Admission IX - Recovering
By Aries
Rated NC-17 m/m sexual situations and some bad language
Summary: Alex just hasn't been the same since he returned from his little stay with Justin Saint James. He must exorcise his demons before his destructive behavior loses him everything that's ever meant anything to him in his life. Namely Fox.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. Don't make me say it again. The thought alone that these beautiful, beautiful boys don't belong to me sickens me.
Super colossal thanks to Nic for beta. And thanks to Ori *and* Nic for still enjoying this seemingly endless series. Have no fear chickies, number ten is rolling around up there in my head...
Clyde is dedicated to and a little more than loosely based on Merlin, my sweet, sometimes dopey but always fiercely devoted German Shepherd whom I lost to cancer on May second of this year, just three weeks before his tenth birthday. While I love my other two Shepherds dearly, he'll always be first in my heart.
Feedback: It's a good thing. You can reach me at  MMCUSN@aol.com
http://www.squidge.org/terma/aries/aries.htm
http://members.tripod.com/Joy_hs/Aries/Ariestitle.html
********************
 

We were all wounded in some domestic war
I found you to settle my score
You looked like father
You felt like mother
My mind told my heart
there is no other

And I gave you my soul
and every ounce of control
And I gave you my skin
and my original sin
And I gave you my pride and my side
Oh, my pride

Ain't that enough
I turned your dreams into lightning
Ain't that enough
I held the world back for you
Ain't that enough
I loved you past the point of dying
Ain't that enough of me for you

Enough of Me
by Melissa Etheridge

********************
 
 

Dear Alex,

I know I'm probably the last person in the world you'd ever expect to hear from. I'm sure I'm the last person you'd *want* to hear from, but it's been almost nine months since we were freed from Justin, and I'm still having some problems. My doctor has suggested that I write you this letter as a sort of therapy. I refused to do it at first, but the nightmares and flashbacks are getting so bad, Alex. I can't take it anymore.

You might laugh at this letter. You might want to track me down and blow my head off. Or you might just tear this up and throw it away without ever having read it. I have no control over what happens once I mail this, but my doctor says that no matter what you do, it will have been good for me to write out my feelings.

Alex, Doctor Peters has suggested that we meet. He knows everything that happened, and he really thinks that the only way I'm going to get past this is to confront you about with it and talk it all out.

I know you must think I've got one hell of a nerve asking you for *anything*, but I'm trying hard here to take control of my life. I don't *want* to be the scared, easily manipulated puppet that Justin used and screwed up so badly, and settling things with you is an important step in fixing that.

Please, could you maybe just find it in your heart to meet with me once? We can do it on your time. Anywhere you want. My doctor has agreed to fly out with me to any place you name. Please, Alex. I hope to hear from you soon. I think it could benefit us both.

Sincerely,
Matthew

********************

The late afternoon sun glistened on the hood of the black Porsche as it rumbled into the driveway and slipped into its spot beside its garage mate. The tall, darkly dressed man exited the car and, pulling his sunglasses down to the tip of his nose, walked over to the Ford and placed his hand on the hood. Cool metal met his fingers, indicating that his lover had been home for a while. He prowled into the house and was immediately pounced on by ninety plus pounds of howling, wagging German Shepherd.

"Oh, *God*." Alex fought to remain balanced as the dog leapt all over him. "Yeah...hi, Clyde. For Christ's sake, I've only been gone three days!"

"He's almost two years old," the amused monotone drifted from the doorway of the kitchen. "When *do* you think he'll be past the dopey, puppy stage?"

Alex finally managed to get the dog off of him and walked over to the smirking man. "I keep telling you, male Shepherds don't fully mature till they're about three." He stopped only when their bodies were lightly touching and leaned in for a long, tender kiss. "Missed you," he whispered when they finally parted.

Fox wound one arm around his returned lover and plucked the sunglasses from his face with his free hand. "I missed you too," he murmured, now able to look into his lover's eyes. "Sorry about the way we left things."

"Me too," Alex murmured, running his hands up and down Fox's back.

"Mission accomplished?"

"I think so." Alex held Fox to him, kissing a moist path up the side of his neck. "These new friends of Smokey's..." He shook his head and smiled, "..what a bunch of clowns. I waltzed right in there, found what I was looking for, and waltzed right out. I can't believe how lax security is around there."

"Are you sure it was that easy," Fox asked, knowing that he was probably looking for trouble, "or did they just *let* you blow through?"

"No," Alex answered emphatically, lifting his head to look at the other man. "It was just that easy."

Fox nodded, giving Alex a tiny smile.

"What are you thinking?"

Fox lowered his head and considered his answer to the question.

More and more lately, he had become concerned about the way Alex had been throwing himself into these Consortium-related projects of his. He used to be a patient man. Never made a move before he was absolutely sure of what it was he was doing and why. He would have everything worked out down to the most minute detail. He knew what time each member would be at the offices, where they would be when they weren't there, and if need be, what time any one of them used the can. But recently, Fox saw him making moves before he had all his information secured, and he was worried. It was as if Alex was trying to prove something, and Fox had a pretty good idea what that something was.

Alex had recovered fairly well from his encounter with Justin Saint James, but not completely. The nightmares still haunted him from time to time, and though he seemed happy and normal enough to any outsider, there was this little something about him...a fear he kept tightly locked away, but Fox, the only person in the world who could see straight through to his soul, knew it was there.

Alex was deathly afraid he'd lost his edge.

Not such a horrible thing for anyone but Alex Krycek. His sharply honed instincts and astounding audacity were as much a part of him as the organs that kept him alive, and he depended on them to keep them both safe. The thought that he might one day fail Fox when his lover's life might depend on him was far more than he could accept, and so, to prove to himself that he was still the man he was, he would go out and put himself in more danger than he needed to, almost daring someone to confront him.

Fox had begun to take notice several months ago, and when he called Alex on it one day, Alex denied it vehemently. Fox continued to push the issue, and all hell broke loose. They fought bitterly for hours, gave each other the silent treatment for several more, and then it was Fox who finally put an end to the standoff with an apology and a declaration of his deep love for the younger man.

Knowing that Fox was simply concerned, Alex accepted the apology, issued one of his own, and they ended the night in each other's arms, making love until dawn.

Nothing had changed, however. Alex continued his nerve-wracking behavior, and Fox continued to worry, though in the interest of peace, he usually did so in silence.

It was starting to wear on him, though, and he just knew that sometime soon, they were going to have to have it out again. Only this time, Fox would not give in. He couldn't. Not if they were both to remain sane and alive.

"Fox."

The older man looked up into suspicious, green eyes. "Baby, we have to talk."

Alex let go of his lover and brushed past him. "What about?"

"You know what about."

The younger man walked over to the table and began sorting through the mail. "We're not going to do this again, are we?"

"Alex...can you understand that I'm worried? I love you, baby, and I can't stand to see you like this."

"Like what?" Alex snapped. "You making me out to be some kind of basket case?"

"No, of course not. It's just..you know, maybe we *should* have listened to Scully when she suggested that you see someone."

Alex discarded the envelopes one by one, slamming them down onto the table. "I'm not nuts."

Fox raised both hands to his face and sighed into them. "I didn't say you were. You're completely sane. You're just..you're not dealing with what happened as well as we thought..."

Alex turned the last envelope over, a slight frown creasing his brow. "Oh, no?"

"No."

"I think I'm dealing with it just fine, thank you."

Fox stood, quietly banging the back of his head against the door while Alex opened up the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of lined paper. The look that crossed the younger man's face had Fox at his side in an instant, forgetting about the fight they had just narrowly avoided.

"Alex? Sweetheart, what's the matter?"

Except for the barely perceptible quivering of his lower lip, Alex stood stone-still, gaping at the letter.

"Alex..."

Receiving no response, Fox gently took the letter from his lover's grasp and quickly scanned it.

"Oh, you gotta be kidding me."

Alex closed his eyes and took a deep, stuttering breath.

Fox pulled out a chair and carefully lowered the shaken man into it. "Alex?" He stroked the sable head. "Baby, are you okay?"

"Throw it away," Alex rasped then turned glazed eyes up to the other man.

"Alex..."

"I'm all right, just throw it away!"

Fox took one look into the wild, dilated eyes and decided it would be best to just do as he asked. He dropped the letter and envelope into the small trash barrel and returned to Alex. "Okay?" he asked, drawing a hand back and forth across the younger man's shoulders.

Alex sat silently for a while, head down, eyes darting back and forth, then Fox felt him physically force himself up and out of the chair.

"Clyde, you wanna go for a walk?"

The dog leapt to his feet and trotted over to where his leash was kept.

"I'm okay," Alex said less than reassuringly. "I'll take Clyde for a walk, and I'll be fine." The dog approached, carrying his leash, and Alex took it out of his mouth, snapping it onto his collar. "I'll be back in a little while."

Silently, Fox watched Alex leave with the dog, his mind and heart racing. A few seconds later, he turned and retrieved the letter from the trash, reading it over and over again as he sat down at the kitchen table.

"Why now?" he whispered, tapping his fingers on the wooden surface. "Shit. Why ever?"

********************

Alex walked along in silence, listening to the familiar sounds of the neighborhood settling down for the evening. Clyde matched his pace, eyes and ears always alert, taking notice of every sound or movement around them.

The two crossed the street and headed for the park where Alex let the dog off his lead and found a stick big enough for a game of fetch. Clyde immediately began to yap at his master, insisting that he hurry up and begin the game.

Looking around to make sure that no one was in Clyde's path, Alex threw the stick as hard as he could, and the dog streaked after it. As Clyde retrieved the stick, Alex stood quietly, thinking about the events of the last hour.

Hell of a homecoming.

First, the tension between him and Fox, and then that fucking letter from Matthew.

Matthew. What the hell did he want? Alex was sure he'd made it clear the day they left the hospital that he wanted no further contact with the young man. And now, here he was, writing him a letter...asking if they could *meet*.

// He's gotta be out of his fucking mind. Why the hell should I give a shit what kind of problems he's having after what he did to me...//

He tried to shake the images from his mind, but they would not leave.

Justin Saint James's smiling face...hovering over him just before that whip broke open the skin on his back...that sickeningly sweet way he spoke...Matthew's mouth on him...draining him of more than a little semen...

The sound of growling brought Alex shuddering out of his thoughts. He looked down to find Clyde prancing around him, stick in his mouth, ready to go again. He reached down to take the stick, and Clyde decided to play tug of war, pulling and growling.

"Okay, Clyde, okay, that's enough. Aus."

The dog released the stick the instant the one word command was given and began circling Alex, barking incessantly. He threw the stick again and fell back into deep contemplation, his thoughts again going to Fox. He grimaced, asking himself how he could treat his lover the way he had.

Against some pretty staggering odds, Fox had found and rescued him from the hell created by that bastard who had dared to take him from their home. He'd killed for him, for Christ's sake. Never left his side at the hospital...took him home, cooked for him, held and comforted him even when Alex's nightmares had proven nearly fatal for him ...loved and wanted him even after he'd found out what had happened with Matthew...

Alex raised his hands to his face, groaning softly as Clyde returned, circling him madly.

He had to go home. He had to wrap his arms around Fox, beg his forgiveness and find some way to put Matthew's letter out of his mind and keep it out.

He bent and wrestled the stick from the dog's mouth.

"Once more, Clyde, then we're outta here."

********************

Fox moved from the oven to the counter as the sound of the kitchen door caught his ear. He felt the approach of his lover, and before he could turn around, Alex's hands slid up over his shoulders, massaging gently. The weight of the younger man's head rested against the back of his neck, then he felt a soft whisper of a kiss and a genuinely issued apology.

"I'm sorry, lisa. I didn't mean to..."

Fox turned, looking warily into repentant, green eyes. "I know." He rested his hands against Alex's chest as the younger man pulled him into his arms. "Not the best welcome home you've ever had."

"It's my fault. I shouldn't have reacted that way. To you, *or* to that letter. It's not important. It means nothing. I'm fine; let's just forget about it."

Fox lowered his head. "You keep telling me you're fine..."

"Because it's true."

"I don't think it is, Alex, or you wouldn't have reacted the way you did. You wouldn't take some of the chances that you do."

Alex shook his head but said nothing.

Fox pitched forward until their foreheads rested against each other. "Baby, a walk with Clyde isn't going to make it all go away."

No response.

"There's nothing wrong with feeling vulnerable, you know."

Alex pulled away suddenly. "There *is*, Fox. For *me* there is."

Somber, hazel eyes dropped their gaze down to the floor.

Alex returned and stood before the older man, gently rubbing his upper arms. "Not with you, lisa. I didn't mean with you. You're the only person in the world I've ever felt safe enough with to open myself up completely..."

"But you *don't* anymore."

"Sure I do..."

Fox lifted his head. "You don't. If you did, you'd talk to me about this."

"There's nothing to talk *about*."

"There *is*. There's stuff going on inside of you that you refuse to let me see. Why?"

"Fox, how many times do I have to tell you..."

"You can tell me a million times," Fox interrupted, "and I won't believe it. I know you better than that. I hate that I let this go on this long. I hate that I backed down every time I tried to bring it up and you got mad. I wasn't doing you any good, doing that."

"You're not doing me any good right *now*," Alex snapped, whirling around and stalking across the room.

"What the hell are you afraid of?" Fox shouted, anger finally getting the better of him.

"*Nothing*! I'm not afraid of a goddamn, fucking thing!"

// Come now, Alexei, there must be *something*...//

Back to Fox, Alex squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth, willing the voice away.

"And you're trying damn hard to prove it, aren't you? Would it help any if I told you that you're still the most contentious, nastiest bad-ass this side of the Atlantic? Or is my word not good enough? Do you have to kill a few dozen people just to be sure?"

Alex turned around and glared silently from the other side of the room.

Fox bent at the waist, taking in a deep breath, then straightened up and let it out. The combative glint in his eyes diminished, and when he spoke again, it was in a soft, coaxing tone.

"Alex, please talk to me. And I don't mean all this yelling and fighting. Sit down and talk to me about this unfounded fear of yours that you're getting weak. Tell me about what went through your mind when you read this..." Fox reached into his back pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper.

Alex's eyes narrowed on the letter then focused on the other man's face. "What are you doing with that?"

"We need to talk about it."

"No, we don't!"

"Baby, please..."

Alex spun around, fingers clenched in his hair. "Jesus *Christ*, Fox, why do you have to take every fucking thing apart and analyze it piece by piece? It's a *letter*! From someone I'd sooner kill than look at. What do you find there to talk about?" His eyes grew wide as he studied his lover's face. "Oh....oh....you don't think I should actually talk to this asshole, do you?"

"I think you should talk to *me*," Fox said softly.

Alex nodded. "About talking to *him*. Way to rub salt in the wounds, Fox."

"Is that what you think I want to do?" Fox asked, not wanting to believe what Alex had just said.

The younger man's silent stare provided no comfort.

"Good. That's...that's good. Thanks for your trust, Alex, it really means so fucking much to me."

Fox turned and quietly left the room, leaving Alex in resounding silence. He leaned back against the wall and covered his face with both hands, groaning softly.

// Did it again, didn't you? Nice going. Go apologize, stupid.//

// Yeah, like he'd accept it. You said you were sorry ten minutes ago, and then you turn around and do *this* shit.//

Alex lowered his hands and walked over to the table. He picked the letter up from the spot where Fox had dropped it before he left the room and began to re-read it. Halfway through, he stopped, inhaling deeply to keep his body from trembling.

// Matthew would like to say hello to you, Alexei.//

"Stop," he whispered harshly, trying to force the unwelcome thoughts away. He dropped the letter and closed his eyes, talking to the demons that still lurked in the corners of his mind.

// He wasn't really that bad, was he? Remember what it was like to feel his mouth around you? Sucking every shred of control...your very essence from your body...//

// *No*. He took *nothing* from me. And neither did you. I won't let you fuck up my life. You won't beat me.//

A bit more composed, Alex opened his eyes and walked into the living room where Fox had just come in from the hall. He heard the metallic jingle of keys and asked the older man where he was going.

"Office," Fox answered flatly.

"Now?"

"Got some things to do."

"You just don't want to be around me," Alex countered, sadness tingeing his voice.

Fox stopped and looked at the younger man for a few seconds before answering.

"It's not that I don't want to," he said softly. "I...I can't." He opened the closet door and removed his jacket then moved to the front door. "Don't wait up," he said without looking back, and left the house.

Alex considered going after him, begging him to come back into the house, but what right did he have? Not once but twice in the same afternoon he'd turned on the only person he could truly trust, and Fox had every right to be pissed at him. But he couldn't...he just couldn't let himself  accept what Fox was suggesting. Acceptance meant admission, and he'd never admit that he'd even for a second been made to feel fear. Fear denoted weakness, and he could never be that. Fox neither needed nor did he deserve a weak man, and the only way Alex could stay strong was to deal with this the way he had been. He had to make Fox understand that...and somehow manage to keep their relationship intact.

He walked back into the kitchen and, tearing up the letter, tossed it back into the trash. Then he set about completing the meal that Fox had started and abandoned.

********************

"Mulder, what are you doing here?"

Fox cocked his head, eyeing his partner as she stood in the doorway. "What are *you* doing here?"

"I forgot some forensics reports that I really wanted to get out of the way this weekend. Now, why the hell aren't you at home, doing whatever it is that you and Alex do on the weekends? Is he still away?"

"No, actually, he got back today," Fox answered softly.

The redhead entered and dropped into the chair in from of her partner's desk. "Okay...Alex just got home, and you're here at work. Now I *know* something is up."

"Had some work to do."

Scully cast a doubtful gaze on the man. "Work. Right. Sure. Mulder, what's going on?"

Fox's eyes dropped to his desk, and he rocked slowly in his chair. "We had a fight."

"Again?"

No answer.

"Taking unnecessary chances again?"

"I don't know for sure, but I'm willing to bet on it." Fox emitted a long sigh. "He refuses to see what he's doing."

"You have to find a way to *make* him understand, Mulder, or it's only going to get worse."

"It already has."

Scully raised one eyebrow and waited.

"He got a letter, today...really freaked him out, though he will *not* admit to it."

"Who was the letter from?"

"You remember Matthew?"

"...That kid from last year?"

"Yeah."

"You're kidding."

"Wish I was."

"What did he have to say?"

"He's apparently under an analyst's care, and his doctor thinks that in order to purge his demons, he needs to confront Alex."

Scully lowered her head. "Oh, God. Let me guess. Alex wasn't exactly thrilled about that."

"Like I said, he freaked. His face went pale...he started to shake. I had to sit him down. He made me throw the letter away, and then all of a sudden, he jumped up and decided he was going to take Clyde for a walk. When he came back, he tried to make me believe that a walk to clear his head was all he'd needed and that he was fine. I told him I wasn't buying it, we got into it, he blew up and said some stuff I'm sure he's regretting about now, and I left." Fox buried his face in his hands. "I should've listened to you last year. It would have been so much easier to get him into therapy back then, before he had a chance to convince himself that he didn't need it."

"Well, Mulder, you never did like doing things the easy way."

Fox let the observation pass. "You know, I don't think that it's an altogether bad idea for him to meet with Matthew."

Scully paused then answered. "Neither do I. Matthew isn't the only one who needs a little cleansing."

"I don't...Scully, I don't know how I'd ever get him to agree to it. He insists he's just fine, and I'm making way too much of this."

"Wish I had some advice for you, Mulder, but if *you* can't find a way to deal with him, you know I sure as hell can't."

Fox nodded. "I know." He looked sullenly down at his folded hands. "I feel so damn helpless. He's hurting, I know he is, and he won't tell me. He won't tell *himself*."

"Well, Mulder, it's not helping either one of you for you to be hanging around here being miserable while he's home being miserable." Scully gave her partner an encouraging smile. "Go on. Go back to him. You know you want to."

Fox nodded. "Yeah, I do. I never should have left in the first place, but I was so damned frustrated."

"Well, it's time to go home now. Kiss and make up."

"It's not that easy."

"Did I say, kiss and solve all your problems?" Scully huffed. "*No*. I said, kiss and make up. That's step one in getting your problems solved. Now, let's go. *Out*."

Sculled picked up her files, herded Fox out of the office, and five minutes later he was on his way home.

********************

Alex flipped blindly through channel after channel then gave up and shut the t.v. off, plunging the house into silence. He slouched down against the pillows and closed his eyes, but minutes later, they drifted open and glanced over at the alarm clock.

Nine-eighteen, and he was in bed already. He never turned in this early unless Fox was with him, and they had plans that had nothing to do with sleep.

From his corner of the bedroom, Clyde picked his head up and began to whine softly. Seconds later, Alex heard the soft hum of the garage door. Clyde got up and trotted from the room to greet Fox, and Alex settled himself on his side, pulling one pillow under his head.

So Fox didn't come home nearly as late as he'd implied.

As Alex speculated on the reasons, Fox moved into the room, unable to see in the darkness that the other man's eyes were open.

Alex watched the outline of his lover as he stopped momentarily then moved on toward the bathroom. He closed his eyes as the light went on and kept them shut until he heard the door close long seconds later. He couldn't see, but he knew without a doubt that Fox had been standing in the doorway watching him.

// You'd better talk to him when he gets into bed. Don't you dare lie here pretending to be asleep...//

The door opened, and Fox crept back into the bedroom, moving cautiously toward the bed. Slowly, he drew the sheet and light blanket back and slid in next to Alex. His cock twitched at the warmth of his lover's naked body so close to his own, but he took a deep breath and stamped down the rush of desire that threatened to overtake him. His head turned to the side, and he gazed at the dark, motionless outline of his lover.

// What is he doing asleep at nine-thirty?//

Fox sighed softly, contemplating waking the younger man. He couldn't stand the thought of going to sleep with things the way they were between them, but before he could make a definite decision, he felt soft brush of a hand down his arm.

"Did I wake you?"

"No."

The soft, husky answer flowed across Fox's nerves like warm honey, and he gravitated toward the younger man, reaching out to touch his face.

"Baby, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have walked out like that."

Alex turned his face into the touch, kissing his lover's palm. "I shouldn't have given you reason to leave. I know you'd never do anything to hurt me."

"Can we talk about it?" Fox asked hopefully. "I mean really talk...without fighting or feeling the need to be defensive."

Silence.

"I love you, Alexei. I want you to be okay."

"I *am* okay..."

Fox turned to his left, turning on the lamp on his side of the bed, and looked down into his lover's eyes. "If you're okay, then why were you shaking so badly when you read Matthew's letter?" he asked gently.

"I...I don't know," Alex answered vaguely. "It just took me by surprise, I guess."

"I don't doubt that it took you by surprise. God knows it shocked me, but...there's a lot more to it than that. I can see it all over your face. You may be good at masking your emotions when it comes to everyone else, but you can't hide from me."

"I'm not trying to hide," Alex insisted in a somewhat whiny whisper. "I'm just dealing with things the best way I know how."

"So, you admit that there *are* things to be dealt with."

"I j...I only meant that the letter...throwing it away and forgetting it is the best way for me to handle it."

"I don't think it is," Fox countered as gently as he could. "Baby, I've seen you do some things you never would have done before last year, and I think it's got everything to do with what happened to you..."

Alex shook his head, shifting and draping himself halfway over Fox's chest and tucking his head beneath the older man's chin.

Fox wrapped his arms around Alex, stroking his back and continued. "I...I think I know why you're behaving the way you are, but..."

Alex nuzzled his lover's stubbled chin then dropped a line of soft kisses down the column of his throat.

"...but I'd like for you to tell me. I need you to..."

"Tell me what you need," Alex murmured as he traveled down Fox's chest, pausing to tease one already hardened nipple.

"Mmm...damn...Alex, come on..."

Alex released a breathy moan and sucked the brown peak into his mouth, flicking his tongue back and forth across the tip.

"We have to..." Fox struggled to remain focused, but the tiny vibrations that had begun to swirl through him quickly fragmented his thoughts and doomed all good intentions.

Alex moved on to the other nipple, not wishing to neglect it, and smiled as Fox began to squirm beneath him. He closed his teeth gently around the aroused nub and pulled, drawing a soft gasp from the other man, then let one hand slip beneath the blanket, creeping down over his belly and into the crisp thatch of dark hair.

Fox lifted his hips from the mattress, silently begging for Alex to touch his cock, and as the younger man's fingers slid over the warm column of flesh, he shuddered, whispering his lover's name.

Alex released the sensitized nipple from his mouth and slid back up over Fox's chest, licking and nipping patches of flesh along the way. When they were face to face, he brushed his mouth over his lover's then whispered against it, "I missed you." He lowered his head, sealing their lips together in a long, tender kiss as he slowly caressed the older man's cock, and by the time he pulled away, Fox was in no condition for conversation.

"Make love to me, lisa," Alex begged, his voice overflowing with need.

The words sent a fresh rush of tingling heat through Fox's body, and the older man smoothly rolled his lover beneath him, letting Alex bear his full weight. He again found his lover's lips, feeding hungrily as he writhed against him, rubbing their erections together.

Alex moaned frantically into Fox's mouth, pushing up against him, seeking greater contact. He pulled away from his lover's mouth, whispering soft, broken words of encouragement as his hands wandered feverishly over Fox's back.

The younger man's incoherent ramblings barely registered in Fox's head. Three days without Alex had been an eternity, and after that fight they'd had, he felt the overwhelming need to prove his love. He lowered his head, dropping a tiny kiss on the younger man's chin, then drew his tongue across the rough surface, prompting a soft moan. He moved lower, tickling and teasing Alex's throat, sucking gently and leaving a pale reddish mark before moving on to his chest. Warm, velvety smooth skin met his tongue, and though he'd done this thousands of times, he never tired of the taste and feel of his lover.

Alex's mouth fell open on a soft gasp as Fox's tongue flicked at the tip of one rigid nipple then the other. He raised one hand to the other man's head, restlessly combing his fingers through the golden-brown silk as the other stroked over his shoulders. His cock, wedged against Fox's abdomen, throbbed almost painfully, and he thought that he might actually come if the pressure remained. But as if reading his thoughts, Fox moved on, and the urgency subsided.

Trailing a number of light kisses over Alex's belly, Fox smiled at the slight quiver of muscle. Knowing that Alex was a bit ticklish in that area, he kept the touches brief, maintaining just enough contact to tease.

Approaching the fine line of hair that ran from Alex's navel to his groin, Fox's tongue inched out, following the trail, then skimming through the patch of hair and dancing around the base of the younger man's cock.

Alex's head rolled to one side, and a low moan escaped his lips as Fox moved at an infuriatingly slow pace, enjoying the feel of him on his tongue. Involuntarily, his hips began shift, thrusting gently...silently asking for more.

Fox understood the plea as clearly as if it had been whispered into his ear, and his mouth moved over the flushed head, tasting the small pearl of fluid that glistened at the tip. His tongue gently probed the tiny slit for more, then he closed his lips over the head and applied a light suction, taking Alex in a little at a time.

Alex's back arched, lifting a few inches off of the bed, and he moaned his pleasure. As difficult as it was, he maintained some control, denying the urge to thrust into Fox's mouth. He lay whimpering and allowed the older man full control, knowing that Fox would not fail to bring him to a mind-numbing finish.

When Fox was damn good and ready.

Slowly, Fox slid down the length of his lover's erection, his tongue playing over each new inch of flesh as it pushed past his lips. By the time he reached the end of his journey, Alex had become completely unraveled, gasping for each breath and pleading for relief. In response, he began to suck at his mouthful, ever mindful of his lover's increasingly precarious condition. His fingers played over the heavy sac, caressing and measuring, then moved away, dipping into his mouth briefly before wiggling into the crevice of Alex's ass and finding the small, tight opening hidden within.

Alex's eyes squeezed shut as he sobbed his pleasure, encouraging the older man to push first one finger into him, then two. Automatically, his muscles contracted, clamping down on the welcome intruders as Fox continued to deep throat him.

"Jeez...Jesus," he panted, "that mouth...right there, baby...moy lisa..."

Fox worked his fingers in as deeply as they could go, stroking over Alex's prostate, and a loud, mewling gasp broke from the younger man's lips. His fingers curled in the sheets, tugging at the material hard enough to pull it away from the mattress, and he cried out for mercy.

"Please, oh, God, *please*. Can't...don't make me..."

Gently, Fox removed his fingers and pulled away from Alex's cock, incurring a desperate protest

"Shhh." He slid up over Alex's chest and looked down into passion-darkened eyes. "I won't make you wait." He reached into the nightstand drawer and withdrew a tube of lubricant. Having gently but efficiently applied it to his cock, he pulled Alex into position.

Tender kisses rained down on Alex's face and shoulders, drowning him in love as Fox filled him completely. He sucked in a long breath, reveling in those first overwhelming sensations of possession, and as the older man began to move, the initial shock melted into sweet, languid warmth. Alex wrapped himself around his Fox, returning kiss for kiss as he helped the older man maintain his lazy rhythm.

Fox pulled himself away from Alex's mouth to stare down into hazy green eyes. He threaded the fingers of one hand through the sable hair and lowered his head, letting his mouth graze the younger man's cheek before whispering into his ear.

"You feel so good, baby. I don't want it to end."

Alex tightened his hold on the man above him. "Then, don't let it," he whispered back, though somewhat raggedly.

"But you said you couldn't wait."

Alex nodded, validating Fox's response, then looked up into gilded eyes.

"Make me wait."

Fox came to a near stop and attempted to regulate his breathing, moaning as Alex bathed his shoulder and the side of his neck. He turned his head, coaxing his lover's mouth into another kiss as he increased his speed by a mere fraction. His tongue slipped into Alex's open mouth, caressing the moist interior as it searched for its mate.

Alex tightened his muscles as Fox withdrew, increasing his lover's pleasure as his tongue swept over the other, stroking and tasting. Fox came to a near halt again, trembling with the effort it took to regain his composure, and Alex lay still beneath him, not wanting to push him over the edge. He stroked the older man's back as they kissed endlessly, enjoying the feel of his lover so hard and deep inside of him, and when Fox began again, it was at an even slower pace than before.

The older man broke free of Alex's mouth, pulling himself up on his hands, and looked down into his lover's face. "I love you," he murmured, seeing the emotion mirrored in the magnificent emerald eyes. His head fell back and his eyes dropped shut as he increased his speed a bit more, letting the enhanced friction take him to that place where he longed to stay...that sensual heaven where nothing else existed but the man beneath him and the devastating sensations that being inside him produced.

Alex watched Fox, his heart and cock pounding in unison at the achingly beautiful expression on his lover's face. He needed desperately to find relief, but not so much that he was willing to sacrifice Fox's pleasure. Fighting back his own need, he forced himself to relax and slowly caressed the older man's arms and shoulders. "So beautiful," he whispered. "Take your time, baby. Take all night..."

And he damn near did.

For hours to come, Fox kept himself and Alex quivering on the edge of madness, and sometime just before dawn, he let them fall.

Gray light filtered in through the blinds, casting its pale illumination on the two bodies writhing together. Fox buried his face in the curve of his lover's shoulder, harsh grunts muffled by the perspiration-dotted flesh as his hips rose and fell in a quickly intensifying tempo. His hand, wrapped around his lover's aching cock matched his hips stroke for stroke as Alex clung to him, sobbing incoherently, switching from Russian to English and back again.

"God," Fox grated into Alex's shoulder before he lifted his head. "C'mon, baby...." He stared down into his lover's glazed eyes. "It's time...come on..." He shifted into a fierce rhythm, snarling as the building heat flashed and engulfed him in a firestorm of sensation.

Immediately caught up in the blaze, Alex's head snapped back, pushing into the pillows, and a long, feral scream ripped from his throat as he shot a seemingly endless geyser of fluid over himself and Fox's hand. He collapsed then, blackness surrounding him as Fox sprawled over his body, frantically trying to drag some air into his lungs.

// Can't move.//

Fox thought he had said the words aloud, but neither his mouth nor his vocal chords had cooperated. Receiving no response from the virtually unconscious man beneath him, he closed his eyes and let sleep take him to meet his lover.

********************

Alex blinked in the bright sunlight and squinted at the clock.

Eleven-thirty.

God, he felt like he'd been out drinking all night. What the hell did Fox do to him, anyway?

He turned his head and blinked a couple of times, trying to focus. Although things were still a bit blurry after a few seconds, he could see well enough to know that Fox was awake and staring at him. He gave the other man a weary smile and reached across the brief distance to touch the stubbled face.

"Morning," he croaked then grimaced and attempted to clear his throat. "God, I'm hoarse."

"I'd be surprised if you weren't."

Alex frowned at the soft monotone. "Did I make that much noise?"

"Yeah, you did."

That same tone.

Alex forced himself to wake up and propped his head up in his hand. "You okay, lisa?"

"Been better."

Concern seeped into Alex's tone. "What's wrong?"

"What was that all about last night?"

"What was what about?"

"You using sex to avoid talking."

Alex blinked rapidly, taken aback by Fox's statement. "You...you *can't* think that I didn't want to..."

"Of course not. I know you well enough to know that you wanted it as much as I did. But I also know you well enough to know when you're trying to avoid something. You didn't want to talk, so you took advantage of the fact that we hadn't been together in days, and of my weakness for you. Of course, it wasn't until this morning that I could think clearly enough to consider it."

Unable to refute Fox's claim, Alex lay quietly chewing on his lower lip.

"You manipulated me, Alex."

The accused man lowered his eyes and said nothing.

Fox slipped his hand under Alex's chin and lifted his head. "If you'll go to those kinds of extremes to evade this issue..." Fox sighed softly, letting his thumb brush back and forth over his lover's chin. "...baby, can't you see why I think it's a lot more serious than you'll admit?"

"It's not," Alex responded softly, avoiding Fox's stare.

"Alex."

"What?"

"Look at me and say that."

Alex closed his eyes and turned away. "Jesus, Fox, why are you pushing so hard on this?"

"Because I love you," Fox answered. "How many times do we have to go through this?"

No answer.

"I'm just trying to head off trouble..."

"The only trouble," Alex argued, "is the trouble *you're* making. I'm *fine*. *Damn*, I'm tired of saying that."

"Believe me, Alex, I'm just as tired of hearing it. But at the risk of repeating ourselves just one more time, tell me again. And this time, look me in the eye and say it."

Alex's head snapped around, and for one shocking moment Fox thought that he might actually do it. He waited, silently praying that Alex wouldn't be able to look right at him and lie.

Alex stared hard at the other man, willing himself to speak the words, but they wouldn't come out. Finally, he flipped the blanket back and spun to his feet.

"I don't know what the hell you want from me, Fox. I've given you *everything*! My history, my secrets..." Alex plunged a hand into his hair and moved a few steps away, then turned around. "...I've given you all the love I know how to give...you've got my pride, my life...I'd bleed myself *dry* for you. What else is there?"

Fox wasn't backing down. Not this time.

"I want the truth. I want your fear, and your hurt. It's part of you, and I need it all. I need *all* of you."

Alex's breath caught in his throat, and he stood staring mutely at the man on the bed. Then he spun around and stormed off in the direction of the bathroom.

Fox jumped slightly at the sound of the slamming door then slumped against the pillows, clutching his hands to his head and growling his frustration.

// Well, at least he didn't lie to you.//

As he lay considering his next move, the bathroom door flew open and Alex came out, pulling some clothes out of the closet. As he stepped into his jeans and yanked them up, Fox watched warily from the bed.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting dressed."

"And then?"

"Going *out*."

Clyde's head popped up at hearing the words 'going out'. He leapt to his feet and began to prance around Alex, whining.

"No, buddy, I can't take you with me right now." Alex looked up at Fox, all gentleness gone from his tone. "He'll need to go out soon, though."

"Where are you going that you can't take him with you?"

"Nowhere." Alex finished pulling on his boots and picked up his t-shirt, drawing it down over his head and chest

"Alex..." Fox got out of bed and walked over to the younger man. "Baby, don't go." He curved his hand around the back of Alex's neck. "Please, I'm begging you. Stay and talk this out with me."

"I've talked enough about this bullshit to last me five lifetimes. I'm sick to death of talking about it." Alex pulled away from Fox's grasp and moved toward the door.

"*What* talking?" Fox asked, his voice rising again.

No response.

"What time will you be back?"

"I don't know." There was the slightest bit of hesitation as Alex reached for the knob, then he opened the door and walked out.

Fox stood in the middle of the bedroom, listening as another door closed, and then Alex's car started and roared out of the garage. When quiet again fell on the house, he walked toward the bed and sat heavily at the edge of the mattress. Clyde joined him, resting his head on Fox's knee and whining softly.

"I don't know what the hell to do," Fox said to the dog as he stroked the broad head. "I don't...I..." He dropped his head and fell into silence.

********************

Alex drove, watching the early afternoon sun give way to depressing, gray clouds.

Wonderful.

// The perfect addition to a fucking miserable day.//

He groaned softly as he thought back to the fight he'd had with Fox just a few hours ago.

Another damn fight.

God, he knew that the man was stubborn when he thought he was right about something, but why the hell couldn't he see that he was flat out wrong about this?

"I'm *not* avoiding my problems, because I don't *have* any freakin' problems."

Alex glanced into his rearview mirror and frowned. Out of nowhere it seemed, two cars had appeared, quickly flanking him. He looked from one car to the other, noting that there were two men in each, and all four kept their eyes on the road.

"What the hell is this..."

They drove on for a distance, neither car pulling ahead or falling behind, and after a few minutes, Alex reached under his jacket and pulled his gun from the waistband of his pants, resting it on the seat beside his thigh.

As he drove, he considered putting the gas pedal to the floor and giving the assholes a run for their money, but those thoughts were quickly squashed as another car pulled up behind him and another two came into view in front of him.

"Son of a...okay, shitheads, let's see what the hell this is about."

He let the men pull him over and, tucking his gun back into his pants, got out of the car. In seconds, he was surrounded by ten men.

"Okay, boys, what's up?"

"Someone would like a word with you," the spokesman answered.

"Yeah? Who?" As if he didn't know.

"Just come with us, please."

"Look, asshole, if you think I'm gonna leave my car here on the side of the road and go *anywhere* with you..."

"We'll take care of your car."

Alex emitted a disdainful laugh. "Ain't a single one of you sitting your nasty asses on my leather. I'll follow you."

"Can't do that."

"I'm not going anywhere with you," Alex said softly, "so..."

One of the men standing behind him moved forward and grasped his upper arm, trying to shove him forward, and the fight was on. Before anyone could act to prevent it, Alex had drawn his gun and shot two of the men in front of him. Frozen with shock, the man behind him was next to fall. As the others attempted to rally from the surprise attack, Alex spun around put a bullet point blank between his eyes. Before he could turn again, he was grabbed, and, not without tremendous difficulty, he was wrestled and beaten to the ground.

"You son of a bitch," the first man spat, leaning over him. "That was my cousin."

Pain exploded in Alex's head as the butt of the man's gun came down across his cheek. The coppery taste of his own blood filled his mouth as the world spun and went hazy but not completely black.

"Get him up."

He was brutally jerked to his feet, and a voice he hadn't yet heard wafted through the air.

"This wasn't part of the job, Jack."

"Yeah, neither was *that*." The man called Jack pointed to the three bodies.

"He told us this guy was dangerous. That's why he sent so many of us. I know Lenny was your cousin, but disobeying his orders can get us dead just like him."

Jack glared at the other man, knowing he was right, but at that precise moment, anger spoke just a little more loudly to him than good sense. He walked up to the dazed man and drew his arm back, plunging his fist into Alex's stomach, doubling him over. The two men holding him pulled him back up, and Jack backhanded him, cutting the other side of his face. Satisfied, he picked up Alex's gun, turned around, and began walking.

"Get him in the fucking car and pick up the bodies."

"What about *his* car?" One of the other men asked.

Jack turned to face the group. "Much as I'd love to torch the fucking thing, I guess we should take it to the motel. Jerome, sit your nasty ass on the man's leather and drive, would you?"

