bacon in the pan.

"Did you make enough for me?" I asked in a sleepy, whiny voice and wrapped my arms around his shoulders.

He slipped out of my grip and pulled a plate out of the oven, covered with bacon and two plump omelets. "I didn't forget about you."

The table was already set with fresh fruit on salad plates and a basket of muffins. The most astonishing touch was a beer bottle with daisies in it.

I buttered a blueberry muffin and stuffed half of it in my mouth. "Di yu mke theees yurslf?"

"Just for you, lover."

A spaceship landing on our front lawn couldn't have made me any happier.

I finished chewing long enough to bring up something I'd been thinking about for a long time. "Alex?"

"Hmm?'

"Would you call me Fox?"

His green eyes flew to mine. "Are you sure?"

"Yes. It's my name. Maybe I could get used to you calling me that."

"Okay, Fox."

"You can still call me 'lover,' too."

"Whatever you want, lover." His broad smile revealed pearly white teeth.

"Um, Alex?"

"Yeah?"

"How do you floss your teeth?"

He gaped at me. "What?"

"With one hand, how do you floss your teeth?"

He laughed in my face. And then realized I was waiting for an answer. "I don't."

"Ever?"

"Never."

"But what about your gums?"

"Christ, Mulder. You find the strangest things to worry about." He shook his head at my incredible folly. "When you've spent years dodging aliens, hit men and police, gum disease isn't a big priority."

Afterward, I washed the dishes, using both hands. Chef Alex read the paper.

"What do you want to do today, Alex?"

He glanced up, face turning serious, but he didn't speak for a long time. Finally he said reluctantly, "We should finish our talk, so it's not hanging over my head."

"Okay."

When I wrapped up the last of the dishes, I joined him at the kitchen table. He tossed aside the paper and psyched himself up by stretching his arms above his head. "I guess you noticed I've been avoiding sex."

"Uh-huh."

He looked at me as if he was hoping I'd tell him what was wrong, so he wouldn't have to. Finally he said, "I had sex in prison."

"I told you that was okay."

"Yeah, but..." He trailed off, an unpleasant expression on his face.

"Okay..." I said, stalling so I could think. "Was it consensual sex? I mean, it's fine if it was. I told you that."

His tone got flat. "Do you need to know? Does it matter?"

I felt this sudden pressure in my chest. "God dammit, Alex! I'm your lover. I care if someone hurt you. I need to know."

It took an effort for him to meet my eyes. "It... I did not consent."

I reached to put a hand on his shoulder, but he jerked his chair back away from me. "Don't, Mulder! This isn't about me being your needy little ex-con rape victim."

I sat back in my chair. My stomach churned at the thought of what other men had done to Alex. Maybe it was me who needed comfort. "This is very painful for me too, Alex."

Alex sighed. "I need you not to make a big deal out of it. I'm over it. Worse things have been done to me."

He intended to reassure me, but it only made me feel worse. What could be more horrible than being raped in prison? Having your arm chopped off? Being possessed by the black oilien? I could only hope being beaten by your lover didn't qualify.

He sat there silently while a myriad of emotions flowed through me. Hurt for Alex. Frustration that he couldn't handle my pain. I was holding the biggest emotion at bay--rage at his rapists. I was grateful I didn't have a mental picture of what happened. Even so, I knew if the men who'd done this were here, I could coldly pull a trigger at least once for each of them. The moral differences between Alex and I were not a great as he thought.

I blurted out, "Don't give me any details, unless you need to."

He nodded.

Alex was the one who had been violated. I had to shove down my feelings and be there for him. "What do you want from me, Alex?"

"I do not want to talk about it. I just thought I should tell you." We sat silently for a long time before he spoke again. "Fuck, the last few days, I feel like... I don't know. Can we just do something mindless today?"

"You want to go bowling?"

He frowned and shook his head.

"Watch golf on TV?"

"I'd rather go bowling."

"Wash my car?"

He groaned and threw a roll of paper towels at me.

We drove to the sports center and played basketball. I introduced him to all the regulars. Maybe they could tell he was my lover, but no one seemed to care. We played until we could barely stand anymore.

Alex didn't play that well with one hand, but he compensated by being aggressive.

We stopped at a burger joint on the way back.

After we ate, I steered the car toward home. Alex seemed more relaxed than he had since getting out. I slipped a hand onto his thigh and squeezed.

He slid over to the middle of the front seat. Thank god for good old American cars with bench seats. Alex's warm lips found mine and I could barely see to drive.

"Hey, I'd rather not drive off the road."

He took away his mouth, until the next stoplight. Then he kissed me long and hard until a horn started honking behind us.

Back at the apartment, he threw the gym bag on the floor and me on the sofa. Straddling my lap, he kissed me some more. Was he okay now? Perhaps, but I felt intuitively that I needed to let him be in control.

During a breathing break, he unbuttoned my shirt and lapped at my nipples. His shapely lips were parted, still moist from the kissing.

"God, Alex. I've missed your mouth."

He emitted a wicked laugh. "I missed all your body parts, Fox, but I especially missed your cock." He tore open my fly and helped himself to my erection. Before I knew what hit me, he was on his knees between my legs. He opened and lowered his jeans, then pulled out his hard-on. He left it hanging and started licking my shaft. Nibbling around the head, he worked his way down until I was gasping.

"Don't make me wait, Alex. Please... I've waited so long."

In one quick motion, he wrapped his mouth around my cock. He gnawed on the middle of the shaft briefly before sucking me into his throat.

I groaned the groan of the long suffering.

He removed his mouth and chuckled at me. "Fox, take my head in your hands. I want you to fuck my face."

My hormone-addled brain struggled to form a command to move my hands, but they eventually reached the back of his head. The look of abject lust on his face as he relinquished his mouth to me almost made me come instantly.

I slid my cock into his mouth more slowly than he would have done, but he relaxed into it and lowered his hand to his own erection.

I knew he was 98% top-man, so it meant all the more that he was giving me this. Even though I controlled the thrusts, his mouth and tongue worked feverishly on my cock.

"So... fucking... good, Alex."

He couldn't answer with his mouth full, but I heard a muffled groan from deep in his chest.

Wanting him for so long, I knew I couldn't last. I stopped resisting and let his sweet mouth take me over the edge. Inspired or through ruthless control, he came right behind me as I shot into his throat.

It was just like our first time together. I wondered if he'd done it that way on purpose.

Minutes later, we both regained consciousness. I was hoping to pull him back onto my lap, when he stood up and headed for the bathroom.

I was grimy and sweaty, so I followed him. "Shower?"

"Definitely," he replied.

We soaped each other thoroughly, but I tried to keep it lighthearted. He was making a good attempt at being okay, but the crease in his brow gave him away. I ticked him under the armpits until he pinned me to the tiles and told me--in a voice that left no room for argument--that I wasn't going to do that anymore.

                

Chapter 4

** Krycek **

The sex was damned good. Always was with him. That chemistry thing... he made my blood boil.

I got a bit morose again as he washed me. I couldn't help but remember the time when I freaked out in the shower. Every day that I'd been out of prison, it felt the same--like I was a hair away from self-destruction. Could I really do this with Mulder?

Why does he even want to? He says he loves me, but what does that really mean?

We both love the sex. And I truly like him. He's funny and generous and quirky and passionate. And I respect him. But he can't possibly respect me. And now, I'm living his life in his world. Can I even respect myself anymore?

Before, I believed in myself... in my cunning, my knack for survival, my willingness to do what I had to. But now, I was just an amoral, loser ex-con.

In this world, I had nothing except the insane love of Fox Mulder. And where was I going to be when I lost that?

Monday, I made a light breakfast for Mulder while he showered and dressed. I walked him to the door and kissed him goodbye.

It was surreal.

Afterward, I sat on the sofa and stared into space for a few minutes. The wife gig would be up tomorrow when I started my own job.

I puttered around the apartment, trying to convert his den of disorder into something a little more livable without messing up anything he seemed fussy about. After an hour or so of tidying and cleaning, I realized I was in a good mood. For no apparent reason. Maybe it felt a little like it was my place, too.

** Mulder **

Kimberly wasn't in yet, so I knocked at his open door. Skinner frowned at me. "Come in, Agent Mulder."

I took a chair in front of his desk.

Skinner glowered at me for a long time before speaking. "Your partner gave me some things to think about this weekend. I don't approve of your relationship with that man. And it's not the gay thing. He's a criminal."

"An ex-con, sir," I corrected.

He shook his head. "Don't delude yourself, Mulder. We both know he got off easy on the only crime that was prosecutable."

My mouth opened to defend Alex, but I had nothing to say that would change Skinner's opinion, so I said nothing. His glare was so direct it almost made me squirm. Just a surly look from this man, and most people would probably confess to crimes they never committed.

He finally continued, "The X-Files needs you, and I believe in your work, so..." He hesitated, as if not liking his conclusion. "... I'm not going to fire you. But I am going to disclose your relationship to the Director. He may terminate you. But, even if he doesn't, the potential exists for conflicts of interest or blackmail." He stood and walked around the desk to peer down at me. "You will immediately report to me any case, investigation or event in your work that has any connection whatsoever with Alex Krycek. I expect full disclosure and no surprises. If you value your position with the Bureau, you will follow these instructions to the letter. If you don't, I will have no choice but to dismiss you. Do you understand, Agent Mulder?"

I nodded.

"That will be all."

I walked back to my office, relieved but also pissed. Skinner's such a drill sergeant. Never got over the Marines. Loves to boss people around. Damn him!

I phoned Alex.

"Yeah?"

"It's me. I've got bad news. I won't be lying around the house getting horny for you during the day. I'm still employed."

"Fox," he replied in a warning tone. "Did you misbehave with Skinner?"

"No, I was the perfect, obedient little agent."

"Why do I find that hard to believe?"

"Because you know me," I replied.

Alex sighed heavily. "Skinner's just doing his job."

I scowled at the receiver. "Damn him! I wish he'd just leave us alone."

"Not that it's my strong point, but didn't anyone ever teach you how to show the proper respect to your superiors?"

"Actually, no." I snickered. "Maybe you could put me in my place when I come home tonight?"

He sighed heavily into the phone. After a long pause, he replied in a sexy, low voice. "All right, Fox." The way he said my name was pornographic. "When you get home tonight, I want you to shut the door, stop in the entryway, take off all your clothes, get on your knees and wait for me. Got that?"

Suddenly, the conversation was a lot more interesting. My cock was throbbing. I could barely speak, "Uh, yes, Alex."

It took a lot of willpower not to go to the men's room to take care of the problem in my pants.

Scully arrived twenty minutes later. She eyed my badge on the corner of my desk. "You still work here?"

"Yeah. Still at the top of the FBI's most unwanted."

She stood by my desk. "What did he say?"

"You know the usual Skinner ass reaming... called Alex a criminal. Rubbed my nose in it. Said he wants to micromanage anything that might involve Alex. Same old bullshit."

"Mulder," she began before cutting herself off. I could see the wheels turning in her head. "Were you your usual arrogant self? Or did you act nice to prove that you can behave?"

"Gee, Scully. Which do you think?"

"Dammit, Mulder. I almost side with Skinner in this matter. You're damned lucky to have your job."

"Thank you, sir. May I have another?"

"How many times has Walter Skinner saved your ass?" Her voice rose. She was genuinely angry. "I think he's earned your respect nine times over, but if you don't get your way on everything, you act like a spoiled child."

"Alex has done much more for my ass that Skinner ever has!" That useful outburst rather proved her point.

Scully rolled her eyes.

I decided to sulk. I picked up a file and stomped off to the library.

Unable to think of anything besides Alex that afternoon, I left work at 5:05 and drove home 20 miles over the speed limit.

When I got home, as instructed, I stepped inside the door and secured it behind me. I didn't see Alex. Not a sound in the apartment. Maybe he wasn't expecting me this early? Maybe he wasn't home?

I decided to undress anyway. It couldn't hurt. I could always jack off. Tossing my briefcase on the floor, I piled my clothes on top of it. As I tugged off my boxers, I shivered. The room was a bit cool. Alex was just my idea of the perfect body warmer.

"Alex?" I called out.

"Patience, Fox," replied the familiar husky voice from the vicinity of the bedroom.

My dick rose at the sound. Standing there, I wrapped my arms around myself. What was he going to do with me?

He made me wait a long time. It had to be at least four minutes. Finally, I felt the vibrations of his footsteps in the hallway. He appeared, wearing only a pair of forest green silk boxers I'd bought for him. I admired his muscular chest and legs. Yum! He looked good enough to eat.

And I was very hungry after a hard day at work.

Alex stopped at a distance and gave me a mild glare. "Fox, you didn't completely follow my instructions."

"Huh?" I played back the phone conversation in my head. "Oh." I abruptly dropped to my knees, deftly landing one of them on the corner of my briefcase, which made me teeter before righting myself.

Alex chuckled softly at my folly, then nodded his head and came closer.

"You look very sexy, Alex."

He smiled down at me and then rubbed the side of my face into the silk of his boxers. His fingers stroked my hair. His crotch smelled inexplicably of cinnamon.

"What are you going to do with me?" I asked his groin. My hand wandered over, as covertly as possible, to check out his erection. Very hard. Very nice.

He pulled on my hair a little and massaged my scalp. "I haven't decided yet."

"Fuck me?"

He put a finger over my lips. "Shh. I'll decide, Fox."

Soon, please!

With his hand at my armpit, he guided me upward, then pressed my body against the wall. He gazed into my eyes, with an intensely serious look that made my knees weak. Such a beautiful man is my Alex.

His hand stroked my cheek, toyed with my ear and caressed my neck. Oh, great. I'd been horny since 7:30 this morning and he was going to take it slow. I was starting to regret that I'd ever sent him that damned tape. No doubt he thought I liked to be made to wait. I rubbed up against his body to demonstrate my impatience.

Suddenly, his hand pressed into my hip, forcing my ass back against the wall. He gave me a stern glance, eyes burning like green fire. The sight made my cock enlarge to epic proportions.

I exhaled suddenly. It was an incredible turn-on when he told me what to do, but waiting was just so awful. My cock needed attention and my cruel lover didn't seem to care.

Alex, please. Do something.

His hand stroked upward from my waist, stopping to pinch my nipples. He watched every move of his fingers, his face entranced. Those fingers lightly traced the curves of my pecs. He tweaked the sparse hairs in the center of my chest, sending tingles of sensation down my spine.

"You have no idea how much you excite me," he whispered softly as the fingers found my flank.

I groaned, but held myself back from trying to rub against him this time.

He put two fingers in my mouth and I sucked them eagerly, but they were withdrawn too quickly. The wet fingers passed over one nipple and then the other. He blew on my nipples, one at a time, and I shivered again.

"Alex, please," I muttered.

He kissed my forehead. "It's okay, Fox. I'm going to take care of you, but not quickly. You're going to have to wait."

I made a face at him to show my displeasure.

Alex responded with just a hint of a smile. Cocky bastard. His body pressed into mine and he said softly in my ear, "Spread your legs, Fox."

Oh, Christ.

Then he backed away, standing six inches from me. I lamented the loss of his heat.

I opened my legs and met his gaze, pleading with my eyes.

He touched my abdomen with teasing fingers, walking them down my hip onto my thigh.

Fuck, he hadn't even done anything and I was dying. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to reach for my cock.

With seemingly endless patience, he explored my thighs, fingers trailing lightly across my skin. I looked at his crotch again. He was definitely hard. There was even a tiny wet spot at the tip of his dick, seeping through the silk. But his breathing was slow, eerily calm. His thumb brushed along the inside of one thigh, sending sparks up to my crotch.

At last, just a tease, his fingertips passed across my balls. Oh, yes. Touch me, Alex. I need you so badly. My head was filled with images of him throwing me on the floor, and me on all fours as he shoved his cock into me. But the telepathic link wasn't working. The bastard had his own agenda.

His hand gripped too gently around my balls, squeezing, but it wasn't enough. Touch my cock, dammit!

Then his index finger reached out and swiped my cock head. I stopped breathing for a moment, but then the finger was gone. I grimaced at him.

He raised the finger to my lips. "Taste yourself." His velvety voice made my brain turn to Jell-O. My tongue touched the tip of his finger. This time he let me suck it. I pulled the entire finger into my mouth, slurping and gnawing. The expression on his face was transcendent, as if having me suck his finger was a spiritual experience.

As the finger was withdrawn, I allowed myself to believe he would touch my cock. Instead, he stepped into the hall.

I whimpered.

"Bedroom," he commanded.

Well, that was progress at least.

I stumbled into the bedroom on lust-weakened legs, appalled to discover Alex sitting on a chair at the foot of the bed. The sheets were drawn back, ready for action, but he was on the damned chair. I looked at him in abject grief.

"Lie on the bed, on your back," he ordered.

"What about you?"

"Do it, Fox." His tone had an air of menace. It only made me need him more.

I crawled onto the bed and, as ordered, flipped onto my back.

He eased the chair forward so it was close to my feet. "Put a pillow under your head, so I can see your face."

I complied quickly, hoping to move the action along.

"Touch yourself."

I reached for my cock, but before my hand even got close, he spoke again. "No. Your chest."

My face crinkled into a look I hoped properly conveyed my discontent. But somehow my hands ended up on my chest, open palms rubbing my torso. My cock was standing straight up. I had to concentrate to keep from reaching for it.

"Your nipples," he said.

I pinched them. Not as much fun as having him do it, but it still felt nice.

"Hurt yourself a little."

So I squeezed harder and winced at the results.

"More."

A dim voice in my head cried, 'No!' but my fingers didn't listen. I gripped with my fingernails and pressed into my tender flesh. It hurt a lot, but something in my head shifted. If he wanted it, I wanted it... wanted to hurt myself for his pleasure. I pressed harder, and whimpers tore from my throat. My hips bucked off the bed, futilely seeking contact.

"Beautiful, Fox." Fuck, that sexy voice was killing me. "Now, touch your thighs."

I slid my hands south, planning to pass my cock on the way.

"Uh-uh," he said gently.

My hands traveled down my sides instead. I brushed and polished my thighs, fingers tickled by the hair on my legs.

"Spread your legs."

I opened my legs for him. Again. God, I felt so vulnerable, but it was so fucking hot. If I got any more turned on, I was going to come spontaneously. The way he teased, I might have to.

I rubbed my sensitive inner thighs, loving that I was on display for him. But how to make him lose control? I thrust my hips upward on the bed, as if to offer him my ass. I let my desperate need for him show in my face.

His face didn't change, except his eyes grew darker. They were almost black in the soft bedroom light. Good to know he was suffering, too. This time when he spoke, his voice was weak, as if he wasn't getting enough oxygen. "Do you have any idea how sexy you are?"

A hoarse chuckle came from my mouth. "It makes you want to touch me, doesn't it?"

A smile on his lips... "Yes. But I can wait."

Bastard!

"Tell me how badly you want it, Fox."

"Oh, Christ." I groaned and thrashed my head helplessly on the bed. I didn't want to beg. He'd already made me suffer. It was enough. But when the pleading words came out of my mouth, I knew I'd do anything he wanted. "Please, Alex. I need you so badly." My body shook with need, my hands clutching my thighs, unable to conjure up any new moves. "Please fuck me, touch me... anything."

"And if I don't?"

"I'll die, Alex. I need you."

"I need you, too, Fox," he replied, all too calmly.

I pouted. "Then touch me. It's lonely here on the bed without you."

"But I love to look at you."

"Touching me is good, too, isn't it Alex?"

"It's wonderful. I'm holding out for the best part."

Damn him! He must have jerked off all afternoon or something. How could he be so patient? I slid my ass down the bed, closer to him. "Please, Alex. My balls are starting to hurt."

"You may touch your balls, but not your cock."

Fuck! But it was something. My hands glommed onto my nuts, rubbing furiously, hoping against hope to somehow make myself come this way.

Alex grinned at me from the foot of the bed.

Bastard. I whined, "You like to see me suffer?"

"It's so beautiful, Fox." He was not the least bit ashamed of himself.

I emitted a pitiful moan, brushing my ass from side to side on the bed, trying to get some sort of stimulation.

My heart almost stopped when Alex stood up. He shucked the boxers, revealing his own needy erection. And then he just stood there.

"Please, Alex."

He grinned wickedly. "Take your hands off your balls."

I complied, eagerly anticipating his next order. He's got to do something here or I'm going to explode.

"Roll onto your side."

I rolled.

"I'm going to get on the bed, but I don't want you to touch me yet. Can you do that, Fox?"

I frowned at him. "Maybe."

He cocked an eyebrow at me. "I'll wait until you're sure."

"Dammit, Alex, I'm losing my mind."

"Soon, Fox. You'll get your release soon." He walked to the side of the bed. "Can you avoid touching me?"

"I'll try," I replied petulantly.

He lowered himself to the bed. Facing my feet. Oh, god. I was going to like this. Keeping himself a good six inches from me, he slowly eased in toward my body.

I could feel his breath on my cock. I couldn't prevent my hips from pushing forward.

"Not yet, Fox." He kissed my balls. It was almost enough to make me come. "Now do exactly what I do." He shifted closer to my body, his arm wrapped around my waist.

I grabbed him around the middle and yanked him closer. His tongue lapped at my balls, so I licked his. His smell was masculine and intoxicating. It made my head spin. The tiny sensations on my balls were still just a tease.

Then I felt his tongue glide down my shaft.

Praise god!

My tongue found his thick cock, licking gratefully.

His lips nipped and held the tip of my cock. It took my last shard of self control not to thrust into his mouth. I needed to come so badly.

My body trembled as I wrapped my lips around the head of his cock.

His prolonged needy groan made me smile around the generous mouthful.

When he sucked my cock into his throat, it felt like the happiest moment of my life. I was a hair away from coming, but I had to concentrate to remember to swallow his cock. Each simple movement seemed to require thought, distracting me from the pressing matter of my own erection in his mouth. Somehow I managed to take his cock down and work it with my throat. When his hot mouth put searing pressure on my cock, my brain imploded.

Sheer pleasure burst through me like a flame in gasoline. My entire body seized in an orgasm that was certain to be the final moment of my life. Not that I cared. I no longer had body parts, just raw flame and a brain that could do nothing except enjoy it.

Consciousness eluded me, but a dull thought tried to penetrate my flaccid brain. Warmth was near me. I reached out. Alex.

He lay next to me, but his face was close to mine. I tried to remember and muttered, "Glurf."

Alex chuckled at me. "You okay?"

"Oh, god." I closed my eyes and it all came rushing back. "I think I just had a near death experience."

Warm lips found mine as he stole a kiss. Lacking the mental acuity to comprehend kissing, I just opened my mouth and let him do it. Eventually, my tongue wiggled a little.

At that moment, I was perfectly happy. Peaceful even. Alex was home for real now.

He pulled back and loomed over me with a cocky smile. If his life's goal was to turn Fox Mulder into Jell-O, he'd achieved it.

But what about...? "Alex, did you... I didn't bite off your dick or something, did I?"

His body shifted next to me. He took my wrist and moved my hand. I felt soft cock.

"Did I do that?"

"Not entirely." His fingers found my hair and he curled up very close. "You owe me one."

"Sure. Anything," I replied vapidly, slipping onto my side and pressing my body even closer to his. As I snuggled my face into his shoulder, I mumbled, "Why do your boxer shorts smell like cinnamon?"

He chucked weakly and gestured toward the bedside table, where I saw a bottle of aromatic massage oil. Good idea. Later. Too tired.

               

Chapter 5

** Krycek **

Tuesday was my meeting with my parole officer and the first day of my new job.

I went to the closet to dress and discovered Mulder had tied my ties. Each of them neatly done with the neck loosened, so I could pull them over my head. I bristled at the image of him doing it for me, but it was a big help.

Standing in front of the mirror, I had to admit I looked good in my suit. I kept my hair natural, unlike my geeky hair gel days at the Bureau. I wore the prosthetic with a black leather glove. I'd miss my leather jacket.

After a tedious meeting with my parole officer in D.C., I drove to Susan Peterson's office in downtown Alexandria for my first day at work. The small suite of offices was unpretentious, but tastefully decorated.

Peterson gave me my own office with a hardwood desk. It was a tiny room, but a pleasant one. There was a brand-new PC, still in cartons. And a ficus tree by a small window.

Sitting there filling out payroll tax forms, I felt like I'd entered the twilight zone.

I spent over an hour setting up the PC, stopping once to marvel that I was being paid for this. My new boss gave me a couple of assignments, so I drove back to D.C. to the IRS to retrieve copies of a client's tax records. From there, I stopped at George Washington University to track down a potential witness.

All in all, it was a pleasant day filled with simple goals, none of which had earth-shattering consequences. Rather like doing crossword puzzles--entertaining, but not important. Maybe this was a good thing?

The next couple of days, I spent my lunch hours trying to track down my missing friend, Ming Li. Finally, on Thursday, I reached a mutual acquaintance who told me she was dead. Killed by a rival gang's hit man outside her Manhattan apartment.

Ah, Ming.

I wasn't exactly surprised. When I couldn't reach her message service from prison, I'd assumed the worst. And even though I hadn't seen her in a couple of years, just knowing she was no longer alive was a crushing blow.

Ming and I went back a long way. In my entire criminal career, she was the only person I could ever trust completely. And me for her. It was the sort of intimacy that transcends sexual relationships. In a life when everyone may be out to kill you--or worse--nothing can beat the safe haven of a trusted friend.

