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Stranger in a Strange Land

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Curiosity killed the cat, he thought dryly but then cats have nine lives. He tripped, grabbing onto a branch to keep from falling and pressed on. He wasn't entirely sure what he'd stumbled upon, other than the Consortium were involved, but he was getting the definite impression that those pursuing him weren't going to be assuaging his curiosity. Terminating it seemed a distinct possibility however. He stopped briefly trying to work out where his pursuers were, but his breathing was harsh in the stillness of the night and he could hear nothing but himself. He bent forward placing his hands on his knees and tried to relieve the pain in his sides. Regular running might make him fit, but it didn't help to be wearing city shoes, a suit and having to cope with irregular surfaces and trees. A faint baying in the distance urged him forward away from the danger, but also unfortunately away from his car and a quick escape. The moon cast a faint glow, sufficient to pick out a path through the undergrowth, so he settled into a steady jog wishing desperately for more suitable footwear.

An unknown sound made him tense and fall back against a tree. He felt, rather than saw, something flit past, and the movements and sensation made him shudder. I'm a city boy now, he thought wryly. Muggers I can cope with, but the thought of facing a bat gives me the creeps. Caught in his internal musings he was startled by a sudden change in the light intensity. Slowing down to a walk he moved quietly to investigate, and near an old gnarled tree trunk he could see a glimpse of coloured light. He stared intently, his innate curiosity leading him forward. The light seemed to coalesce, shimmering as he approached. Hesitantly he reached out and touched the centre. It seemed to part at his touch, and, his curiosity now thoroughly aroused, he stepped further forward until his hands were level with the light, pressed gently and felt the surface give. He pulled his hands out, blinked and looked at them carefully. They seemed no different from before. He pushed again losing his hands within the light before pulling them out again to prove to himself that they were still attached. A slight smile graced his lips and he leant into the light a little more. A sudden suction from within the pool of light caused him to fall forward and before he could even cry out, he had been sucked inside.

He awoke to sunlight and the sound of birds. Rolling over, he got to his feet, groaning at the aches and pains lying on the forest floor had given him. He looked around the place; it seemed lighter and less menacing in daylight, but strangely somehow thicker. He took off his jacket and tie, stuffing the tie in his pockets, flung the jacket over his arm and headed back the way he had come. He still didn't know what he had found or why he'd been chased, but he did know that Scully was going to want an explanation and he better come up with one fast. Telling her that he'd been given the information that the Consortium were up to no good in a forest in Oregon was not going to make her happy.

He sighed, sometimes he really wondered about himself. He ought to have stopped and thought hard. Not that he'd be telling Scully these thoughts, but when it came down to it what difference would waiting a few hours for back up have made? Maybe he wouldn't have got himself lost, because he was damn well having problems finding the exit here. He groaned, his feet already aching in the city shoes, what he would give to have his trainers.

With relief he finally stumbled into the parking lot, but pulled up short when he found the whole place empty. He'd rented a red Buick, and he was certain he'd left it just by the trashcans. Come to that, the trashcans looked old and battered as if they hadn't been used for some time. He shook his head and made his way to the rest room, grimacing with disgust at the state of the place, no paper, no water, no working sanitation. What the hell was going on? This was a fairly well known place, not too popular, but certainly not empty. That was why he'd been so puzzled at the report of Consortium activity, but he supposed it was better to hide in the open as it were, no questions about vehicles and access, although, where were the damn vehicles and where the hell was his car?

He sat on a broken bench and considered. The nearest big town, Klamath Falls, was a good day or more walk away, and considering how few cars he'd passed on the drive here, he'd be very lucky to hitch a lift. He tried his cell phone, but there was no signal. Sighing in irritation he got to his feet.

His watch told him he'd been walking for six hours, with some rests, and he was becoming more and more puzzled and bewildered as the day continued. He hadn't seen anyone. He'd found a few houses but no one had been home. The fields weren't tended, farm vehicles were silent and rusting and the houses were dead with no electricity. He'd finally raided a small store and come up with some cans of food and some cookies that despite being well by the sell by date were edible. He grabbed a bag and stocked up on food and drink. He'd found some trainers that were his size, left by the occupant of the last house he'd visited, and despite a sense of guilt, was extremely grateful to the unknown man for them. He'd tried his cell at half hour intervals, but still nothing. The more he walked the more he knew that something very bad had happened. He had that feeling in his gut, and kept remembering a New Zealand SF film where a guy woke up to find that he was the only one left alive. He shook his head, he might see aliens and face the unknown on an almost daily basis, but even he couldn't accept that everyone on the planet could just vanish at a stroke.

As night descended, he decided to find a place to sleep. Maybe in the morning things would be different? Maybe not, but he was too tired to make sense of anything at the moment. He collapsed on the couch of the nearest house and slept.

In the morning, slightly refreshed, but desperate for a shower, he stuffed a backpack with a few more items of food and drink and carried on south, walking the roads towards Klamath. As he approached the lake surrounding the city he felt a sense of relief, and a certainty that he'd get some answers soon. He walked another hour watching the wildlife and thinking hard, almost missing the first flash from the distant town. A second flash had him wishing for binoculars. It might just be a mirror or something moving in the breeze, but he hoped it was a telescope or even a pair of binoculars looking out his way. Encouraged, he picked up speed, and was rewarded by the surprisingly shocking sight of a car travelling slowly towards him. He checked his gun and waited. The police car came to a halt some yards before him and a man in uniform got out, his gun at the ready. Mulder raised his hands peaceably. "Agent Mulder, FBI," he said clearly. "Can you tell me just what's going on?"

The officer glanced at him and ducked his head lower to talk to his companion, his eyes still fixed on Mulder. Mulder stood silently, his arms at his shoulders waiting.

"Slowly move your right hand and show me your badge." The officer ordered.

Mulder did exactly as he was ordered and opened up his ID, placing it on the hood of the car

"Slide it towards me."

Mulder complied. The officer moved forward, picked the badge up, his eyes never leaving Mulder's face, and checked the badge and the photo slowly. He nodded, passed the badge to the driver and beckoned Mulder forward. "Get in the car, Agent Mulder."

Mulder picked up his bag, permitted the man to take his gun and sank in the back seat with relief.

"Where is everybody?" he asked plaintively. "I've not seen anyone since my car was stolen and I'm getting a little spooked." He watched the two men exchange looks.

"We'll wait until you get back to the station, Agent Mulder," the driver said pleasantly. "Just sit back, enjoy the ride and relax."

Mulder nodded, and closed his eyes. He opened them as the car came to a stop, and climbed out of the back. The station looked like it had seen better days, but he could see a few cars and hear the low hum of conversation. It stopped as he entered, the four men all looking at him with a disconcerting degree of interest.

"Agent Mulder," the first officer said waving him through.

"Agent Mulder?" an older man repeated. "A Fibbie, what's a Fibbie doing up here and how the hell did he get here?"

Mulder frowned. "I flew to Portland and drove here," he said quietly, sensing an undercurrent of unease.

"Impossible," the older man snorted. "The airport's been out of commission since the beginning and I ain't seen no private car on these roads."

Mulder stated at him. "What beginning?" he asked.

The old guy looked at him as if he were mad. "Since Santa Claus vanished, what the hell do you think I'm talking about? Since the alien invasion of course."

Mulder blinked. "The what?"

"The colonisation," another man added.

"Colonisation?" Mulder repeated. "That's not possible. What day is it now?"

"You tell us," the old man spat. "We're not too hot on calendars and dates these days."

"What year?" Mulder asked desperately.

"1998." Another man said firmly.

"Month?" Mulder asked faintly.

"Summer, June or thereabouts."

Mulder blinked. "I flew into Portland on June 21st 1998. The airport was functioning as normal and busy. People were everywhere, the traffic was terrible, but I'm informed that's usual, and you're telling me that's impossible." He rubbed his head. "This doesn't make sense, I've not gone back in time, so what's happened?"

"Sit down," the first officer said firmly. "Agent Mulder, I don't quite know where you've been, but the FBI's been disbanded. A group of people calling themselves the Consortium are, with the military, the rulers of America. The aliens have laid waste every major city and taken most of our womenfolk." He watched Mulder carefully as he spoke as if gauging his reaction. Mulder just watched him open mouthed, too numb to say anything. "This happened about eighteen months ago."

Mulder shook his head. "This isn't possible," he said urgently. "Hell, I cover the X-Files, I'm called Spooky Mulder, I know aliens exist, my partner was abducted by them, but this," he looked round at the group of silent men. "This is impossible. Two days ago I left Washington DC for Portland. The FBI was fine and the Government was as usual. President Clinton had avoided doing anything immoral for a least a week, and the world was just fine." He looked at them pleadingly. "Tell me this is some bad joke, please."

The men looked at him and then at each other. "President Clinton was impeached just before the invasion," the older man said slowly. "Vice President Gore was holding office until an election could be held."

Mulder shook his head and groaned. "This can't be happening." He clenched his fists hard and sat upright. "I need to know everything that's happened and for a start, why was the FBI disbanded?"

The officer who had brought him in answered. "Because a number of the Agents had apparently seen this coming, and managed to broadcast information and warnings days before and throughout the initial destruction. They warned us to get out of cities and told us to hide our women, and those who believed them got out." He shook his head. "Communication, electricity, satellite links - everything is down. We had reserve supplies of gas hence the use of the car and we have a generator we use on occasions, but essentially we're back to basics. For a time the Resistance kept us warned over the Radio. They managed to keep a link up and we kept getting news every other day. Six months ago even that ceased, the ringleaders were captured and we think killed. The Consortium informed us over the last radio link we received and then there was silence." He sighed. "We have walkie talkies that cover a few miles or more, but other than that we're cut off from everything."

Mulder nodded slowly. "Did they tell you why you should hide your women?"

The man shook his head. "We have our suspicions of course, but no."

Mulder blinked, "I don't believe this," he said slowly. "Look, I know you don't know me from Adam, and I don't know whether you're going to believe me, but the only logical reason I can give you for my lack of knowledge is that I don't belong in this universe." He held up his hand as they all started talking. "My name is Fox Mulder, I'm a Special Agent working the X-Files. The Consortium you talk of has been my enemy for years and has used every weapon in the book to put me off my search for the truth about their plans." He looked around the silent men. "I must come from another universe because I can assure you, my world was functioning normally two days ago and President Clinton was still a long way from impeachment." He saw the look of bemusement and incredulity in their faces. "I know it sounds stupid, but tell me, what other explanation can there be?" He reached for his jacket and found his wallet hunting for his visa slip. "I purchased the hire car myself on credit card and it should be dated." He found the slip and opened it. "Look, June 21st 1998."

The officer took the slip and read it slowly. He nodded and passed it onto the other men before returning it. "This doesn't make sense, Agent Mulder," he said slowly, to nods of agreement from his colleagues. "But hell, eighteen months ago I wouldn't have believed in aliens taking over our country, so I'm not too sure what's real and what isn't." He shook his head. "If you're pulling a fast one, I can't see why. We're hiding nothing here and we're doing nothing that would bear investigation, so I can't see why you'd go to all this trouble just to fool us."

Mulder gave a tired grin. "Deputy Blake," he said reading the name badge. "Paranoid's my middle name. I actively distrust everyone, bar my partner, and even then I've had my moments. I've been betrayed too often by people I thought I could count on to ever trust easily, and I've been set up more times than I can count, but hell, even I can't believe that any of my enemies would ever go this far to try and fool me. Mainly because I can't see what it would achieve."

"You must have some powerful enemies, Agent Mulder," the older man said sounding amused.

Mulder nodded. "Your Consortium for a start," he said wearily. He rubbed his face and thought of this universe's FBI, his colleagues and friends including Scully and Skinner. An even more disconcerting thought was whether his had a double in this universe alive and active. What were they doing? Surely they would have been involved in the fight back. "Tell me, did they ever give the names of the FBI Agents who'd started the Resistance?"

The men looked at each other and shook their heads. Mulder sighed and rubbed his face wearily. "How are you keeping law and order in this town?" he asked.

Deputy Blake shrugged. "We had lootings, shootings and murders initially, so the Sheriff gathered every man he knew and took out the trouble makers. We had roadblocks at every exit and men patrolling the streets for months until one day this ship appeared overhead and one by one our women, and some of the younger men were herded into the ship and vanished. We got off a few rounds but the invaders had too much firepower. When it was over, nearly all women of childbearing age were missing, and a number of men were dead or also missing. The town's been like a ghost town since then. We guard the few women we have and keep going." He gave a long sigh. "They've screwed around with everyone's lives and we've all had to make changes. The children are being schooled, but they miss their moms, and us men folk have been going a little stir crazy. The only good thing is that it wiped out any thoughts of division and brought us all together although there's not very many of us."

Mulder nodded. "Have you been able to get in contact with other survivors?"

Blake shook his head. "You're the first stranger we've seen for well over six months, Agent Mulder, and to be honest, if you'd come a lot earlier on you might well be dead. We were at the stage of shooting first and asking later. We had some strays make it from a few of the smaller towns, and they said people were going mad with grief and anger and killing and raping anything that moved. We run a fair but tough place. Any trouble maker is brought before the people and sentenced by the people." He shrugged. "They're far harsher than I ever remember the judges being."

Mulder nodded. "It's more personal." He sighed. "Can I get a shower, bath or just get cleaned up anywhere?"

Blake nodded. "It will be cold and direct from the lake, but you're welcome to a shower at mine."

Mulder stood up and stretched. "Is that some distance?"

Blake shook his head. "We all live pretty near the sheriff's office these days." He glanced over at his colleagues and around the group. "Any one mind if I take Agent Mulder now?"

They shook their heads.

Mulder tried hard not to think as he washed himself. The initial shock of the cold water had left him speechless and shivering, but eventually he recovered and cleaned himself. He dried with the towel Blake had left out and began to dress. He'd just got into his boxers when Blake walked in the room. Mulder glanced at him and grabbed his shirt.

"Can I help you?" he asked.

Blake nodded at his clothes. "That suit of yours looks pretty good quality, would you prefer to wear something a little more practical?" he asked.

Mulder considered and nodded. "Jeans. T-shirt, shirt and hiking boots would be good," he acknowledged.

Blake nodded. "I've got some stuff that looks your size." He grinned at Mulder's questioning glance. "I've a real assortment of clothes out back. This place used to belong to a clothes retailer. Give me a few minutes and I'll be back with something."

Mulder nodded and sat on the bed. He wondered a little about Blake and the other men. They'd appeared doubtful, but he was surprised at how accepting they'd really been. He wasn't too sure that he would have expected to be treated as a guest, although the past eighteen months must have taught them that almost anything could happen. He shrugged; he was just damn lucky that he'd stumbled on a place with reasonable men.

Blake returned with the clothes in his hand. Mulder checked them out and pulled up the jeans, zipping them up with a contended sigh. The t-shirt and over shirt were fine but the hiking boots were a little too big. Blake took them without comment and returned a few minutes later with a pair of thick socks and the correct size. Mulder finished dressing and stood up, thanking Blake with a quick smile of gratitude.

"What next?" he asked.

"You'll meet up with most of the inhabitants tonight, we'll call everyone in using the siren."

Mulder nodded.

"We'll introduce you and you can tell us some stories. It will be good to be entertained by someone different."

"How many people are there here?"

"About a couple of thousand."

Mulder looked up sharply. "But this is a pretty big place, you must have had a good-sized population, where the hell did everyone go?"

Blake shrugged. "We lost half the population when the aliens took most of the women. We lost a great deal of men as quite a number got killed, the sheriff for one. I don't know what those creeps wanted, but we're a fairly pitiful remnant of the community that used to live here."

"What did the Consortium tell you?"

Blake pulled a sour face. "That we should behave ourselves, look after our young and we'd get most of our women back in a few years time."

"You believe them?"

Blake shook his head. "Hell, no, but it sure is a good way of keeping a hold over us, stopping us from getting any bright ideas of collecting together and fighting back."

"Like the FBI were trying to arrange?"