********************

Three-thirty.

Fox turned away from the clock and continued his slow pace.

Not a sign of Alex.

It had only been a little more than four hours, but he had hoped that maybe the younger man's anger would have subsided by now, and he would come home.

He stalked back and forth across the living room floor, occasionally stealing glances at the door as he thought about what it was he would say to Alex when he got back.

// Okay...option one...apologize yet again, tell him how wrong you were, and let him go on in this state of denial, taking greater and stupider chances until he gets hurt or worse.//

He shook his head.

// No. Bad. Option two...hog tie him and don't let him go until he agrees to listen to what it is you've got to say.//

He stopped pacing, letting his head fall back against his shoulders and stared up at the ceiling.

// Oh, yeah, *that'll* work...Christ. Option three...when he gets home, say nothing, cook him a nice dinner, seduce him like he did to you, and when he's begging for you to get him off, threaten to leave him hanging unless he listens to you.//

He dropped his head and groaned.

// No, that's only temporary. He'd agree to everything, then take it all back afterward. You've got to *convince* him...make him *see* the harm he's doing.//

"No shit," he whispered to himself. "But, how?"

Fox glanced once more at the clock and resumed his pacing.

********************

"What is this?"

"We uh...we had a little trouble."

The man fixed a watery stare on the others in the room, taking note of their disheveled, bruised and battered conditions. "Apparently." He returned his attention to the semi-conscious man on the bed. "But he was not to be harmed."

"He killed three men. One of them was my *cousin*."

Gray smoke swirled toward the angry man. "That's unfortunate, but I warned you of the risks involved. This man is far more dangerous than in just the physical sense. He's supposed to have our protection." The smoker nodded to the man who had arrived with him, and in front of all present, his companion pulled a gun out of his jacket and shot Jack once in the head. The remaining six men stared in mute shock as, with a soft thump, he fell dead.

"Insubordination of any kind will not be tolerated. The rest of you would do well do remember that. Now, leave us, and take Jack with you."

Quickly, the other men removed the body, cleaned up, and left the smoker alone with Alex.

The man walked into the bathroom, running a washcloth under cold water, and returned. Sickly blue eyes watched as the younger man groaned softly and flinched at the chilly touch of the terry cloth.

"Alex..." He sat down on the edge of the mattress and made a closer inspection of the other's wounds as he tended to them. "Alex, can you hear me?"

"Hmm."

"You're safe. You won't be harmed again."

Sable lashes fluttered and glazed, green eyes attempted to focus on the wrinkled face above. "What," he whispered then went silent.

"Yes?"

"What the...fuck do you want?"

"Not this, I can assure you. The man who did this to you has been punished."

"Yeah, I heard." Alex winced at the pain in his face. "But nobody moves without your okay."

"This man did. My orders were for them to bring you here for a talk. Nothing more. When we're through here, I'll see that you get home safe and sound."

Home.

Alex closed his eyes and turned away. "What do you want?"

"I told you. I want to talk. Surely you know that you and Agent Mulder are still watched. We can't protect you if we don't know where you are and what you're doing..."

"Oh, of course."

"You've infiltrated my offices...procured some very sensitive information. Fortunately, I've been able to act quickly enough to head off any trouble regarding said information, so no real harm has been done."

// Shit.//

"Congratulations."

"I'm very surprised, Alex." The man stubbed out his cigarette and pulled another out of his pack. "Do you know how many times over you could have been dead?"

Alex snatched the cloth from the gnarled hand as it moved again toward his face. Pressing it to his cheek and grimacing, he said nothing.

"I would attribute your negligence to age, but you're still a young man. So," he paused to draw on his cigarette. "I must assume that it's something else."

"Fuck you."

A rush of smoke rose into the air. "Are you having personal problems?"

Silence.

"You know, Alex, if there's any chance that you and Agent Mulder will be going your separate ways, the group would welcome you back. Even at half capacity, you're more efficient than these incompetents we have now." He shook his head and took another drag. "No one takes pride in their work anymore..."

Avoiding the thinly veiled inquiry, Alex mumbled a question of his own. "You know I'm working against you. Why would you want me back?"

The smoker shrugged. "I believe that with a little bargaining we could strike up a mutually beneficial deal. You're an intelligent, resourceful man, Alex. Now, if for some reason Agent Mulder can't appreciate that..."

"Fox appreciates me just fine. Now, get the hell out of here and leave me alone."

"You only killed three out of ten of the men I sent to escort you here, Alex. *Something* has got you feeling out of sorts. I can help you. And I will. Surely you have no doubt of that...not after I tidied things up for you and Agent Mulder last year during your ordeal."

"Just like he thought," Alex murmured to himself then glared at the other man. "And now you're trying to collect on the favor?"

"No, not at all. You owe me nothing. Nor does Agent Mulder. I just see a change in you, and I wouldn't be much of a businessman if I didn't see if I could coax you back into the fold."

"You can't."

"Are sure about that?"

"Positive. Now, if you don't mind..."

The man put out his cigarette and automatically reached for another. Instead of immediately lighting up, he paused, rolling the cigarette between his fingers. "All right. I won't push. I know how you hate to be pushed."

"Good. Now, go, and take all those morons with you."

"Alex, I can't leave you here in this condition. I must take responsibility for what those in my employ did to you. I'll see you home."

"*No*. Just leave me alone. I don't need your help."

"I'm not so sure of that. You keep holding your hand to your middle. Did Jack break any ribs?"

"Just a little sore...where's my car?" Alex asked, just realizing that he was driven to this motel. "Did those assholes do anything to my car?"

The smoker shrugged. "I don't believe so. It's outside. It looked fine when I drove up."

Alex closed his eyes. "Then I'll leave on my own. Go."

The old man nodded and made his way to the door. "Very well. Just do yourself a favor and rest a while before you try to leave." He opened the door and smiled down at the man on the bed. "My offer stands, Alex. You know where to find me if you change your mind."

The door closed and Alex's head fell back against the pillow. He groaned softly, finally giving in to his injuries.

"God," he whimpered almost inaudibly, wishing he was at home in Fox's arms.

Fox.

Jesus, had he been right? That wrinkled bastard had known every time he'd been to his offices and had just let him go. And now, this morning. If he'd been at the top of his game, he'd never have let those amateurs get their hands on him, and *none* of them would have lived to tell about it.

But in admitting that Fox was right about him being careless, he'd also have to admit the rest.

"No," he moaned as the ache in his body continually intensified. "Can't...gotta be stronger than that. Can't let a dead man beat me..."

********************

"Hello?"

"Jeez, Mulder, you sound anxious about something."

Fox sighed into the phone. "I was hoping you were Alex."

"Why," Scully asked, "where is he?"

"I don't know."

"God, not another fight."

"Yeah. It's a long story, but he got mad and took off late this morning. I haven't heard from him since...wait...my cell phone is ringing." Fox snatched the other phone off of the coffee table and answered.

"Agent Mulder."

"What do you want?" he snapped, instantly recognizing the voice.

"Such a snippy attitude for someone who's talking to the only person who can tell him where his wayward companion is."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm speaking of Alex, of course. There's been an incident."

Worry and anger combined, giving Fox's voice a desperate tone. "What *kind* of incident? Where is he?"

"Mulder?" Scully called, only able to hear her partner's end of the conversation. "Mulder, what's going on?"

"He's at the Capri Motel on Morton Road. Room eleven. You might want to come out and get him, he's not in any shape to drive himself."

"What did you do to him, you son of a *bitch*?"

"I can assure you that I have done no harm to him. But rest assured, the man who did will never hurt anyone again."

"Why should I believe you?"

"What reason do I have to lie? I've looked after you both in the past; I'm simply continuing that trend."

"If there was something wrong, Alex would've call me himself."

"Would he?"

Fox went silent, asking himself that very question.

"You have his location, Agent Mulder. I'll keep an eye on him until you get here...from a discreet distance, of course."

The line went dead, and Fox lifted the other phone to his ear. "Scully, I need you to meet me at the Capri Motel on Morton Road. Room eleven."

"Why, Mulder? What the hell's going on?"

"Alex is there. He may be hurt."

"All right, I'm on my way."

"Thanks." Fox disconnected, grabbed his weapon and his cell phone, and sprinted out to the garage. Twenty five minutes later his car screeched to a stop beside Alex's Porsche in the parking lot of the Capri Motel.

Leaping from the Ford, Fox quickly found room eleven and opened the unlocked door, weapon drawn just in case. Except for the figure on the bed, the room appeared empty. Fox checked the bathroom and, finding no one there, he hurried to the bed and sat down beside the still man.

"Oh, God." Gently, Fox turned Alex's face to the light to inspect the damage. The movement roused the younger man, and he groaned at the pain it caused.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Fox whispered, petting his lover's head.

"Fox..."

"Yeah. Yeah, Alex, it's me."

Alex blinked and squinted up at the other man. Remembering his condition, he turned his head away and closed his eyes.

"Baby, what happened?" Fox asked. "Who did this to you?"

"Doesn't matter. How did you know?"

"I got a call about half an hour ago."

"The smoker."

"Yeah. He said that whoever did this had been taken care of."

Alex nodded with some effort. "Fairy godfather strikes again."

Fox let out a heavy breath. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"

"Ribs."

Fox gently lifted the other man's shirt to assess the damage. "You're pretty bruised. Do you think any of them are broken?"

"Don't think so."

"Can you breathe all right?"

"Hurts, but, yeah. I can breathe all right."

"Oh, my God."

Fox turned at the sound of his partner's voice. "Thanks for getting here so fast, Scully."

The woman advanced and sat down on the other side of the bed, gently turning Alex's face to her. "You've got some pretty good swelling going on here. Couple of cuts. It's gonna hurt a little, Alex, but I have to touch you, okay?"

Alex closed his eyes and nodded.

As Scully checked his face, she asked questions. "Do you know what you were hit with?"

Alex pointed to the lesser of the two injuries. "Just his hand, but..." He pointed to the other side. "...caught the butt of his gun on this side."

Fox flushed a deep crimson, and his eyes glittered a murderous green. "This fucker had better be dead."

"He is," Alex said softly. "Cancerman had him killed right in front of me."

"I think you might have a slight fracture on this side, but we'll have to get you x-rayed to be sure," Scully announced. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"

"His ribs," Fox answered for Alex, again pulling the younger man's shirt up.

Scully prodded gently, apologizing when Alex flinched. "Again, we gotta get x-rays, but I don't think you've got anything broken here...did you say Cancerman?"

Alex nodded.

Scully looked at the other man. "That's who called you?"

"Yeah." Fox again reached out to stroke Alex's hair. "To tell me where he was."

Alex's eyes drifted open, but he kept his gaze averted from his lover's face, instead looking down at the mattress.

Fox watched Alex, noting the look on his face, and decided that now wouldn't be a good time to press him for any answers. He worked one arm under Alex's back and lifted gently. "Come on, babe," he murmured to the other man. "Let's get out of here."

Alex allowed himself to be moved, wincing as little as possible as he rose to his feet. Slowly, the three walked out into the lot and moved toward Fox's vehicle. Alex looked toward the Porsche then at Scully who happened to be in his direct line of sight.

"My car..."

"It'll be okay here for a little while longer," Fox assured him.

"Yeah, Alex, don't worry about it. I'll grab one of the Gunmen and we'll come out and get it for you, okay?"

"Okay," Alex sighed, unhappy at the prospect of anyone but himself or Fox driving his baby.

Once everyone was in their cars, they headed to the hospital, silence hanging heavily in the compartment of Fox's car.

Alex sat quietly brooding, hand to his abdomen as the Ford moved smoothly down the old road.

"Can you imagine driving road this in your car in your condition?" Fox asked, finally breaking the silence. "You'd be suffering for sure."

No reply.

"Are you all right?" the older man asked in a softer tone.

"Yeah," Alex answered, awaiting the questions that he thought would surely follow. To his surprise, none did. Risking a quick glance over at Fox, he frowned then leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes.

When they reached the hospital, they walked Alex into the emergency room where he was checked out and taken to Radiology. While he was being x-rayed, Fox and Scully sat together in the waiting room.

Tired of the silence, Scully began to speak.

"You wanna tell me what this latest fight was about, and what the hell Alex was doing at a motel several miles from home...bruised and possibly fractured?"

Fox sighed heavily. "I...I tried to talk to him last night...again...he didn't want to talk, so he...diverted my attention."

Scully shook her head. "What a sucker."

Fox ignored the dig. "So anyway, this morning, I called him on it, we got into it *again*, and he blew his top and left. I had no idea where he was until Cancerman called."

"Now, how did *he* get into this?"

"I don't know. And I *won't* know until I can talk to Alex...if he'll speak to me. He didn't say two words the whole drive over."

"He talked to you in the motel room, didn't he?"

"Yeah."

Scully patted her partner's knee. "*Somebody* did a number on him, Mulder. That's probably eating a hole straight through his gut. Maybe he's just trying to sort it all out."

"I *told* him about this, just this morning," Fox said. "I *told* him that he was going to get hurt or worse."

"You didn't give him the I told you so speech, did you?"

"No, of course not. I'm just grateful that he's okay...and *alive*. I..."

"Mr. Mulder?"

Fox and Scully looked up to find the nurse smiling from the doorway of the examining room.

"Mr. Krycek will be back down in a minute if you want to wait in here."

Scully gave Fox an encouraging smile and waved him off toward the room. Within just a couple of minutes of him entering, Alex was brought back in, followed by the emergency room doctor.

"Well," he began, smiling at Fox. "As Dr. Scully had predicted, there is a slight fracture in his cheekbone. It'll be sore and bruised for a while, but it'll be all right. There were no broken ribs, only severe bruising. He missed having to have stitches on that cheek by only a few centimeters, but the cuts should heal up fine. I'll give him some antibiotics to keep away infection, but other than that, rest is what he needs."

"For how long?"

The doctor shrugged. "Two, three days should do it." He turned to Alex. "You hear that? Take it easy. And no bar room brawls for at least two weeks."

Fox looked from the doctor to Alex but said nothing.

Alex nodded and looked down at his folded hands.

The doctor released him, and the three left together, walking through the afternoon drizzle over to Fox's car.

Fox opened the door for Alex who docilely sat in the passenger's seat. He shut the door and looked to his partner who stood not more than two feet away. "Thanks again, Scully."

"No problem. If you need me, just call."

"Okay."

Scully reached out, rubbing Fox's arm. "He'll be okay."

"Physically, yeah, I know. But what about the rest of it? I love him so much, Scully, and I don't know what to do to help him."

"You can't *do* much else, Mulder. Just love him and stick by him. It's up to him from there."

Fox bowed his head and nodded. "Well, let me get him out of here, so he can ignore me in the comfort and privacy of our own home." He handed his own key to the Porsche to Scully and thanked her.

Scully took the key, smiled and walked away, leaving Fox no choice but to get into the car.

"You okay? he asked, the younger man as he pulled on his seatbelt.

Slight nod of the sable head.

"Okay, well, just relax, and we'll be home soon."

Alex sat quietly, contemplating the events of the day and the issues that helped bring them about. He thought about Fox's failure to discuss what had happened to him, and why that might be. He recalled the look of fear and concern in his lover's eyes when he first entered the room, and then the fury when Alex had explained what was done to him.

And as much as he didn't want to do it, he began thinking again about Justin Saint James and the torments inflicted on him. He recalled the nightmares afterward and the terrible results of those dreams. He thought about the nights spent awake, watching Fox sleep and listening to the quiet, afraid of what he might not hear...terrified that the things he could not see were out there waiting for him to drop his guard. And he thought about Matthew's letter and the effect he'd refused to admit that it had on him.

// I'm still here, Alexei.//

Alex opened his eyes and jerked his head up.

"Alex?" Fox called to his now shivering lover. "What's wrong?"

The younger man wrapped his arms around himself, huddling into his jacket and said nothing.

"Baby, please tell me."

// Did you enjoy your day? It's been a while since you had a good beating. Did it bring back pleasant memories of me?//

Alex covered his ears, whimpering softly.

"Take it easy, sweetheart. We're almost there."

Heart pounding frantically in his chest, Fox broke every speed limit to get home. When he finally pulled into the garage, he quickly exited the car and came around to open the passenger's side door.

"We're here, Alex." Fox reached in to gently touch the younger man's head. "Come on, you need some rest."

// Yes, listen to the lovely Fox, Alexei. You're weak. You need sleep. And once you've gone beddy bye, you and I can have fun like we used to.//

"Nooo," Alex groaned miserably, rocking back and forth even though the movement caused him considerable discomfort.

"Alex, please," Fox whispered hoarsely, tugging carefully on the younger man's arm. "Come on inside. You'll feel better once you get some sleep."

"No," Alex shook his head adamantly. "Can't...I can't."

// Well, of course you can. Come on now. Off to bed with you.//

Alex lifted his head and cast a wide-eyed glance around. "Shut up!"

Fox followed Alex's gaze. "Who are you talking to?"

Alex again lowered his head, breathing deeply. "Nobody."

"You look so scared."

"I'm not scared!" the younger man snapped, refusing to look at his lover.

Fox shook his head. "All right, Alex. I'm sorry. Come on, let's go into the house." He finally got Alex out of the car and led him inside where they were immediately greeted by Clyde, whom Alex passed by as though he wasn't there.

More concerned now than before, Fox led Alex into the bedroom and laid him down. He removed the younger man's boots and top garments then drew the blanket up over his chest.

"No." Alex struggled to sit up. "I don't want to sleep."

"You don't have to sleep if you don't want to," Fox soothed. "But you'll be more comfortable if you're lying down."

"I don't *want* to lie down."

"You heard what the doctor said, Alex. You need to rest."

"I'm fine."

"Alex, please?"

Thankfully, Alex relented, and he eased the younger man into a reclining position.

"Do you want anything? Are you hungry or thirsty?"

Alex shook his head.

Fox sat at the edge of the bed and covered the younger man's hand with his own. After a few seconds of silence, he cleared his throat and spoke up.

"Who...who did you hear in the garage?"

"...No one."

Fox let his head drop, feeling a scream forming in his throat, but he maintained control. He took two deep breaths and let it go.

"Okay. All right. You stay here and rest, and I'll go get something started for dinner in case you get hungry."

He rose from the bed and started toward the door but before he could reach it, Alex's voice, tinged with restrained fright sounded.

"Fox..."

Fox looked to the man on the bed, and the expression he read in the glassy, green eyes sent wave upon wave of pain slamming through him. He moved back toward the bed and stared down at Alex, waiting.

Alex turned pleading eyes up to the other man but was unable to ask Fox not to leave him alone.

"What is it, baby?"

// Please stay with me.//

"Nothing."

"You called to me."

Alex opened and closed his mouth twice as if he wanted to speak, but ultimately remained silent. He shook his head and turned his face away from his lover's worried gaze.

Without a word, Fox sat down on the bed. "Alex, please don't do this," he murmured, lifting a hand to the younger man's head. "You want to say something. I can see it all over your face."

Avoiding the older man's eyes, Alex shook his head and turned onto the side that wasn't wounded.

Fox adjusted the blanket and let his hand rest on Alex's shoulder. Through the light cotton he could feel the tremors running consistently through the prone body. Hesitating for just a moment, he swung his legs up onto the bed and lay on top of the blanket, facing Alex. He wound an arm around his lover, pulling him close and tenderly stroking his back. The relieved sigh did not escape his notice, and he pressed his lips to Alex's forehead.

"Close your eyes, baby. Try and sleep."

Alex melted into Fox's embrace, reveling in the warmth of his lover's touch.

So gentle. So safe.

So he needed that security. So what? There was nothing wrong with it. This was Fox, for Christ's sake, and there was nothing *wrong* with needing his comfort.

No. There wasn't. Not usually, but not...he shouldn't need comfort for this. *This* should not be having this kind of effect on him. Fuck it, it shouldn't be having *any* kind of effect on him...

"You don't..."

Fox pulled back a bit and looked down at the younger man. "I don't what?"

"...Have to stay."

The last three words of Alex's statement were so soft, Fox had to strain to hear them. "Did that sound believable to you?" he asked softly. "Didn't to me."

"I'm all right."

"That statement didn't sound any more credible than the last one. Wanna try again?"

Alex fell into silence, the truth of his needs being conveyed through his body's unrelenting tremors. Trying to con Fox was a useless endeavor, and he knew it.

Fox once more pulled the younger man to him, enveloping him in soothing warmth. Minutes later, he felt Alex's fingers slide up to his chest and curl around the material of his shirt. He rested his cheek on the top of the sable head and closed his eyes, thankful that at least for now, all protests had come to an end.

A very long time later the shaking ceased, and the familiar sounds of his lover asleep greeted Fox's ears. He dropped a kiss into the soft hair and closed his own eyes.

********************

Rain.

Fox sighed contentedly and buried his face deeper into his pillow.

Up until a few years ago he hadn't much enjoyed the sound of rain falling. It wasn't that he'd been scared by rainstorms as a child or any such reason. He simply got no enjoyment out of them until he learned to relax and really listen to the erratic but soothing rhythm that the drops pounded out.

Alex taught him how.

And now, he loved the sound. Especially when they were in bed, wrapped snugly in each other's arms...

Fox reached out, expecting to touch his lover, but his hand felt nothing but cool sheet. All at once he was awake, blinking, trying to focus in the near-darkness.

"Alex?"

Silence.

// God, where is he?//

Fox leapt out of bed and performed a quick but thorough search of the house. As he moved through the living room, he saw Clyde sitting by the glass doors, staring intently out into the pouring rain. He walked over to where the dog was sitting and peered into the yard.

He saw nothing but sheets of rain at first, then movement at the far end of the yard caught his eye.

"What the...stay here, Clyde."

Fox threw the door open sprinted into the yard and toward his soaked lover.

"Alex!"

The younger man staggered toward the north side of the yard, having given no indication that he'd heard Fox calling to him. His eyes blindly searched through the downpour, looking for intruders that weren't there.

Fox finally caught up with Alex and grabbed at his drenched shirt. He released him immediately as the disconcerted man whirled around and pointed his gun at him.

"Baby," Fox called as softly as the downpour would let him. "It's me..."

Alex blinked, focusing on the obscured figure and recognizing it as that of his lover. The weapon fell from his loosened grip, and he stood staring at Fox, trembling violently.

Fox quickly stooped and picked up the gun, shoving it into the waistband of his jeans, and wrapped the stricken man in his arms.

"I heard s-something," Alex stuttered, clinging to Fox's soaked shirt. "Someone...someone was out here."

"I don't see anything," Fox assured Alex as he looked around the yard. "Come on, you're soaked. Let's go back inside." He maneuvered the younger man toward the house and into the bathroom where he began peeling off his waterlogged clothing.

"It was him," Alex whispered, his teeth chattering. "He made me go out there, and I almost shot you...again..."

Once he'd completely stripped Alex, Fox dried then wrapped a towel around him and gently sat him on the downturned toilet lid. He then removed his own clothing, dried off, and put the gun away, then he returned to his lover.

"Baby?" Fox called softly, brushing a few damp strands of hair out of Alex's eyes. "Who were you talking about? Who made you go outside?"

Distressed green eyes looked up, remaining focused on Fox for only a matter of seconds before skipping away.

"Alex...Alex, please. I'm begging you." A heavy mist coated Fox's eyes. "*Please* talk to me. Let me help you."

Alex kept his gaze to the space between them. "J....Justin Saint...Saint James."

Fox closed his eyes for a moment, and when he reopened them, he gently pulled Alex to his feet and led him into the bedroom. When he had the younger man tucked back into bed, he responded to the admission.

"You dreamt about him?"

Alex nodded slowly. "And he talks to me."

Fox's eyebrows drew down into a heavy frown. "How long has this been going on?"

"Off and on since last year. But s...since that letter came...I hear him almost every day. I don't want to. I want him to shut the hell up and leave me alone."

Fox leaned forward, planting a soft kiss on Alex's forehead. "You need to confront him."

"But..." Alex sighed in confusion. "...he's *dead*. God, a dead man is talking to me."

"Matthew isn't. Settle it with him, and maybe you'll settle it with Saint James."

Alex's brow creased. "But I don't want to see him. I don't want to have to look at him."

"I know you don't. And I wouldn't ask you to if I thought it would do no good. I love you Alex, and I'd rather die than see you hurt."

Alex closed his eyes and lowered his head. How could he ever have believed otherwise?

"I...I'm afraid." He drew a shaky breath and looked up as Fox touched his face.

"Tell me."

"After those really bad first few weeks, I..I started to feel better. I felt strong for a while. I felt like myself when you were with me, but when I was alone, it was like my mind turned against me. I couldn't control the flashbacks, I couldn't...the nightmares came with a lot less frequency, but when they did come, I'd wake up terrified. I tried not to let you see..."

"I know," Fox whispered. "But I told you before, Alex, you can't hide from me."

Alex nodded and continued. "I felt so out of control and at times, helpless. I hate that feeling. I was...I *am* afraid of it. I have to be...I have to be on top of things. Can't be weak..."

"Baby, it's impossible to be rock solid all the time. You don't *have* to be."

"I do," Alex protested softly.

"Why?"

The younger man shook his head, struggling for a coherent answer. "I couldn't live with myself if I let you down."

"Let me *down*...Alex, what makes you think...God." Fox lay down beside the younger man, pulling him into his arms. "Baby, we're supposed to take care of each *other*. There's nothing wrong with you feeling weak or out of control. I'm here, and I'll catch you if you fall."

Alex dropped his gaze. "You don't need to have an emotional wreck on your hands."

"And how many times have *I* been wrecked? You held me up, Alex. You gave me all the love and strength I needed, and you never ran dry." Fox slipped a hand under Alex's chin and lifted his head. "I can do the same for you. I *want* to. And it hurts that you won't let me."

"I know I've hurt you plenty in the last few days," Alex murmured, the pain clear in his voice. "I...I didn't mean to. I love you, lisa, and it kills me to think about how I've treated you..."

Fox hugged the distraught man to his chest, gently shushing him. "It's all right. What happened to you was horrific. You've done amazingly well, all things considered."

"How can you say that? I've taken stupid chances, treated you like shit...I hear dead people talking to me...sounds pretty loony to me."

"You're not loony," Fox argued softly, petting his lover's hair. "But you're not well, either. And it's not your fault." He leaned back and placed a tiny kiss on the tip of Alex's nose. "You've fought these demons of yours for almost a year now, and it's wearing on you. Please, baby...stop trying to do it all alone. Stop trying to prove to me, you, and everyone else how tough you are." Fox cupped the younger man's cheek, letting his thumb brush back and forth across the stubbled surface. "Give me all the bad stuff you've been lugging around for so long."

"It's a lot bad stuff," Alex answered just above a whisper.

"I don't care. Dump it all on me; that's what I'm here for." Fox moved in, covering the younger man's mouth in a tender kiss. "Let me carry you."

Alex leaned into Fox's embrace, tucking his head under the older man's chin, and for the first time in several months, he let go of the pain he'd held so tightly to.

Fox tightened his arms around his lover as his body began to shudder and muffled sobs broke past his lips. "Let go of it," he whispered into Alex's hair. "I got you..."

The muffled sobs turned to louder, heart-wrenching wails and continued without cessation for nearly twenty minutes.

Fox let Alex cry himself to exhaustion, shedding his own silent tears, and when the other man was through, he held him quietly, unsure of whether or not he was asleep. When Alex shifted and took a couple of shaky breaths, Fox pulled back and looked down into severely bloodshot eyes. He gave the younger man a sweet, sympathetic smile.

"Your nose is running."

He reached over to the nightstand and plucked a couple of tissues from the box, folding them in half and holding them to Alex's nose.

"Blow."

The absurdity of the moment brought a tiny smile to Alex's lips as he obeyed the soft command.

Fox discarded the tissue and turned back to face the other man. "How do you feel?" he asked, brushing some residual moisture from the sable lashes.

"Worn out," Alex croaked.

"But a little better maybe?"

"Yeah, I guess." Alex closed his eyes, letting the steady beat of his lover's heart lull him and provide the strength he needed to do what he had to do. "I uh...I guess we should talk about that letter."

Fox remained silent, waiting.

"I'm s...I'm sorry, lisa, I tore it into little pieces and threw it away."

Fox kissed Alex's forehead. "Are you thinking about talking to him?"

"I still don't want to, but you're right. I should or it'll eat me alive. But I destroyed the envelope with his address." Fox's conspicuous silence made him look up into the older man's eyes. "You memorized it, didn't you?"

Fox displayed a sheepish grin. "You know how information just sort of sticks in my head."

Alex closed his eyes, attempting to hide the glimmer of disappointment. "Yeah, I know."

"You okay?"

The thick curtain of lashes rose, and Alex fixed a determined if bleary-eyed gaze on his lover. "Not entirely. But I will be."

"I think we may be turning a corner," Fox informed the younger man, hugging him tightly.

"We're not gonna run smack into a brick wall, are we?" Alex asked warily.

"Nooo. Everything's going to be fine. I'm not saying that it'll be easy, but it *will* turn out okay. Just remember to hang on to me." Fox felt Alex's arms tighten around him as the younger man pressed impossibly closer, and he smiled a contented smile. "Think you can go to sleep now?"

Alex nodded, sighing softly. "I think so...I love you, Fox."

Fox's smile grew brighter. "I love you, sweetheart."

A few minutes passed in silence, and Fox thought Alex might have fallen asleep, but the younger man shifted and lifted his head.

"What'd you do with my gun?"

"I put it back where it belongs."

"Get it out of there, Fox."

"Hmm?"

"Hide it. Lock it up someplace, and don't tell me where it is."

"Why?"

"I've almost shot you twice because of this shit. I think it's a good idea if you took my gun...at least until we're sure I'm completely over this."

Fox kissed the younger man's head. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

"All right, babe."

"Now, okay?"

Fox hesitated, hating to commit the act of distrust, but Alex insisted again, and he slid out of bed and did as the younger man asked. When he'd hidden the weapon away, he returned to his lover, wrapping him securely in his arms.

"Feel better?"

"Knowing I can't blow your head off in my sleep? Yeah, I feel a little better."

"You wouldn't do that."

"We don't know that for sure, and I'd really rather not find out."

Fox scattered a number of kisses in the damp, sable hair and hugged Alex to him. "Okay, babe. You don't have to worry about it now."

"Yeah. Now I can worry about other stuff."

"It's going to be fine," Fox whispered, petting his lover's hair. "I promise."

Alex fell asleep not long after all conversation ended, and Fox lay holding the younger man in a protective embrace, staring into the darkness and thinking about what lay ahead.

********************

All right, you little asshole,

As much as the thought of looking at your face again sickens me, I'm going to agree to a meeting. I don't give a rat's ass about your problems; this is solely for my own benefit.

Call the number given below and leave a number where you can be reached...

Fox walked into the room, sucking on a banana popsicle and looked over Alex's shoulder to see what he was typing.

"I put the car away..."

Alex nodded, not looking up from the monitor.

"Found the key. Scully left it in the mailbox...uh...babe?"

Alex pounded at the keyboard, still not looking away. "Yeah?"

"Don't you think that's a little too..."

Alex stopped typing and spun around, startling Fox into taking a couple of steps back.

"What? Too long? I'm trying to make it as short as possible."

"Well..." Fox scratched the back of his head with his free hand. "...yeah, brief and to the point is good, but...well...your point is just a little too sharp, don't you think?"

Alex looked from Fox to the monitor and back again. "Sharp?"

Fox shrugged warily. "Yeah. You know...just a little."

"You think he deserves for me to be nice to him?"

"No, of course not, but that sounds...well, it's sounds *hostile*."

"I *feel* hostile."

"Yeah, I *know*, but..."

"Fox," Alex interrupted, "do I have to remind you about what this fucker did to me?"

"It's crystal clear in my mind, babe, believe me. I'd like to beat the shit out of him too, but I can't. And neither can you. And," he added, motioning to the partially-typed letter, "if you send *that*, he'll probably be too afraid to meet with you."

"*Good*."

"No, baby, *bad*. We *want* to meet with him, remember? Getting things squared away with him is a key factor in your recovery."

Alex emitted a hard sigh and looked back at the monitor. "Well, what the hell am I supposed to say to him? Everything I can think of is nasty."

Fox moved forward again and kissed the top of his lover's head. "Okay, how about..." He handed his popsicle to Alex and extended his arms, one on either side of the younger man, and began to delete most of what he'd typed.

Alex settled back against Fox's shoulder, comfortably nestled in the circle of his arms, and began to take bites out of the popsicle.

"Hey, that's the last banana," Fox complained as he watched the yellow block of ice begin to disappear.

"It wouldn't be if you didn't eat them all first," Alex threw back, finishing off one side, removing the stick then going to work on the other.

"Can you at least save me a bite?"

"I'll think about it once I see how polite you're going to make this note."

"It'll be brief and to the point."

"In other words, polite."

"No..."

Alex sighed heavily then fell silent as Fox typed up a very brief answer to Matthew's letter. When he was through, he snatched the remnants of his popsicle from Alex's hand.

"How 'bout that? Nothing friendly there, right?"

Alex grimaced at the older man and examined the message. "I suppose it'll do," he grunted disdainfully.

Fox finished off his popsicle then planted a cold peck on his lover's cheek. "Have I told you that I'm proud of you?"

"I haven't mailed it yet," Alex deadpanned.

"True. But you will. You never do anything halfway."

"Oh yeah, good, that's it. Put the pressure on me."

"No pressure, babe," Fox assured the younger man. "But you know this is best. It's necessary."

Alex reached back, lacing the fingers of one hand with Fox's. "Yeah, yeah. Do me a favor and hit print before I change my mind and delete the whole damn thing."

Fox kissed his lover's cheek again and printed the short note. He printed up an envelope, deposited the folded paper inside, and sealed the flap then set it aside.

"All done. Wanna get me a stamp out of the drawer?"

Alex sighed, pulling the top left drawer open and withdrawing a book of stamps. Fox grasped the other end of the book, playing tug-of-war with him before he finally let it go.

"There." Fox removed a stamp and handed the book back to Alex. "We can mail it when we take Clyde out later."

"Yeah, great."

Fox leaned down, pulling the younger man back against him. "It's gonna be okay, baby. I promise."

Silence.

"Hey," Fox whispered into the other man's ear. "I got something to make you feel better."

Alex knew the tone, and so did his cock. It leapt to attention, pushing against the fabric of his jeans. He shifted in his seat and smirked up at Fox.

"Yeah? What've you got?"

Fox wrapped his arms around the younger man, starting at the back of his neck and kissing a path over his shoulder and then up the side of his neck to his jaw. He turned Alex's head toward his and drew his tongue across the perfectly bowed lips.

Alex's eyelids drooped, and he drew in a long, soft breath. "Mmm. What else have you got for me?"

Fox moved around to the front of the chair and kneeled in front of his lover. Slowly, his hands traveled the length of Alex's thighs, and he looked up at the younger man from beneath a curtain of lashes. "Everything you need, baby," he purred, letting his hands gently skim over the bulge in Alex's jeans.

Alex's eyes closed as he concentrated on the delicious sensations being generated by the simple touch. He fought to keep his hands relaxed by his side and let Fox have complete control, and the effort showed in his face. The older man gave him a sly grin and undid his belt. Pulling the leather strap through the loops, he dropped it into Alex's lap then set about removing his own.

"What are you doing?" Alex asked as if he really needed to.

"Nothing," Fox murmured, pulling the belt free of his jeans and lifting Alex's left arm to the corresponding arm of the chair. He deftly secured the younger man's forearm to the chair, then did the same to the other.

"This doesn't look like nothing to *me*. Just remember, whatever you do to me will be visited on you tenfold, okay?"

Fox smiled at his lover's failed attempt to sound threatening. "Yeah, okay, tough guy. I'll remember to shake in my pants later."

"I'm serious..."

"Mmm hmm," Fox barely answered, busying himself with undoing the younger man's jeans. He wrestled them down Alex's hips with a bit of assistance from his captive, and left them pooled around his ankles. His attention turned to the flushed cock that, now free, swelled to its fullest potential. "Very nice," he moaned, his face drawing close but not close enough to the flushed length of muscle.

Alex lifted his hips, encouraging Fox to accept his offering, but the older man smiled and pulled away.

"Oh, no," he whimpered, dropping back into the chair. "Don't start this..."

"Don't start what?" Fox asked innocently as his hands traveled up Alex's chest and started undoing the buttons on his shirt.

"*Teasing* me. You're supposed to be making me feel *better*, remember?"

"I promise," Fox said as he pushed the material away from his lover's chest, "that by the time I'm done, you'll be feeling fantastic."

"Not...shit!" Alex grimaced as Fox abruptly pinched both nipples. "Not if you're not done until tomorrow!"

Fox laughed softly and pushed Alex's legs apart so that he could kneel between them. The younger man's head dropped back against the back cushion of the chair, and he groaned his lover's name through gritted teeth as Fox began to thoroughly bathe his upper body with his tongue.

"You're so tight," Fox whispered against the quivering flesh.

"Gee, really?" Alex gasped as the mobile tongue slid over a nipple. "Can't imagine why."

"Relax." Fox continued to lick at the heated flesh while his hands gently kneaded Alex's thighs.

"*Relax*? Alex grated, his patience quickly wearing thin. "I'll relax after I shoot a load down your throat. Now, suck me, dammit!"

"I don't think you're in any position to be demanding, sweetheart," Fox reminded him, sinking his teeth into one nipple and pulling.

Alex jerked forward, unconsciously trying to relieve some of the pressure, but Fox pulled back as he moved forward, maintaining the tension on his nipple.

"God, I'm gonna kill you," Alex growled, fighting to draw a steady breath.

Fox released the nipple then lovingly soothed the reddened peak. "You know you love it," he whispered, meeting wild, green eyes. He lowered his head to his lover's thighs, drawing tiny designs there with the tip of one finger. "Tell me you love it."

"What? Tell you I love being tortured?"

Fox nodded, holding Alex in his smoky, amber gaze. "And then I want you to ask for more."

"You're nuts."

"What's your point?"

"The point *is*, you fucking psycho, I'm not *asking* you to torture me!"

"No?"

"*No!*"

"Not even if it means I'll make you scream your lungs out later?"

Alex glared at the older man and said nothing.

Fox shrugged and levered himself to his feet.

"Wh...where are you going?"

"Kitchen." Fox pulled Alex's jeans under his feet, making it impossible for the younger man to try and move without tripping and falling flat on his face. "Gonna make sure there are no more banana popsicles."

Alex whined pathetically as Fox sauntered out of the room, then sat quietly plotting his revenge until the older man returned.

"What luck!" Fox grinned. "One more. It was hiding under the others."

"I'm thrilled for you," Alex snapped, his hands curling into fists.

"Aww, I'm sorry, baby. Did you want one? There are definitely no more banana now, but there are plenty of orange and grape..."

"I don't want a fucking popsicle," Alex said calmly and softly.

"But I feel terrible standing here eating in front of you." Fox snapped his fingers. "Tell you what..." Eyes never leaving Alex's face, he undid his own jeans and withdrew his very erect cock.

The green in Alex's eyes almost disappeared, and he sucked the corner of his bottom lip into his mouth as he watched Fox stroke himself.

Moving to Alex's side, Fox smiled down at the bound man. "How about some of this?"

Alex pulled in a shaky breath and nodded.

Fox moved closer and, hand still moving over his cock, let the head slip inside Alex's mouth. A smile trembled at the corners of his lips as he heard his lover's deep groan and felt the warmth of his mouth partially envelop him.

Alex suckled avidly on what little he was given then opened his mouth wider to accept the fingers that slid along the solid shaft.

"That's good, baby," Fox encouraged softly, momentarily able to keep a handle on his control. He broke off a small piece of his popsicle and pushed it into Alex's mouth, letting the younger man tease his cock with the bit of flavored ice. "Oh, *God*, yeah, that's good..."