And it was me--the real me--who Ming loved. Alex, the criminal. Alex, the immoral rat. And I had loved Ming. We'd even slept in the same bed a few times, but never fucked.

Ming was a short, chunky woman. One glance and no one took her seriously, mired in Asian stereotypes, until it was too late. She could kick my ass when I had two arms.

When I told Peterson I'd lost a friend, she responded favorably to my request to take Friday off.

I didn't mention it to Mulder.

The next morning, I flew to New York. First thing, I went to an old pawnshop that I knew. I recognized the proprietor, an elderly Jewish lady. She sold me a Glock and a dozen rounds. Plus a holster.

Next stop, a bank, where Ming and I both had safe deposit boxes. I opened mine and retrieved a stack of files. Inside hers were a few items she wanted given to her brother, plus my failsafe letter and key. Identical to the ones I'd given Mulder.

I followed Ming's simple instructions per her last wishes, delivering some cash, an offshore account ledger and a personal letter to her brother. There was a brief note for me.

--

Alex,

Hey! I guess if you're reading this, I'm gone. Sorry about that, pal.

Don't make a big deal about it. Just get on with your life. Go get laid or something... but not one of those dumbass boring Wall St. boys you keep picking up. You can do better than that!

There's something I gotta say to you, ratboy, so listen to your buddy, Ming. You're not getting any younger and the heavy stuff keeps getting worse, so maybe it's time to clean up your act and get your sweet ass into a safer line of work.

I can hear you saying 'what the fuck else am I going to do?' I don't know, but please stop before it's too late, Alex. You only have nine lives, and we both know most of those have already been used up.

I wish ratgirl could be there to ease your transition into a nice catering career, see that you find a decent man and remind you to get your leather jacket cleaned when it gets raunchy. You'll just have to let someone else take care of you.

I love you, ratboy.

Ming

--

My face ached as I read it. Missing her.

Ming and that life were gone. Most of it I was better off without. But Ming was my friend when no one else would be. I had no other friends. Hadn't since I was sixteen.

My life would never be the same. And I was scared. I knew how to succeed as a criminal, but as a citizen, I felt like the odds were stacked against me.

I took a cab to Cherry Hill and got out over a mile from my destination. Avoiding witnesses. I walked to the warehouse. But when I stood outside, watching the day shift come and go, I could hear Ming's voice in my head. "... stop before it's too late, Alex. You only have nine lives..."

I thought of Fox at home, waiting for me, not even knowing where I'd gone. How he'd feel if something went wrong.

It wasn't a moral choice. For me, it never would be. In fact, my moral code told me to do the crime. It was a lifestyle choice.

I walked away from the warehouse and caught another cab. I walked away from Ming's killer. I'm sorry, Ming. I'd do it if it would bring you back.

After selling the gun back to the old lady, I returned to D.C., carrying only a small box of files, which I cached at my bank in Alexandria. One of the files was a Consortium profile on Bill Mulder, but I couldn't give it to Fox. Not now. Maybe never.

I got home before dinner, so Mulder never knew I was gone. If he noticed I was subdued over the weekend, he didn't say so. I never told him about Ming, because I didn't want to talk about it.

** Mulder **

It took me over a week to accept that Scully was right about A.D. Skinner.

Damn her endearing little soul. I'm usually right about X-Files, but she's usually right about everything else.

On Tuesday morning, Kimberly called me to Skinner's office.

"Agent, I have spoken at length with the Director. Twice, he told me to terminate your employment, but he finally decided to leave it to my discretion. Therefore, you are still employed by the Bureau. However, it would be very wise of you to behave yourself for a little while."

I did my best to look humble. "Thank you, sir." It was as much of an apology as I could give.

"You're dismissed."

** Krycek **

Tuesday night, Fox asked me, "You know the Gunmen are coming here tomorrow?"

"Yeah." I gave him an impassive face. "You want me to disappear?"

"No. This is our home."

"So what do you want?"

"Why don't you join us?"

"Do your friends know who I am?"

He nodded. "They knew about you before we got together. And while you were in prison, I brought them up to date."

"Think they're going to be comfortable hanging with you and your gay lover?"

"I don't think that will be a problem."

"Oh. The problem is my illustrious career."

Mulder looked uncomfortable. "Well, I think they are a little nervous about spending the evening with the very dangerous Alex Krycek."

"Fine, I'll go out."

He put a hand on my shoulder. "No, Alex. I don't want you to hide from my friends."

"You'd rather intimidate them?"

"I'm sure they'll get over it, once they have a chance to get to know you."

I laughed at him, shaking my head. "You're so damned sure that everyone will like me if they just get to know me. It's sweet, but rather deluded, Fox." I kissed him between the eyebrows.

"Maybe, but I think they deserve a chance."

I gave in with a shrug. "Sure. Whatever you want. Want me to cook something?"

"We usually order pizza."

"I can make pizza."

He shook his head. "Maybe another time. Let's keep the same ritual for now."

The next night, I was in the bedroom when the doorbell rang. I finished tidying up and joined them a few minutes later.

Three pairs of unfamiliar eyes watched me cautiously. They definitely looked like an assembly for Sci-Fi night.

Fox jumped up. "Guys, this is my lover, Alex Krycek." He gestured toward a tall, bearded, Ken-doll type in a suit. "This is John Byers."

It didn't seem like a hand-shaking crowd, so I just nodded and repeated the name. "Byers."

"And Ringo Langley." A blonde with stringy hair, Langley's face was white as a sheet.

"Langley." I tried to say it gently, convinced he was about to break for the door.

Last, a short, dark haired man. "This is Melvin Frohike."

"Frohike," I repeated, with a nod.

The little man eyed me excitedly. "Hey, Krycek. Killed anyone interesting lately?"

Fox's face froze in a parody of alarm.

Don't worry, lover. I stepped closer to Frohike and put my hand on his shoulder. "Not in the past five or ten minutes, but, you know, I'm just starting to get that itch."

Frohike emitted a choked laugh. Then he bolted from his chair and wandered into the kitchen, muttering something about beer.

As I took a seat, Fox glared a non-verbal chastisement in my direction.

I shrugged at my embarrassed lover.

The movies were awful. Mulder and Frohike could not shut up. Both had to call out the lines, or a crude bastardization of the lines, at the same time the cast said them. I was positive the actor did not say, "The marshmallows have landed."

The instant the movies were over, Langley whispered into Fox's ear and practically crawled over him to get to the door without passing me.

Byers rolled his eyes, nodded to me and joined Langley at the door.

Frohike tentatively came over to me. "Um... well... it's been, you know, a pleasure. Just don't... um. Well... be nice to Mulder, okay?"

"Sure," I replied calmly to the weird little man.

I heard Frohike say quietly to Fox, "Thanks, man. I can't wait to tell my e-pals I spent the evening in the home of a professional assassin." A chorus of "night, Mulder" rang out, and his friends were gone.

Fox locked the door and came over to sit on the arm of my chair. He gave me a grim smile.

"That went well," I said sarcastically.

He leaned over and kissed my jaw, saying nothing.

"Maybe if they come a few times and I don't kill any of them..."

"I don't know whether to give you shit or apologize."

"'S'okay."

He kissed my ear.

I had to say something. "I'm sorry it's so difficult for you to integrate your friends with, uh, me."

Fox shrugged and lowered himself into my lap. If I petted him a lot, he'd probably feel better.

When I got ready for bed that night, I discovered an odd device in the bathroom, next to the sink. A closer inspection revealed that it was some sort of electric dental flossing machine. The loony man was worried about my dental health. That made one of us.

He was asleep when I crawled into bed. I threw my arm around his waist and whispered, "Mulder, you are such a doofus."

"Sna ferf yu," he replied and went back to sleep.

The crossword puzzle analogy held; my job was fun. I spent most of my time seeking evidence to support Peterson's cases, which usually meant facts that suggested her clients hadn't committed murders they had actually committed.

Another man would have found that disturbing, but it didn't bother me. It would have been the height of hypocrisy if it had.

So one day I was chasing down a man named Cleophus Woods, a potential witness to a murder. The police had interviewed him and he had nothing to say, but it was conceivable I could get him to talk to me.

I rang the bell on a dumpy little apartment just off Florida Avenue. When the door opened, Scratcher was standing in front of me. Impossible to say who was more surprised.

"Scratcher?"

"Krycek?"

"Shit." I shouldn't have been shocked, but I thought a guy like him would still be in prison. Seemed like a pretty good idea, actually.

He gave me a big grin. "How'd you find me?"

"Uh... I didn't. I was looking for Cleophus Woods."

"That's me," he said proudly. He opened the door and escorted me into his one room apartment. He had two pieces of furniture: a bed and a table. "Want a beer?"

"No, thanks. I, um, well, I have a job now. I work for an attorney. She's defending Marcus Raymond for the McDonald killing."

"Oh, yeah? That's tight." He looked impressed.

I tried to squelch my memories of the big black man. "I heard you were there. Did Raymond kill McDonald?"

"Nah. Dude was killed by a muthafucka Petey something--a white guy who sells dope over on Fourth Street."

"Would you be willing to testify about that?"

Scratcher pondered it for a moment, then replied in an upbeat tone, "I'm on it. Say the word." He smirked at me. Caramel brown eyes flicked down my body with interest. "Wanna fuck?"

"Uh, no thanks." The man scared the crap out of me.

"All right then," he replied with a shrug.

I made an appointment for his deposition and departed. My hands were shaking as I tried to put the key in my car's ignition. Back at the office, I made sure everyone knew that Cleophus Woods was a very dangerous man.

** Scully **

Mulder invited me to join the two of them for dinner. "It's take out, but we're doing Bistro Americana, so it's real food. I'll even get salad and ask for the low fat dressing."

I thought to say no, because of Krycek. Because of what he'd told me. And because of what he'd done. But I couldn't avoid him forever without hurting Mulder, so I went.

Mulder and I brought home the food. Krycek greeted us at the door. His dark green eyes flicked to mine. "Scully," he said carefully.

"Krycek."

He briefly kissed Mulder on the lips.

Mulder set down the food bags and tapped me on the wrist. "I think you can call him Alex now, you know. You two are practically old friends." Without waiting for a response, he disappeared into the kitchen.

Mulder's lover and I eyed each other cautiously. Obviously in agreement that we were not friends of any kind.

As we ate, Mulder prattled on about ancient Egyptian curses.

I watched them together, like I had every time since I'd learned they were a couple. Green eyes flicked to Mulder's glass as he drained it. Mulder didn't seem to even notice when Krycek rose and refilled it.

The affection between them seemed almost unconscious. Reaching for a second helping of potatoes, Mulder's fingers stopped to squeeze Krycek's hand. Krycek brushed back an unruly strand of Mulder's hair and stroked him absently, as if petting a cat.

If I could forget what he'd told me, it would be touching. But I couldn't reconcile this man walking away from my sister as she lay dying, with his apparent sweetness toward my partner.

On my way home that night, I stopped by the church in my neighborhood. Sitting quietly in the pews, I thought about good and evil. And Melissa. And Alex Krycek.

** Mulder **

About a month after Alex got out of prison, we were having Saturday lunch at the Groovy Cafe in Georgetown. I was taking a bite out of my BLT, when Alex's body suddenly went rigid. He turned his head abruptly, his face blanched with terror.

My hand slipped inside my jacket and, in an instant, my fingers were on the butt of my gun. I scanned the room frantically, trying to identify the threat, but I couldn't see anything or anyone menacing.

He reached across the table and his hand rested on my forearm. "'S'okay." His voice was oddly flat.

"What is it, Alex? You're pale as a vampire."

He gestured with his head toward the front of the restaurant. "The woman in the green sweater, waiting on the table at the end of that row."

I looked over the attractive twenty-something. A tall, elegant auburn haired woman. I saw no reason for alarm. "She's hot, Alex, but you're taken."

"She's my sister."

My eyes bugged open, gazing first at the young woman, then at my lover. "Your sister?"

Alex nodded. Then why the tension on his face? "Why don't you say hello to her?"

"She thinks I'm dead."

"So, she'll probably be glad you're not."

Alex shook his head as if to declare the futility of arguing with an idiot. He watched the young waitress out of the corner of his eye. When she entered the kitchen, he stood. "I'll meet you at the car." Before I could object, Alex had slipped out the side entrance.

I quickly finished my lunch and wrapped the remains of Alex's sandwich in a napkin. Leaving a twenty on the table, I exited in search of my skittish lover.

Alex was leaning against my car, looking a little grouchy. I handed him the sandwich. We drove back to the apartment in silence.

It was perverse. I've spent my entire life looking for my sister, and Alex just ran away from his.

Back home, I couldn't remain silent any longer. "Why don't you tell me about her?"

Alex sighed and moved to stand by the window.

I closed in behind him, a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Did you like her?"

"Yeah," he replied softly as if delivering bad news.

"Did she feel the same way about you?"

"I guess so."

"I'll bet she'd be thrilled to see you."

"I'm not exactly a prize, Fox." He shifted into my arms. "Except to weirdoes like you." Kissing my cheek, he laid his head on my shoulder.

"How long has it been since you've spent time with her?"

"Years." He closed his eyes for a moment, as if remembering. "The last time was when I was your partner at the Bureau."

"Why does she think you're dead?"

"I had someone call her and pretend to be my Bureau supervisor."

"But why?"

"For her safety. At least that's what I told myself, but..." He buried his face in my shirt. "Maybe I didn't want her to know what I'd become."

"Is there anyone else in your family you care about?"

Alex snorted to show his disgust.

"I think you need her, Alex. You need people in your life."

Alex pulled out of my embrace. "Well, thanks for the free psychoanalysis, Mul-der, but did you consider what she needs? Being a part of my life is dangerous. Besides... what's she going to think of me?"

"I don't know, Alex, but I think you need to find out."

"This isn't Samantha, Fox. I wish it was." He sat on the sofa and switched on the TV.

Later in bed, he lay silently in my arms. "Contact her, Alex." I kissed the top of his head. "I have a feeling it'll turn out fine. My intuition is usually right."

"Yeah, you thought I was an irredeemable scum."

"I said 'usually,' Alex." I kissed his neck. "Call her."

"I can't. I just can't."

"You must want to, or you wouldn't be brooding about it."

"Maybe I do want to. I know what's in it for me, but what's in it for her?"

"If your family is like you let on, you might be the only one she'd want to hold on to."

Alex was silent for a long time as my lips wandered across his shoulders and the upper part of his chest.

"Would you do me a favor, Fox?"

"Of course."

He turned onto his side and faced me. "Go see her. Don't tell her anything, just try to find out if she'd be glad to see me or not."

"Alex, why don't you just-"

"I can't. This is the only way, Fox."

There was no point in arguing with him. "'Kay." I kissed him hard on the lips and pulled him close again. "What's her name?"

"Natalia. Natalia Elaine Krycek."

I bumped him rather deliberately on the hip. "I figured out the Krycek part, Alexander Richard."

"Yeah, what else do you know about me?"

"A girl named Susie had a crush on you."

His jaw fell open. "Was that a lucky guess?"

"I'm a trained investigator, sweetheart."

"Hmpf. So you're not going to tell me how you know?"

I leaned over Alex's body kissing him on the forehead. "Nope, you'll have to torture it out of me."

"Right," was his dubious reply. "You'd enjoy that too much."

I slid my body down his. "But so would you," I pouted.

He eyed me coolly. "Withholding sex would be far more effective."

"Bastard." I flopped next to him, considering my options. "I read 'Susie loves Alex' off the inside front cover of one of your Cyrillic books, in what looks like grade school girl's printing."

"Yeah, second grade. After-school Russian classes. She was cute."

"Not as cute as me."

A warm hand crept around my middle. "Let the torture begin," replied the gravelly voice of my lover.

He flipped me onto my belly and shifted his weight on top of me. His thick cock hung between my thighs, teasing my balls. "You want to get fucked, Fox?"

"Mmm hmm," I replied, spreading my legs and bouncing his weight off my ass.

He rolled off of me and came back with a bottle, but it wasn't the lube. It was the massage oil. Starting at my neck, he poured on some oil and rubbed it in with strong fingers.

I could smell the cinnamon, which reminded me of being on my knees in the entryway. Doing anything and everything he told me to do. And hating it. And loving it.

Working his way down my spine, he massaged the spicy oil into my skin. As my muscles released, I wanted to relax, but the aching in my groin made it impossible.

When he reached my ass, he worked the muscles hard. His fingers seemed to know where the tension lay, because he quickly honed in on the trouble spots, working them almost painfully.

He tossed the bottle on the floor and went to the bathroom to wash his hand. When he came back, he had another bottle. Scorching red letters spelled out, 'Cinnamon Hot Lube.'

"Yikes."

Alex grinned at me beatifically. He sat down by my legs.

"Uh, Alex? Cinnamon? Hot? Isn't that a bad idea?"

"It's completely edible, Fox."

"But it's going to sting."

"I tried it out on my own ass. It's more of a burn, actually."

Then a warm wet finger teased my anus.

I slammed my legs together, starting to feel a tingle on the tender tissue of my asshole. "Get the regular lube."

He smacked my hip. "Open up, Fox. Have a little faith."

"It's my ass on the line."

"It's going on my dick, too."

"You sure about this?"

The only answer was another smack on my ass cheek.

Reluctantly, I spread my legs again. Using more of the stuff, he briskly rubbed my anus. It did burn, but it wasn't too bad.

When two of his fingers slipped inside me, I couldn't detect a burn at all. Just the satisfying feeling of being stretched open. A brush across my prostate made me shiver. I thrust backward with my hips, impaling myself on those wonderful fingers.

Alex withdrew the fingers, then kissed a path across my ass cheeks. After waving the condom in front of my nose so I could see, he poured a few drops of the lube into it. Then he rolled it on.

"Lift your ass, Fox."

I eagerly raised my butt, pushing it up and back at him. Fuck, I am such a slut.

Alex positioned himself over me and pushed his cock into my rectum. The sensation of his thick cock filling me up had to be my favorite feeling. And the weight of his body as he pressed me into the mattress was oddly comforting.

"Do it. Fuck me, Alex."

I listened to him regulate his breathing for a moment, then he braced himself and began to thrust. I loved the way he fucked me... with a steady rhythm and a lot of force. I could feel the power in his body as he used graceful hip action to pound into me.

By squirming my hips, I could get the friction my cock needed. It didn't seem to affect Alex's ability to keep nailing me.

Suddenly, I could feel an intense burn deep inside me. "Fuck, Alex."

"Feel that?"

"Fuck, yes!" It burned and I feared it would get worse, but it didn't. Nerve endings I never knew I had seemed to awaken in the path of the searing piston inside me. Every touch of my prostate seemed to be hyper-intense... surely more than I could take, but I couldn't bring myself to object. It felt too damned good.

"Your ass is so hot, Fox."

It felt like flame. I was certain Alex's cock would melt.

He picked up the pace, fucking me faster. I could feel the smoldering sensation of each thrust. His respiration accelerated rapidly. I humped the sheets faster and slipped a hand under me. The touch of my own fingers on the head of my cock was enough to bring me off.

I bucked violently with a flesh searing orgasm.

Alex struggled to stay on top of me, lost his rhythm and then found it again. He fucked me hard through the last spasms of my climax. And began his own. Hips pounding into me, he cried out nonsense words and expired on my back.

We groaned in unison.

"Fuck, that was incredible."

"Yeah."

After a moment, he pulled out of me. His hand reached for my shoulder. "We should wash up."

"Soon," I muttered, too lethargic to move.

"Now, Fox. We should get this stuff off."

"Yes, master," I grumbled, as I pulled myself to my feet.

        

**
END Chapter 5

 


 

Chapter 6
** Mulder **

The next morning, I went back to the Groovy Café. My badge got me Natalia's schedule. I returned that night just before the end of her shift.

She was seated in front of the kitchen refilling catsup bottles. Her nametag read simply, 'Talia.'

"Ms. Krycek?"

"Yes?" She eyed me warily. With the same gorgeous green eyes as Alex.

I found it difficult to speak for a moment. In a daze, my hand reached automatically for my Bureau ID. "FBI. My name is Fox Mulder. I'd like to talk to you for a few minutes."

"About what?"

"Alex Krycek."

"He was with the Bureau."

"I know. He was my partner for a short time."

Talia gazed at me, appearing interested for the first time. "Just a sec..." She stood and stepped into the kitchen doorway. "Tony, okay if I clock out?" The woman was almost as tall as I was, with long, long legs and an elegant, androgynous figure.

A male voice from the kitchen called out, "Sure, Talia. Thanks."

I watched her stick a yellow card into the time clock. She removed her name badge and tossed it into a box. Then she said, "Let's take a table in the back. Do you want a Coke or something?"

"Whatever you're having."

Talia met me at the table with two glasses of lemonade. Her shoulder length hair was red-brown, lighter than Alex's, but somewhat curly. It framed a shapely face that made Alex's almost look plain. Her eyes were even bigger than his. She had a strong jaw line, but the masculine touch was the flaw that made her beautiful. Not the bland beauty of a typical fashion model, but a more striking attractiveness that made me unable to stop gazing at her.

It seemed bizarre that this stunning beauty should be working as a waitress rather than something more glamorous.

Talia slid gracefully into the booth, facing me. "Were you with my brother when he was killed?" Her half wince told me everything I needed to know. She still cared.

"No, I'm sorry. I wasn't." The lemonade was fresh and not too sweet.

She nodded. "So what do you want?"

Although I had already accomplished my mission, I couldn't resist chatting with this woman who knew about Alex's mysterious past. "I wasn't his partner for very long. I didn't know him well. What was he like?"

"Why?" Her intelligent eyes fixed on me, certain that this was so much bullshit. "He's been dead for five years. Why now?"

"I recently found out he had a sister in the area."

She watched me and waited for me to continue.

"I'm just curious. I don't mean to cause you any distress."

Glancing away, Talia continued in a softer tone, "Alex was impetuous and sweet, although he'd never have admitted it. Smart, but easily bored. He was a loner. Intense." She had a low voice for a woman, but it was higher than Alex's.

"You miss him, don't you?"

"He taught me how to ride a bike. Read to me when I was sick." Talia became lost in her memories, so I let her be. Eventually, she snapped out of it. "Do you have a car?"

"Hmm?"

"A car, Agent Mulder."

"Yes."

"Would you drive me home?"

Without a thought, I stumbled out of my seat to obey. These Kryceks were good at having their way with me.

Talia returned our glasses to the kitchen and carefully wiped down the table.

Talia let me hold the car door for her. She was silent, except to give directions to her apartment. The apartment was in a tiny quadplex, a quarter mile from Georgetown University. She led the way up the stairs to her unit.

It was sparsely but neatly furnished. A tiny kitchenette. A couch. A desk with a PC. Next to the PC, a framed photo of a teenaged Alex. I picked it up and examined it thoughtfully.

Alex was standing in a grassy field in a track jersey, showing off long, long legs under his shorts. Probably high school. I tried to imagine that innocent boy.

Talia smiled over my shoulder. "Tenth grade. I think."

"He ran track?"

"Hurdles. He wasn't quite as fast as the other runners, but he was nimble."

"I believe it."

Talia sat on the sofa and kicked off her shoes. "There wasn't a service. Alex's supervisor, who called us, said he hadn't wanted one. And the family didn't try to put anything together." Unlike my lover, Talia's emotions passed across her face, shared unselfconsciously, as if she had no fear of them at all. It was another kind of beauty... openness of feeling.

She caught me gaping at her. Probably used to it.

I shook my head, absently. "You look so much like him. It's astonishing."

She didn't reply, but her eyes flicked back to the photo.

I was curious about what she'd been told about the disposition of Alex's body, but it didn't really matter. I had custody of the body.

It was painful for me not to be able to tell her he was alive. I could only imagine this was Samantha, and someone couldn't tell her I was still alive.

"Are you a student?"

"Yes. Ph.D. candidate in history." Talia's yawn got my attention.

"I'm sorry. I should go." I shook her hand. She had a firm handshake. "Thank you for the information."

Alex was pacing the living room when I got home. He greeted me with anxious green eyes.

I approached him and lightly held his shoulders. "She loves you, Alex."

His face tightened in pain and he dropped his head.

"You have to go see her," I said emphatically.

He lifted his gaze and shook his head. "How do you know she still, uh, likes me?"

"She has your picture on the table next to her computer." One look at Alex's face told me he still needed convincing. "She said, 'He taught me how to ride a bike. Read to me when I was sick.' You should have seen her face, Alex. She cares about you."

"You didn't tell her, right?"

"No, but I wanted to." I waited for him to admit it was time to contact her, but he didn't. "You have to see her."

Alex paced the room a few more times, before departing to the kitchen and returning with a couple of beers. He put one between his legs and deftly uncapped it one-handed, before passing it to me. He opened the other and chugged about half of it.

"Would you go see her again?" he asked in a tentative tone.

"You need to see her, Alex."

"I know, but I don't want to be a ghost. Would you go see her and tell her about me?"

"I'll go tomorrow," I replied impatiently.

"Tell her everything. What I've done. Jail. About my arm. Be sure it's me she wants to see, not some fantasy big brother."

"Okay, Alex."

The next day, I went to her house after lunch. She didn't seem surprised as she opened the door. "Are you going to tell me what you wanted to tell me yesterday?"

"Yeah."

"Then you may come in, Agent Mulder."

She offered me a Coke and we sat on the sofa. A fat textbook lay open on her table. 'China in the Modern World.'

"Your brother is still alive, Ms. Krycek."