Blake nodded slightly sheepishly. "But how do you rebel when you have no real ammunition? They cleared anything heavy from the town, and we've no transport and no communication."

Mulder nodded. "I can see the problem, but you need to start making contact somehow." He screwed up his brow in thought. "You know, in my world, I was investigating the possibility of some kind of Consortium lab in the forest. I didn't get any satisfactory answers at the time, but I was thinking that if you helped me search you might find something of benefit to you."

Blake looked at Mulder curiously. "Like what?"

Mulder shrugged. "Information that we might be able to use against them, I don't know, but I was being chased by something a couple of nights ago and whoever it was seemed pretty mad that I'd breeched their perimeter." He rubbed his eyes wearily. "I need to get back home and the best place to start would be to go back from where I just came from."

"How?" Blake said, disbelief all over his face.

Mulder closed his eyes. "The same way I got here, some place in that forest. I must have fallen through a portal." He looked up to see Blake shaking his head. "I don't know; I haven't thought this through yet" He stopped and grinned. "To quote from Alice in Wonderland, 'Why sometimes I've believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast'."

Blake smiled. "I like you, Mulder, you seem okay, but hell, has anyone told you that you are one weird guy?"

Mulder laughed. "All the time."

Blake nodded. "Figures."

***

Mulder woke the next morning with a hum dinger of a headache and little memory of the night before other than the fact that he'd drunk far too much. He staggered to the door and outside to use the latrine. Yawning, he brushed his teeth swilling his mouth out with bottled water and washed his face until he felt more human. He sat back on his bed and laced up the hiking boots while he contemplated the situation. The couple of thousand, mainly male inhabitants had enough dried and canned food to last them for decades, and they weren't hard up for drink either. Someone obviously had animals because he'd tasted fresh meat in the food he'd eaten last night, but the thing that intrigued him the most was how resigned they had appeared. Not broken or despairing, but as if they were just waiting for the next thing to happen. He was surprised that they hadn't got anyone with the skills to set up something more than a rudimentary sewerage system or think about heating the water for showers. In some ways they were very organised, but in others far less so.

He got up and headed out to the sheriff's office, nodding at a few people as he went. Blake handed him a mug of coffee. He drank the hot brew and listened in on the conversation around him. The same group of men he'd encountered yesterday, plus a few hangers on were discussing the events of last night and laughing over the antics of one of the youngest of the party. Mulder frowned as he listened, his mind wandering back to the past days and the events that had led up to them. He wondered if the Consortium were drugging the people left behind. He shrugged, hell he wasn't called paranoid for nothing, but these people seemed remarkably at ease for survivors of an alien occupation.

He hoped he could convince Blake to come with him back to the forest. He could do it alone, especially if they gave him a flashlight and batteries but it would be faster with the two of them. He was going to search that damn patch of forest for anything that would explain how he'd got here and how he could get back. Blake passed him a doughnut, and he'd chewed on it before wondering how they'd managed to keep them fresh. Blake laughed as he asked him.

"We've a guy loves cooking. He's got a large pizza oven and he's burning wood. He makes bread and pizza and occasionally cookies and cakes. He's been nagging us to think about farming, but we've got enough grain stored for years."

Mulder nodded. "Do you plan for the future?"

Blake sighed. "Not really," he shuffled in his chair. "I know this must appear very strange to you, but I don't really think many people have faced up to what has happened. They're mostly waiting for their wives and girlfriends to return and life to get back to some kind of normality." He looked round the station. "Hell, I even wonder if they put something in the water sometimes."

Mulder blinked, taken aback to have his thoughts voiced out loud.

"Some have adapted, we always had a small gay community here, and I suppose if anything it's increased slightly, but no more than you'd expect really. Unless they're hiding it very well or spanking the monkey very frequently, I've not really seen any signs of sexual frustration." He blinked. "You know, your paranoia is catching, Mulder."

Mulder grinned. "So are you coming to the forest with me?"

Blake sighed. "It will certainly make for a change in routine." He pursed his lips. "I can't justify the gas for a car, but we've a number of motorbikes that we could use and no one would query too much."

Mulder looked at him. "What are you saving the gas for?"

Blake shuffled in his chair. "We haven't got much, Mulder. The Consortium's buddies took out all the gas stations. What we have got was missed because it was privately owned. We tend to use it for the generator when we need electricity in the local hospital. The Sheriff put some aside for police use and that's what I would be using."

Mulder nodded. The aliens had been very calculating in their method of isolation. He had to agree with Blake, these small populations had been designed to give as little problem as possible while still supplying breeding material. He shivered, how much of the population had survived the invasion?

Blake was as good as his word. Within the hour, they'd kitted themselves out and filled a motorbike with gas. Mulder held onto Blake and enjoyed the ride. What took him a day and a half to walk was travelled in under two hours. He waved Blake towards the forest and lake and on towards the overgrown parking lot. Climbing off the bike, he stretched; rubbing his thighs and consulted his inner map as to the direction he'd come from when he'd woken up. Certain he could remember the way, he set off at a brisk pace.

Blake followed his lead, walking steadily until Mulder stopped him.

"I can hear something," he said cautiously.

Blake stopped and listened. Mulder heard it again, a slight hum, almost inaudible and probably as much a sensation as a sound. Blake finally nodded. "I can feel a vibration."

Mulder looked around and knelt down. "I always wondered about those cowboy films where the Indian scout would put his ear to the ground then tell the hero, 'Four horses are coming this way.'" Blake gave a small laugh, and waited for him to stand up. Mulder nodded. "Definitely something underground so we need to look for some kind of access." He started prowling around the area, occasionally stopping and listening, at one point getting down on his knees and scraping away at the soil. After an hour of continued exploration, he sat down against a tree and pulled out a drink from his backpack. Blake joined him and they viewed the woods before them.

"Did you come up here much?"

Blake shook his head. "There's a small swimming lake some miles further down and that's quite popular but not many folk go walking round here."

Mulder nodded. "Quiet roads off a main highway. Is it likely that many people would have noticed specific traffic?"

Blake shook his head again. "We passed a few farms, a couple of small holdings and that was really that after we left the highway. I think almost anything could get by without arousing too much suspicion down here."

"Including the building of an underground facility?"

Blake shrugged. "If the trucks were sufficiently spaced apart time wise, yes."

Mulder sighed. "This must be what my informant wanted me to find back home, but where do you think the entrance would be?" He rubbed his head and frowned in recollection. "I walked into the forest and headed east and to be honest saw nothing out of the ordinary. I headed back to the car and used the restrooms before trying again." He jumped up. "Of course. I'm such an idiot. I sat on a bench and just thought for a while and wondered why they had a Ranger station in such an isolated place."

Blake followed him as he trotted through over the rough ground and came to clearing. The small hut with the words Ranger Station emblazoned on the door, looked incongruous but innocent. Mulder moved forward carefully and reached for the door. It opened at his touch, and he looked at Blake with an expression of deep misgiving.
"I don't like this, Blake," he muttered. "Do you want to stay up here and keep watch? It might be safer."

Blake stared at him. "Mulder, remember, there is no transport and no communication. Who would know we were here, and even if we did trip an alarm, how the hell are they going to get here before we've vanished?"

Mulder looked at him assessingly. "I'm not paranoid for nothing, Blake," he said quietly. "I know it's highly unlikely, but I can tell you that someone was determined that I wasn't going to escape from here/there, why should it be any different here?" he sighed and waved a hand at the door. "Coming in or staying on watch?"

Blake blinked. "I don't know, Mulder." He shook his head in frustration. "This isn't me, hell before the invasion I was one of the most curious and resourceful men at the station. Got me made up to Deputy before my time." He nodded slowly. "I'll think on this later, Mulder, but for now I'm in."

Mulder nodded and stepped into the small room. A counter ran alongside on the room displaying a few brochures and a kettle and bottled water. Mulder stepped behind the counter and opened the door behind it. The door opened into a small washroom and toilet.

"It all seems in order," Blake said looking carefully over the place.

Mulder nodded and scratched his head. "I know, but is a Ranger Station really necessary for such a small place?"

Blake shrugged. "I wouldn't have thought so, there are no fees, no special nature trails and nothing of outstanding interest or beauty here."

"So why is it here?" Mulder began looking round the outer room, picking up and inspecting everything in sight, aware of Blake watching him curiously. He moved into the washroom and checked the faucets and the toilet. Neither worked, but he wasn't too surprised at that.

Blake followed him in and inspected the pipes. "Why did they go to the effort of plumbing in a toilet this distance from the restroom and the mains?" He peered closer. "I don't think it is plumbed in unless the outlet goes directly out the wall, and into a septic tank." He looked up at Mulder. "I'll check outside."

Mulder nodded and continued his inspection. A few minutes later Blake returned. "There's no sign of a pipe, Mulder, and what's more, I'm sure the hut is slightly bigger on the outside than the inside."

"Then the toilet is a camouflage, come on help me find a switch or something."

Blake shook his head. "To do what exactly."

Mulder ran his hand under the counter. "I was hoping that floor might drop open and reveal a hidden flight of stairs," he said straight faced.

Blake snorted in disbelief, but obediently began prodding everything in sight. Mulder grinned, and continued his exploration of the counter before feeling over the posters on the wall and removing books from the lone shelf. "I'm sure the switch will be in the washroom," he muttered. He moved back in and glared at the bare walls in frustration until something at floor level caught his attention. He traced the outline of a hairline crack across the floor in front of the toilet and when he looked closer he could see the faint outline of footprints either side of the toilet. Impulsively he stepped into the footmarks and grabbed at the tank as the toilet and the wall it was attached to began to move. "Blake," he yelled out, just catching sight of Blake's astonished face as the wall swung round into darkness. Mulder cursed his stupidity as he recalled he'd left the flashlights in the backpack on the counter. He stepped carefully off the toilet floor and then back on again. As he hoped, the toilet and wall swung round and deposited him back in the washroom. "Found the doorway," he said laconically.

"You don't say." Blake eyed him thoughtfully. "So we just go on in."

Mulder nodded. "I'll go first and you follow. Watch me." He repeated the procedure and had his flashlight illuminating the revealed passageway by the time Blake joined him. They walked approximately ten yards before a door with a keypad stopped them. Mulder groaned. "This makes as much sense as everything else in this damn universe," he grumbled. "The office door is open but once we're actually in the place we come up against damn passwords." He sighed and pinched his nose.

"So what so we do now?" Blake asked a little impatiently.

Mulder peered at the numbers on the keypad and thought back to the note he'd received from his informant. It had been short and sweet, consisting of a map reference and a few words. Syndicate. Careful. Observations. Required. Okay. He had no idea who had sent it or why, but he was now guessing that the words had a double meaning. He repeated the words under his breath, counted them out and keyed in the numbers 971284. The pad gave a click and when he pushed against it the door opened.

Pausing only long enough to check with Blake, Mulder slipped silently into the next room. A dim light illuminated the place, and a low humming suggesting that a generator was keeping the place going. He glanced behind him to check on Blake, and then began to systematically explore the room. It appeared to be a laboratory, with lab tables lining the sides of the room and all the paraphernalia of scientific research laid out along them. He peered down a microscope and wished that Scully was with him.

After an extensive search, he waved Blake towards the next door, which opened automatically as they approached. They entered what appeared to be another long corridor with doors at either end.

"Left or right?" Mulder muttered. He could see more light reflected from inside the left hand door so headed left. The door again opened as they approached leading them into what appeared to be another laboratory. Mulder heard a scuffle and froze, causing Blake to slide into him. He held up his hand and waited. A squeak followed.

"Rats," Blake whispered.

"Live rats," Mulder said quietly. "Who's feeding them?" He grabbed Blake's arm. "Come on, keep quiet and don't touch anything. I really want to know what's so damn important that they go to all this length to keep it hidden."

Mulder hurried forward keeping in the shadows and following the door through two more laboratories until they reached a larger room that had him spell bound in horror. In large glass cylinders, Mulder could see floating bodies. He couldn't resist the pull that took him towards the nearest, even placing his hand on the glass as he did so. The body floating was human but it appeared to have a few additions that bewildered him. He could see gills along its neck and webbing between its toes and fingers. He looked down its torso and couldn't see any genitals, but what looked like a scaled plate. Mulder sighed, his eyes opening in shock, as the being's eyes drifted opened and hazel eyes started at him.

'Who are you?' he heard in his head.

'Agent Mulder, friend, explorer, rescuer,' he answered silently.

The being closed its eyes and opened them again. 'Different,' it said quietly. 'The others couldn't hear me.' It moved its hand slightly and gave a brief smile. 'Same as me but not same as me.' It contemplated Mulder for a second. 'Brother/father, so lonely.'

Mulder looked at the being in shock slowly taking in information that he had ignored before and felt his knees buckle at the realization. "Why?" he asked desperately.

The being gave a small mental shake of its head. 'Experiment,' it whispered.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I'll try and help you." He pulled himself up and grabbed the stunned and silent Blake. "Move," he hissed. "I want to see what else is here then we've got to get out." He pushed Blake forward and ran to the end of the room.

"That thing looked like you," Blake stuttered.

"He called me brother/father," Mulder said absently, his eyes flicking over the lab for another door.

"It spoke to you," Blake gasped.

Mulder nodded. "Come on, we're going to have to go back the way we came, it's a dead end here." He ran back past the tanks, calling out his name and sending his anger and his sorrow to the captive being as he passed, receiving a faint sigh in acknowledgment. They retraced their steps through the four labs returning to the long corridor. Mulder could see the door they'd come through in the centre, and at the opposite end there was another doorway. "We'll try the other side," he muttered to Blake, hardly waiting for his acknowledgment before taking off and entering the other door. This time the door opened out onto another corridor with rooms down the side. Mulder slowly entered one of the rooms, surprised to find it occupied by a sleeping man. He waved Blake to silence and quietly retreated pulling the door to.

"Someone's asleep in there," he whispered urgently. "We've got to get out of here immediately."

Blake nodded frantically and continued down the corridor. Mulder listened at a few doors, opening one and coming across a kitchen and what looked like a staff room before reaching a final laboratory and an apparent dead end.

"They have to get food and provisions in somehow," Mulder said in frustration. "I can't believe it all comes through that toilet. It's far too small."

Blake pivoted on the spot as Mulder tapped at walls and moved packages out of the way. They spent twenty minutes looking for any signs of a way out and gave up in disgust.

"It's no good, we're going to have to go out the same way we came in, Blake," Mulder said. "I'll check out whether it's all clear on the other side while you wait. If I don't come back within five minutes stay where you are as long as you can and then get out. I wish we'd hidden the bike, but at the worst you're going to have to walk."

Blake sighed. "I don't like it, Mulder."

Mulder shook his head. "Neither do I, but there is absolutely no reason for both of us to get caught and to be quite honest your community needs someone like you around. I'd suggest you keep away from here for a bit and come with people you can trust. Now come on, and if anything happens, well thanks. I'm really glad to have met you."

Blake gave a small smile.

Mulder retraced their steps feeling more uncertain as they got nearer. He took a deep breath when he saw the toilet outlined in the flashlight. "Here goes," he muttered, approached the wall and placing his feet either side of the toilet. The bathroom was empty as he came through and the door into the office still closed, as they'd left it. He took a deep breath and nudged the other door open. He bit his lip, moved towards the entrance and froze. He could see someone outside through the small window. He moved back to the counter and crouched behind it as the door slowly opened. A tall man came in and inspected the place before moving past the counter into the toilet. Mulder followed quickly and hit him over the head with his flashlight. He sat him on the toilet, being careful not to set off the wall movement, as a warning to Blake, and crept back into the office moving quietly toward the door. He opened it slightly and then stepped back slumping down the wall in defeat. He was surrounded.

***

The journey in the helicopter had been loud and tiring, his captors thorough in searching him and cuffing him, but not too unkind. There had been some muttering when they saw his face, and his badge had been passed round to quiet comments. His main captor seemed more amused than anything else, and kept referring to him as Agent Mulder.