Alex pushed forward as Fox's hand receded, working the disappearing ice down the length of his cock, then pulled away when it had melted completely. He raised his head, accepting another piece, and he immediately swallowed his lover's cock to the base.

Fox groaned harshly, placing one hand on Alex's head. "Easy, baby..."

Alex slowed his movements, letting his tongue slide gently over the shaft as he withdrew, then inched back down, moaning as the head of his lover's cock hit the back of his throat.

Fox's mouth fell open on a loud gasp, and his fingers clenched in Alex's hair. "Don't move," he panted. "God, don't even breathe."

// Is he fucking kidding me?//

Alex remained as still as he possibly could, and just when the position began to get a bit uncomfortable, he heard the soft, slow exhale, and then Fox's voice.

"Okay, easy...back off."

Carefully, Alex pulled away, his lips just barely grazing the older man's cock. When Fox was finally free of his mouth, he looked up into smoldering, gilded eyes and licked his lips.

"Lisa..."

Fox took two deep breaths then answered.

"Yeah?"

Alex could have protested it to the moon and back, and the fact would have remained that he *knew* that sooner rather than later, he would give in and admit that he enjoyed the hell out of Fox's special brand of torture.

"...I love it when you torture me..."

A triumphant grin twitched at the corners of Fox's mouth. He brushed a thumb across Alex's lips, letting the younger man lap at it. "And?"

"I want..." Alex stopped, taking a stuttering breath. "...I want more."

Fox smiled, raising the softening popsicle to his lips. "Yeah?" Never taking his eyes off of Alex, he extended his tongue, letting it slide up the side, catching the sweet moisture as it turned to beads of liquid.

Alex swallowed past the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat and nodded. "Please."

A pensive expression crossed Fox's face before he slowly kneeled in front of the younger man and turned what remained of the popsicle upside down, letting it drip onto Alex's cock.

Alex jumped at the first few cold drops, then just as it was beginning to feel good, Fox's hot tongue swiped the liquid away. Again the process was repeated, and Alex felt much like the disintegrating ice in his lover's hand.

Compromised in the sweetest sense of the word. Yielding to Fox's heat...surrendering to his will and melting at his touch, begging to be consumed...

Fox slid the last of the popsicle off of the stick then did what Alex had done just a few minutes earlier. He opened his mouth, taking every last inch of his lover's cock inside, and swirled his tongue around the shaft, distributing the icy slush over the hard warmth.

"Oh, *God*." Alex stiffened, his teeth clenched tightly as his fingers gripped the arms of the chair. "Fox...oh, baby, please..."

Fox continued to suck gently at Alex's cock until all of the popsicle had melted, then he pulled away slowly. "Feels good, doesn't it?" he asked, letting his tongue skip over the throbbing erection.

Alex rolled his eyes up, letting his lids drop over them. A tiny whimper escaped his lips as he nodded, and Fox smiled.

"Want to feel better?" the older man asked, lowering his head to gently lap at Alex's balls.

Alex nodded frantically. "Yes...please, yes..."

"We left some lube in the desk drawer in here, didn't we?"

"God, Fox, we got lube in every room in the damn house," Alex gasped as he anticipated his lover's next move.

Fox rose up and, leaning across his lover's chest, searched the drawers to his left as Alex licked and nipped at whatever flesh he could reach. Finding the tube in the second drawer, he again lowered himself to his knees and unscrewed the cap.

Alex watched, hands straining against the belts. "Let me go, lisa," he pleaded, but Fox smiled and shook his head.

"Nope."

"But...I need to touch you. Please?"

"No. If you touch me, your concentration'll  be divided. I want it all in one place."

"God, Fox, I'll fuckin' explode."

The older man gave him a devious grin. "Yeah."

Alex whimpered and twitched for all of the ten seconds that it took for Fox to apply the lube to his cock, and then Fox got up and turned around, grasping the slick shaft and holding it steady while he lowered himself onto it. He sat as still as he could, fighting the urge to buck and thrust, and when Fox was completely impaled, he sat quietly trembling, waiting for his lover to move.

Fox closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of Alex inside of him. He bore down, making sure that his lover was as deep as he could be, and then he began to contract his muscles, slowly milking Alex of his sanity.

"Oh, God...oh....*Jesus*. Fox...baby, please..."

Fox stopped and carefully leaned back, resting against Alex's chest. "Shhh." He turned his head and tenderly kissed the other man while one hand drifted down to his neglected cock and began to lightly caress it.

Deeply embedded in slick warmth, and feeding hungrily on his lover's mouth, Alex whimpered his intense pleasure. He gripped the arms of the chair until his knuckles showed white, and he thrust upward as far as Fox's weight would allow, but stopped as Fox pulled away from his mouth.

"Don't move, baby," the older man whispered soothingly. "Let me do it for you." Slowly, Fox writhed in Alex's lap, squeezing the presence inside him as he began to pump his own cock.

Alex watched, mesmerized by movement and sensation as Fox took them both to their shattering conclusion. His insides coiled tighter and tighter until he thought he could no longer stand the pressure, and as Fox's movements became more insistent, he snapped, bucking and screaming obscenities into the still air.

Fox rode out Alex's wild thrashing, gritting his teeth and pulling roughly at his own cock until he exploded, shooting a stream of warm fluid over his hand and belly. His frantic cries turned to soft whimpers as his body relaxed, and he slumped back against Alex, floating on the outer edges of unconsciousness. Only the soft whines of his lover kept him from falling asleep.

Forcing his eyes to open, he struggled into a sitting position and turned to look at the other man. "Sorry. Want me to let you go, now?"

"It'd be nice, yeah," Alex breathed, eyes closed.

Fox undid the belts and lifted Alex from the chair, guiding him over to the sofa. He settled onto his back and let the younger man drape himself over him.

"Better?"

"Mmm hmm," Alex purred contentedly, nuzzling Fox's throat.

"And how do you feel?"

"Wasted."

"Good wasted or bad wasted?"

"Definitely good wasted." Alex drew his hand up and down Fox's chest. "You take such good care of me."

"Always," Fox murmured into the sable hair.

The sincerity in Fox's tone brought Alex's head up, and he stared down into steady, hazel eyes. A tiny trace of a smile graced his lips, and he heaved himself to his feet, pulling Fox up after him.

"What are you doing?" Fox half asked, half complained as Alex tugged him forward.

"Let's go grab a shower so we can take Clyde out for his walk." Alex reached out, snatching the envelope from the desk. "And mail this thing."

********************

"C'mon, Clyde, do you have to sniff every blade of grass?" Fox turned to Alex, a serious question in his eyes. "D'you think he'd knock some of this off if we had him fixed?"

"*Fixed*?"

"Don't look so horrified, Alex, hundreds of dogs are neutered every day."

"Yeah, but it's so..." Alex winced. "Emasculating."

"Oh, for Christ's sake, he's a *dog*. You really think he's gonna care?"

"Hell yeah, he'll care!"

Fox emitted a burst of laughter. "I know he's smart, babe..." He looked down at the sniffing dog. "...sort of...but really, he's not going to know the difference. Besides, it's better for his health."

Alex stared at his lover, stricken. "You know, I can understand that coming from Scully, Fox, but *you*? You're a traitor to your gender."

Fox rolled his eyes. "I am *not*. I think it's something we should consider before he gets too much older."

Alex shuddered and said nothing.

"It's not like we're going to breed him or anything," Fox reminded Alex. "We agreed that we didn't have the time..."

"I know," Alex whined. "Let...let's just get through one trauma at a time, okay?" He pulled the envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket as they approached the mail box, and dropped it in. "See that?" he asked, a hint of pride in his tone. "No hesitation."

Fox gave his lover a proud grin and reached out to gently graze his chin with the tips of his fingers. "I noticed."

They walked on, and as they came back in the direction of the house, their young neighbor ran up from his yard.

"Hey, guys!"

Fox smiled down at the boy. "Hey, Mitchell."

The boy briskly rubbed the dog's head. "How are ya today, Clyde?" He squinted up at Alex, and his eyes grew wide. "What happened to you, Alex? You got bruises on your face."

"Yeah, I uh...I had a little accident."

"I haven't seen you for a few days...nobody took you again, did they?"

Alex's gaze dropped to the sidewalk. "No, nobody took me. It was just an accident. I'm okay."

The boy nodded then looked across the street to where his friends were hollering his name.

"I think you're holding up the game," Fox informed the boy. "Maybe you'd better get back to them."

"Yeah, or Bobby Jameson'll probably start to cry," the boy complained. "He's such a *baby* if he doesn't get his own way. My dad says it's 'cause he only lives with his mom. Said she's turnin' him into a pansy..."

Fox quickly covered his mouth and looked the other way to keep himself from breaking into laughter.

Alex stared wide-eyed down at the boy. "Your father told you that?"

"Not me. I heard him tellin' my mom."

"Ah. Yeah. Well, I wouldn't tell that to Bobby or any of your friends if I were you, okay, Mitchell? It's not a very nice thing to say."

The boy shrugged. "Okay. I'll see you guys later."

Mitchell dashed back across the street, and Alex turned around to the sound of Fox's snickers.

"I can't believe you're laughing, Fox. You know, if Mitchell's father is talking that kind of junk about a little kid, what do you think he must feel about *us*?"

Fox shrugged. "Steve Mitchell has always been cool with us."

"Yeah. To our *faces*. What's he saying behind our backs? Not that I give a shit personally what he says, but I just don't want the kid getting the wrong message, you know?"

"I think if he was saying *anything*, we'd hear it from Mitchell just the way we heard about Bobby Jameson. We're hardly girlie men, Alex, and I think that's what he's got a problem with."

Alex snorted then cut his eyes in Fox's direction, giving him a leering grin. "I don't know," he purred, bumping Fox gently with his hip as they moved into the driveway. "You *are* pretty..."

Fox shook with laughter. "That's true."

"And when I hit just the right spot, you make this soft, whimpering noise that could be interpreted as kinda feminine."

"Okay, now you're pushing it."

Alex chuckled as he opened the front door and preceded Fox inside. "Come on, pretty Fox, I'll fix you a nice dinner, then you can prove to me what a manly man you are..."

********************

"Mom? He...I can't believe it. He wrote back. And it's only been a little more than a week."

The woman moved toward her son as he dropped heavily into the nearest chair. "Isn't that what you'd hoped for?"

"Yeah."

"Then, why do you look so pale?"

"I just...I never thought he would."

"Well, are you going to open it?"

Matthew nodded mutely but made no move unseal the envelope.

"Some time this week, honey."

The young man nodded again.

"It's only a letter. It's not going to bite you."

"I know..."

"Would you like me to open it?"

He wanted nothing more than to say yes, but he knew that Doctor Peters would tell him that he needed to do this for himself.

"No, Mom, I'll do it."

Slowly and deliberately, Matthew unsealed the stark white envelope and removed the matching sheet of paper. He read the typewritten words and looked up at his mother, paler than he had been.

"There's a number here. I'm supposed to call it to set up a meeting."

"So, he agreed."

The young man nodded. "He agreed. Now what do I do?"

"Call the number?"

Matthew swallowed, trying to rid himself of the unreasonably large lump that had formed there.

"Honey," his mother called softly. "You've been through hell with that Justin character, and you made it. Now, why should you let this man scare you so much?"

Matthew shook his head. "He was caught by surprise, Mom, but this man...Alex...he's not like anybody I've ever known, or will *ever* know, I dare to say. Do you know how many of Justin's men he killed? He's...he's unbelievable."

"He's just a man, Matt. *You* should know that. Didn't you tell me that he fell apart after what that monster made you do to him?"

"Yeah."

"I'd say that makes him pretty human and nothing to be afraid of. He did what he did to those men because...well...he was backed into a corner. Everyone reacts differently when they're trapped. Some become paralyzed with fear, and others lash out like he did."

Matthew shrugged, staring down at the typed note.

"You want me to get the phone for you?"

"Y...yeah. I have to call Doctor Peters first."

As his mother left the room, Matthew's eyes fell shut, and images of Justin beating then bathing him crept into his head. He shuddered as even almost a year later, he could clearly hear that soft, taunting voice speaking words of comfort as his hands moved gently over him.

In his mind, the obscenity of those moments had far surpassed any sexual humiliation that he'd been subjected to, and that was saying a hell of a lot.

Matthew shook his head, trying to rid himself of the images, but a new one took their place.

Alex...restrained, struggling...begging and cursing as, in only a few minutes time, everything he'd held most sacred was stripped from him.

Matthew could never recall feeling sicker than he had at that moment. What Justin had done to him on a regular basis, he had just done to another human being, and he'd hated himself for it. He hated himself still.

// If I'd been stronger, if I'd been more like him...//

"Here's the phone...honey, are you all right?"

Matthew took a deep, shuddering breath and nodded. "Yeah. Just thinking."

"About?"

The young man shook his head. "Just stuff." He dialed the doctor's phone number and waited. "Doctor Peters. It's Matthew...I got an answer today..."

********************

A loud growl followed the ringing of  Fox's cell phone.

"Why the hell's Scully calling here at *this* hour?"

Alex lifted his head from his lover's sweaty chest and glanced over at the clock. "It's only eight o'clock, you know. You just *think* it's late because we've been in bed since six-thirty."

"Oh." Fox reached for the phone. "Well...she's just damn lucky we're done, that's all I gotta....yeah, Scully, what is it? Who?" Alex watched Fox's expression go from annoyed to guarded. "Yeah. Yeah, it is...uh huh...fine, but if you want this to happen, you're the one who'll be doing the traveling...okay, as long as you know..."

Alex lowered his head back to Fox's chest and tightened his hold on him, listening to his lover's part of the conversation with the caller he now knew was *not* Scully.

"...no, you'd better make it sooner than that. I don't give a damn about preparations. I won't have him thinking about this a second longer than he has to...that's right. Get it arranged and get back to me...right."

Fox hung up and looked down at the top of Alex's head. "You know who that was."

Alex gave his muffled affirmation.

"He uh...he said to thank you for agreeing to see him."

"Whatever...when is he coming?"

"He's going to talk to his doctor again and get back to us. You heard me tell him he'd better hurry the hell up about it..."

"Yeah." Alex lifted his head and gave his lover a grateful, half-smile. "Thanks."

"It'll be over and done with before you know it," Fox promised, stroking Alex's back.

Alex nodded and nestled against his lover, tucking his head under the stubbled chin.

"You okay, baby?"

"...Yeah."

"Alex..."

"Hmm?"

"What are you not telling me?"

"I was...I was kind of hoping that he wouldn't call..."

"Aww, baby." Fox hugged the younger man to his chest and kissed the top of his head.

"You won't leave, right? I mean, even if this doctor wants us to talk privately or something?"

"Either the four of us talk, or the two of them can sit there alone. I promise, I won't leave you alone with them for any reason."

Alex released a long sigh. "I'm acting like a real baby, aren't I?"

"You can act any way you want." Fox petted the sable head.

"Sure you won't get sick of my pouting?"

Fox laughed softly. "Never. Hell, you do it almost as well as I do."

"Must've learned it from you," Alex murmured flatly, but Fox could hear the tinge of humor in his tone.

"It's probably like moving to another state," Fox reasoned. "After a while, you pick up the accent."

Alex lifted his head. "Okay..."

The older man gave him a wide grin. "*Yeah*. Except you picked up my pout."

Alex smiled back. "It's not the same, though. I don't have that big old sexy bottom lip."

"Your mouth is beautiful," Fox whispered, brushing his fingers across the younger man's lips, then his mouth slanted into a lascivious grin. "Especially when it's wrapped around my cock."

Alex burst into laughter. "Very sweet, Fox. You really know how to charm a boy."

"Worked, didn't it?"

"Well, yeah. But that's because I'm easy." Alex let one hand drift down to Fox's groin, fingers crawling over his awakening cock.

Fox sighed softly, eyelashes fluttering. "Wish I could say I was sorry, but..."

Alex inched upward, brushing their mouths together. "Sure you do."

With very little coaxing, Fox opened his mouth, allowing Alex's tongue to sweep inside. The low vibration of his moan triggered a similar sound from the other man, and as their tongues writhed together, Alex's hand wrapped around his cock and began to slowly stroke it. He arched beneath his lover's touch and broke the kiss, panting softly. "C'mon, baby."

A sweet smile curved Alex's lips. "C'mon baby, what?"

"Suck me. I wanna be in that pretty mouth."

Alex studied his lover's face for a brief moment then slid down the length of his body, kissing and nipping the flushed skin. Finally reaching his goal, he looked up, meeting Fox's eyes. Never breaking eye contact, he gently nuzzled the velvety shaft, inhaling his lover's scent. His tongue slithered out, licking a delicate trail along the side, working his way toward the tip. Once there, he lashed quickly at the head, the tip of his tongue snake-like in its movements.

Fox's head rolled languidly on the pillows, and he gave his lover a lazy smile.

"Swallow it, dammit, and quit teasing."

Alex displayed a devious grin. "Now, what fun would *that* be?"

"Loads of fun."

"For *you*."

"Well, *yeah*."

The younger man chuckled softly and swiped away the bead of fluid that had gathered at the tip of his lover's cock. "You mean you're not having fun right now?"

"Sure, I am, baby. But I could be having *more* fun if you'd just be a good boy and do as I say."

"You know I'm not real good at being obedient."

"Yeah, I know. Not unless you're properly coerced. So, okay, will you do it if I ask you nicely?"

Alex closed one eye and pretended to give it some thought. "Mmm...maybe. Why don't you try it and see?"

Fox rolled his eyes up under his lids and sighed. "Alex, sweetheart?"

"Yes, Fox?"

"Do you think you could...if it isn't too much trouble...would you pleeeease suck my cock?"

Alex's mouth twitched into a tiny grin. "That was nice."

"Nice enough?"

"Almost."

Fox began to whine and turned a most pitiful stare on the younger man. "Alexei..."

"Hmm?"

"Please..." Fox lifted his hips, letting his cock rub against Alex's cheek. "I need to feel your mouth around me."

Alex kissed the side of the swollen shaft. "How can I say no to you when you look at me like that?"

Fox hissed through gritted teeth as, in one fluid motion, Alex swallowed him to the root. "Oh, God...thank you, baby..." He grasped handfuls of sheet, groaning deeply as Alex sucked and tugged at him. "Shit...Alex...oh...Jesus, don't...no...no, no, no..."

Refusing to release the pressure, Alex worked two fingers inside Fox's ass, their passage made easy by the mixture of lubricant and semen that had remained inside of him from their earlier session. The older man began to buck, alternately pushing himself down on Alex's fingers and up into his mouth, and Alex let him do so for a moment, then, with his free hand, held Fox down and turned the pressure up. Quickly, his head bobbed up and down on his lover's engorged cock as he worked a third finger inside him, pushing as deeply as he could.

Fox's head pressed back into the pillows, and a strangled snarl escaped past his lips as the ever-escalating tension broke and he came in an endless stream down Alex's throat.

As his lover's convulsions subsided and then ceased, Alex released him and slid up beside him, kissing a moist path to his mouth. His tongue dipped into the warm interior, sharing Fox's taste with him, then he pulled away and gently rolled the older man onto his side. He pressed up against Fox's back, making his unfulfilled arousal known.

Despite his own very recent satisfaction, Fox wiggled against the hardness pushing insistently against his ass. The soft chuckle behind him was followed by brief movement, then Fox felt Alex's hand stroking over his own cock just seconds before he slowly worked it between the smooth cheeks. Fox pushed back, hastening his lover's entry, then relaxed into the warmth of Alex's embrace, sighing contentedly as he was filled completely.

Once he was as far inside Fox as he could go, Alex stopped moving. He simply wrapped himself around the older man, tenderly kissing and licking at the back of his neck while his hand moved in lazy circles over his chest.

"What're you doing?" Fox asked softly, rubbing the back of his head against the younger man's.

"Nothing," Alex answered, tightening his hold on the man in his arms. "Just enjoying being close to you."

"Close?" Fox purred, amusement tingeing his voice.

Alex rocked slowly against him. "Really close." He returned his attention to the back of Fox's neck, teasing the sensitive skin. "Why? Does it bother you?"

"Are you kidding?" Fox wriggled back against the younger man. "You know how much I love having you inside me..."

"I know," Alex murmured against his neck, "but you must be tired."

"I am. That's why you're gonna do all the work."

Alex laughed softly and bit into the padding of his lover's shoulder. "Seriously, you're not dying for me to just get this over with?"

Fox frowned slightly and reached back, threading his fingers through Alex's hair. "Of course not. You take as much time as you want."

Alex moaned softly and pushed his hips forward again. "Such a perfect fit...like you were made for me."

Fox's lips curved into a contented smile, and he tightened his muscles just enough to encourage another moan from his lover.

"My beautiful Fox," Alex whispered, mouthing the edge of the older man's ear. "You *were* made for me."

"Just you," Fox answered just above a whisper.

"Sweet baby," Alex breathed into Fox's ear, sending a shiver down his spine. "There aren't words enough..." He withdrew a bit then slowly sank back in. "..for me to tell you how much I love you..."

Fox shivered in the younger man's embrace, and though he didn't think it possible tonight, his cock began to lengthen and swell.

"...Or how much I need you..."

Fox whimpered softly, squirming as the other man caressed the front of his body.

The tip of Alex's tongue flicked in and out of his lover's ear. "...Or how very much I want you."

Fox pressed himself against Alex, writhing languidly. "Show me, baby," he moaned. "Make me believe it."

Alex clamped his arms around the older man, and with a soft growl, began to thrust in and out of him.

"Mmmm." Fox rubbed the back of his head against Alex's shoulder, panting softly. "Give it to me, Alex."

"It's all yours, baby," Alex croaked. "Take it." He pulled out and slammed back into the older man, prompting a sharp yelp. "Come on...take all of it."

Fox broke from Alex's grip and rolled to his knees, lowering his shoulders to the mattress. Golden-brown eyelashes swept upward and a wild, gilded gaze met Alex's eyes. In an instant, the younger man was on his knees behind Fox, spreading his ass cheeks and driving forward. His eyes snapped shut, and his mouth opened, allowing a cry of pain and pleasure to tumble forth.

"Tell me you love it," Alex whispered, as he pulled back, preparing to resume his assault.

"I love...it...Alex...God, I love it..."

"Tell me you need it," the younger man commanded softly, stroking his lover's back.

"I need it," Fox sobbed, trying to push back, but Alex moved as well, leaving only the head of his cock inside of the older man.

"You're going to come one more time for me," Alex stated, leaning over and biting gently at his lover's shoulder. "And you're going to do it right now." He grasped the older man's cock and began to stroke it expertly. "And when you're done, you're not going to sink down onto the bed. You're going to stay here like this...just like this, until I'm finished with you. Understand?"

Fox nodded, whimpering desperately as the tension built in his body.

"Good." Alex increased the speed of his hand. "Let's go..."

Fox's limbs began to tremble as he felt hot rush of sensation barreling through him, and he began to whine and grunt incoherently as Alex worked him mercilessly.

"Come on, lisa," Alex demanded coarsely. "I can feel it coming..."

Seconds after Alex finished speaking, Fox stiffened then began to buck into his lover's hand, drenching it and the sheets below in semen. As his cock was drained, so was his strength, and his arms and legs began to quiver. His whimpering called Alex's attention to the fact that his energy was waning, and the younger man wrapped an arm around his waist, holding him up.

"You promised," Alex murmured softly against the back of his neck. "Are you going to break your promise?"

"No..." Fox shook his head, panting to catch his breath. "No."

"It's hard, though, isn't it?" Alex held Fox's hips in a tight grip and plunged into him. "You're ready to collapse, aren't you?"

Frantic nod.

"But you're not going to." He pulled out almost to the tip then drove back in. "You're tired, but you promised me...you promised me, Fox..."

Fox's body jerked forward with the force of the thrust. "*Yes*."

"You're going to stay strong for me, aren't you?" Alex gasped as he pumped relentlessly into his lover. "You're going to...to take it all..."

Fox's head snapped back, and he howled into the humid air. "*Yes*! All of it...all of it, I swear...more, baby...harder...I can take it...give it to me..."

Alex held Fox in a grip that was sure to leave bruises, and he increased the speed and strength of his thrusts, never letting up until he exploded inside of the other man, shuddering violently and sobbing into his shoulder. As he slumped exhausted onto Fox's back, they both dropped to the bed and lay shivering in the aftermath of their pleasure.

Long minutes passed before either man moved, and then it was Alex who stirred first, lifting his head from Fox's perspiration-dotted shoulder. He looked down at his lover's profile, taking in the long sweep of golden-brown lashes, the relaxed pout of his mouth, and he smiled wearily.

"So beautiful."

"Hmm?"

"Nothing," Alex whispered, planting a tender kiss on the older man's jaw. "Go to sleep."

Fox snuggled down into the pillows, heaving a satisfied, exhausted sigh and promptly obeyed the soft command. Alex relaxed his own body, letting flesh rest against flesh, and he strung a line of moist kisses along one shoulder, his tongue occasionally inching out to taste the salty beads of sweat that lingered there. Soon enough, he drifted away, joining Fox in peaceful, mindless oblivion.

********************

"How did you sleep, Matthew?"

"Sleep?" The young man turned bloodshot eyes up to his doctor. "What's that?"

Doctor Peters took a seat across from his patient. "Try to relax, Matt. This is what you've been working toward. I'm very proud of you for having the courage to face this man."

"I don't know if I'd call it courage or stupidity," Matthew droned, looking down at his folded hands. "You know, maybe we shouldn't have done this. Maybe we should've found another way..."

"Those are just your nerves talking. Come on now, what do you say we go down and have a little breakfast and unwind before they get here?"

"I don't know," the young man sighed. "Anything I eat'll probably just make me sick right now."

"You have to put a little something in your stomach." The older man reached out to pat Matthew's knee. "It'll be fine, you'll see. You've worked very hard at putting your life back together. Now, just tell yourself that you're going to do fine, *believe* it, and let's go down to breakfast."

Matthew took two deep breaths, gave the doctor a sickly smile, then the two headed down to the dining room.

********************

Quiet.

Still too early for kids to be rushing off to school or parents to be heading to work.

Alex walked through the still neighborhood with only his thoughts and Clyde for company. Fox had seemed to understand without him ever having said a word that he needed a little time to himself, and he gave Alex a long, sweet kiss and let him leave this morning, alone.

He walked in the direction of home, Clyde in keeping in step by his left side, and the closer he got, the stronger the urge to turn around and head back out toward the park became.

// Maybe if I'm late enough, we won't have to go.//

// Don't be stupid. The kid's not going to disappear because you're late. You'd just be putting off the inevitable. Go home. Do it, and get it the hell over with.//

Alex continued on his path, letting his legs carry him into the yard and through the kitchen door where Fox was just finishing the breakfast cleanup. He hung up Clyde's leash, got him some water, then walked over to where Fox was stacking the dishwasher.

"How are you feeling?" Fox asked, shutting the door and turning the machine on.

Alex shrugged and leaned back against the counter. "Been better." He gave Fox a wary smile. "Been worse."

The older man took the few steps necessary to straddle his lover's legs and wrap his arms around his neck. "You're gonna be fine."

Alex nodded, staring into the calm sea of amber before him. "As long as you're with me." He raised his hands to Fox's back, stroking lightly.

"Every minute," Fox replied, planting a chaste peck on the tip of Alex's nose. "You ready?"

"Yeah, just let me go wash my hands, and we can go get this over with."

They shared a brief kiss then exited the room together, separating at the living room. While he waited for Alex, Fox slipped into the black leather jacket so similar to his lover's, deposited his cell phone into the inside breast pocket, and checked his hip pocket for his keys. Alex emerged from the bathroom seconds later, and they walked hand in hand to the garage, automatically gravitating to the Porsche.

"You drive, okay?" Alex asked, nudging his way to the passenger's door.

"Sure." Fox laid a gentle kiss on the younger man's temple and opened the door for him. Once Alex was comfortably settled inside, he rounded the car and dropped into the driver's seat. He hit the second button on the remote, and the garage door rose while he started the car. The engine roared to life at the turn of the key, and Fox backed down the driveway and turned onto the street.

The twenty minute ride to the hotel that Matthew had indicated in his last phone call was a relatively quiet one, and when they pulled into the parking lot, Alex bowed his head and took one long breath.

Fox placed a hand on Alex's knee, letting the younger man absorb his warmth. "You okay?"

Alex nodded then raised his head and looked over at Fox. "Let's go."

********************

Matthew paced, looking at his watch for the twentieth time in as many minutes. "Maybe he won't show up."

Doctor Peters checked his watch as well. "He's not late, Matthew." The knock at the door turned both men's heads. "In fact, he's right on time."

"Oh, God," the young man murmured to himself. "Oh, God, oh, God..."

"Breathe, Matthew. Remember your exercises? Easy now; everything is going to be all right."

The doctor left the young man and walked over to the door. He turned and gave Matthew a reassuring smile then turned the knob and swung the door open. His still-smiling face met the two men standing side by side in the hall.

"Good morning, Alex," he said, looking to the man who fit Matthew's description. "I'm Doctor Peters."

Alex warily sized up the man at the door.

Casual dress. Kind, gray eyes and a genuine if practiced smile.

He reached out and shook the offered hand, releasing it quickly.

"I'm very glad you decided to meet with us." The doctor turned to the man by Alex's side. "You must be Fox."

Fox nodded, grasping the older man's hand firmly. "That's right."

"Pleased to meet you. It's good that you're here."

"I wouldn't be any place else."

Doctor Peters gave the two an understanding smile and motioned them inside. "Shall we sit down?" he asked, indicating the sofa and chairs at the far end of the room.

From his place by the window, Matthew watched, frozen as Fox murmured soothingly to Alex, placed a tender kiss to his temple, and led him by the hand to the sofa.

"Matthew?"

The doctor's voice startled him, and he looked up, blinking rapidly.

"Come, Matthew. Join us."

Timidly, he stepped forward and took a seat in one of the chairs across from the sofa on which the other two men sat, and practically withered under Alex's intense glare.

Once everyone was as comfortable as they were going to get, the doctor spoke again.

"There's no doubt that this is going to be a difficult session for all involved, but if we can gain just an inch of ground this first day, we will have done well."

Alex tilted his head, his brow creasing. "*First* day? What the hell do you mean, *first* day?"

"Well," Doctor Peters looked from one man to the next. "From all that Matthew has told me, I hardly think that we're going to get through this all in one day."

"You'd *better* get through it all in one day," Alex warned, anger rising quickly, "'cause I have no intention of ever coming back here after today."

The doctor paused, not knowing quite how to answer to that. Fortunately, Fox stepped in.

"Babe," he said softly, rubbing Alex's knee. "Take it easy, okay?"

"I mean it, Fox," Alex whirled to face the other man, anger turning to pleading. "I don't want to come back here again."

Fox moved closer, laying a comforting hand on the back of the other man's head. "But what if we don't get it all resolved today? We can't leave it up in the air, what good will that do you? Please, baby? Let's just do this, and see where it leads. We can talk about other meetings if at the end of this one, they appear to be necessary." Fox leaned forward, resting his forehead against the younger man's. "I'm here," he whispered just loud enough for Alex to hear. "Remember?"

Alex drew a deep breath and nodded. He kissed the corner of Fox's mouth then reluctantly pulled away. He maintained body contact, though, sitting close enough to the older man that their thighs touched. Once again, he turned a stony green gaze on the other two men. "We gonna talk about this or what?"

"Yes," the doctor replied softly. "Yes, we are. Matthew, would you like to start?"

"Yeah, I..." Matthew stuttered and stammered, only occasionally directly subjecting himself to the hatred that blazed in Alex's eyes. "...I uh...I wanna thank you, Alex, for coming..."

The stiffening of Alex's body could be felt all around the room, and Fox quickly closed his hand around his lover's, silently soothing him and keeping him in his seat.

Matthew realized his slip and squeezed his eyes shut, inwardly cursing himself. "I mean...God...I appreciate that you would meet with me..."

Alex's jaws convulsed rhythmically, and he lowered his gaze to his lap. "I'm not here for you," he rasped softly. "So, let's just dispense with the nicey-nicey bullshit and get to it."

Doctor Peters watched the other man closely, taking mental notes while he waited for Matthew to continue.

"All...all right, I'm s-sorry. Uh...y-you and I had very little time together, and so, you don't know about everything I went through with Justin..."

Alex's leg began to bounce up and down, but he remained silent.

"It...it might help you to understand..."

Alex's head snapped up, and he shot a searing glance at the young man. "Don't even..."

"Alex, please, just let me..."

"Let you what?" Alex hissed. "Let you try and justify what you did? Understand *what*? Understand that you helped that mother fucker try to take my life away from me? You want me to understand that you really *didn't* want to rape me?"

Fox blinked in surprise. Never since Fox had found him at Saint James's house had Alex ever referred to what Matthew did to him as 'rape'.

It was obviously a surprise to Alex as well, because he came to an abrupt halt, his eyes registering his shock. Almost immediately, he withdrew into himself, looking down at the floor and clinging to Fox's hand.

The doctor held a hand up to Matthew, silently asking him to give the other man time to come to terms with what he'd just said.

Fox cupped the back of his lover's neck, pressing soft kisses into his hair and mumbling words of comfort.

"That's what he did, Fox," Alex said to the older man. "I've been dancing all around it, but that's what it boils down to..."

"Alex, I'm sorry," Matthew whimpered. "I'm so..."

"Take your *sorry* and shove it up your ass," Alex spat at the younger man before being drawn into his lover's arms.

"It's all right, baby," Fox cooed. "It doesn't change anything. It's just a word." He turned cold eyes to the youngest man in the group. "Go on."

Matthew nodded uncertainly then continued.

"Like I had told you that first time Justin sent me in to visit you, I came to him on my own. It wasn't because I'd come from a broken home or anything like that. I had a good childhood. Lots of friends...I did well in school, joined lots of clubs...my father died when I was fairly young, but mother and my sister have been wonderful. They took it a lot better than I thought they would when I came out, and they've never been anything but supportive.

"I m-met Justin while a bunch of friends and I were on vacation in St. Croix. He was so smooth and so kind. I remember he kind of did this little bow when he approached us at our table at the club where I met him, and he asked me to dance. I wasn't really sure at first, but my friends kept nudging me and telling me to go ahead, so I did..."

Alex's head rolled against the back of the sofa. "Do we *really* have to hear a blow by blow account of your courtship?"

"Matthew feels that he needs to really explain the circumstances of his situation for you to understand," Peters broke in.

Alex snorted and cut his eyes away, and Matthew picked up where he'd left off.

"I don't remember how many dances we had that night, but it was quite a few. He asked me if we could find a quiet corner to talk in, and I agreed. He bought a bottle of expensive champagne, and we drank and talked. By the end of the night, he had me promising to let him take me out to dinner the next night.

"He was right on time the next evening...picked me up in a Rolls. We went to some really exclusive place and ate things I'd never even heard of. And the whole time he kept looking at me. I actually got a little uncomfortable at one point, and he noticed and apologized. But I was so beautiful, he said, that he couldn't help himself..."

Alex's eyes snapped back to the younger man. "And you fell for all this bullshit."

"Yeah. Y-yeah, I did."

"Fuckin' idiot," he murmured. "You deserved what you got."

Fox gently rubbed Alex's thigh, silently asking him to be patient.

Matthew winced and continued. "Uh...he brought me back to my hotel sometime after one...all that time we just talked. He asked me all sorts of questions about myself...he seemed genuinely interested...when he dropped me off at the door of the hotel, he asked if he could see me again." Matthew shook his head. "He was so nice and so sincere. I really liked him...I said yes. We got together again the next night, and the night after that. On my next to last night, he dropped the bomb. Told me that he knew it was going to sound insane, but he was head over heels in love with me..."

"Oh, for..."

Alex threw a vaguely amused glance at Fox, surprised at his lover's response. Fox caught himself and cut of his remark, ending it on a disgusted grunt.

"I know," Matthew said quietly. "But I sucked it all up. He promised me everything under the sun...told me he'd lay the world at my feet if I would stay with him. I'd never been the impulsive type. I was always so shy and cautious. But this man just swept me away." He paused for a moment then continued. "My friends left two days later without me. I told him that I had to call my mother and let her know I wouldn't be home when she expected me, and he suggested that instead we should go together and speak with her. Well, that just made me think he was even more wonderful than I'd originally thought, and I agreed.

"We got on his plane the next day, and he told me that he had to stop at home first for some very important business, but he assured me that the next day we'd fly right out to Pennsylvania. We went to his house, and he showed me around. Introduced me to the staff...had the cook prepare a wonderful welcome dinner for me...and that night he took me to bed for the first time and gave me a glimpse of who he really was."

Matthew lowered his head into his hands and rocked back and forth for long seconds before pulling himself together and continuing.

"All the uh...all that gentleness disappeared. He was rough, and he was thoughtless...he gave no consideration to me or what I wanted. When he was through, I hurt. I was so sore, that when I got up to use the bathroom, he noticed that I was walking stiffly. He asked what was wrong, and I made the mistake of telling him. He flew out of the bed and shoved me so hard, I fell over a chair and landed on the floor on my back. He kneeled over me and asked me how I dared to criticize him. I was scared to death. I didn't know what to say, so I just kept apologizing.

"Justin reached down and touched my cheek, and he gave me that smile that I had been used to seeing. And even though his tone was soft, his words were threatening as hell. He told me hat I should never question or criticize him. He said he really didn't like it, and I'd do well to remember that. Then he told me that I could get up and use the bathroom.

"I don't even know how I got my legs to work well enough to stand, but I did. I made it into the bathroom, and I stayed in there a while, trying to stop shaking. He called to me a while later and asked if I was all right. I didn't dare say no. I told him I was okay, and I came back out. He was lying there, propped up against his black, silk pillows. He smiled and held his arms out to me, and I felt my stomach tighten. But I went to him, and he pulled me into his arms, stroking and kissing me, and again he promised me a rich, exciting life. He fell asleep with a vice grip on me.

"God, I don't think I slept a wink that night. I laid there sick and scared and thinking that as soon as we got to Pennsylvania I'd tell him that I wasn't going to go back with him. Of course, the trip never happened..."

"Noooo," Alex gasped, eyes wide with pretend shock.

Matthew lowered his head. "I...I asked him why we weren't going, and he told me that I was being punished for what had happened the night before. I asked him *when* we'd be going because my mother had to have been getting worried about me, and he gave me one of those looks and asked me if I was questioning him. Before I could answer, he backhanded me and cut my lip. He told me I was insolent and undisciplined, and he was going to fix that. He never took me home...he never even allowed me a phone call...

"The abuse just got worse and worse after that. Pretty soon, I was actually afraid for my life. I did as I was told, and the beatings decreased, but he'd still let me have it once in a while just for drills." Matthew momentarily found the courage to look up at Alex.

"Justin was a cruel, manipulative man who did nothing but use me. He used his charm to lure me in, then he trapped me and broke me down so much that I honestly didn't think I had a life without him. He..." Matthew stopped, swallowing hard, then continued. "...He *loaned* me out to his friends, sometimes for entire weekends, and they'd do terrible things to me..." The young man's voice cracked on his last words, and he lowered his head.

"Tell Alex what they made you do," Matthew," the doctor prodded gently.

"I don't give a *shit* what they made him do," Alex threw back, lifting his head from Fox's shoulder. "He's trying to use it as an excuse. *Fuck* his excuses. Nobody can make you do want you don't *want* to do."

"That's not necessarily true, Alex," Peters replied.

"The hell it isn't."

"You didn't *want* to have that orgasm," the doctor pointed out softly, and Alex flew off the sofa. Fox caught him just before he was able to reach the man, and firmly restrained him.

"You fuckin' son of a bitch!" Alex railed, struggling against the arms clamped insistently around him. "I should kill you where you sit!"