"What?"

"He had someone tell the family he was dead."

"You can't be serious." Her face turned angry. "If this is some sort of cruel-"

"No." I touched her forearm gently. "It's the truth."

"Why?"

"Alex left the Bureau to... he... his activities weren't... "

"Just say it, Agent Mulder."

"He became a criminal."

Talia didn't seem surprised. She looked down at her hands for a minute. They were pretty hands, like his. When she spoke again, her voice was cold. "What's your real interest in my brother? Why are you here?"

She was protecting Alex. It made me want to give her a hug. I smiled. "He's my lover."

"I'm not sure if I believe you."

"It's true. He's been a criminal, but there's another side to him. I love him very much."

Talia scrutinized me carefully, trying to decide if I was telling the truth.

"Did you know he was gay?"

"Yes," she replied cautiously, glancing at the photo by her PC. "If Alex is alive and your lover, why isn't he here with you?"

"He didn't want to shock you, since you thought he was dead." I paused to consider what to share. "And he's afraid you no longer care about him."

"What did you tell him about our meeting yesterday?"

"That you love him."

"It's true. He's still my brother. I want to see him."

"There are some things he wants you to know before he sees you... in case you change your mind about wanting to see him."

"Tell me," she replied in a clipped voice.

"He committed some very bad crimes." I really didn't want to tell her, but I knew Alex would never agree to see her if I hadn't. "Treason. Murder."

She bit her lip, but met my eyes. "Go on."

"He's been in prison, for killing someone who tried to hurt me."

Talia nodded, her face placid, with just a hint of hurt showing in those pretty, pretty eyes.

"He was in an accident." What a euphemism! An accident. But I just couldn't explain all of it. "His left arm was amputated."

"Is he all right?"

"It was years ago. Yes. He's recovered. He wears a prosthetic arm to work, but usually not at home."

She nodded. "What else?"

"His life has been in danger... people trying to kill him, but it's calmer now."

"Is that all?"

"That's the worst of it."

"Fine. You've told me. I want to see him."

"Don't you want to talk about what I've told you?"

She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them and spoke with determination. "My brother was never a good boy. I knew he'd get into trouble. But underneath the façade, he's warm and giving."

"You're right."

"When I was a child, he was the only person who loved me freely, asking nothing in return. I forgive him for whatever he's done." She brushed her curly hair off her forehead. "Is he here in D.C.?"

"Alexandria."

"Take me to him."

I really wanted to. Before Alex could object. "I think he needs time. I want to tell him about our conversation and let him think about it."

"Is he afraid of me?"

"He's not sure coming into your life again will be good for you."

"Nonsense. I insist."

I nodded. "I agree with you. Are you free Tuesday?" I already knew she wasn't working. "Why don't we plan to meet for dinner and I'll talk to Alex tonight?"

"Okay. Where shall we meet?"

"What's convenient to you?"

"Taste of Italy. It's around the corner on Livingston."

"I know it. Meet there at 7:30?"

"Fine. I'll be there." There was a solid determination in her voice... she'd be there. Woe to anyone who tried to prevent it.

Neither of us spoke for a few minutes.

Finally, she asked, "How long have you two been together?"

"Since a few months before he went to prison. He was incarcerated for a little over a year. He's been out for about a month."

She tilted her head to the side. "Loyal of you to stand by him."

"He makes me happy."

Talia smiled and looked off into the distance. She nodded solemnly and I knew it was the right choice. She needed him in her life, too.

There's so much I wanted to ask her, I didn't know where to begin. "What's the age difference?"

"Eight years. Most older brothers have no time for a little girl, but he was different." She shook her head. "I was devastated when he left. That took some time to forgive. But I think he had to leave."

"Why?"

"You'll have to ask him, Mr. Mulder."

When I got home, I told Alex everything--except about the planned dinner. I wanted him calmer for that.

"She said she forgave me?"

"Yes," I repeated for the third time. "Her exact words were, 'I forgive him for whatever he's done.'"

Alex fidgeted at the window. Then he fed the fish. "Tell me again about the other part."

"'... he was the only person who loved me freely... '"

"Okay, well, I guess I'll see her, but I want to think about it."

"Alex, I already scheduled dinner with her on Tuesday."

"What?!"

"I think we should do this right away."

"You think? She's my sister."

I stood and touched his shoulder. "I just don't want you worrying about this for days. Please, Alex. Let's get it over with."

He growled at me and returned to the window.

"Alex, you already fed the fish."

He glared, put down the fish food and went to the kitchen.

Tuesday night at Taste of Italy, Alex was a mess. At 7:15 he went to the men's room. He came out briefly at 7:25, then went back. Who knew what he was doing in there... probably intimidating other patrons.

When Talia arrived, he was still in the restroom.

"Hi." I leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek before she sat down.

"Where's Alex?"

"He's hiding in the men's room. If he's not out in five minutes, I'll go get him."

Eventually, my wayward lover returned. As he approached Talia's back, he stopped and closed his eyes for a moment. I'd never seen him like this. Aggressive as hell facing evil Tunguskan gulag-keepers, but pale as death facing his kid sister.

The look on my face must have tipped her off. She turned and watched him approach. By the time he reached the table, his face was filled with doubt and pain.

Talia's eyes were wet but smiling when she rose. She wrapped her arms around him and muttered in Russian. She stroked his hair and gazed into his face.

"Xan," she said softly, kissing his cheeks. Then she looked him over and a hurt expression came to her face. "Oh, Xan. Your arm."

"'S'okay, Tal," he replied in a gentle tone I imagined he'd used to comfort her as a child. He slowly reached up and stroked the side of her face. Turbulent eyes gave away his inner turmoil.

They gazed at each other for a few minutes before separating and sitting down. I could feel tears sliding down my cheeks. I was trying very hard not to think of Samantha, but it was impossible. Though still pained about my own missing sister, I also felt joy for Alex and Talia.

I kept looking from one face to the other. "Alex, she's even prettier than you."

He shrugged. "She got the brains and the looks."

"You have the same eyes. So beautiful."

Unable to take those eyes off her brother, she replied, "Thank you," with the casual air of a woman who is accustomed to being told she's beautiful.

Alex shook his head, as if to clear it. "So, Tal, what are you doing in D.C.?"

"I'm working on my doctorate in history at Georgetown."

"Then why the waitress gig?" I asked.

"I have a fellowship, but D.C. isn't cheap. The restaurant and tips are enough to make the difference."

Alex shook his head absently. "How long have you been here?"

"Three years. I could finish next year if I can keep cranking out the thesis."

"What's the topic?" Alex inquired.

"The origins of American criminal justice principles and practices."

I jumped in. "Are you considering a career in law enforcement?"

"Yes. I was thinking of following my brother's footsteps into the FBI."

Alex's face got this pinched look, like he'd just eaten something too tart. "Fox told you about me, didn't he?"

Talia put a hand on his forearm. "Yes. I know your career didn't turn out the way you planned."

He grimaced. "Just don't mention my name at the Bureau."

She gazed at him thoughtfully. "I'll bet you were a good agent before you got into trouble."

Alex shrugged.

I spoke up. "He was a good agent."

Alex looked away.

Talia said, "It's okay, Xan. The past is the past. Don't let it hurt you any more." I sensed that her comforting him was not a familiar pattern.

An awkward silence was broken by the arrival of the waitress.

Talia and I chatted about Georgetown and her thesis. Alex asked some questions, but didn't have much to say.

After dinner, I thought to inquire about growing up with Alex. "I assume 'Xan' is short for Alexander?"

"Yeah. When I was really little, it was the only part I could pronounce."

"So did Xan tease you a lot, like a normal big brother?"

Alex winced, clearly uncomfortable with the subject of his childhood.

"He wasn't too bad. One time when I was about six, he had me convinced I had stopped growing. I'd go to the mirror each morning and look. I couldn't see any difference, so I started marking my height on the wall. Each day for a week it was the same, so I figured he was right. Even though I was taller than all of my schoolmates, I thought I was going to be four foot two for the rest of my life."

A hint of a smile passed across Alex's face.

"I got even, though. I poured out his shampoo bottle and filled it with raw egg. And then I put tiny rocks in his socks." She gave me the smile of a six-year-old. "He learned not to mess with me."

Alex's face opened up a bit at that memory. "Yeah, an eight year age advantage and I still couldn't win a battle with this girl."

"Did you have other siblings? Or just the two of you?"

"Just us." She started to say something, but the uneasy look on Alex's face stopped her. "What about you, Agent Mulder?"

"Just Mulder, please."

"Mulder? Why not 'Fox?'"

I gave her my disgruntled look. "Alex is the only one who gets to call me that. Everyone else calls me Mulder."

Alex jumped in before she could reply. "Even I didn't get to call him Fox until recently." He shrugged, as if to comment on my fickle nature.

"Why all the fuss about your name?"

"Uh, I never liked it." That was my usual evasion, but for some reason I felt like I owed her the truth. "I hated the tone my parents used when they said it."

She nodded sympathetically. "How long have you been out? As a gay man?"

"I, um, not until Alex. I fooled around a bit in high school, but I still thought I was straight. Until your sexy brother seduced me."

"He's very handsome, isn't he? When I was nine years old, I decided I wouldn't date any boy until I found one better looking than him. Fortunately for my sex life, I moved beyond the crush on my big brother."

Alex looked faintly embarrassed.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to get information Alex wouldn't share, I asked, "Are your parents still alive?"

He mumbled, "Excuse me," and retreated to the men's room again.

Talia didn't speak for a moment. We both just watched Alex depart. Finally, she said. "Our father disappeared when I was a baby. I learned later that he was running from gambling debts. He's presumed dead."

"I'm sorry."

"Our mother is still alive, but she's emotionally unwell. Has been for as long as I can remember."

"Depression?"

"No. She's psychotic. Hears voices. Has bizarre behaviors." Unlike Alex's obvious fear of this topic, Talia seemed able to discuss it directly.

"Hospitalized?"

"Amazingly, she still lives alone in the house we grew up in. She can feed herself most days. A neighbor looks in on her. Our aunt buys groceries and pays the bills. I'm sure we'll have to institutionalize her eventually."

"What a difficult situation for you to grow up in."

"I was a very independent child."

"Alex won't say a word about his childhood."

"I know. He doesn't like to think about it."

"What happened to him?"

She took the question very seriously, mulling it over before replying. "I don't know. I was too small to remember or understand. He was a very bright boy, but mostly he kept away from other people."

"It must have hurt him when his father left."

She shook her head. "I'm not sure. He never seemed sad at the loss. And he avoided our mother as much as possible. He was always the adult in the family, even writing his own notes for school, and forging her signature on checks for our visits to the doctor. Stayed out all night if he wanted. I was the only one he paid any attention to."

"He really loves you, Talia. I don't think he'll ever tell you, so I'm telling you."

"I know. It shows."

Alex eventually reappeared and we drove Talia home. Inside her tiny apartment, she gave him a big hug. "Thanks for coming back, Xan."

"I missed you, Tal."

She kissed each of his cheeks. "Da s'vedanya." And then she kissed each of my cheeks. "Thank you for my brother."

I returned the Russian-style kisses. "Goodbye."

"Goodbye, Fox."

Alex raised an eyebrow, waiting for me to challenge his sister.

I opened my mouth, but looked into Talia's beautiful eyes and found that I couldn't object. I wanted her in our lives and, if that was the price, I'd accept it.

Alex barely said a word the rest of the night. So I tried to get him talking. "I like her. She's smart and she's got balls."

"Yeah, I guess she got the brains, beauty and balls."

I lay my head on his shoulder. "I think you have all of those, too, Alex."

He grinned at me ruefully. "Let's just be clear about this, Fox. If you leave me for her, I won't go quietly."

I chuckled. "I'm very satisfied. I got the right Krycek."

"Really?" he asked too softly.

"Yes, Alex," I replied, punctuating my remark with a kiss.

** Krycek **

It was good to see Talia again. How can she be so healthy and strong? So vivacious? From our family? It just seemed odd, that out of the rubble of the Krycek household, came this one very together woman, out bravely facing the world.

And me? I suppose I was facing the world, too. But it wasn't my first choice.

           

Chapter 7

** Scully **

Late one Friday afternoon, I found myself--yet again--doing Mulder's expense reports. But this time, I told him he had to answer the phone all day, and sign my name on the list of attendees at the mandatory safe gun use seminar next week. I think I came out ahead on the deal.

As I tallied the damage from our last trip to Reno, I half listened to Mulder taking several nuisance calls.

"Uh, no. The FBI does not investigate fraudulent game tokens." His eyebrows waggled impatiently. "If the White-collar Crime Section told you that, they are obnoxiously mistaken." And after a pause he said, "Mary Anne told you to call me? ... Uh hm. You know, you sound like a nice young man. Did you know that Mary Anne is single and looks just like Britney Spears? ... Uh-huh. Even has a navel ring. She told me just the other day that a video game is her idea of the perfect date."

The next call was more typical.

"Mulder." After a very, very lengthy pause, he managed to get in a few words. "You know a lot of people have itchy gums and it has nothing to do with alien implants. Have you thought to see a dentist? ... Uh, no. But there are dentists who specialize in treating alien abductees. Just look in the yellow pages. Whenever you see an ad with a sketch of a smiling tooth on it, that's the secret code for abductee dentists. ... Yes, of course. Good luck."

I was almost done with the Reno report when the phone rang again.

"Mulder. ... Uh-huh." His voice was unnaturally low. Then the volume dropped, so I could barely hear. "You know I'll do whatever you say. ... Very badly." I'd never heard that tone before. Mulder sounded so subdued... acquiescent. Then I noticed his eyelids were drooping.

I shifted my chair slightly to get closer.

"Please, Alex."

Oh, my. I had to work to keep my face relaxed and my eyes on the forms in front of me.

"You're getting me very excited here." He glanced over at me nervously, but I was watching out of my peripheral vision. "You know how badly I need it, but I'm here with Scully. ... I don't think she'd appreciate that."

What? Lord, I was getting a bit turned on myself here... imagining what Alex was saying to him.

"Okay, I'll stop on the way." His face was flushed. Mulder really was lovely when he was turned on. "Ten minutes. I promise. ... You know I can't wait."

When he hung up the phone, he looked at me again. Then he took a few deep breaths. "Uh, Scully?"

"Yes, Mulder?" I replied, not looking up.

"I think I'm going to go home early."

"It's only 4:30. Are you ill?" That was mean, but I couldn't resist.

"Uh, no. Well, yeah, maybe I feel a bit feverish. I think I'll just go home and rest."

I stood and walked to his desk, putting my palm on his forehead. "Hmm... not too warm, but you look at bit... stimulated."

He swallowed heavily and eyed me uneasily.

Forcing my voice flat, I added, "I'm sure it's nothing that Alex can't take care of."

His eyebrows went up and he suppressed an obvious frown. "Yeah, I just want to lie down."

I'll bet you do, Mulder. I shook my head as he grabbed his keys and his suit coat.

A glance at the front of his trousers revealed the truth. As he headed out the door, I called out, "Uh, Mulder?"

"Yeah?"

"Put your coat on... at least until you get out of the building."

He gaped at me like a fish, and flushed again. "Uh, yeah."

I sat down to continue my work with a smile on my face. Cute, Mulder.

A few moments later, it occurred to me how happy he was. The Mulder I used to know worked late almost every night because he had nothing to go home to. But in half an hour, he'd be in bed with his lover. This was a vast improvement over his video addiction.

His lover was not Mr. Morality, but what I'd said to Skinner was true. Mulder was lucky to have someone who cared about him. And something besides his work.

I finished the expense report and, leaving the others for tomorrow, grabbed my own coat and headed home. Maybe I could find something enjoyable to do, too.

** Krycek **

Fox and Scully went to Illinois. One of their previous captures had escaped. Some sick fuck named Donnie Pfaster. Liked to eat dead girls' fingers or something. Kind of made me wish they were on a more sane case... ghosts or vampires or Bigfoot.

Pfaster had attacked Scully once. Woe be to he who threatens Mulder's partner. I knew how badly he wanted to catch this one, so when they got back Thursday afternoon without having arrested the perp, I expected him to be in a foul mood.

He met my expectations. An irritable Fox called me from the airport. He was going to visit the Gunmen and see if they could help him with some scheme to track Pfaster.

When I got home that evening, he still wasn't home.

I hit the answering machine button as I stripped off my suit and changed into human clothes. The message was for Fox, so I only listened with half an ear. "Agent Mulder, Marshall Joe Daddo in Marion. Just talked to... wearing a red wig. Upset she wasn't a redhead..."

I hit the save button and slipped on my boots. Turning on the radio, I went into the kitchen to make dinner. In a tired daze, I pulled out a big pot for pasta.

The song on the radio was some horrid thing I'd never had the misfortune to hear before. I returned to the receiver to switch it off. The lyric called out something like, 'Don't Look Any Further' Okay, I won't.

The instant the switch disconnected the tuner, the message replayed in my head. "Upset she wasn't a redhead."

I paused, feeling an intense sense of foreboding.

** Mulder **

I was driving home from the Gunmen's house when I heard that damned song on the radio again. It gave me a very bad vibe. I grabbed my cell and dialed Scully's house. No answer. No answer on her cell either. Fuck. I was still near Baltimore. Nowhere near Scully's.

My trouble sense was in full alert, so I called our place.

"Yeah?"

"Alex, it's me. Scully's in trouble and I can't get to her apartment for another thirty minutes."

"Got my gun. On my way."

"Thanks," I replied as the phone disconnected. Alex seemed to know why I had called, before I called. That's odd. I desperately needed to be there. If anything happened to Scully... Or Alex, for that matter.

I called for backup, because I had to--to protect their lives. But I was also hoping against hope that Alex wouldn't get caught with his gun.

The drive was interminable. I violated enough traffic laws to earn a life sentence in traffic school. As I neared her house, I saw Alex's truck parked haphazardly at the curb. No sign of other law enforcement. Fuck. Twenty minutes since I called and still no backup. If anything had happened to either of them, I would garrote the dispatcher.

I ditched my car in the grass, leaped out and entered the shattered front door.

Inside, Scully and Alex sat quietly on her sofa. She was wearing her PJs, looking numb, with her head resting on his shoulder. That unlikely sight triggered my panic reflex, but both appeared to have no major injuries. Scully was clearly battered, although she did not appear to need emergency medical care. I was so damned relieved neither of them had been killed.

Her apartment resembled a tornado site. As I stepped further into the room, I saw Pfaster's body on the floor. No pulse. Shot... up through the chest. Probably Alex taking him out as he went for Scully.

I stepped in front of them. "Alex, your gun," I said in an urgent voice. I'd have to wipe his prints and say I fired the shot.

He glanced at me grimly, but passed the weapon, butt first, awkwardly, to avoid dislodging Scully from his shoulder.

Cold. It was cold. And no scent of gunpowder. My eyes flashed to his demanding an explanation.

He just shook his head, but didn't move.

I extracted a handkerchief from my pocket and thoroughly wiped the gun. Then I held it in the firing position, insuring that my prints were on it. Next, I tucked it into my waistband.

Scully stared into space.

"What happened, Alex?"

His eyes met mine and, before he uttered a word, I knew he was going to lie. "I kicked in the door. Pfaster was going after Scully as she tried to reach a gun on the floor." His voice was dead calm. "He rose and came after me. At the same moment, she got her hands on the gun." He touched her gently under the chin, to get her attention. "Since I had no weapon," he enunciated the words carefully as if teaching them, "...she shot him before he could get to me."

Scully blinked up at him.

"Right, Scully?"

She said in a weak voice, "Don't-"

I gaped at both of them as Alex interrupted her, meeting her eyes with a fierce gaze. "You shot him to keep him from attacking me."

She stared at him, and then at me, a desolate look on her face.

My eyes took in the room. Assessing. Judging. At that moment, nothing could make me believe the explanation my law enforcement brain told me was the truth. But I had to protect them. And quickly.

I trusted Alex completely, ready to support his version of the truth.

Just to be certain, I had to ask, "Alex, powder residue... are your hands are clean?"

"Yes."

Half numb myself, I nodded to Scully.

And she nodded to Alex. The lie was now agreed upon. Something inside me wanted to burst. I didn't even care to think about the truth.

I desperately wanted to get Alex out of that room, but there was no way I could explain having been present without a gun. It had to be him.

As I heard the sirens outside, I said a silent prayer to a god I didn't believe in that both of these people I loved would emerge from this intact and without facing criminal charges.

In fact, the lie was a breeze. The Bureau agent knew Scully and didn't question her word. The police saw how tiny she was and ignorantly dismissed her as purely a victim. Alex's prison record came up, but Scully and I both supported his story. He hadn't done anything illegal or parole violating.

Four hours later, we put Scully to bed on our sofa. Alex and I crawled into our bed. We lay together, in a silent embrace, for almost a half hour before I finally asked, "Alex, what really happened?"

His voice seemed eerie in the dark room. "Are you sure you want to know?"

"Yes." I snuggled in closer. "I need to know."

"Pfaster wasn't going anywhere. He was standing between us. Unarmed. We both had our guns on him. She put him down."

My breath hitched and I could feel tears trickle out of my eyes.

He stroked my hair, soothingly. "She did the right thing, Fox. The fucker had gone after her twice."

My only response was a feeble nod. Scully was my hero... but she'd done what I might have done. She was just a human being like the rest of us.

Alex held me and didn't ask for an explanation. Maybe he understood. I fell asleep in his arms.

In the morning, we sat in bed, both leaning against the headboard.

"Thank you, Alex, for risking everything to save her."

He nodded. A couple of minutes later, he spoke with an aggrieved expression. "I like her, too."

** Krycek **

I rose and showered after Fox went running. I discovered Scully in the living room, drinking coffee.

"You okay?"

"Yes," she replied in a flat tone.

I kept moving, heading toward the kitchen.

"Krycek?"

"Yeah?"

"I want to talk to you for a moment."

I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat across from her.

She bit her lip nervously, but when she spoke, her words were calm. "Why? You endangered your freedom and even your life... You did it for Mulder, right?"

I nodded. "Yes, but... I both like and respect you, Scully."

She shook her head, as if to disagree. "But I... I don't respect you, Alex. I can't."

"Okay. I accept that." I shrugged and started to stand.

"But I... um, thank you, Alex."

** Mulder **

I walked in on Scully thanking Alex. Maybe they were becoming friends. Alex found an excuse to go to the store, so I could be alone with her.

"Scully, are you all right?"

She looked proud and strong, like my Scully, but she shook her head.

"You can't judge yourself."

"Maybe I don't have to."

I knew her religion would be a problem. "The Bible allows for vengeance."

"But the law doesn't."

"The way I see it... he didn't give you a choice. Alex agrees. And my report will reflect that, in case you're worried. Donnie Pfaster would've surely killed again given the chance."

"He was evil, Mulder. I'm sure about that, without a doubt. But there's one thing I'm not sure of."

"What's that?"

"Who was at work in me. Or what... what made me... what made me pull the trigger."

"You mean if it was god?"

"I mean... what if it wasn't?"

I couldn't believe that. Neither god nor the devil made Scully kill Pfaster. He was evil and she needed to stop him. Permanently. To me, it was simple. My Scully was flawed like the rest of us. It made me sad, but it also made me feel closer to her.

I wrapped my arms around my partner and held her tightly, as if to protect her after the fact. She was so important to me. I couldn't be more grateful that she was alive. That she did what she had to, to protect herself. That another of my cases didn't hurt her again. But it did hurt her. Her integrity. At that moment, I'd have given up everything but Alex to restore it to her.

I felt her heart beating as we clutched each other, silently sharing our fears and relief.

Scully's so incredibly strong. I knew she'd make her way through it.

A week after Pfaster was killed, on Tuesday morning, I waited outside the basement office to catch Scully before she came inside.

I heard her footsteps in the hall and then, as she came into sight, she quirked an eyebrow at me. "What's up, Mulder?"

"I want to take you to breakfast." I flashed her my charm-school smile. "Because you deserve it for putting up with me."

She paused, raising her eyebrow again. "Well, that's difficult to argue. Can I at least put these in the office?"

"Uh, no," I replied, taking the medical journals from her arm. "I'll carry them for you."

Gazing at me like I was a peculiar specimen, she followed me to my car.

We ate at Rue L'Orange. Her favorite.

After the waiter took our order, she inquired, "Are you buttering me up for something?"

"No, Scully." I faked a pout. "I'm just showing my appreciation."

"Uh-huh," she replied, her stern face making her doubtful position clear.

"I haven't always been the easiest partner to work with. I'm trying to clean up my act. Do you mind?"

"No, feel free. But don't expect me to be surprised the next time you misbehave."

"You're so cynical."

"I prefer the term 'realistic.'"

"Yeah, whatever." I nibbled on a piece of toast. "So, Scully, how are you really feeling? After last week-"

She cut me off, face relaxing in an instant, for the first time certain of my intentions. "I'm fine, Mulder. Stop worrying."

"I just want you to know I'm here if you need to talk."

"I know." She patted my hand. "I won't forget. Even if you're not always the easiest partner to work with, I know I can count on you if I ever need anything."

"Anything, Scully."

When we got back to the office, I carried her journals again. Before I opened the door, I said, "Close your eyes, Scully."

"Why? You've got a porn DVD running on your computer? A revivified corpse is going to jump out at me? What?"

"No. I got you a present."

Scully gave me a vexed look, but closed her eyes.

I opened the door and escorted her to the middle of the office. "Open your eyes."