"I thought the FBI had disbanded," Mulder eventually retorted.

The man smiled. "But Agent Mulder, you are rather special."

Mulder sighed. "I'll bite, do tell me."

The man laughed. "Come on Agent Mulder. No false modestly here. You, AD Skinner and Agent Scully have been masterminding the 'resistance' for months."

"Really?"

The man just grinned, sitting too close for Mulder's peace of mind and giving Mulder no further information. The helicopter landed at a small military base and within minutes Mulder was in the back of a military plane, his friendly captor pressed next to him, while the soldiers faded into a sea of curious faces. He tried not to panic as he thought about being abandoned in this alternate world, encouraging himself with thoughts that if they thought he was their Mulder, then the one in this universe was still hard at work for the resistance, whatever form that might be taking.

The flight ended at Washington DC, as tired, hungry and miserable, Mulder was pushed into a limousine and driven to the White House. He suppressed a brief glimmer of amusement that he'd never made it to the White House back home as he was ushered through rooms made strangely familiar by TV, and into something that resembled a boardroom. In the centre of the room stood a large rectangular table, around which six shadowy figures sat. A vacant chair, spotlighted from every direction, stood at the head of the table. He knew where he was going and briefly considered struggling before taking the decision to relax completely, making it all the harder for his escort to sit him in the chair and slap the restraints round his ankles and wrists. Bathed in light, he closed his eyes and waited.

"Agent Mulder, thank you for gracing us with your presence."

Mulder kept his eyes closed and remained silent.

"We would like you to give us information about the Resistance."

Mulder smiled and again said nothing.

The voice continued. "In fact, we insist on it."

"Insist away," he said briefly. "Knock yourselves out, I'm telling you nothing." Mainly because I know nothing, he thought dryly, and I wonder what's going to happen to me when you eventually discover that. The smell of cigarette smoke drifted his way and he screwed his nose up in disgust. "Still well stocked with Morleys?" he asked mildly. "You know we called you 'Cancerman' in the office. It always had a good ring to it."

He heard a rasp of chair and a dry laugh. "I've been called worse, Fox."

"Don't call me Fox," he growled automatically. "How worse?" He could smell the man, picture him cigarette in mouth, head to the side, the eyes glittering in amusement.

"Much."

The word was whispered near his right ear and he had to exert considerable effort not to flinch. "I'm sure I could top it," he said briefly, glad that he sounded normal. A dry laugh on his left told him his enemy had walked round him.

"Why don't you open your eyes, Mulder?"

"Nothing worth looking at, anyway you've got about a thousand watts aimed at me, couldn't see much if I wanted to."

The smoker laughed. "You'd be surprised at what you might see, here."

Mulder nodded. "I've no doubt. Got illusions or is it delusions of power, Spender? Who sits in the Oval Office now, or do you and your buddies take it in turns when your alien masters let you off the leash?"

"Seen any aliens, Fox?"

Mulder shrugged. "Got my eyes closed at the minute."

Another dry laugh told him that Spender had walked away. The previous voice picked up the conversational gambit. "Who last occupied the Oval Office, Mr Mulder?"

Mulder grinned. "What is this, twenty questions? How much general and civic knowledge must a FBI Agent have to continue working in a government agency?"

"Humour me, " the voice said dryly.

Mulder shrugged. "Monica Lewinski?" he said impulsively a little uncertain as to where this was leading. He remembered that the other men had told him that President Clinton had been impeached. A snort of laughter from his right convinced him that the two worlds had not been that different.

"Our informant tells me that you thought President Clinton was still in power?"

Mulder did open his eyes at that, and while the wattage was dazzling he could just see the man asking him. "What informant?" he asked slowly.

The man smiled. "I'm afraid that your attempt to hide Mr Blake failed, Mr Mulder." The man smiled. "You do seem to have a knack of making allies, he was very reluctant to talk, but we persuaded him."

Mulder swallowed. The man smiled gently. "You see we know you can't be our Fox Mulder, yet you so obviously are a Fox Mulder, so the story you gave Deputy Blake must just be true."

"I am Mulder," Mulder said slowly, not sure that he felt comforted by the sudden drop in wattage and his subsequent ability to view his adversaries clearly.

The man smiled. "We know, but whose exactly?"

He nodded at someone near the door. Mulder sat back in the chair and waited with dread. The man turned back to him. "By the way, just what did your watery double say to you?"

Mulder blinked. "Pardon?"

The man smiled again. Mulder began to feel like a shark was circling him. "Mr Blake told us it called you 'brother/father', is that correct, Mr Mulder?"

Mulder shook his head. "I don't know what you're talking about."

The shark bared its teeth again. "I think you do, Mr Mulder."

Mulder watched the door swing open and a familiar figure strode through the door and stood arrogantly surveying the room. Mulder grimaced. "Krycek," he said grimly. "Could have guessed a rat like you would manage to survive."

The smoking man laughed and stood up. "Know Alex well, do you, Mulder?"

Mulder kept his eyes on Krycek. "The rat bastard and I are acquainted."

Krycek looked Mulder up and down with a grin. "You look good enough to eat, Mulder," he said seductively. "Do let me introduce you to someone else you're intimately acquainted with."

Mulder automatically looked towards the door as an all too familiar voice complained. "Will you tell your goons to keep their hands to themselves, Spender."

The smoking man laughed. "You're fair game, Fox," he said amusement obvious in his voice. "You look good and you're infamous, just be thankful that Alex's prior claim dampens their enthusiasm somewhat."

"Geez, of course I'm overwhelmed to be claimed by Krycek."

Mulder swallowed as his double came into view. He was angrily tugging at an open shirt, trying to tuck it into his jeans, his cuffed hands making the action awkward. His bare feet made no sound as he walked towards them and his preoccupation with his clothing meant that he didn't see Mulder until he was almost upon him. He stopped, stared wide-eyed at Mulder, blinked then moved to stand before him. Mulder felt a strange sense of connection, but was unprepared as his double knelt before him and grasped his chin in his cuffed hands.

"You're me," his double whispered. "I can feel you." He looked Mulder over and frowned. "Are you a clone?"

Mulder swallowed and shook his head watching his own face as it watched him.

"How?"

Mulder sighed. "I'm from another universe," he said quietly. "One that the aliens have not invaded."

His double nodded. "Scully?"

Mulder gave a brief smile. "My partner. She'll be searching the country for me."

His double gave a quick nod. "Skinner?"

"He'll be waiting to give me hell."

His double gave a small sigh. "Sounds wonderfully normal to me, brother."

Mulder blinked, brother? The changed clone had called him that. He decided he rather liked the idea of a twin brother. "What of you?" he asked, looking down at the cuffs and slowly taking in other details he had initially ignored. His twin was wearing a collar and an earring. Mulder shook his head; he peered at the tag and read 'Property of the Consortium'. He looked beyond his twin at the smoking man. "I am so impressed, seems like you've not only betrayed the human race, but you've brought back slavery. You must be really proud of yourselves."

His twin smiled bitterly. "Not heard the best yet, brother. The aliens have taken all the women of breeding age that aren't in hiding. Got some very randy and sex starved men cursing the Consortium." He glanced towards the door and grimaced, "Excluding those who've decided to try fresh pastures of course."

Mulder found himself unable to even appear surprised. Blake's explanation for the lack of women had prepared him. He glanced at Krycek. "Why don't you stick the rat bastard in a dress and pimp him out?" he said provocatively. "He'd look damn pretty. About the only nice thing Scully ever said about Krycek was that he had eyelashes to die for."

His twin gave him a startled look, glanced at Krycek and gave a shout of laughter. Krycek gave him an unfriendly glare murmuring, "Eyelashes to die for?"

Spender gave a snort of amusement. "While I've always enjoyed your sense of humour, Fox, what we really want to know is how you got here."

"Mulder, call me Mulder, and I've no idea or I'd have returned as soon as I knew what a screw up you'd made of this universe," Mulder said impatiently. "Look, I want to get home, I need to get home. Take me back to Oregon and I'm sure I'll find a way of returning."

Spender shook his head. "I'm afraid you won't be going anywhere for a time. We have a number of questions to ask you." He stood up again and walked towards Mulder and his twin. "Fascinating," he said sounding amused. "Like peas in a pod. Other than the fact that our Fox has his hair longer, it's impossible to tell you apart." He leant forward and touched the mole by Mulder's mouth. "Did you know that all your clones have moles in the exact same place?"

Mulder blinked. All my clones?" he said slowly, looking between Spender and his twin who looked as confused as him.

Spender smiled coolly. "Your DNA is highly sought after, Fox. For reasons I shall enjoy explaining some other time, we can clone you and manipulate your DNA with remarkable success."

Mulder frowned. "Why would you want to do that?"

Spender smiled again. "We have our reasons."

He looked at Krycek who had been watching the interchange silently. "I suppose you want this Fox to add to your harem?"

Krycek grinned, his eye lighting up with mischief. "What a wonderful wet dream," he agreed. "I've often had fantasies about doing it with twins, now's my chance for real."

Mulder shook his head slowly. "You're nuts," he said sharply. "I wouldn't touch you with a barge pole, and anyway I'm not into men."

Krycek glanced at the silent Fox and smiled secretly. "Funny, I remember Fox here saying something very similar. Didn't take me long to show him the error of his ways." He grinned again. "Take me less time with you, Mulder, because I know what makes you scream."

Mulder glared at Krycek and looked down at his twin who seemed unmoved by Krycek's innuendo. "In your dreams, Krycek," he said impassively, taking his cue from his twin. He turned his attention back to Cancerman. "Why did you let them take our women?" he asked Spender.

Spender raised an eyebrow. "For reproduction."

Mulder shook his head. "What aliens are we talking about, Spender? I've seen types who are parasites, implanting their young in a human and leaving it to mature and claw its way out. Obviously didn't matter what sex the host was."

Spender raised his eyebrows. "The ones who have been abducting people like Samantha for years."

Mulder clenched his fists. "No," he whispered.

Spender blew out smoke and watched it trail away into the room. "Perhaps they'll return her when they return the others, Mulder. Have you thought of that?"

"Shut up," Mulder hissed.

Fox stood abruptly, standing in front of Mulder as if he were protecting him. Spender looked thoughtful but remained quiet as Fox slowly moved to stand behind Mulder's chair, his hands lightly touching Mulder's shoulder. Mulder shivered looking up into his twin's eyes. His twin smiled gently before returning his attention to their enemy.

Mulder took a deep breath and tried to regain his composure. "You think they'll just return the women, Spender? Drop them off, let us return to some kind of normality?"

Spender shrugged. "Why not, Mulder? We were surprised that they took so many, but we planned for every eventuality."

Mulder looked at him in astonishment. "You planned what? From where I'm standing it looks like you screwed up pretty badly. Cancerman and his cronies are an amoral bunch of bastards where I come from, even if they do dress up their involvement as trying to save the human race, but I think even they wouldn't sink so low as this." He blinked. "Hell, I nearly said something good about Cancerman, thank god he'll never find out."

Spender shook his head and raised his index finger shaking it slowly. "I really think you should show a little more respect for your father, Fox."

"My father?" Mulder repeated slowly. He looked up at his twin. "What's he talking about?"

His twin grimaced. "He tells me he's my natural father."

Mulder shivered with revulsion. "I don't believe you," he said angrily, glaring at Spender in revulsion.

Spender smiled, lighting a cigarette with practised ease. "It's the truth dear boy, I suppose since you and our Fox are identical I'm your father too."

Mulder swallowed, refusing to accept Spender's lies as anything more than a further way of unsettling him. "Why should having your DNA make our DNA so special?"

Spender nodded approvingly. "A number of reasons."

"That's not an answer."

Spender nodded. "But it's all you'll get for the present." He glanced behind him at the 'shark' and returned his gaze to Krycek. "Alex, please take our guests to your rooms and join us here when you can. We have certain things we need to discuss."

Krycek nodded, grinning at Mulder as he undid the cuffs of the chair and pulled him to his feet. Mulder was tempted to take a swing at him but held back his natural impulse as two men he hadn't noticed before, approached him, grabbed his arms and escorted him from the room. Some minutes and a great deal of molestation later, he glared at Krycek as he was pushed into a small sitting room. He angrily smoothed down his t-shirt and pulled his shirt back onto his shoulders.

Krycek grinned. "It will only get worse, Mulder," he said cheerfully.

Mulder could have throttled him. His eyes must have given him away as his twin moved between them and touched his face gently. "Brother," he said gravely. "Appearances can be deceptive." He held out his cuffed arms towards Krycek who opened them and to Mulder's amazement, gently removed them and pulled his twin into his arms. Mulder watched in fascination as the two men embraced before turning to face him, arms still lightly wrapped around the other.

Mulder blinked but remained silent. He had a feeling that whatever he said he'd say the wrong thing, and any residual impression he had that his twin was being coerced was firmly suppressed as he watched the two men together. They were lovers, that much was obvious, and the realisation both shocked and scared him. Despite his words to this Krycek, he had always felt a very unwilling attraction to the rat bastard of his world. He found a seat and sat down.

"When, how, why?" he eventually asked, looking at his twin.

His twin grimaced, gave Krycek a quick hug and moved to sit next to him. "Since my capture." He turned and looked at the silent Krycek. "I don't know how much our pasts mirror each other, but Alex was briefly my partner."

Mulder nodded. His brother gave a brief smile and continued. "He was working for the other side and we became enemies but," he glanced again at Krycek. "I always felt so angry every time I thought of him and he'd hurt me more than I could really explain. You said you don't go for men, and well, I assumed the same of myself but if you're anything like me, then I don't think you're being very honest with yourself." He gave a quick grin. "Do you have a porn collection?"

Mulder nodded.

"Are you telling me you don't have any gay porn?"

Mulder blinked and looked a little embarrassed. "Not really, but," he stopped. "Okay, I tend to think of women sexually and I've only had relationships with women, but if I'm honest the thought of being with a man does not repulse me." He sighed. "But Krycek?"

His twin grinned. "He's gorgeous, sexy and has eyelashes to die for."

Mulder glanced at Krycek and returned his gaze to his twin. He said nothing for a second watching Krycek out of the corner of his eye as he folded his arms and narrowed his eyes but kept quiet. He gave a helpless shrug, looked at Krycek again and nodded very quickly. His twin grinned at him. Mulder sighed and shook his head. "But if our universes are similar he betrayed you, killed your father, helped abduct Scully, killed Melissa, he tried to kill you…" He stopped and looked at his twin but it was Krycek who answered.

"I've done some despicable things, Mulder, I don't deny that. Mainly because I had little choice and to be honest I thought I was the one working for the good guys and that you were criminally misguided and misled." He shrugged, looking at his lover. "I've always wanted you/him, since I first saw you but I'd made my choices and my desires were a side issue."

Mulder sighed and rubbed his head. "If my Krycek said that I'd think it was a load of bullshit," he said wearily. He nodded slowly. "Okay, you obviously bought it, fine, but lovers?"

His twin gave an identical sigh. "The Consortium didn't want me dead, they wanted to flaunt me, humiliate me, belittle me and the resistance. I suppose my death might have made me a martyr while ensuring that everyone knew I was Krycek's 'catamite' certainly diminished me in many people's eyes." He sighed again wearily, a faint trace of bitterness evident in his expression. "Alex played his role beautifully, and without much effort." He glanced at Krycek who winked at him. Fox gave a faint grin before returning his attention to Mulder. "Also, Alex eventually resorted to his very own subtle brand of seduction. It basically consists of tying you to a bed and making you so aroused and frustrated that you'll do anything, say anything and admit to anything just to get release." He laughed. "I think becoming Alex's lover was really a forgone conclusion after that experience."

Krycek nodded. "I'm not big on self-sacrifice, angst and waiting for something I know is mine, Mulder." He grinned as Mulder slowly shook his head in disbelief. "Look, Mulder. I'm not with the big guys but I'm an important lackey. I get to know stuff. The way I act towards Fox and the things we both have to put up with are worth it in the long run because my knowledge can help. I'm going to have to act the same way towards you, Mulder, although I can assure you I won't need to pretend to want to fuck you into the middle of next week."

