The Night Visitor

***

by A. Leigh-Anne Childe

NC-17. Skinner/Krycek slash. These fellows are the ostensibly the propertyof Chris Carter, a cruel heartless god who doesn't really deserve them.Archive as you like, without alteration. Spoilers for Terma. One small turnof phrase borrowed from Sheare Bliss, whom I hope won't mind. This is myholiday piece (of ass), such as it is. <beam> Enjoy. Goodwill towardmanly men and the rest of you lovely lot, too. Feedback welcome: anna@swva.net

*****

It was dark and depthlessly warm; he couldn't move, and didn't want to.For a moment the man's mind blended the current sensations surrounding himwith the sense of hanging high above a cold dark forest, among whose treeshung the thick webbing of swarming insects, and then he was on the forestfloor, having fallen hard to land on his arm. In the dream he was a phantom,but real pain lanced through him. He still could not move, but remainedbound by paralysis, which seemed to hold him in invisible tiny threads,which stretched and tightened. . .tightened. . .

 

He woke and discovered himself bundled utterly in the quilted cocoonof bedcovers. It was a stunning and strange awakening. Sunlight lay acrosshim in buttery squares, and the thin oatmeal- colored weave of the curtainsmade liquescent pattnerns across his body that shifted with the hot airwafting upward from the room's heating vent. It was so warm. He blinked,smiled sleepily to himself, though it was a faltering smile, rather cautious.Despite the previous night, he felt sure that at any moment he would betorn from his resting place, kicked out like a cat into the winter snowthat had fallen in the night to drift and heap the suburban landscape outsidethe window. He could see, through a crack in the curtains, a huge droopingtree of snow. Tall tree--he was on the second floor, and yet its tangledbranch-work filled his line of sight.

Breakfasty sounds and smells were drifting up from below: bacon and butter,clinks and mutters--or, wait--perhaps that was a radio. He sat up awkwardly,swaddled in plaid flannel and the dark blue wealth of the bed's comforter,then slithered out of its wrap to stand upright on the carpeted floor. Hehad been uncannily quiet, but even so from the floor below he heard an answeringpause. When the sound of movement resumed, he went to the bathroom, pissed,and then looked at himself in the mirror. His dark hair stuck up freakishlyaround his head and he scowled while fingering it back into a show of submission.This small act of grooming performed, he was left with the decision of whetheror not to dress. But his clothes were nowhere to be seen, and borrowingfrom his host's closet without asking might earn him the kind of curt reprimandthat would strain their fragile truce.

He went downstairs naked, wondering if his favorite jeans had been washedor burned, and strolled into the kitchen with only a moment's selfconsciousness,which had more to do with a sense of being a lopsided Venus de Milo thanany worry about his bare genitals. But it was late to be worrying aboutthat now. The man at the stove looked up, looked him over, and then lookedexpressionlessly back to his frying pan, in which he was stirring scrambledeggs.

Alex Krycek smiled dryly. Skinner's aplomb was enviable; the man couldtake a stairwell gangbang like a pro--how much would a naked punk in hiskitchen faze him? Answer: not damn much.

"You didn't ask if I liked scrambled," he said, moving to leanover the stove, which was set into a countertop kitchen-island. He wonderedidly if Skinner had installed it to reduce his likelihood of having hisback to a door when cooking. That was how Alex's mind worked--tactically.The look Skinner gave him was not easily readable. His opaque, somehow flatly-seteyes traced their gaze over Alex again.

"You seem to have avoided infection," he said.

Alex absently touched the bandaged bullet graze on his cruelly abruptedleft shoulder. *Wish they'd hit a bit lower,* he had remarked dryly to Skinnerlast night. What else good an artificial arm if not to take the odd, straygunshot wound or two.

"I have an excellent constitution."

"Fortunate for you--since you seem to have no respect for anyoneelse's."

It was an offhand dig, and Alex smirked. "Politics over breakfast,Walter? How gauche."

"Get dressed," Skinner said shortly.

At the order, which came without elaboration, Alex looked around. Hedisliked being forced to ask questions, so chose instead the route of first-handinvestigation, which led him to the small laundry room off the kitchen,where his clothes lay strewn, clean and hot, across the top of the dryer.He slid into his jeans, but merely held on to his sweater. A small windowlooked out over the yard and he pushed the curtain aside to stare out acrossthe snow; a chill came off the window and his nipples tightened in response,and then a sudden spill of gooseflesh rushed across his exposed skin. Outsidethe sun glared over the fresh snow, riding its elaborate cursive up to buriedfence-posts and drift-clad tree trunks. In the next yard children were buildinga snowman.