Her jaw dropped slightly as she took in the sight. "You got me a desk."

"It's the same size as mine, but I think it's better looking."

She examined the battered government desk carefully, glancing back at my similarly mangled one. "Uh, yeah. Mine's nicer," she replied in a disingenuous tone.

I watched her as she sat down and surveyed her new territory. Perched on the edge of her desk was a small vase of violets. She reached for it and retrieved the tiny card. "Thank you for being my best friend. Love, Mulder."

She shook her head, amused by me. As always. Watching her try to fight off a smile warmed my heart.

                

Chapter 8

** Mulder **

I got home at 5:25 on Friday, at least two hours before Alex would ever expect me. He wasn't home yet, so after changing into jeans, I turned on the TV and flipped through the week's stack of mail. They really should put a recycling bin right under the mailbox to save time.

Alex turned up twenty minutes later. "Hey, Fox. You're home."

"Yeah," I replied with a grin. "I thought you'd appreciate not having to call around hunting for your man at the end of the week."

He kissed me absentmindedly. "Yeah, I do." His suit was rumpled. His tie was crooked. He looked damned good.

I followed him into the bedroom, watching as he stripped off his tie. I added two more hands and helped him peel off the suit. Then one of those hands strayed down to the lump in his shorts.

He smiled warmly, but it was not a sexual smile. "Later, lover. I'm still out of it from work. Okay?"

"Sure, I can be patient."

"Really? When?" He cocked his head like a curious dog. "Have I ever seen that?"

I smacked him playfully on the butt and tossed him his jeans.

Ten minutes later, he was doing something in the kitchen, while I read the paper.

"Fox. Um, I'll be right back." And he was gone.

Odd. I wondered where he was going. Probably to the 7-11 to get some missing ingredient for dinner. If so, he'd be back in ten minutes.

He returned in five minutes, darting into the kitchen.

"Where'd you go, Alex?"

"Nowhere," he mumbled.

Sometimes Alex liked to be mysterious. It didn't mean he was up to anything. Just kept things to himself. I decided not to make a federal case out of it, and followed him into the kitchen to see if I could fondle the cook.

But when I entered the room, he was facing the sink, a vaguely distressed look on his face. His hand held a baggie. Filled with white powder.

Before I could even think, I grabbed his wrist and twisted, forcing him to drop it. "What the fuck are you doing?!"

He did a rapid about-face and held up his arm defensively. "What am I doing?" His tone was pure acid.

I kicked the baggie on the floor. "God dammit, Alex! How long have you been doing heroin?" Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

His eyes narrowed and his expression went from shock to outrage to just plain rage. He tried to speak but was too furious to get the words out. Finally he took a couple of deep breaths. "Mul-der, I'm going for a walk. And when I come back, you're going to apologize."

Alex shoved me out of his way. After retrieving his keys, he called out, "And be sure to taste the heroin while I'm gone." The door slammed behind him, rattling the coat rack.

Fuck. He needed me. I darted to the door, opened it and stepped into the hall, speaking to his rapidly retreating back. "Come back! We need to talk. I'll help you."

From the end of the hall, he turned and barked at me, "I need to be alone."

He didn't take the drugs with him, so I let him go. I slunk back into our apartment. Fuck.

Something was niggling at the back of my brain. "... be sure to taste the heroin..." I got a queasy feeling in my intestines as I returned to the kitchen.

I picked up the baggie and looked at it. I didn't even need to taste it. It was white crystalline flakes, but way too big to be heroin. What the fuck?

I tossed it on the counter in disgust. Returning to the living room, I sat down numbly at my desk. It took at least five minutes before my distressed brain realized that I'd falsely accused Alex of using heroin. No wonder he was pissed.

Ah, fuck! I was a goddamned idiot.

Alex showed up about two hours later, with a paper bag from our favorite Greek deli. Grimacing at me, he sat down at the kitchen table. His jaw was clenched.

"I'm sorry, Alex. I fucked up."

He muttered, "Big time," and removed one sandwich from the bag. He folded the empty bag neatly. Not in a forgiving mood, apparently.

I tried to catch his eye, but he was ignoring me. "I jumped to a hasty conclusion."

He took a bite of his falafel sandwich, chewing it aggressively... probably wishing the falafels were my balls.

"I apologize, Alex."

My masticating lover was unimpressed.

"Shit," I mumbled to myself. I got up to get him a Coke. "I suppose I shouldn't have assumed the worst. I'm really very sorry."

He rolled his eyes.

"Well, dammit, Alex! What were you doing? What was I supposed to think? You disappear for five minutes and come back with that baggie of whatever the fuck it is."

Standing suddenly, he knocked the chair to the floor. "WELL, IF I WAS BUYING A FIX, I WOULDN'T DO IT IN OUR APARTMENT BUILDING, YOU MORON."

"SO WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME WHERE YOU WENT? IF YOU HAD JUST ANSWERED ME WHEN I ASKED YOU, THIS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED."

Scowling, he regulated his breathing to regain control. "I get fucking tired of telling you where I go all the time. Sometimes it feels like you're my parole officer. At least he believes me when I say I'm clean."

"You go on these stealth missions and never want to tell me what you're doing... what am I supposed to think?"

He gestured madly with his arm. "Oh, let me guess... that I'm killing your friends, selling information I hacked from your PC, torturing small animals... choose your favorite." Picking up his sandwich, he retreated to the living room.

"Have I accused you of anything since you got out of prison? Name one thing."

"Usein' he'oin," he replied around a full mouth.

"Besides that. Until today. Name one thing."

A lopsided shrug was his only reply.

I smirked at my irritating lover and stomped around the room. "Well, if you weren't doing anything nefarious, there is no reason not to tell me what you were doing tonight, and what's in the fucking baggie."

"It's not easy living with an officer of the law." He chewed for a long time before continuing. "I'm defending my right to privacy."

"Huh?"

"I don't have to tell you everything about everything." He picked at the seam of his jeans. "Do I need to have an attorney present to protect my rights?"

I glared at him. "Of course not."

"It feels like I do." His hand twitched nervously on his thigh.

"Well, you don't. But I want to know what's in the baggie."

"Repeat after me, Mul-der: Innocent until proven guilty."

I made a face.

"Fine, then you go to your grave without knowing what's in the baggie."

"Fuck!" I kicked the couch and said in a pissy voice, "All right. You don't have to answer all my questions."

He gave me a look of total disgust and threw a falafel at me.

I ducked ineffectually and it smacked hard against the side of my face, leaving a trail of salad dressing. I brushed at it with my hand, then wiped my fingers on my jeans.

Alex wrapped up the uneaten half of his sandwich and tossed it in the trash. Then he went into the bedroom.

I trailed after him, painfully aware that I was being an asshole, but still feeling angry. I tried to placate. "I'm sorry, Alex. You don't have to tell me everything. I don't tell you everything... well, maybe I do, but that's only because I can't stop babbling."

Alex's face stiffened against a smile. "That's the truth."

Fuck. Having a lover is hard work. It's not the actual work I minded so much. It's the groveling after fuck-ups. Scully was easy compared to my stubborn lover. "I really am sorry. You don't have to tell me where you went tonight." I still wanted to know, of course, but it wasn't worth losing Alex over.

Maybe if I gave him some peace and quiet, he'd calm down. I tried to smile a little and left the room.

A voice called out behind me, "I went to see Mrs. Rodinsky."

I turned around and faced him from the corridor. "The cranky deaf lady who lives at the end of the hall?"

"And you call yourself an investigator?" He shook his head patronizingly. "She's neither cranky nor deaf. She's Russian and she doesn't speak a word of English."

Well, that explained everything. I took a couple of steps toward the bedroom, my hands in my hair, ready to tear it out. "And what? She gives you a baggie full of WHAT? LAUNDRY DETERGENT?" Fuck, I was yelling again.

He hollered right back. "SOMETIMES, you have the intellect of a THREE YEAR OLD. I would think a FUCKING SPECIAL AGENT could figure out what's in the bag." Suddenly, he brushed past me.

I pursued him and we met in the living room.

He made a fuss of opening the baggie, licked a fingertip, touched it to the white fucking shit and held it to my lips.

If it was poison, I was more than ready. My tongue slipped out. Salt. "Salt? FUCKING SALT? We already have salt. It's too big for salt. Salt crystals are small and square."

"Kosher salt."

"What the FUCK is KOSHER SALT?" My fingers were going for my hair again. Someone had to die after all this suffering and it looked like it was going to have to be me.

"It's a raw form--not iodized--for cooking."

I sputtered, unable to speak at first. "Uh... we... SALT...? We had the worst fight of our entire relationship over fucking salt?" I ground the heels of my hands into my eyes.

I heard breathy sounds that had to be Alex snickering. I uncovered my eyes, rubbing my temples with my fingers.

Alex shook his head. His expression seemed to say I was the biggest fool since the inventor of Cheez Whiz.

It did seem pretty silly, in a really aggravating way. But some of the things he'd said... "You really think I have the intellect of a three year old?"

His lips quirked. "Some of the time."

I frowned.

"You're kind of cute when you're so emotional."

I exaggerated the frown.

He grinned. "And I like it when you babble... I never feel lonely when you're around."

The impact of what I'd done was just starting to hit me. I was such an idiot. Taking a single step toward him, I gently put my hand on his shoulder. "You may have to give me a spanking."

"If you insist, but keep in mind you can't make the same offer to everyone you offend. The line would stretch around the block."

I wrapped my other arm around his waist and pouted into his neck. "Are you nearly finished?"

His lips found my temple, which he kissed tenderly. "Almost." He stepped away. "Sit down, Fox."

This sounded serious. With great trepidation, I took a seat on the sofa.

He sat across from me. "In prison, the day you visited... I'd only had one hit. Remember what I was like? If I did it again, you wouldn't have any trouble figuring out that I was high. Okay?"

"I believe you. I understand." I nodded solemnly. "It won't happen again. And I'm sorry."

He brushed my cheek with his thumb.

We sat silently for a few minutes, letting the adrenaline dissipate.

"So you want to take me to meet the Russian lady?"

He shook his head grimly. "She thinks you're an arrogant yuppie."

I gave a gasp of outrage, but my dignity was too battered to carry it off. My arms wrapped around him, pulling him closer. "I love you, Alex. You owe me a spanking."

"Sure, lover."

Someday he'd tell me he loved me. In the meantime, I already knew. We collapsed in each other's arms.

** Krycek **

The next morning there was a huge vase of flowers on the kitchen table. At least eight different varieties of wildflowers in wild colors. And a small note. "I was listening. I'll try to do better about your privacy. Because you matter to me more than anything. Fox."

Sweet. No one had ever said anything like that to me.

That was one hell of an argument. Fox was an intensely emotional man. He needed more of me than I seemed to be able to give, but I was determined to try harder. The benefits were damned good.

I wasn't exactly the poster child for mental health myself. But maybe I was doing okay with him?

I had a cup of coffee and waited for Fox to return from his morning run. I met him at the door, pulling him close and rubbing my groin against his. "I have something for you, Fox."

He gave me a childish grin. "'Kay." He whipped off his T-shirt, while I pulled off his shorts. Dragging him to the bedroom, I tugged off my jeans and pounced.

He smelled incredible... musky and male. The feel of his hot sweaty skin under my body made me hyperventilate with lust.

We wrestled on the bed... a pale imitation of a battle for dominance. Pale only because we both wanted me to win. So I won. Threw a vanquished Fox over my thighs and smacked his ass.

"Ouch!"

"Aren't you supposed to say, 'Yes, sir. May I have another?'"

"It hurts."

I spanked him again.

"Dammit, Alex. That really hurts."

Whack! "Want me to stop?"

"Yes! No! Well, maybe a few more..."

I stroked his round butt gently before I spanked him again.

His hips started to move from side to side. He moaned. His ass cheeks turned bright pink.

"Damn, you have a beautiful ass, Fox."

"Mm hmm," he whimpered contentedly as my hand came down on it again.

"I think you need to get fucked."

"Defffffinitely."

I gave him another half dozen smacks on his backside, then pushed him face down on the bed.

"How you feeling, lover?"

"Do it," he mumbled into his pillow, his hips thrusting into the sheets.

I put the condom on first, so we wouldn't be interrupted later. Then I kissed down his spine to his ass. Heat rose from the reddened surface of his skin. I nipped my way to his anus. And licked it.

Fox shoved his ass into my face, nearly knocking me off the bed. But I held on and braced myself. I lapped at his anus, then inserted my tongue inside him. He groaned deeply, still moving his hips to encourage the tongue fucking.

I broke away for a moment. "Such a slut!"

"More... I want more!" he gasped.

I laughed and gave it to him. Using my tongue as a spear, I thrust inside him as hard as I could. The only sound was his breathless whimpering.

When I released him, I quickly lubed my fingers and pushed in two at once.

"Yes," he hissed. "Harder."

I shoved my fingers into his rectum. He didn't seem to be in any pain, so I removed them and positioned myself.

As I eased the head of my cock inside him, he moaned deliriously. I pushed hard, giving him the rest in an instant.

After a squeal of delight, he went silent, but his shoulders quivered as he waited for me to move. Pausing a moment to regain control, I caught my breath. Then I let my hips do what they wanted to.

I fucked him hard and fast. His body felt so good impaled on me. His tight ass was intensely hot. Like we were burning up. As I took him furiously, I thought about who he was and what he'd given me. No matter what I asked of him, he offered it generously. That was the true measure of his passion for me. Not those three little words I couldn't say, but his desire to share his body with me any way I wanted it.

I couldn't return that either, I realized sadly.

And then I couldn't think any more. We both made guttural animal sounds as I pounded my pleasure into him. He came from the friction of the sheets, and his orgasm brought me off nearly simultaneously.

Afterward, I lay on his back, holding him as tightly as I could. "Thank you, Fox."

"Mmpfh."

We both washed up and changed the sheets. Feeling lazy, I flopped on the freshly made bed and he joined me, his head nestled on my shoulder. My fingers stroked and teased along his lower back.

Neither of us spoke for a long time. Then Fox asked, "Alex, have you ever killed in anger?"

I took a few deep breaths before responding. "You come up with the most amazing discussion topics in bed."

"I know. Sorry," Fox replied sheepishly. "I've been thinking about last night and how angry I was... and what happened to Scully and Donnie Pfaster." His long elegant fingers brushed absently across my abdomen. "Did you ever kill in anger?"

I eyed him suspiciously. Did he really want to know? "Twice."

"Tell me about it."

"Robert Hamilton Schweck and the man he hired to kill you."

Fox's eyes closed for a moment. "I never thought about the shooter."

Special Agent Fox Mulder never thought about the shooter? Told me a lot about the power of denial. And how much he cared about me. The man who once accused me of every possible misdeed no longer wanted to know what I'd done.

His voice was hushed when he spoke again. "Is that why you got caught? Because you were angry?"

It was likely the truth. "Don't go there, Fox. I did the crime. I went to prison. It's over."

The sadness on his face told me he'd read between the lines.

I put my hand on his shoulder. "I had to do it. You mean so much to me, Fox."

"I know." He kissed me on the forehead. "I'm glad you didn't get caught for the other one."

"Me, too." I mussed his soft hair with my fingertips. "Why the questions? A topic you usually choose to avoid..."

Fox didn't answer and buried his face in my armpit. He didn't want to tell me. That was a first. After an eternity of silence, he sat up and looked at me. "I'm ashamed."

"Of what?"

"What I feel about..." He closed his eyes again, briefly, before continuing, "What I feel about killing."

I didn't understand, but I said nothing. He needed to decide if he wanted to tell me.

Fox glanced around the room. When his eyes returned to me they were hurt. "Envy," he whispered.

"Huh?"

"Envy. I've wanted to kill in anger. Deliberately. When it was legally unjustified. Not in defense of myself or another person. A doctor who was experimenting on a little girl. A serial killer who claimed to have murdered my sister. Another killer who was tormenting Scully. Cancerman. I've wanted to kill... because some dangerous people can't be stopped any other way. And just because I was angry..."

"What's wrong with that, Fox?"

"I've suffered from violence, when my sister was taken, but I still want to be violent myself."

I sighed. Could he really be that innocent? I wanted to hold him close and protect him from himself. From the really good, but naive, part of himself. Something I'd never had in me. Then I saw through my own denial. I'd had it once. When I'd kissed a boy in public thinking the act was too sweet to offend anyone.

My eyes teared up. For Fox. For Trevor. For feelings I'd lost. "I understand."

Fox watched me thoughtfully. "I believe you do." He was carrying a hell of a lot of shame for violent deeds he'd never performed. Snuggling closer, he added, "Maybe that's one reason why I fell in love with you, because I knew you could accept parts of me that I can't."

I stroked his back gently, soothing us both. "Your violent feelings?"

"Yes."

"But everyone has those, don't they?"

"I guess so."

"So what's the point of being ashamed?"

"I should be better than that."

"Trying to be perfect?"

Fox groaned and went silent. When he spoke again, I noticed he deftly changed the subject. "What made you kill? I mean the first time."

"The man I killed had done a lot of harm. It was justified because he was evil. Just like the ones you named, who you didn't kill. That's the difference between you and me."

"But they weren't all evil, were they?"

"No." How to tell my innocent lover that killing got easier? And that eventually, I didn't much care who or why? Better he not hear it.

The silence felt weighted this time.

I imagined heavy recriminations, but he was gentle with me. "I've killed a few evil men. I've made mistakes that caused others to die. I believe in morality, but I don't feel superior to you because of what you did." He shook his head. "I've been envious of you for a long time. It's part of what made me beat you up. Like a bratty child--how come he gets to kill and I don't?"

"You made the right choice, Fox."

"And what about you?"

I wrapped my arm around his waist. "I made the wrong choice."

Fox gazed at me sadly. "Why do you feel it was the wrong choice?"

"Because what I'd done almost made it impossible for me to be with you."

"I try to do the right thing." This was the wide-eyed innocent Fox. So vulnerable. He made me feel protective.

In a gentle voice, I replied, "And now, I try, too."

"For me?"

"For us."

Fox nodded and asked pensively, "Did you ever lose someone you cared about to violence?"

Fuck. "Yes," I replied reluctantly.

"Who?"

I met his eyes and shook my head, saying with my face what I couldn't say out loud. Don't ask this, Fox. It's more than I can give.

Fox opened his mouth, but hesitated before speaking. "Did you think of that person when you killed Schweck and the man he hired?"

"Yes."

"And it didn't make you stop?"

"It made me pull the trigger."

After a long silence, he spoke again. "I love you, Alex. The real you. The imperfect, flawed Alex Krycek."

My chest constricted with his words. I wasn't sure I should ever allow myself to be loved that way, but perhaps it was too late.

             

Chapter 9

** Krycek **

A week later, after Sunday morning coffee, Fox sat next to me on the sofa. "I'd like to ask a favor, Alex." His pleading tone gave him away. Whatever he wanted, it was going to be odious.

"What?"

He patted my thigh. "Would you come with me to visit my mother?"

I frowned. "Did you tell her about me?"

"She knows I have a male lover, but I didn't tell her anything else."

Oh, fuck. Bad enough to visit Fox's mother with the gay thing, but the I-killed-your-ex-husband thing was sure to put that experience over the top. To say nothing of what I knew and despised about her. Had to be the way I least wanted to spend a weekend. Maybe right after a pre-frontal lobotomy.

I did a lot of things I didn't want to, just to make Fox happy, but surely I could plead out of this. Couldn't I?

He nudged my cheek to get me to look at him again. "It won't be that bad."

"So she's comfortable with you having a male lover?"

"Um, no. But-"

"Don't say it, Mulder. Do not say 'she will like you once she gets to know you.'" I gave him a stern look.

His eyelashes fluttered. "Couldn't we just give it a try and see how it goes?"

I looked at him askance. "Why? What do you hope to gain?"

Fox thought about it for a long time before replying, "She's not exactly a warm person, but I feel like she deserves a chance to accept us. She is my mother."

"And I assume you're not planning on telling her that I killed Bill Mulder?"

He grimaced at me, always displeased to be reminded. "No. I wouldn't tell anyone that."

It made me feel bad for bringing it up, which made me feel like I should give in and meet his damned mother. Fuck. What happened to the totally selfish Alex I used to know?

After sitting quietly for a long time, I finally said, "If it's something you really want, I'll go. Once. And I can't promise to be charming."

His face brightened. I'd never be able to say no to him if he looks at me like a kid who just got a train for Christmas. "Sure. No problem. Thanks, Alex."

I had read Consortium files on Teena Mulder and didn't think very highly of his surviving parent. But I could endure almost anything for my intractable lover.

He got up right away and phoned her. "Mom, it's Fox." He nibbled his lower lip, not speaking for a very long time. The look on his face suggested a lecture. Eventually, he broke in and asked, "I was thinking about coming for a visit in a few weeks."

After a pause, he said, "If you want," in a tone that clearly said, 'I'd rather have my fingernails yanked out.'

"Okay, I can do either of those weekends. I'll call you when I have tickets. ... Yeah, um, mom, there's something else. ... No. ... Yes. ... Uh, I'd like to bring someone along. ... No, not Scully. ... No. ... Mom, I want to bring Alex. ... My lover." He winced at her reply.

I was ready to back out at this point. I'd never met the woman and I already loathed her.

"I think you should give him a chance. ... No, it's not a phase. He's living with me. ... I agree, your gay son and his lover probably won't fit in at the country club. ... He's a human being. We love and respect each other. There's nothing perverted about that."

My hackles went up.

"No, mom. ... It's your choice. I'm not coming without him. ... Okay if you need time to think about it. ... No, I'm not ashamed. You may be, but I'm not. ... Yes, mom. ... Okay. Bye."

The look he gave me was profound frustration with something else... The face of the boy who didn't get the train set.

I wanted to kill the bitch, but somehow I didn't think our relationship would survive my killing both his parents.

"She needs time to think about it."

I was relieved we weren't going, but also pissed for Fox. "To hell with her."

He sat down again, and rested his head on my shoulder. Damn, I hate it when he's sad. I wrapped my arm around him and stroked his hair.

Fox was moody for days. Days without sex. I kept hoping he'd snap out of it. I didn't know what to do or say.

** Mulder **

On Thursday, I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue after lunch, when I heard the squeal of tires, and suddenly a van was in front of me on the sidewalk. The shrieking sound of metal and concrete exploded in my eardrums. Glass splattered on my suit.

By the time I thought to move, it was over. The vehicle had cleared my body by about three inches. I was alive.

The driver of the van was not. The van was less than half its original size, crushed like an accordion, wedged into the wall of a tiny barbershop.

Inside the shop, I found several terrified men. A few minor injuries, but no one needed an ambulance.

I phoned the local P.D. Waiting for them to arrive, it dawned on me. I'd almost been killed.

What a fucking absurdity! To have survived a government conspiracy, flukeman, vampires, liver-eating mutants, shapeshifters, mind-controlling serial killers, lethal cockroaches and man-eating mushrooms... And almost taken out by a dry cleaning van.

I laughed like a crazy man, until there were tears running down my cheeks.

And then I thought of Alex. What if I'd died? It hurt to imagine how much Alex would have suffered.

Life is too fucking short.

** Krycek **

I came home from work late on Friday night. I'd called so he knew. But when I arrived, he was sprawled on the couch wearing only his boxers, sporting a full-out erection, head stretched out languidly on the back of the couch.

"Fox?"

"Alex," he replied, his voice an urgent whisper.

"What's going on? You been watching your videos?"

"No."

"You about ready to jerk yourself off?"

"No, Alex. I was saving it for you."

"I'm here."

"I need you so badly." His hair was mussed, his eyes greenish gray in the room light, full lower lip in a pout.

By this point, my own cock was about to burst out of my pants, but I was so curious about Fox's sudden mood shift that I held off pouncing. I stood directly across from him, but too far away to touch. "You look so beautiful sprawled out like that, hard and needy."

"I need you to fuck me."

"I love fucking you."

"Then do it, please, Alex. Don't tease me."

"Soon. I promise."

Fox's head fell forward with a whimper. "Don't make me wait, Alex. Can't you see how desperate I am?" He ran his hands across his inner thighs, not touching his cotton-covered erection. His hips lifted off the sofa, but he denied his cock what it wanted.

Because he knew I'd object.

My own cock throbbed deliciously. "You're incredibly sexy when you're like this, Fox. What happened to get you so worked up?"

"Just thinking about you." He curled over onto his side and slid one hand down his crack, still covered by his boxers. "I belong to you, Alex."

All my blood rushed to my cock, leaving me dizzyingly lightheaded. "You belong to me?"

"Yes. Fuck me, Alex. I need to feel you inside me, so I know I belong to you."

I could feel my dick dripping in my shorts, but I was still fascinated by his tortured state. He'd said, 'Don't make me wait,' so, of course, I had to make him wait.

"Don't you want me?"

"Very much, Fox."

"Then take what you need from me." That hand teased his crack again through the white cotton of his boxers.

"You're not even ready for me."

Fox moaned and reached for the waistband of his shorts. He pulled them off, provocatively revealing inch after inch of his gorgeous round ass. With his boxers around his knees and his needy cock bobbing between his legs, he couldn't have been sexier. He shoved the coffee table aside and got down on his knees on the floor, leaning onto the sofa. His butt twitched and he whimpered after a moment, when he realized I wasn't already on my way to him.

"For me?"

"Yes, Alex." He ran a hand down his ass and opened his knees.