Mulder made a strangled noise and dropped his head in his hands.

Krycek laughed, then walked towards the door. "I need to get back to them." He turned back towards Fox. "Can you sort Mulder out, explain things and help him." He considered, moved back towards the couch and gently stroked Mulder's cheek. Mulder lifted his chin but didn't back away. "Fox and I will get you home, Mulder," he said, bending down and giving him a light kiss. Mulder shivered and Krycek smiled. "I think you're both gorgeous and sexy but I'm not so sure about the eyelashes." He grinned again blew a kiss to his lover and left the room.

Mulder shook his head and shivered again. That kiss had sealed it, he was attracted to Krycek and he wasn't sure he needed or wanted that knowledge. His twin touched his arm gently and Mulder shuddered again. He was engulfed in the strong arms of his double and to his amazement and deep shock began to cry. He felt his twin's love and affection as they sat entwined and felt that strange connection again.

'I love you, brother.' Mulder heard his twin's voice inside his head.

Mulder sniffed. "I love you too," he acknowledged, feeling considerably calmer than he had a few seconds ago.

'Call me Fox.'

Mulder sat up abruptly. "How?" he asked staring in fascination at Fox.

Fox shrugged. 'Maybe because we are each other?' he said silently.

Mulder stared at him. "I could feel the clone inside my head as well." He nibbled his lower lip unconsciously until he felt Fox's tongue licking along his lips and he gasped pulling away from him.

Fox grinned unrepentantly. "I want to make love to you."

Mulder gaped at him. "That's incest," he blurted out unthinkingly.

Fox's smiled grew wider. "Alex wants to 'do' twins and I want to 'do' my 'brother'. Come on Mulder, we've always been a little narcissistic, it's no different to using our own right hands."

Mulder blinked.

"Don't you feel the connection, Mulder? Don't you want to touch me and kiss me? Isn't the need to know me and yourself pulling at you?"

Mulder swallowed. "I want to get to know you, but I can achieve that without jumping your bones." He shook his head at Fox's grin. "I really don't think I'm ready for this Fox."

Fox's smile increased. "But you won't know until you try, Mulder." He leant forward and kissed along Mulder's neck and up towards his chin. He kissed at the spot that always made him shiver and slid his hands down his chest and under Mulder's t-shirt where he began stroking and playing along his chest and nipples. Mulder groaned, his sense of right and wrong totally conflicting with a burst of sexual arousal, and confounded by the strong need he felt to be as one with his other self. Slowly, he relaxed, giving Fox tacit permission to touch. Fox licked along his ear and blew gently along his face.

"Do you trust me, brother?" he asked Mulder, his tongue and lips playing along the contours of Mulder's face.

"As much as I trust myself," Mulder gasped.

Fox laughed, the vibration jumping along Mulder's chin and the gust of hot air in his ear made him shiver with anticipation. "What a vote of confidence," he murmured his tongue tracing a path down below Mulder's collar. "I'll take that as 'I'm screwed but yes,' vote and carry on."

Mulder gave a laugh that turned into a groan as Fox began to rub himself against him as he continued to kiss and lick his way under Mulder's clothes. The tongue in his navel caught Mulder totally by surprise and he writhed in response.

"I want you naked," Fox murmured, suiting action to words as he gently stripped Mulder.

Mulder shivered with a mixture of fear and excitement, half hoping for and half dreading Fox's touch. Fox stood and removed his own clothes, staring down with a possessive smile as Mulder lay on the sofa waiting for him. Naked, he lay down on Mulder and rubbed their groins together. Mulder groaned as his penis expanded and declared its very definite interest in the proceedings. Fox smiled and captured his mouth, exploring along his exposed sides as he did so. Mulder writhed under him, faintly alarmed but mainly very turned on by the feel of their rigid erections sliding against each other. When Fox finished their kiss, he threw back his head and let out a frustrated moan of pure unadulterated desire.

'It's good, isn't it?'

'Yes, oh yes' Mulder said silently.

Fox laughed, returning to kiss him, his physical contact reinforced by a wave of love and desire through their mental link. Slowly they rubbed and ground their way to completion, Mulder content for Fox to lead and direct, just happy to be so close to his twin. He felt his balls contract and his penis throb as with a scream of delight he came. An answering shudder and cry heralded Fox's release, and Mulder felt thoroughly debauched, satiated and sleepy.

'I love you,' Fox told him.

Mulder smiled. 'The feeling's mutual,' he thought sleepily, winding his arms round his double, and moving them onto their sides. He felt rested, lethargic and very satisfied but underneath his analytical mind tried to understand what had just happened. He'd had his first male sexual experience with a man that not only looked liked him but was 'him'. Perhaps Fox's sly dig at being in love with his own right hand wasn't so far from the truth. He was used to solitary pleasure. There was no need to try and connect with real people when porn and phone sex were so easily available. His connection to Fox had been instant and unequivocal, and oh so simple. He snuggled into the embrace. Perhaps his future wasn't going to end up with him dying by autoerotic asphyxiation, not that he'd ever felt the slightest desire to try that particular kink whatever Clyde Bruckman had implied.

'Hush' his twin whispered in amusement. 'Just enjoy, feel and experience everything because we'll never feel this close to another human being again.'

Mulder clasped his twin to his chest and fell asleep.

He awoke to a kiss and a caress, opening his eyes to find Krycek grinning down at him. "A wet dream come true, Mulder. I come back to find my lover and his equally delicious double, naked and entwined on the couch. I must have done something really good to deserve this."

His twin answered lazily. "You're going to have to work for it, Alex. I've got Mulder now and he's so sexy." He licked at Mulder's back making him shiver in reaction.

Krycek laughed. "I'll be in the middle, Fox. I can't wait." He pressed his lips to Mulder's mouth and this time Mulder opened his lips and let him in. Krycek kissed him passionately and groaned. He bent down to kiss his lover and stood away quickly the bulge at his groin obvious. "We've got problems, Mulder," he said gravely, perching himself on the armchair opposite. They've bought your alternative universe spiel and want to exploit it. I'm also afraid that they want to keep you. I have no real idea why, but Spender appears delighted at the thought, which means he has something particularly nasty in mind."

"Figures," Fox snorted. "That man never passes up a chance to get in a dig at me."

Krycek shrugged. "I'm sure we'll find out sooner or later. I've been ordered to get you ready, and quite honestly I need you to dress so I can think. Go shower and I'll sort out some clothes for you, Mulder. They want you dressed the same, and in a little as possible, the perverts." He shook his head. "You've got to be careful, Mulder. Some of those men want to fuck you, and now there are two of you I'm certain they're going to demand some of the action. They've wanted Fox, but I've kept him close. Even the Consortium are careful of me when I put on my possessive and jealous act."

Mulder sat up, kissing his twin almost without thought, and stared at Krycek. "They want to do what to me?" he asked highly confused. "The Consortium have tried to fuck me over numerous times, but I can't imagine those dry sticks of bones having any passionate thought for anything but themselves. "He frowned. "They are upright, married men in my universe. Or as upright as shadowy figures can be and I don't think they've had any desire towards me other than for my silence or my death."

Krycek shrugged. "I can't answer for your universe, Mulder, but this one's somewhat screwed. What these men want now is someway of rejuvenating themselves, power, wealth and sex. I'd say power and survival has been uppermost in their minds before the invasion, now the unthinkable has happened. He shrugged. "To be honest, I've been questioning their decisions and their sanity of late more and more frequently."
He looked at his watch. "We've less than half an hour so go and shower."

The shower was most welcome and being soaped and washed by Fox was both relaxing and erotic. Mulder returned the favour, half erect despite their exertions previously. They got out, dried, and wandered out naked.

Krycek shook his head in sorrow. "God I want you both now," he said obviously aroused. He pointed to the stack of clothes and vanished in the direction of the bathroom. Fox and Mulder exchanged amused smiles, and dressed.

 

Mulder shivered in the air-conditioned cool of the large boardroom. When faced with suited men before he'd always been suited himself, or dressed casually and feeling bullish. He'd never felt at a disadvantage, whatever clothes he'd been wearing, but now, dressed only in tight jeans, he was beginning to appreciate the psychological ploys his enemies were using. He was glad of Fox's mental contact, it helped keep him focused and reasonably balanced and to his shock he was glad of the occasional touch from Krycek. He realised that he'd taken Fox's view of Krycek to heart and was actually beginning to trust him. He gave a quick grin and decided that he really need to stay away from his universe's Krycek.

"Something amusing you, Mulder?" Spender suddenly asked.

Mulder looked at him amazement. "You are," he said defiantly. "Here you sit discussing unimportant matters when the fucking world is falling apart. Can't you see what's happening? You wanted power, but power over what? You think your masters are going to continue to leave you alone and just get on with breeding with our women." He stopped suddenly, an image of Scully filling his mind.

"She's dead, Mulder," Fox said gently. "When they captured us there was a shoot out. We were heavily outnumbered and Scully got a bullet in the chest." He swallowed, tears in his eyes. "I got her settled and tried to stop the blood, but she was loosing too much. I was willing to surrender to get her medical attention but she told me she's kill me herself if I even thought of it." He smiled through his tears. "She died in my arms, Mulder, that's how they captured me alive. I couldn't let my beautiful, brave, and wonderful Scully die alone."

Mulder swayed in shock. He knew that something had stopped him asking about Scully, some underlying reluctance to find out what had happened to her. He couldn't imagine life in any universe without Scully beside him, and felt the grief that Fox was trying hard not to show. Not giving a damn what the grey suited men at the table thought he moved towards his twin, and embraced him by the simple method of lowering his cuffed arms over Fox's head.

Fox melded to him and shook with silent grief. 'Alex tried to help me,' he said silently. 'But he and Scully never liked each other so he couldn't feel what I was going through. And I blamed him at first so that didn't help. I loved her, Mulder. I loved her so much, and I never really told her.'

'She knew,' Mulder reassured him. 'My Scully knows I'd do anything for her, die for her even. We know we love each other even though we never say it.'

'I miss her so much,' Fox sighed.

"That will do boys," Krycek's voice intruded on their silent grief. The words were harsh but his touch was gentle as he moved Mulder's arms over Fox's head. "Getting a few people a little more excited then necessary, and I don't appreciate drooling over my property." He gently pulled Mulder back to stand near Spender.

"Very touching," Spender remarked.

"Fuck you," Mulder said tiredly, his eyes still on Fox. "Scully's special. She's loyal, tenacious, brilliant and a superb professional. She's my partner, and my friend and I love her, like Fox did his Scully, but I don't suppose you 'gentlemen' would know anything about loyalty, love, truth and honesty."

Spender shook his head. "I liked Dana Scully, Mulder. You say you love her, why expose her to the dangers that your investigation into our business brings?"

Mulder looked at him. "You put Scully onto me, like you did Krycek, in the hope of holding me back and having someone to spy on me. But Scully learnt to understand me and she used her scepticism and commonsense to temper my flights of fancy, intuition and plain guessing. She grounded me and together we made a superb team. She's an adult; she wants to know what's out there as much as I do, Spender. She's not some defenceless little woman, she's Scully, and I'm damn proud of her."

Spender nodded. "But you don't sleep with her?"

Mulder cocked an eyebrow at him. "What the hell's that got to do with anything?"

Spender shrugged. "Just curious, Mulder."

Mulder said slowly. "Scully is my partner, yes we love each other but we're not 'in love' with each other. Is that simple enough?"

"Was that true for you, Fox?" Spender asked.

Fox looked up from his contemplation of the floor and nodded briefly.

Spender smiled. "It's fascinating getting into your psyche, my boy."

Mulder shrugged. "Whatever turns you on, Spender."

Spender leant back in his chair and grinned. "We did have a reason for having you and Fox here, other than for the view. Pleasant though it has been."

"Wish I could say the same," Mulder countered, glancing round the table at the six men before him. He'd given them all names, Shark; with the teeth, Owl; he had large, almost unblinking eyes. Vulture; he was shrivelled and had a hungry look about him. Tortoise; he had no neck for a start, and the youngest and certainly most attractive was Wolf. He had a sly look about him, but he also looked lean and dangerous. The six grey men, he thought inconsequentially. I've never met their counterparts back home. It could be very useful for when I get back. Fox had obviously been 'listening in' because he looked a little happier than he had a few minutes previously, and gave a nod of agreement to all the names.

Spender smiled calmly. "We've taped Deputy Blake's confession and we'd like you to answer a few questions about it."

Mulder looked at him sharply. "Where is Deputy Blake?"

"Back in Klamath Falls, Mulder. Somewhat chastened, but still demanding to see you. We've had to send in a few soldiers to sort them out down there, and one of my men has taken a liking to your Blake."

Mulder narrowed his eyes. "I'm not meant to like the sound of that am I?" he said slowly.

Spender laughed. "It's always a pleasure talking with you, my boy. No, it was a threat; not very subtle I must admit. One of the soldiers wants Blake, but he's not been given permission to touch him." He glanced at Mulder. "Now I might put Blake off limits or I might give my soldier the go ahead. He's a good soldier, but a little impetuous and heavy handed. Put his last 'lover' in hospital. I don't think you'd want that to happen to Deputy Blake."

"And how can I be sure that it never happens to Blake, Spender. Am I supposed to trust you?"

"But of course," Spender grinned.

Mulder looked beyond him and at the other five men. "And do vulture, tortoise, owl, wolf and shark get to say anything?"

Krycek, who had been fidgeting impatiently in his chair, looked incredulously at Mulder, glanced at his six startled superiors and started giggling. Mulder had never heard Krycek giggle and found it surprisingly sexy. Spender glanced at Krycek and shook his head in wry amusement before standing from his chair and walking towards Mulder grasping him firmly by the chin.

"Mulder, you are really a very clever and very wilful boy." Spender smiled as Mulder glowered at him. "I have never underestimated you, nor will I ever do so, but you can still occasionally surprise me and nearly always amuse me." He turned to Fox. "Name them and explain them for me, Fox."

Fox glanced at Mulder who shrugged. Fox looked at Spender. "Why should I know?"

"Because you are him, you think alike."

Fox shrugged, pointing at each man and giving his name and the reason. By the end, only Wolf looked in anyway pleased at his name. Spender shook Mulder's head gently and ran his hand down Mulder's cheek. "You really are a worthy son," he said pleasantly, "both of you. I only wish you'd joined with me rather than opposed me." He contemplated the identical scowls on both faces and nodded. "I think we need to shake you both up a little you're still far too much in control of yourselves."

"Stop pandering to him and get the information, Spender," Vulture growled.

"Tch tch, temper," Mulder said.

Spender shook his head. "Behave," he said sternly.

"Sure, Pop," Mulder said unrepentantly.

Spender blew smoke in his face and laughed as Mulder coughed. He returned to his chair and pressed a button. A computer monitor arose from the middle of the table with four screens facing each side of the table. He pressed another switch and Mulder was taken back to the laboratory with the floating bodies. Each pod displayed a clone, altered and designed to live in water. The camera lingered on the first clone, the one with his face, who opened his eyes and started impassively at them. He didn't recognise the faces of any of the others, but noted that they were all men.

Mulder reached out mentally to Fox and together they watched the horrifying display. Mulder counted six clones in all and he was glad when the focus moved away from them until he realised he was seeing the face of Blake, The man looked tired and drawn, a split lip showing that he had been in some kind of fight. He shook his head at something some one said off camera. The next moment he was screaming silently as the goon standing behind him pulled his arm up his back. The sound came in slowly and Mulder wished it had remained off. Blake was gasping with pain, his face white.

"Tell us," someone off camera demanded.

Blake shook his head and the same performance was repeated three more times before Blake muttered, "He said it called him father/brother," and promptly passed out.

"Bastard," Mulder snarled, as the camera faded from Blake and returned to the laboratory.

"So, Mulder?" Spender asked.