Alex returned to the kitchen. "You want me to leave in daylight?"he said in a casual voice, as he moved toward Skinner. The other man wasladling food onto two plates; when Alex rounded the edge of the counter,he moved--just slightly, but in a way that suggested a wariness of proximity.Alex halted, then moved closer. Their eyes flickered with glances that dartedback and forth around each other's faces. Skinner put the back pan downon a burner with a tiny bang that shot a thrill along Alex's always wirednerves.

"Did I say I wanted you to leave?" Skinner said coldly, jerkinghis chin a little in a characteristically alpha-male way that made Alexwant to smile, but now was not the time to tempt the other man's readinessto cuff him.

"My mistake," Alex said easily, tossing his sweater off toone side and sliding a footstep closer.

"What do you think you're doing?" Skinner asked with dispassionateinterest.

"Nothing." Alex ducked his head and fastened his lips at thepulse-point of Skinner's throat. The other man, unmoving, sighed and saidnothing, but the pulse under Alex's lips jerked hard. Alex, nuzzling, couldfeel his hair brushing underneath the other man's unshaven chin. Intimacy?Not exactly. But he took what he could get, when those rare chances came.

"I don't like cold eggs," Skinner said, pushing him away finallyafter a long minute, looking not at all distracted by Alex's maneuvers.

They ate in silence, Alex not wishing to annoy Skinner and thus choosingthe safest course, Skinner wordless by nature. It was not a brooding breakfast,though, just a quiet one, and after the details of clearing and cleaning,it was not too suprising when Alex felt hard hands grab him and twist himaround for kissing. They both tasted of strong coffee; their mouths werestill hot from it. It grew more difficult to tell from which source Alex'stongue burned--scorching drink or kiss. He felt warm, replete with sleepand food, sated but ready to give pleasure if it was demanded. It was demanded.No problem. He remained grateful for Skinner's reprieve, temporary thoughit might be. Last night, he'd only meant to break in, to take what he couldfind in the way of cash, portables, and first aid, and leave before hisex-boss and long-ago lover returned. A stupid move, perhaps, but it hadbeen stupider getting caught, enough so that he wondered if he'd wantedto--and Alex Krycek was not a man normally given to such incisive self-analysis.

Danger--wasn't that was nine-tenths the kick? His body said yes. WalterSkinner wasn't his usual type. Alex preferred a prettier and more sexuallyambiguous sort of animal. A Fox, actually. But muscle and machismo had itsoccasional brute appeal, even when combined with a testy bureaucratic tempermentand a soul of chipped ice. 'Lovers' was a strong, sweet word for what theyhad actually been, for their numbered handful of secret ruttings, accidental,banal, impersonal. But what they'd had had been enough to forge a bond--athin, strained one, to be sure, but for now it was holding.

 

"You're not getting enough, Walter," Alex murmured againstthe other man's mouth. Skinner's trouser-clad cock was jutting so stifflyagainst Alex's belly he might have been the original inspiration for thepistol-in-the-pocket joke.

Skinner's mouth removed itself and his thumb dug cruelly into the softflesh beneath Alex's chin. "Don't call me Walter."

Alex half-laughed. "Christ, you sound just like--"

"Don't say it."

His order was equivocal, but his meaning clear. Surprised into annoyance,Alex said, "Why the hell not?"

With a voice bruising in its coolness, Skinner replied, "If I thinkabout what I'm doing, you'll regret it."

"You mean if I invoke Mulder's name--Mulder, Mulder--you'll havea crisis of conscience--hey--" Alex jerked out a gasp as Skinner slammedhim into the counter and slapped him hard. He was already regretting hisreckless, unthinking taunts, but not sure how to appease the other man.Besides the obvious.

Danger. Nine-tenths the charge.

"Fuck--cut it out," he said as Skinner's hand moved to impactagain, this time in a backslap. He could not quite pull his face from theblow's path. Rough knuckles seemed to drag directly across his cheekboneas if cutting the intervening flesh free, then the right side of his faceexploded in pain. Familiar pain, but still distressing. He tasted blood.

"Go for it, killer," Alex rasped out when Skinner's hand roseagain.