It was an incredible gift... the way he offered himself so passionately.

"Why won't you take me, Alex? Don't I make you hard?"

"I could come in my pants just watching you like that... Fox."

His head fell onto his arms laid out on the sofa. "I need you."

"Tell me what you want, exactly what you want."

"Fuck me," he replied in almost a whisper. "Take off your clothes and kneel behind me and give it to me hard."

It was plenty hard. No doubt about that. "Lube? Condom?"

He groaned and moved to get up.

"No, stay there. Just like that."

Fox nodded dumbly.

When I returned with the stuff, he hadn't moved. "Give it to me!" he cried out in a tone that tried to be demanding, but achieved needy.

I lay the bottle on the couch next to him, and backed away.

His shoulders shook a little, lamenting the waiting. He opened the lube and poured a generous amount into his hand. Looking at me over his shoulder, he slid those long elegant fingers between his cheeks and penetrated himself with one of them. If he made any sound, it was inaudible over my own moan.

Rolling on the condom, I watched him slip his fingers into his ass, opening himself up for me. His neck still twisted, eyes locked onto mine, eyelids half fallen, Fox was totally lost to the passion. If the building caught fire, I'd have to carry him out.

"Does it feel good, ckufing yourslef..." My mouth stopped working and I cleared my throat. "...fucking yourself on your fingers?"

He spoke with a sob in his voice. "I need you, Alex. Nothing else will satisfy your horny boy."

My brain was filled with such conflicting stimuli. My cock needed to fuck. Yesterday. But the sight of him lubing himself up, preparing his ass for me, was just too good. And hearing him beg for it was unbelievably hot. Coming in my pants didn't seem like a figure of speech.

He had three fingers in his ass now. The hand no longer moved because his butt was pushing back and forth onto the wet digits. "Please, Alex." The subtle movements of his glutes were nearly making me drool.

I knew I couldn't wait any longer. "Enough," I barked at him as I dropped to my knees and pulled out my cock. I pushed the head of it against his anus. I had to use my elbow to keep him from pushing himself backward onto it.

"Uhh hhh. Please!"

"Say it, Fox. Who do you belong to?"

"You, Alex. I belong to you." He sobbed pitifully. "Pleeeeeeease, Al-ex."

I gave it to him all at once, because I knew he needed it, and I was far too turned on to hold back. Wrapping one arm around his chest, I thrust into him as hard as I could.

He cried out, making nonsense sounds.

"Mine," I whispered into his ear.

His tight ass squeezed my cock into delicious oblivion. I was not long for this world, but I tried to hold on and fucked him feverishly. Seconds away from my own orgasm, I reached for his cock. Two rough strokes and he was screaming and coming. The contractions deep inside him pulled me down fast and I fell apart, shooting into him and struggling to hold our bodies together.

After a moment, I fell back onto the floor. Fox curled up with his head nestled on my chest. "Thank you, Alex," he mumbled dreamily.

"Thank you," I replied.

When I woke a half hour later, he was still perched on my chest, his fingers idly stroking my flank.

"What brought that on?"

Fox smiled up at me, still looking half dazed. "I want to give it to you. All of what I feel inside."

"Beautiful. Not just your body. What's inside. I've never seen anything so beautiful."

Fox's smile turned shy. I pulled him into a kiss.

I'd had plenty of sex before I met Fox. I'd had hot sex. I'd had very hot sex. But I'd never seen or felt anything like this before. When my heart was engaged, it was so much more. Body and soul, he did belong to me.

I never understood the idea of using sex to prove your love. Fox gave me everything. I was awed by his gift and humbled by the thought that I'd never be able to give him half of what he'd given me.

We stumbled into bed, sated, but it was too early to fall asleep. Fox curled up next to me, his nose nuzzling in my hair. "Alex, can I ask you something?"

What kind of question was that? My defenses came up instantly. "Okay," I replied cautiously.

"Why don't you like to get fucked?"

"You already asked me that."

"You didn't give me much of an answer." I said nothing, so he continued, "The only time I did it to you, it was punishment for your sins. How did something that feels so good become punishment? Do you feel like you're punishing me when you fuck me?"

After a heavy sigh, I replied, "No, it's not punishment when I fuck you. It's just sex... making you feel good... making me feel good." I was well aware that I was still dodging his question, but I didn't want to talk about it.

"But if I fucked you, wouldn't it make you feel good?"

I pried his hand from my chest and rolled onto my side, away from him.

Fox spooned in behind me. "I know you don't want to talk about this, but I'm your lover. I need to know."

It crossed my mind to leave the room, leave the apartment, leave his life even. Instead, I told a half truth. "Because of what happened in prison, dammit." So pathetic, it qualified as more like two percent of the truth.

His voice was quiet when he spoke again. "But you felt this way even before prison."

I turned rapidly in his arms, pushing him away.

Fox's eyes flicked closed for a moment as he tried to figure it out. "You were raped before prison?"

I did not want to think about this. I jumped up from the bed, turning to face him. "Fuck, Mulder! Not everyone wants to talk about this shit."

He sat up, leaning against the headboard. "I'm sorry, Alex. I just thought it might help."

"Help what?" I inquired, my irritation infused in the tone of my voice.

Fox shook his head despairingly. "I want to fuck you again, but mostly I just want to feel like I understand you."

"Why do you need to fuck me, dammit? There's no reason. I fuck you and we suck each other. That's enough, isn't it?"

His hand reached out toward my thigh, but I jerked back out of his grasp. I planted myself at the window, gazing at the fire escape, remembering using it to escape Scully. Trying futilely not to remember a ghastly image in another alley. A long time ago.

After a prolonged silence, he spoke again. "It's enough, Alex. I just wish we could talk about it."

** Mulder **

I met Talia for lunch on Monday. We'd barely been seated when I blurted out, "Talia, what happened to Alex to make him so defensive?"

She didn't ask me to explain what I meant. "I don't know most of it, Fox. I'm eight years younger, and in my earliest memories Alex was already different. He didn't like people. Rarely spoke to anyone besides me. There was a lot of anger, but he didn't show it often. His demeanor was usually calm, but if someone pushed him, he could be cruel."

Talia stopped to concentrate on her iced tea before continuing. "I do remember one person who changed him. His name was Trevor. I'm fairly certain they were lovers. They were both in high school, but Trevor went to the Catholic school on the other side of town. He made Alex smile. The only person besides me I ever saw do that... until you, Fox.

"Trevor was a pretty boy--sweet and smart, but not nearly as confident as Alex. They were inseparable for maybe six weeks. But Trevor was killed in a car accident. I don't know the details... just suddenly he was gone.

"Alex shut himself off after that. Rarely came home, even at night. He didn't make new friends. Kept his distance, even from me."

I finished my steak, mulling over the mysteries of my lover. "When you talk to him about important things, does he ever just shut down and refuse to talk?"

Her lips quirked up into what would have been a smile if she wasn't frowning. "Alex never talks about anything. Family. Feelings. What matters to him. Nothing. If he's talking to you at all, I'm impressed."

For a moment, I felt sorry for Talia. Alex kept her at an even greater distance. But she seemed so independent, like she didn't need anyone. Everyone needs someone, though.

I reached across the table and put my hand on hers.

Turbulent green eyes flashed up at me. Talia let me hold her hand for a few minutes, while she gazed at me thoughtfully. Then she took back her hand and reached for her tea.

After lunch, I drove her back to campus. When she opened the car door, I stopped her with my hand on her arm. "Thanks, Tal."

She kissed my cheeks.

** Krycek **

The phone rang in the middle of the night. I tried to ignore it, but I heard Fox mumble, "Yeah? ... What's wrong? ... Talia, are you okay?"

I bolted across the bed and sat next to him. "What is it?"

"Just a sec, I'm going to tell Alex." He put a hand over the phone. "Alex, your mother died."

Her. I felt my barriers rise immediately and took the phone from him. "Tal?"

"Xan, I'm okay. It's better for her. I'm not upset, just relieved."

I didn't want to think about the woman. And I didn't know what to say to my sister.

"She died peacefully. It's over." Tal sounded calm. Neither of us were going to cry about the long overdue death.

"Yeah."

"Auntie Betta called me. I'm going to fly there tomorrow. The funeral will be on Wednesday."

I felt myself shutting down further. I didn't want to deal with Betta or any of them. "What do... I don't want to... What do you want me to do?"

Fox faced me, his eyes radiating concern.

Talia took a deep breath before she asked, "Can you come to Minneapolis with me?"

"Fuck, Tal..."

"I know you don't care about Mother, but..."

"Shit." I passed the phone to Fox.

I sat with my head in my hands, half listening to Fox's side of the conversation. "Talia, what did you say to Alex? ... Oh. ... Oh, I'll talk to him."

Fuck. Now I would have both of them on my case.

Fox continued, "I'll call you in the morning, then. ... Okay. Take care, Tal. ... Yeah, bye."

His eyes sought out mine. "You okay?"

"Of course, I'm okay," I replied irritably.

"So you're going with her to Minneapolis?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I don't want to see any of them."

He sighed. "But Talia needs you, Alex."

"Fox, I'd do almost anything for her, but this... I can't." I got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of juice.

Predictably, my stubborn lover tagged along. "If you don't go, then I'll have to. She shouldn't have to do this alone."

"Can't you just butt out for once, Mulder?"

He gave me a glare and muttered, "I'm going back to bed."

In the morning, Fox woke me a half hour early. "You decide to do the right thing, Alex?"

I grumbled, "Fuck you." Dragging myself out of bed, I darted to the bathroom, shutting and locking the door before he could join me.

Fifteen minutes later, over coffee, I came out of my funk enough to speak. "If I go, I'm going to be more miserable than Talia."

He gave me a half smile, knowing that he'd won. "I'll go with you to keep you sane."

I rolled my eyes at him. But I called work. A few hours later, the three of us were on a plane.

The woman's death meant only one thing to me. Money. Assuming Talia inherited the house, at least she'd have enough money to quit waitressing.

** Mulder **

A small Russian Orthodox church in downtown Minneapolis housed the mourners. Talia was peaceful. Alex stayed a million miles away from the open casket and everyone else. He stiffened when a chubby gray-haired woman entered the church. The elderly matron took one look at him and marched over toward us. Talia interceded. "Aunt Betta," she said firmly, steering the woman to the far corner, away from her brother.

"Is that Alexander?"

I stepped a little closer so I could follow the conversation.

"But I thought he was dead, Natalia?" She spoke in heavily accented English with a naturally abrasive tone.

"No, it was a mistake."

"Why you not call me, Natalia? Even your mother did not know."

"He's not comfortable with the family, Auntie."

"What? He is ashamed of us?"

"No, Auntie. It just hurts him. Leave him alone."

"I have to speak to the boy. He can't hide from me!"

Talia put a restraining hand on Betta's forearm. "Leave him alone, Auntie. He deserves that much."

Aunt Betta glared at Alex, but she stomped off.

I stepped forward to Talia. "Thank you for protecting him."

She nodded solemnly and returned to her brother. Her head dropped onto his shoulder. I had to wonder just who was supporting whom.

After a brief ceremony, Talia headed to the ladies' room. Aunt Betta caught my eye and made a beeline for Alex.

I stepped forward and managed to intervene before she reached my tense lover. "Hello, Aunt Betta, I'm Fox Mulder."

"Who are you?" she inquired suspiciously.

About ten feet away, a sneering Alex called out, "He's my lover."

Her grayish eyes opened wide, her expression appalled. She marched over to Alex and smacked him on the upper arm. His left upper arm. I was at his side in an instant, my fist held rigidly against my thigh.

Alex turned to her with a poisonous look. "Don't touch me again." He strode away, long legs carrying him quickly out the front door of the church.

The little round woman turned on me. "I knew that boy would turn out bad."

"Leave him alone," I said firmly. "Just let him be, dammit."

Aunt Betta smacked me on the arm. Hard.

Talia came out of the women's room, so I muttered, "It's been an experience, Aunt Betta," and darted off to intercept Tal.

"Auntie misbehaving?" Talia inquired.

"What's the etiquette about old ladies? Am I allowed to punch her?"

"Definitely, if she hits you first."

I gave her a chagrinned smile, imagining slugging the elderly shrew. "Has she always been like this?"

"She's mellowed with age."

"Uh-huh." I shook my head.

I found Alex standing by our rental car. He said, "I'm going to walk with Tal to the library. She needs access to the Internet."

"'Kay. I'll tag along."

He met my gaze with an oddly serious look on his face. "There's something you've been asking me about for a long time. I... uh... still don't want to discuss it, but there's public information if you want to know about it." His face taut with a grief I knew had nothing to do with his mother's death, he passed me a slip of paper that read, 'Trevor Wilkins, 9/4/83.' "Take this to the police station on Fifth Street." He gave me directions and the keys to the rental car.

I looked up at him, moved that he was volunteering information about his past, but at the same time, afraid of what I'd find. Afraid for him... for some past pain I couldn't prevent from hurting him.

He watched me sadly. "I'm all right, Fox, but... I really don't want to talk about it, okay?"

I nodded. "Thank you, Alex." My fingers found his hand and squeezed gently.

Half an hour later, ensconced in a conference room at the Minneapolis Police Department's Central Services Bureau, a young sergeant handed me a homicide file.

         

**
END Chapter 9

 


 

Chapter 10
** Mulder **

I read slowly, barely breathing.

--

Trevor Alan Wilkins
DOB 9/1/67
DOD 9/4/83
Caucasian male
5'6", 136 lbs, blonde hair, blue eyes

Case Summary:
Victim found in alley behind the Clean & Mend Dry Cleaners on Ninth Street by Alexander Richard Krycek (DOB 6/9/67, 118 Everett Lane, Mpls, 555-1823).

Victim was beaten, sexually assaulted and anally penetrated with a broken off broom handle (left in the body), throat cut. The word "faggot" spelled out in blood on the brick wall over the body.

The coroner reported no drugs or alcohol. Presence of three distinct semen types in rectum. Throat cut consistent with a Swiss Army Knife. Rust found in the wound. Broom handle has chipped yellow paint that could be matched with the rest of the broom, if recovered. Coroner ruled death a homicide. Time of death estimated between 5:30 and 7:30 P.M. on 9/4/83.

Suspect #1: Alexander Richard Krycek, reported to be the victim's homosexual lover.

Krycek's semen sample matched one of the three found in victim, but suspect claims he and victim had consensual intercourse earlier in the evening. Suspect has a limited alibi--he reported for work approximately 5 to 10 minutes before 6 P.M. at the St. Petersburg restaurant, as confirmed by four other employees. Insufficient evidence for prosecution.

As of 1/3/84 no further suspects have been identified.
No further suspects. 1/5/85.
No further suspects. 1/13/86.
No further suspects. 1/2/87.
Ceased active investigation. File transferred to cold cases. 2/7/87.

--

He didn't do it. I know he didn't harm this boy. He's been a killer but not like that.

As I had many times for many cases, I opened the photo envelope. After one glance at the innocent face of Trevor Wilkins, degraded by what had been done to him, I didn't want to see any more. It wasn't like the hundreds of other crime scene photos. This boy had been Alex's lover.

I'd seen plenty of heinous crimes in my life, but this one made my stomach clench. Once upon a time, the Wilkins boy had lain in the arms of a teenaged Alex. Then Alex found his sweet lover in an alley, dead, abused and insulted.

Alex did not kill Trevor. And I'm sure of one other thing. After the crime, he either killed the perps, or he was unable to determine who was responsible.

I had few facts to tell me how much Trevor meant to Alex, but I knew the truth. My chest tightened around my heart.

The past is over. At least it should be. Alex should be free of this, no longer hurt by it, but he still couldn't even discuss it. And if he couldn't even talk about it, it might keep him from allowing me, or anyone, to get close.

And what of my own past? I could talk about it, but had I recovered? From Samantha? No. Was it holding me back? Maybe. Keeping me from getting too close to my obvious sister substitutes? Scully? Talia? Probably.

A half hour later, I found Alex at the library. He looked askance at me. Expecting my judgment perhaps?

I sat next to him at a reading table. "I'm sorry."

His face tightened with old pain. "I didn't kill him."

"I know."

Alex's eyes were dark and faraway. I kissed his forehead. I wouldn't ask about any of it again. He deserved that.

I waited for him to run... to go off alone to deal with his feelings, but he didn't. He sat there next to me. Neither of us spoke, but I knew he was going to be okay.

At dinner that night, Alex, Talia and I sat around an old brick fireplace in a quaint inn. Alex was still brooding, but Talia seemed relaxed. After the waiter brought us the check, I took her hand.

Two pairs of curious green eyes rose from the table to look at me.

"Talia," I asked, "Since you're Alex's sister and he's my lover, does that mean you're my sister-in-law?"

Alex's face was puzzled, but Talia's reflected instant understanding. "If you'd like, Fox."

"I'd like that, Tal," I replied in unintentional sotto voce.

My moody lover gazed as me, something intense flaring in his emerald eyes. I wanted to ask, but I let him alone.

That night at the hotel, I waited until Alex was in the bathroom before I pressed the first preset on my cell phone.

"Scully."

"Hi. It's me."

"What's wrong, Mulder?"

Damn, she comes right to the point. "I was just thinking about things..."

"Uh-huh. What things?"

"Our friendship."

"Mulder, are you having a midlife crisis?"

"I don't know... maybe. I just wanted to say I really do love you, Sc- uh- Dana."

"Oh, brother."

"Yeah, kind of like that. Like you're my... sister."

"Well, that's a relief."

"We would have made a pretty couple, though."

"Sorry, Mulder, you're not my type."

"Oh, break a man's heart, why don't you?"

She chuckled into the phone.

"So what exactly is your type? Eddie Van Blundht?"

"Good night, Mulder."

"Bye."

When Alex came out of the bathroom, he eyed me suspiciously. "You look embarrassed, Fox."

I stood and wrapped my arms around his slender waist. "I just called Scully and told her I love her."

"Uh-huh." His lips found mine, and a warm wet tongue entered my mouth. After a lazy kiss, he asked, "How did that go over?"

"Her exact words were, 'Oh, brother.'"

"Why am I not surprised?" Alex kissed the side of my neck, teeth nipping lightly.

"Well, she didn't say it back to me, but I know she loves me."

Suddenly serious, he pulled away and examined my face. "Is this about me, Fox?"

"No. I know you love me, too."

He eyed me sadly, offering only a curt nod.

Suppressing a smile, I kissed the little crease between his eyes. "But not the same way I love Scully." My hand eased down from his waist to cup his cock.

"Good," he muttered in my ear as I began to stroke his burgeoning erection.

Alex unzipped his fly and opened his trousers. Reaching inside, I stroked his plump hard-on. Then, sliding to my knees, I applied my mouth to the shaft.

I ran my tongue around the rim of his cock head, and Alex responded with a low moan. When I swallowed him, his knees started to wobble. Supporting him with my hands on his hips, I urged him to fuck my face.

Alex did it very slowly and gently. His eyelids drooped, thick lashes quivering. His entire body began to shake. His hand gripped my hair tight enough to hurt. Struggling till the end not to thrust too hard, he finally threw his head back and yelled as he shot into my throat.

Before I could even catch my breath, he squatted down and kissed me. His kiss told me everything he couldn't talk about. Joy. Sorrow. Love. Hurt.

My eyes welled up with tears.

His hand found my cock and stroked me hard and fast. I came quickly, shooting my semen all over his fingers and pants.

I ached with the pain of what had happened to teenaged Alex, but I also felt good. Grounded. Safe. Loved.

** Krycek **

I woke in the middle of the night in the Minneapolis hotel room.

I had the dream again.

At first it was just like the memory. At McDonald's. Trevor and I sharing a Big Mac and laughing about a girl who wanted us both. He had a spot of sauce on his cheek. I reached over with my hand, intending to wipe it away. But as I got closer, my hand shifted. I held the back of his neck, while I pulled him to me. His mouth was sweet and soft. I kissed him feverishly, because I needed it. Needed him. And, for a moment, I didn't care what anyone else thought.

And then, the dream diverged from reality. Trevor started to fade away, until he was but a faint image. Helpless, I felt only sorrow as the shadowing figure disappeared completely.

I got up and went to the hotel window.

I killed Trevor... with a careless kiss.

No one ever found out who killed him. The painful mystery and my desperate need to destroy his unidentifiable attackers drove me to a career in law enforcement. And ultimately into the arms of Fox Mulder, though the route was rocky, to say the least.

Glancing at the bed, I watched Fox sleep, his hair flattened on one side.

Still surprised at myself for sending him to the police station, I wondered what he thought about it. Did it even begin to explain about his troublesome lover? Probably not. Even to a master profiler like him.

His eyes blinked open and he gave me a sleepy smile. "Come back to bed."

I took one step to the bed and froze. "It was my fault. I kissed him in public two days before he was killed." I didn't even know I was going to say it until I heard the words.

Fox held out his arms. "It wasn't your fault."

Shaking my head, I got into bed. He held my face to his chest.

I'm sorry, Trevor.

Fox fell asleep. I listened to his soft snores for a long time before sleep claimed me.

When we got back to D.C.--just when I'd barely recovered from the encounter with my own family--Fox called his mother.

Unfortunately, Teena Mulder relented and agreed to let us visit her. Fucking generous, that woman.

The second week in April, we flew to New York and rented a car to drive to Greenwich.

Mrs. Mulder lived in a perfect little Cape Cod house, with a perfect grassy lawn and a row of rosebushes. The house was painted white, with sunny yellow shutters. I hated her already, but I tried not to show it. Fox was going to get pissed off if I didn't attempt to act like an upstanding citizen.

But I have to say, it's situations like this that justify antisocial behavior.

She greeted us at the door, giving Fox a tepid hug.

"Mom, this is Alex Krycek."

"Mr. Krycek," she replied, looking me over as if I were a cockroach. And me in my best suit and tie. Her eyes flicked to the hand of my prosthetic and she made a moue of distaste, as if to note that the specimen was obviously inferior.

I gritted my teeth. "Mrs. Mulder." Only for Fox would I endure this.

She was wearing an old lady suit. An aqua polyester blend with a Liz Claiborne label. Frightening. Every inch of her was neat and immaculately made up. Not a smudge nor a hair out of place. She smelled like some putrid women's perfume. The kind that makes you get off an elevator before your floor.

Mrs. Mulder gestured toward the back of the house. "This way. I'll show you to your rooms."

Rooms. Oh, goody.

She led the way to a small study with a trundle bed. "This is your room, Mr. Krycek." My legs were going to hang off the end. I'll bet she knew it, too. Fox is the same height.

I put my overnight bag on the floor and tried to smile. "Thank you." I hate situations like this that disvalue honesty. Not that I'm a paragon of truthfulness, but lying to stay alive seems more justified than pretending to tolerate a hideous old lady in the name of courtesy.

Fox caught my eye, flashing an apologetic glance.

I followed as she led Fox upstairs to his room. The guest room. Right next to her bedroom. Not like I was going to fuck her precious son in her damned house anyway.

The guest room had a queen-sized bed. I'd be sneaking up here the minute her lamp went off.

Returning downstairs, we sat around the dining room table. The room was over decorated, with accent wallpaper in a tiny floral and leaf motif.

She patted Fox on the shoulder, but there didn't seem to be any genuine affection. She did it like it was rote. Pat your son.

I realized I'd have forgiven her if she'd demonstrated real love for Fox. But Mrs. Mulder was a thin shell of resentment and a desire to impress, with nothing at all inside.

It's a wonder my poor Fox turned out as well as he did with this and Bill Mulder as examples.

She smiled falsely at Fox. "I cooked dinner for you."

Too generous. She probably didn't want to be seen in public with her son's queer lover.

She fed us meatloaf and mashed potatoes that had to have come out of a box. Tasted like Tunguska gruel. The broccolini, a pricey hybrid vegetable, was overcooked and mushy.

Mrs. Mulder gabbed at great length about her local acquaintances. What a life! Mornings at the hairdresser. Shopping in the city. Charity fundraisers.

Fox nodded a lot and said, "Uh-huh," a few times. I trained my eyes on her face and spaced out, imagining wicked sex acts I could perform on her son.

"... Mr. Krycek?"

"Um, what was the question?"

"Where is your family from?"

Count on her to pick my favorite subject. "Russian and Irish stock. I grew up in Minneapolis."

"Oh, I see," she said blandly. "And what does your father do?"

"He's deceased."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

I nodded.

"And your mother?"

I gave her my fake kindly smile. "Recently deceased... after a lengthy mental illness."

Mrs. Mulder let a hint of genuine emotion slip out... a brief look of disgust that seemed to say, 'but, of course, no wonder you're buggering my son.' She covered it up quickly with a look of shallow pity. "I see."

You sanctimonious bitch.

She nodded at me dismissively and turned back to Fox. "So, how's your partner?"

"Scully's fine." I could see Fox thinking up a suitable factoid to offer her. "She's in California this weekend, visiting her family."

"That's nice, dear."

Fox's face was the worst part. Flat. Despairing.

The urge to rescue him from this ghastly woman was so strong I had to bite my lips to keep from verbally assaulting her.

I'm not the most patient man, but after about ten minutes of this, being in a coma was starting to sound good. When I finished eating, I was ready to bolt.

"Mr. Krycek, would you like more of anything?"

Not unless you have some edible food. "No, thank you." I nudged my chair back and stood. "Excuse me."

I bailed to the bathroom. Even before I got there, I was wondering how long I could stay. Politeness was not the point. How long before Fox got pissed off at me? Ten minutes? Twenty?