Mulder stared at him defiantly. "I'm telling you nothing until I see Blake and know he's okay."

Spender nodded and pressed another button. The monitor blacked out before returning to Blake's face. This time his lip was clean and healing. He was sitting on a stool, with a large man standing behind him playing with his hair. Blake looked strained and spooked, his fists were clenched and his breathing was loud and laboured. Spender leant towards the monitor.

"Deputy Blake, Agent Mulder would like to talk to you. Please look at the screen."

Blake looked up and sighed. "Mulder," he said quietly.

Mulder wondered where the camera was and what else it had recorded. "Sorry, Blake," he said inadequately. "I really didn't want to involve you in all of this, and I certainly didn't want you to suffer any consequences." He looked back at Spender. "I'm informed that if I talk you'll go free, not that I believe a word these bastards say."

Blake sighed. "They say you ran the resistance?"

Mulder nodded. "With others, Blake but my double did." Fox silently padded round to face the camera and nodded his hello.

Blake shook his head. "Damn it's true," he said ruefully. "God, I'm sorry, Mulder. Sorry you got yourself into this screwed up world."

Mulder shrugged. "Thanks for all your help, Blake." He nodded towards the guy behind him. "Is that bozo annoying you?"

Blake shuddered and nodded.

Mulder looked directly at Spender. "Call your hound off and let Blake go."

Spender raised an eyebrow but leant forward and spoke. "Major Bliss, Deputy Blake is to be returned to the Sheriff's office and considered to be off limits, is that understood?"

The man dropped his hands from Blake's hair, snapped to attention and saluted. "Yes, sir."

"Good, see to it. We will be visiting some time in the week. Please prepare."

"Sir."

Spender turned the monitor off and sat back looking at Mulder and Fox. Mulder shrugged. "There's nothing to tell. The clone," he choked on the word and took a deep breath remembering the moment he'd caught sight of him. Fox leant towards him and offered his physical support. "He asked me who I was. I told him I was a friend, an explorer - a rescuer even." He gave a bitter ironic laugh. "He said that no one else had ever bothered to listen to him. He also said he was an experiment." He turned to Spender and glared at the five other men around the table. "You've got a sentient being locked in a cylinder of liquid and I want to know why."

Spender glanced at his co-conspirators. "Fascinating, we wondered how we could communicate with it."

"He's not an it," Mulder said angrily. "Stop trying to dehumanise him."

Spender smiled cruelly. "What would you call a hermaphrodite then, Mulder? They are all hermaphrodites, that why we bred them. We have more normal clones locked away in other secret locations. I told you we have been exploring other options."

Mulder glanced at Fox and caught Krycek's eye. Krycek was sitting impassively but a tic in the corner of his eye and an unnatural stillness convinced Mulder that all of this was news to him. He looked at Fox who was looking pale and ill. He turned back to Spender. "He, because he looks male." He swallowed. "Why? How can making a few water breathing hermaphrodites help us?"

Spender stubbed out his cigarette end and shook another from his packet lighting it before taking a deep breath and inhaling watching Mulder and Fox as he did so. "Did you know they wanted us to breed hybrids for them?"

Mulder nodded. "Someone told me that my father had given up Samantha so that she might become a hybrid and survive. I didn't believe him."

Spender raised his eyebrows in surprise, but after a second continued. "We disagreed among ourselves about the sense in doing this, but the general feeling was that while it might be interesting the last thing we'd do would be to tell them of any successes. We weren't stupid, while we might not know why they wanted our planet we could guess that offering them hybrids was the quickest method of signing our own death warrants." He smiled bleakly. "Most died, until we reduced the alien content and just introduced a small amount of alien DNA into the embryos. Fox, and I must assume you, Mulder, are the direct result of that decision." He ignored Mulder and Fox's sharp intake of breath and carried on. "We've kept a close eye on you, but other than a very high intuitive ability and a high IQ, we have seen no instances of you having any special abilities until now." He inhaled and smiled at them. "It always amused me that my son and heir was so determined to find aliens, little knowing he was looking at one in the mirror each day."

Mulder clenched his fists. "You lie, my father was Bill Mulder and my mother Tessa Mulder. She wouldn't have let you do that to her unborn child."

"Wouldn't she, Mulder? Maybe you're right, but perhaps she didn't know anything about it."

Mulder and Fox exchanged startled looks. "Mom would be the person most likely to know, Spender." Fox said angrily. "This is so stupid, I'm human and I've passed all my medicals. Mom's not alive to defend herself and while I can imagine a great deal of my father, even he wouldn't have condoned something like you suggest. Anyway, it was the early sixties. Are you telling me that science was in anyway advanced enough to do it?"

Spender smiled. "Believe what you want to believe, Fox, Mulder. I'm telling you the truth, but tell me, how come you, and so far only you, can communicate with the clones?"

"You never tried," Mulder said, suddenly wearying of the game, whatever it was. "You never tried at all. You've permitted the aliens to destroy us, allowed them to take away our hope for the future without even firing one shot in anger and you can stand there and talk about our future as hermaphrodites. You make me sick."

"We compromised," the shark faced man said angrily. "They would have destroyed us totally had we not appeared to co-operate."

"You think sending our women to be killed is a compromise," Fox said sharply his anger and anguish reflected in his face. "Our mothers, sisters, lovers, wives, aunts, nieces, all sacrificed on the alter of necessity. You bastards, my Scully was lucky to die free if that's the destiny you had arranged for her."

Sharkface smiled coldly. "You're getting emotional, Fox. The hermaphrodites are an experiment, as are the other clones. Something we keep secret from the aliens in the hope that they can eventually help us to resist. Personally I don't think they are necessary, we have been promised we'll get our womenfolk back, and I believe it. If the aliens wanted to destroy us they could have wiped us out in the beginning. So far they have kept their side of the bargain."

"What bargain," Mulder said sharply. "You call this destruction a bargain, or is living in luxury and comfort in the old capital sufficient gain for what you have sentenced the rest of humanity to?"

Sharkface ignored him. Spender looked over at Krycek. " I think our Foxes are getting a little too emotional and distraught, Alex. I know how good you are at dealing with them, so take them out of here to calm down." He smiled. "We have a long journey tomorrow and I want them fresh. Have Mulder tagged, we know his propensity for slipping into areas that are no concern of his. We'll let you ease him in for a few days, but after that I'm afraid we can't guarantee any special treatment for him. You'll have to share."

"I don't share Fox Mulder," Krycek growled.

"I don't belong to traitorous rat bastards or anyone for that matter," Mulder said automatically.

"What he said," Fox chimed in, the irritation in his voice a contrast to the black humour Mulder could read in his mind.

Spender blinked and gave a small smile of amusement. "I noticed, Alex, and despite Fox's hatred of you, I think he might find it in his heart to be somewhat glad of that in the days to come, but you have one, two is rather greedy."

"I don't share Fox Mulder, " Krycek repeated menacingly. "Whatever universe he comes from he's mine and mine only."

Spender shook his head returning to smile at Mulder. "You've been the only vulnerable point I've ever found in Alex, Mulder. And even then, our clever, ruthless Alex would nearly always find a way of making that vulnerability a strength." He shook his head smiling in fond amusement at Krycek. "I do so enjoy seeing him rewarded for all the abuse he suffered from you my dear son." He laughed. "Your arrival is most fortuitous, Mulder, and personally deeply satisfying. I look forward to renewing and deepening our relationship."

"I'm going to be sick," Mulder muttered to Fox.

Krycek glared at his boss, grabbed Mulder and Fox's arms and marched them out of the boardroom and back to their suite. His air of deadly menace keeping everyone from coming near.

Returning to the ornate familiarity of Krycek's room gave Mulder a small illusion of safety. He stood as Krycek released his cuffs then held onto his double and shivered with shock and sorrow. He knew his twin was as bewildered as he was, but he needed the physical comfort. Krycek enfolded his arms around the pair of them and for some time the three of them stood bound together in silence. Mulder broke it eventually by asking Fox. "Was he lying about us?"

Fox wrapped his arms round Mulder tighter and shook his head. "I don't know what to believe, Mulder. Spender's always been a lying bastard but I don't understand what he would gain from implying we're not fully human, particularly now."

Krycek moved away returning with a pile of t-shirts and shirts and gently pushed Mulder and Fox to sit on the sofa. Mulder grabbed at a shirt and slipped it on feeling warmer almost immediately. He wrapped his arms round his body and thought furiously over the shocking information Spender had casually thrown at them. He sighed and mused out loud. "There's so much that doesn't feel right. None of it makes any real sense. The clones for example, why make them hermaphrodite?"

Fox shook his head. "I don't know. If the aliens want us for hosts then it wouldn't matter whether they use women or hermaphrodites would it?"

Mulder frowned. "This is maybe where the two worlds diverge. I've never been certain, I'm not sure anyone ever can be, but I thought the greys wanted to reclaim the earth and maybe even use it as a staging post in a wider conflict." He sighed. "I've certainly encountered a bewildering amount of different aliens over the years. My knowledge is
patchy, but I think that the greys just wanted to use our bodies to hatch their young, and the hybrids," he shuddered as he spoke and glanced at Fox, "were being bred as a way of allowing us to carry their young to term without being killed in the process. The shape shifters were another race entirely, who saw earth as just another arena to continue their battle against the greys.." He looked at Krycek. "Any of this ring bells with you?"

Krycek gave a brief unamused laugh. "Mulder, I'm supposed to be on the fringes of the elite and I have no idea. Why do you suppose I began to pass Fox information? For years I'd thought that Spender and his ilk were fighting impossible odds to keep us free. I thought you and others like you were endangering our only chance by demanding information and encouraging people to learn of the very possibility. I did my work, dirtying my hands because I knew that it was people like me that allowed people such as you the freedom to declare how pure they were." He grinned sardonically at Mulder's outraged expression. "I began to question my beliefs as things started to spiral out of control, at least from my perspective."

Mulder nodded slowly his initial outrage fading as he considered Krycek's words. "I remember you said something about them being interested in power, wealth and sex, but before that you talked about them being rejuvenated. How do you suppose they expect to achieve that?"

Krycek shrugged. "I wondered that myself and got nowhere. The problem is Mulder, I'm not really fully in the know. Spender uses me, he finds me effective and reliable. It amuses him to see me 'master' Fox, and he likes Fox to be brought to their meetings just to play around with his head. Keep him aware of things that he can do nothing about."

"Spender's in control then?"

Krycek nodded. "He controls the army so the others follow him."

"But how the hell did he get the army under him?"

Krycek sighed. "Deals, Mulder. Deals I can't comprehend but seem to satisfy the necessary generals, because from what I've seen, the top brass are gone and his handpicked few are now in control. There's one called Hudson that looks at Fox like he's a particularly edible morsel and I often wonder what if anything Spender's promised him." He glowered. "I'll kill him if he touches Fox, or you for that matter."

"Don't worry, I'll kill him myself," murmured Fox tiredly.

Mulder trembled with questions but he could see from the fatigue on Krycek's face and hear from Fox's thoughts that they didn't understand what was happening and it was frustrating the hell out of them. He was desperate to leave this appalling place, but he didn't want to lose Fox, and he was becoming all too easily attracted to this universe's Krycek. He had a feeling his link with Fox was speeding the process up, but he realised that the thought of being with both Krycek and Fox was about the only thing that was keeping him from keeling over and screaming his anger and misery to the moon. His lips twisted in a grimace of self-disgust as he felt how near the edge he was.

Fox smiled tenderly at him and pulled him into an embrace. "Shall we make love?" he asked.

Mulder shivered. "I want contact," he said simply. "I want to feel you." He closed his eyes and shivered again unable to contain his misery. "I want to flee this place, Fox, but I want to take you with me. I don't want to lose this."

Fox stroked his face. "Neither do I, Mulder."

Krycek moved to kneel by them. "Am I included?" he laughed as both Mulder and Fox reached for him and pulled him close to them.

"Alex in the middle," Fox said with amusement. "That'll be a new one for Alex, Mulder. He likes to be in control too much, but I think between us we can have him screaming."

Mulder blushed slightly. "This is all a little new to me, Fox, but the thought certainly has its appeal." He stroked Krycek's face gently; amazed that he could do this freely. "I've always wanted the rat bastard on his knees and begging me, although I hadn't quite thought of it in this light." He laughed as Krycek stuck his tongue out at him, and stroked his face again. "I wish my Krycek was like you," he said wistfully then reddened further as he realised what he'd said.

Krycek looked up at him. "He probably masturbates to the thought of you every day, Mulder," he said gravely. "I know I did." He smiled as Mulder's blush deepened. "I like that look, Mulder, it suits you. Shy, naïve and bashful, you know it just does it for me."

"Shy, naïve and bashful? " Mulder repeated. He blinked slowly. "I don't think that really sums me up very well, Krycek, do you?"

Krycek showed his teeth. "Maybe not, but I can imagine I'm having the college boy Mulder, all gangly, gawky and sooooo cute."

"I have never been cute," Mulder said, deeply affronted.

Fox pulled a face looking down at Alex with mischief. "Remember the oh so fresh and obliging new partner with the stupid ass haircut and puppy dog eyes, Mulder?"

Mulder grinned, his humour restored. "He was just too cute for words."

Krycek looked between them. "I'm beginning to appreciate the down side of having two of you," he snarled. "Right, Fox 1 and Fox 2, I have handcuffs and keys, and I'm not afraid to use them. I want you both naked on that bed now, or I'll make your lives a misery." He leered at them. "And don't get any ideas, I've taken on armed men with more fighting instinct in their little finger than the pair of you have combined."

"I think we were just insulted," Fox said, his eyes dancing with amusement. "Come on Mulder, we'll play nice, then we'll get him."

Mulder shook his head but followed his twin into the bedroom and removed his clothes. He felt suddenly shy and very out of place, the passion and need of the first time with Fox now complicated by the presence of the double of his own dark nemesis. He permitted Fox to pull him onto the bed, and clung to him desperately for a few moments before recovering some of his equilibrium, and lying back on the large, comfortable bed. Fox reached over and turned his head to face him.

"Just relax and let go," he advised Mulder. "We can't do anything at the moment and we've been given a few hours breathing space. Go with the flow, brother. Open up to me and I'll be with you all the time."

Mulder swallowed, reaching forward to cup Fox's chin in the same manner. He turned his head as movement at the foot of the bed heralded Krycek's arrival. The sight of Krycek, naked and very obviously aroused, both excited and panicked him. He shut his eyes as he tried to get his feelings and thoughts under control, taking short panting breaths.

Krycek leant forward and kissed his mouth brushing at his hair. "I won't do anything you don't want, Mulder," he whispered. "But I have to tell you, the sight of you both is almost more than I can bear."

Mulder took a deep breath letting it out in a shaky almost laugh. "I don't know what I want, Alex," he said more calmly than he felt.

"Then let us show you what we can do for you." Krycek kissed him and moved towards Fox. He turned back to Mulder and smiled. "Feel free to join us anytime, Mulder."

Fox smiled at him before reaching for Krycek. Slowly and to Mulder's mind, beautifully, they kissed and caressed each other. Fox opened up to him letting him see just how aroused he was by the knowledge that Mulder was watching. Mulder lay, content to observe, enjoying the slow build up of passion, and the lecherous glances that both Fox and Krycek gave him from time to time. Eventually, Fox pulled Krycek onto his back, and straddled him, biting and kissing his way down to his penis. He licked and suckled it, glancing at Mulder as he did so.

'Kiss him,' he asked. "I want to ready myself, it turns Alex on so much and with you sucking him he'll be like putty in my hands.'

Mulder hesitated, and then moved to lick at Krycek's weeping erection. Fox kissed him, reached towards the bedside table and flipped the cap of a tube. He raised one knee, smiled sweetly and began to prepare himself. Mulder took Krycek deeper into his mouth, only just managing to control himself as Krycek's moans began to rise in volume. He couldn't keep his eyes off the erotic sight of Fox fingering himself; his head flung back, his hips moving. Aroused, he began sucking Krycek in earnest, enjoying the long panting groans each suck elicited. Fox leant forward, kissed his cheek, and ground down on his own fingers feeding the sensations directly to Mulder. Mulder gave an involuntary keen of lust and stopped his sucking. Fox kissed him again, moved him out the way, and settled himself above Krycek's wet, straining erection. He clasped it firmly at the base, and slowly, oh so slowly, pushed his way down.