Skinner stopped. His face was darkly lit, taut but writhing with suppressedanger. Alex could read the struggle taking place within. Would the lustbe subsumed into the violence, or the violence into lust? Alex, hoping tohelp the other man make his decision, deliberately stretched his right armout along the counter and presented his body as an offering. A punch inthe gut might have been forthcoming; it was a chance he took. But Skinnergrabbed him and shoved him into movement, pushing him out of the kitchen,then up the stairs. There were a few times when Alex was tempted to kickout and send the other man bouncing down the carpeted steps, but he heldthe dark fire of his soul in check.

Last night had been quick, rough--need meeting need--Skinner astridehim on the enveloping softness of the bed, Alex falling nearly asleep evenas he was impaled and ridden thoroughly into an orgasm that had drainedaway his last reserves of energy and sent him sinking at last into blissfuldarkness. Now, Alex suspected Skinner would exact a fuller measure of paymentfor debts incurred.

"Why didn't you get a Christmas tree," he asked idly, glancingdown off the landing as they moved toward Skinner's room.

"Cut the small talk," Skinner said tonelessly, close on Alex'sheels.

"Christ, you're a hard ass--hey, okay--don't *push* me." Theinjunction was literal--Skinner's large hand had just impacted in the smallof his back--but the words, bitten off with terse anger, also carried anotherlevel of warning.

In the bedroom they squared off. "You came to me," Skinnersaid coolly. "Don't get uppity."

Alex stared at the other man a moment, his jaw twitching askew and lipsparting slightly as mild laughter caught in his throat. "Yeah, okay."

It had been a concession, but Skinner's eyes narrowed at something, thegrudge perhaps, in Alex's tone of voice. "You're wanted on assaultcharges, and for questioning in relation to possible charges of conspiracyand kidnapping, not to mention a host of other likely infractions of thefederal code and local laws. And if I don't include murder on your rosterof harm, it's only for lack of evidence, not plausibility. You want me topick up that phone?" A small movement of Skinner's head indicated themachine on the bedside table.

"What do you think?" Alex said coldly.

"Hard on a one-armed man in prison, I'd think. Hard to keep yourbalance when the boys on the cell-block have you bent over a toilet andare taking turns using you for one."

"What a prize fucker you are." Alex shook his head, still moreamused--even admiring--than perturbed. His eyes glinted and gleamed. "DoesMulder have any idea what species of shark lurks under that button-downfacade of yours?"

"Don't push me," Skinner said in a toneless replay of Alex'searlier words.

"You've got a hard-on for him, always have." Alex's chin nudgedupward in a tiny jerk of defiant emphasis. "Saint Mulder the Credulous.You can admit it to *me*, sir." The 'sir' was mocking, the observationa jibe whose point was dipped in acid. But Skinner wasn't playing.

Instead he said unexpectedly, "That extra punch of yours-- thattime you and your associates jumped me. I've been waiting a while to thankyou for that."

"Well, you know. . .I was missing you." Alex's lips thinnedand his eyes flattened. His voice pushed so hard to make a lie of the statementthat the words were inverted back into what might have been nearly truth.

Walter Skinner stared at the cheeky dark-souled phantom who stood beforehim. Clear-eyed, he had no illusions about Alex Krycek, didn't shroud himin mists of inappropriate glamour. He had no glamour, no authority, no swayon Skinner, and he was ethically irremediable. And yet he was far more thana machine made flesh, an amoral automaton set into action by a higher power.What creed or need motivated Krycek, Skinner didn't know, but despite hisapparent rootlessness and violent bent, he was no sociopath. Nor was hea fool; Skinner would bet on it. Had.

After Krycek's disappearance, implicating him in evens that were verylikely government-sponsored illegalities, Skinner had adjusted into a hardperiod of anticipation. He had waited for the letter, the envelope and inevitablevideocassette--had waited, gut coiling, for the remark that would one daybe dropped oh so casually by the man who had first been introduced to Skinnerwith the disingenuous appellation "Mr Morley". And it never came.Instead, much later--after Krycek's brief but brutal reappearance in hislife--he had received during a solitary restaurant lunch one day a handwrittennote, delivered by his waiter. Brief, neat, it had read: "I pulledthat punch. You've been expecting to hear from me. This is it. I never recordedanything. I never told. We cheated the bastards of that. Thought you'd liketo know."