Terrified, Matthew shrunk back against his chair, watching wide-eyed as Fox continued to restrain the infuriated man.

"Baby," Fox murmured into his lover's ear. "Come on, now. He wasn't trying to upset you, he was just trying to point out a fact." He turned his eyes to the doctor, who was trying his level best to appear unruffled. "Don't do anything like that again, or I just might not stop him the next time."

"I'm sorry," Peters apologized earnestly. I truly did not mean to offend him, but I wanted him to realize that his statement doesn't apply to everyone."

"Hell of a method you got there," Fox said after seating Alex. "Tell me, doctor, where did you learn that antagonizing a person nets positive results?"

Before Peters could reply, Fox went on.

"And while we're on the subject, I'd like to see your credentials."

The older man blinked in surprise. "Of...of course."

While Fox perused the doctor's qualifications, Alex sat quietly, eyes closed, the pain of what had happened to him renewed.

// Isn't this cozy, Alexei? Here you are in this sunny hotel room, side by side with your lovely Fox, and, sitting right across from you, a man you hardly know, but who knows you most intimately...//

"Alex? *Alex*. Baby..."

Alex blinked up into his lover's concerned face and said nothing.

Fox rubbed his palm over the younger man's cheek, searching his eyes. "Are you all right, sweetheart? You had this look on your face..."

"Yeah," Alex whispered, averting his eyes. "I'm okay."

"Are you sure?"

Alex nodded and straightened his back. "Let's just get through this."

Fox nodded and, moving as close to Alex as he could get, interlaced the fingers of one hand with his lover's.

Once everyone was again settled, Doctor Peters coaxed Matthew into continuing his story.

"I um...I had to accompany Justin to parties...these weren't ordinary parties. They consisted mostly of old men. Old...rich, perverted men who bought anything they wanted, including companionship. Every one of them had a young man on his arm. And at some point during the night, they'd have *entertainment*. *I* was the center of their amusement once."

The young man paused, struggling to get a handle on the tremors that passed through him. Seconds later, he raised his head and went on.

"There was a platform in the middle of the room...like a stage. There were at least six or eight of them...the young men who were there...they...took me up on the stage, and they were...they were all over me, ripping at my clothes. They forced me down on my hands and knees, and then they...I couldn't do anything. One took me from behind, and another one forced himself into my mouth...I can't remember how many times I almost choked...and when they were through, two more took their place, and the old men...they just watched.

"I uh...I caught Justin's eye once, and he smiled at me." Matthew laughed softly, bitterly. "He was *proud*, that sick bastard. His eyes just sparkled." He stopped speaking and lowered his head into trembling hands.

"You're doing fine, Matt," Doctor Peters' soft voice encouraged. "It's okay. It's in the past."

Matthew lifted his head and blinked back the moisture that scalded his eyes. "When...when they'd finished with me, I was so sick. I ...I threw up. I couldn't help it. I hurt, and I...I could taste them all in my mouth. God, I was so sick."

Fox watched the young man, wincing at his genuine distress. This Saint James bastard was worse that he'd originally thought. He'd definitely done the world a service...

"Justin was furious," Matthew continued. "I'd embarrassed him. When he was sure that I wasn't going to throw up anymore, he hauled me out of there, just like I was. No clothes...no one even offered me a jacket." The young man squeezed his hands together. "He shoved me into the car and said nothing the whole drive home. I remember...I remember curling myself up in the corner of the seat and not moving until the car stopped, and he dragged me out." A soft sob escaped his lips. "He beat me. I mean, he really beat me, screaming about how I'd made him look like a fool in front of his friends. I was almost unconscious when he stopped. He stormed out of the room and came back, I don't know how soon after, and he helped me up off the floor and cleaned my wounds. Then he ran a warm bath, and he sat there on the edge of the tub, washing me. His touch...the things he said to me were so gentle, it made me sick all over again. I held it down, though, because I was afraid he'd kill me the next time." Tear-filled eyes looked up to the two men on the sofa. "This is what it was like with him. Every day."

Alex lifted his head and leveled an icy gaze on the young man. "Did you hate it?"

"Yes."

"And, did you want out?"

"*Yes*."

"I don't believe you."

Matthew stared speechless, shaking his head.

"You must have got something out of it. You had to have enjoyed it on some level."

"I...I didn't, I swear..."

Alex cocked his head, brow wrinkled. "Who in their right mind would have gone through the shit you just described and not even *tried* to get away? *Nobody* can be *that* big a pussy."

"He...he made himself the center of my whole world," Matthew tried to explain. "He made me totally dependent on him for *everything*. He'd confine me to my room for weeks at a time on a whim. He'd withhold food for days...all to let me know that *he* was in charge. He'd beat me just for the sake of beating me, and he'd tell me that it was just a little reminder for me to behave myself. I was never the assertive type, but he'd taken me far beyond that. He'd reduced me to a sniveling little mouse, afraid of my own shadow. He'd taken every last shred of my will away from me. I had no choice but to do the things he told me to do."

Alex glared daggers at the young man, unwilling to believe a word he'd just said.

"There's *always* a choice."

"For *you*," Matthew countered. "You're nothing like me..."

"You got *that* right, junior."

"You were so strong. I thought...I could almost believe that you would beat him, but a little bit of me, way down deep inside kept reminding me who he was, and I couldn't let myself hope for it." He looked into Alex's eyes, repulsed by the thought that came to his mind. "You want to hear something really sick? You want to hear how badly he'd screwed me up? The first day he brought me into that room to see you, I watched him. I saw the gleam in his eyes as he looked at you, and along with the confusion and fear, I actually felt a twinge of jealousy. He said he'd brought you there as a companion for me, but I knew better. He wanted you. I could hear his mind clicking. You were gorgeous, and thought of parading you around on his arm thrilled him to no end. And I honestly didn't know whether to be relieved that maybe he'd not bother me so often, or to envy you because it'd be you to have his attention." He looked away, deeply distressed. "Oh, God, I was so messed up."

Alex stared at the younger man for a good, long time before turning his attention on the doctor. "You wanna tell me what the hell this is supposed to accomplish?"

Peters leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and pressed his fingertips together. "During our sessions, I noticed he would be doing very well until we touched on the subject of what had happened between you."

Alex leapt to his feet and, under Fox's watchful eye, began to pace like a caged leopard, and abruptly cut the man off. "Nothing happened *between* us. I was restrained...chained to a fucking bed and *drugged*. I was stripped. I was beaten and taunted. And then Saint James stuck *this* little weasel in the cage...oh. I'm sorry. Did I mention I was also caged like a fucking animal?"

The doctor nodded. "Matthew did mention that, yes."

"*Yes*. And Saint James sent *him* in to take care of me after he whipped me." Alex continued to pace, shaking his finger at the younger man. "You know...you almost had me. I'd actually started feeling sorry for you." He cut his eyes back to the doctor. "He spent hours with me. Trying to get me to eat...cleaning my wounds...talking to me...and then he fuckin' ripped me in two."

"Alex, I..." Matthew suppressed a sob. "I didn't want to, I didn't..."

"You didn't, you didn't," Alex imitated the younger man's soft whine. You *did* *it*!" he roared, whirled around, and stalked toward the terrified young man. Fox was there in an instant, hovering close by in case Alex went for him, but he stopped just short of snatching Matthew from his seat, instead towering over the trembling man, eyes burning into him. "You sashayed into that cage, dropped to your knees and sucked my dick down your throat. *Killing* me would have been kinder, but you know that, don't you?"

"I didn't *want* to," Matthew whimpered, curling himself into a ball of misery. "He made me...he would have killed me if I didn't."

"Are you really that spineless, you little *shit*, or is this 'he would have killed me' crap just a line you're using to excuse the fact that you'd turned around and did to me what he'd basically done to you!?"

"Please...I...I can't...please don't..."

"Please don't *what*?" Alex shouted. "Don't remind you? Why the fuck not? *I'm* reminded every goddamn *day*! Why shouldn't *you* remember?"

"I'm sorry," the young man whispered, covering his ears. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He looked to Doctor Peters. "Please. I want to stop now. I can't...I...."

"Like hell!"

Wide eyes snapped back up to the man who still hovered over him.

"You're not stopping *shit*. You started this. *You* wanted to dredge all this up, and now you're going to listen to it. *All* of it!"

"He's right, Matthew," Peters agreed softly. "We talked about this. You got to say what you wanted to say, and he has to do the same. It all needs to get out."

The young man shook his head as he lowered it to his knees.

Before Alex could fire off another round, the doctor spoke up. "But, perhaps it *would* be a good idea if we stopped here and picked up tomorrow when we're all just a bit calmer..."

"What the fuck do mean, when *we're* all calmer? *You* got no reason to be worked up. *You* weren't the one who was knocked out, snatched from your home and taken to that asshole's house. *You* weren't chained and caged and drugged out of your fucking mind..."

"Alex..." Fox slid his arms around the irate man's chest and laid his head on his shoulder. "Come on, baby, take it easy. It's Matthew you want to tell this to, and he's not hearing anything right now."

"Why the hell not?" Alex spun in his lover's arms, curling his fingers in his shirt. "I didn't *want* to come here. I didn't *want* to hear his damned excuses, but I did. Now, tell me why he shouldn't give me the same *fucking* courtesy?"

"He will, babe. But he needs to deal with what's happened so far *today*. He needs to pull himself together, and we can continue tomorrow..."

"Why should I give him any time to get his shit together? This was *his* idea."

"I know. I know, Alex, but...he's obviously working on it, but he's still very weak. He'll hear everything you've got to say. And he'll do it tomorrow, even if I have to lock his doctor in a closet and tie *him* to a chair."

Alex slumped a bit but his anger remained in place. "I don't *want* to look at his face again. I'm the goddamn victim here, and we're doing everything *his* way..."

Fox drew Alex into his arms, stroking his back soothingly. "I know you don't want to hear this, sweetheart, but he's a victim too. Justin Saint James messed him up big time. He didn't want to do what he did, but he honestly felt he had no choice. He's not *you*, Alex. I know you would have died before you gave an inch to that fucker, but Matthew simply was *not* that strong. He still isn't." He drew back, looking into turbulent, green eyes. "Saint James tried and failed. He did *not* take your life from you. He altered it a little, but you're dealing with it, and you're recovering. You can afford to be a little generous..."

Alex dug in his heels. "I was generous enough to meet with him. I don't *want* to give him anymore than I already have."

"Okay, baby, okay. But listen to me. You're not giving anything to him. You're only giving to yourself. To *us*. You want us to be completely free of all of this, right?"

Alex's expression softened. "That's the *only* reason I'm here. You know that."

"All right, then. Let's just back off for now and finish this tomorrow." Alex's silence prompted him to speak again. "Come on. We'll go somewhere for lunch, then we can take a nice long drive and unwind." Fox massaged his lover's shoulders. "Okay?"

Alex lowered his eyes and answered softly, "Okay."

Fox slipped a curled finger under the younger man's chin and lifted his head for a brief, tender kiss. When their lips parted, he took Alex's hand and began to move toward the door. Doctor Peters followed and thanked them both for their time. Alex simply glared at the man, but Fox nodded and asked the doctor to contact him later that evening so they might discuss a time for their next meeting.

Once out of the hotel and back in the car, Alex slouched down in his seat and closed his eyes. His lover eyed him warily.

"You okay?"

"I'll live."

"That's not what I asked."

Alex sighed. "No, I'm not okay. I got a headache the size of all outdoors, and the overwhelming desire to see someone's blood splattered on a wall."

Fox gave him a tiny smile. "Well, as long as it isn't mine, we can work through it, I guess."

Alex gave the older man a weary smile and puckered his lips in a mock kiss.

"So, you *don't* want to kill me for asking you to meet with Matthew one more time?"

"No," Alex answered softly. "As much as I hate the thought of going back there, I gotta trust you to do what's best." He shook his head. "I know there's no way for me to be objective enough."

Fox reached across the short distance and petted the sable head. "It'll be over tomorrow, baby. All done."

Alex reached for his lover's hand and laid a soft kiss in the palm before holding it to his cheek. "I'm so sorry I was such an asshole to you before."

"Where'd that come from?"

"I don't know, I...I just thought about it. I should get down on my knees at the beginning and end of every day and thank God that I've got you. I mean, look at Matthew. Look at what he wound up with. Of course, I still think he deserved it for being such a fucking moron. But *me*. Me of all people." Alex laughed softly. "I get you. If that isn't pure luck, I don't know what is. I've got no business giving you a bad time about anything."

Fox let out a bark of laughter. "Baby, the day you don't give me a bad time about something is the day I start to think that Cancerman has pulled a fast one on me and replaced you with a clone." Fox drew his hand down Alex's cheek and cupped his chin. "Seriously, I want you just the way you are. I fell in love with Alex the opinionated, stubborn, aggressive, impatient pain in the ass, and that's who I expect to live out my life with. Capice?"

"Yeah, Guido, I gotcha."

Fox gave the other man a brilliant smile and turned his attention to the road.

Nearly forty minutes later, they were seated by a sunny window in a bustling restaurant, and though Alex smiled and spoke with him of other things, Fox could feel the tension in him still. When they'd finished with lunch over an hour later, Fox made good on his promise and took him for a nice long ride.

Alex sat quietly and watched the afternoon sun dance rapidly through the trees as they moved down the country road, and for the first time that day, he felt a little more like himself. He turned his head and looked at the man beside him, and breathed deeply.

He *was* incredibly fortunate. There were people in the world who had lived a much more virtuous life than he, and had been slapped in the face time and again by fate. They'd never been lucky enough to find true and lasting love, or for one reason or another had it ripped from them. And then there were those like Matthew whose only crime was that they were fool enough to fall for the wrong person and have their entire lives ruined or worse.

He'd definitely had his share of horror; much of it of his own making, but the unwavering love and devotion of this man had saved him. It had turned his life around when he'd thought nothing in the world ever could, and he'd be damned if anything was going to fuck it up. He'd see the gutless little bastard again, and he'd get rid of all the excess baggage...

// Well, isn't this pleasant? This is good, Alexei, a nice drive in the country is just what you need to unwind...//

"Alex?"

Alex blinked rapidly and snapped his head in Fox's direction. "Hmm?"

"What is it?"

"What's what?"

"I don't know, you made this funny sound. You okay?"

"Yeah." Alex straightened his posture. "Yeah, I'm fine." His attention drifted to the passing scenery, and Fox returned his eyes to the road.

Driving on for another ten minutes or so, Fox pulled off the main road and came to a stop about a half a mile in. Alex looked out over the trees and stream below and turned to the older man.

"This is nice. How'd you know it was here?"

"Scully and I had been out this way a number of years ago on a case."

"Oh." Alex looked around. "Quiet."

"Uh huh." Fox reached across the seat and stroked his lover's jaw. "And secluded."

Alex gave him a suspicious grin. "That too."

Fox leaned over, nuzzling the side of the other man's neck then kissed his way up along his jaw and turned him into a teasing kiss. When he pulled back, Alex smirked at him.

"Are you trying to get fresh with me?"

"Yeah," Fox rumbled, dragging his tongue across the younger man's bottom lip. "Any objections?"

"Well," Alex shrugged. "I just thought that you brought me up here for the spectacular view."

Fox let one hand slide beneath Alex's jacket, caressing down his chest and coming to rest over the growing mound at the front of his jeans. "I've seen it."

"I haven't."

"So, look all you want." The older man popped the button at the waistband of Alex's jeans then began to pull his zipper down. "I'll just be checking out *this* spectacular view."

"You've seen that too," Alex reminded Fox, moaning softly as his fingertips grazed the surface of his cock.

"True. But it's that kind of scenery you never get tired of." Fox moved in for another kiss as his hand crept farther into his lover's pants, wrapping itself around the engorged shaft. The soft sounds of Alex's growing desire vibrated against his lips, and his tongue swept into the younger man's mouth, exploring the sweet warmth.

Alex anchored his fingers in the golden-brown hair as his tongue met the gentle invader, curling around it, stroking and sampling the taste he would recognize even if struck blind.

Fox fed on his lover's mouth for an eternity while he caressed and teased the warm length of muscle in his hand, and when Alex began to fidget impatiently, he broke the kiss and smiled into emerald-green eyes.

"Enjoy your view."

Alex's head fell back against the headrest and his eyes slid shut as Fox shifted in his seat and lowered himself so that his head rested in the younger man's lap, and the tip of his tongue slithered along the length of his cock. He stroked the golden-brown silk beneath his fingers, enjoying the gentle, unhurried touches and slowly opened his eyes and looked down.

Lost in the sensations that the velvety warmth generated, Fox drew his tongue over every inch of his lover's erection, starting at the base and ending at the tip where he teased from it the small bead of viscous fluid. As the moisture disappeared into his mouth, the feeling that he was being watched prompted his head to tilt, and his eyes rose to meet the smoky gaze that rested on him. His tongued swiped at his own lower lip, and he smiled up at Alex.

"I bring you up here to take in this beautiful, relaxing view, and what do you do?"

Alex returned the smile. "A bunch of trees and some water have got nothing on the sight of you licking my cock."

Fox gave him a crooked grin then closed his eyes and slowly slid his mouth over the head and down the stony length of his erection.

Alex's hips involuntarily lifted off the seat, and a deep growl rumbled in his chest as his lover's head rose and fell on his cock in a lazy rhythm. He fought to keep his eyes open and trained on
Fox while his hand combed lovingly through the older man's hair, and his soft whispers echoed in the small enclosure...

"Moy lisa...God, thank you, baby...my baby..."

// Matthew would have liked it if you had spoken so sweetly to *him*.//

Alex's eyes squeezed shut, and he fought to block out the voice that continued to torment him.

// You were so angry with him this morning. I'll bet your body had a different reaction...//

Feeling Alex stiffen and sensing that the sob he attempted to choke back had nothing to do with passion, Fox lifted his head and stared up into his lover's anguished face.

"What is it, baby?"

"Make him stop."

"Who?"

Eyes still closed tightly, Alex lowered his head and took a shaky breath but said nothing.

Fox lifted himself a bit higher. "Are you still hearing his voice?"

The younger man nodded silently.

Fox sat up and drew Alex into his arms. "It'll go away, baby. When this is all over...when you've been able to confront Matthew with all of it, he won't have any kind of hold on you anymore."

"I'm sorry," Alex murmured into Fox's chest. "I'm sorry I let it go this far. I've wasted so many months of our life letting this eat at me...fighting with you, making you worry..."

"It's all right," Fox comforted, tightening his hold on the other man. "We're going to fix it."

"M'sorry..."

"Knock it off with the apologies." Fox tilted Alex's head up and looked down at him. "There's no need for them."

The two men sat quietly studying each other for a few moments, then Alex stretched up the few inches necessary to touch his lips to his lover's. "I love you," he whispered just before his mouth covered Fox's.

Fox pulled the younger man closer, deepening the kiss and re-heating his temporarily cooled desire. He heard the soft, throaty sigh, felt Alex's hands wander up under his jacket, and he knew that the ghost of Justin Saint James had been exorcised at least for a while.

Alex pulled out of the kiss, moving only far enough away to make himself heard.

"Fox...baby, I..." His eyes rose to meet a warm, hazel gaze, and he finished his request. "...Please...finish me."

A satisfied smile curved Fox's mouth, and he kissed the younger man once more before resuming his position and teasing his cock back to the its previous state.

Alex's eyes drifted shut, and a grateful moan escaped his throat as he again relaxed against his seat. The warm, moist pressure on his cock gently ebbed and swelled, and his body vibrated in anticipation of the moment when control would be lost, and Fox would take him into that blissful oblivion where nothing else could reach him.

Fox felt the increase in tension in his lover's body...heard the growing impatience of his moans, and he hastened his movements, sucking harder as his tongue lashed over the engorged shaft. As Alex's hips began to lift off the seat, and his soft moans turned to frantic whimpers, he knew it was time.

The moment came quickly, rocking Alex's body with a series of violent spasms. One hand clutched at the door handle as the other curled in Fox's hair, and he cried out harshly, bucking again and again into his lover's mouth.

So brief a time for so sweet an experience.

He wished he could remain there, lingering in beautiful completion, but already he could feel his descent. Though he struggled against it, he became more aware of his surroundings...the pounding of his heart, and the heavy breaths that fell from his lips in soft gasps and wheezes. And he became fully aware, again, of the mouth that had not yet released him but remained, tenderly cradling him, tongue stroking and caressing him until he went completely soft.

Fox released his lover's exhausted cock, planting a soft kiss on the head before he righted himself and covered Alex's mouth with his own. Alex opened his mouth, allowing Fox to share his taste with him, then the older man pulled away, smiling at the weary, contented glow he found in the forest-green eyes.

"Hell of a view," Alex breathed, grinning slightly. "Thanks for bringing me up here."

"Any time." Fox kissed his partner once more then secured his clothing. "Guess we should get out of here and get home before Clyde thinks we've both run away from home."

Alex nodded and sat up straight in his seat. he turned his head to his left and watched as Fox resumed his place behind the wheel. The older man returned his gaze, giving him a tender smile, and they headed for home.

********************

Fox dashed through the door and dove for the ringing phone as Clyde tackled Alex, yapping and howling.

"Hello?"

"My God, Mulder, what the hell's going on over there?"

Fox chuckled into the phone. "We just got in."

"From where? Japan?"

More laughter. "He does this everytime we walk into the house. He'll quiet down in a...Clyde...no, Clyde, come on! Alex, would you get this animal off me?"

"Oh, it was funny when he was attacking *me*."

Fox finally managed to push the dog away, reaching for his squeaky porcupine and whipping it into the hall. The dog bounded after it and returned seconds later, growling and hitting Fox's leg with the bright orange object in his mouth. He took the porcupine and threw it again while Alex went for the dog's leash. "So, what's up, Scully?"

"Nothing much, I just wanted to see how things are going."

"We had that meeting with Matthew and his doctor today."

"Yeah, you'd mentioned that to me before. I haven't heard from you for a few days, and I don't know if you really went through with it or not."

"We did."

"And?"

"Well, it wasn't pretty."

"Alex didn't try to kill him or anything, did he?"

"No," Fox answered. "He showed remarkable restraint...you know, for Alex..."

"Gotcha."

"But the kid fell apart. We gotta continue tomorrow."

Alex walked into the living room, swinging Clyde's leash, and Fox asked Scully to hang on for a bit. Before he could speak, Alex held up his hand.

"Go ahead and talk to Scully. I'm just gonna take him for a quick walk."

Fox nodded and accepted a quick kiss before Alex and the dog exited the house. He took his hand away from the mouthpiece and returned to his conversation.

"Okay, I'm back."

"Now, what'd you say, Mulder? You have to go back tomorrow?"

"Yeah. I can't tell you how unhappy Alex is about *that*. I gotta admit, it doesn't thrill me either, but..."

"But you really think it's necessary?"

"Yeah, I do. Scully, Matthew told us some awful stories about what Saint James did to him, and not that he really gave a damn, but Alex listened to him. When Alex started to vent, the kid fell apart. He just lapsed into this state. His doctor asked if we could give him some time to pull himself together, and Alex had a fit."

"Well, Mulder, I can't say that I blame him."

"No, neither do I. But it's *my* job to hold him together, so I managed to reason with him. He's not going to be free of this until he confronts Matthew, and he only did that in part today. He's got to finish."

"Does he realize that or is he too mad?"

"No, he knows it. Doesn't mean he's happy, though."

"He'll be okay, Mulder. He's communicating with you now. That's half the battle."

"Yeah, I know." Fox sighed softly. "I just want this over. It's like even from the grave this son of a..." He stopped and breathed deeply. "For almost a year now, he's been tortured...possessed by a damn *ghost*, and I've felt so useless..."

"You haven't been useless, Mulder. There was nothing you could do for him till now. You tried, and you tried, and...God, you tried some more. Alex pushed you away. But you told me that's changed now."

"Yeah. I've finally convinced him that admitting that this thing's still got a hold of him doesn't make him weak."

"We all have weaknesses, Mulder, including Alex. You're a *huge* one for him."

Fox smiled into the phone. "And he'd be happy to admit that to you. He might confess to a couple of other innocuous ones, but this is a biggie to him. It's screwing with his mind, it's caused trouble in our relationship, and he hasn't been able to get a handle on it. He couldn't admit to that. He talked himself into thinking that there *was* no problem, and any time I confronted him about it, he'd just shut down. I'd push, and we'd end up fighting."

"So, you told me that he's talking, but you never said what turned him around."

"We had a breakthrough after I brought him home from the hospital. We fell asleep, and I woke up later to find that he wasn't there. He was wandering around the yard in the pouring rain looking for intruders."

"Was he asleep?"

"Yes and no. I think he really woke up when I came up behind him. He turned around and a couple of seconds later, he recognized me and dropped his gun."

"His *gun*..."

"Yeah."

"Mulder..."

"I know what you're going to say," Fox interrupted.

"Good. But you know what? I'm going to say it anyway. You've been through this before, Mulder. He's almost *killed* you. Maybe you should consider taking his weapon away from him."

"I don't have to do that."

"Mulder, I know you don't want to hurt him by making him think that you distrust him, but this is your *life* we're talking about here."

"You're right, Scully. I'd never want to hurt him like that. And, luckily, I don't have to. Alex made me hide his gun that night."

"He did?"

"Yeah. Personally, I believe that even asleep he'd never be able to hurt me, but he feels better not having access to his weapon, so I put it away where he couldn't find it."

"Well, I feel a little better, then...although he *could* try and strangle you again..."

"Scully, would you stop borrowing trouble? Alex isn't going to do anything to me."

Just as Fox was finishing his sentence, he caught Alex out of the corner of his eye, standing not more than ten feet away. The pained look in the younger man's eyes stabbed at his heart, and he quickly brought his phone conversation to an end.

"Uh, look, Scully, I gotta go. I'll see you later, okay?"

"Mulder, is everything okay?"

"Y-yeah, I just...I gotta go." Not waiting for a response, Fox hung up and rose to his feet. As he advanced toward Alex, the other man spoke.

"She's worried again, huh?"

"Yeah," Fox said softly. "But I told her she didn't have to."

"Yeah, I heard you." Alex's eyes shifted to the floor. "I...I haven't tried to hurt you since that time..."

"I know," Fox broke in. "You know Scully. She's a worrier."

Alex's wounded gaze refocused on the man before him. "Did you tell her I asked you to hide my gun?"

"Yeah, I did."

"But she thinks I could do something else to you."

Fox took Alex's hands in his. "You're not going to do anything else."

"You don't know that."

"Come on, Alex, let's not do this again." Fox shrugged. "It wasn't even me you went after the other night, right?"

"Yeah..."

"And as soon as you turned around and realized it was me, you dropped the gun."

Alex nodded silently.

Fox moved closer and let his hands glide up and down the other man's back. "You're not going to kill me."

Distraught, green eyes skittered away again. "You've got so much faith in me."

"Of course, I do."

"Maybe too much."

"Never. Asleep or awake, Alex, I trust you with my life." Fox lifted the younger man's head and smiled at him. "Now...I need your help with something."

"What?"

"You know when I was being so nice to you about an hour ago?"

A tiny smile curved Alex's mouth. "Yeah."

"Well..." Fox pulled Alex closer and rocked against him.

"Wow." Alex's smile grew wider. "An hour's a long time to be suffering with *that*."

Fox shrugged. "I've certainly gone longer, no thanks to you, but I'm sure that you have no intention of tormenting me tonight, do you?"

Alex shook his head slowly.

"Good." Fox leaned in, nuzzling his lover's throat. "Then, what do you say we call it a night?"

Alex glanced down at his watch. "It's only five-fifteen."

"It's ten-fifteen in England."

The younger man tilted his head back, still smiling. "Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Well, I guess we'd better get to bed, then."

Fox nodded and tried to pull him in the direction of the bedroom, but Alex resisted. When his lover shot him a questioning look, he tossed his head in the direction of the dog who had settled down in front of the coffee table and was presently gnawing a new hole into his porcupine.

"Gotta feed him."

A heavy, groaning sigh left Fox's throat, and he waved the younger man off. "Hurry up. I'll meet you in the bedroom."

Alex watched Fox disappear from sight then clapped his hands together, rousing the dog to his feet. "Come on, Clyde. Let's get some dinner." The dog bounded into the kitchen, practically knocking Alex into the wall in his enthusiasm to get there. "Jeez, Clyde, when was the last time we fed you? Last month?"

Quickly, Alex fed the dog and headed into the bedroom where Fox was waiting, sprawled across the bed, wearing nothing but a screaming erection and a smile.

"Took you long enough."

"It took me approximately three minutes."

"That's a damn long time when I'm lying here thinking about being sunken up to my balls in your ass."

A wide grin spread across Alex's face. "Where'd you learn to be so crude?"

Fox smirked, letting his hand skim back and forth over his cock. "Some guy named Alex. He taught me well." He gripped the shaft at the base and waved it toward the standing man. "Come and get it, baby. You know you want it."

Alex held up one finger and disappeared momentarily into the bathroom. Fox heard the water run then stop, and Alex emerged seconds later, unbuttoning his shirt.

Fox squirmed in anticipation, and when the shirt finally hit the floor, he released a soft moan and began to stroke his cock. "Hurry up, Alex. Don't make me come in my hand."

"Well, stop touching yourself, and you *won't*."

"Can't help it," Fox whimpered. "*You're* not touching me..."

"I can't touch you and undress at the same time," Alex reasoned as he began to pull his pants down.

Fox's lips formed a beautiful, sulky pout. "You could if you really wanted to."

Alex laughed softly. "You drive me nuts."

"Not yet..." Fox passed his finger over the bead of moisture that had formed at the tip of his cock and raised it to his lips. "...but if you'll hurry up and get over here, I'll give it a good try."

Alex watched the older man lick his own semen from his finger, and his cock swelled beyond the point of comfort. He quickly finished undressing and fell onto the bed beside his lover.

"You didn't save any for me?"

Fox arched beneath his lover's touch. "I got plenty for you. Climb on and I'll let you have it."

Grinning, Alex swung himself up on his knees then straddled Fox's hips. His hands roamed the expanse of his lover's chest as he rocked back and forth, rubbing over the solid muscle under him. He watched the green and gold of Fox's eyes disappear behind drooping lids, and those sinfully lush lips part on a soft gasp, and he smiled, leaning over to reach for the nightstand drawer.

Fox's eyes snapped open as the pressure with lifted from his cock. "What are you doing?"

"Getting the lube."

Stopping the younger man, Fox reached under a pillow and produced the tube, smirking up into gleaming, green eyes.

"Should've known," Alex murmured, taking the tube from Fox's hand and unscrewing the cap. He squeezed some of the contents into his hand and lifted himself just far enough to stroke it onto his lover's cock.

Fox lay moaning at the teasing touch, impatient to feel the familiar warmth surrounding him, and when Alex's hand finally moved away, he gripped the younger man's hip with one hand, steadied his cock with the other, and pulled him down. "Come on, baby," he panted. "I can't wait."

Feeling the same impatience, Alex positioned himself then sank down onto the older man's cock. He pulled up immediately, tightening his muscles as he rose, prompting a harsh groan from Fox, who began to buck wildly beneath him. Before they both fell over the edge, he took control, forcing Fox into a harder, more disciplined rhythm, driving the breath from each of them with every thrust.

The veins stood out in Fox's neck as he struggled against the urge to throw Alex onto his back and fuck him straight through the mattress. The fingers of his left hand bit into his lover's hip while his right hand curled around the base of his cock, and he watched as Alex's eyes fluttered and closed.

"Gonna come again for me?" he asked, arching up as Alex dropped back down onto him.

Alex nodded, whimpering as Fox regained control, synchronizing the movements of his hand with his hips.

"Do you feel it coming?" the older man rasped, quickening his pace.

Another nod accompanied by a choked grunt.

"Don't hold it, baby...I can't...come on..." Fox jerked Alex's cock harder as he thrashed beneath him.

No longer able to hold himself up, Alex fell forward, burying his face in his lover's shoulder as they neared satisfaction. His muffled cries grew more and more frantic as the unstoppable rush of heat thundered through him, and when the final explosion occurred, his head snapped up and a long wail escaped his throat. Fox followed immediately, his cries echoing around them then dying to a soft whimper. Alex's head fell back to his shoulder, and the two lay quietly together, neither man taking a breath for long seconds. When finally Alex was able to function properly, he took a deep breath and planted a soft kiss on his lover's chest.

"You're so good for me."

A weary but amused voice answered, "You just figuring this out?"

"No." Alex stretched himself out along his lover's body, snuggling against him. "But I just felt the need to tell you."

Fox wrapped Alex securely in his arms and kissed the top of his head. "Okay." He glanced over at the clock. "Hey, it's still way too early for bed...wanna grab some dinner and see what's on pay-per-view?"

"Sure." Alex lifted himself up and away from the other man. "I'll go get the shower running, and you can think about what you want to eat."

"Nothing much," Fox called after the retreating man. "I'm still pretty full from lunch. You didn't eat a whole lot, though. Are you hungry?"

"A little," Alex answered over the rush of water. A moment later he returned and helped Fox off of the bed. "Wanna get Chinese?"

"Yeah, that's fine," Fox agreed linking fingers with his lover and following him into the bathroom. "Just do me a favor. If you're going to get that disgusting bird spit soup..."

"That's bird's *nest* soup."

"*Spit.*"

"Whatever."

"Just keep it away from me so I can enjoy my food."

"What's so bad about it?"

"I don't know," Fox droned as they stepped under the water. "It just *looks* nasty."

"Oh, and the paper cups full of chewed up sunflower seed shells that you leave lying around look really appetizing."

Fox turned the younger man around and began to lather his back. "But they're disgusting *after* they've been eaten, not *before*."

Alex heaved an exaggerated sigh. "Don't worry, I won't eat my soup anywhere near you."

"Good."

"I'll just sit way over on the other side of the room."

Fox spun Alex around and rubbed the sponge across his chest and shoulders. "Thank you."

"Nowhere near you..."

"I appreciate that."

Irritated that Fox refused to take the bait, Alex snatched the sponge from him and turned his face up to the warm spray. Just as he touched the sponge to his skin, and hand snaked around from behind and snatched it back.

"Do you mind?" Fox asked, a hint of a challenge in his tone. "I wasn't finished."

"I can wash myself," Alex countered, reaching for the sponge, but Fox moved it out of his grasp.

"Never said you couldn't."

"So, *let* me."

Fox shook his head, and before Alex could protest further, he pulled he younger man back against his chest, running both soapy hands over his torso. A soft giggle escaped Alex's lips as Fox tickled the sensitive interior of his ear with his tongue, and one hand whispered over his exhausted cock.

"Forget it," Alex laughed. "It ain't budgin'."

"You don't think so?"

"Trust me."

"If you'll trust me..." Fox purred, continuing to gently stroke the depleted organ.

"I do, lisa," Alex said in his most condescending tone. "But I'm telling you, it's just not gonna happen. Not right now. I'm wasted."

"Mmm." Fox nipped at the other man's earlobe. "Sounds like a challenge."

"No challenge," Alex insisted just before stifling a moan as his lover's awakening cock nudged his rear. "*God*, already?"

Fox smiled into the side of his neck. "Mmm hmm."

"You're such an unbelievable slut."

"So are *you*."

Alex suppressed a chuckle. "Nuh uh."

Fox lightly ran his fingers over the younger man's cock. "Your lips say no no, but *little* Alex says yes yes."

Alex turned around and wound his arms around Fox's neck, writhing against him. "You're gonna make me old before my time."

"No way," Fox leered. "Mass quantities of sex keep you young. Dr. Scully'll confirm that."

"Okay, I'll be sure to call her later and check." Alex backed Fox into the wall. "But just in case you're right, let's tack another couple of months onto our lives..."

Twenty-five minutes later, weak and happy, the two men dropped onto the sofa together and awaited the arrival of their food. Four courses later, they lounged together and finished the movie they'd begun watching, then took Clyde out for a leisurely walk. Falling into bed a little after ten, both almost immediately fell into a deep, dreamless sleep, not waking until well after eight the next morning.

********************

Fox sipped his coffee, perusing the morning newspaper as Alex snuck bits of Fox's 'home baked' corn muffins to Clyde.

"Anything interesting?" Alex asked, keeping one eye on his lover as he repeatedly lowered his hand to the dog's mouth.

"Same stuff," Fox answered absently. "Murders, scandals...none of my teams won...you're going to clean up whatever crumbs Clyde misses, by the way."

Alex made an attempt at innocence. "Crumbs?"

"From the muffin you're feeding him."

"I just gave him a little piece."

"Uh huh." Fox folded the paper down and stared at the younger man. "See if I make *you* breakfast any more."

Alex was about to answer when the phone rang. "I got it." As Fox returned his attention to the paper, he slipped one last piece to the dog and reached out, snatching the cordless phone off the counter. "Hello?"

"Yeah, what...wh....wait a minute. What the hell do you *mean*, he's still not up to it?"

Fox looked up from the paper, knowing exactly who it was that was calling.

"I don't give a shit *what* he isn't up to," Alex snarled. "You drag his sorry little ass out of bed, prop him up in a chair, and *make* him finish this!"

"Ah, shit." Fox dropped the newspaper and tried to get Alex's attention, but the younger man had shoved himself away from the table and was now pacing impatiently.

"Oh, you can't? Well, hang on. I'll be there in about half an hour and we'll *see*."

Fox leapt from his seat and snatched the phone from Alex with one hand and clamped the other around the younger man's forearm. As he dug in his heels to keep Alex from dragging him along into the living room, he brought the phone up to his ear.

"Doctor Peters? It's Fox Mulder. What the hell is going on? ...What? That's...hang on...Alex...baby, wait a minute..."

"No, Fox." Alex finally succeeded in wrenching his arm out of his lover's grasp. "He's not pulling this bullshit. He's going to hear me out, and he's going to do it today, as promised!"

"You haven't heard the last of this," Fox rumbled into the phone then hung up, focusing all his attention on Alex. "Alex," he called, following on the other man's heels. "Calm down..."

Alex whirled around as he reached the doorway, fixing a manic gaze on his lover. "Calm? Are you shitting me, Fox? Do you *see* what's going on, here? They don't *ever* plan on finishing this. Their *next* step is going to be to sneak back off to wherever the hell that little fucker came from."

"I don't think so, " Fox reasoned. "If they were going to do that, they would've done it already. Come on. Come sit down and let me call Peters back and find out what's going on."

Alex stood shaking his head. "No. No, no, no." He turned again and took two steps into the next room then stopped and came back. "Where's my gun?"

"Alex..."

"Where the *fuck's* my gun?"

"What are you going to do?" Fox asked. "Go over there and shoot them? You'll really get a lot of talking done *that* way."

"At least I'll be doing *something* to make myself feel better."

Fox folded his arms across his chest. "I'm not giving you your gun."

Alex glared at the older man for a number of seconds as if he could will him to give him his weapon. When Fox stood his ground doing nothing more than stare back, Alex released a frustrated, window rattling growl then spun around and stalked out of the room. Fox rose from his seat and quickly followed.

"Where are you going?"

"The gun would've made it quicker, but I certainly don't *need* it."

Fox beat Alex to the door and blocked the younger man's exit. "You're not going anywhere."

"Fox, get the hell away from the door."

"No."

"Move!"

"Move me."

Alex wheeled around, clenching his hands in his hair. "Jesus *Christ*, you're a pain in the ass..."

"Because I'd rather have you snuggled up to me at night instead of some con named Tiny?"

Alex bowed his head and let out a hard sigh.

Fox approached the younger man and skimmed the line of his jaw with his knuckles. "Please, Alex? Come and sit down and try to relax. Let me call Peters."

"What the hell good is it going to do?"

"I won't know that until I try."

A deep frown creased Alex's forehead, and he looked away.

"Baby..." Fox wrapped his arms around the other man and pressed their cheeks together. "You're too worked up to think straight about this. You said it yourself."