Krycek's groans increased further, while Mulder's breathing almost stopped. He watched Fox's face as the strained concentration gave way to a look of bliss. Mulder took a deep breath then groaned as Fox moved slowly off Krycek's penis, and just as slowly moved down and seemed to grind against something that flooded Mulder's nerve endings with a shivering sensation. He felt Fox's laugh in his mind as each and every thrust was repeated, and his body reacted to sensations that were coming from his twin. He was aware, he didn't know how, of Krycek switching his attention from Fox to him, of panting and crying out words that made no sense, and feeling Fox's savage pleasure as he increased the speed of his thrusts and was soon bucking almost out of control. Krycek reached for Fox's bouncing erection and rubbed hard. Mulder reached for his own and screamed in unison with Fox as they came together, Krycek following them a beat later.

Mulder collapsed on the bed, panting hard. He could never remember feeling anything so fantastic in his whole life, and all without anyone touching him. He knew his porn films were going to seem very tame after this.

"You were magnificent," Krycek murmured, "Both of you, I don't know what you've got going between you, but I like it."

Fox slowly pulled himself off Krycek collapsing against him. Krycek pulled him close and turned toward Mulder, and did the same thing.

"Wash cloth," Fox muttered into Krycek's side.

Krycek yawned, pulled Fox and Mulder tight. "Too damn comfortable," he muttered.

Mulder snuggled closer, yawned and fell asleep

Hours later, he woke in a pile of limbs and linen and lay contemplating the past few days. He knew he had to get away, but he grieved to think of leaving Fox, who had somehow become so important to him in this dark mess of a universe. He also grieved for Fox's Scully, and for the women who had been so cruelly ripped from their homes and loved ones to endure god knows what pain and torment.

He kissed Krycek and Fox, slipping from the bed towards the shower. Washed and dressed, but shoeless, he wandered back to the bedroom and contemplated the sleeping men. In his absence, Krycek had spooned up behind Fox, and had his face nuzzled into Fox's neck. Mulder smiled, Krycek looked cute when he slept, he'd have to mention that to him.

He looked round the two rooms, wondering who had lived in them when the White House was functioning normally. He headed for the door noting the key in the lock, and thought hard before slowly turning it. He was restless and keen to explore, and he wanted some answers.

'Don't, Mulder,' his twin begged. 'The floors are all linked to a twenty four hour surveillance, I know, I've tried it and been caught and punished.'

Mulder caught an impression of Fox being whipped before he quickly broke contact. He closed the door shocked at the image, and sat down hard on the couch. He had to leave here soon. He wanted answers, but more than anything he wanted to get back to the normality of his world, check that his Scully was alive, and deal with the normal and understandable evils of his world's Spender's and their ilk. He dropped his head in his hands and shivered. A light mental contact then a touch heralded Fox's presence. Fox stood him up and pulled him back towards the bedroom.

"Let me distract you? " he asked, already working at Mulder's clothes and kissing him.

Mulder reached to stop Fox, but he ignored him aiming for the spot he knew made Mulder turn to jelly. Mulder moaned unable to prevent his automatic response. "Sex isn't the answer," he managed to say before Fox engulfed his mouth and took his breath away.

'It's what you need,' Fox told him mentally. 'You need to stop thinking, Mulder. Just be. We can't do anything at the moment, so let me help you.'

Mulder shook his head but Fox refused to take no for an answer. Every time he tried to talk or remonstrate Fox kissed or stroked back until Mulder finally surrendered, and let Fox do as he wanted.

'I want to make love to you,' Fox murmured.

'You are,' Mulder returned when he was able to think.

'I want to fuck you,' Fox qualified.

"No, I'm not ready," Mulder said out loud, terrified at the thought. "It's too soon, Fox, this is all too new for me."

'But I have so little time with you,' Fox murmured mentally. 'You need to go home, I know that. But I want to know you inside and out, feel you organically. Take every part of you to hold in my memory.'

Mulder gasped as Fox bit at his throat and kissed along his chin. He groaned as Fox hands stroked down to his groin and sent fire through his body. 'Emotional blackmail,' he thought in confusion as Fox moved to lick up his now straining erection.

Fox sniggered in his mind as his mouth set to driving Mulder wild. 'May I?'

Mulder cried out as Fox nibbled along the length of his penis and swallowed him again.

'Please brother, you know I would never hurt you.' Fox chided. 'Please it feels so good, and I want you so much. Let me show you.'

Mulder gave in and surrendered his body to his twin, who murmured his appreciation and proceeded to show him in action and 'words' just how loved and desired he was. Mulder felt as if he was floating in a sea of pleasure, everything that Fox did to him creating shivers of blissful sensation. When the actual penetration started, Fox kept any pain away, projecting his sensation so that when he touched his prostate, Mulder nearly came from the sensory overload itself. As Fox slowly fucked him, he felt a hot wet sensation at his groin, and looking down saw that Krycek had woken up and was sucking at his penis. The sight was almost too much for him, only the fact that he had made love some hours previously stopping him from coming there and then. His moans and writhing increased in frequency and seemed to amuse his two lovers.

"I'm going to die," he wailed, as his two lovers found a rhythm guaranteed to drive him out of his mind.

"So sexy," Fox breathed in his ear. "My beautiful twin."

Mulder groaned, thinking that beautiful wasn't a word he'd use to describe himself in any shape or form. Fox laughed again, picking up on his thoughts and drove deeper into him, pulling him up further onto his knees and allowing Alex more room to suck and fondle his aching penis and balls. Mulder was drowning in sensation, almost hoarse and amazed at how wonderful this all felt. Krycek gave one long suck, Fox plunged deep into him and rammed his prostate and Mulder gave a long scream of anguished pleasure and came. As he did so he felt another touch on his mind, different from Fox's, older, alien and amused. 'Child,' it said almost lovingly. Completely wrung out from too much pleasure and worry, Mulder blacked out.

As he came to, he felt the alien mind touch his again. 'We have waited for you to discover your abilities, child.'

His total bafflement elicited a sound that Mulder guessed could be classified as laughter.

'We have waited for you to contact us.'

'You spoke to me,' Mulder said pedantically, wondering if he was going mad or hallucinating. 'What are you?'

'Your master, child and part of your heritage.' The 'voice' sounded amused again. 'You, Fox Mulder, share some of your genes with us.'

'I don't believe you.' Mulder said defiantly. 'You lie in order to confuse me and stop me in my search for the truth.'

'You are the truth, child.'

'Stop calling me child.'

'But you are a child, child.' The amusement in the voice had increased. 'You will lead the rebirth of the human race as we shape it to suit our needs and purpose. You and the few others like you will hold the power in your hands and we will rule through you.'

'You're nuts,' Mulder said rudely. 'This is some joke at my expense.'

'No joke, child. Let me tell you what we plan for your planet.'

Mulder snorted but kept quiet as he felt the light touch of Fox's mind and was comforted by the presence of two pairs of hands wrapping round him. He wasn't sure what the hell was going on, but if Fox shared it, at least he'd be able to discuss the experience with him.

'You have minerals, ores and metals that we need, child, and the physiology and physiques to mine for them far easier than we can. We need you to labour for us.'

'You wish to steal our resources and make us slaves.' Mulder translated grimly.

The voice shivered with amusement. 'Correct, child.'

'Then why take our women?'

'They are unnecessary for our purpose here, and useful for us in other ways.'

'What the hell do you mean by that?' Mulder asked incredulously. 'We need our women to survive. Without them we will die, unless of course that's what you ultimately intend.'

'Child,' the voice chided. 'Have I not told you we want you to labour for us? The best physique for labour is yours. We find your need for two sexes inefficient. We have adapted the males, implanted altered ova within them and will return those that survived. We will also return some of your women, pregnant with altered foetuses. They will give birth, nurse the young for a year and will then be reclaimed.'

Mulder was shocked into silence as he absorbed the meaning of the words. 'Why?' he whispered. 'Why do this to us? We would have traded with you once your existence was made public knowledge. We need women, we live together as two sexes, we complement each other. I wouldn't want to live in a world without women.'

'You will have no choice, child. The decision has been made for you.'

'Why?' Mulder repeated. 'What need do you have for our women? Why all the abductions, the taking of ova, the consortium's experiments with fertility, the clones in the laboratory? For God's sake why?'

'Because we can and we will, child. We want to breed a physically strong slave race. We will breed strong, compliant, loyal slaves whose chief strength of character is obedience and servility. We will retain you and the few like you to control and direct them in accordance to our needs. As to the clones your 'Consortium' think it created for its own reason, we directed their experiments.'

'Why?' Mulder repeated.

'They can survive under the sea, child, and will mine the seabeds with great efficiency. It amused us to see they chose to clone you. We will use that one clone as we will you, for we have no intention of allowing you or your clones to reproduce except on our terms.'

Mulder was too overwhelmed by the information he was receiving to react personally. He was beginning to believe this must actually be happening. He couldn't think that even his imagination would come up with something as bizarre and horrendous as this. 'And the men of the Consortium?' he whispered.

The alien chuckled. 'We will rejuvenate them as promised, then change them. We will 'change' all men under the age of forty. Very soon everyone but the very old and the chosen few will forget that that there was any other way to be.'

Mulder shivered. 'Then we will no longer be human,' he said firmly.

The alien laughed. 'You will adapt, child, something your race seems very good at doing. We have seen your obsession with sex and have made use of it. It is yet another reason why we chose you human males, you far more than your females are driven by your genitals.'

Mulder groaned in horror. Chosen for physical strength and because they were so easily distracted and controlled. And men had always thought of themselves as the stronger and more able and intelligent sex. He wondered how many women would be left to appreciate the full irony of the situation.

The alien continued ignoring or perhaps not hearing Mulder's thoughts. 'It will be the driving force in the altered men, a need that almost obliterates all other need especially when they come into season. We have seen that sex reduces your ability to think coherently and makes you act without thought and reason.'

'Season?' Mulder said horrified. 'What have you done to them?'

'Efficiency, child. No need for the evacuation of the unused ova, but a four yearly urge to procreate that must be met. We will breed out intelligence to give us a strong servile slave race to work obediently for us.'

Mulder shuddered, the alien sounded like he was talking about breeding cattle. He thought of the behaviour of Spender's goons, of Spender himself and his own totally out of character behaviour with his two companions and his suspicions solidified. 'You've drugged us haven't you?' he accused.

The alien laughed. 'We have not needed to, child.'

Mulder blinked and considered the alien's words. The men in Klamath had appeared fairly passive but here there was considerable aggression, and some of the men seemed all too keen on seizing the opportunity to move in sexually on the men available. The goon who had touched up Blake had made that all too clear, and he and Fox had been exhibited like prizes in a sexual cattle market. He thought back on his sociology and recalled anthropological studies of tribes with a gender imbalance. Some of the men had been selected to become 'honorary' women. He shuddered, no, there was no need for the aliens to drug anyone, men would all to easily do their work for them.

He gave a mental glare at the alien. 'We'll fight you,' he promised.

The alien laughed. 'With what, child, and with whom? We have decimated your population,' It laughed. 'I stand corrected, we have more than decimated it, we have reduced it to a less than a tenth of its former size and have done the same to all the countries of the world. We have destroyed your communication satellites and reduced your cities to rubble. Think, child. The only way you and those you care for will survive is to adapt and learn to be what we demand of you.' It appeared to Mulder to reach out and pat him as if he were a favoured pet. 'I like you, child. You have annoyed many of my kin with your tenacity and determination to uncover us. At times we have thought we would have to terminate you, but we were able to deflect you. You are a survivor, and carry a little of us in you. For that we reward you with long life and power.' It patted Mulder again. 'Do not disappoint me, child.' And with that, the connection suddenly vanished and Mulder began trembling. Krycek and Fox's arm's tightened round him.

"No, no, no, he moaned. "This is a nightmare; please let me wake up, this isn't real, any of it."

"Oh, Mulder," Fox said gently. "It's real, we're real, but we'll get you back home, believe it brother."

Krycek looked expectantly between the two of them. "What just happened?"

Mulder shivered, 'I've been in contact with an alien," he murmured.

Krycek sat up abruptly. "What," he asked incredulously. 'You spoke with an alien?' He looked at Fox.

"I was a hanger on, Alex, but yes I was there." Fox said.

Mulder nodded. "Just listen to this," he said emotionlessly.

When he had finished explaining Krycek's face was white with anger and frustration. "We're to become slave labourers?" he said tightly. "What a stupid fuck up. The Consortium ensures that our country is taken over without a fight, and what for?" He shook his head in bewilderment. "They must have known something like this was going to happen, what did the stupid idiots think they would gain?"

"Youth," Mulder said tightly. "With a unexpected twist. I bet they didn't expect to become hermaphrodites into the bargain." He hit his hand against the bed head. "And they just walked into it, selling the rest of us down the river for a taste of power."

Krycek sat back on his heels. "The aliens certainly figured us out, or at least the male psyche." He smiled slightly as Mulder gave him an astonished look. "I don't need to be an expert in psychology to see it, Mulder."

"We need to inform the resistance," Fox said calmly. "Skinner needs to know." He glanced at Mulder. "We still have men and women in hiding, Mulder, thousands of them hidden underground in nuclear bunkers. Those countries that heard and believed our broadcasts we hope will have done the same thing. We won't let them win, somehow we'll keep men and women hidden and free from mutilation and abduction. We'll find a way of fighting back. This is not the end of the human race, it's just a very bad set back."

Mulder breathed deeply and nodded slowly. He glanced around the room, at the three of them, naked on the large bed and shook his head. "This is bizarre," he said quietly. He took another breath and exhaled slowly, nibbling on his lip in thought. "This seems stupid to ask, but you're sure no one can hear us?"

Fox grinned. "You're right, it was stupid."

Mulder gave a brief grin and returned to his contemplation. His gaze drifted over the bodies of the two men before him and he became distracted by the display of skin and muscle, absent-mindedly running his hand down Krycek's thigh as he thought out loud. "That alien thought I was you, but he couldn't appear to sense when you joined me. We must have the same mental presence." He frowned. "It said it didn't want us to reproduce, Fox. Maybe we can save Alex from being taken if you tell him he is your mate." He looked up to check that Fox was following him, and saw that he was grinning at him. "What?" he asked stupidly, until he heard Krycek's laughter. He glanced down at the man below him and swallowed as he saw Krycek stretched out on the bed, almost purring as he responded to Mulder's touch. "Oh shit." Mulder snatched his hand away and blushed as Krycek opened his eyes and licked his lips. "I am so screwed," he muttered under his breath.

Fox shook his head gently. "You're just dealing with the truth, Mulder. What are you going to do when you get home? Search him out or avoid him?"

"Avoid him," Mulder said immediately; amazed that Fox could even suggest that he did otherwise. "My Krycek is an amoral, scum sucking, bastard and the last thing I need to do is fall into bed with him."

"Back to your own hand?" Fox said sceptically.

Mulder nodded emphatically. "Much safer."

"But so boring, Foxy," Krycek whispered nibbling at his ear.

"No," Mulder jerked his head away. "Look, Alex I am attracted to you, I loved what we did in bed, but we can't keep doing it or we'll never be able to think straight." He groaned as Krycek kissed down his neck and rubbed his groin. "Please, Alex, I've had sex almost three times in the space of, what ten hours. I don't know about you, but the level and intensity we've been playing at would normally be well beyond me, and to be honest, going from total inexperience to being fucked and loving it." He stopped struggling for words. "It's not normal, surely?"