I peed, then washed my hand. Then I rinsed it three more times, trying to eradicate the smell of the pungent floral soap. Gag.

Next, I fidgeted around the room. The only artwork was a dreary painting of a little girl with flowers in her hair. I examined it closely. It appeared to be an original painting, in the process of being ruined by the damp air of the bathroom. I could see a little bit of black mold between the glass and the art. Right over the artist's name. Poor fucker. Hope he doesn't come to visit.

Eventually, I decided Fox needed me, and forced myself to leave the shelter of the bathroom. I was only half way down the hall when I heard her shrill voice.

"... Fox, you need help."

"I love him. We're happy together. Doesn't that matter?" His voice had a dead tone in it; it made my adrenalin spike.

"You just think you're happy. This is a disease. Even your Mr. Krycek said his mother was ill. It runs in the family, you know."

By the time I entered the room, Fox's eyes were closed. His face darkened by buried anger.

Torment my man, and I'm silent no more. "You don't give a damn about your son's happiness, do you, Mrs. Mulder?"

She gaped, looking very affronted. "Don't use such language in my house, young man."

"Oh, excuse me. 'Damn' isn't allowed, but being cruel to your son is?"

Fox's eyes opened wider than his mother's. He was paralyzed with shock.

She gave me a haughty sneer. "I only have Fox's best interests at heart. He couldn't possible be happy in some sort of sick relationship with you."

Still standing across the table from her, I could see where this argument was going. Nowhere of any benefit to Fox.

I put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "You okay?"

He nodded dumbly.

I bent over and kissed him, a very slurpy, open-mouthed kiss.

Teena Mulder gasped loudly. "Not in my house!"

I maintained the kiss just long enough so she'd know I was ignoring her directive. What was she going to do, hit me? Hit her son? That would be her last mistake. I whispered in Fox's ear. "Sorry."

He tried to smile and stood. "Mom, Alex and I are going for a walk."

As we exited the room, I wrapped my arm around his waist. "I'm sorry, Fox. I really tried."

"I know." He looked at me sadly, his eyes very pale gray. "She's not a compassionate person. I can't blame you for not liking her." On the sidewalk in front of her house, he pulled me into a hug. "I'm not sure I like her either."

I held him close. I wanted to tell him I loved him. He needed to hear it from me. But I was feeling so hostile. I was certain if I said it now, he'd be dumping me tomorrow for acting out in front of his mother.

We started walking. I kept my arm around him. And when we passed an elderly couple sitting on their porch swing, I dipped my head toward Fox and said, "Teena Mulder's son."

The elderly man looked embarrassed, but his wife just smiled as if to say, 'Oh, isn't that nice.'

No question I was, in part, venting my feelings about my own completely useless family. When Mother Nature decided human babies would be helpless, she did a piss-poor job of providing decent adults to take care of them.

We took a very long walk. Both of us were, no doubt, mentally calculating how far we had to walk so we didn't get back until bedtime.

Fox was quiet, which worried me, but finally he started to talk. "I guess coming here was a mistake."

I shrugged. "Maybe you had to know."

"My father would have been worse. He used to call me a faggot when I was a kid."

I wanted to say something ugly about Bill Mulder, but it seemed like a bad idea.

"I was never good enough for him. I guess it's the same with her."

Fuck, he really believed it. "Fox, they're fucking wrong. You're a good man. Even a heroic man. I admire you."

We stopped on the sidewalk. He cocked his head at me, like I had said something surprising.

I went on, "Even when I was an agent, I admired you. I... you... I believe in you. Don't let that callous woman make you feel bad about yourself." I kissed him on the forehead. "Just don't."

As we continued our walk, I could see the wheels turning in Fox's fabulous brain. When he spoke again, his voice was tight, almost forced. "My father blamed me for Samantha's abduction, but it was..." His voice dropped out almost completely. He was afraid to say it. "It was... his fault, wasn't it?"

I didn't want to hurt him. "You're asking me for Consortium information about your sister's abduction?"

His eyes were so sad. "Yes, Alex."

"I don't know where she is, Fox. If I did, I would have told you a long time ago."

"I appreciate that. Did my father give Samantha to them?"

I took a deep breath. "Bill Mulder..." I had to stop myself. It would hurt him to hear more than he wanted to know. "Yes, he was responsible for your sister's abduction."

Fox's eyes got wet. His mouth opened to say something, but then he stopped himself.

And Teena Mulder knew about it before it happened. She wanted to keep Samantha and send Fox. And they both blamed Fox for Samantha's loss. The height of parental cruelty... to blame their child for their own crimes.

After a time, Fox said, "Alex, you keep saying Bill Mulder." He hesitated, not sure if he wanted to ask. "Is... Isn't Bill Mulder my father?"

I'd been ready for that one for a long time. "I don't know the truth, Fox. Do you want to know what I do know?"

He nodded, steeling himself.

"Curtis Spender, who you call Cancerman, believes he's your father."

"Spender?" Fox looked nauseated. "Any relation to Jeffrey?"

"His father. Cassandra's ex-husband." He was hanging on my every word. "Many of the other old men believe Spender is deluded. That he just wants you to be his son, because he respects you."

Fox's eyes glazed over and he nodded again. "Give me the rest of it."

I gentled my voice. "There is evidence your mother had an affair with Spender, so it might be true. That's all I know."

His skin color was off, and he said nothing, just stared off into space.

After a long pause, I added, "If it's important to you, I'll steal a genetic sample from Spender and we can find out."

"It's too risky for you."

"No. I can do it without getting caught."

Fox shook his head. "I don't know which is worse, Alex," he said mournfully.

I felt his pain as if it were my own. I'd never felt like that before... so totally connected. Scary. "I'm sorry, Fox." There was nothing I could say that would help.

Fox had lived in a fantasy world about his family. One of his core fantasies was that his parents loved him. But I don't think they did. And I hated to play any role in shattering that fantasy.

Later in our walk, he said, out of the blue, "I'm glad I have you, Alex."

The words, 'I love you,' formed in my brain, but my lips wouldn't utter them. Instead I said, "I'm glad you have me, too, Fox."

It was nearly 11 when we got back to Mrs. Mulder's house. She was sitting in the living room. I gave Fox a supportive glance and went directly to 'my room.' I heard him mutter something to her behind me.

About an hour later, I crept into the guest room in my boxer shorts. Fox was propped against the headboard, a thoughtful expression on his face. He lay down when I crawled under the covers. I curled around him and stroked his back and shoulders until he fell asleep.

In the morning, I heard Mrs. Mulder go downstairs. I covered up with Fox's shirt and joined her in the kitchen.

She glared at me like I was the source of all her problems.

I got right to the point. "Is Bill Mulder his father? Or Curtis Spender? Or someone else entirely?"

Mrs. Mulder was nonplussed. She went to the stove and made a pot of coffee.

I stood watching her, not letting her off the hook.

After the coffee was made, she sat down and poured herself a cup, pointedly not offering me any. At least ten minutes after my question, she said in a dead tone. "It's none of your business who his father is."

I wasn't going to get anything out of her without torture. And I wouldn't do that to Fox. But I was tempted.

I helped myself to a cup of coffee and took it with me to the bathroom.

On the flight back to D.C., Fox leaned over to me and whispered, "You're my family, Alex. You and Scully and Talia."

I tried to smile, but I was feeling sad for his loss. My fingers closed around his hand.

           

Chapter 11

** Krycek **

The next Saturday, we decided to play basketball. We were on the front stairs of the apartment building, when I saw a sight that made me go rigid. A black sedan, idling at the curb about twenty feet away. And both of us unarmed.

Just as Fox's face registered curiosity, I stepped in front of him to block his body.

He put a hand on my shoulder. "It's probably nothing, Alex."

The windows were tinted, so I couldn't identify anyone inside. I tried to back Fox into the building, but he wouldn't budge. The rear door of the sedan opened.

Spender.

Fox forced his way around me, but I stuck to his side as if I was cuffed to him.

Spender approached, cigarette in hand.

"What do you want?" I asked in a voice that was almost a growl.

The old man looked at me dismissively. "I never thought to have you as a son-in-law, Krycek." Unblinking, Spender's eyes flicked to Fox. "I understand you've been asking questions about your family origins, Fox."

There's only one way the fucker could know that. I imagined the coldhearted bitch phoning up her ex-lover to chat about our visit. Fuck. I should have killed Teena Mulder, too. A long time ago.

The old man took a drag off his cigarette and blew the smoke at me.

Fox shook his head, angrily. "Just say what you've come to say."

Nothing could rush Cancerman. He'd drag it out as long as he wanted. "You want to know the truth about your father."

Fox eyed him haughtily. "If I wanted to know the truth about anything, you're the last person I'd consult."

"It must be painful for you not knowing." The next inhale was followed by a soft cough. "Bill Mulder or me? Who would you rather have as your father, Fox? The man who sent your sister away or the man you consider your enemy?"

I jumped in. "Get to the point, old man."

He gave me a bland sneer. "What do you think, Alex? Do we look alike?" The fucker held his face up next to Fox, waiting for me to compare them.

I shot him a disgusted glare.

Spender tossed his cigarette butt on the ground. "It's true, Fox. You're my son. That's why I've always protected you."

Fox exploded, "Protected me?!" He grabbed Spender's throat and started to shake.

I considered holding back my angry lover, but decided it was unlikely he'd kill the man. And anything less would probably go unpunished, so why not let him batter the son of a bitch?

His alleged father deftly slipped out of Fox's not very loving embrace and stood a couple of feet away. He cleared his throat before speaking again. "Is this how you thank me for keeping you alive?"

Fox's chest was heaving, but he didn't strike out again. "You've done a lot of things, but none of them count as favors to me." He deliberately unclenched his fists. "This conversation is over, Spender."

The old man seemed amused. He took a pack of Morley's from his pocket and tapped one out.

I wasn't budging until he departed. Fox's body language said the same thing.

Spender tucked the cigarette in his mouth and lit it. "You may need your father some day, Fox."

My lover growled quietly, but didn't say a word.

The smoking man shrugged, and walked to his car, apparently happy to have the last word.

Neither of us moved until the car turned at the end of the street.

"Fox, do you have an evidence bag in your car?"

"What?" His voice was flat... dazed.

I gestured to the butt Spender had left.

He nodded, his expression a bit numb. But he went to the car and retrieved a bag.

I took it from him and scooped up the butt. After sealing the bag, I met his gaze. "Now we have it. You don't have to run the tests, but if you decide you want to, you can."

He nodded glumly.

A few days after Spender's appearance, Fox asked me again about his father. "So what's your opinion? Do you think Cancerman is my father?"

I sat across from him in the easy chair, shaking my head. "It doesn't matter what my opinion is, Fox."

"I know, but... but I'm afraid to find out."

"You don't have to."

He frowned, obviously unhappy with both the prospect of knowing and not knowing. "Do I look like him?"

"Fuck. No. You don't look like either one of them. Thank god."

Fox rolled his eyes. "You know what I mean... is there a family resemblance?"

"Spender's tall and slender. Has a large nose." I shrugged. I didn't want to hurt him.

Fox got quiet again. He sat there staring into space for a long time.

"The bag with the cigarette butt is in the desk drawer. You can run the DNA if you decide you want to."

His face frozen, he nodded.

Twenty minutes later, he said, "I can't decide which would be worse."

I knew what he meant. I didn't think very much of Bill Mulder, but Spender was a truly evil man. What could I say?

"My fath... uh, Bill Mulder wasn't a nice man."

"I know, Fox."

"I mean, not even thinking about what he did to Samantha. He was a nasty drunk. Used to call both me and my mother ugly names. He was rarely kind to me, even when I was little."

"I'm sorry."

Sad greenish-gray eyes met mine. "I'm not angry any more that you killed him. It... I... I love you and... You're a better person than he was, Alex. He was cruel and you're loving. I'm not saying that killing him was the right thing to do, but I'm glad I'm with you now."

My voice trembled a little as I replied, "Me, too."

Two days later, Fox handed me the evidence bag. "Would you destroy it for me, Alex?"

"Are you sure?"

"Positive."

I pocketed the bag, tossing it in a dumpster on the way to work. During my lunch break, I went to the bank and retrieved the file on William Mulder. I shredded it at Peterson's office and burned the shreds under a bridge on my way home.

** Mulder **

Talia spent the next Saturday with us, running errands, going to a movie and shopping. The weather was warm, so we ended up getting sandwiches at an Italian deli, which we ate at the park.

One of the basketball courts was littered with gravel, so there was no one playing on it. After the meal, we kicked off the rocks. I got the ball out of the trunk of the car.

For some reason, Talia could not sink a shot. Even if Alex and I left her alone, she kept shooting near misses.

I couldn't resist teasing her. "Well, now we know why you're not going to school on a sports scholarship."

She smacked me on the upper arm. "Hey, I'm a fast runner. I can vault over the horse and do backflips. Just 'cause I can't get this dumb ball through that net doesn't mean I'm no good at sports."

"She plays like a girl, Alex."

He shook his head grimly as if to comment on the utter foolishness of insulting his sister.

I tossed the ball to Alex. "Let's play keep-away."

Lacking my enthusiasm, he nevertheless bounced the ball back to me.

Talia darted behind me and deftly captured it on the bounce. She shifted rapidly to a near perfect spot and sent the ball toward the hoop. It spun around the rim and fell off the side.

I laughed loudly and grabbed the ball.

She glared at me. "Anyone ever tell you you're an asshole, Fox?"

"All the time," I replied, taking my shot, which dropped neatly though the basket. Nothin' but net.

Talia and I both ran to retrieve it, reaching the same spot at the same time, smacking into each other. She had the disadvantage of weighing less. I wrapped my arm around her waist to keep her from falling. But something hit the back of my thigh, causing me to go sprawling toward the ground. When I realized it was her foot, I held on tight and pulled her down with me.

We wrestled on the ground until she was on top, ticking my armpits. I'm not very ticklish, so I managed to stay cool until the adorable vexed look on her face made me burst out laughing.

I caught Talia glancing at her brother across the court. He was watching us with a troubled expression. Something about the easy intimacy between Talia and I was bugging him.

Talia called out, "I need some support here, Xan."

Alex shook his head.

"Oh, come on and be a sport."

"I don't want to play," he replied sullenly and walked off the court.

We found him at a picnic table a couple minutes later.

Talia sat down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "What's wrong, Alexander?"

"Nothing," he replied with a sigh.

Talia smiled indulgently. "Either tell us what's bothering you or stop acting like a bratty child."

Alex's face tightened instantly. He stood up and stepped back. "What is it with you two? Always wanting to know what I'm thinking. Or feeling. Or doing!"

I took a step back, afraid of pissing him off more if I said anything. And I wanted to see how Talia would handle him.

She stood and faced her brother. "We love you, Xan. We care if something is bothering you."

"Yeah, well maybe you need to care a little less sometimes."

Talia narrowed her darkening eyes. "That would make it a lot easier for you, wouldn't it?"

I could see his chest expanding and contracting as he confronted her, a challenge in his eyes. But he didn't say a word. Just stood there looking like he was ready for a fistfight.

Unintimidated, Talia glanced away for a second, then looked back at him, assessing, as if deciding whether or not to say something. "You're so fucking scared, big brother. You're so scared that someone will love you."

Alex's green eyes flared.

"And what if we do? And what if you let us get close? You're scared shitless that we'll leave you." And then Talia's voice gentled. "Like Trevor?"

She had more balls than I did. I never would have said it to him, even though it was so obviously true. But she didn't know what had really happened to Alex's teenaged boyfriend. Or how deeply that would cut.

Alex held his hand rigidly behind his back, not moving, not blinking and not breathing. Suddenly, he did an about-face and marched off across the park.

I ran after him. "Alex!"

"Stay away from me, Mulder," he snarled in retreat. Something in the tone of his voice scared the crap out of me. It sounded... final. Over and done with.

I ran faster to keep up with him... even as I realized it would be a mistake. I couldn't calm him down by pressuring him. No matter how hard I tried.

** Krycek **

God dammit, I did not want to feel this way.

I had no idea where I was going or how I would get there, but I couldn't stand to be with them for another second.

She used Trevor against me. Dammit!

This was exactly why I couldn't allow myself to care for anyone. No one could piss me off like those two. What possible gain is worth being so out of control?

Care about no one and no one can touch you. Get beaten, even killed, but they can't do anything that really hurts.

I had eighteen dollars in my wallet, but it was enough to take a cab back to the apartment. Not that I was going home. Not to his place. I got in my truck and drove to the beach.

An hour later, I parked the car and started walking. Scowling at everyone I passed, I paced across the sand thinking about my life and trying not to think about my life.

I never had these problems before Fox. He made me weak. All my life, I'd had terrible things happen to me, but I always knew what to do or say, how to react. But since Fox, and now Talia, I never knew. Everything seemed conflicted, confused and unmanageable.

Every possible path open to me seemed wrong.

Christ, I'd been captured and tortured, but at least I knew what I had to do.

They made me feel so trapped. Wanted things from me that I couldn't give. Chop off my remaining arm. Take a leg! Would they be fucking happy then?

The sun was setting behind the hills. The beauty of it made me intensely uneasy. Scenic beauty. Like some sick promise of something wonderful you'll never have. A phony view of life and what it has to offer. A god damned romance novel. The road untaken... because it was a fucking joke.

The ocean smelled good and the sounds were serene. It just pissed me off even more.

I kicked a rock, but it didn't help.

I walked for a long time, until I was numb. Not pleasantly numb, just bone weary. A pain in what had once been my left elbow ached deeply. I didn't want to go back. It felt like I'd have to give up every single thing that was me to be with them. The price was too damned high.

New York. I'd go to New York. Take care of Ming's killer and then... What? Maybe I'd go to Europe. London or Berlin. I hate smug Parisians. Maybe Madrid... but my Spanish sucks.

** Mulder **

When we got back to our place, his truck was gone.

Talia came in and we each had a beer.

"He's going to leave me, Tal."

She met my eyes, but she didn't say anything to reassure me. Probably because she wasn't sure he'd come back either.

"There must be something I can do. I can't just let him..." Let him what? Leave? Hurt me? Hurt himself?

Her hand found my shoulder. "Don't be stupid. It's not your problem to solve."

"Yeah, but what if I don't like the way he's going to solve it?"

"You can't live it for him. He has to decide."

"I love him so much, Tal."

She leaned in and gave me a hug. "I know, Fox."

After I took her home, I drove back to our place, wondering what he'd say or do when he returned. I'd have to shut up for once and listen, so I could follow his lead on how to make it better.

Fuck! I hadn't even done anything I could apologize for. I couldn't think how I was going to deal with this.

But he wasn't there when I got back. And he didn't come home that night.

I sat in front of the TV all night, worrying. Was he okay? What could I do? Where was he? Did he have a safe place to sleep?

I didn't know what he'd do, but I was sure of one thing. He wouldn't come home and happily talk through the problem with me. He didn't want to let me in to help him. His elusiveness was a constant. Self protection.

The real problem was I belonged to him, but he never belonged to me. He put up with my difficult personality. Fuck, he even let me beat the crap out of him. But he'd never open up and let me see what he was really feeling.

Talia was right. I couldn't make him do it. He'd either come back to me or he wouldn't. There was nothing I could do.

It was the most frustrating possible answer. Only by having a plan of action could I ease my anxiety. I was about to lose the most important relationship of my life, and I couldn't do a damned thing about it.

When he hadn't come home by Sunday at dinnertime, I put a note on the door. "Call my cell. I love you. Fox." I went to Scully's and rehashed the entire situation at least fifteen times, while wearing a path in her carpet. She listened and offered a few words of comfort, but there wasn't anything she could say or do either.

Alex didn't come home Sunday night. The note was still there. I crumbled it into a ball and tossed it in the vicinity of the trashcan.

I couldn't concentrate on work Monday morning, so I called Peterson's office. They told me Alex was at the library. That meant he'd gone to work that morning. At least he was still alive, in the area and doing his job. I called again in an hour, but they told me he would be out all day.

Too irritable to work, I stomped around the halls of the Bureau trying to find something I could get myself to do. Filed a few files. Delivered some reports that needed signatures. I finally left work on the dot of five o'clock.

No Alex at home, but the closet door was open. Some of his clothing was missing. I kicked the door shut.

The bastard had snuck in while I was at work and packed his things. Fucker was just going to leave me and not even have the balls to say so to my face.

I went running, trying to work out some of my feelings. When I got home, the apartment was dark. No Alex.

I called in sick the next morning. Just sat at home, watching bad movies on AMC. I called Peterson's office. They told me Alex was in Durham at the sheriff's office. Phoning there, I was told he'd just departed.

Wednesday, I called in sick again. Scully came by at lunch to try to shake me out of my funk, but I was rude to her and sent her away. Peterson's office told me Alex was filing a motion at the Superior Court. He didn't come home Wednesday night.

Thursday, I went to work because I was going berserk with idleness and worry. Peterson's office told me Alex was at the library again. I used my lunch hour to drive over to the law office and make an ass of myself, but Alex really wasn't there. They didn't know which library he was at. There are seventeen libraries in the greater D.C. area, not counting the Library of Congress, which would take an entire day to search on its own.

I returned to the Bureau to shoot some pencils into the ceiling and rearrange a couple of files. Scully was at Quantico for the day, so I didn't even have her to annoy.

A.D. Skinner came by to ask me what was wrong. I told him it was a personal problem.

"Krycek?" he inquired, squinting uncomfortably.

"Yes," I said in a tone that dared him to start something.

Instead, he put a hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry. Take the day off, if it helps." And he walked out. Fuck.

His kindness pissed me off. A boxing match with my boss might have taken my mind off things for a few minutes. Until he pounded the crap out of me.

Thursday night after work, I drove to a gay bar in Dupont Circle.

Happy Hour. I wasn't, but the noise was oddly soothing. I had a beer and when that didn't make me feel better, I had a shot of tequila. And then another. The salt and lime stung my lips in a very satisfying way.

"Hey, want some company?"

"Sure," I replied apathetically.

The man who sat down was blonde. Good looking in a bland way. "You look kind of bummed."

"Life sucks."

"You want to tell me about it?"

"Boy loves boy. Boy doesn't want to be loved, so boy leaves boy."

"Hey, that sounds grim. How about boy meets new boy?"

I looked him over, considering the idea. It appealed to my pissy need to communicate to Alex just how much he'd hurt me. Fuck another guy. Maybe even at our place. If I was really lucky, the guy would be there when Alex came home.

"Uh, no thanks." Picking up my glass, I swallowed the rest of the amber liquid and walked out of the bar.

Alex didn't come home Thursday night. The weekend was going to be hell.

I phoned Talia. "Have you heard from him?"

"No," she replied. "You haven't seen him all week?"

"Not since the park, but he seems to be working, although he's never there."

She sighed into the phone.

"Do you think..." I stopped myself, because I was afraid to say it. "Do you think he'd just leave me without even coming to tell me?"

"I don't know, Fox." Her attempt to use a soothing tone had the opposite effect. "That's how he left home. He was just gone."

"Fuck, I will kill him if he does that to me."

"You know he does love you, Fox."

"Of what possible value is that if he's going to dump me?"

"Whatever happens, I just want you to know that it's real. If it didn't matter to him, he wouldn't have been that upset. I'm sorry I can't offer anything else."

            

Chapter 12

** Mulder **

Friday, I just gave up. Didn't call Peterson's office. Scully and I drove to Philadelphia on a new case. I worked until after eight that night. Didn't even look for his car when I got home. Just opened a beer and settled in to watch TV.

Around 10:30, I heard a key in the door. I steeled myself for the worst: Alex coming for his things.

I was so fucking relieved to see his beautiful face, that in an instant, I forgot all my anger. He walked into the living room, stopping a few feet from me. The expression on his face was hurt, even vulnerable. Not at all what I expected to see.

The fear I felt was nothing like the fear of facing a ghoul or a serial killer. Alex was more vital to my well being than my liver or even my life. I pushed down my need and asked, "You come to get your things?"

He winced as if I'd hit him. "Are you telling me to go?" he replied, his voice a little shaky as his eyes fell to the floor.

I panicked. "No, I want you to stay, Alex. Don't ever doubt it." I shut my mouth before I could tell him I loved him. Afraid of his reaction. But I'd have said anything to make him stay. I just didn't know what would work.

Troubled green eyes met mine. It felt like he needed to say something.

"Do you want to talk?" I asked, trying to keep my tone gentle.

"No. Yes. Fuck..." He bit his lip. His frown made that crease between his eyes. "I want you to fuck me," he said in a harsh whisper.

What?! Sex didn't compute. It was the wrong answer. Something was very wrong. "You want to be punished?"

"No, I just..." Alex looked away, glanced back at me for a second, and looked away again. He walked over to stand by the fish tank. "No, I just want to give it to you."

Fuck.

I didn't expect that.

After a moment, I realized I was just gaping at him. Speaking seemed like a mental challenge, but I managed to utter, "I'd like that, Alex."

He stood watching the fish, not even looking at me, when it dawned on me that I needed to take the lead.

I went to him and wrapped my arms around his waist, kissing the side of his face. "I'm so glad you came home."

"I lo... love you, Fox."

My face broke into an astonished smile. He said it! "I know you do."

Needing a real kiss, I pressed my mouth to his and kissed him with all the feeling from the past week, with everything I had felt and feared.

He groaned into my mouth, his hips shifting forward to rub our erections together. I had no idea when I'd gotten hard.