"Yeah, I'm worked up because of shit like *this*!"

"I *know*." Fox massaged his lover's back and shoulders. "I know. Please sit and let me talk to the doctor? Maybe I'll be able to get somewhere with him."

Alex thought for a minute. Maybe Fox *would* be able to accomplish what he and his temper never would have been able to.

"*Fine*," he said, taking a few steps away from Fox then returning. "But if you can't, heads are gonna roll."

Fox sighed softly and picked up the phone. Reaching into his wallet for the doctor's card, he glanced up at Alex, watching him prowl restlessly around the room. He prayed for a little devine assistance, dialed the number, then addressed the voice on the other end.

"Doctor Peters...yeah, it is. Would you tell me, please, what's going on? Why have you cancelled today's meeting? ...You were supposed to take care of that yesterday. That's why we cut the session short. ...How could he have such a big setback after that brief meeting? I mean, come on, how long have you been working with him? Nine months. And he's still *this* weak? ...Yeah...I don't...I don't *care* about that. It's not my concern. *Alex* is my priority....what? Yeah, I *know* you're Matthew's doctor, but you said yourself that he needed this confrontation with Alex to recover completely...well, he hasn't really done that yet, has he? ...Well, snap him out of it, dammit!" Fox covered his face with one hand. "Okay, look...you work on him...*work* on him, or I'll go over there and work on him myself, and I promise you, he won't like it at all..."

Alex listened to Fox's end of the conversation, knowing that the older man was making no progress, and his anger began to rise again. He held himself in check, waiting for Fox to finish before he exploded.

"...You call it whatever the hell you want. *You* initiated all of this, doctor. And I'm going to see to it that it's finished, *and* that Alex doesn't come out the loser. ...What? I think we've been more than patient. ...Yeah, well I think I'd like to see that for myself. ...You're wrong, doctor, I'm perfectly capable of judging his condition, *and* I'm qualified....that's right. Expect to see me in about two hours. That wasn't a request, doctor. I'll be there in two hours."

Fox disconnected and tossed the phone down. "He insists that Matthew is still in no condition to meet with you."

"Yeah, well, fuck what he insists. I'm going over there with you."

"No, babe, let me go alone. You represent too much of a threat to him. I want to observe him in a calmer situation, okay?"

Alex stared silently at the older man for a moment, trying to rein in his emotions. Losing the struggle, he reached down to the coffee table, picked up the oncidium orchid plant he'd bought just a few weeks ago, and hurled it at the far wall. His lover flinched slightly but otherwise showed no reaction.

"Son of a bitch!" Alex proceeded to pick up one end of the coffee table and bang it repetitiously on the hardwood floor.

Fox continued to sit quietly, letting Alex release his frustrations.

"Fucking bullshit!" The younger man dropped the table back to the floor and paced the length of the room. "Poor Matthew needs a calm, serene environment, huh? I'll give him a fucking *permanent* calm environment. Just get that asshole doctor of his out of the room for two minutes, and I'll show him more calm than he's ever seen in his life..."

"Alex, this is exactly why I need to go over there alone. We're not going to get two words out of him with you acting like this."

"Acting like *what*?"

"Like an irrational, crazed lunatic."

Alex's voice increased in volume with each word. "I am not irrational!"

"No? What would *you* call it?"

"I'm fucking pissed!"

Fox heaved himself out of his chair and walked over to the younger man. "So am I, babe. But if we both start throwing tantrums..."

"Oh, that's good. Make me sound like a three-year-old."

Fox rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I didn't mean to make it sound that way. But if I lose my temper the way you have, we'll never get anywhere with Matthew."

"And that's the thing that really drives me up a goddamn wall," Alex hissed. "I gotta watch what I say, *how* I say it...I have to adjust my tone to just the right level, 'cause God forbid the little shrinking violet should sense any anger and get his fragile feelings hurt...*fuck* that! What about *my* feelings?"

"Alex..." Fox took the remaining steps necessary to stand face to face with the enraged man. "Baby, you have to know that your feelings are *all* I care about in this. I want you to have your say. I want you to let him have it with both barrels, and I don't give a shit *how* badly it affects him. But to do that, he's got to *listen* to you, and according to Doctor Peters, he's got himself worked into a state where he's simply tuned everything out. So tell me what good it would do for you to go over there right now and start screaming at him."

Alex's clenched his fingers in his hair and bowed his head. "I *hate* it when you make sense."

Fox pulled the younger man into his arms and kissed the top of the sable head. "Promise me you'll stay here while I'm gone?"

Silence.

Fox drew back a bit and cast a chastising gaze at his lover. "Alex..."

"All *right*." Alex released a long, hard sigh, then repeated in a softer, somewhat calmer tone, "All right."

"Thank you." Fox led Alex over to the sofa and lowered him into it. He took a seat beside the younger man and draped an arm across his shoulders as Alex curled into his side."Hey."

Muffled, "What?"

"I'll make you a deal."

"What deal?"

"If you can behave yourself and just do this my way, I promise you I'll spend a whole weekend doing everything *your* way."

Alex lifted his head and looked up into Fox's eyes. "Meaning?"

Fox gave him a leering grin. "Meaning whatever you want it to mean."

A slow grin spread across the younger man's face. "You sure about that?"

"I'll probably live to regret it, but yeah, I'm sure."

"You're suggesting this just to pacify me."

"Is it working?"

"Yeah."

"I figured it would."

"It doesn't mean I'm easy, you know."

"No, sweetheart, of course it doesn't."

Alex pushed the older man over onto his side. "That wasn't *too* condescending."

Fox righted himself and planted a hard kiss on his lover's mouth. "Well that last comment was either one of a seriously delusional man, or a consummate liar."

Alex gave his lover a haughty snort. "Don't you have someplace you need to be?"

"Yeah, but I told Peters two hours. So that gives me about forty-five minutes to kill."

"Wanna finish reading the paper?" Alex looked over to the bits of broken clay and orchid all over the floor. "I gotta clean that up anyway."

Fox smiled and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess."

Alex kissed the older man's jaw and pulled himself to his feet. "I'll get it for you." He disappeared into the kitchen and came back just a few minutes later with the newspaper and a dustpan and brush. He handed the paper to Fox then tidied up the mess, despairing over the loss of his plant.

"Why'd you let me throw *this* one?" he moaned, cradling his mangled orchid as he carried it toward the kitchen. "You know how long I've looked for a really nice oncidium."

Fox flipped the paper down and stared at the other man. "You're kidding, right?"

Alex frowned in answer and walked out of the room, returning minutes later. He dropped down on the sofa beside the other man, sitting quietly until Fox spoke again from behind the paper.

"So, are we going to have to go shopping for a new coffee table, too?"

Alex looked from Fox to the table and back again. "*No*..."

"You sure? I thought I heard some cracking when you were slamming it up and down."

"I didn't *slam* it."

"Okay..."

Alex sat staring at the table for a number of seconds before dropping to his knees and checking it out.

"Shit."

"Yes?"

"Okay, it's a little cracked at the joints underneath."

"Mmm hmm."

Alex rose from his knees and slouched back onto the sofa, crossing his arms across his chest. "I was sick of this table anyway..."

"Right."

"Been thinking about looking for something else..."

"All worked out for the best, then."

Alex glared unseen at the face still camouflaged by paper. "*Yell* at me, dammit!"

Once again, Fox lowered the paper and looked at the other man. "Why?"

"Because I acted like an idiot! Adults don't throw tantrums..."

"I said the word tantrum a little while ago, and you got mad at me."

"Because I was still being irrational. It *was* a tantrum, and it was stupid."

Fox dropped the paper and pulled Alex against him. "You're frustrated," he said softly. "It's better for you to let it out than keep it all bottled up. I've seen what you keeping it to yourself does. Believe me, I'd rather replace a few pieces of furniture than find you the way I did a few weeks ago."

At a sudden loss for words, Alex stared at Fox for a time then leaned into his embrace, tucking his head under his lover's chin. The two men sat that way, in silence, basking in each other's warmth until Fox determined it was time for him to go.

Alex walked his lover to the door and, promising the older man that he would stay put, watched as Fox got into his car and drove away. He closed the door and walked back into the living room, standing in the middle of the floor, looking around and drumming on his thighs.

Patience. A highly exaggerated word.

Alex snorted and walked over the sofa, dropping down to the cushions. A soft snuffling sound attracted his attention, and he reached down, scratching the top of Clyde's head.

"Where you been, buddy?"

The dog began to whine and laid his head in his master's lap.

"Hiding out until all the noise stopped? Sorry, Clyde, I wasn't mad at you. Wasn't mad at Fox either, even though it might have sounded that way." Alex sighed softly, looking into concerned brown eyes. "Guess I've been acting pretty crazy, huh? Didn't mean to. And I sure as hell didn't mean to hurt either of you." He scratched the underside of the dog's chin. "I love you guys. You're my family."

Clyde licked Alex's wrist, his tail swinging in a lazy arc, and Alex smiled.  "Know what? You're more help than any psychologist." He leaned in, kissing the top of the dog's head. "Don't tell Fox I said that." Rising from the sofa, he clapped his hands and Clyde followed. "Come on, it's a nice day. Let's go for a walk."

********************

The hotel room door swung open, and Doctor Peters peered out at the man in the hall.

"Mr. Mulder."

Fox nodded and entered as the doctor stepped aside. "Where is he?" he asked, looking around the room as he walked in.

"Matthew is in his room," Peters explained, motioning to the adjoining door. "I've been talking to him since we spoke earlier."

"And?"

"I'm very sorry. Matthew had been doing so well at home. I thought he was ready for a confrontation with Mr. Krycek."

"He seemed ready enough *before* Alex started to have his say," Fox pointed out.

"Yes, this is very true. And I reminded him that in order to put this part of his life to rest, he *must* allow Alex to speak. But as I saidto you on the phone, Mr. Mulder, I'm his doctor. I cannot and will not force him to do anything he doesn't feel he's able to do. I'm sure you'll agree that it would be counterproductive to our progress."

"I agree with the statement, doctor," Fox said softly. "But as I told *you* on the phone, Alex's well being is *my* concern. Just as you believe that Matthew needs to complete this, I believe that Alex does as well. And as you have already witnessed, he's not the most patient of men. He wants this over with so he can finally get on with his life."

"Yes, I did get the impression that he was impatient and quite bitter. I don't blame him in the least, I'm merely saying that it isn't helping Matthew's emotional condition any. And if Matthew is in no shape to hear him out, it helps neither of them."

Fox studied the doctor coolly. "I'd like to see him."

Peters nodded. "I told him you were coming. He gave no reaction either way, so..."

Fox folded his arms over his chest and waited.

The doctor started for the door that connected their rooms. "Let me see if he'll see you." He knocked softly and called Matthew's name, then opened the door and passed through it.

Fox followed quietly, having no intention of waiting for the young man to refuse to see him.

"Matthew," Peters called to the man standing by the window. "Mr. Mulder is here to see you."

No response.

"You remember that I told you a couple of hours ago that he was coming."

"I remember," Matthew said softly. "Do I have to see him?"

"Yes, you do."

Both Matthew and the doctor looked in the direction of the door.

Ignoring the other man's warning look, Fox moved forward, passing Peters and coming to stand in front of the frightened young man.

"Your doctor says you're not up to finishing this thing with Alex."

Matthew blinked and averted his gaze.

"You owe him, Matthew," Fox said in his low, monotone. "What happened to you was nothing short of horrific, but it in no way negates what happened to him."

"I know," Matthew whispered miserably. "I have awful nightmares about it. I wonder every day if what I did will somehow turn me into someone...something...like Justin."

"Not if you're feeling guilt over it. Saint James was a man who felt no remorse. I don't believe that's true of you."

"Alex does."

"No, Alex believes you're a weakling. He abhors weakness. And this is a big part of the problems he's having now. He's always been very strong. Very in control. Saint James took all of that out of his hands, and he needs to have it out with you in order to regain what was robbed from him."

"But, I...I apologized for my part in it. Over and over. He won't accept it."

"Alex needs the same thing you needed," Fox explained evenly. "He needs to talk it out...or yell, or whatever he needs to do to get everything off his chest. And *you* need to sit there and listen to it. You haven't done that, Matthew, but guess what?" Fox moved a little closer and spoke a little more softly. "You're going to."

"I can't, I...I feel so bad..."

He hadn't moved from the spot in which he stood, but Doctor Peters cocked his head, straining to hear what was being said while he carefully gauged his patient's reactions to the other man.

"This isn't just about you," Fox hissed, patience fading a bit. "You're not going to come here, cry about what you went through with Saint James, then blow back out without hearing what Alex has to say. It's not happening that way, Matthew. I'm not *letting* it happen that way."

"Matthew? Are you all right?"

The frightened young man tore his eyes from the hard, amber gaze and looked to his doctor, but Fox's voice drew him right back.

"Say yes, Matthew."

Matthew blinked. Something in the man's voice told him he had no choice but to obey.

"Y-yes. I'm...I'm okay."

"Very good. Now, pay attention," Fox continued in a tone that only the man in front of him could hear. "You're going to see Alex. You're going to see him today. You're going to sit your skinny little ass down in a chair...you're not going to zone out on him...you're not going to start whimpering like a damn puppy, I don't care how mad he is. You. Owe. Him. And I'm here to see that you pay up in full."

Matthew stared up into mesmerizing, gilded eyes, trying to get some intelligent sound to come from his mouth, but Fox cut him off before he could speak.

"If you're going to tell me you can't again, don't bother. I'm not listening. And don't you dare try to take off before I get back here with Alex. You'll do as I say, or I swear, Matthew, on all that's holy, I'll find you. Wherever you run to, I'll track you down. I found Alex, remember? So don't think I won't be able to find you. And I when I do, I guarantee you, you'll *never* be that unhappy again. Got me?"

Quaking, Matthew nodded then lowered his head.

"Good. I'm leaving now, but I'll be back soon. If you cooperate, this'll all be over today. That's gotta be of some comfort to you. Hold on to it." Fox turned and headed back in the doctor's direction.

"What did you say to him?" Peters asked as the two men passed from one room into the next. "Did you threaten my patient?"

Fox shrugged. "I simply explained to him in a way which you could not, that he really needed to hear Alex out and get this settled once and for all."

"Meaning, you threatened him."

"*Meaning*, I put all those psych classes I took at Oxford to use and assessed the situation. I then used the method I thought most effective, and convinced *your* patient to do what was best for himself *and* Alex. I apparently succeed where you, doctor, had failed."

"He agreed to see Mr. Krycek?"

"Yes."

"Of course, you realize, Mr. Mulder, that the moment you leave, I'm going to go talk to him and find out what exactly you discussed."

"Go right ahead. In the meantime, I'm going home. I'll be back shortly with Alex."

Without another word, Fox strolled out of the room, leaving Doctor Peters to stare after him for a moment before turning on his heel and heading back to Matthew's room.

********************

"Mulder."

"Hey, Mulder, where are you?"

"On my way home."

"Oh...is the meeting over?"

"It never took place."

"What?"

"But it's going to. I'm on my way to pick Alex up now and go over to the kid's hotel."

"You sound a bit intense, Mulder. Did something happen?"

"Yeah. Peters tried to get Matthew out of seeing Alex today, saying that he was in no shape to talk, and I went over there."

"Uh oh. Where's Alex?"

"Home."

"Home...he's okay?"

"Not hardly. He went ballistic, and I knew there was no way he could go over there in that state and not kill the kid. I managed to get him to stay put while I went over to the hotel and took care of things."

"And obviously you did..."

"Yeah. I convinced Matthew to get this over with today. It wasn't a walk in the park, but..."

"Did you keep your weapon holstered, Mulder?"

"Of course. Why would you ask?"

"Because while you're not exactly Alex, you can flip out just as easily as he can in certain situations. I can see where this would definitely be one of those times."

"I was very cool."

"Uh huh."

"I *was*."

"Yeah, Mulder, I can see it now. You scared the hell out of that boy, didn't you?"

"I might have left him a little disconcerted."

"I'm *very* sure. "

"Look, Scully, I did what I had to do to make this meeting happen. Alex is my first, last, and only concern in this."

"I know. Believe me, I'm not chastising you. I probably would have wanted to slap him around a bit had I been there, but I'm just thinking. What makes you think that he'll be there when you get back?"

"He'll be there," Fox answered with certainty.

"Oh, God, there's that tone. Okay, Mulder, do me a favor and call me later. I want to know how it went."

"All right, Scully. Listen, I'm pulling up to the house now, so I'll talk to you later...yeah, okay...bye."

Fox disconnected and rolled up into the driveway. He cut the motor and exited the car, walking up to the front door. Just as he was inserting his key into the lock, Clyde's bark turned him around. He smiled as from a block away, Alex let the dog off his lead, and Clyde bounded up the sidewalk and headed straight for him. He dropped down, petting and ruffling the dog's fur as he waited for Alex to reach them. The younger man walked up, and Fox stood to meet his eyes.

"How'd it go?" Alex asked, leaning in for a quick kiss.

"Like I expected," Fox answered in his usual deadpan tone.

"Well, you tried," Alex sighed, opening the door and letting the dog in. "Now it's my turn."

"Whoa, Alex. No. I said it went how *I* expected, not how *you* expected. Let's go. They're waiting."

Alex paused, studying the triumphant glint in his lover's eyes. "You got him to agree to finish it?"

"Yeah," Fox answered matter-of-factly.

"Wow."

Fox treated the younger man to a tiny smile. "Ready to go?"

"Yeah," Alex said softly. "Yeah, in a minute. Let me just go get Clyde some water and change."

Fox followed Alex into the house and waited for the approximately twenty minutes it took him to shower and change, and they left the house shortly afterward.

The trip was spent mostly in silence until Alex cleared his throat and spoke up.

"So, how did you get Matthew to agree?"

Fox shrugged nonchalantly. "I sorta took a page from your book."

"Huh?"

"A little gentle...persuasion."

A slow grin lit Alex's face. "You didn't."

"I didn't touch him," Fox broke in. "I just convinced him that he needed to see you today."

Alex shook his head, smiling. "I love you when you're evil."

"What about the rest of the time?"

"Always."

Fox turned into the hand that had risen to his face and pressed a soft kiss into the palm, then turned his attention back to the road.

They made the rest of the trip in a more comfortable silence, but when they arrived in the parking lot of the hotel, Fox sensed Alex's returning tension. As they exited the car, he took the younger man's hand, holding it securely in his own, and brushed a kiss across the knuckles.

Alex closed his eyes for a moment, drawing on his lover's strength, and the two strode into the building. As the elevator carried them to Matthew's floor, Fox leaned in and kissed the side of Alex's neck then whispered into his ear.

"You got something in mind for the weekend yet?"

"No," Alex purred, grateful for the intentional distraction. "But you'll be the first to know when I..."

// I've got a thought. Why don't you chain him to your bed and whip him?//

Alex squeezed his eyes shut and lowered his head.

"Babe?"

// That's always good fun. And how about asking Matthew to perform the same service on him that he did on you?//

"Stop," Alex whispered, the veins at the sides of his head bulging with the force he used to clench his teeth together.

"Alex..."

// Then you'd be even. It's the least you could do for betraying him...//

"I didn't!"

The doors swished open, and Fox led Alex out and sat him in the nearest chair. "Alex? You didn't what?"

The younger man's silence prompted him to ask another question.

"Are you hearing his voice again?"

Alex nodded then lifted his head, meeting his lover's concerned eyes. "Let's do this," he whispered thickly. "I have to end it *now*."

Fox nodded and backed up a few steps to allow Alex the room to stand.

The first few steps were a bit unsteady, but very soon Alex picked up momentum, regaining his balance and composure. They reached their destination, and he knocked at the door, breathing deeply. Several seconds passed before the door opened, and when it did, the somber face of Doctor Peters looked out at them. Alex blew past him without so much as a hello, and Fox stepped inside, meeting the other man's gaze.

"Matthew refused to say, but I know you did something. You said something to coerce him into doing this."

"Well, obviously," Fox answered blandly, "or we wouldn't be here, would we?"

"I mean something unethical."

Fox opened his mouth to answer, but his reply was cut off by Alex's voice, impatient and angry.

"Where the hell is he?"

"In his room," the doctor replied, moving to the door. "I'll get him." Giving Fox one last suspicious glare, he knocked softly and opened the door. "Matthew? They're here."

Fox watched Alex closely, taking in the aggressive stance and heavy rise and fall of his chest, and knew this wasn't going to be pretty. He just hoped he could prevent any shedding of blood.

Matthew inched into the room, eyes cast downward, and stopped a few feet in front of the door.

"Come in, Matthew," Peters coaxed softly. "Sit down and make yourself comfortable. In fact, why don't we all have a seat?"

Alex remained standing, watching the young man as he shuffled to a chair and lowered himself into it.

"Alex?"

His attention turned to the doctor.

"Please sit?"

"I don't want to."

"Wouldn't you be more comfortable?"

"No."

"Well, I certainly think Matthew would be a little more at ease if you assumed a less hostile position."

Alex looked from Peters to Fox. "Is he kidding?" His head snapped back to the other man. "I don't give a shit how *Matthew* interprets my position. Let's just get on with this already."

"Mr. Mulder, would you please..."

Fox held both hands up and moved over to the sofa where he took a seat. "He doesn't want to sit. What do you want me to do?" He gave Alex a tiny smile then nodded. "Say what you came to say, baby."

Alex paced slowly for what Matthew must have thought was hours before he opened his mouth and began to speak.

"You made me sit through your life story," he spat, eyes smoldering an angry green, "now you're going to sit through mine."

Matthew sank deeper into his chair.

"Like you, I had a decent childhood. No fairy tale, but all right. It didn't all start going to hell till I was in my late teens. I'd never have told my parents about myself. They'd have gone nuts. So, when a friend and I were beaten and raped after a party one night, I kept my mouth shut about it. Explained away the cuts and bruises as the results of a fight." Alex shrugged. "I lived with it. Just me, myself and I. Nothing else I *could* do.

"My mother died in a car accident not long afterward, then my grandmother, whom I loved dearly died a couple of years after that. My father became very withdrawn, and I left home. Joined the FBI Academy after college. I won't go into detail, but it was one stupid decision after another after that, and I sank deeper and deeper into some really bad shit. The worse it got, the easier it was for me to say, fuck it. It's never going to get any better, so why even try to put it right? Then about four years ago, it all did an about face. Fox and I found each other.

"We'd actually known each other before that, but I was still in my destructive phase, and we didn't exactly see eye to eye. But one weird night brought us together in a way I'd dreamed a lot about but never thought was possible." Alex's gaze softened as he looked toward his seated lover. "We hit some rough patches but they all smoothed out, and for the first time ever I knew what it was to be really happy.

"See, I had a *life*." He turned back to the younger man. "I had someone who loved me without question...without exception or conditions, and after the life I had been living, this was an amazing thing to me.

"Fox saved my life. He made me believe that I was somebody worth loving, and I can never be grateful enough for that. And sometimes I look at him, and I think...I think that I can never love him enough. I can never give him all the love he deserves no matter how hard I try or how much I want to. But I go on trying. I might fall short once in a while, but I try so hard..."

Unable to stay in his seat, Fox rose and walked slowly over to his lover. He let his fingertips drift down Alex's cheek then pulled the younger man against him. "You've never fallen short," he whispered, petting Alex's head before pulling away and kissing the other man's forehead. "Never." He backed away but did not reclaim his seat on the sofa. Instead, he leaned against the windowsill, keeping within a comforting few feet of his lover.

Alex stood quietly, momentarily lost in the warmth of Fox's gaze, then he turned back to Matthew, making sure that the young man was paying attention. He pointed to Fox, a distinct chill replacing the warmth. "This is my whole life. This is what Saint James tried to destroy."

Alex prowled around to the front of Matthew's chair, eyes burning into the younger man's. "He..." The sable head shook in enduring disbelief. "...he *planned* it all out. See, Fox and I had met him in a club in the Bahamas. But unlike you, we wanted nothing to do with him and let him know. We never dreamed we'd see him again. But he saw Fox in New York last year, and he followed him back to Washington. He bought the house next door to us. *Watched* us...our comings and goings...he sat in the second floor window of that house with binoculars and watched us making love in our bedroom, all the while plotting and planning when he was going to make his move.

"He hired people...he had the goddamn nerve to rent a local carpeting truck, and they came and snatched me from my home while Fox was at work. When I woke up, I found myself chained to a bed in a fucking *cage*. That sick fuck had actually had a cage *built* for me like I was some damn zoo animal." He began to pace again, eyes never leaving the younger man's face. "He touched me." He stopped and closed his eyes as if in doing so he could stop his skin from crawling at the thought. "He put his filthy hands on me, and he told me I was his. And I couldn't move," he whispered through gritted teeth. "There was no way to stop him from touching me..."

Matthew lowered his head and shuddered, recalling the sickening feel of Justin's hands on him.

Alex continued. "You ever have one of those dreams where insects are crawling over you, and you can't move to swat them away, and you can't wake up? That's what it felt like. And his voice...when he spoke...it had the same sickening effect." Alex heaved a long breath. "He called me...he...he used the nickname that since my grandmother, only Fox had ever used. And all of a sudden, it wasn't a sweet or comforting thing. It was vile. It was disgusting. Every time he said it, I felt like I needed a hot shower." He paused in front of Fox, leaning into the older man's soothing touch.

"That's how I felt," Matthew added softly, all at once wishing he had said nothing. Alex whirled around, snarling at him.

"You weren't chained up and caged," Alex hissed. "You could have gotten away from him if you really wanted to. You didn't even *try*, you gutless little weasel. *You* made him what he was. Yeah, he was a rich asshole who thought he could buy everything, but your weakness gave him strength. It fed him, and he grew into a bigger monster than he was. If it wasn't for you, he might never have kidnapped *me*."

Matthew cowered in his chair, wishing with all his heart that he had never initiated this meeting. But Alex was right. He picked up his head and tried to meet the furious green gaze.

"I'm sorry," he whispered in a barely audible tone. It *was* my fault..."

"You're damn right it was," Alex spat. "And you know, if it was just you...it would have been bad enough, but to watch him do what he did to someone else. To know that he kidnapped and tortured another person...and to *participate* in it...that's beyond weak. I...I don't even know that I've got a word to describe you..."

Matthew again lowered his head. "I didn't want to. Please, please believe that. It sickened me to do that to you. I knew...from those few hours I'd spent with you earlier, I could tell how much you loved Fox, and I knew what it would do to you..."

"You knew," Alex repeated acidly. "It didn't stop you, though, did it?"

"I told Justin, I...begged him not to make me...but he...he got so mad...furious. He would have beaten me within an inch of my life if I didn't."

"He was an old man, for Christ's sake!" Alex bellowed. "There's no way in hell he could have done anything to you that you didn't allow. Scrawny as you are, you could have taken him!"

"I couldn't, I..."

"You didn't *want* to!" Alex bit back then stared at the younger man. "You *liked* it, didn't you?"

"No..."

"Come on, Matthew, admit it. You enjoyed the shit he did to you. You liked being paraded around in front of his friends, and you enjoyed the hell out of being passed around amongst them..."

The young man began to cry softly. "I didn't, I...didn't..."

"If you didn't, you wouldn't have let him do it! You would have got the hell out of there or died trying!" Alex's voice lowered, but the contempt remained. "But you didn't. And you let him try to do it to me."

Matthew shook his head, tears streaming down his face. "I asked him to let you go. Even though I knew he never would. I tried, Alex, I swear to God. But he wanted you. And Justin always got anything he wanted."

"Because wimps like you always laid down in front of him like he was a fucking god! He was nothing more than a wrinkled old asshole with the finances to get things done!"

Fox and Doctor Peters watched intently as Alex leaned in close enough to Matthew that the younger man could feel his breath on his face.

"Was it the money? Did you think that if you let him have his way, he'd leave it all to you when he kicked off?"

"N-no..."

Alex's tone turned seductively soft. "Come on, kid. It *had* to be the money. Why else would you let that old queen do all that shit to you? Why else would you stay? Couldn't have been the sex. You couldn't have actually liked having that withered old dick up your ass, could you? Well, maybe you could. If you enjoyed the beatings and humiliation...maybe you *are* that sick..."

"No!"

Alex studied the curled up figure of the young man with detached curiosity. "You're not zoning out on me again, are you Matthew? Because I promise you, your doctor isn't going to stop me from making you listen this time."

Seconds passed, and Matthew slowly raised his head from the protective circle of his arms. He sniffed back a sob and lifted his chin, doing his best to still his quivering lips. Alex stared at him for a moment longer then continued to speak.

"You know," he started softly, "it was bad enough he snatched me from my home. But he left me with nothing when he threw me in that cage...nothing that represented my life...

"Our first Christmas together, Fox had given me a watch." He fingered the silver band on his left wrist. "This watch. He had it inscribed with something very significant, and it meant everything in the world to me." He showed Matthew the ring on his right hand. "And this. And Saint James stole them from me while I was unconscious. He'd stripped away everything connected with my life, and the only thing I had left was what was in my mind. He tried to take that too. He tried in every way he knew how to break me down. The drugs...those fucking merciless beatings...he even tried to convince me that Fox didn't care enough to look for me, and I think it pissed him off royally that he was unable to. So, he beat me some more. And I took it. And I waited. And every chance I got, I showed him that he would *not* best me."

Fox watched the corner of his lover's mouth twitch and knew that Alex was recalling the worst few minutes of his ordeal.

"He was a smart man," Alex began, pacing slowly. "I gotta hand it to the motherfucker. He knew. He knew I'd sooner die than give in to him, and he knew there was only one thing he could do to punish to me. And he knew exactly how to deliver the killing blow..."

Alex stopped pacing and turned tortured eyes to the young man. "You know, I think I would have preferred it if he'd sent four guys in there to beat and fuck me till I bled as opposed to what he *did* do." He gave the younger man a scornful smile. "He'd doped me up, but you know that. I was pretty well out of it...dreaming dreams of home and my Fox..." In an increasingly agitated move, he began raking his fingers through his hair and. "And out of nowhere, I felt this gentle warmth close over my cock..." He closed his eyes, talking to seemingly no one but himself. "...and I wanted it to be him...I wanted to stay in that dream. But I couldn't. The more I woke up, the harder it was to believe. And I...and I got to the point where I knew...I...I knew it wasn't Fox. But I'd also gotten to the point where I just couldn't shut it off. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't..." Alex began to stalk back and forth again, clenching hishands together.

"I'm sorry, Alex," Matthew whimpered softly. "I know how much it upset you..."

"Upset me?" Alex stared at the younger man, his voice crackling with disbelief. "*Upset* me?"

The slam of Alex's fists on one of the end tables startled the other three men in the room, but all remained silent.

"I was drugged and tortured for fucking *days*, and none of it *upset* me like coming in another man's mouth did! Do you know what it feels like to think you've betrayed the only person in the world you've ever loved?" He pounded one fist against his chest. "It was like I'd fucking *died*! I was dead, but my goddamn heart was still beating! It hurt so much, I wanted it to stop. You'd ended my life with that little stunt, and I just wanted it *over*.

"Fox took such a...a huge chance on me. I still...I don't...I don't know why, but he did. And believe me, he had no reason in the world to want to. He opened himself up to me, and...and trusted that I would always love him and never hurt him. And I did that," he moaned through gritted teeth. "And it was easy. Easier than I ever could have dreamed. I'd never fallen in love with anybody in my whole life. He was my first. And he'll be my last. And his trust, it meant...it *means* the whole world to me..."

Fox lowered his head and closed his eyes, willing himself to stay put and keep quiet. Alex needed to get this all out, and this was the only opportunity he might ever have.

"...And in the span of just a few minutes, it was all blown to hell." Alex trembled with the effort it took to hold himself upright. "I had just let another man do to me what no other man should ever have been able to do. I...I drove myself crazy wondering how it happened. How it could have continued even after I realized it wasn't him. I felt like I *should* have been able to stop it. And that I couldn't, it was so...I felt like fucking *dirt*. S-so unworthy of his love and his trust..."

A tear rolled unseen down Fox's cheek. He knew that Alex had felt this way, but to listen to him say the words...to hear the anguish in his voice as he spoke them, ripped his heart in two. He clasped his hands together and let his head drop lower as Alex continued.

"...When I woke up in the hospital, he was the first thing I saw. He was crying...and he was smiling, and I was so relieved to be back with him. I knew he'd find me..." Alex took a deep, stuttering breath. "And when the initial euphoria faded, and it all came down on me a few minutes later, I was sick. The shame was...God, it was unbelievable. There he was...so happy that he'd found me...thinking that everything was going to be all right again, and he had no idea." Alex shook his head, staring straight through the young man. "No idea how I'd betrayed him..."

"You...you didn't betray him, Alex," Matthew ventured to speak. "It happened just like you said yesterday. You were violated. Raped. You didn't want it, and that's what it amounts to."

"Yeah," Alex hissed. "That *is* what it amounts to. But after days of not eating and being pumped full of drugs and Saint James's own special brand of TLC, I was pretty damn fucked up." He turned and looked to his silent lover. "But even after he found out what had happened...he never moved from my side. He kept reassuring me and telling me that he loved me and that nothing that happened could ever change that. He wanted to take me home. All the shit that had been dumped on him, and he still wanted me...and I...I felt worse. I needed him so much, and yet I felt that I didn't deserve him, but I couldn't...I just wanted to cling to him and block everything else out. I couldn't though."

Matthew cringed at the icy change in Alex's tone.

"I couldn't keep it out. It played over and *over* again in my head. I tried. I tried so hard to make it go away, but it wouldn't." He bit into his lower lip, squeezing his hands together, and his voice crackled with self-loathing. "Little by little I felt my control slipping away, and not long after I got back home, I tried to kill Fox."

Matthew turned shocked eyes up to the older man.

Alex drew in a shaky breath. "He talked to me. Saint James. Came to me in my dreams, talking all kinds of shit. And one night..." He paused, blinking away the sudden sting of tears. "One night I was having a really bad nightmare, and Fox tried to wake me. I wrapped my hands around his throat and tried to choke the life of out him. I was still dreaming ...I thought he was Saint James, and I almost killed him. Our dog came into the room, and his barking woke me." He shook his head, eyes glued on the seated man. "I can't...I can't begin to explain what it felt like...to suddenly wake up and find myself strangling the only man I've ever loved. To listen to him wheezing and gasping for breath...and to have to look at the marks my fingers left on his throat the next morning..."

"I didn't know," Matthew croaked. "I didn't..."

"You didn't know what?" Alex whispered, hatred dripping from each word. "You didn't know how badly you and your master had fucked me up? Well, surprise, surprise. And you know what? I didn't do it just once. Oh, no, no. A short time later, I almost shot him. I held a gun to his face and almost blew his head off." He turned glistening eyes to Fox. "And here he is. All that I've done to him...all that I've put him through, and he's still here." He turned back to Matthew. "He's the only thing that keeps me from killing you, in case you didn't know it...and he's the reason that I want to. But instead," he said flatly, "I'll content myself with this...*talking* thing. It's hard, though, you know? I look at you and all I want to do is rip your heart out and shove it down your throat. I want to beat you until your own mother doesn't recognize you. I'm restraining myself only for Fox. So, you have him to thank for your life."

Matthew shivered and lowered his head, knowing just how serious Alex was.

"I'm still not in control. You don't know what I took for me to finally admit that. For so long I thought I was. I insisted. Vehemently. And every time Fox told me I wasn't, I'd blow up at him. I didn't want to hear it. Not from anybody, and especially not from him, because if he said it to me, it must have been the truth. And the truth was...it was just..." Alex took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

"I couldn't be what he was telling me I was. The man he'd fallen in love with was strong and self-assured...and *sane*. That wasn't who had come back from Connecticut, and I couldn't stand it. I hated myself for not being able to be that man for him. And so my frustrations and my fears came out as denial and anger." He looked to Fox again, meeting the beautiful, sad, hazel gaze. "He doesn't deserve my anger. It belongs to Saint James." He refocused on the young man, his tone sounding much like coarse sandpaper. "And it belongs to you. I won't fuck up our life. And I *won't* lose him. I can't...I couldn't lose him and live. And so here I am, looking at your goddamn face...something I swore I'd never do again. And I'm reliving shit I'd much rather forget, all in the hopes of finally cleansing myself of the fucking memories...those goddamn voices. I want them gone. I want you and Saint James *gone*. All the guilt, all the insecurities...I want to be who I was. Completely and totally, one hundred percent *me*."

"Everything that happens in our lives affects us, Alex," Doctor Peters interjected softly. "You can't be exactly who you were before. And that's what you have to work on accepting."

Alex shot the man a withering glare, but before he could respond, Fox reached out, closing his fingers around the younger man's wrist.

"He's right to an extent, baby," he said soothingly. "We're always changing, and events in our lives sometimes play a big part in how much. It depends on who we are to begin with. You..." Fox pulled Alex closer, now holding both of his hands. "...You're a strong, willful, dynamic man who's been through hell, and it set you back. What happened to you would screw up a lesser man for years to come if not for the rest of his life." He glanced at Matthew, making his point. "But in the end, *you'll* be stronger. That's how it'll ultimately change *you*. You've taken a huge step today toward making that happen, and I'm so proud of you. But, Alex, you have to know that no matter how this had turned out, you would never lose me."

Alex focused a glassy green stare on the man in front of him then seconds later took a few steps forward, melting into Fox's embrace.

Fox held his lover tightly, tenderly petting the head that rested on his shoulder while Peters watched in silent interest.

"I'm tired, lisa," Alex whispered, clinging to his lover's shoulders. "I want to go home now."

Fox nodded, kissing the back of the younger man's head. "Do you think you've said everything you wanted to say?"

Alex lifted his head and looked over at the huddled form on the chair. He paused for a moment, then spoke.

"This is over."

Fox studied Alex for a number of seconds before nodding and pushing away from the window sill. Pulling the younger man into his side, he glanced over at the doctor. "We're through. You can leave now."

Peters rose to his feet and looked over at his patient. "Matthew? Matthew, they're leaving. Is there anything else you'd like to say first?"

"I don't give a shit whether or not he's got more to say," Alex spat. "He's said enough."

As Alex spoke, Matthew picked himself up out of his chair and walked over to the two men, stopping a few feet away. "Umm, I...I just....goodbye, Alex. I uh...I hope that you find this helped you...even if just a little...I think...I think it might have helped me even if it does hurt so much right now..."

Alex, turned his head, directing a blank stare at the young man. "Go home," he whispered wearily then looked to his right, meeting his lover's eyes. "I'm going home."

Fox returned Alex's gaze, noting extreme fatigue but also a tiny flicker of something else. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on. He planted a soft kiss on the younger man's forehead and turned to the doctor. "We're out of here."

Peters looked from one man to the other. "Just another minute if I might...Alex?"

Alex's eyes lifted to the doctor's. "*What*?"

"Do you think that forgiveness is possible?"

"For who?" Alex looked to the younger man then back at Peters. "Him?"

"It would help Matthew a great deal...and you too, I think."

"So, let me get this straight." Alex drew himself up, eyes once again sparkling with anger. "You want me to pat little Matthew here on the head and tell him it's okay that he did what he did to me?"

"No, of course it wasn't okay. It was very wrong. He knows that. He knew it when he did it. But you don't seem to want to understand that he did it because he was afraid for his life..."

"Oh, no," Alex cut in. "You're dead wrong. I'd love to understand. I'm *dying* to understand. I *can't* understand."

Peters nodded once then directed his next words at Fox. "Are you planning on seeking further counseling? I think it would be advisable..."

"Do me a favor, okay, and go *advise* your patient," Alex sniped before Fox could respond. "There's plenty of condemnation in the world, and not everyone feels the need to see an analyst about it."

Peters nodded. "Very true. But I think you should keep your options open. Just in case you feel the need in the future to speak to someone. And for what it's worth, I truly believe that if you were able to forgive Matthew or at the very least understand him, you'd find that you'd feel so much better."