The relief, the ambivalence, still twined in Skinner's gut with lessequivocal and disturbing feelings--simple anger, among others. But he himselfhad been pushed down a path that was perhaps not very different from theone Krycek traveled now. He could have been--well, if not another Krycek,then an equally damaged and tainted product. Public disgrace, perhaps asuicide that no amount of planning could render dignified--these could havebeen his reward for recklessness, for playing fast and loose in a muddyfield he'd had no business entering.

Now here was Krycek, standing in front of him, bearing the ugly evidenceof reaped justice, however informal and extreme. Irregular in probity, hewas now irregular in the flesh, and looked like the botched remnant of amethodical dissection, the kind of thorough dismantling and disappearingthat puppet-masters liked to inflict when their toys had outlived usefulness.He knew the real reason for Krycek's crudely broken body, but it still jarredSkinner's resolve not to re-entrench himself in matters sinister. Krycekwas firmly on the left side of the fence, but even so Skinner had harboredhim and fed him eggs and buried his cock up that fine ass, unable to resistexacting his own measure of private recompense.

And he wanted more. Needed more. One pounding of flesh was proving. ..not enough.

*He's right*, Skinner thought abruptly. *I need to get laid more often.*

"So--what? We on for it? You want me on my knees?" Kryeck shruggeda bit with impatience. "On my *hand* and knees," he added withdark sarcasm, rather as an afterthought.

"We can try that," Skinner said. He crossed his arms and drewoff his navy-blue tee shirt with one fluid move, then tossed it on the dresser.He stripped off jeans as well, then considered Krycek. It had been disturbingto watch him work into his sweater in the kitchen--a loose woolen item designedlike a jacket, zippered for convenience, it suggested a uniform that necessityhad made too familiar, and even so Skinner had had to resist the instinctiveurge to help Krycek dress.

Undressing him, however, would be expedient. He moved toward Kryeck,who flinched back a hair then stilled watchfully. But when Skinner's handlifted to the sweater's zipper, Krycek said in an arctic voice, "Ican do that."

"Beside the point. Shut up." Skinner unzipped him, shoved thegarment off excruciatingly asymmetrical shoulders--one ongoing, one abridged--andstared at Krycek's body in the light of day. A few scars, but no scales,no bolts or hinges on the other man's emphatically human flesh. The ordinarinessof torso warred with the severed arm, the absence that remained like thestubborn presence of what should have been.

"You're frowning," Krycek said quietly, almost breathing thewords somewhere in the vicinity of Skinner's jaw. Though jaded, his voicealways seemed on the verge of expressing interest; this tension of oppositesalways unresolved.

"Mm," Skinner grunted abstractedly. He handled the nape ofKrycek's neck, ran his thumb up a line of tendon behind one ear. Dark hair,too soft for such a hard man, filled Skinner's hand as he lifted it to thecurve of skull in which this creature resided, his life's fire coiled likea nest of restless snakes within. What were his thoughts like? Like generationsof vipers, short-lived but breeding and replicating themselves in the wayof cells and habits? Knotted, unknowable, a serpentine entwinement of drivesand dreams. It was perhaps too susceptible of him to wonder, too close tocaring- -Skinner knew this, and yet curiosity itched at him. It was as ifhe possessed a psychic nose that sniffed the scent of disappointed need,of the bitter ash left behind after a thorough betrayal. Whatever the powersthat be had done to their tool, Alex Krycek, Skinner suspected it couldhave been avoided, if only. And this was the rotten heart of the truth.

He caught Krycek's--Alex's--gaze and their eyes locked in grave mutualcontemplation, the kind of look men give each other who are unsure how farto trust. But trust wasn't an issue here. There couldn't possibly be anytrust left between them. Too much had happened. But the younger man's facewas close and fascinating, dark and sharp and strangely formed, both fiendishand angelic, if by angels one imagined something fallen and conflicted,impure and fierce. One of the sword-wielding angels, with a score to settleand an excess of zeal. Not unlike Mulder, if one followed through on thelikeness, and perhaps that had been part of the appeal.

Skinner kissed his fugitive, and immediately half regretted the impulseand its fulfillment. His earlier kisses had been less deliberate, more furious.Just another kind of feeding. This was too much, too much intimacy. Andyet if he gave into his opposing desires he would do no better, would likelydo more harm. Brutality was easy, but the pleasure was too fast and facile,and the aftermath would yield no satisfaction.