** Krycek **

Damn. I needed him so badly. Even if I wanted to run, it was too damned late. Fox Mulder was in my blood and nothing short of self immolation would get me free of him.

I held him tighter, squeezing our bodies together. "Fuck me, Fox. Do it before I chicken out."

He kissed me again, his tongue furious and frantic, as if we'd been apart for years, not a week. Maybe we had in a way.

I finally broke the kiss and walked us to the bedroom. My hand shook as I took the bottle of lube out of the bedside drawer. My legs twitched with the desire to run, but I made myself face him.

He tore off his shirt and started working on his fly. I unbuttoned mine slowly, trying to keep calm. When my shirt was in a heap on the floor, a naked Fox dropped to his knees and started working on my shoes. I petted his supersoft hair. After stripping off my briefs, he took the head of my cock into his mouth.

"Fox..." It felt so damned good. My lover was touching me again. He deep throated me quickly and I had to pull away. "No, I can't. You have to do this. Now."

I passed him the lube and lay back on the bed. After a couple of labored breaths, I met his gaze, bent my knees and opened my legs. It felt like the hardest thing I'd ever done, like ripping my heart out and handing it to him, but I knew I needed to do it. Had to do it. Tonight or never.

He smiled at me reassuringly and sat down between my thighs. "So beautiful, Alex," he muttered.

I knew it wasn't my body he was talking about, and it almost broke me.

Fox stretched over me and kissed me again, gentle this time. So sweet it hurt. Showing me his love so easily. I was trying to do the same, and it felt like it would kill me. His bare chest rubbed against mine, increasing my lust, a lust full of needs that had little to do with sex.

But he didn't drag out the torment. He settled between my knees and gave my balls a light squeeze. Then, he opened the bottle and poured out some lube.

A cool finger stroked my anus. My hips rose to meet his touch, needing it. I remembered the first time he fucked me. I wouldn't allow him to prep me. But this fuck was his. He could do anything he wanted.

His finger slipped inside easily, opening me. I nearly bucked us both off the bed when he found my prostate. So damned good.

I never took my eyes off his. If I was going to give it up to him, I was going to be there with him.

"Ready for another finger?" he asked in a low velvety voice.

"Yes," I hissed.

He pushed two fingers inside and scissored them to loosen me. My cock bobbed happily. I didn't feel exactly patient, but he was doing precisely what I needed.

When he brushed my prostate again, I cried out.

Fox had a pained expression on his face, but I knew it was lust and need and love. "Three?"

"If you like."

He eased the fingers out of me and pushed back slowly with three. It hurt a little, but that wasn't important.

"Am I hurting you?"

"No. Please don't stop."

Fox fucked me gently, with a slow rhythm. His eyes were on my face, gazing at me with awe. Then he carefully extracted his fingers. And rolled on a condom.

He shifted his body over mine, placing the head of his cock at my entrance. His greenish gray eyes captured my eyes and seemed to melt as he pushed into me.

"Yes," I whispered, even as I shuddered. So emotionally intense it didn't even feel like sex. Like something else entirely.

** Mulder **

When my cock slid inside him, we both moaned. It was too good. Too perfect. Too real.

I was stunned by what I saw in his face. He was open, allowing his feelings to show. It was so damned beautiful, but I'd already said that, and there just wasn't another word for it. Somehow I knew we'd never be the same. Alex belonged to me now.

My face ached from some emotion I couldn't begin to name, as I pulled back and braced myself to fuck him. My body became weak with need. I fucked him clumsily and frantically. His ass was so tight and hot around my cock. His face dripping with feeling. His body shaking with need. I thrust into him hard, desperately needing everything he had to give.

** Krycek **

Fox took me forcefully, but it felt like it couldn't be too hard. I wanted it. Being fucked didn't seem unsafe any more. It seemed essential. My body was swimming in a current of sensation. Sensation no longer limited to one body part. My entire body was burning at his hands.

When his fingers sought out my hard-on, it seemed unnecessary, but perfect. More of him touching more of me.

My endorphin-laden brain started to fog, and I slipped easily into an orgasm that exploded in my entire being. More intense than any sensation could ever be again. I cried out animal sounds of pure pleasure, and his body tightened over mine.

Fox's cock twitched deep inside me as he shot his release. "Alex," he murmured breathlessly as we dissolved into the bed. Then the world was silent. I was aware of nothing except our sweaty bodies pressed together.

My legs were wrapped around his hips, gripping tightly to hold us close. The muscles of my thighs complained, but I didn't want to let go. I stroked his back lightly.

Then my brain started to function again and I shivered.

Fox looked at me. "You okay?"

"Yeah," I replied, not knowing if it was true.

Fox reached out with a finger and traced along my cheek.

My face was wet. I guess I cried. I curled into his shoulder, so he couldn't see it anymore, but it didn't matter. He knew.

I felt the fear again, but it was too late. It was done. I'd gone all the way, given him everything, and I couldn't make myself regret it.

I felt emotionally drained, a little scared, awed, tired, blissed out and inexplicably peaceful all at the same time.

He slipped off me, but stayed close, wrapping his arm around my waist. "That was incredible," he said.

"Yeah," I replied stupidly.

The semen smeared over our bodies seemed unimportant. We fell asleep. I woke up a few times, but Fox was always asleep. We kept touching each other all through the night, yet he never woke up.

The first time I woke in daylight, I felt his hand on my chest. I looked up to find him sitting against the headboard, smiling down at me.

His smile faded. "I can't tell you how much it hurt when you didn't come home."

"I'm sorry, Fox. It was the only way I knew how to cope."

He nodded. "I know. It's okay. I just needed to tell you how much it hurt. More than... more than when Samantha was taken."

No stronger statement of love had ever been spoken. I sat up and kissed him. "I'll try not to run out on you again. I can't promise it won't happen again, but I'll try."

I was still afraid, but it didn't feel like it would kill me anymore. It would hurt--agonizingly--to lose him, but I had to accept the risk in order to enjoy being with him. It was the right choice. I'd wasted enough of my life already.

Fox snuggled back under the covers and we slept more. He was still sleeping when I woke again. I crept out of bed, careful not to disturb him. After a much needed shower, I made my way to the kitchen. We'd need food to revive ourselves.

A half hour later, he lumbered into the kitchen looking adorably sleepy, hair sticking out in nine different directions. "Somethin' warm was missin' in bed." He wrapped an arm around me and pressed himself to my back, just holding me while his brain woke up.

I managed to cook with him hanging on me. His groggy and helpless act made me want to take him back to bed and take advantage of him.

After a few minutes, Fox spoke again, in a more alert tone. "Does this mean I'm your top now? You're going to be the one who has to beg for it?"

I turned in his arms and gave him a smug grin. "No way, Mulder."

He faked a pout, but it morphed into a smile. "Good." Then he nuzzled my armpit with his substantial nose. "I'm so glad you're home."

After we ate, he showered, and I phoned my sister. "Tal, it's Alex."

"Are you home?"

My shoulders tightened. I could only hope she'd go easy on me. "Yes."

"You okay?" Her tone was gentle.

"Yes."

"Fox okay?"

"Yes."

She cleared her throat conspicuously. "Did you call for a reason, Xan?"

Say it, Krycek. "You were right, Tal. About what you said... at the park."

"I know. I love you, Xan."

"I love you, too, Tal."

Talia had been painfully right. I was so fucking scared.

I'd been fighting my feelings for Fox since the day I met him. Surely things would get better if I stopped fighting.

I love you, Fox. And it doesn't matter how much I don't want to love you, I do love you.

Things calmed down quickly between Mulder and me. He was solicitous though a bit guarded around me. I struggled to find a comfortable, but different, way of being with him. Maybe I could do this.

A week later, Talia phoned. "Alex, the attorney called. Mother's will was processed. There's almost nothing left."

"What about the house?"

"Apparently, Aunt Betta had taken out a reverse mortgage to cover expenses."

Shit. I wanted Tal to have enough to quit her waitress job and go to summer school. "How much are you getting?"

"$621.37."

"Fuck."

"It's okay, Alex. I wasn't expecting her to make me wealthy."

"I'm sorry, Tal." I opened my mouth to make her an offer, but then closed it again.

Things had changed.

When Fox came home, I met him at the door. "I want to ask you something."

"What is it, Alex?"

I led him to the sofa and we sat side by side. My palm was sweating. I hated this, but I wanted to do it right. "I need to make a financial decision, but it will affect both of us."

"'Kay," he replied, eyes wide.

"Tal's getting $621 from the will."

"Ouch."

"Yeah. I'm going to... no, I want to... If she goes to summer school, she's only got one year left. I'd like to take some money out of my account in the Caymans to cover the difference, so she can quit her job at the cafe."

Fox opened his mouth, then shut it again. I could see the wheels turning in his mind... ready to suggest he give her the money, but holding back. Way to go, lover!

He gave a curious tilt of his head. "Why are you asking me this?"

"It's... Because... we live together." It means more than me paying half the rent. "My decisions affect you."

"But Alex you don't need to... I can-" He stopped himself again and examined me thoughtfully. "Okay, but may I pay half?"

Could this be my Fox?

I wanted to say no. I wanted to be the one to help my sister. But he cared about her, too.

Are you in or out, Alex? Is Fox your roommate or your lover?

It would be better to do it together. I nodded. "We'll each pay half."

              

Chapter 13

** Mulder **

Alex was trying so hard to make our relationship work. For a few weeks, I walked on eggs anticipating more problems, but he seemed freer and happier than before. Whatever he'd done or thought or felt during his absence, it had given us a fresh start.

Life was just life. But it was good.

The weather turned warm.

I wanted to barbecue for Memorial Day, but we didn't have a grill. So I asked Scully if we could do it at her place. She was not only willing, but she even invited the Gunmen. She must really love me to endure Frohike's crude flirting for an entire afternoon.

Alex made cookies with chocolate chips and pecans. He wouldn't let me eat any before the party, despite my pouting. I must have lost my touch.

We picked up Talia, who brought potato salad and a gift for Scully: a pot with tiny purple flowers.

Scully answered the door. I made the introductions. "Dana, this is Natalia Krycek. Talia, this is Dana Scully."

Talia took Scully's hand and squeezed. Scully blinked a few times, no doubt taking in the family resemblance.

When Talia handed her the flowerpot, she said, "It's lovely. Thank you."

As we entered the apartment, Langley nodded nervously at Alex. And then he saw Talia. His jaw fell open as his eyes flicked back and forth between the two, finally settling on her. A dreamy expression overtook his astonishment.

Talia noticed out of the corner of her eye, but she paid scant attention. Probably used to it. Poor thing, looking like she does. And single, too, as far as I could tell. I hoped she didn't have to spend the entire afternoon beating off the Gunmen. So to speak.

Frohike followed Langley's gaze, examined Talia for a moment, then shrugged. Seated on a chair in Scully's kitchen, his eyes returned to his beloved and hovered exactly at the level of her chest as she went to the refrigerator. Scully did look very busty in her blue sweater.

Her friend Marsha entered from the hall. "Hi, Mulder."

After greeting Marsha, I followed Scully into the kitchen and took my lover by the wrist. "Alex, you have to introduce your sister to everyone."

He shrugged. "Why don't you introduce her, Fox? She's your sister-in-law."

I made a face at him. Returning to the living room, I took Talia's hand. "Everyone, this is Alex's sister, Natalia."

Langley stood up, adjusted his posture, ran a few fingers through his hair--he'd have washed it this week, if he'd only known--and stepped toward Talia, extending a bony hand. "I'm Ringo Langley. Very nice to meet you, Natalia."

She shook his hand politely. "Ringo," she replied with a nod.

After enduring the complete introductions, Talia joined Alex in the kitchen. She chopped vegetables while Alex made salad dressing.

I enjoyed a lively conversation with Marsha and Langley about vampires. Next, I stepped onto the back patio to say hi to Byers.

He'd taken off his coat, which was laid carefully on a lawn chair. Sleeves rolled up, he turned watching the coals into a gentlemanly art. A platter of steaks and jumbo shrimp waited nearby.

"Hey, Byers."

"Mulder. So that woman is Krycek's sister?"

"Yeah, Natalia. I should introduce you." They'd make a cute couple. He was tall enough and she'd likely appreciate his intelligence. And he was a little more socially facile than the other two.

"Scully asked me to invite my brother, Teddy, and his lover, Jason. So you wouldn't be the only gay couple." He grinned sheepishly. "But I guess they couldn't make it."

I shrugged. "I'm not worried about the heterosexuality rubbing off or anything."

He rewarded my joke with a polite smile. "So how are things going with you and Alex?"

"Oh, you know. The constant five-star sex wears on you after a while."

"Oh, yeah. I'll bet."

"Seriously, I really like having him around."

With a large pair of tongs, Byers moved a couple of the coals. "He's not such a bad guy. Not at all what I expected."

I smiled beatifically at him and the conversation migrated. Byers did an imitation of Langley spouting his Princess-Di-was-assassinated spiel.

Fifteen minutes later, I caught sight of a familiar bald head through the living room window. Fuck. I was present when Scully invited Skinner, but I didn't expect him to actually attend. Consorting with the riffraff, huh?

Concerned about a potential conflict between him and Alex, I excused myself and stepped inside. Alex was in the dining room, setting out silverware and paper plates. But there was a hint of tension in his shoulders... he was keeping an eye on my boss, too.

The A.D. was standing at the bookcase talking to Talia. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I'd never seen that expression on his face before. His lips were turned up in a gentle smile. He liked her. Something about his posture tweaked me, though. He was standing with his legs apart, one gesturing arm suggesting an embrace.

And Talia was standing close to him. Too close. Fuck! Not Skinner, Tal! Shit. Shit.

I gaped at Alex in horror.

Reading my mind, he gave me a lopsided shrug. "I'm not going to tell my sister who she can fuck, Fox."

"But, Alex... not Skinner." I started to step toward the flirting couple, but a strong arm pressed against my chest.

"It's her life, Fox. Butt out."

He released me, so I moved closer to hear what they were talking about. Fuck, there had to be at least a 20 year age difference. Talia lost her father young... yeah, I could see it. Attracted to a powerful older male... all that testosterone.

I could make out his baritone. "... but Faulkner isn't literature, it's torture using words. There ought to be something in the Geneva convention..."

Talia smiled coquettishly, and her hips shifted forward. Body language tells all. "I should know better than to say this to a military man, but I think Hemingway is almost as bad."

"I can only agree. Machismo and depression do not a good story make. And I thought even less of his insipid war adventures after Vietnam."

Her hand reached up and, with perfect grace, she wrapped her fingers around his sleeved upper arm. As far as they'd go anyhow. The man has biceps bigger than my thigh.

I couldn't take it any more, and strode rapidly to join them. "Sir, I didn't expect you to be here?"

A bit of darkness flashed through those brown eyes, but he smiled graciously. "Mulder, this is a party. Why don't you call me 'Walter?' Just for today."

I wrapped an arm around Talia's waist. Two can play at this game. "So, I see you've met my sister-in-law?"

Talia gave me a poisonous glance.

Walter looked at her as he spoke, obviously unruffled. "Yes, Talia's an exceptional woman. I'm enjoying her company."

Her eyes glittered with mischief as she caught my eye. "How many other single, handsome G-men have you been keeping from me, Fox?"

Kill me now. "He's my boss, Talia. And an incredible hard-ass."

His easy smile was back.

Her eyes flicked to Skinner's body. "I noticed."

Skinner's ears got red--I am not making this up--but he covered well with a low chuckle, and gave her a predatory gaze that made my own cock hard.

Fuck. This was only getting worse. "Well, Tal, Scully needs you in the kitchen. She needs advice on how to heat the dish you brought."

"You like your potato salad hot?" She shook her head at me in disgust. "I guess I'll find out if Scully really needs something. Later then, Walter." The smile she gave Skinner left little doubt as to what she wanted later. I tried not to imagine my boss slipping it to her in Scully's coat closet.

Talia followed me to the dining area. "What's wrong with you, Fox? You're acting like you're jealous, but I know you only have eyes for Xan."

"Skinner hates Alex."

"So what? I'm just flirting with him, not marrying him and having his babies."

"I just think it could get awkward."

"Is that what you were doing there?" She giggled. "Preventing awkwardness?"

I heard Alex's laugh behind me. "You're in rare form, Fox."

"I appreciate your support, Al-ex." I smacked him lightly on his own hard ass. "Don't either of you come crying when Talia's heart is broken because old Walter can't stand the sight of her brother."

"Catch a clue, Fox. Tal's the heartbreaker."

Talia gave us both a sly grin.

My brain quickly created an image of her on top of Skinner's buff, naked body, giving him the fucking of his life. Then dumping him for her next conquest. Could be...

"Watch that dirty mind, Fox," she said smugly as she sauntered into the kitchen.

Still in a bit of a snit, I met Alex's eyes. Those vivid green eyes began to smolder. "Don't worry about her, lover." His raspy voice was sparking a blaze in my nether regions. "I like your mind dirty."

Rapidly losing all cogent brainpower, I wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled his body to mine. As we brushed our groins against each other, I glanced over his shoulder and saw Skinner watching us. Something burned in those dark eyes, too.

When the doorbell rang, I was closest to the door, so I answered it. And encountered two young men I didn't know. A tall, ash blonde extended a hand. "Hi, I'm Teddy Byers."

"Oh, hey, John's brother." I escorted them in. Just as I was about to introduce myself, I saw Alex stiffen behind them.

The newcomers tracked my gaze, and Teddy's dark haired companion's face went from open to shut in an instant. He obviously knew Alex. I hated to even think how.

Oblivious, Teddy jumped in, holding out a hand to Alex. "I'm Teddy Byers, John's brother."

Alex took the hand. "Alex Krycek."

The dark-haired man held his hand out uneasily. "I'm Teddy's lover, Jason."

Alex refused the hand, but his face softened. "I appreciate the gesture, Jason, but it's not necessary." Turning to me, he continued, "Fox, this is my parole officer, Jason Holly."

I gaped at the man, who was obviously uncomfortable.

He turned to his lover. "Teddy, we should go."

Alex put his hand on Jason's shoulder. "Not on my account. Everyone here knows I'm an ex-con."

Jason lowered his voice. "Are you sure, Alex? I don't want to put you at risk."

"It's not a problem. I think I can avoid violating my parole this afternoon."

A concerned smile appeared on Jason's youthful face. "Okay. You let me know if you change your mind."

A curt nod was Alex's only response.

I extended a hand to the P.O. "Let's try this again. I'm Fox Mulder, Alex's lover."

"Pleased to meet you, Fox."

"Mulder, please."

"Mulder?"

"Yeah, everyone calls me Mulder."

"Okay, whatever."

John Byers stepped inside and called out, "The shrimps are ready and the steaks are medium rare."

Holding out an arm to encourage the newcomers to go first, I picked up a plate and headed to the back yard.

Once my plate was loaded with food, I took a seat on the couch next to Scully.

She leaned over conspiratorially and whispered. "Did you know John's brother was dating Alex's parole officer?"

"Uh, no," I replied around a mouthful of perfectly chilled potato salad. "I don't think anyone knew."

"Alex handled that really well."

"Yeah."

My lover chose just that moment to appear, his plate loaded with goodies, including a sizable steak and one token shrimp. Scully and I exchanged a glance as Alex settled himself on my other side.

He scooted deftly in my direction, so our thighs were touching. "Tal and Skinner are in the back yard. D'ya think they need a chaperone?"

I smirked at him, resisted the urge to go check on Talia, and gave his thigh a playful smack.

Alex ate his salad first, then calmly nudge his plate toward mine. "Would you cut my steak for me?"

"Sure," I replied, trying to be nonchalant. But I was stunned by the request.

I saw Scully was watching us out of the corner of her eye.

When I slid his plate back in front of him, Alex said, "Thanks," and proceeded to pretend nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

It had to be love. The man trusted me enough to ask me to cut his meat. I watched him eat for a few minutes until he gave me a mocking glare.

When he carried his plate into the kitchen, Scully nudged me with an elbow. "A crack in the armor."

"Yeah."

Scully consulted with Talia, and they selected some CDs. 80s dance music. I observed Skinner declining Talia's dance offers three times. Good.

But when the first slow song came on, Take My Breath Away, he wrapped an arm around her waist and they began to move. Damn those two!

Scully asked Alex to dance. He placed her hand on his left shoulder, just as he had done with me so many years ago. God, I loved that man. God, I loved that woman. They were becoming friends because they both cared about me.

I loved Talia, too, but I'd love her more out of Skinner's embrace.

I watched for a while, then stood up and tapped my partner on the shoulder. "I think you have something that belongs to me, Scully."

They stopped dancing and she patted him on the butt. "All yours, Mulder."

Alex and I stared at each other wordlessly. Scully patted him on the ass? Gotta be an X-File. Demonic possession at the very least.

The second he reached for me, the song ended. The next song was some totally weird B-52s tune. I couldn't begin to think how to dance to that.

Alex snickered and wrapped his arm around me. "I think this one is beyond your abilities, lover." He escorted me to a safe corner, giving my earlobe a nibble. "It would just make me impossibly horny anyway."

That raspy, lust filled voice of his sure did it to me. I'll bet you never do get tired of five-star sex. I look forward to a lifetime of finding out.

We weren't going to make out in front of my boss and Alex's parole officer, so eventually we separated. I joined Marsha and Teddy, disappointed to find them exchanging recipes for pad Thai. Boring.

An hour later, Langley and Jason cleared off the coffee table and moved it into the middle of the room. Jason goaded the other man. "I beat you last time, Langley. I'll beat you again."

"No way, man. I've been lifting computer monitors."

The two sat on the floor on opposite sides of the heavy wooden table. Hands clasped, the arm-wrestling contest began. Langley had the edge for just a moment, before Jason pressed his arm to the table.

"I almost had you there, Jace."

"Give it up, dude." He smirked at the blonde gunman. "Any other takers?"

Frohike choked on his beer. "Don't look at me." He disappeared toward the bathroom.

Teddy stepped forward.

Marsha marched into the fray. "Hey, guys, if you're going to show off your muscles, you should really show them off." She tugged at Teddy's T-shirt.

He glanced nervously at his lover. Some nonverbal agreement was reached and they both removed their shirts. Marsha's eyes flicked over the two chests. "Thank you, gentlemen," she offered casually before moving out of the way.

Teddy beat Jason. Then John Byers beat Teddy. I peeled off my rugby shirt and flexed my biceps. "You're history, John."

He fought well, but I still won. Just as Byers stood up, Alex appeared next to him, with a competitive gleam in his eyes that made my dick twitch.

"Okay, Alex, but don't lose just to make me feel good."

"Trust me, I won't," he replied with a menacing edge in his voice. He slipped off his leather jacket, leaving only his T-shirt. Taking off the armor this time.

Scully and Talia watched from the loveseat in the far corner, shaking their heads... at our foolish male antics, no doubt.

Facing Alex, the contest started. Suddenly, I was perspiring. This incredible force was pushing my arm the way it did not want to go. Mentally, I put all my strength into my arm. And I still lost.

He kissed my hand as he freed it. I bent over the table and whispered in his ear. "I love you."

Alex grinned back at me. I don't believe I've ever seen him so happy. Just hanging out with me... but he was a part of it this time. Not on the outside.

I rose. "Looks like you're the undisputed champion."

A deep voice behind me said, "Not yet, he isn't."

I turned to find Walter Skinner gazing down at Alex, who was still seated on the floor.

Alex's face tightened defensively, then he let out a breath and nodded across the table.

Skinner took off his shirt, revealing his muscular, hairy chest. Marsha and Teddy both watched with heavy eyelids. Teddy dropped backward into a chair.

I complained snottily, "No one swooned when I took my shirt off."

The room erupted in laughter. Langley threw my shirt in my face. I looked to Alex for support, but his narrowed eyes were directed at his opponent.

Skinner sat, graceful as a panther.

Alex's eyes locked onto Skinner's. Skinner didn't shrink from the green gaze, but his face was relaxed.

Both men grunted at the start. Alex held his own, teeth gritted so hard I could see the distended muscles of his jaw. A bead of sweat ran down his cheek, but he didn't blink.

I almost felt sorry for my boss. Alex could, and would, win the psychological war. It was much to my relief that the man was my lover and not my enemy.

Skinner's body went rigid, his own jaw clamped shut. Still Alex held him back--making no headway in pinning the older man, but not giving more than an inch. Alex's face was red and sweating profusely.

Finally, a single drop of sweat slid down the bald head. Alex uttered a loud, short groan and his hand was slammed flat on the table.

My body tensed automatically. Now what? I was afraid one of them would start something. Across the room, Scully's concerned eyes met mine for a brief second.

The two men stood, still watching each other.

Alex feigned a relaxed posture and, with a nod to Skinner, said, "Champion."

Skinner returned a respectful nod. "Tough contest."

Alex gave a lopsided shrug to acknowledge the gesture.

The dignity of both competitors firmly assured, the tension level in the room dropped. Frohike made a plea for dessert.

Alex went to Tal and squatted in front of her. His sister appeared to be chiding him, but he took it gracefully. His bad-boy-rebuked smile made me fall in love with him all over again.

I joined Skinner in the kitchen. "Thank you, sir."

His face toughened up a bit. "For what?" He passed me a beer.

"Don't play innocent with me. You know very well."

Skinner shrugged and gave me the barest hint of a smile.

I stood in the living room. My family of choice was intact. All members accepted as part of the pack. Now, if I could just keep Skinner's hands off Talia, I could die a happy man.