"You're going back to the porn then, Foxy?" Krycek said huskily, his voice sending shivers of desire down Mulder's spine. "I don't believe you." He reached out and pulled the startled Mulder into his arms. "You'll never survive without this." He kissed Mulder expertly, only stopping when Mulder showed signs of losing consciousness.

Mulder gasped once Krycek let him up for air. "Alex, let go of me, I can't think when you touch me like that."

Krycek smiled and kissed Mulder on the tip of his nose. "Mulder, however much I may want to, I'm totally incapable of doing exactly what I want to you for quite some time. That was just to tide you over."

"I don't need any reminders," Mulder muttered sulkily. "You've corrupted me totally, damn you." He pulled himself out of the bed, wrapped a sheet round himself and stalked to the shower, ignoring the laughter behind him.

***

 

Dressed but still shoeless and with the stinging addition of the tracking device pierced through his ear lobe Mulder tried not to stumble as he was pushed towards the waiting helicopter and the uniformed men surrounding it. He had been casually informed that he and Fox were being taken to Oregon, apparently to 'talk' with the clones in the lab and to look for the gate or whatever into Mulder's universe. Mulder was damned if he'd let any of them into his universe, and he most certainly didn't want the aliens getting to it.

He shivered again and looked up to find one of the uniformed men devouring him with his gaze. He stood up straight and lifted his chin in challenge. The man's face cracked into a grin as he licked his lips and allowed his gaze to wander possessively over Mulder and Fox's bodies. Mulder clenched his shackled wrists and fought an urge to ram them into the man's chest. He wondered if this was what some women meant when they talked of men undressing them with their eyes, and felt a stab of guilt that he had been known to eye up attractive women in a similar way.

'That's General Hudson, don't let him get to you, brother.'

Mulder took a deep breath and closed his eyes, opening them to the sight of Krycek's face, cold, emotionless and deadly facing off Hudson. Mulder shivered, he knew that face, it was Krycek's 'assassin without heart or principles' look, and it frightened the shit out of him. Hudson sneered, but backed down a little tending to keep his gaze on Mulder in the, Mulder hoped, mistaken assumption that Krycek was only possessive about Fox. When Krycek's expression became crueller if anything, Hudson blinked, gave a final lascivious lick of his lips, and dropped his gaze. Mulder looked gratefully at Krycek, appalled to find the possessive glare he received highly erotic. I have got to get out of here before I lose all sense of self-control, he thought desperately. Here I am stuck in one of the worst situations I've been in and all I can think of is how much I like the idea of belonging to Alex. God I'm even thinking of him as Alex now not Krycek. Damn it, it has to be the aliens. I wouldn't react like this normally.

Fox gave a mental snort in his mind. 'Look at him brother, he's sex on a stick, is Alex. It doesn't take any alien mind control to recognise that fact when you see it.'

'Shut up,' Mulder said rudely.

Fox sniggered but kept quiet.

The flight and helicopter ride back to Oregon seemed to go on forever. Mulder fell asleep on Fox's shoulders as they sat along the bench in the uncomfortable military plane. Even in his sleep he could feel Hudson's eyes on them both. The move to the helicopter gave Hudson the opportunity to sit next to him. Hudson leant towards him and licked his lips.
"I have this picture of you astride my cock, riding it hard, Foxy," he grinned at Mulder's angry expression. "Or with those lovely lips round it."

"Depends whether you want to get it back in one piece," Mulder said quietly, not wanting to alert Fox or Krycek to Hudson's tactics.

Hudson smiled and leant forward. "I have my methods, Foxy," he slipped his hand along Mulder's thigh and squeezed his crotch. "Be a good boy and I'll have you screaming so good you won't remember who you are for days." He gave another squeeze before sitting back and smiling sweetly at Krycek.

Krycek looked directly at Mulder, fire in his eyes, but Mulder shook his head a little and begged Krycek not to react with his expression. Krycek cast cold eyes over Hudson, smiled at Mulder and relaxed back in his seat. Mulder closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

The journey to the lab was uncomfortable, neither he nor Fox had been given shoes and they had to pick their way through the woods. The entrance was as he remembered it, but Spender bypassed it and headed towards a clearing with a group of rocks. He walked up to the largest rock, pressed somewhere on the surface and the rock moved inwards to show a large unlit cavern. Those carrying flashlights turned them on and moved forward. The entrance was long and wide and when it finally opened out, Mulder recognised the storage rooms. He sent a mental map of the place to Fox and concentrated on calming himself before meeting his watery clone.

They walked directly to the chamber and Fox could see the floating bodies in the flashlight. Spender fiddled with a switch and the room was bathed with light. Mulder edged towards the first container and placed his cuffed hands on the glass. Fox joined him as the occupant turned and opened his eyes.

'Brother, father.'

'Brother,' Mulder acknowledged at the same time as Fox. Both ignored the exclamations and murmuring behind them as the four military men had their first glance at the cloned and adapted occupant.

The clone looked beyond them to the men crowded round them and blinked slowly. Mulder was mesmerised by the sight of two eyelids. 'Captured?' the clone asked.

'It was a trap,' Mulder replied.

The clone nodded. 'Alien master tells me I and my kind will be set free in the seas to work for them.' He closed his eyes. 'Want to be free, to swim, roam and mate.' He looked at them. 'Want to touch you, feel you, be with you, although different you are the same. Want to know you.'

Mulder nodded glancing at Fox. 'We understand,' he answered. 'My land brother and I feel it also.'

The clone smiled showing sharp teeth. 'Like the look of other by your side. Like to mate with him.'

Mulder blinked at Fox before looking incredulously at Krycek.

'Can feel him, he very protective of you. Wants to kill large man in uniform' He showed his sharp teeth again. 'Fascinated by me.'

"I don't believe this," Mulder muttered under his breath, glancing back to stare at Krycek.

"What? Krycek asked impatiently. "Why are you both looking at me like that?"

Spender moved forward. "We need to know what you are saying, boys." He shot a look at Krycek and stared impassively at the clone. "You can both hear it?"

Mulder and Fox exchanged looks and nodded.

"Can it make out what we are saying?"

Mulder looked at the clone in question. 'What should we call you?' he asked.

The clone blinked. 'Fox,' he said slowly, 'But so are you. Can be Fox in the sea, but for now….' He hummed a little more. 'Lisa,' he said triumphantly. 'Call me Lisa.'

'He can read, Alex,' Fox murmured privately to Mulder. 'Alex calls me that sometimes.'

Mulder stared at Fox and then covertly at Krycek who was watching the interchange between his lovers and the clone with fascination. Spender shifted impatiently and asked.
"Tell me what it is saying.'

"HE," Mulder said with emphasis, "has just told us that while he considers himself to be Fox, to avoid confusion he can be called Lisa." He avoided looking at Krycek. "Lisa wants to be set free to roam the oceans and mate."

Spender inhaled and glanced at the clone with interest. "And what does it want from you, Mulder, Fox?" he asked a faint smile on his face.

Mulder remained silent wondering just how much Lisa was able to hear.

'What I chose to,' Lisa provided somewhat smugly. 'Don't like man with cloud by face.' He stopped short, 'Cancerman,' he said triumphantly, bearing his teeth again. 'Will tell him, want to mate with Alex, and touch you.'

'No!' Mulder begged. 'Don't mention Alex, it could be difficult for him, and don't talk about us.'

Lisa looked at him reproachfully. 'Sad, lonely, can't touch others want to touch you brother. Is that bad?' He nodded his head slowly as Mulder looked away, then stared hard a Spender.

Spender gasped and dropped his cigarette to clutch his head. "Tell it to stop," he yelled.

"Ask him yourself," Fox said shortly.

Spender clutched his head again until Lisa looked away, obviously dismissing him. Spender staggered against a lab table and shook his head.

"Guess you got your answer," Mulder said snidely, wishing Lisa had boiled Cancerman's brains. He felt a giggle in his head and looked up to see Lisa watching Spender with malevolent amusement.

'Nasty man thinks I'm stupid. Made me to be inferior to you, but I'm not. Master said I was clever, would rule my world.' He looked at Fox and Mulder brightly. 'Want you,' he said a note of desperation in his voice. 'Want to touch, feel and move, going mad here.'

'What about the others,' Mulder asked indicating the other clones who seemed indifferent and lethargic. He watched closely as Hudson tapped on the other five containers, shrugging his shoulders as none of the occupants moved.

'Don't talk much,' Lisa said mournfully. 'Master said would make more, many more, but still want to know you.'

Spender stood up abruptly and moved towards the clone's tank. "It did that on purpose," he said angrily. "It didn't hurt you."

"We were polite and interested in him," Mulder said acidly. "We have not made assumptions about his intelligence. He has taste, he doesn't like you, Spender."

Spender narrowed his eyes, shook a cigarette into his hand and lit up. "It wants you, Mulder, you and Fox. It wants to get to know you." He smiled "Since you like him so much I think one of you ought to go and make friendly."

"Neither of us can breathe underwater," Fox said impassively while he mentally drew Mulder and Lisa into conversation. 'I will get to know Lisa; create enough distraction to allow you to escape, Mulder. We can do that, can't we Lisa.'

'Yes,' Lisa affirmed. 'Don't want to lose you, but not belong here.'

Mulder shook his head silently. 'I don't want you displaying yourselves for them,' he pleaded. 'For, Alex fine, but not for these despicable bastards. They'll be drooling over you, hoping that Lisa will get demanding and push the get to know too far.' He looked over a Hudson and shuddered. 'Hudson wants nothing more than to get his hands on us, Fox, please don't do this.'

'Like, Alex,' Lisa said enthusiastically. He turned slightly to stare at Krycek. 'He protect us, not let Hudson touch us.'

'Seems we've found someone with as much confidence in Alex as he has in himself.' Mulder said privately to Fox.

Spender's voice broke in on their communication. "I'm sure your friend will help you, Fox, and we have breathing equipment, highly sophisticated and surprisingly small." Spender smiled indicated the other men in the group. "We'll be looking out for your welfare, Fox, so no harm will come to you."

"If we do it will be private," Mulder said furiously. "What is it with you, Spender. Have Fox and I become circus animals to put on show? Is privacy and modesty suddenly a foreign concept?"

'Don't, Mulder,' Fox said in exasperation. 'Lisa and I will forget them, please; we're offering you a chance to leave here. Take it, don't throw it in our faces.'

Spender exhaled loudly, glancing at General Hudson who was watching the interchange with rampant curiosity. "The clones are always carefully monitored, Mulder, would you want us to stop caring for them just to cover your blushes?"

"Yes," Mulder snapped, annoyed when he saw Krycek give a subtle shake of his head. He was staring at the clone a slight flush of red across his cheeks and a look of startled arousal in his eyes.

Spender smiled. "Choice time, Fox, Mulder. Who will it be?"

"Me," Fox said quietly. He raised his chin and stared at Spender. "I've become used to you taking every chance you can to demean me, Spender, Mulder hasn't." He turned and touched the container and containing Lisa. "I have no desire to perform for you, but I want to touch Lisa, because he deserves something for the way he has been treated." He stroked the surface as if he was stoking Lisa's skin, and Mulder felt the pleasure from Lisa as he enjoyed the mental caress. "You've kept him and his colleagues in here for months, even though it must have been obvious to you that Lisa was both alert and aware, and you only have to look at the others to know that they have retreated beyond us."

He glanced towards the other clones and Mulder moved to touch the container of Lisa's neighbour. The clone didn't react to this mental touch but remained floating, eyes closed, mouth slack. Mulder called out again but felt nothing.

"How have you survived, Lisa?" Mulder murmured as he returned to the clone's side. He joined Fox in mentally caressing Lisa who smiled, closing his eyes in pleasure.

'Wanted to live,' Lisa said fiercely. 'Master will set me free, will love and obey master.' He glanced towards Alex again. 'If good, maybe master give me mate like Alex.'

Mulder sighed, Scully told him that he seemed to think that the world revolved round him, but he was beginning to suspect that the universe was pulling one big joke at his expense. His clone appeared pre-programmed to want his own Krycek. He shook his head in despair. And how could he or Fox tell Lisa that the alien wanted to exploit him? Humanity hadn't exactly gone out of its way to show its kind side to Lisa and his brothers.

Spender glanced at his military colleagues. "We will delay the search for Mulder's gateway. I want to see this." He stepped toward the door and pressed a button.

Hudson smiled, glancing slyly at Krycek. "I'm sure they'll put on a good show."

"This isn't a peep show," Mulder said angrily, furious that his escape should be at the cost of Fox and Lisa's dignity.

Krycek glanced at Fox and Lisa and glowered, his eyes firmly fixed on Hudson. "Fox will keep his shorts on and no one touches him. I prefer Fox to perform for me alone but other than blindfolding you, I suppose I'll have to accept it." He stared at Hudson." You can drool all you like, but that's all you're having of either of them."

'Pick a fight, give Alex the opportunity to pass you your ID' Fox suggested. 'He said he'd try and get it for you.'

Mulder considered, looking directly at Krycek. "You really are a bastard, Krycek," he said, putting as much disdain as he could manage in his voice. Krycek was on him in a blink, pushing him down and almost backwards over a lab table. Ten points for acting, Mulder thought somewhat startled, but ready to play along. "Let go of me," he demanded.

Krycek leant over him "Bad boy, Mulder, that mouth of yours in going to get you into serious trouble someday soon, you'll see." He leered down at Mulder.

"Get off me!" Mulder panted, struggling a little and giving Krycek the opportunity to touch him. He felt something slip down the waistline of his pants and relaxed slightly.
Krycek finished off his performance with a grope and a kiss and pulled him up to face Spender and Hudson, who both looked amused, and to Mulder's disgust, in Hudson's case, turned on.

"Still some way to go then, Alex?" Spender said dryly.

"Always easier the second time round," Alex remarked easily.

"Fuck you," Mulder said automatically, catching the eye of one of the more junior soldiers and noting a brief flicker of sympathy cross the man's face before he averted his eyes.

'Fun,' Lisa said sounding rather wistful. 'Playing, I want to play.'

'We will,' Fox promised.

A movement at the door caught Mulder's attention. He recognised the face of the man from the brief glimpse he had caught of the sleeper in his initial search. He watched the door as it closed silently behind him and considered. The door was automatic and virtually silent, with luck he could get out of the room unheard and unobserved.

"We need the breathing equipment," Spender ordered. The tall, skinny man nodded and headed for the back of the lab, glancing curiously at Fox and Mulder as he did so. They watched him as he opened a cupboard and returned bearing a mask with a very small oxygen bottle integrated into the design.

"Try it on," Spender ordered Fox.

Krycek intercepted the assistant and moved over to Fox, unlocking his cuffs and sticking them in his back pocket. He handed the mask to Fox, who ostentatiously rubbed at his wrists before fiddling with the straps and placing the mask carefully over his head and ensuring that his nose was covered. Krycek lifted his head, and checked the fit before turning the value on the oxygen cylinder and adjusting the flow. Fox took a couple of deep breaths before turning the valve off and removing the mask.

"It's fine," he said briefly. 'I'll get ready." He looked at the cylinders carefully. "How do I get in?"

"Access is from the top," the assistant said pointing to the large seal. "It's operated automatically so I'll have it ready for you."

"Yeah, but how do I get up there?" Fox muttered. "It's well over seven foot off the ground."

The assistant pointed to a ladder, and Krycek fetched it, while Fox disrobed until he stood shivering a little in his briefs. He mounted the ladder, waiting until the top slowly opened, and carefully placed the mask over his face. He slowly inched his way into the water, and pulled himself down to face Lisa.

Lisa had been pressed up against the side of his container watching the preparations with fascination. Mulder let his eyes wander over the clone noting the alterations made to Lisa. His hair was long and streamed out behind him, occasionally covering the gills along his neck. His face was almost identical to his own, although the nose was smaller and the ears flatter to his skull. Mulder had already noticed that his teeth were sharp, presumably made for tearing food and crushing shells. His chest was smooth and slightly larger in proportion. His skin was actually tiny scales, and would be less flexible, and far more resilient than human skin. His groin was covered in a scaled plate, again for protection, although Mulder wondered briefly how he would get erect, assuming he had a penis.