 

Krycek's mouth tasted of mingled, not unpleasant flavors, and offeredto Skinner the uniqueness of itself, of a distinctive shape and method recollectedby this kiss. He kissed as if he wanted to be fucking with his tongue. Impersonalin so much else, he was rawly present in his kisses, which was why Skinnerhad rarely allowed the indulgence during their handful of hotel-room liasons.

A limber-fingered hand came up behind Skinner's own neck, to rest onthe curve of bone and muscle where his remaining hair lay close to the skinin a short, rough pelt. Skinner sighed into Krycek's mouth. Regret. Darkregrets.

"It's been a while for you too, hasn't it," he said without forethought, intuitive enough to decode the text of Krycek's tensed body,the meaning of its fresh, sharp arousal.

"A while," Krycek said in his naturally husked, brooding tenor,that incongruous bedroom voice which had been of the hooks to catch Skinner'soriginal interest. "I'm not the lay I used to be," he said, self-mockingly.Voice still low, dark and stretched as leather or velvet; metaphors moresuitable to the wet soft fabric of his tongue, which could be like the lappingof suede across Skinner's body.

Skinner's flesh prickled with renascent interest. "You'll do,"he said briefly. In answer, Krycek just breathed out a tiny ironic snort,while Skinner freed the mental tethers on his his hands and let them roamacross the younger man's body. Why not do as he pleased; there was no onewatching, no reckoning. He had long ago accepted the indifference of anabstract god, and Justice wore a blindfold, didn't she. Good thing; if not,she might see more than she bargained for.

He touched the sharp blades of collarbones, traced the line of hair bisectingthe chest, thumbed nipples as small and perfect as new pennies. Krycek hadthe lean and hungry look of a skulking alley cat, but it suited him. Nowhe was descending into that perpetual erotic breathlessness that Skinnerremembered so well. From this point on, if true to form, he would play asymphony of small, grudging gasps, until orgasm approached, when he wouldcurse and then scream, fighting surrender every step of the way. Last nighthe'd been too tired to vocalize. A pity, but today should make up for that.

"Get on the bed," Skinner said quietly, pulling away and movingoff to ensure the readiness of accessories. The lube was old, the stockof condoms generic, but both were usable. When he looked up from his night-table,Krycek had shucked back out of his jeans and climbed onto the rumpled bed.It was impossible not to reassess him with every gaze: the shock of seeinghis mutilated body had a surprising resiliency, still stunned and distractedSkinner, catching him off guard each time he reviewed the absence from adifferent angle.

Krycek noticed Skinner's examination. "You ever hear some guys gettingturned on by amputees? Think they have clubs for that? Big and beautiful,they got--how about, I dunno, 'Chopped and Charming'? How's that sound."

"Ugly."

"Well, no fucking kidding."

"Are you fishing for compliments?" Skinner asked, incredulitystriking him.

Krycek, who had turned to stare out the window, good arm wrapped aroundhis folded knees, looked up at him askance. Derision colored his words."Oh please. Give me a break."

Had there actually been a tiny crack in that brittle voice? Skinner didn'ttrust his own judgment; Krycek was a hell of an actor--and he was alwaysworking some angle.

"I've seen worse," Skinner said. The words were blunt, laconic,but Krycek nodded once in acknowledgment.

"Part of the trade, or so I've been told." Krycek picked lightlyat a scab\ on his knee, face wiped clean of expression. "They justdon't tell you all that you'll have to trade. . .for the trade."

"I can't feel sorry for you."

"Who asked you to." Still erased of facial expression, Krycekstretched back out on the bed. "Come fuck me. I could use a good fuck.Last night didn't count. I was out of it."

"You're in no position to make demands," Skinner said, buthe sat down on the bed. The words were empty, not even the ghosts of oldteasing. They had never teased each other during their times together, rarelyspoken, even. They had hooked up, fucked, and then gone their separate ways,a minimalist masculine ritual.

Krycek's head turned on the heap of pillows. He looked decadent, darklyimpish, a Beardsley catamite scrawled across the sheets. Skinner lay downnext to him and fingered the plane of Krycek's unshaven jaw. "I can'tkiss you any more like this," he said, half to himself. "Someonemight wonder about the rash."

"I'd love to see you explain *that* to Kimberly," Krycek snickered.

Her name on this outlaw's lips gave Skinner a jolt and he frowned. "I'mthinking seriously of gagging you. So you might want to shut up."

"I might, I might not. You ever contemplated the benefits of a one-handedman in handcuffs? Easy to turn." Krycek's smile was dangerous, feral.