Alex shook his head. "You know what would make me feel better? Five minutes alone with him. But since that's not going to happen, the two of you on a plane will have to suffice. Now...I'm done with this. Forget your stupid notion that I should forgive this little prick, pack your bags, grab the first flight back home, and get the hell out of my life."

Before anyone else could say a word, Alex moved toward the exit with Fox in tow, and threw the door open.

"Think about it, Alex...give it a little time, and I think you'll come to realize..."

The rest of the doctor's words died in his throat as Fox spun around, turning a glittering amber glare on him.

"What part of 'I'm done with this' didn't you understand?" he rumbled softly. "Go back to where you came from and take care of your patient."

"And who will take care of Alex?" Peters persisted.

"I will."

"Forgive me, Mr. Mulder, but how successful have you been so far? No offense, but you're too close. Too emotionally involved."

Fox hesitated for a brief instant, then, poise securely in place, he offered the doctor a mirthless smile. "Yes, I am emotionally involved. And therefore, I have much more invested in his recovery than billable hours."

Unable to come up with a suitable response, the doctor fell silent and watched as Fox wound an arm around Alex and guided him into the hall and away.

"Well, Matthew," Peters began softly, closing the door and turning to his patient, "we did the best we could with what we had. Do you feel it was enough?"

"More than enough," the young man murmured, still shivering in the aftermath of Alex's anger.

"I know it was very painful for you...for both of you."

Matthew nodded and whispered, "I deserved to hear it, though. All of it. As much as I didn't want to...as hateful as he was, I'm glad I did it. I owed him that much. He *would* have killed me, you know...if he could have."

"I don't believe that. Yes, he's angry, but..."

"You weren't at Justin's," Matthew interrupted. "He killed those men with no regret. It didn't matter that they were just following orders. Nothing mattered. He'd been kidnapped from his home. He was separated from the only thing that mattered in his life, and it drove him up the walls. He was like..." Matthew paused, looking for a proper comparison. "Imagine capturing a wildcat, caging it in a strange place, then poking at it with sticks and rattling its cage constantly. Imagine the fury...

"To his mind, everyone in that house was involved in keeping him prisoner, and so he lashed out at whoever he could. I'm the only one he talked to. The only one he was civil with, and like he said, what I did to him was worse than anything that had happened. And now, I'm the only living reminder of that. Of *course* he'd like to kill me."

"You're a very understanding young man, Matthew. And quite sensitive. I'm very sorry we couldn't make Alex see that."

"It's all right," Matthew shrugged resignedly. "It doesn't matter what he thinks of me. I came, and I did what I needed to do. I just hope that somehow, he's able to make peace with it." Matthew moved in the direction of his own room and stopped at the door. "I'd like to follow his wishes and leave here as soon as possible."

Peters nodded. "I'll call the airline."

"Thank you."

Matthew slipped quietly from the room.

********************

Green eyes darted back and forth, watching the scenery roll by. His left leg bounced in an erratic rhythm, keeping time with the thoughts ricocheting through his head.

"Why don't you close your eyes and try to relax?"

Fox's soft words turned his head, and he looked at the older man. "Do you believe that shit?"

"What shit?"

"That, 'why don't you forgive poor little Matthew' shit. Why the hell should I?"

Silent shrug.

"Damn right," Alex snorted. "Seems like you and I were the only sane people in that room."

"Well," Fox responded in that soothing monotone, "it actually wasn't Matthew asking for forgiveness. I think *he* knows how impossible that is for you."

"And damn, fuckin' well he *should* know." Alex turned back to the window, muttering more to himself than to Fox. "Come fuck with me then ask for forgiveness? He'd *have* to be out of his mind."

"Yep."

The sable head snapped back. "I mean...do *you* think he deserves forgiveness?"

Fox inhaled deeply then let the breath out. "He messed you up bad, Alex. I love you, and truthfully, no. I can't forgive him."

Alex nodded sharply at the validation and once more turned toward the window.

"Babe?"

"Yeah?"

"Why don't you close your eyes? Rest, okay? You're pretty wound up."

Alex attempted to do as Fox suggested, but seconds later, his eyes flickered open.

"And that doctor...Porter..."

"Peters."

"*He* needed a good ass whipping."

"He did irritate me a few times," Fox agreed, reaching out a hand to stroke his lover's head. "C'mon, close you're eyes."

Again, Alex's eyes drifted shut. He sighed softly, letting Fox soothe him a bit. "Should've killed him in the hospital when I had the chance," he muttered softly.

"Mmm hmm."

"Goddamn spineless little weasel..."

"Shhh."

Finally, Alex fell silent, and the knot between his eyebrows gradually faded and disappeared. Fox continued to lightly massage the back of his head while kept the Porsche on a steady track for home, and when at last he pulled into the garage, he leaned over and gently roused the napping man.

"Alex."

"Hmm? What?"

"Come, on wake up. We're home."

Alex blinked and groaned. "Already?"

"Yeah. Let's go. You can go right back to sleep once we get into the house."

Fox helped the younger man out of the car and led him into the house. Followed closely by Clyde, he walked Alex into the bedroom and let him sink down onto the bed. He pulled off the other man's shirt, shoes and socks, then sat down on the edge of the mattress as Alex turned onto his side, burrowing into one of the pillows. He let one hand drift over his lover's back and shoulders, attempting to coax him back into sleep.

"Feel like I've been dragged for miles," Alex moaned, luxuriating in Fox's touch.

"Go to sleep," Fox purred softly into Alex's ear. "When you wake up, you'll feel a lot better."

"Why, did you plant a bomb in Matthew's luggage?"

"Go to sleep," Fox repeated a little more firmly, planting a tender kiss on the younger man's temple.

Mere seconds later, Alex was softly snoring. Fox sat a while longer, unwilling to immediately relinquish contact with the warm skin beneath his wandering hand. He studied the sleeping man for a while, then, brushing a breath of a kiss over the bare shoulder, he arose and exited the room.

********************

"Hello?"

"It's me."

"Hey, how'd it go?"

"It was no walk in the park, I'll tell you that."

Scully groaned into the phone. "Alex didn't try to kill the kid, did he?"

"No. Not that he wouldn't have loved to. It was just emotionally exhausting. In fact, he's asleep right now."

"Do you think it did him any good?"

There was a slight pause before Fox answered. "Not entirely."

"Which means?"

"It was good for him to be able to confront Matthew. He needed to do that. But he needs to let go of the anger, and he can't seem to. I think he *knows* he needs to, but he's at war with himself over it."

"Are you suggesting that he should forgive Matthew?"

"No. God, no. There's a better chance of you marrying Frohike and having his kids."

Soft snort.

"No, I'm just suggesting that he needs to acknowledge that Matthew truly felt he had no choice in what he did. He can't reconcile himself with that. He would have sooner died than done anything Saint James wanted, and he can't see why Matthew or *anyone* wouldn't feel the same way. That's what he's got to do. He's got to allow himself to realize that it isn't a betrayal of himself or me to simply understand the kid's state of mind. I don't mean to make it sound like I'm sympathizing with Matthew. I'm not. I just understand how it is he ended up in the position that he did. Of course, that doesn't in any way diminish my very strong desire to beat the shit out of him."

"So, what are you going to do to help him in the right direction?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"He'll find his own way."

"But Mulder, what if he doesn't? You can't just do *nothing*."

"I trust him, Scully," Fox said with soft resignation. "He'll come around, and he'll do what's right."

"Okay, you know what you're doing..."

"Yes, I do."

"I guess..."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

Scully chuckled at the amused tone in her partner's voice. "Anytime. Hey, you guys want to go out later for dinner?"

"I don't know how that'd work out," Fox replied. "I get the feeling that he's going to be out for some time. If you want to come over here, I'll make us something. And if he wakes up before dinner, we can all eat together."

"Yeah, okay. I'll be there in about an hour or so then."

"Okay, fine. See you soon."

Fox hung up and slouched against the back cushions of the sofa, folding his hands behind his head, and reviewing the last few hours.

Painful, but very definitely necessary. The meetings, such as they were, might not have been all that he had hoped, but it was certainly leap in the right direction. Now, all he had to do was keep Alex talking, and sooner or later, he'd talk himself right into letting go of the anger and hatred that had hurt them both for far too long now.

He hoped.

He prayed.

No, he was sure....though a prayer or two couldn't hurt.

// Nothing's ever easy with us, is it babe?//

Fox groaned softly and hauled himself off the sofa and into the kitchen to see what he could dig up for dinner.

********************

Scully sniffed appreciatively at the aroma wafting up from the large pot and smiled.

"Mulder, if anyone had ever told me you'd turn into a halfway decent cook someday, I'd have laughed in their face."

Fox crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned back against the kitchen counter and grinned.

"Yeah, I make a mean spaghetti and meatballs, don't I?"

"I can't deny it." Scully opened the oven door to check on the garlic bread. "You think all these odors would've brought Alex out of the bedroom by now."

"I'm not surprised he's still out. He was pretty wasted when we got home." Fox tasted his sauce then added a bit more oregano. "I'll go check on him, though...see if he's even moved."

Scully nodded then looked down at the dog sitting beside her. She frowned at the mournful expression, then asked, "What's he want?"

"Anything he can mooch off you," Fox answered as he left the room.

Scully returned her attention to the unblinking brown eyes. "I really don't think there's anything up here that you'd like, Clyde." To prove her point, she plucked a grape from the bowl in front of her and held it out, laughing when the dog quickly snatched it from her palm. "You're a strange animal, Clyde. You fit right in around here."

********************

The bedroom door inched open, and Fox cautiously stepped into the room. Eyes on the motionless form in front of him, he crept toward the bed, gaining a few inches at a time until he was standing directly over his unconscious lover. A faint smile touched his lips as he observed the sleep softened features and steady rise and fall of the broad chest, and he wondered if Alex's slumber was as untroubled as it appeared from the outside.

Unable to help himself, Fox reached out and let his fingers slide over the glistening sable strands of the younger man's hair.

So beautiful. So quiet.

And all at once he regretted his decision to invite Scully over for dinner. At this moment, he wanted nothing more than to curl himself around his sleeping lover and join him in peaceful darkness.

// But nooooo.//

Fox released an inaudible sigh and, leaning over to drop a tiny kiss on the corner of Alex's mouth, he cursed himself briefly then returned to the kitchen. As he walked back into the room, he found Scully sitting at the table with a bag of his sunflower seeds in front of him, peeling away the black and white shell from one of them.

"Since when do you like sunflower seeds?"

"I don't. But your dog does."

Fox shook his head and walked over to the stove. "He eats *everything*, Scully. The only thing we've found so far that he doesn't like is tomatoes."

Scully succeeded in cracking another shell and tossed the seed to the dog who immediately snapped the tiny object out of mid air.

"I take it sleeping beauty is still out."

"Like a light. I guess it's just you and me." Fox bent to remove the garlic bread from the oven and heard the curious snuffling of the third who would never let his presence be forgotten. "And Clyde..."

Ten minutes later, they sat down to eat, and when dinner was over, Scully helped clean up, and the partners sat down in front of the television.

"God, I feel like a beached whale," Scully complained as she slumped onto the sofa.

"Couldn't have anything to do with the two helpings of spaghetti you ate, could it?" Fox asked as he sat down beside her and reached for the remote.

"It wasn't that much."

Fox broke into laughter. "I couldn't even see you over the mound you had in your plate!"

"Don't exaggerate," the redhead huffed. "And where's dessert?"

Fox's eyes widened in disbelief. "You're kidding, right?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I'm thinking warm apple pie...a la mode...oh yeah, that'd be..."

Scully broke off her request and followed the line of her partner's stare to the one who had just entered the room.

More asleep than awake, Alex shuffled in, dropping down on the sofa and wedging himself between his lover and Scully.

"Oh, for..." Scully bounced a few inches to her left and watched Alex sink into Fox's open arms. Despite the disgusted grunt, a tiny smile formed on her lips as Fox pulled the younger man to his chest and dropped a few kisses in the tousled hair.

"You hungry?" Fox asked softly as Alex settled against him.

Alex shook his head.

"Are you awake?"

Another shake of the sable head as Alex snuggled closer.

Fox rested his cheek on top of the other man's head and smiled over at Scully. "So, anyway..."

"Fine," Scully sighed, hefting herself off of the sofa. "I'll go dig up my own dessert. You want anything?"

"No," Fox answered absently, perfectly happy to sit there, gently stroking his lover.

"Alex?" As soon as she'd called the other's name, she threw a hand up and turned toward the kitchen. "Oh, nevermind."

Fox laughed softly then turned all of his attention on the man in his arms. "Babe?" he called just loud enough for Alex to hear.

There was silence for a few seconds, then came a very soft, unintelligible acknowledgment.

"Nothing," Fox whispered, brushing a kiss along Alex's hairline. "Go back to sleep."

He sat quietly, letting his hand glide up under the shirt that Alex had thrown on but neglected to button. The warm, smooth skin felt good against his hand as he stroked his lover's back, and a barely audible moan rose from Alex's throat as Fox continued to lavish his gentle attentions on him. Before Scully returned only minutes later, Alex was again asleep.

Taking a seat in the chair diagonal from the sofa, Scully turned the seat around so she could better see the television.

"I see you found something," Fox said softly, grinning at the redhead's heaping bowl of pistachio ice cream.

"Not exactly apple pie a la mode, but it'll do in a pinch." Blue eyes fell on the man who lay motionless in Fox's arms. "Is he asleep again?"

"Yeah," Fox answered, continuing to caress Alex's back.

"I don't get it. Why would he leave a comfortable bed only to fall out again two minutes later on the couch?"

Fox shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe he missed me."

Scully shook her head, looking from one man to the other. "You're not *supposed* to still be this sweet on each other after the years you've been together."

Fox laughed softly. "Is that some sort of rule?"

"I think it is, yeah."

He turned adoring eyes down to the man pressed to his chest. "You know how fond we are of breaking the rules."

"Yes, I'm well aware. Hey..." Scully turned in the direction of the t.v. "Is that...it is! Wow, I haven't seen this in ages."

Fox looked up at the screen and wrinkled his nose. "The King and I?"

"Yeah. God, Yul Brynner was a damn sexy man."

One golden-brown eyebrow arched in amusement. "Really?"

"Oh, yeah."

Fox tilted his head to one side, studying the actor. "You know...give him a little more weight...some hair around the sides of his head and glasses, and he'd kinda look like Skinner." Fox grinned over at his partner. "Scully, do you think Skinner's sexy?"

A touch of pink tinged the woman's cheeks as she attempted to laugh off the question.

"You do, don't you?"

"C'mon Mulder, he's our boss."

"And that means you can't see him as an attractive man?"

"How the hell did we get on this subject?"

"You've got the hots for Yul Brynner."

"I merely think he's attractive. And by the way, he's dead."

"I believe the word you used was sexy, and so what?"

"What*ever*, Mulder."

Fox gave her a soft chuckle.

"What the hell's your point, anyway?"

"Simply that the deceased Mr. Brynner and Skinner both fall under the same male type. You find one sexy, therefore, you probably feel the same about the other."

"You're nuts."

Fox's grin grew wider. "You have a thing for Mr. Clean too, don't you?"

"Shut up, Mulder."

"Admit it, Scully."

"That I've got a thing for Mr. Clean?"

"No, Skinner."

"For God's sake...okay, so he's an attractive man. So what? I'm not dead. I notice things. What's wrong with that?"

"Hey, *you're* the one who wouldn't admit it."

"Do *you* think he's attractive?"

Fox shrugged. "I guess. Not my type, though." He looked down at Alex, giving the sleeping man a soft smile.

"Oh yeah," Scully groaned. "I suppose Alex is *exactly* your type."

"Exactly."

"Oh, please..."

"You don't have to believe me, Scully, but it's true. I couldn't make him any more perfect."

Scully stared at her partner, chin resting in her palm then spoke, her voice dripping with good natured sarcasm. "Gee, too bad he's not awake to hear this. It'd be just the ego booster he needs. 'Cause it's not enormous enough."

Fox gave her a smirk. "His enormous ego is one of the things I love about him."

"It isn't hard to admire someone who already does it so well by himself?"

Fox laughed softly. "No. It's sexy. On him, anyway." He looked down at Alex, brushing a few stray hairs away from the other man's brow. "He's lost a little bit of that arrogance because of all this. He'll be okay, though. He's working his way through it, and he'll be stronger."

Scully gave her partner a smile. "Don't you think though, Mulder, that he could do with a little less arrogance? He's already got more than any ten people I know combined."

"But it's well balanced," Fox argued. "He's compassionate, and he's sweet.."

"And awake..."

"Hmm?" Fox looked from his partner down into sleepy eyes. He smiled but remained silent, half wondering if Alex might not just go back to sleep if he didn't speak to him, but the younger man shifted, placing a kiss at the base of his throat then gently closing his teeth on the sensitive flesh.

"Awake now?" Fox asked, moaning at the gentle nip.

Alex nodded, winding his arms around the older man's waist and pressing closer to his warmth.

"How're you feeling?" Scully asked.

"Okay," a small, muffled voice answered from the folds of Fox's shirt.

"I'm so glad that you decided to face up to what's been bothering you."

Alex lifted his head from Fox's chest and looked to the woman sitting across from him and nodded. "It was hurting us, and I couldn't see it."

Scully gave Alex an understanding smile. "I know. And I also know that you'd never purposely want to do that."

Alex shook his head and again snuggled against his lover. "So, you know all about it?"

"Mulder filled me in, yeah."

"I still want to kill him. No...I want to torture him *then* kill him."

Scully put her bowl down and came to sit beside the two men and let her hand rest on Alex's knee. "Yeah, but you didn't. That took a lot of restraint on your part. You should be very proud of yourself."

Alex fell into a pensive silence, letting Fox gently stroke his back.

"So, since you're up, how about some dinner?" Fox asked patting his lover's thigh.

"I'm not hungry right now."

"No?"

Alex shook his head. "Sorry. The spaghetti sauce smells really good, but I can't seem to work up an appetite."

"That's okay, babe," Fox assured the younger man. "Just let me know if you change your mind."

Alex went quiet for a moment then looked at Fox's watch. "Think they're gone?"

"I don't know," Fox answered evenly. "Why?"

"Just wondering."

"If they aren't gone yet, I'm sure they will be soon."

"Alex?"

Alex turned his attention to Scully.

"Do you think that maybe you might have been a bit hasty?"

"About what?"

"I know you wanted them gone as soon as possible..."

"Yeah, like yesterday."

"But..." Scully hesitated then continued, "what if there's something else you want to say to him?"

Alex's forehead creased. "Like?"

"I don't know. You just might think of something else you should have said."

"I said more in that meeting than I think I've said in my whole damn life, Scully," Alex replied a bit too quickly. "There's nothing else to be said."

"You sure?"

"*Yeah*, I'm..." Alex pulled himself upright, now directing his conversation at Fox. "Do I look like I need to say anything more?"

Fox kissed his ruffled lover's forehead. "Nobody knows your mind better than you, Alex."

"*Thank* you. I..." Alex stopped in mind sentence, directed a questioning look at Fox, whose expression remained completely passive, then turned back to Scully. "I know my mind," he said firmly, repeating his lover's words, "and there's nothing in there anymore regarding that little worm."

"Okay, Alex," Scully soothed. "It was just a question."

Alex leaned back against Fox then jerked forward again. "His doctor asked me to try to forgive him...you believe that shit? He tried to tell me that if I could just bring myself to understand the kid's position, I'd feel better. Bullshit. He's just trying to help the little bastard ease his own conscience."

Scully opened her mouth to speak, but Alex cut her off before she could emit a sound. "Well, screw 'im. His conscience *should* bother him for the rest of his miserable life." He looked to Fox. "Right?"

Fox lifted a hand to the younger man's face, letting his thumb sweep back and forth across his cheek. "Imagine someone who's committed such unforgivable acts wanting the chance to start his life over and be happy. Isn't right, is it?"

Alex blinked then stared at the other man, visibly discomposed. Seconds later, he lowered his eyes and fell into a thoughtful silence.

Having pushed things as far as he was going to, Fox wound an arm around the younger man and gently pulled him back into his embrace.

Alex rested uneasily in his arms for a few moments, staring quietly at nothing, then turned and wrapped his arms around Fox, burying his face in his lover's shirt.

Green eyes flecked with amber met azure, and Scully gave her partner one of her 'are you sure you know what you're doing?' looks. Fox merely closed his eyes and inclined his head, rubbing his cheek against the sable strands beneath it. Scully shook her head picked up her bowl.

"Well, I think I'll just get going, now."

"Already?"

The woman shot her partner an impatient look then took the remainder of her ice cream into the kitchen. She reemerged a few minutes later and announced her departure to the two men.

Reluctantly, Alex uncoiled himself from around Fox and let the older man rise to escort his partner to the door. He bid her a soft goodbye and tucked himself into the nearest corner of the sofa until Fox returned.

Fox opened the door and leaned against the frame as Scully stepped outside and turned to face him.

"That's a dangerous game you're playing, Mulder," Scully whispered as softly as she could.

"I wouldn't play games with something so important," Fox shot back just as softly.

"But Mulder...he looked sort of hurt..."

"If he felt I had hurt him, he wouldn't have turned to me like he did. It's okay. He's just thinking."

"If you say so."

Fox gave his partner a reassuring nod. "See you at work."

"Okay."

Fox watched the redhead get into her car, waved as she pulled out of the driveway, then returned to the living room, sitting at the other end of the sofa. He looked to the huddled figure, giving his lover an inviting smile.

Alex crawled toward Fox, stretching his body out along the cushions and letting his head come to rest in the older man's lap.

"Want to go back to sleep?"

Alex hesitated then shrugged.

"Are you still tired?"

"A little, I guess."

Fox rubbed his hand over the younger man's back. "How about if I go lie down with you?"

The thick, sable veil of lashes swept slowly upward, revealing a wary, green gaze. "You don't have to."

"I know that." Fox leaned over and brushed a soft kiss across the flushed lips, then gently pushed Alex to his feet. He rose from the sofa and stood in front of the other man, pressing their foreheads together. "Why don't you go ahead and get into bed, and I'll go put the food away?"

Alex nodded and backed away from the older man, then turned and walked slowly toward the bedroom.

Fox watched until Alex disappeared from sight, then stood for a few seconds more, mulling over a thought that had just come into his head. He headed into the kitchen and quickly cleaned up, then moved out of the room to complete one more task before joining Alex in the bedroom.

********************

Alex slipped out of his shirt then removed his pants, draping both over the chair by the window. Now clad only in a pair of black boxer-briefs, he straightened out the rumpled sheets before getting into bed. Once under the light cover, he hooked one arm over the top of his head and rested the other across his stomach, and stared up at the ceiling. After long moments filled with nothing, his mind began to work.

// So. Little Matthew isn't worthy of a second chance at happiness in his life. He can never be repentant enough for you. He can't take back what he did, and you can't forgive him. Shit, what right have *you* got to pass judgment? You've done far worse in your life, and far more often, that's for damn sure.//

// But Christ, I never raped anybody and left them to suffer all the hell that came after.//

// Yeah, that's about the *only* thing you've never done. Get off your high horse, Alex. Maybe the anger is doing you just as much damage as all the stuff that brought it on...//

The new presence in the room drew Alex out of his thoughts, and his eyes flicked over to the door. He watched quietly as Fox walked in, tossed him a bit of a smile, then headed in the direction of the closet. Hanging from the older man's hand, he noticed a dark object. When his eyes fully focus on the object, he realized that it was his gun.

"What are you doing?"

Fox stopped, hand on the knob of the door. "Putting your gun back."

Alex sat up, letting the sheet fall to his waist. "Why?"

Fox gave him an innocent shrug. "You said a little while ago that everything was out. So I figured there was no need to keep your weapon hidden any more."

Fox opened the door, but before he could return the gun to its place, Alex called to him.

"Lisa."

"Hmm?"

"Don't." The younger man shook his head. "Don't put it back."

Fox turned to face his lover. "Why not?"

"I j...I just don't want you to. Not yet. Go put it back where you had it."

Fox approached the bed and sat down, resting a hand on Alex's leg. "What's the matter? Alex, are you still having trouble? Are you hearing that voice?"

"No."

"So, what's wrong?"

"I don't...how do we know I won't?"

"You said you don't have any more unresolved issues," Fox said gently. "And I trust that you know your own state of mind. There should be no reason not to let you have your gun back."

As Fox started to rise from the mattress, Alex reached out and grabbed his wrist. "No. Don't, Fox...okay? Just go put it back. Please? Just for a little while."

Fox cocked his head, studying Alex's expression. "Okay," he said softly, leaning forward the press a kiss against the younger man's lips. "If you really want me to."

Alex nodded, twisting a corner of the sheet in his fingers.

Fox rose and left the room, returning minutes later. He came to stand beside the bed and began to undress while his eyes held those of his lover. When he had stripped to his underwear, he sank down to the mattress, half covering Alex's upper body with his own. The younger man's hands automatically came up to his shoulders, moving slowly over the muscled flesh.

"You okay?" Fox asked, gentle concern tingeing his voice.

Alex nodded mutely, staring up into his lover's eyes.

"You want to talk about it?"

"I don't..." Alex began softly. "I don't know what to say." He shook his head, eyes pleading for Fox to understand. "I...I don't...I don't want to hurt you." He brought a hand to the older man's face. "I can't take that chance."

Fox turned his head, planting a kiss in Alex's palm. "Somewhere inside you there's doubt or you wouldn't feel this way."

Sable eyelashes fluttered. "I guess. I...so many thoughts...I'm trying to sort them all out, and I..."

"It's okay," Fox interrupted, his face so close to Alex's that the younger man could feel his warm breath flow over his lips. "There's plenty of time to sort it out. You don't have to do it all tonight."

"But I..."

"You've had enough for today." Fox brushed his mouth against Alex's. "I want you to relax now."

"Fox..."

Before Alex could speak another word, Fox's lips came down on his, tenderly drinking in his protests. He pulled away for a moment, noting the needy gleam in his lover's eye, then moved in again, taking the younger man's mouth in a more demanding kiss.

Groaning softly, Alex opened his mouth, surrendering himself to Fox and his own growing desire. The older man took immediate advantage, his tongue sweeping inside the dark warmth, engaging in a sensual duel with its mate.

It had been a long, exhausting day, fraught with one stressful moment after another, but it all took a back seat to the uproar now taking place in Alex's body. In this single moment, there was nothing else in the world. No Justin, no Matthew and his irritating doctor. No memories or hatred or fear. There was only Fox, lying over him. Warming his body and his heart. Knowing, as always, exactly what he needed.

The hardening of flesh against flesh did not go unnoticed as Fox continued to feed on his lover's mouth. He shifted a bit to one side so that one hand could wander more freely over Alex's torso, lovingly stroking and soothing the tense muscles. He broke the kiss and gazed down at the younger man as his fingers whispered over a hardening nipple.

Alex flinched as a tiny, electric shiver passed through him, but he never let his heavy-lidded stare fall away from his lover's face. Fox'shand continued to move, drifting slowly up his throat and over his cheek, and as it detoured and passed over his lips, his tongue inched out for a small taste. The older man smiled down at him then moved on, stroking over his temple then smoothing the stubborn crease between his brows.

"You're not completely relaxed," Fox murmured kissing the tip of his lover's nose.

"Sort of hard," Alex replied, "when we're both mostly naked and you're lying on top of me and touching me."

"It's not like seductive kind of touching," Fox argued, grinning.

"When did that ever matter?"

"I suppose you've got a point." Fox lowered his head and brushed Alex's mouth with his own. "Turn over."

"What?"

"I'm going to help you relax."

Fox lifted himself and let Alex turn over onto his stomach, then kneeled over the younger man, straddling his hips. A low groan rose into the air as he began to gently knead the warm flesh beneath his hands.

Alex executed a luxurious stretch, reveling in his lover's touch. "Mmmm."

"That good?"

Alex nodded, pressing his face into the pillows.

Fox worked slowly, his hands moving in long, firm strokes over the length of Alex's back. He watched, almost hypnotized as the muscles rippled and relaxed beneath his fingers, then his eyes focused on something else. Leaning in, he kissed the small number of remaining scars that would be an eternal reminder of Alex's few days of hell.

It had been long months before Fox to could look at the scars and not feel hurt and blinding rage, but he had finally conquered his emotions and had come to view the marks as his lover's victory over the evil that had threatened to steal him away. Now he could touch them. Love them as he did every inch of Alex, as they were now a permanent part of him.

Alex sighed as Fox's hands and mouth whispered over the expanse of his back.

So good. Jesus, such simple caresses, and they made him feel so good.

It wasn't all that long ago...a few months after he'd returned home when Fox had begun taking notice of the scars that had remained on his back. Maybe taking notice wasn't really the right word for it. Acknowledging might have been better.

After they'd healed and Fox was no longer required to tend to them, he'd just ignored them, pretending that they'd never existed, and Alex hadn't been quite sure how to feel about it. There were times when he was glad for Fox's seeming disregard. At those times he'd felt sure he would lose his mind if the one person in the world who meant anything to him looked on him with sympathy. And then there were times when he was hurt. Angry almost that the same man could so completely ignore the evidence of what had happened to him.

Sometimes he'd wanted to ask Fox what he'd been thinking while they were making love. He'd noticed that the older man would never take him from behind...a position they had both been fond of. He'd wanted to ask if the sight of his scars was so unbearable, but he'd been afraid of the answer, and since Fox seemed to have no desire to talk with him about it, he'd let it go.

Then, one night several months later, he remembered waking up to a soft caress. He'd opened his eyes and looked up from his face-down position and found Fox, just returned from a three day case, seated at the edge of the mattress. The older man had sat quietly, watching in the flickering light of the television as his own hand lightly wandered over the bare back. His lover's eyes had risen to his, and he'd leaned in and began scattering a number of gentle kisses over his shoulders and back. Alex had begun to tremble as Fox lingered over the very scars that he'd gone out of his way to ignore for so long, and when he'd tried to turn over onto his back, Fox had stopped him. When he'd looked up to the older man in question, Fox spoke.

Alex recalled the conversation word for word...

"I'm sorry, Alex."

"What for?"

"The way I've been..." Fox traced a particularly prominent scar. "The way I've been about these. I haven't really been able to look at them...I couldn't...I didn't want to have one more reminder..."

Alex had managed to flip onto his back, and he'd touched Fox.

"I understand. I don't want to remember either. You don't have to..."

"I do," Fox interrupted. "It's not helping, this ignore it and it'll go away thing I'm doing. It's not right. These scars won't go away. I love you, Alex, and they're a part of you now."

"What brought this on?"

"I was thinking about it last night in my motel room. I'd never intentionally hurt you, baby..."

Alex sat up, meeting his lover's apologetic stare. "I know that. I know it."

"I love every bit of you," Fox went on insistently. "Everything that *is* you...everything that was you, and everything that becomes you, and I won't turn away." Tears had welled up in the older man's eyes. "Never again. If I ignore your scars it's like letting him keep a little piece of you. And I won't do that." Fox had wrapped Alex in a fierce embrace. "You're mine. All of you."

Alex had wound his arms around the older man, clinging tightly to him. He hadn't known how much he'd hurt until that very moment when it was relieved. The pain of the actual beatings was intense, but when it was gone, it was gone. The ache of Fox's reaction to the scars had eaten slowly at his heart, and regardless of which way his outward feelings on the matter were swinging at any particular time, the inner turmoil had been constant. For both of them, it had seemed.

And then, in that moment of realization, it too was gone.

One less thing to agonize over.

"You're mine." Fox had whispered the words urgently against his lover's cheek as he'd dragged his lips over the smooth skin and met Alex's lips.

They'd kissed endlessly, passionately, and then Fox had lowered them both to the bed and, until the sun rose, made love over and over to the man who belonged to him alone...

"You're not falling asleep, are you?" the amused monotone sounded, tickling the inside of Alex's ear.

"No," Alex whispered, trying to shake off the lethargy that had invaded his limbs. "Just relaxing like you wanted." He shuddered then issued a throaty laugh as the tip of his lover's tongue fluttered into the opening.

"Not too relaxed, now," Fox purred. "I want to feel you squeezing me when I'm deep inside you...

Alex's respiration deepened instantly, and he began to whimper softly.

"I want to feel the way your whole body tenses when I've got you hanging on the edge, and you're begging me to let you come..."

Alex squirmed beneath his lover, his movements somewhat restricted by the weight pinning him to the mattress.

"That's better." Fox ground his hips against Alex's rear, letting the other man feel the rigid length of his cock as he continued to massage him.

"Fox...God, baby, please..."

Fox smiled as his hands slid down Alex's back, his fingers hooking in the waistband of his underwear and pulling them down his legs. He removed his own shorts then resumed his position, spreading his lover's ass cheeks and letting his cock rest snugly between them. The twin muscles automatically contracted around the solid presence, and Alex groaned softly.

"Easy, sweetheart," Fox warned shakily, nipping at the base of the younger man's neck.

"I want it," Alex whined into the pillows. "Please, lisa."

"Soon," Fox cooed. His tongue trailed down Alex's neck and along one shoulder, then he sat up, wedging himself even more tightly between the quivering cheeks. His hands began to move again, rubbing and soothing the clenching muscles of the younger man's back.

Alex groaned in frustration, trembling at the contrasting, dual pleasure of Fox's comforting caresses and the insistent, teasing pressure of his cock.

Fox thoroughly massaged his lover's upper body then his hands moved on, firmly stroking the smooth flesh of his ass. The action stimulated his cock as well, and he thought hazily, that he might easily come this way if he continued. And as his wish was to take them both as high as they could go before they fell, he pulled away, encountering a loud, agitated growl of protest.

"It's okay," he whispered against the middle of Alex's back, swiping at the tiny beads of sweat that had started to form. His tongue glided downward, teasing the dip at the base of his lover's spine before it began to ascend the tight, rounded muscle.

Alex twitched but did his best to lie still as the gentle nip of teeth sent little surges of electricity through him. Trapped between his body and the bed, his cock throbbed its need. The urge to push into the mattress was strong, but somewhere in the back of his muddled mind, he knew that what Fox had in store for him would be infinitely more pleasurable. He held himself in check and tried to endure the sweet torture for as long as Fox saw fit to inflict it, but when the other man gently nuzzled his cheeks apart and let his tongue dance between them, his body clenched in an uncontrollable spasm, and a sharp groan sounded into the pillow.

Fox drew his hands back and forth over the younger man's lower body in a soothing gesture as his tongue continued to tease and torment him. The more anguished Alex's cries became, the more he teased, stopping just before the moment that he knew there would be no turning back. With one more long pass over the puckered opening, Fox pulled away, leaving Alex gasping and begging for more.

"No...no, *no*. Please, Fox. Don't s-stop. Don't do this to me..."

"You don't mean that," Fox stated softly, letting his tongue slide over the velvety skin of his lover's ass.

"I do," Alex insisted frantically. "I can't...I can't take it. Please. Jesus, please..."

Fox pulled himself up, settling his weight on top of the younger man. "Yes, you can." He dragged his tongue up the side of Alex's neck then bit into his earlobe.

"Noooo."

"I know you can," Fox moaned seductively, sending warm shivers down the other man's back.

"Can't..."

Fox lifted his body away from Alex's and rolled the younger man over onto his back then again stretched out on top of him. Amber flecked eyes smoldered down into emerald green.

"Do you want to?"

"I don't...I..."

Fox lowered his head and took Alex's mouth in a bone melting kiss. "Tell me, Alexei," he purred. "Do you want to give it up now and end this?" His hips rocked slowly against the other man's, pressing their cocks together. "Or do you want more? I've got so much more to give you, baby."

Alex whimpered at the whispered promise, and the greedy part of him, the part that could never get enough of Fox screamed its consent, drowning out the part of him that had already been pushed about two inches past desperate.

"M...more."

A victorious smile curled Fox's lips, and he moved in for a lingering kiss. Long seconds later, he lifted his head only to be stopped by Alex's fingers clenching in his hair.

"More," the younger man demanded on a hard breath and pulled Fox back down to him. Their mouths again met, but Fox held back from the intense kiss that he knew Alex had intended. Tenderly, he covered the younger man's lips, letting his tongue slip inside the moist warmth.

Alex arched beneath his lover, opening his mouth to the lazy assault. Although he had initially hoped that Fox would be somewhat less than gentle, he melted immediately, easily bending to the other man's will. As he allowed Fox's unhurried exploration of his mouth, his hands began to move, gliding over the older man's back and paying considerable attention to the delicious curves of his ass.

Fox moaned softly into Alex's mouth then broke the kiss, licking a trail over the younger man's chin and down his throat, pausing here and there to nip and pull at the fragile skin. Alex's rumbles of appreciation vibrated against his lips before he continued downward, making his way toward one brown nipple. He pulled the tight peak into his mouth and closed his teeth around it.

A tiny grimace curled Alex's upper lip as his lover tugged at his nipple, but the discomfort turned to waves of pleasure as the tip of Fox's tongue danced over it. Minute bumps erupted over his skin, and he drew a shuddering breath as Fox began to suckle on the hard bit of flesh. The fingers of one hand curled in the older man's hair, and the other restlessly stroked his back. The soft gasps that left his lips really were meant to be actual words, but for some reason they simply refused to come out as such.

Fox released the moistened nub from his mouth then gently blew on it, feeling Alex's body jerk. He moved to its neglected twin and performed the same service, this time winning an impatient whimper for his efforts. He lifted his head and trained dark, smoky gaze on the younger man.

"You all right, sweetheart?"

Losing the battle to regulate his breathing, Alex merely nodded.

Fox smiled up at him. "You know what I want now?"

More heavy breathing.

"I want to feel your cock hitting the back of my throat."

The organ in question leapt in response, and its owner writhed beneath Fox, whining softly.

Fox began kissing a path down to his goal then stopped halfway and looked up at Alex. "Lie still, all right? I don't want you to move. Let me take care of you."

Alex closed his eyes and sobbed quietly at the thought of remaining motionless while that exquisite mouth drove him up the walls.

Fox resumed his journey, pausing once to leave a small mark of possession on the younger man's left hip. Satisfied with the darkening bruise, he worked his way down to Alex's cock, where he nuzzled the flushed head before licking away the pearly bead of fluid that had formed at the tip. Savoring the brief taste, he dragged his tongue down the underside of the rigid shaft then back up, repeating the action several times, insuring that his Alex's cock was thoroughly bathed, and *Alex* was thoroughly beside himself with need. He looked up at his lover, now dotted with beads of perspiration and gasping for air, and an incredible warmth flooded his insides.

So much time had passed. A few years, actually, since he and Alex had become lovers, and sometimes Fox's still couldn't believe the rush he felt simply looking at him. The anticipation of each touch...the excitement just before that moment of possession...the indescribable joy of completion. It never diminished. If anything, it only grew stronger, as did his love for Alex.

He wondered sometimes if there was a limit. A point that he would reach where he would finally stop and say, 'this is as much as I can possibly love or want him'. But then Alex would do something or say something. It wouldn't have to be anything remarkable. Certainly nothing that romance novels were made of, but to Fox it would mean the world, and he'd feel his heart swell a bit more.

That deep, ever growing love was the glue that kept them bonded to each other, and the smoldering lust between them was something that could be tempered if need be, but could never be extinguished...

Fox watched the green of Alex's eyes appear and disappear as his eyelashes fluttered frantically, and he smiled. Quickly but gently, he swallowed the entire length of his lover's cock, feeling the younger man buck beneath him and sob his name.

It would be mere seconds before Alex exploded, and there was no way Fox was going to allow that until he was were he wanted to be. He lifted his head, applying almost no suction to the pulsing shaft, and settled himself over his lover's prone body.

Alex managed to maintain his focus for more than two seconds and gazed up into eyes as green as his own. Fox smiled down at him and brushed his fingertips across the stubbled jaw.