Lisa must have caught some of his musings because he grinned, displaying the sharp teeth and assured Mulder that he had both a penis and testicles, and would be happy to display them for him. Mulder ignored him, continuing his appraisal, and noting the larger, woman like pelvis and the webbed feet and hands.

'You approve?'

Mulder reddened. 'Yes, Lisa. You seem well designed for your environment.' He continued to gaze at the clone. 'Do you hear?'

Lisa nodded. 'Hear noises, vibrations when man knocked on cylinder.'

'How did you learn to 'speak'?'

Lisa shrugged. 'Just knew, heard people in lab and learnt from them. Knew things before.'

Mulder nodded. 'Did your companions speak?'

Lisa shook his head. 'Wouldn't learn,' he said sadly. 'Gave up, slept.' He stopped, turning to watch Fox as he dropped into the water, shivering with delight as he was finally able to pull Fox into his arms. He stroked his hand down Fox's skin. 'So soft,' he murmured continuing to broadcast his thoughts to Mulder. 'Beautiful.'

Fox remained passive for a while until they both stood facing each other. He reached forward to touch Lisa's hair and Lisa copied him. Slowly, they moved over each other's face, Lisa clicking his disapproval at the mask that covered most of Fox's face. Mulder watched mesmerised by the mutual exploration until a sharp command from Fox reminded him. Every eye was on the tank and the two men in it. He moved silently towards the open door, regretting the cuffs, but knowing that if he were caught with them off or even opened, Krycek's complicity in his escape would be obvious.

The slight snicker of the door made him hesitate, but all eyes were on the two men in the cylinder. 'I love you,' he sent both to Lisa and Fox and left the lab.

The journey to the hallway and the Ranger Station was fraught with panic. He kept looking over his shoulder but managed to get out of the hut and into the forest without any trouble. I have no idea what to do next, he thought, stopping to get his bearings. I was running away from here and for some reason away from the parking lot, so I need to go further into the forest. He took a deep breath and began walking. Five minutes later Fox contacted him.

'They've discovered your escape. Alex is acting mad as hell and blaming Spender, so I think he's safe from suspicion. Run, get away from here, Mulder. Please don't let them find you.'

Mulder took one look behind him and began running; keeping his head down, his need to escape paramount. As he stumbled over the branches he began to wonder whether he really had a chance in hell of finding the supposed gateway. A large root tripped him and as he fell he glimpsed a shimmering light by an old gnarled oak and his memory tripped in from the first time. Without hesitation he threw himself into the centre of the light and blacked out.

***

He woke to an aching head, sore feet and an itchy nose, but when he tried to scratch he was shocked to find he couldn't move his hands. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes slowly, squinting a little in the artificial light. He slowly took in the details; he was lying bound hand and foot to a bed. Worse, he was naked under the single sheet. He raised his head from the pillow and looked around the room. It looked like the ubiquitous motel room. TV on a shelf, two queen sized beds, a door to what he assumed was the bathroom and the steady hum of the air conditioning.

Mulder sighed, at least he was back in his universe, but why was he tied up and more importantly who had done this to him? Movement outside the door alerted him and the sound of a key had him flopping back on the bed and closing his eyes. He watched thorough half closed eyes as the person entered, horrified, but unsurprised, when the familiar figure of Krycek advanced towards him.

"I know you're awake, Mulder," the husky voice purred.

Mulder clamped his mouth shut and continued to sham sleep, until the rustle of the sheet and a draft of cold air alerted him to the fact that Krycek was by his side. Hands stroked down his torso.

"What I want to know is who gave you these?"

A finger poked one of his bites and he gave a small gasp of pain, but otherwise remained silent.

"I have a feeling another man did these," Krycek's voice continued. "I've enjoyed myself looking all over your delectable body, and I'm surprised at where you have been marked." A finger trailed down his chest and down towards his groin. Mulder sucked in his stomach and tried not to react.

"You can tell me voluntarily, or I have a brand new truth drug the Consortium are testing. The choice is yours, but I know what I'd do, Mulder."

Mulder thought frantically, was Krycek bluffing? He didn't want any experimental substance in his veins. He opened his eyes and shuddered as he saw the syringe and ampoule of liquid in Krycek's hands.

Krycek grinned. "So what's it to be, Fox?"

"Don't call me that," he muttered, hating the knowing smile the familiar demand brought. "No drugs, Krycek, but you won't believe what I tell you."

Krycek set the syringe and ampoule down and returned to his fondling, pulling the sheet away so that Mulder lay totally exposed to his view. Bastard, Mulder thought angrily, his cheeks staining with red as Krycek licked his lips and stroked both hands down his body.

"Please begin, "Krycek purred, his fingers returning to Mulder's chest where he almost absently mindely started playing with a nipple. "I'm most intrigued by this and the accompanying tag," he flicked the earring, "but very disappointed not to find any other, more erotic piercings."

Mulder swallowed as Krycek leant forward and licked up the side of his face and in his ear.

"I also want to know why you were barefoot, not that I don't like the idea, and in cuffs and even more exciting, a collar." He licked back down his face. "I like the collar, Mulder, very erotic. I rather like the thought of you bare-chested, in tight leather pants, collared and cuffed and kneeling at my feet, right where you belong."

Mulder swallowed again, trying hard not to rise to Krycek's words, but horrified to feel his own arousal. Krycek's presence, his nakedness and the lingering memory of the other Alex, were all culminating to overpower his common sense. "In your dreams, Krycek," he said, feeling a sudden sense of déjà vu.

"They are, Mulder," Krycek whispered, kissing his way down Mulder's chest. "Very sexy dreams too, the ultimate wet dream look."

Mulder clenched his fists and tried to calm himself. "I can't think when you're doing that," he said as reasonably as possible.

Krycek laughed. "Then you'll have to try harder. Come on, I want to get down to some serious fucking very soon so let's get the bed time story out of the way."

Mulder inhaled sharply. "Get your hands of me," he demanded rather shrilly. "Leave me alone, Krycek or I'll kill you."

Krycek laughed. "I don't think so, Mulder. You owe me, and I'm keen to take payment. I've rescued you from what could be potentially a very dangerous situation." He scraped his finger down Mulder's leg and back up to his groin. "Start talking, and we'll see just how much you can distract me."

Mulder gasped as his penis was stroked, groaning in pain and pleasure as the finger scraped lightly up his shaft. "I went to an alternate universe," he panted.

Krycek stopped and looked at him carefully for a time. "Do continue," he finally said, leaning forward and kissing along the path of his finger.

"Aliens had conquered the earth and the Consortium were in power," Mulder panted. "Oh god, please stop."

Krycek giggled as he mouthed Mulder's balls and made such a meal of them Mulder writhed in ecstasy.

"Please, please, please," he panted, unsure as to what he was asking.

Krycek gave his balls a finally lick, kissed them and sat back. "Continue," he ordered pleasantly.

Mulder gave a half sob. "They captured me in an underground lab and took me prisoner," he groaned, wanting Krycek to touch him. He watched him as he took a tube from his pocket, unscrewed the cap squeezed lube on is fingers and slid his hand down to explore Mulder's ass. "The earring's a tracking device," he gasped, arching his back as Krycek pushed a finger into his hole. "Godfathers, " he gasped again as Krycek slowly began to finger him. "Please, noooo."

Krycek licked his lips. "You beg so prettily, Mulder, but I don't think you really want me to stop do you?"

Mulder was unable to answer, as Krycek added another finger and bent forward to suck his penis. He writhed between the two sensations; unable to think coherently. His groan of disappointment as Krycek stopped his suction made Krycek laugh. "Gorgeous slut," he said affectionately. "I always knew you had it in you to be like this, Mulder. I just want to know who got you so hot for me."

Mulder thrust down on the impaling fingers, and gave up any attempt to pretend indifference. "My double and your double," he groaned. Krycek stilled. Mulder pushed down. "Don't stop," he begged.

"My double fucked you?" Krycek said dangerously.

Mulder was too far-gone to lie. "No, my double fucked me, Alex sucked me off," he groaned, sighing with relief when the fingers began to move again. "He wanted to fuck me, but I didn't think I was ready. Fox was insistent though."

Krycek laughed, adding another finger and brushing at the tip of Mulder's penis. "He sucked you like this?" he asked and engulfed Mulder in his mouth. Mulder shook and groaned as Krycek expertly sucked him to orgasm. He sank into the bed, certain the top of his head had blown off.

"Was is as good as that?"

Mulder shook his head, resigned to the fact that Krycek was going to have his way with him and he, Mulder, was going to love every damn minute of it. How he was going to live with himself afterwards was something he really didn't want to consider. He watched Krycek stand from the bed, strip in a matter of seconds and release his feet. He didn't have either the energy or the inclination to kick him, and felt nothing but a dull thrum of excitement as Krycek positioned himself between his legs, lifting his floppy limbs to rest over his broad shoulders.

"And Fox fucked you." Krycek murmured. "This is an interesting story, Mulder." He greased himself up, leant forward to kiss Mulder and slowly began pushing himself in.

Mulder was too relaxed and too far-gone to do anything more than groan, his only feeling when Krycek had embedded himself up to his balls, relief that he had felt little to no pain. "Prepare to die, Mulder," Krycek murmured and began to slowly rock forward, watching Mulder's face intently. Mulder turned away, but Krycek stopped, and brought his head back to face him. "Look at me," he demanded, and Mulder did so. Krycek kept his eyes on Mulder, as he slowly increased the pace, laughing triumphantly as Mulder automatically responded and began thrusting back in unison. Mulder whimpered and groaned as Krycek pounded into him, listening to the husky voice tell him how gorgeous and sexy he was with a sense of disbelief. Finally, Krycek stiffened, moaned, "Mulder," and came. He collapsed on Mulder kissing him frantically. Mulder kissed back until they drew apart, gasping for oxygen.

Krycek rolled off him, walked to the bathroom and retuned with a washcloth. He wiped Mulder down, dropped the cloth on the floor, climbed into bed and wrapped his arms round Mulder's chest spooning up against him. "Tell me everything, Mulder," he whispered, and Mulder did so.

Krycek was silent for a long time afterwards, and Mulder had almost fallen asleep when he spoke. "No one's going to believe you,"

Mulder sighed. "I know,"

"You're mine now," Krycek continued.

"What the fuck…" Mulder began, halted by Krycek's hand over his mouth.

"I did some thinking while I was waiting for you to wake up, Mulder. I've covered your tracks here. According to any records anyone wants to find, you hired a car in Portland and spent the time in a cabin around Mount Hood, with your male lover." He grinned. "We went skiing on Mount Hood, toured the Dalles and generally had a fairly indiscreet time of it." He shook his head at Mulder's angry denial. "I'll have all the evidence I need, Mulder. I took photos of you when I brought you in and I'll have no problem using them to back up my story. Should be good enough to get you dismissed from the FBI, and should I need to I'll be able to convince my bosses that I did this for blackmail."

Mulder closed his eyes and felt despair. Krycek didn't bluster, he lied, but if he threatened something Mulder had learnt to his cost that he had the power to carry out his threats. He knew Scully would never believe the lies, and he might well convince Skinner, but his enemies in the FBI would use any ammunition they could find, and by running off without authorisation or without telling anyone, he'd helped Krycek bait the trap. Mulder swallowed. "What do you want?"

Krycek laughed. "I've told you, you in my bed or in me in your bed."

Mulder shook his head.

Krycek grinned. "I'd say all the evidence points to the fact that we were made for each other, Fox, wouldn't you?"

Mulder sighed. "Don't do this to me, Krycek."

"Alex, I want to hear you call me Alex."

Mulder grimaced. "Don't do this to me, Krycek," he repeated. "Fox and Alex seemed to have something good going. You and I, we have hate and desire, and a background of betrayal and pain."

Krycek laughed. "I don't hate you, Mulder, and I don't think you hate me. I most certainly desire you and want you, and I guess from your performance that you want me." He kissed Mulder's brow. "Think of it as a pact with the devil. By making you mine, I promise to protect you. I'm not going to stop your crusade, and I may well give you a little bit of information from time to time. I'm not asking you to betray anyone; all I'm asking for is you. Your body and your mind."

Mulder looked away. "It will be my soul you want next, Krycek," he said bitterly.

Krycek laughed. "Mine, body, mind and soul. Yes, I like it, how very apt. I want everything you can give me, your beautiful body, your tortured intellectual mind, your bruised psyche, and your determination and drive. You're one beautiful, fascinating package, Fox Mulder, and I've wanted to dive into you and explore you forever."

"I could get that for free on any psychiatrist couch," Mulder mumbled.

"But I doubt the sex would be anywhere near as good," Krycek countered huskily, kissing Mulder's ear lobe.

Mulder shivered. "My arms hurt, Krycek," he mumbled.

Krycek reached above him and fiddled with something before slowly easing Mulder's still cuffed hands down. Mulder grimaced at the pain, reluctantly grateful when Krycek began to massage some life back into them.

"It's a good look for you, Mulder," Krycek whispered. "I like a bit of bondage in a relationship, so you better get used to it."

"Damn you, Krycek," Mulder said violently. "We're not having a relationship. You killed my father, kidnapped Scully…," he was stopped by Krycek's hand over his mouth.

"I think we've been through all of this before," Krycek said sweetly. "What I did I did for very good reasons, and you would be dead now if I hadn't." He uncovered Mulder's mouth and shook his head. "Listening to you is occasionally like listening to a stuck record, Mulder."

Mulder glared at him.

"We're lovers now, Mulder, live with it," Krycek continued. "For all your words we both know I only have to touch you in a certain way and you're mine."

Mulder swallowed and looked away. "They said they weren't drugging us or making us more sexually responsive," he muttered, "but I don't buy it."

Krycek looked amused. "That's what I like about you, Mulder. Your adventures are never mundane and ordinary." He pulled Mulder into his arms again. "We've got a busy day tomorrow, I've got a number of things I want to do to you." He slid his arm down Mulder's body and snickered at Mulder's involuntary shiver. "We need to get back to Portland and get you some more clothes and shoes and book a ticket back to DC." He laughed, nuzzling into Mulder's neck. "You can think just what story you can give to Skinner for your absence during the flight, and I suggest that you don't use the one you've just given me."

"It was the truth," Mulder snapped.

"I don't doubt you," Krycek murmured. "Remember I saw the state you were in and more importantly, the other Krycek wrote something to me on the outside of an envelope containing you ID card and car keys."

Mulder looked up incredulously. "He did what? How the hell could he know you'd find me?"

Krycek smiled. "Lucky guess. Now sleep, you need the rest." He yawned. "That reminds me, I've ordered a water bed to replace that wreck you call a bed, and I thought mirrors on the ceiling would add a nice touch." He yawned again, wrapped Mulder tightly in his arms and fell asleep.

Mulder groaned in disbelief. Maybe he'd fallen into another alternate universe, or been given hallucinogenic drugs. What was certain was that Alex Krycek, liar, thief, murder and Consortium bad boy had kidnapped him and had his wicked way with him. He could try and maintain he'd been raped, but the truth was that he had wanted this Krycek as badly as Krycek appeared to want him, so he'd be lying to himself. He could claim coercion, and possibly even believe it himself, but it didn't change the facts. He'd let Krycek fuck him and loved every damn second of it. And now Krycek was refurnishing his bedroom! He shook his head silently. Maybe when his head hurt less and his body stopped tingling with the after shock of lovemaking, he might be able to think straight. He had a horrible feeling that when he did, he wasn't going to very comfortable with himself. He could see that things were never going to be quite the same again, and that somehow Alex Krycek had got the advantage of him and was going to push it for all he was worth. Fox had been right, his solitary pleasures seemed pale in comparison to the real thing, but at least they hadn't left him feeling so utterly disturbed.

He closed his eyes wearily and yawned. He hadn't the strength to fight anything. For now he'd forget everything but the warm flesh of the man wrapped round him. He relaxed into the arms of his lover/enemy, and slept.