"Oh, I'm contemplating that." Eschewing further talk, Skinnerbent and turned his attention to the younger man's outstretched body. Hecontemplated--through action--the benefits of fucking a man who expectedlittle or no consideration: every gift was a favor and a surprise. Krycekseemed intrigued, amused, that Skinner wanted to lick his nipples, tonguehis belly, embroider his flesh with the roses and bruises of pleasure. Amused,and then encouraging.

"Fuck, *yes*," he groaned, when Skinner sucked in the liftinglength of his cock. Alex cupped Skinner's face and felt the amazing evidenceof what was occuring--incredible, the feel of the other man's mouth stretchedaround his swelling flesh, lips welding to his flushed skin and leavingit damp but burning with aggressive suction. One hand only to grip and guidehis tormentor, but it was nearly enough. Lips slid up his shaft, and thenthe furnace of Skinner's mouth became a focused enclosure on his cockhead,which leaked and pearled with the juices rising within.

Alex's hips trembled, already straining to shove. Who could have guessedthat Walter Skinner would condescend to blow him? In their half dozen timestogether, he'd only lowered himself to the job--literally and figuratively--nomore than twice. After so much passed time and dirty water under the bridge,it was extraordinary that he'd accepted Alex's visit at all, let alone joinedhim for an old-times-sake buddy fuck.

*Thank you, Jesus*, thought Alex dizzily. It felt so damn good, richwater upwelling inside him after a shriveling, soul-schorching drought,when he had felt so bone-dry of feeling and humanity that only stubbornesshad stayed his gun hand from the final act of self-obliteration. So fuckingsweet to have a man go down on you, to *want* to.

"Ah, Christ--don't--yes, don't--"

"Don't stop?" Skinner asked goadingly, after removing his mouth.

"Oh, shit." Alex groaned. Skinner's hand moved deftly on hisshaft, fingering the thick vein along the underside, tapping his pulse andworking the taut, blushing skin around in small circles that traveled upand then down into his balls, where they became a concentrated storm ofslow, rotative pressure, stroking around and around, building an inexorableache.

"Who've you been practicing on?" he grated out, desperate needmaking his voice harsh and thick, though laughter jagged beneath the surface.

"Myself."

"Good work."

Skinner responded by sliding his hand lower; Alex could feel those strong,blunt fingers seeking the entrance to his body, and then felt their proddingmeasure slide home, into the ringed heat of him, where he was still slipperyand stretched from the previous night. He lifted his legs to accomodatethe readying. Hard fingers burrowed deeper, found his prostate--anothersurprise--and began rubbing a kindling fire there.

"All this foreplay--you'll spoil me," Alex said, his tone fallingsomewhere between sarcasm and breathless gratitude.

*Too late*, Skinner might have said, but something held his tongue evenfrom this most minor of jeers. "You could probably use some spoiling,"he said instead, much to his bewildered dismay. To cover for his lapse intoa tolerance too generous for his own comfort, he jabbed his fingers deepand simultaneously drew himself up between Krycek's legs.

Kneeling there, he withdrew his hand and reached for lube and condom.Krycek lay staring at him, his one arm raised now to loosely parenthesizehis head. Lips parted, eyes heavily lidded with lust, he was still capableof projecting an interiorized brooding. He might have been plotting, mightmerely have been composing a mental shopping list, but he looked like adevil meditating on his next work of mischief.

After rolling on the condom, Skinner rubbed a thick smear of lube insidethe younger man's body. The dryer, the tighter--it would have been a ball-swellingrush to ram home and watch the younger man's face battle the admission ofpain--Skinner suspected that Krycek's Achille's heel was a pride in hisown endurance. But he hadn't felt the hots to make a sparring partner cry'Uncle' since he was a rude adolescent. Regression was to be avoided.

Yet if Skinner wasn't cruel, he wasn't particularly considerate either.He entered with a driving, powerful thrust whose impetus wanted to splitthe other man's tight ass apart, and the full length of his cock filledthat hot channel with a throbbing demand not to be resisted. Krycek archedagainst the splitting force, pushing into it with perverse greed. His assgripped Skinner's cock and milked it: short, stabbing muscular contractionsthat were like to make short work of them both. Skinner wrestled the otherman's hips and rammed deeper, abandoning caution entirely. Krycek's goodhand stripped his own shaft with a frantic rhythm that Skinner matched untilhe felt the first orgasmic spasms begin, clamping down on his swollen organ.At that point, his own hips lost their tempo and his movements devolvedinto primitive, irregular thrusts, arrows shot wildly through his cock tospill their flaming burden out the far screaming mouth of him. That smallexploding point seemed a wound jetting blood if not seed: it was that keen,that sharply bladed.