"Ready, beautiful?"

Alex closed his eyes and nodded. "Please, lisa," he rasped. "I need you."

Fox reached over to the nightstand and found that Alex had already withdrawn the lube and placed it by the lamp. He grinned down at the other man and kissed the tip of his nose as he grasped the tube and hastily applied some of its contents to his cock. "All right, baby," he whispered against the younger man's lips, stroking the underside of his thighs, "give it to me."

Obediently, Alex lifted his legs and wound them around Fox's waist as he clung to the older man's shoulders. His head pressed back into the pillows as the tip of his lover's cock began to slowly stretch him, and a long moan rumbled in his throat. He pushed up against Fox, begging wordlessly to be taken quickly, but the older man had no such inclinations.

Slowly, Fox inched forward, letting Alex feel every centimeter of his considerable length. The younger man writhed and panted beneath him and pulled him down, wrapping him in a firm embrace. Understanding Alex's need for as much contact as he could get, Fox completed their union and lay quietly in his arms for a moment. But soon, he began to rock gently against the other man, incurring a barrage of impatient whimpers and pleas. He maintained his lazy rhythm, covering Alex's face with tender kisses.

"Open your eyes baby," he cooed softly. "Look at me." Alex responded to his request, and he looked down into twin pools of tormented green.

"There's no hurry." To emphasize his point, Fox ceased movement, remaining buried deeply inside the younger man. Brushing the bowed lips with his own, he moaned against them, "Let me love you nice and slow."

In answer, Alex's tongue crept out from between his parted lips, almost timidly searching for Fox's. Immediately, it found its mark, and he moaned almost inaudibly as the very tip of Fox's tongue danced over his. As Fox's hands began to slowly roam over his body, he followed his lover's lead, touching as he was being touched, stroking and soothing the warm satin beneath his hands.

Suppressing the ever increasing demands of his own body, Fox continued to tease Alex's mouth, offering tiny nips and licks as his hands glided over the familiar terrain of his lover's chest and abdomen. He pulled back a bit from Alex's mouth and looked down into almost black, glittering eyes.

"Will you let me do that?"

"Yes," Alex breathed, combing the fingers of one hand through the hair at the back of Fox's head. "anything you want."

Fox dragged his tongue across Alex's lips. "I want you," he whispered.

"You have me."

"I want you here..." Fox moaned as he pulled slowly out to the tip of his cock then began the long slide home. "...under me...naked...warm..."

Alex shuddered at the combined sensations Fox's words and actions evoked.

"I want you sweet and submissive. And I want you demanding and impatient." Fox moaned softly as Alex writhed against him. "I want you all around me." He inclined his head, licking a long path up his lover's exposed throat then clamping his teeth down on the flesh just beneath his chin.

Alex bucked, arching against the older man, offering more of himself.

Fox's mouth moved lower, his teeth grazing the fragile skin. Finding his lover's erratic pulse, he closed his mouth over the spot, sucking gently but firmly as he continued to thrust lazily into him.

Alex drew a shaky breath, his mind and his body lulled into the world of sensuality Fox had created just for him. His hands stroked and massaged the slowly contracting muscles in the other man's back and ass, enjoying his lover's muffled responses.

Fox released Alex's throat, pausing to soothe the red mark he'd left, then lifted his head, looking the younger man directly in the eye. "I want you forever."

Alex opened and closed his mouth several times before he could speak. Then, "I...you know I'm not going anywhere."

Fox nodded, looking down at the younger man, his eyes shimmering with deepest emotion.

"I love you, Alexei."

Alex opened his mouth to respond, but before he could say a word, Fox claimed it in an achingly tender kiss. The fingers still traveling through Fox's hair curled around the golden-brown strands, and the hand stroking the older man's back slid over it and around to his side, Alex's arm tightening and hugging Fox to him.

For longer than Alex could ever have dreamed he could, Fox maintained his composure and his unhurried tempo, keeping them both precariously balanced on the edge of total satisfaction. An eternity later, Fox raised himself up on his elbows and gazed down at his mesmerized lover.

"Are you tired, baby?"

Alex shook his head quickly. "No." He raised his legs a bit higher, tightening them around the other man's waist. "No..."

Fox studied him for brief seconds then as smoothly as he could, disengaged and rolled them both, bringing Alex to rest on top of him. He bent his legs, planting his feet flat on the bed, and adjusted the younger man's position so that his cock was wedged snugly against the crevice of his ass. He bucked gently, stroking Alex's thighs.

"Let me in, sweetheart. I miss that heat."

Eyes heavy with desire, Alex raised himself up just enough to guide his lover's cock inside, then sat down in the cradle of Fox's hips. His head rolled back against his shoulders as Fox filled him completely and started to move.

"That's better," Fox purred, reaching up to run his hands over Alex's chest. Gently, he plucked at the rigid nipples and watched as Alex's face contorted in extreme pleasure. "Beautiful," he murmured, wrapping a hand around the younger man's cock.

His body humming with excitement, Alex pitched forward, draping himself over the older man, but Fox placed a soft kiss in his hair and eased him back into a sitting position.

"You're gorgeous to watch," Fox moaned as Alex's muscles tightened, trapping him in his silken prison. "I want to see how much you love what I do to you."

Alex's mouth fell open on a hard gasp as Fox began to stroke his cock and pushed into him with a bit more force. He fought to keep his eyes open as he felt himself spiraling out of control, but the sensation of Fox so hot and hard inside of him, and the maddening pressure on his cock made his efforts damn near impossible.

Fox felt the rhythmic tightening of Alex's body and the erratic patterns of his respiration, and knew that he couldn't ask the younger man to wait any longer. He increased the speed and strength of his thrusts, and his hand matched the pace precisely, drawing a long, loud sob from his tortured lover.

"You don't have to wait any more," Fox gasped as he now worked Alex's cock as furiously as he drove into him. "Come on, baby, don't hold it back. I see it...Jesus, you're so beautiful...come on..."

Sobbing incoherently, Alex thrashed against Fox, driving them both insane with mutual need. He threw his head back and screamed as he finally came, drenching his lover's hand in warm semen, and Fox's own roars of completion joined his just seconds later as the older man spent himself inside of him.

Alex twitched several times in the aftermath of his explosion then fell limply into his lover's waiting arms, whimpering softly.

Fox hugged the shivering man to his chest, petting the damp, sable head and murmuring soft words of love to him until he fell into a deep sleep. Then, without waking Alex, he managed to pull the sheet up around them. His range of movement severely restricted, Fox shifted as best he could under Alex's full weight, looking for the most comfortable position. Having found one, he again wrapped his unconscious lover in his arms and joined him blissful slumber.

********************

Thunder rumbled in the distance, its deep, threatening tones making promises of a good, gusty storm. The sound woke Alex, who snuggled deeper into the warmth surrounding him and smiled.

"Sleeping beauty awakes."

The sable head lifted, and Alex peered down into the sleep-softened features of his lover. "How long have you been awake?"

Fox stretched and kissed Alex's chin. "A little while. Did you hear the thunder?"

"Yeah, that's what woke me." Alex slid down to the mattress beside Fox and nestled against him, again closing his eyes. "What time is it?"

"A little after nine."

Alex lifted his head and looked around. "And Clyde hasn't been in here bugging us to go out?

Fox shrugged. "Nope."

"That's kind of strange, don't you think?" Alex sat up and called out to the dog. "Clyde. Where are you?"

Seconds later, the dog nosed the door open and stood peeking into the bedroom. Alex squinted at him.

"What'd you do?" He turned to Fox. "He did something."

The older man nodded in agreement. "He's got that guilty look on his face."

"I'll go check."

Fox wrapped a hand around Alex's arm and stopped him from getting out of bed. "No, I'll go. You stay here."

As Fox rose from the bed and pulled on a pair of underwear, Alex asked why he had to stay in bed. A pair of gold-splashed eyes smiled down at him.

"Because I'm coming right back, and I don't want to return to an empty, cold bed."

"But I could go, and *you* could stay," Alex argued good-naturedly.

"Nope." Fox leaned down, coming face to face with the other man. "I love walking into the room and finding you lying in bed all naked and," he ruffled the already wild hair, "rumpled and...did I mention naked?"

"I believe you did."

Fox nodded. "You're damn sexy in the morning, did I ever tell you that?"

Alex grinned up at him. "Are you trying to seduce me?"

Fox raised one eyebrow. "*Try*? The word *try* implies that there's the possibility of failure. Have I ever failed to seduce you?"

Alex performed a slow, feline stretch and shook his head.

"I didn't think so." Fox captured the younger man's lower lip between his teeth and pulled gently. Releasing the sleep-swollen flesh, he growled softly, "You stay your pretty ass right here. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Alex watched Fox's tight ass move beneath the flimsy underwear as he left the room and groaned deep in his throat as he rolled onto his side. He pulled a pillow against his chest and imagined that ass so smooth and hard beneath his hands...straining and contracting as his lover fucked him nice and hard.

"Oh, God, Fox, hurry up."

Fox returned some twenty minutes later to find Alex on his side, knees drawn up to the pillow he clutched to himself. He approached the bed and ran one hand down the younger man's back.

"You okay?"

Alex turned a smoky gaze up to Fox and nodded. "Just waiting for you. So, what did Clyde do?"

"Got hold of the new roll of paper towels that I forgot to put in the dispenser last night. Looks like it had snowed in the kitchen." Fox shook his head. "Damn dog must have been at it all night. The pieces were so small."

Alex suppressed a grin. "You know how he is with paper. Did you get it all picked up?"

"What I could see," Fox answered, sitting on the edge of the mattress. "I'm sure we'll find more in the next couple of days, though."

"You should have called me. I would've helped you."

Fox swung himself over the prone man, straddling his body on his hands and knees. "You can help me right now," he murmured, licking the side of Alex's face.

The younger man buried a smirk into his pillow. "Yeah?"

Fox pulled the puff out of Alex's grasp and flipped him onto his back. He looked down at the full blown erection and turned an appreciative smile on the younger man. "Oh, yeah."

Alex squirmed under Fox's heated gaze. "What do you want me to do?"

"I think," Fox rumbled softly as he nipped at Alex's mouth, "I'm in the mood for a blowjob."

Alex reached up, petting the light sprinkling of golden-brown hairs on his lover's chest. "Lie down and relax."

Fox obeyed, rolling onto his back and welcoming Alex's mouth as it closed over his. They kissed for long minutes before the other man moved on, covering every inch of skin with teasing nips and licks.

Halfway down Fox's stomach, Alex stopped and reversed his path, sucking a nipple into his mouth. The older man groaned his delight as Alex flicked his tongue over the sensitive tip then let his teeth graze along the rigid flesh before turning his attention on its twin.

Drowning in pleasure, Fox's hands wandered the length of his lover's back as he whimpered and moaned softly. Alex released his other nipple and again began his descent, kissing the warm skin and pulling at the fine golden hairs that led down to the darker, heavier patch at his groin, and Fox's heart began to pound out a frantic rhythm. As always, the anticipation of having Alex's mouth on him was far greater than he'd ever expected, and the actual event never left him wanting. The soft, moist heat that engulfed him arched his back and sent a shudder through his body so strong, he wasn't entirely sure that part of it might not be attributed to the roll of thunder overhead.

Alex smiled around his mouthful, feeling the violent vibrations of the man under him. Again and again he slid up and down on the rigid shaft, teasing every inch of it with his tongue, and when he reached the tip for the tenth time, Fox's hand in his hair stopped his descent.

"Wait....Jesus....wait, baby." Fox swallowed hard and attempted to get his breathing under control. "Do something else for me."

Alex raised his head but not before bestowing a single kiss on the tip of the older man's cock. "What?"

Fox turned over onto his right side and ran his fingers through Alex's hair. "I want you to jerk off while you suck me."

Alex studied Fox for all of ten seconds before he rolled onto his back and turned his head toward the cock that bobbed in front of him. Looking up at Fox through his lashes, Alex extended his tongue, lapping daintily at the head as his hand closed around his own cock.

"God, I need to get a picture of this someday..."

Alex pulled away momentarily and grinned up at the other man. "To carry around in your wallet?"

"Yeah," Fox breathed. "When I'm having a bad day at work, I can whip it out and look at it."

"And walk around with a perpetual hard-on?"

Fox shrugged. "Okay, maybe that's a bad idea." He grasped a handful of hair and moved Alex's head toward his abandoned cock. "Isn't there something you're supposed to be doing?"

Laughing softly, Alex sucked the organ back down his throat and continued to pump his cock.

"That's better," Fox hummed contentedly. "That's...oh, shit, that's good..."

For as long as his heavy lids would allow, Fox watched Alex's performance. The glide of his hand on his flushed cock...the way those perfect lips moved over Fox's own erection... Stunning was far too mild a word for the sight, but it was the best description that Fox's muddled brain could come up with at the moment.

Deciding that he would wait no longer, Alex removed his mouth from his lover's cock just long enough to wet two fingers then, again swallowing the throbbing shaft, he worked both fingers into Fox's ass at once.

Fox bucked and cried Alex's name as the younger man began to finger fuck him. All at once he felt as if his entire body was caught in a vice, and the pressure grew greater and greater until he broke into tiny bits. His screams bounced off the bedroom walls and faded to soft whimpers, but Alex refused to let him go until he'd claimed his own satisfaction.

Harder, Alex sucked on his lover's cock as he milked his own with quick, jerky movements. He withdrew his fingers from Fox's ass and clutched at the smooth, rounded muscle, digging his fingers into the hard flesh as he came. His muffled cries sounded around the spent organ still in his mouth, and he fell away, dropping onto his back and shuddering with the intensity of the aftershocks.

Fox pulled Alex up and into his arms, scattering soft kisses all over his face, then turned onto his back, dragging his lover up to lie on top of him. They lay motionless for quite some time before Alex drew a deep breath and spoke.

"I could go back to sleep."

"Why don't you?" Fox asked, caressing Alex's back. Clyde has been out, it's Sunday...it's now pouring..." He kissed the top of the dark head. "There's nothing pressing that needs to be done."

"What about you?"

"I'm not exactly raring to go. I think I could probably fall asleep again if you did."

Alex tucked his head under Fox's chin and closed his eyes listening to the slowing beat of his lover's heart. "I can't remember the last time we spent the day in bed."

Fox waited for the roll of thunder to fade before answering. "I know. There always seems to be something else to do." He hugged Alex tightly. "Not today. I don't care what happens, I'm not letting you out of this bed."

"We gotta eat sometime today," Alex reminded him.

"If you're hungry, I'll go get whatever you want. But aside from going to the bathroom, I don't want you out of bed."

Alex lifted his head and stared down at the older man. "Why not?"

Fox traced the swell of Alex's bottom lip with one finger. "Because you need the rest. Yesterday took a lot out of you. I can see the fatigue in your eyes."

Alex laughed softly. "If I look so tired, how come you kept me up last night then wore me out again this morning?"

"To make sure you'd be tired enough to sleep."

"Very noble of you."

The older man nodded. "Wasn't it? Of course, it wasn't all unselfish."

Alex gasped in mock surprise. "No?"

"No," Fox smirked. "I got a *little* something out of it."

"A *little* something?"

"Yeah. Well...maybe not *so* little."

"Uh huh..."

Fox pulled Alex down for a quick kiss. "You hungry?"

"Not starving. But maybe by the time you're done making me breakfast I will be."

Fox frowned up at his lover. "*Get*, Alex, I said *get*. I said nothing about *make*."

Alex displayed a beautifully pathetic pout. He *had* learned well. "But I like your french toast," he whined softly.

One corner of Fox's mouth twitched. "Don't start that."

Alex lowered his head and nuzzled the other man's throat and chest. "Lisa..."

Soft, resigned groan. "You're playing dirty."

"Is it working?" Alex asked in a small voice.

"*Yes*. Like you didn't know it would." Fox rolled the younger man off of him, depositing him on the mattress. "Close your eyes."

Smiling, Alex obeyed the soft command. "What if I fall asleep?"

"That's okay. It'll be at least an hour anyway, so you go ahead and have a nap. I'll wake you when it's ready." Fox dropped a light kiss on Alex's nose then his mouth, and he walked into the bathroom.

Still smiling, Alex turned onto his side and snuggled down into the pillows. In no time at all he began to doze off, but his semi-conscious state lasted for only as long as Fox took in the shower. As the older man returned to the bedroom, he woke.

Moving quietly around the room, Fox threw on a pair of faded jeans and a t-shirt, then looked over toward the bed. A smile curled his lips, and he walked over to the younger man.

"Thought you were asleep."

"I think I was, but I heard you come out of the bathroom."

"Well, I'm going to go make breakfast now, so you'll have plenty of quiet for a while." Fox moved a few wisps of hair away from Alex's face then let his hand drop to his side. "Go back to sleep."

Alex watched Fox leave the room then attempted to recapture the lethargy that he felt only minutes before.

No luck.

He slipped out of bed and stripped the sheets, replacing them with crisp, fresh ones, then retreated to the bathroom for a warm shower. Returning to the bedroom some ten minutes later, he fell into bed and writhed around on the cool, clean sheets.

"Ahhh. Much better. Now..." He closed his eyes. "...sleep..."

But the intrusion of a few unwelcome thoughts kept sleep well out of his grasp.

"Ah, shit."

// So, what are you going to do?//

// God, fuck off, would you? Give me one damn day of peace.//

// You'll have lots of peace after you do what you know needs to be done.//

Alex plunged his fingers into his hair, clutching at the sable strands. "Jesus."

// You want to be done with it, right? You don't have to be the little bastard's best friend. Just put yourself in his place.//

// Yeah, *and*? I *never* would have...//

// Okay, nevermind. Bad suggestion. Just try and understand that if he felt that he had a choice, he never would have done what he did to you. Have the courage to let the kid off the hook and get on with his life.//

"*Shit*."

For the next forty-five minutes, Alex lay staring up at the ceiling, barely noticing that the storm had grown more intense. Only when Fox had entered the room carrying a tray containing their breakfast did he refocus his attention.

"You're not asleep," the older man scolded as he placed the tray down on the bed.

"I know. I couldn't."

Fox looked down at the bed, frowning. "Did you change the sheets?"

"Yeah. Showered and brushed my teeth, too. Thought I'd sleep better clean."

"No, huh?"

Alex shook his head.

Fox studied his face for a moment, then waved his hand over the tray, directing the aromas of their breakfast in his direction. "How's that?"

Alex gave him a forced smile. "Smells great."

Fox's grin faded. "You're not hungry now, are you?"

"Yeah, I am."

// Why do you do that? You know he knows.//

Fox moved the tray aside and looked down at the prone man. "What's the matter?"

"I don't know." Alex turned his head, looking toward the window. He passed a number of seconds watching the solid sheet of rain fall outside. Then, suddenly, he turned back to Fox, his eyes full of indecision. "Tell me what to do."

Fox's brow creased. "Do about what?"

"I've...I...I've been thinking maybe I should..." He fell silent and looked back to the window.

"Should what?" Fox pressed gently.

Alex shrugged. "Maybe I should...I don't know...think about being a little more generous with the kid."

Fox tilted his head slightly to one side. "Matthew?"

"Yeah. I guess it really isn't his fault that he's stupid...and weak..."

Fox remained silent.

"I mean, it doesn't mean we have to become buddy buddy now, or anything."

"No, it doesn't."

"I could let him off the hook and then never, ever have to see his face again."

"You could do that."

Alex turned his attention back to his lover. "So, should I?"

Fox leaned in and kissed the wrinkled brow. "Nobody knows what's best for you better than you, Alex."

Alex looked up at the other man, his expression one of complete trust. "You do."

Fox smiled his appreciation. "I could tell you what I think you should do, but I think you already know what I think. In the end, babe, it's got to be your decision. You're the one who's going to live with it for the rest of your life."

Alex lowered his head, fiddling with the sheet. "That's not really true. *We're* going to live with it. I know which decision will make you happy. I know which decision makes *me* happy. But I think maybe I'm just living in the moment, you know? Right now, I hate him. I've hated him for almost a year, and I can't see myself ever changing my mind about that. And I keep wondering why I would...why I *should* have even a speck of compassion for him. Then I think about everything that was said yesterday...things *you* said last night...and they make sense. My mind knows they make sense. But in my heart, all I want to do is rip his lungs out." Alex heaved a long sigh. "And I think that makes me no better than the man I used to be. I *want* to be better." He blinked up at Fox. "You deserve better."

Fox shifted, planting a hand on either side of Alex's head. "There *is* no better. Not for me."

"But you said I was different. You wanted me the way I used to be..."

"Yeah. Open and at ease and *happy*. You'd become so closed off from me. It scared me. You were drifting away from me, and you wouldn't let me in. All I wanted was to help you. I wanted that hurt that I could always see in your eyes, gone." Fox kissed the corner of the younger man's mouth. "If you hated Matthew...if you wanted to tear him in two, but you were truly at peace with yourself about it, I wouldn't give a damn. You could despise him for the rest of your life and beyond, and that'd be fine with me. It's *you*, Alex. It's the way this is eating at *you* that I can't stand."

Alex reached up, stroking the older man's face. "I don't want you to ever look at me and see someone you can't stand."

"No, baby, not you. That'd never happen. It's the *situation* I hate."

"It could've reached that point," Alex interjected. "I was heading in that direction. It could still happen if I don't do something. I hated that tension between us. I love you, Fox, and I want things the way they were. I'm tired of being up and down all the time. I hate feeling so uncertain. I want off of this damn rollercoaster that I'm on..."

Fox lowered himself to the mattress, pulling the distraught man into his arms.

"Help me, lisa..."

"Seems to me you don't need my help." Fox laid soft kiss in Alex's hair. "I think you know in your heart what to do...even if you *are* telling yourself you don't want to do it."

"But will it turn out right? Nothing I've done so far has. I thought I was doing the right thing by ignoring it. Wrong. I thought I was doing the right thing when I confronted it. Not exactly. What if I do go ahead and compromise my self-respect and tell the little weasel that I understand why he felt he *had* to suck my dick and fuck up my life? What if *that* doesn't straighten me out? What if it just makes things worse?"

Fox heaved a thoughtful sigh. "You're fighting with yourself, babe. You're second guessing every thought that goes through your head, now."

"I *know*," Alex moaned. "That's why I need you to help me." He pressed closer to Fox. "I trust you."

Fox remained silent for a few seconds, then pulled the younger man back far enough to see his eyes. "Okay, then, here's what I want you to do..."

Alex listened attentively.

"Close your eyes. Go back to sleep..."

"What the hell good is..."

"Rest, Alex." Fox kissed his forehead. "You need rest. You're driving yourself crazy, here. I want you to sleep for as long as you're able to, and when you wake up and your mind is clear, think about what it is you want to do. Whatever it is that first comes to your mind, do it. No but's, no what if's."

Alex frowned up at Fox. "This is logical?"

"Logic ain't everything."

The younger man emitted a soft chuckle but said nothing more.

Fox pulled Alex back against him. "Come on, close your eyes...that's it. Now, go to sleep."

"What about you?"

"I'll be right here."

Silence, then, "I'm really sorry about breakfast."

"It's okay. But if you decide you're hungry when you wake up, it's take-out. Got it?"

"Yeah, yeah."

Almost twenty minutes later, both men were soundly asleep. The bedroom door inched open, and Clyde peeked inside, watching the motionless forms on the bed for a while before creeping into the room, sniffing the air. The smells of his masters' untouched breakfast lured him over to the nightstand. One more sidelong glance at the bed told him the men were still out. The bushy tail began to swing lazily as he turned his attention back to the bonanza on the tray...

********************

Fox sighed softly and shifted. The golden-brown lashes fluttered as he struggled to wake up, and the first thing that came into view were the alert green eyes of his lover. He smiled and stretched as Alex planted a light kiss on his nose.

"What time is it?"

"Late afternoon."

"Wow. How long have you been awake?"

"'Bout half an hour."

Fox turned his head, looking around the room then frowned as the tray came into focus. "You didn't eat that cold food, did you?"

"Uhhh, no."

Fox turned back to Alex. "Clyde was in here."

"That'd be my guess, yeah."

"Damn dog. So...what've you been doing for the past thirty minutes?"

"Not much. Watching you sleep...I did what you said."

"You...oh, yeah? And?"

Alex propped his head up on one hand and looked down at the older man. "I've come to a decision...I think."

"No second guessing," Fox reminded him.

"Easy for you to say."

Fox smiled up at the younger man. "So, what'd you decide?"

Alex leaned in and kissed the man beneath him. "I'll tell you over lunch. I'm starving."

"Okay. What do you want?"

A wide grin lit the other's face. "What're you gonna cook for me?"

"No. Oh, no. I told you. Take. Out."

Alex whined softly, nuzzling the older man's cheek.

"Alex, I'm not....*no*...cut it out. I already told you....damn, you're a pain in my ass." Fox sighed heavily, pushing the younger man off of him as he prepared to get out of bed. "What the hell do you want?"

********************

"You've been working on that for days."

Alex grimaced up at the man standing over him. "Five days to be exact." He sighed softly. "I get three or four paragraphs in and decide that I hate it. I'm about to give up."

Fox leaned in and kissed the back of Alex's head. "Can I see?"

The younger man sat back and allowed Fox to look over his shoulder. Seconds later, Fox nodded.

"Yeah, I uh...I see what you mean."

"It's that bad?"

"It ain't good."

"That's it. I give up."

Fox placed his hands on Alex's shoulders to stop him from getting out of his seat. "No, come on. You can fix it."

"I've been fixing it for almost a week, and it's not getting any better!" Alex complained. "Maybe somebody's trying to tell me something."

"Like what?"

"That yet again, I've made the wrong decision."

"Alex." Fox curved a hand against the younger man's cheek and turned his face up. "You said you trust me, right?"

"Yeah..."

"I don't think you've made the wrong decision. I think maybe you just need a little direction."

"Thought you said you shouldn't help me with it?" Alex pouted, looking at the monitor.

"Yeah, I did, but for the sake of your sanity and mine, I believe I should re-think that."

Fox pulled a chair up next to Alex's and re-read what he'd written. "See, you're...I think you're shutting off your emotions. This looks like a form letter."

"Well, what am I supposed to do?"

"Stop thinking so much and just let the words come. Say what you feel."

Alex squirmed uncomfortably. "I don't know. I..."

Fox covered the younger man's hand with his own. "Just let it go, baby. You had no problem telling him how you felt at the hotel..."

"That was anger. It was much easier."

"Just write it like you're talking to me, then."

"But it *isn't* you."

"Okay." Fox took a deep breath, thinking for a moment. "All right. Switch seats."

Puzzled, Alex let Fox sit down in front of the computer, and he claimed the seat that the older man had just vacated.

"Now." Fox motioned toward himself. "Talk to me. Tell me why you're writing this."

"'Cause you think I should."

Fox closed his eyes and shook his head. "No. I mean...tell me how you're feeling. What do you want to accomplish with this. What is it you need..."

Three hours later, it was finally finished.

"Okay, this is good?" Fox asked, finger paused over the mouse. "You don't want to add or subtract anything?"

"No, it's fine," Alex shook his head. "God, my head is spinning. Just hurry up and print it so I can breathe again."

Fox hit 'print' and spun the younger man's chair around to face him. "Now..." He dropped down onto Alex's lap and wound an arm around his neck. "Do you remember," he purred, nuzzling Alex's ear, "last week sometime, I believe, when you were supposed to make some uh...plans?"

Forgetting all about the last few hours, Alex draped an arm around Fox's waist and looked up into sparkling hazel eyes. "Plans...oh! *Those* plans."

"Yeah, *those* plans. I've been good. I've left you alone since then, but uh...today's Friday."

"So it is." Alex's lips curled into a predatory grin. "You did say a *whole* weekend, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did. I know you've been preoccupied, but I was beginning to think that maybe you forgot..."

"Never," Alex whispered, stroking Fox's thigh. "You at my mercy for a whole weekend is hardly something I could ever forget."

Fox gave the younger man a seductive smile. "So?"

Alex inhaled slowly, then let the breath out on a soft moan. "What to do, what to do..."

Fox wiggled in Alex's lap as he nipped at the other man's ear. "Think of something."

"I don't know, I'm...hey...is that movie still playing?"

"What movie?"

"The one you wanted to see about a month ago."

"You refused to see that movie. You said if I wanted to see it, I'd have to go alone or con Scully into going with me," Fox reminded him.

Alex shrugged. "Well, maybe I changed my mind."

"*Why*?"

"What do you mean, why? Can't a guy change his mind?"

Fox eyed him suspiciously. "Yeah. But you're up to something. You've got this evil little glint in your eyes."

"Me?" Alex asked innocently. "Evil? Lisa..." He squeezed the inside of his lover's thigh. "I don't even know the meaning of the word."

"Oh, God, where are my hip boots? It's getting deep in here."

Alex chuckled softly, letting his hand inch higher. "Baby, the only thing that's going to be getting deep is me in your ass."

Fox writhed against the younger man. "I can live with that."

"Why don't you call and see if the movie's still playing?"

"I got a better idea," Fox growled, teasing the interior of his lover's ear. "Why don't we get naked and you can show me right now just how deep it's gonna get."

Alex shook his head, grinning up at Fox. "You'll be lucky if you get some by Sunday morning."

"*What*? Alex...Alex, you're not serious."

The other man lifted his hips, pressing his erection against his lover's ass. "No?"

"You *can't* be."

"I can't?"

Fox sighed impatiently. "Come on, Alex, you *wouldn't*."

"Wouldn't I?"

"Dammit, stop answering me with questions!"

Alex laughed softly, sending a tremors of dread and excitement crawling up Fox's spine.

"Alex..."

The younger reached across the desk and picked up the phone, handing it to Fox.

"Call."

Fox made the call to the theater box office and found out that the movie was indeed still playing, and if they left fairly soon, they could catch the nine-thirty p.m. showing. That information in hand, Alex pushed Fox up off of his lap and dragged the older man into the bedroom.

"Take your clothes off."

One golden-brown eyebrow arched. "Huh?"

Already beginning to undo his shirt, Alex turned toward the bathroom. "Get undressed."

A grin of anticipation curved the older man's lips. "Yes, sir..."

As he stripped, Fox heard the shower go on. Seconds later, Alex walked back into the bedroom completely naked. His eyes traveled the length of his lover's body, appreciating its beauty as Alex moved slowly toward him. The younger man stopped when their erect cocks brushed against each other.

"Let's get wet," Alex whispered, his breath flowing over Fox's lips.

Held only by the heat of the emerald gaze, Fox followed as Alex backed toward the bathroom. Seconds later, they were standing beneath a warm spray of water, running soapy bath sponges over each other.

Alex watched his own hand glide over Fox's chest, leaving a trail of thick foam as it moved to his shoulder then neck. He inhaled slowly, forcing himself to remain cool as the older man tilted his head back, providing him with an incredibly tempting target. Exhaling, he moved in, gently nuzzling the exposed throat. A soft moan from Fox shook his resolve, and for a moment the urge to attack the vulnerable flesh almost overtook him. But he resisted his feral impulses and instead licked a path up and over the older man's chin to his lips.

Feeling the teasing flick of Alex's tongue, Fox opened his mouth, offering his lover access. As their tongues found each other, he let his hands wander over the length of Alex's back, depositing a layer of dense lather wherever they touched. As they moved over the muscled curve of the younger man's ass, he felt Alex's fingers tighten and release in his hair before making the trek down his own back to his rear. Both men groaned deeply as each squeezed and kneaded the hard flesh beneath his fingers, and it was Alex broke the kiss first.

"If we don't stop this, we're never going to make it to the movie."

"So?" Fox asked, rubbing against him. "I'd much rather get fucked in the shower than go to a movie, anyway."

Alex closed his eyes and grinned as Fox performed a slow bump and grind against him.

"Come on, baby," Fox pleaded, licking Alex's jaw. "Fuck me."

"Sorry," Alex breathed against Fox's mouth, earning a frustrated whine from the other man. "I've got plans for you."

"And what makes you think that if you fuck me now, that'll cancel out whatever plans you have?"

"I suppose it wouldn't," Alex conceded, spinning the older man around and pushing him against the tiles.

Trembling, Fox spread his legs as Alex's fingers brushed the crevice of his ass. He bit back a whimper as he felt one finger tease the tight entrance, then two. "Please," he whispered, wiggling against Alex's fingers.

Alex pressed the length of his body along Fox's, pushing his soap-slick fingers past the small opening. The older man's head fell back and a sharp gasp escaped past his open lips as Alex thrust his fingers into him up to the last knuckles and bit gently into his shoulder.

"That what you want?" Alex asked breathlessly as his fingers found just the right spot, and Fox howled his approval. One more stroke over his prostate, and Alex withdrew, leaving the other man clawing in frustration at the tiles.

"No," Fox gasped. "Alex, n-no..." His protests died a quick death, and a long, needy moan arose from his throat as his lover's fingers were replaced by the head of his cock.

"Did you say something?" Alex whispered against Fox's shoulder. The older man shook his head, quaking in anticipation. Alex grinned and surged forward, giving Fox only enough time for a hard gasp before pulling back and again driving into him.

Pinned to the wall, Fox thrust against the cool tiles, seeking some relief for his aching cock, but Alex became aware of what he was doing and withdrew, turning the frustrated man to face him.

"No," Fox whimpered, wrapping his arms around Alex's neck and rubbing against him. "Please don't tease me."

Alex emitted a low, sadistic chuckle. "Moy lisa, you haven't seen teasing yet."

Fox sobbed softly at the statement. He'd placed himself at Alex's mercy for the entire weekend, and he knew damn well that his lover would take full advantage of the offer.

Gently putting a little distance between them, Alex smiled at the tortured expression on Fox's face. "Come on," he coaxed, finding the sponges. "Let's finish our shower and get dressed."

Simple words. Words uttered everyday, all over the world by millions of people.

Coming from Alex they took on an entirely different, completely twisted meaning. And Fox trembled at the implications. Nevertheless, he let Alex have the lead. They concluded their shower and stepped out of the tub, drying each other thoroughly, then he followed Alex into the bedroom and watched warily as the younger man moved toward his closet, humming to himself.

Pulling out a pair of jeans and a black shirt, he threw them down onto the bed and grinned at Fox as he moved to the other man's closet.

Fox tossed a puzzled look Alex's way as the younger man withdrew similar attire and walked toward him.

"So, what's with the big-ass grin? There's nothing special or kinky about that," Fox murmured as he motioned to the clothing.

Alex shrugged. "Nope."

Fox shook his head, still frowning. "So, I repeat. What's with the grin?"

Alex chuckled softly and laid the items down on the bed. "Don't go away."

"Now where would I be going butt naked?" Fox called as Alex walked away. He watched the younger man move across the room and emitted a deep groan when he stopped in front of what he fondly referred to as the 'toy chest'.

"Now, lets' see..." Alex stood before the open chest, a slight frown creasing his brow as he carefully considered his choices.

"Alex..."

Waving impatiently at the older man, Alex bent and plucked a few items out of the chest. "Yeah, this'll work." He turned and advanced toward the wary man, a fiendish glimmer in his eyes.

Fox whined a soft complaint but his cock twitched in anticipation as Alex neared, carrying his favorite torture device and a few other items.

"Come on, you know you've missed it," Alex teased as he reached for his lover's cock.

Fox shook his head and whimpered as he attempted to back away, but Alex stopped him with a firm grip on the rock-hard shaft. "Little Fox has missed it," he chuckled softly and began to secure the restraint around his cock.

"Alex...Alex, please..."

Alex looked up and smiled into tortured, amber eyes. "What? Not tight enough? I can fix that..."

"*No*. It's just...I don't...I don't need it. Take it off...please?"

Alex wasn't budging. "Not a chance. You're mine all weekend."

Trying a different approach, Fox leaned forward, rubbing his cheek against Alex's. "I'm always yours," he murmured.

"That's true," Alex answered, letting a hand wander up and down the older man's back.

"You don't need to restrain me," Fox continued softly, trying to hypnotize Alex into compliance. "I promise, I won't come until you tell me to."

"Lisa," Alex whispered into the golden-brown hair, "you know you can't promise that. You might be able to hold on for a little while, but sooner or later, you'll crack."

"I won't. I..."

Alex shook his head, moving in to nuzzle the older man's throat. "You will. You won't have a choice..." His voice, soft and honey-smooth lulled Fox even as it made the older man's nerve endings tingle. "...your body won't let you hold back." The tip of his tongue danced over Fox's mouth. "That's why you need my help."

"No..."

Alex moved to Fox's ear, his words humming low and sweet. "Yes. Now let's get dressed."

Fox looked down at the clothing Alex had thrown on the bed.

"No underwear."

Another devious grin. "I want access to be quick and easy."

"You're going to torture me in the theater, aren't you?"

Alex laughed as they pulled on their clothing. "Torture? Me? Naaah." As soon as Fox had finished dressing, he picked up the three silk scarves, gold chain and dildo from the bed and winked at the older man. "Let's go to the movies, lisa."

Twenty-five torturous minutes later, the two men entered the virtually deserted theater.

"Well, would you look at this?" Alex cracked. "Empty. Imagine that. And this is supposed to be such a *good* movie..."

Fox glared in response, and at Alex's direction moved to the seat nearest the wall in the last row of the darkest corner. He sat down, wincing at the discomfort in his snug jeans.

"Poor Fox," Alex cooed taking the seat beside him. "Let me make you more comfortable." He pulled the two scarves out of the inside pocket of his jacket and began to secure one of Fox's wrists to the arm of the chair.

"You...you call this comfortable?" Fox whispered as Alex finished restraining one arm and went to work on the other.

"Don't be so impatient," Alex admonished, accomplishing his task. He leaned in, scattering a few kisses along Fox's jaw as one hand skimmed down the front of his lover's shirt and brushed over the considerable bulge at the front of his jeans. Fox began to squirm as he undid the button and drew the zipper down.

"Alex..."

"Shhh."

Fox choked back a whimper as Alex reached inside his jeans and gently pulled his bound cock out.

"There. Better?"

"God...what if somebody walks in?"

"Who *else* is going to want to come see this stupid movie?"

The minute the words were out of Alex's mouth, a couple walked in. They cast only a very brief glance at the two seated in the back of the theater and moved to the front row.

"See?" Fox whispered harshly, straining against the scarves.

"It's too dark for them to see anything, and they're moving way down front," Alex pointed out. "God, I can't believe somebody actually paid money to watch this."

"*You* paid money."

Alex squeezed the inside of Fox's thigh. "*I* didn't come to watch the movie."

"Still..." Fox grunted as Alex lowered his head and blew on his cock. "...you could have done this at home for *nothing*."

"True. And while it's fun to tease you anywhere, it's just a little bit more enjoyable to do it someplace public."

The theater went from dark to extremely dark, then the screen lit up and the previews began to roll. Alex turned to Fox, a sudden thought crossing his mind.

"I'm sorry, Fox, I forgot. You want some popcorn or something?"

Fox's eyes grew wide. "No."

"You sure? I'm going to go get something..."

"*No*. Alex, don't. Don't, you can't leave me..."

"Just for a minute, babe."

"What if somebody else walks in?" Fox pleaded in his softest, most desperate tone. "I can't fucking move!"

"Fox, it's darker than dark in this corner. Nobody's going to see anything."

"You don't know that. Alex, please...*please*. Damn, you *bastard*," he spat as Alex blew him a kiss and sauntered out the door. Alone now, he looked nervously to the front, making sure that the only other people in the place weren't looking at him. Finding them engrossed only in each other, his eyes slid back to the door, praying that the next time it opened, it would be Alex walking in.

Crossing his left leg over his right to block the view of anyone who *might* enter, he groaned softly at the discomfort the action cause. He pissed as hell with Alex, but he couldn't deny the excited throb of his cock.