               

Chapter 14

** Krycek **

On my birthday, a Friday, I woke to find a conspicuous 175 lb. lump slithering under the covers. "That had better be you, Fox."

"Mmph."

"What are you doing?"

"Ow!" My knee was bumped by something that might have been his ear. A muffled voice called out, "Giving you your birthday blowjob."

"Isn't that supposed to involve my cock?"

Suddenly, the blankets were yanked off the bed. Fox gave me a withering glare.

I chuckled at him for a moment. Best to keep my mouth shut if I wanted the blowjob.

His expression softened gradually. Then he bent over my groin and sucked my cock down all the way. My morning hard-on became a serious hard-on in about a millisecond.

Fox's tongue teased at the underside, sucking me slowly and gently. My idea of the perfect wake-up call...

I let him work my cock for a while, then got impatient. My hand found the back of his head, gripping his hair, and I fucked his mouth more vigorously than I ever had before. His eyes glazed over and his face seemed to melt. Then I stopped noticing, thrusting my hips hard and fast as I cried out my release.

When I became conscious again, his face lay on my hip and he was gently licking my shrinking cock. I'm sure it was clean already, but I couldn't bring myself to complain.

I lay there, feeling a contentment I'd never known. My fingers stroked the side of his head. "If you bring it up here, I'll suck yours."

He twisted his neck and gazed up at me. "No, I can wait."

I grinned at him. "Don't be silly, Fox. You have the patience of a mosquito."

Fox eyed me snidely. "It's your birthday, Alex. I want to do it right."

"And orgasm deprivation is part of the formula?"

"Don't you remember my birthday? Before you went to prison?"

"I remember." I tugged his face up and met his lips. We made out for a long time, until his cock was about to burst. Just when I thought he couldn't take any more, I wrapped my fingers around it.

Fox yelped and his cock exploded. He tried to frown at me, but he was feeling too blissed out.

Now, just why exactly was I going to get up and go to work after this?

That afternoon, when I got home, per my instructions, Fox was waiting for me. Working late was not allowed on my birthday.

"I wish you'd let me plan something, Alex."

"I didn't want anything like that."

Fox wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me to him, a wandering hand slipping down to my ass. "How about a birthday spanking?"

"Completely unnecessary." I grabbed his wrist and removed his hand from my butt.

Rubbing his groin against mine, he replied with a pout, "But it could be a lot of fun."

"Okay, Fox. For your birthday, then."

"Oooh, I can hardly wait." That hand found my ass again.

My erection responded with an optimistic surge of blood flow. Not yet. "Fox, let's change into jeans."

"Are you going to tell me where we're going?"

"No."

We ordered in pizza. Pepperoni and onions.

After dinner, Fox appeared from the bedroom carrying a couple of wrapped packages. "Presents!"

A little embarrassed, I found myself hoping he hadn't spent half his inheritance buying me an island or a solid-gold Egyptian sarcophagus.

Fox passed me a small elegantly-wrapped parcel. A tag read, "Happy Birthday, Alex. From Dana." I gaped at him, and he shrugged. It was a fancy garlic press. Wow. Sc... no, Dana bought me a gift. I was stunned.

"She likes you, Alex." I supposed she did.

Fox nudged me with a heavy package. "This one's from Tal. She's been teasing me about it for a week, so it must be something fun."

I ripped off the wrapping paper, revealing a huge book of color photos of elegantly tattooed naked men. Joining me on the sofa, we poured over the book, looking at every photo at least twice.

"I think you should get one, Alex. On your back. Did I ever mention that you have a sexy back?"

"Uh, no. What's sexy about my back?"

"The way your shoulders taper down to your narrow waist." He leered at me. "Take off your shirt and I'll show you."

"Later, lover."

"Why do you always make me wait?"

"Because you love it." I gave him a look that dared him to say otherwise. When his eyes flicked away with a hint of chagrin, I asked, "Do I have any more presents?"

"One."

Fox darted into the bedroom and came back with a black leather garment bag, decorated with a big red bow. He handed it to me. It was heavier than clothing. A tiny red envelope was attached. Inside, a note. He watched me, without breathing, as I read it. "Thank you for giving yourself to me. All my love, Fox."

My eyes burned a little, but I didn't embarrass myself further by actually crying.

Was this really my life?

I felt a weight next to me and a head on my shoulder. His arms wrapped around me. "Open it," he murmured in my ear.

It was a black leather jacket. My fingers caressed the soft leather. It was exquisite.

"Try it on."

I pried myself out of his arms and stood. The jacket was tailored and more stylish than my old one. It felt good going on.

Fox stood, eying me with blatant lust. "Did I ever tell you how sexy you are?"

"A few times..."

"Well, it bears repeating." He smiled almost shyly. "Do you like it? I know it's a lot different from your old one."

"Follow me." I entered the bedroom and stood in front of the mirror. I looked damned good. "It's beautiful. I love it."

I slid open the closet door and looked at my old one. So grungy. It made me think of Ming's letter.

I found someone to take care of me, Ming.

I made Fox wear my old jacket. Then I packed him in the truck and took him where I wanted to go on my birthday. Stingray Point. As we strolled on the beach, I told him this was where I came when I was upset. We walked for hours. I told him quite a few things about myself that I'd never told anyone.

Unbelievable that I'd opened up this much to him.

It all started with a pizza. And my brilliant seduction technique, which consisted of drooling on him until he noticed and then kissing him. Wasn't I clever? And lest I forget the coup de gras: not leaving when he told me to. Slick seduction it wasn't. But it was enough to get his dick in my mouth.

I couldn't have dreamed up any of what happened after that... not in a million years.

It was the middle of the night by the time we got home.

"Shower," I insisted.

Clothes in a heap on the bathroom floor, I stepped under the hot spray. Fox joined me, but I wouldn't let him have any water. After rinsing myself thoroughly, I stepped aside and soaped him down. Somehow, my soapy fingers found his crack.

"Oooh," he moaned, opening his legs wider.

"You like that, huh?"

"Mmm... I've been waiting all day, Alex."

I pushed the bar of soap at his anus and applied a little pressure.

"Fuck me. Please!"

Whispering in his ear, I replied, "Well, since it's my birthday, I'm going to make you do all the work."

"Hmm..." he muttered mindlessly.

I released him and leaned back against the cool tile of the shower wall, my hand on the built-in soap dish for support.

Fox gave me a curious look. "How's that going to work?"

I tilted my head and smiled salaciously. "Get yourself ready and I'll show you."

Frozen, he stared at the shampoo bottle.

"There's lube under the sink, Fox."

"Oh." He leaned out of the shower, precariously balanced by one hand on the counter, and managed to squirt the large pump bottle. The box of condoms caught his eye, and he retrieved one awkwardly with the lube hand, sticking the foil packet in his teeth. As I watched, expecting him to slip and fall, he gracefully eased his butt back into the shower.

With a sheepish grin, he stared at the lube in his hand. I thought I was going to have to do it myself. Finally, he spread his legs wide and turned so I could watch the show, as he began to ease his fingers into his ass. "You like watching me do this, don't you?"

"You know I do... Does it make you feel submissive, Fox?"

He gave me a slightly hurt look, but his deep groan gave away his true feelings.

I reached for him and sucked his full lower lip into my mouth. Our hard cocks rubbed together as groans filled the tiny room.

Then I pushed him away. "Turn around, lover."

Fox rotated. I hurriedly rolled on the condom.

"Now, spread your cheeks for me and push your ass backward."

Fox's long, elegant fingers pried his muscular, round ass open--possibly the sexiest thing I have ever seen--and he shimmied toward me. I met his anus with the tip of my cock and pushed it in. Immediately, he shoved his weight backward and took it all. And screamed, "Fuuuuh... uck."

I laughed breathlessly in his ear.

He began to move, his hips pushing his ass on and off my cock. His firm butt nudging my groin with every movement. It was beyond hot. "Aw, Christ, Fox, give it to me!"

"Oh, Alllll... ex." His hips began to work furiously. The sight of his muscular back straining. My cock sliding into his tight ass. The desperate sound of his labored breaths. The intense heat inside him. I was about to come.

I released my handhold and groped clumsily for his cock. I began to shoot before I got a good grip on him, but it didn't matter. His cock pulsed under my fingers, his hips slammed back on me hard enough to hurt--not that I cared--and his ass contracted intensely around my dick.

Oh, fuck.

Then our bodies were slipping. Limbs falling. I hit my head on the shower wall and landed with Fox's elbow in my ribs. I still didn't care.

We lay there, my legs bent awkwardly up the wall, laughing our asses off.

"Happy birthday, Alex," he mumbled.

"Yeah, thanks, lover."

** Mulder **

Talia called a week after Alex's birthday. I suggested we meet for dinner.

"That's why I called, actually." Her voice was oddly hesitant. "I'd like to bring someone."

"You mean like a date?" I asked, a shiver of dread crossing my spine.

"Yessss, Fox. A date."

"Another student?"

"Not exactly." Talia was usually a straight shooter, and she was being awfully vague here. Oh, god, Alex's sister was dating Skinner. My throat was suddenly dry.

"Fox, you there?"

"Uh, yeah."

"So why don't the four of us meet for dinner?"

"Do you really think that's a good idea?"

"I think it's a great idea," she replied confidently.

I hung up the phone and found Alex reading a book by the fish tank.

"Alex?"

"Yeah?"

"Talia's dating Skinner and she wants to go on a double date."

He smirked at me. "Okay, sure."

A week later, Alex and I were waiting at the restaurant, when Scully came over to our table.

"Hey, Scully."

"Mulder."

"I'd invite you to join us, but we're double dating with Talia tonight."

Alex gave me an odd glance, his shapely lips hinting at a smile.

"Are you here with someone, Scully?"

Scully was fighting a laugh, too. I was still trying to figure out the joke, and hating the unusual experience of being the last one to get it.

Talia appeared. Alone. She joined us eagerly and kissed Scully on the cheek. Scully smirked at me.

My eyes bugged open and my jaw dropped. I was still gaping in astonishment as the two women sat down. Talia was dating Scully? My strait-laced, religious partner?

I jabbed Alex with an elbow. "You knew!"

"I suspected." He shrugged. "Talia's very seductive."

"Runs in the family," I replied with a smirk. "But, Scully, you're not bisexual."

She gave me a patronizing smile. "How did you come to that conclusion, Sherlock?"

"You've always dated men. All those college stories you told me. You never mentioned..." Not liking the sound of my sputtering objections, I just trailed off.

"You never asked about high school, Mulder."

I gaped and blinked, trying to imagine a high-school-aged Scully making out with another girl under the bleachers during the big game. What kind of girl? Cheerleader? Math whiz? A big butch athlete? Delicate younger girl? Lipstick smeared. Tiny hands groping...

Scully interrupted my wild imaginings. "Mulder, I know what that look on your face means."

"I'm shocked, Scully. Honest to god, I thought we were going to be having dinner with Tal and Skinner."

Talia tilted her head at me and offered a bemused smile. "Well, he is an attractive man, but Dana is extraordinary. I'd have been all over her at the barbecue, but I didn't know how she'd feel about that with her partner and her boss in the room."

I rolled my eyes. "Things are complicated enough. I guess I should be relieved."

An overly cheerful waitress arrived and took our orders. I gestured to Alex and indicated I'd have the same thing he was having, without even having heard what he ordered.

My Scully bisexual? Talia, too? Fuck, all four of us are bisexual, more or less. Too weird. Maybe it's contagious. I know I caught it from Alex.

After the waitress left, I inquired, "So how did this happen?"

Talia and Scully exchanged glances. Some couple thing... deciding who would talk, I suppose. Talia answered. "I called her the day after the barbecue and asked her out to dinner."

I queried my diminutive partner. "Did you know it was a date?"

"I suspected," she replied with a demure smile.

Suddenly, my brain was invaded with images of Dana and Talia in bed together. I had this desperate need to know who did what to who. My cock started to respond.

Alex's fingers found my shoulder and he squeezed gently. "Down boy."

"Well, haven't you thought about it?"

"She's my sister, Fox."

"It's just... it's a pretty picture."

"I totally agree," Talia answered with a salacious grin, her hand reaching out to hold Scully's tiny fingers.

Scully frowned. "Mulder, don't even go there."

"Hey, I can't help it. Didn't you ever think about Alex and me together?"

In seven years of partnership I'd never seen Scully blush. Her eyes flicked to her salad plate and a beautiful rosy flush spread from her neck to her forehead.

Alex let loose with a rare, deep belly laugh, and the rest of us joined in. Except Scully, of course. As soon as she got her blushing under control, she gave me a testicle-shriveling glare.

Struggling to neutralize my grin, I asked, "So you've been keeping this from me for a month, eh?"

"Yes," Scully replied. "I didn't want to do this if it was just a one night stand."

Talia joined in. "It's definitely more than that."

Scully made a point of catching Alex's gaze. "I couldn't be sure until we had a long talk about you, Alex."

Alex's face tightened into a frown.

Talia nodded encouragement to her date, but Scully still hesitated before speaking again. "I'll never approve of some of the things you've done, Alex, but I've come to like you and accept you as a person."

This conversation was way too intimate for my skittish lover. His face went dark and his body tensed, as if he were trying to shrink back into his seat. But his eyes never left her face.

"You're a part of my life, because of Mulder, and now, Talia. I don't want the past to make things harder for any of us."

I don't think Alex was breathing.

"I've spent a long time thinking and praying about this. And I've chosen... to forgive you about Melissa."

"Melissa?" I blurted out, spewing my Coke.

Scully's face was suddenly still.

Alex grimaced, fingers clenched around his napkin.

But, Cardinal... Oh, god. Don't let my lover have killed Scully's sister. What does Scully know that I don't? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!

"I'm sorry, Mulder. I thought you knew." Glancing nervously at Alex, Scully reached over to take my hand. "He was there, Mulder. Alex told me Cardinal shot her. And I believe him."

When I turned to look at Alex again, his face was dead blank.

My hand was clinging to Scully's, on the verge of breaking bones. "You were there?"

Talia's huge sad eyes fell on her brother.

"Yes," he said softly, his green eyes focused on the salt-and-pepper shakers.

"But Cardinal shot her?"

"Yes."

I let go of Scully and reached for his hand. "I believe you, too."

None of us spoke for a very long minute. Then Alex pulled his hand away and stood, looking down at me, shaking his head. "I've fucked up the lives of everyone I've ever cared about."

He turned and walked away. "I love you, Alex," I called out to him.

Scully gave me a concerned glance. "Should you go after him?"

"No," I replied, in spite of my extreme desire to follow my upset lover. "He needs time alone." I could only hope he'd return in less than a week this time.

Talia shook her head crossly and stood to follow her brother.

"I'm sorry, Mulder," Scully apologized. "You told me the two of you talked things out. I just assumed..."

"It's not your fault, Scully."

Damn. I knew if Alex was angry, he'd get over it quickly. But he wasn't pissed. He was hurt and scared. He'd come back guarded and uptight. It might take weeks to reassure him that he was wanted. I wish the past could just stay in the past.

Talia came back ten minutes later.

I met her eyes, but she gave me an exasperated look. He probably wouldn't talk to her either when he was like this.

We ate our dinner. Trying not to fret about him, I chatted mindlessly with Tal and my bisexual partner.

Much to my shock, Alex returned a few minutes later. His eyes on his untouched entree, he shook his head sadly. "I'm sorry... I didn't..." I could see the muscles of his jaw strain with the effort it took to make himself speak. "I don't ever want to interfere with your happiness... either of you."

I slipped a hand onto his thigh and squeezed.

He glanced up at Dana and then his sister.

Leaning over, I whispered, "Thanks for coming back."

"Talia threatened me with tar and feathers."

"No, Xan," his sister replied. "I just reminded you what was at stake."

Alex forced a smile. He didn't speak again while we finished the meal, but he stayed. I imagined him walking on the beach, trying to deal with his emotions. That would have been okay. He probably would have come home sooner this time. But I was happy to have him here with me, even if he was troubled. I squeezed his leg again.

While waiting for the check, Scully and Tal went to the ladies' room.

"You okay, Alex?"

He winced. "I have to get over it."

"Thank you." I really was grateful. I wanted to offer to help, but he knew already. He nuzzled against me.

When the women came back, they took in the sight. Talia smiled at her brother. Scully gave him a reassuring nod.

Alex's simple return to the table meant everything. He was mine now. He belonged to me. He would stick it out with me.

The next evening, Alex was reading and I was doing my expense report when the phone rang. "Yeah?" he answered. His face darkened. He passed me the phone. "Your mother."

Ugh. "Hi, mom."

"I'll be in New York next weekend. We could meet for lunch."

Even while dreading it, my mouth opened to agree. But I stopped myself.

"Fox, are you there?"

"Yes, mother. I think I'll pass on meeting you."

"Oh."

I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing.

Finally, she spoke again, her voice cold. "You can bring him if you have to."

"It's good of you to take Alex into account, but that's not the point. I don't want to fly or drive to the city to have lunch with you. I just don't want to."

Dead silence. I knew I was supposed to say something to make her feel better, but I didn't.

"Well, I guess if you're busy we can do it another time."

"Okay, mom. I'll talk to you later." I switched off the phone.

Alex's eyes were glued to my face. "You okay?"

"Yeah. Relieved, actually."

He wrapped an arm around my waist. I kissed the side of his face. I'd be with him next weekend. It made me smile.

The next week was a busy one. Alex and I made plans to meet for lunch on Thursday. Funny, I saw him every night when I was in town, but it was still a treat to spend more time with him. The little insanities of love...

I snagged a small table by the window at our favorite deli in Dupont Circle, and ordered for both of us. It was still early, so I scrounged a paper and read yesterday's news.

"Hi, mind if I join you?" The man gazing down at me had a broad smile. Handsome. With let's-fuck body language. He was tall and lean, with salt-and-pepper hair.

"Uh..."

Unfortunately, at that moment, Alex walked into the restaurant. He spotted me at the table, his gentle smile revealing a hint of white teeth. Suddenly, it was a scowl. His eyes darkened to almost black and his posture became rigid, making him look even taller.

He approached the stranger, invading his space, eyes narrowed, jaw tilted defiantly. The threat was clear. He looked lethal, even while wearing a suit.

I froze, never having seen Alex like this. Hoping against hope that he wasn't going to start a fight.

"He's mine," Alex said in the deepest, sexiest voice.

My cock became erect instantly. And the rest of my body wanted to pass into a liquid state.

The stranger swallowed awkwardly and stepped back. "Uh, sure. Sorry about that." In a moment, he was gone.

A rather tense, fidgety Alex joined me at the table. He gave me a dark look.

I struggled to speak with a dry mouth. "I di... um, didn't encourage him, Alex." Even my own defensiveness was turning me on at this point. He must have triggered some animal need in me... to be protected, or have my mating rights controlled by the alpha male. I felt almost stoned, like I was going to pass out on the floor.

He frowned, creating that adorable crease at the top of his nose. After a moment of contemplation, the tension in his face eased. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so possessive."

I shook my head numbly, leaning forward to touch his hand and whisper in his ear. "I've, uh, never been so... so turned on in my life."

Alex's eyes opened wide. As he read my face, I watched his expression shift as understanding kicked in. He stopped breathing for a moment. Then said, in a low tone that vibrated in my groin, "Let's get out of here."

The waiter chose that moment to bring our sandwiches. I gaped up at him, as if to say 'what's wrong with you?' The kid just looked back at me, eyebrows raised in bafflement.

Alex managed to speak. "To go," he croaked, then cleared his throat. "Make that to go."

The waiter's eyes flicked between Alex and me a couple of times. But when he finally moved, he scurried. Two minutes later, Alex handed him $30 for a $12 meal and we bolted out of the restaurant.

"Where are we going?" I inquired as Alex opened the truck door for me.

"I'll think of something," he muttered.

Alex found a deserted residential street with an empty lot. Sandwiches abandoned to grow e-coli on the car seat, I followed him across the yard. In the back lay a row of tall trees. He ducked behind one of them, grabbing my arm and yanking me along.

He tugged my body to his and his tongue slid between my lips. I could feel his heart beating, as if it was pounding in both of our chests. I was already humping the front of his body, trying to get some relief for my aching cock.

"God, Fox."

My hand slid under his suit coat and feverishly explored the contours of his chest. "I belong to you, Alex. Only you."

A groan was torn from deep inside him. His eyelids collapsed under the weight of his lust, the thick lashes trembling. "Prove it, Fox." He looked down at the ground and I started to kneel, but he stopped me with his hand at my elbow. Fingers reached for the pocket of my jacket, retrieving my handkerchief.

I opened it, tossed it to the ground and landed so quickly on my knees that I felt the impact all the way up my spine. Didn't care.

Alex's fly was already open. I snatched his cock out of his knit boxers, and sucked the head into my mouth, giving it a quick massage with my tongue. His legs shook so badly, I released his cock.

He groaned and fell back against the tree. I scooted forward, making sure he was comfortable and that I'd be able to reach everything. My fingers wandered between his legs and stroked his balls. Then I wrapped my lips around the tip of his cock again.

At that moment I'd have done anything to please him. To prove I belonged to him. He was mine, too. That was just a fact. Not the point at all. I, Fox Mulder, was his. My mouth, my hand, my ass. I wanted him to have all of me. Anything he wanted. Whenever or however he wanted it. His desire for me was my greatest need.

Alex's hand found the side of my face, brushing lightly along the hairline.

After licking and gnawing on the head of his cock, I took him all the way down. Moaning my delight at the feel of his fat erection in my throat, I nudged his leg, hoping he'd take the hint.

Alex growled back at me as his hand found the nape of my neck, and he began to thrust into me. I lost all control over my own breathing, only able to take air when he pulled back. I was flying on the endorphins.

I could tell he was a millisecond away from coming... I was already anticipating... when he suddenly pried my face off of his cock.

I gazed up at him in agonizing disappointment. Surely we couldn't fuck here. That was the only good reason for taking away my prize. My own cock throbbed desperately in my pants.

Eyes shining with green fire, he grinned at me. "Wanna fuck."

I wanted to please him, but no lube, no condom, no furniture... "How?"

He took hold of my hand and levered me up. "Against the tree." His shapely cock was bobbing in the breeze.

Gulp.

I turned to face the tree, opened my fly and allowed the wool to slip to my ankles. Then I pushed my boxers down. Bracing myself on my forearms against the tree, I held my hips back to avoid smearing my gonads on the rough bark. I waited with fear and excitement. This was going to hurt without lube, but I wanted it.

Fingers appeared at my face and I sucked them into my mouth. After a moment, he took them away, and I felt a moist finger at my asshole. He pushed it inside me rapidly and found my prostate.

"Fuhhhhh-ck, Alex." Trembling, I angled my hips back at him encouraging him to do it harder. He promptly slid a second finger into my rectum. It was tight, burned a little, and wasn't the same as a well-lubed fuck, but when he assaulted my prostate again, I no longer cared. "Oh, god..."

He did me hard with those two fingers, until I was about ready to hump the rough surface of the tree trunk.

"Do it," I ordered. Or begged... whatever.

He moaned desperately and suddenly the fingers were gone. His body pressed against my back and he clumsily inserted only the head of his cock inside me. It burned more than his fingers, but I was too turned on to care. I was an animal in need.

His pause made my teeth hurt. I needed him to push it all the way in. "Take what belongs to you, Alex."

With a hiss, he filled me all at once. My brain exploded with the pure satisfaction of being taken.

His gasping breath at my ear and awkward thrusts told me he was not going to last. His hand found my navel and wandered down. At the exact second his fingers wrapped around my cock, he started to come.

The pulsing of his cock deep inside me made me cry out joyfully. It felt so right, like I was created for this moment.

He cried out, too, as if in pain, and slammed into me, jerking my cock. It took all my strength to keep from being plastered into the tree. Just as his orgasm subsided, the raw tension in my body detonated. My hips jerked furiously and my body shuddered as his fingers milked the semen out of me.

When I regained a little mental acuity, I was pressed against the tree, his weight on my back and his hand cupped around my cock, protecting it from the rough bark.

My eyes were wet. I knew in the deepest recesses of my being that I did belong to Alex. It gave me a sense of calm contentment, like my most basic need had been met.

"I love you, Fox," was mumbled from behind me.

"I love you, Alex," I whispered back.

When we finally pried our weary bodies from the tree, I turned to him. Alex's eyes met mine, his expression oddly serious. He seemed to see all the way inside me. He kissed me again, possessively. Somehow, he knew exactly what I felt. After a lengthy kiss that threatened to get us hot and bothered again, he finally broke away.

I mindlessly pulled my clothes back together. My jacket was covered in dirt, my pants covered in leaves, the knees moist from the ground and my belt had a beetle on it, which Alex flicked away with his fingers.

He gave me a head-to-toe glance, and offered me the sweetest lighthearted chuckle. It made him look like he was eight years old.

I smiled, beaming my delight right back at him. Mine.

            

**
END Chemistry Book 3

17 July 2001

Sorry, but there won't be a sequel. However, I'm working on other stories, so stay tuned.

Thank you for all the wonderful feedback! I've eagerly read every word of it many times. You made writing and publishing Chemistry so very worthwhile. Hugs to everyone!

For those of you who enjoyed Chemistry but haven't written me, I'd still love to hear from you.

Louise Wu ()
Web Site: http://lzl.dreamhost.com/Stories/Chemistry.html


Archived: August 28, 2001