And when it was over, it left Skinner cut to ribbons. He drew out ofKrycek's body with selfish carefulness, disposed of the mess clinging tohis aching cock, then dropped heavily back onto the bed, from which positionhe stared at the ceiling and considered the implications of his act andthe undiscovered future of his compromised life.

A mess of complicated shadows, a house of smoke and mirrors--this waswhat his world had become.

Neither of them said anything for a long time. Krycek, by all appearances,slept. He himself could not sleep, but lay instead on one side, gaze cradlingthe other man with what should have been an impersonal form of witness.When Krycek finally woke it was like a cat, with simply opened eyes thatwere immediate clear and watchfully conscious. They stared at each other.

"So where are you going from here?" Skinner asked almost flatly,but with a slight, accusatory emphasis on the 'are' that he hadn't meantto allow.

"I don't know. I don't make many long-term plans these days."The words were implicitly evasive, but then again, what else would theybe.

"It amazes me that you had no one else in D.C. to turn to,"Skinner said, a subdued taunting.

"Says a lot, doesn't it."

"You have an agenda. You always have." Skinner knew he wasprobing further than he should. There were things he should not know, questionshe should not risk the answers to.

"I'm a bit short on options. . .these days."

Something passed unspoken between their mutually watchful faces thatresulted in a mildly incredulous look appearing on Krycek's face.

"You have one for offer?"

"How could I," Skinner returned curtly, but he felt a frissonof urgency in his flesh that was not so much sexual as fearful. He was precariouslycloser to the edge of rashness than he could have believed possible. Eventsof the past day had been the catalyst for long buried energies to rise tothe burning surface. He wanted things, many of them not very nice, and notappropriate for a man in his position. And yet he wanted them fiercely,with an unexpected lust. Pleasures, secrets--power. His *own* power, notthe poisoned residual gifts of someone else's venomous fangs. Power acquiredlike that was dangerous; those fangs could not be loosened from the soulonce they'd bitten deep.

Krycek was studying him, his dark eyes radiantly detached like thoseof a jungle cat, but curious. "You'd like to stay on the side of theangels," he said, voice smooth, rolling out his observation. "Butyou and me, we're not getting our wings. In case you were still wondering."

"Speak for yourself."

"Why do you even try to keep your hands clean anymore-- becauseyou think you work for Justice, or because you think that one day you'llget your dick in *his* ass and won't be able to keep it up unless you'repure."

"Don't go there." Skinner spoke without rancor, and his calmseemed to halt Krycek's desire to bait.

"You know where I've come from--you know who I worked for. The fuckingU.S. government." Krycek's voice remained equally calm and steady,unraised. "Legality, morality, justice--sing it all you want, but thereare always going to be men who have to decide what has to be done, whatthe people need to know and what they can't handle."

"Don't try and sell me on the cause, Krycek. I'm not buying andI'm not playing."

"Yet."

"There's always a yet," Skinner said, not in concession butin familiar resignation that carried a whiff of bitterness. He paused, caughtup in a moody gyre of conflicted thoughts, then raised his restless, ambivalentlyshadowed eyes again to consider Krycek. "I want to know where you'regoing."

"Why."

"To know whether or not I should let you go."

Alex, rendered momentarily slack-jawed, stared at Skinner, then shookhimself scoffingly free of the brief, gripping sense of-- of what? Somefeeling he hadn't had in half a lifetime, but which was delusional. Skinnerhad certainly not meant to imply concern; he'd meant the obvious, that hewas contemplating turning Alex in to the authorities and needed some reasonnot to, however strained and mendacious. And Alex, always ready with a breezylie, felt speech dry up on his tongue.

Finally, after a long minute, he said, "I can't tell you where I'mgoing because I don't know. The only contacts I have right now are peopleI don't want to contact. Someone I was supposed to meet in Maryland nevershowed up, but some ugly fuckers did. I think there's a contract out onme--besides the 'official' one, I mean. You know, don't you, that I'd neverstand trial? I wouldn't last a week in any prison."

He was so dryly matter of fact that Skinner's gut clenched with angeragainst the machinery of power that could enact such events with casualrote. It wasn't sentimentality that made him angry on Krycek's behalf, buthe felt again that knotty, twisting regret for a man who had been used andmangled by the system, and though it were playing right into Krycek's ownbest interests, he'd be damned if he gave the man over to certain deathat the long-reaching hands of their shared shadow government.

"I know," he said, giving Krycek's rhetorical question hisown phatic reply. "I'm not turning you in. I wouldn't have fucked youif I were."

"Yeah, that would be a tricky one." Krycek's lips turned upin fleeting impishness.

"Do you have money?"

"If I did--"

"You wouldn't be here," Skinner finished for him, grimacing.

"Mm. I don't have a stash anywhere here in the States. My resourceshave dried up. I entered the country with one knapsack and now even that'sgone."

"Why don't you call up Mother Russia and see if she'll fly you home."

"Yeah, well, that's the problem. I don't think my foster mom's feelingtoo friendly right now."

"Tell me you're not really a traitor. I'll feel so much better aboutthis." Skinner's double-bladed sarcasm escaped him without warning,and after the brief lull that followed they both shared an equally abruptrelease of humor--small winces and snorts that didn't quite pass for laughterbut which defused the sparking tension.

 

"We could swap philosphies on nationalism versus globalism, butI don't particularly want to go there right now, do you?"

 

"Later," Skinner said.

It took a moment for the implications of that single word to sink intoAlex's pooling thoughts. He blinked. "How much later?" he askeddespite himself, hoping there was not the slightest hint of wist in hisvoice, suspecting there was. "Like, later later, or. . .later."

"I think it would be a good idea to keep you around. No one wouldexpect you to be here in the D.C. area."

"What, in Walter Skinner's new Alexandria colonial? Yeah, that wouldspin their compasses all to hell." Alex snorted again.

"You can't stay here," Skinner said bluntly. "But thecity is full of discreet apartments for those. . .close encounters."

"You can't crack a joke," Alex said ruefully.

"I wasn't trying," Skinner lied.

"You really want a rentboy? I'm touched. Impressed. Walter Skinnercultivates his image as suave government exec--what's your next status symbol--cottageon the Eastern shore, yacht for hosting those get-friendly DEA parties--"

"Don't make me reconsider my offer."

"Do it now if you're going to. You think I'm going to change mystripes once I'm shackled to a waterbed for your weekend pleasure?"

"Jesus, you're an asshole."

"No shit, *Walter*."

They glared at each other, but more mildly than their words warranted.Neither was up to more than a negotiational skirmish, and that fact wasclearer to them both with every passing instant.

"I'm going to be bored as shit," Alex groused.

"You'll get over it."

"You're gonna be followed sooner or later."

Skinner rolled over onto his back, unkinking cramped muscles. "Letme worry about that." He felt rather than saw Alex sidelong gleamingdarkly at him.

"I don't think so, stud. It's my throat up for cutting."

"Then just let me worry about it for now--and I'll update you whenI think of what the hell I'm going to do about it--all right?" Histone was flat, subliminally impatient.

Alex sat up, ran a hand through his tousled hair. From this positionhe locked gazes with Skinner again. "Did I ever tell you I don't gofor butch daddies?" he asked with bland, conversational snarkiness.

"You're not my type either."

"As long as that's settled. . .what's for lunch?"

"It's Christmas, what do you think?" Skinner watched with bemusedintrigue as Alex's jade-green eyes nearly betrayed their owner by lightinghim up from the inside.

"Turkey? Ham--duck?"

"Duck? Christ, where did you grow up."

"That's classified." Alex smirked.

"There's a turkey in the oven."

"God, I thought I was imagining that smell." He cocked hishead at Skinner, lips parting slightly. "You always cook a turkey forone?"

Skinner stood and pulled on his jeans, then moved to the bedroom door,where he stood with his shirt in his hand and his eyebrows moderately raised."Depends. Sometimes guests drop in unexpectedly over the holidays."

He left the room, and Alex heard his muted descent on the carpeted stairs.He sat on the dishevelled bed, on his pleasantly sore ass, and attuned himselfto the awkward disbalance of his body, and watched the play of curtainedlight turn small windings of fire in the dresser mirror. Funny, how lifeclung to the body and would not be shaken off. Merry Christmas. He mightnot need that gun yet after all.

 

***

 

Finis, Happy Holidays. :)