// Damn traitor.//

Brief moments later, a band of light fell across the floor and Fox's heart began to pound. A tall, dark figure appeared, and though he could make out none of the man's features, he knew instantly that it was Alex. The younger man moved to his seat balancing a tub of popcorn and a large cup of lemonade in his arms. He set the cup down in the holder provided at the end of the arm of his seat.

"Hi honey, I'm back."

"I'm going to kill you."

"Want some popcorn?"

"I'm not kidding, Alex. You're a dead man."

Alex stuffed a handful of butter drenched popcorn into his mouth then lifted the cup. "How about some lemonade?"

"So dead, they'll have to bury you twi....ah, *shit*."

Fox's threats died in his throat as Alex leaned down and abruptly sucked the head of his cock into his mouth.

"God..." his head dropped back and rolled against the top of the chair. "Oh, God..."

Alex sucked gently, letting his tongue swirl repeatedly over the swollen head. Hearing the needy moans of the man above him, he lifted his head, satisfied. "You were saying?"

Fox lifted his head and struggled to open his eyes. Finally able to focus on the amused, dark gaze, he drew a shaky breath and whimpered.

"Don't stop."

"But what if someone comes in?" Alex asked innocently, using his words against him.

"I hate you."

Alex chuckled softly. "Well, guess what, babe? By the time I'm done with you, you're going to despise me. Now, how about some lemonade?" He held the straw up to Fox's lips, but the older man refused to drink.

A tiny grin twitching at the corner of his mouth, Alex sucked some of the pink liquid up through the straw and turned Fox's face to his. Placing his mouth over the other man's, he released some of the lemonade into his mouth. In mere seconds, Fox was drinking eagerly from him.

Alex pulled back and smiled as he drew a finger down Fox's cheek. "I just remembered how much you liked that."

Whining softly, Fox licked at his lover's mouth.

"More?"

Fox nodded, and as soon as Alex took in more lemonade, he fastened his mouth on the younger man's, sucking in the cool liquid.

Deciding Fox had had enough, Alex pulled away and nodded toward the screen. "Your movie has started."

Panting heavily, Fox turned a glazed, dark gaze on the other man. "Fuck the movie."

"Aww, c'mon, lisa. You've been dying to see this. It's okay, you watch it. I'll find something to keep myself entertained."

Fox bucked involuntarily as Alex slowly undid his own jeans and withdrew his cock.

"No. God, no, Alex. Don't do this to me..."

"Don't do what?" Alex asked softly, letting his fingers graze the velvety surface of his cock.

"I can't touch you..."

"That, sweet baby, is the idea."

"Sadistic prick."

"I love you, too." Alex again reached into his pocket and withdrew the dildo and chain. Snapping the catch at the end of the chain onto the ring at the end of the cock straps, Alex drew the length up snugly over Fox's chest and over his shoulder, securing the other end of the chain to the back of the arm of the chair.

Fox's hips began to move, increasing tension on the chain and his cock, and though it was pure torture, he couldn't bring himself to stop.

"You're only going to drive yourself crazy," Alex crooned into the trembling man's ear. "You know you can't come."

Fox whimpers grew a bit louder as he continued to struggle against the chain. Alex's gaze moved quickly to the couple down front, but they were so busy groping each other that neither had taken notice of the sounds. Still, he thought he should take no chances. He pulled the third and last scarf out of his pocket and efficiently tied it over Fox's mouth.

Fox closed his eyes, sobbing desperately as each new offense stimulated him a bit farther past the point which he thought he could stand.

"You have to be quiet, lisa," Alex warned sweetly. "I don't think our friends down there are interested in us, but you never know." Alex looked back toward the front, finding that he could only see the head of the male now. "Look, babe." He directed Fox's attention to the first row. "She's sucking his dick," he whispered, nipping at the older man's earlobe. "See? They're just as kinky as we are."

Fox's muffled whine regained Alex's attention, and he lifted the dildo to his lips, licking lightly at the head.

"You can't actually see her, but..." He drew his tongue up the length of the object in his hand. "You want to watch me?"

Fox jerked frantically at the chain, trying in vain to relieve his torment as Alex leaned back against his seat and sucked the dildo into his mouth while his free hand began to slowly milk his own cock.

A long sigh broke past Alex's lips as he released the dildo and began licking the length of it. His hand worked faster, sliding up and down his engorged shaft. The sounds of Fox's vague whimpers spurred him on, and he again swallowed the length of the rubber shaft. He jerked himself more insistently, feeling the warm tingles start at the base of his spine. Any second now, he was going to come, and though the thought of stopping it had flitted across his mind, he continued, knowing the only way he was going to tease Fox for as long as he'd planned to, was to remain relaxed and in control.

Fox watched his lover writhing and moaning as he stimulated himself, and the agony tripled. *He* wanted to be in that exquisite mouth. Jesus, he needed to be. But he'd gone and opened his mouth and told Alex that he'd spend the entire weekend doing what *he* wanted, and now that's exactly what he was doing.

// Fucking idiot. You *know* how sadistic he can be.//

He watched Alex buck and grunt as he came over his fist, and every nerve in his body throbbed.

// Yeah, and isn't he beautiful...//

Alex pulled the dildo from his mouth and slumped in his seat, panting softly. Long seconds later, he gathered up a handful of napkins and cleaned himself up.

"God, I feel better." He grinned over at the restrained man beside him. "How're you doin', babe? Enjoying the movie?"

Through the gag Fox managed a snarl, and the furious glint in his eyes told Alex all he needed to know.

"Guess not." Alex reached over and petted his lover's cock. "Would you rather be doing something else?"

Fox immediately submitted, arching against Alex's touch. The younger man grinned and lowered his head, planting a few kisses along the leather-bound cock, and a loud, unfamiliar grunt brought his head up. He looked at Fox, whose attention had already switched to the couple in the front row.

The male of the pair stiffened in his seat, his lower body jerking erratically as he came loudly then slumped in his seat. Seconds later, the female lifted her head, coughing and began to curse the man.

"You prick, I *told* you I didn't like to swallow!"

Alex burst into laughter while his immobile lover tipped his head back, groaning softly. He watched the woman storm up the aisle while the man fumbled with his jeans and began to follow her.

"C'mon, Terry, don't get mad. I thought you *wanted* to."

"*Wanted* to?!?" The irate woman tossed over her shoulder as her passed Alex and Fox. "You held my head down, you asshole!"

"I'm sorry! I...I just tensed up. I didn't know..."

One after the other, the couple disappeared out the door, leaving the two men alone in the theater.

"Now, *that* was worth the price of admission," Alex said to Fox, his eyes sparkling with glee.

Unable to think of anything other than his own suffering, the older man whimpered piteously, eyes pleading for mercy.

Alex's grin faded into a tiny trace of a smirk. "You're not amused, are you?"

Fox lowered his head, doing his best to appear pathetic.

"So, you don't want to finish the movie?"

Slow shake of the golden-brown head.

"Want to go home?"

Head still hanging low, Fox nodded.

"Well, why didn't you just say so?" Alex removed the scarf from Fox's mouth and turned the older man's face up for a tender kiss. "But, you know what?" he whispered. "Going home doesn't help you much. You're still not going to come until I'm damn good and ready."

Alex untied Fox's wrists, unsnapped the chain, and tucked him back into his jeans. Stuffing all of his toys back into his pockets, he rose and held his hand out to the older man. "Ready?"

Fox closed his eyes momentarily then took Alex's hand and let himself be led out of the theater. Once inside the car, he slid across the seat moving as close to the younger man as he could. His hand crept up Alex's thigh, and he nuzzled the lightly stubbled jaw.

"Alex..."

"Hey. You know what?"

Fox groaned, knowing that Alex was about to do or say something else he wasn't going to be thrilled about.

"I'm starving. Let's go have something to eat before we go home."

Fox lowered his head to Alex's shoulder and said nothing.

"You hungry, lisa?"

"What if I said no?" Fox asked, a forlorn hum to his voice.

Alex shrugged. "It'd be a lot nicer if we could have a nice, leisurely dinner *together*, but as I said, I'm starving, and I gotta have something. Besides," he purred, curving his arm up around Fox's face and petting his head, "I need to keep my energy up. Wouldn't want to fall asleep on you in the middle of anything...important."

The ensuing silence did nothing to dissuade Alex from his course. "Maybe once we get there and you start smelling the food, you'll find your appetite."

// Or maybe I'll just die right there at the table, and you'll have to explain to the police why you're having dinner next to a corpse...a federal agent corpse wearing a cockstrap...//

Arriving at a small, dimly lit pub, the men were immediately met by a perky young woman.

"Hi! My name's Amy, and welcome to Brannigan's. Would you gentlemen prefer smoking or non?"

Alex gave her an amused smirk. "Non, please."

"Okay, great. Follow me."

The girl led them to a table in one of the busier sections of the pub.

"How's this?"

Alex wrinkled his nose, looking to his silent lover. "Nah. Could we have something a little more out of the way? More private."

"Well...I could seat you back there," the girl offered, pointing to a dark corner of the dining room, "but unfortunately, customers kinda get forgotten when they're far removed from the busier sections. I mean, not actually completely forgotten, but service is a little slower, you know?"

"That's fine," Alex smiled. "We're in no rush." He paused to nuzzle the other man's cheek. "Right, lisa?"

Amy's jaw went slack, but seconds later, the perkiness was back in place. "All righty then." She guided the two men to a table at the very rear of the pub and stood, uncomfortably shifting from one foot to the other as Alex took the seat beside Fox and ran his palm over the shimmering surface of his hair then pressed a kiss to his temple.

"M-menus are right there," she pointed to the colorful, laminated cards at the edge of the table. "I'll go let Jenny know that you're here."

As the girl rushed away, Alex broke into soft giggles. "Think we've scared Miss Teen America for life?"

More silence.

Alex slid two fingers under Fox's chin and lifted. "What's the matter, babe? Cat got your tongue?"

Gilded eyes rose to sparkling green, holding them entranced as Fox leaned forward and covered Alex's mouth with his own. The younger man's moan vibrated on his lips as his tongue slithered out to caress the soft interior. An eternity later, he withdrew staring at Alex through a curtain of golden-brown lashes.

Alex cleared his throat and gave the other man a hint of a smile. "Guess not."

Just as Alex had begun to lean in for another kiss, a nervous feminine voice interrupted.

"Hi guys. I'm uh...I'm..."

Alex smirked up at the girl, roughly the same age as the first. "Jenny?"

"Yeah. Jenny. I'm Jenny, and I'll be your server tonight. Would you like to start off with a drink? An appetizer maybe?"

"Sure, that sounds good." Alex looked down at the menu. "Uh..." He again looked to his quiet companion. "Some wine, Fox?"

"Okay." So softly spoken, that aside from the motion of his lips, the server would have sworn he'd never spoken the word at all.

Jenny shifted her attention from him to the spokesman and waited.

"White wine. And..." He looked back at the bill of fare. "The sampler platter, I guess."

The girl nodded and gave them a cautious smile. "I'll be back in a few with your wine."

The girl left them alone, and Alex again turned his full attention on the older man. "Where were we?"

Once more, Fox lifted his eyes to his lover's, and his tongue inched out to moisten exquisitely generous lips. Tentatively he leaned closer, brushing Alex's mouth with his own.

"Oh, yeah," Alex murmured, gently accepting the offer. Lazily, he teased Fox's mouth while one hand combed aimlessly through his hair. Breaking the kiss long moments later, he smiled down into lust-glazed eyes. "Have I told you today how gorgeous you are?"

Fox's only response was to nuzzle the younger man's shoulder.

"Do you know how turned on I am right now? Do you know how much I'd love to pull you onto my lap and grind my cock against your ass...I'm hard again, you know."

Fox closed his eyes, and his body trembled slightly as Alex took his hand and laid it over his crotch.

"See?" the younger man whispered close to his ear. "I came only an hour ago, and already it's like a brick. You do that to me. With those eyes...the way they look at me...begging...and that beautiful...fucking unbelievable mouth." He caressed the pouting lower lip. "So soft on mine...it feels like warm velvet around my cock..."

Fox drew a shaky breath and opened his mouth, letting Alex's finger slide between his lips. Gently, he sucked on the digit, moaning in protest when Alex pulled it away.

"How can I not be hard fifteen times a day when I live with such an outrageous slut?" He stopped talking for a moment, words giving way to a long, low groan as Fox began to massage the bulge beneath his hand. When he had again composed himself, he pulled the tablecloth up over his lap, blocking anyone's view of what was happening underneath, and starting giving instructions.

"Unzip me."

Glancing once around the room, obeyed the soft command and slipped his hand inside his lover's jeans.

"Good," Alex whispered. "That's good...easy...nice and slow..." As Fox gently worked his cock, the server approached. "Don't stop," he warned. "Just take it easy."

Fox's heart leapt in his chest, throbbing in concert with his restrained cock as he caressed his lover under the tablecloth. Jenny came to a stop in front of the table, balancing a tray in her left hand, smiling uneasily at her customers.

"Okay, here we go. Two white wines. The appetizers should be out shortly."

Only slightly less composed than he was, Alex thanked the girl and allowed her to leave. The moment she was out of ear shot, he turned and spoke to Fox.

"Put some napkins down over my shirt and get me off before she comes back."

Fox neatly draped four napkins over the younger man's waist, and as smoothly as he could, began to quickly pump his cock.

Alex closed his eyes and tilted his head back, panting softly through parted lips as his body continued to tighten to the point of breaking.

"That's it," he gasped. "Almost...just another...God...aww, baby..."

Fox watched longingly as Alex gritted his teeth and shuddered violently as he drenched the napkins and his lover's hand. His body screamed for the same release, but he had the sinking feeling that Alex wasn't finished with him yet.

Sable eyelashes lifted and fluttered slowly. A satisfied gleam coated the green eyes, and Alex raised his head and smiled serenely at his lover.

"Thank you, lisa."

Fox removed and folded the soiled napkins, wrapped them in a few more clean napkins, then pushed them to the far end of the table. He then looked down at his hand. Raising his eyes to Alex's, he lifted the hand to his mouth, but the younger man's fingers closed around his wrist. Smiling, Alex pulled the hand toward his own mouth and licked away all traces of his own semen. Pushed about as close to the edge as he could get, Fox's legs twitched spasmodically, and he practically sobbed his lover's name.

"Alex..."

The other man's lashes swept upward, and he inhaled deeply, nerves tingling at the look of agony on Fox's face.

"You suffering, baby?"

Whimpering, Fox nodded.

"You still love me?"

The golden-brown head dropped to Alex's shoulder and Fox nodded again, stroking his chest.

"Even if I keep that thing on you until sometime tomorrow?"

The reappearance of the server interrupted Fox's horrified response.

"Okay, guys, here's your..." The girl looked up, seeing the quiet man practically sitting in the other's lap, clinging to him, and lost her train of thought. "Uh...your uh...appetizers. W-would you care to order dinner now?"

Alex looked down at the heaping platter then over at his tormented lover. "You know, I think this might do us. There's a hell of a lot of food here."

"Okay, well, uh...if you..." She stopped in mid-sentence, watching the dark-haired man lift a mozzarella stick to the other's mouth and brush it across his lower lip, coaxing him to take a bite. "...need anything else..."

Alex thanked her absently, his attention not deviating for a moment from his lover's tempting mouth. The girl disappeared quickly, and he leaned in for a playful nip at Fox's chin.

"Good?"

Fox shrugged and accepted more of the appetizer. Swallowing the contents in his mouth, he turned pleading eyes up to the younger man.

"Alex?"

"Hmm?"

"You wouldn't really...you won't make me wait till tomorrow, will you?"

"Think what it'll feel like," Alex murmured, "if it keeps building...and building. The explosion'll be fantastic."

"But I can't wait that long," Fox complained, refusing an offer of a bacon-topped potato skin. "Don't make me."

"Mine for the weekend," Alex sang softly. "Remember?"

// That's right, stupid. That's what you told him.//

"I remember."

Alex smiled and bestowed a sweet kiss on the older man's cheek. "You and I are gonna raise the roof before this is over, I promise. Now, let's eat before this stuff gets cold, then we can go home, okay?"

Now, there was a promise he couldn't ignore.

Fox ate a bit more, leaving most of the food to his ravenous lover, and when the platter was clean and the glasses drained, Alex tracked Jenny down, paid the tab, and the two men headed for home.

Fox sat in the passenger's seat, dying a thousand deaths as Alex took the scenic route home, but he remained silent. The only sign of life he showed was the slow, strained rise and fall of his chest. Alex took notice and reached across the seat to stroke his lover's cheek.

"Beautiful night, isn't it?"

"You said we were going home," Fox rasped as he curled up on the seat.

"We are. It's just that it was such a nice, clear night, I thought you might like to take the long way home. You know how a nice, long drive usually relaxes you."

Not tonight. A handful a valium and a bottle of Jack couldn't relax him after what Alex had done to him the last few hours. And now, the younger man's hand creeping across the seat and into his lap pretty well insured that calm would be the last thing he felt.

Fox's whole body jerked, and he released a pained groan as Alex petted his leather-bound cock.

"Easy, babe. What are you going to do when in a few minutes I'm biting the insides of your thighs?"

Fox's fingers clenched in the leather of the seat. "God, Alex....please..."

"You don't have to beg, love," Alex purred, now squeezing the muscle beneath his hand. "I love sinking my teeth into you. I love looking at you the next morning and seeing my marks on your perfect skin..."

Fox shuddered as Alex words and the motion of his hand wound him a bit tighter.

"Please, stop. I can't...Alex, I can't..."

"What you can't do, baby, is come. Everything else is my call."

Fox slumped against the seat and lowered his head.

The ache. God, the ache was unbearable. Yet, somehow it fed Fox's excitement, and though outwardly he presented the picture of a man dying to put an end to his torture, deep in his heart, he was reveling in the every sadistic act that Alex perpetrated upon his mind and body.

Alex knew that. As surely as he knew his own name, and so he continued.

"We're almost home, Fox. Unbutton your shirt for me."

Obediently, Fox began to work on the fastenings of his shirt as efficiently as his shaking fingers would allow. By the time he'd completed his task, Alex was pulling slowly into the driveway. The garage door opened, and the Porsche rumbled to a stop inside.

The two men exited the car, and Alex led the way into the house. The moment they hit the door, Clyde was there, yapping and whining.

"I'd better take him out." Alex drew his knuckles down Fox's bared chest. "Why don't you go wait for me in the bedroom?" As Fox moved to leave, Alex grasped his upper arm and turned him back. "And," he murmured, "*don't* take anything off."

Fox stepped forward, pressing their bodies together. "Nothing?" he asked, drawing his tongue across Alex's lips.

The younger man shook his head, brushing his fingers across one rigid nipple. "I want to be there to watch you. Now, get going."

Fox moaned softly and headed into the bedroom. Once there, he lay down on the bed, forcing himself to breathe deeply and evenly.

// It's going to be a long night, Mulder. You gotta relax. It's the only way you're going to make it through this without losing your mind...//

Some ten minutes later, everything he'd told himself went staight to hell in a handbasket.

Feeling that he was no longer alone, Fox opened his eyes and looked toward the door.

"Thought you might have been asleep."

Gilded eyes swept over the length of the body standing not more than eight feet away.

Gloriously naked, Alex stalked slowly toward the man on the bed, a feral gleam in his eyes.

Mesmerizing.

Fox drew himself up, watching the smooth flow of muscle under satiny skin. Years later, the beauty of this man he was blessed enough to call his, awed him still. And his breath left him, only to return seconds later with a rush, bringing with it all of the excitement and anticipation that it had countless times before.

"Who can sleep?"

"It isn't impossible."

As Alex reached him, Fox raised a hand to his thigh, gently skimming the hard flesh as their eyes met. "Of course it is."

A tiny trace of a smile appeared, and Alex grasped the hand on his leg just before it reached his reinvigorated cock. Bringing it up to his mouth, he kissed the palm and whispered against it.

"Take your clothes off, lisa."

Never letting his gaze wander from the other man's, Fox rose up on his knees and began to slide the already unbuttoned shirt off. As it dropped to the mattress, his movements stilled and his respiration deepened as Alex leaned in to lick a path from his shoulder to his neck.

"Take your pants off," Alex moaned, his lips reaching the older man's ear.

Willing his hands to cooperate, Fox undid his jeans and pushed them down as far as his knees. Reluctantly, he pushed away from Alex's warmth and sat down on the bed to remove the pants and shoes. Now completely naked except for the cock restraint, he again rose to his knees.

Alex let out a long sigh, feeling the silky glide of skin on skin as Fox rubbed against him.

"You feel better than a high-priced stripper, you know that?" Alex murmured, humor tingeing his voice.

Fox pulled himself out of his rapturous state long enough to shoot his lover a questioning look.

"You know..." Alex ran his hands over Fox's shoulders and back. "...soft. Smooth..."

"How would *you* know?" the older man breathed against Alex's mouth.

"I had one once...a couple of times, actually."

Fox drew his head back, staring pointedly at the other. "*When*?"

Alex smirked at the distressed query. "Remember when I stayed at your apartment after I was wounded?"

"Yeah..."

"Don't you remember me telling you that I wanted you so much but I thought I could never have you, so I went on a rampage, doing a whole bunch of men *and* women?"

"Yeah, I remember."

"It was during that time."

A look of relief washed over Fox's face.

Alex cocked his head and smiled sweetly at the other man. "Lisa...you weren't thinking that I'd been with someone else after we got together."

"N-no..."

"Yes, you were."

Fox shook his head silently. His eyes dropped closed for a brief second then opened again, focusing on the intense green gaze in front of him.

"Never," Alex whispered, stroking the long back. "From that first day there was only you. You know that."

Looking a bit more confident, Fox nodded and gave the younger man a bit of a smile.

Alex moved in, brushing the ridiculously luscious lips with his own. "Ask me."

Golden-brown lashes swept upward, and Fox fell into Alex's loving gaze. It had been a long time, though he'd never forgotten the words so often spoken between them when their relationship was new.

"Who do you belong to?"

Alex lowered Fox to the bed and stretched himself out over the length of his lover's body.

"You."

Fox arched upward, pressing himself against Alex and forcing a groan from each of them. "And I'm yours."

A smile twitched at one corner of Alex's mouth. "Yes, you are."

The older man began to writhe against him. "Then *do* something with me."

Soft chuckle. "Like?"

Gold splashed eyes smoldered up at Alex. "Make me scream your name."

"That's the plan."

"Now, okay?"

"Sorry, sweetheart. That's not part of the plan."

"Plans change," Fox purred, licking Alex's jaw.

"Not tonight, they don't."

"Sadistic bastard. I thought you loved me."

"I adore you, lisa."

"Then, how can you do this to me? "

"Because you love it." Alex threaded the fingers of one hand through the older man's hair, pulling his head back at an almost uncomfortable angle. "Because you want it. You can protest from now till Christmas, but your eyes tell me what you really want."

"Yeah?" Fox challenged softly. "And what's that?"

The corner of Alex's mouth twitched. "You want me to torture you until you're sure your body'll break in two..."

Fox squirmed beneath the younger man but said nothing.

"You want me to make you beg and plead for mercy, but you don't want me to give it to you." He smiled at the low mewling sound now escaping past Fox's lips. "Don't worry, pretty Fox. I wouldn't dream of it."

Alex's weight was promptly removed from his body, leaving Fox whimpering in protest. His glazed eyes followed the younger man as he prowled over in the direction of their 'toy' chest and soon returned with an armload of items.

"Turn over."

Slowly, Fox did as he was asked and waited for what was to come. His muscles twitched and tightened as a smooth, slick object pressed between his ass cheeks, insisting that the small, hidden opening yield to its pressure. He choked off a gasp as he felt himself stretched and filled, and when the butt plug was securely in place, Alex pulled his arms behind his back and cuffed his wrists.

"Very nice," Alex whispered, letting one hand glide over Fox's ass. "Just one more thing." Deftly blindfolding his lover, he grinned down at the picture before him. "How's that?"

Momentarily beyond speech, Fox lay trembling and moaning softly. Then Alex's hands were on him, pulling and lifting; moving him from the bed and raising him to a standing position. Smoldering green eyes roamed over his body, followed by knowing fingers, stroking and teasing the overheated flesh.

"On your knees, Fox."

Unable to use his arms for balance, Fox sank slowly to the floor and waited. Alex's fingertips passed over his trembling lower lip, and seconds later, he detected a presence very near his face. Instinctively, he opened his mouth and accepted the entire length of his lover's cock...

Alex watched as every last inch disappeared past those incredible lips, and his body shuddered blissfully. Gently, he threaded his fingers through Fox's hair and began to move. The small vibration of the older man's moan sent a tingle along the sensitized shaft, and before he'd even realized it his hips were pumping steadily, repeatedly shoving his cock down Fox's throat.

Fox sank lower, giving Alex and the himself the best, most comfortable angle, and as he prepared for the explosion that seemed more than a bit inevitable, Alex regained just enough composure to pull out of his mouth and drag him to his feet. Without a word from his unseen lover, he was spun around and pushed face down onto the bed. There was a brief flurry of movement, then Alex's hands grasped his hips and pulled him up on his knees. The pillows muffled his cry as the butt plug was removed, and Alex's cock took its place.

Unwilling and unable to stop the torrent of lust now crashing through him, Alex grabbed a handful of golden-brown hair while steadying Fox's hip with the other, and slammed into him. His head snapped back, and a long snarl pierced the air as the force of the action took him to within a hair's breadth of release. He paused for mere seconds, trying to hold it off, but there was no way. Not this close. He tightened his grip and initiated an all out assault, bucking violently against the man beneath him.

The feel of Alex so hard and deep in his ass, hitting his prostate on almost every stroke, the continual throb of his cock within its restraints, and his inability to relieve it drove Fox way past the point of insanity. He whimpered frantically, praying for Alex to come even though he knew with all certainty that *he* would not be allowed to. At this point, all he wanted was for the intolerable stimulation to stop.

In answer to Fox's prayers, Alex's body began an uncontrollable series of spasms as he came for the third time that evening. His harsh cries turned to exhausted gasps as he emptied himself into his tortured lover, and he fell to the mattress, curling up on his side. Fox sank down beside him, lying flat on his stomach, hips occasionally pushing into the rumpled sheets...waiting. And waiting.

And waiting.

Seconds turned into minutes, turned into an eternity, and still there was nothing. Only the soft, steady breaths that generally meant that Alex would soon if not already be asleep.

"Alex."

No response.

Fox shifted in the direction of the sounds, gently butting his head against what turned out to be Alex's shoulder. "Alex, please. Don't...I can't...Alex..."

Still, no answer.

Whining insistently, he inched closer, struggling to his side and rubbing his bound cock against the younger man's hip.

Alex flinched and moaned, firmly pushing Fox away. "Go to sleep," he muttered then fell silent, leaving Fox unsatisfied and miles beyond frustrated.

"C'mon, Alex," Fox pressed. "I'm serious, now. I can't take anymore."

"Shh."

"No...*no*. Get this thing *off* me," he demanded, beginning to thrash around on the bed. He felt sudden movement, and all at once he was being uncuffed and shoved onto his back, where Alex proceeded to shackle him to the bed. His chest heaved with the excitement of being restrained further, and his cock screamed in anticipation of exactly what, he wasn't sure.

"Alex...baby..." Fox squirmed and writhed, attempting to entice the other man. "I need you so much..."

"Sorry, lisa," Alex sighed wearily. "I'm worn out. Need some sleep."

"You *can't*," Fox wailed, straining against the bindings.

"Yes, I can," Alex corrected. "It's *you* who can't."

"Fucking son of a..." Fox's curses were abruptly cut off a Alex covered his mouth with a strip of silky material. Crossing the cloth behind Fox's head, he brought the two ends back around front and tied them in a knot over the older man's mouth.

"Night, baby doll."

Fox growled at the soft brush of Alex's lips at his temple, then lay panting as he felt the younger man settle into a comfortable position.

Bastard. Fucking sadistic...

No. This went farther than that. It was vile. It was evil, it was...

Jesus, it was such an incredible fucking turn on. Alex had left him hanging before...a few hours at the most, but all night? Restrained and gagged and deprived of a good many of his senses...

And enjoying the hell out of it.

God, he was kinkier than he ever would have dreamed. Yet he couldn't find it anywhere within himself to be shocked or disgusted.

Fox settled down, concentrated on taking calming breaths, and began to think.

All this time together...all these years, and still Alex was coming up with new ways to excite him. Okay, maybe not *new*...they had frequently engaged in a little light bondage, but had never gone quite this far before. Fox began to wonder how much farther they had yet to go. The possibilities made his blood pressure rise, and his cock throb.

// Down, boy. Easy. It's going to be a long, long night if you don't get control.//

He thought of the persistent ache between his legs and whimpered softly.

// It's *already* been a long, long night.//

He stopped listening to himself for a moment, and tuned in to his lover. Not a sound from Alex except for the slow, even sounds of sleep.

// Unfuckingbelievable. I could never torture him for this long and then just fall asleep on him. I couldn't...//

// Please. Don't go getting all self-righteous. You could, and you will first chance you get. Pay back's a bitch, bay-bee. And think about how fucking gorgeous *he'd* be in this position. Shit, you'd drag it out too, and you know it.//

Fox laughed to himself.

// Yeah, okay, maybe I would.//

// Damn right. Now, just relax. If you can't sleep, use the time to make your plans for *him*.//

A smile formed behind the strip of silk as Fox plotted and planned his revenge. He was still smiling when he fell asleep.

********************

// Oh, God...//

It was no dream. That was the teasing flick of a tongue over his nipple.

Before his mind had completely awakened, Fox's body had, throbbing to full consciousness.

A hand. Caressing the inside of one thigh.

Fox began to twitch, and he couldn't hold back to low moan that sounded deep in his throat.

A voice. Soft and rich and smooth as the silk that covered his mouth.

"Good morning, my love."

Morning? He'd slept the entire night?

No, he couldn't have. There was no possible way...

A gentle tugging began at the knot over his mouth, and soon the gag was pulled away. Fox's mouth fell open, and he took in a number of long, cleansing breaths, sounding Alex's name on the last one. Fingertips brushed his lower lip, and he voiced a request.

"Bathroom."

Alex pulled himself up, resting on one elbow and smiled down at his lover. "Yeah, I suppose that might be a good idea. All right, but you behave yourself, okay?"

Fox nodded silently and waited while Alex released his wrists from their bonds. That done, he felt the younger man's hand then move down to his cock.

"Remember," Alex warned softly. Incurring another nod, he slowly undid the straps, setting the older man's cock free for the first time since last night.

Fox choked back more than a few whimpers but managed to keep himself together. Still blindfolded, he let Alex lead him into the bathroom and point him in the direction of the toilet. As he relieved himself, Alex stood behind him, gently caressing his back and ass.

"You're beautiful in the morning," Alex whispered into the hair at the back of his neck. "So warm...soft flush to your skin..."

Fox lowered his head and stood trembling, letting Alex's words blanket him in tingling heat. He managed to concentrate on what he was doing, and when he was finished, was nudged to one side while Alex urinated as well.

"How about some breakfast?"

The golden-brown head snapped up for a brief moment then slowly lowered again. The older man answered with silence.

Even though Fox's eyes were still covered, Alex could read his lover's emotions easily enough in his posture and exquisite pout of his lips. He walked them both over to the sink, where they washed their hands, then he led Fox back to the bedroom.

Fox allowed himself to be laid back against the pillows, and then he felt the further depression of the mattress as Alex straddled him.

"You never answered me, Fox," Alex purred, letting his breath flow over his lover's mouth. "Are you hungry?"

Remaining speechless, Fox turned his head away.

"Should I take that as a no?" Alex waited but no answer was forthcoming. One corner of his mouth twitched up into a knowing smirk. "So, you're giving me the silent treatment, huh? Pissed that I left you shackled and unsatisfied all night?"

Nothing.

The smirk grew into a grin.

// So, it continues.//

Alex lightly traced a path along the stubbled jaw with the tip of his tongue. "Talk to me, lisa."

More silence.

"Do I have to *make* you talk? .....I guess I do." He retrieved the wrist restraints, and as he moved to grasp one wrist, Fox began to fight. Caught off guard for just a second, Alex lost his grip on the other man, and they struggled for quite a while before he was able to regain control.

"Bad move, Fox," Alex gasped as he managed to secure the writhing man's wrists to the bed. "That little stunt didn't exactly help your situation any." He leaned in, murmuring seductively into Fox's ear. "But I'll tell you what it did for me." He reared back and grasped the tube of lubrication from the floor, where he'd dropped it the previous night. "It made me hot as hell. You know how I love a good fight."

Quickly, Alex applied a coating of gel to his cock and pulled Fox forward and into position.

"No...no..."

"Ohhhh, you found your voice?" Alex asked, arousal tempering the amusement in his tone. "And since when don't you want to get fucked?"

Not waiting to see if Fox would answer this time, Alex surged forward, burying himself inside the other man with one hard thrust.

Fox's surprised cry mutated into frustrated sobs as Alex fucked him mercilessly, pounding harder and faster into him until he came mere seconds later.

Momentarily weakened by the frantic release of energy, Alex fell forward onto his forearms, panting heavily for some time before rolling into a sitting position. "You know," he gasped softly, directing his conversation at the trembling man beside him, "I was going to end it earlier...when we woke up. But you went and got all bitchy on me. So, now I think we'll have to just continue it a while longer."

"No," Fox whimpered. "Don't. Please, Alex. I didn't mean to...I'm just..."

"Just what?"

"Frustrated." Fox turned his face to nuzzle the hand that had come down to stroke his cheek. "Please," he whispered into the warm palm before licking the faintly salty skin.

There was silence for what seemed to Fox like an eternity, then Alex's weight lifted from the bed.

"I'm starving. I'm going to go shower and get some breakfast."

// No. He wouldn't. He...//

// What d'you mean, he wouldn't? He's *Alex*.//

// God, I'm fucked.//

// Yep, and you haven't shot a single load...//

Fox's sob stopped Alex at the bathroom door. "Did you say something lisa?"

"Fuck you."

Alex chuckled softly at the whispered curse. "Wish you could, don't you?" And with that, he disappeared into the bathroom leaving Fox more frustrated than he could remember being in a long, long time.

// Well, what the hell did you expect? Cursing at him isn't exactly going to get you what you want.//

// Yeah, well, neither is being sweet or submissive. Face it. He's the devil.//

Fox shook his head and managed a smile in the face of his agony.

// And you love him desperately.//

********************

Alex stood under the warm spray, letting the water push the thick lather away as he rubbed the bath sponge over his as yet unsatisfied body.

Yes, he'd come several times since last night, but he'd only be truly satisfied when he had Fox wrapped around him, screaming his name as they came together. And God, as worked up as he was, he'd be screaming himself hoarse.

Alex smiled at the thought of Fox trying to explain to Scully tomorrow why he'd suddenly lost his voice...

Several minutes later, Alex shut the shower off and reached for a towel. As he dried himself, he padded quietly to the door to see what Fox was doing...not that he could do much tied to the bed, but still, Alex wanted to have a look. His breath left him slowly as he observed the figure stretched out on the mattress.

// Jesus.//

All his wildest, wettest dreams come true. Lying there. So beautiful. So goddamn, fucking sexy.

His.

All his.

Alex closed his eyes, shuddering at the quick reawakening of his cock. A sound from the bed drew his attention, and his eyes opened in time to find Fox squirming as Alex's name fell from his lips in a very soft, very tortured moan. His cock pulsed in answer, and before his brain had time to catch up, he was moving toward the bed.

"You called?"

Fox turned his head in the direction of the smoky voice. "No."

"Sounded like my name."

"Thought you were going to go have breakfast?"

"I am," Alex answered lightly, his eyes fixed on the flushed fullness of his lover's mouth. "But first, I thought you should have some."

"Not hungry."

"No?" Alex slid up on the bed, positioning his hips parallel to Fox's head. Sliding the fingers of one hand through the older man's hair, he turned his head to the side. He grasped his cock at the base with the other hand and brushed the head gently over Fox's lips.

Fox stifled a hungry moan and attempted to draw back, but Alex held his head firmly.

"Tell me you don't want it," he rasped, rubbing the tip more insistently over the quivering mouth.

A short, harsh sound rolled in Fox's throat as he fought to keep his mouth closed, but the nearness of him...the newly clean scent...the brush of velvet over his lips was too much to resist.

"Tell me you don't want me in your mouth, pushing down your throat, and I'll call you a fucking liar," the honey-coated gravel rumbled above his head.

Fox whimpered his submission, and his lips parted ever-so-slightly, allowing the tip of his tongue to slide over the smooth head.

Alex sucked in a quick breath, not willing to take his eyes off of Fox for a moment. His fingers loosened around the golden-brown strands of his lover's hair, and he began to tenderly pet them. "That's better," he purred as Fox opened his mouth further and began to lick him with more enthusiasm. "God, so much better."

Fox exhaled heavily and took half the length of Alex's cock into his mouth at once, sucking ravenously, and drawing a hard groan from the younger man. He withdrew most of the way then slid back down the glistening shaft, this time working his way to the base. Listening to Alex's labored breaths, he worked harder, instinctively knowing that there was no way in hell the younger man could last very long.

Alex threw his head back, the low growl rumbling in his chest growing louder and louder as his hips began to move in quick, almost violent bursts. Seconds later, a frantic, sobbing groan tore past his lips as he pumped a rush of warm fluid down Fox's throat.

Unwilling to release Alex from his mouth, Fox sucked greedily, milking him of every last drop even while his own cock screeched for relief.

As soon as Alex regained some of his strength, he began to pull away but encountered a bit of resistance from the man whose mouth was still fastened stubbornly around him.

"Fox...lisa, come on...baby, let go. You have to let..." As gently as he could, Alex forced Fox to release him, and he backed away and off the bed.

"Where are you..." Fox's head moved from side to side on the pillow. "Alex, don't go. Don't..."

"Thank you, lisa," Alex interrupted. "As always, you were incredible. But now, I'm really starving. Gonna go get some breakfast and take Clyde out. He must be ready to explode by now."

"What about me?" Fox lamented. "I've been ready to explode since last *night*. Why aren't you worried about *me*?"

The fading sound of Alex's laughter rang in Fox's ears long after the younger man had left the room.

********************

Fox moaned softly, shifting amongst the warm sheets.

// Shit. When did I...//

As he shook off the last vestiges of sleep, he realized that he was able to move.

And see.

Fuzzy though his vision was, Fox turned and focused his gaze on the figure beside him.

Alex reached across the very short distance to let his fingertips dance across his lover's sleep-swollen mouth.

"You were *out*."

Obviously, otherwise how would he not have awakened when Alex uncuffed him and took the blindfold off?

"How come I'm...why did you..."

Alex moved, draping himself over the other man's chest and staring down into his eyes.

"You've had enough. And so have I."

"You? Yeah," Fox pouted. "Me? I haven't had *any*."

Alex smiled serenely. "I meant enough teasing."

"Then reverse my last statement."

Alex shook his head.

"How do you figure you've been teased? Exactly how many times *did* you come? Remind me, I lost count."

"It was just physical relief, Fox."

"Ohhh," Fox replied sarcastically. "Is that all it was? Well, I'd have liked to have had some of that *physical* relief..."

Alex cupped the heavily stubbled cheek. "It's hollow. I mean, it was fun teasing you, but any of those times that I came...they weren't really satisfying. Not in the way that counts. It won't be complete until you come with me." He lowered his head and brushed his lips over Fox's. "Come with me, baby."

A fraction of a second was all that Fox hesitated before he opened his mouth and met Alex's in a bone melting kiss. Instantly, his arms came up and wound around the younger man, holding him tightly as Alex settled his full length on top of him.

// God. Oh, Jesus, thank you.//

Fox pushed up against Alex, feeling their erections touch, and he released a loud groan into the stillness of the room.

"Now, Alex," he whispered roughly, trying to increase the pressure, but to his amazement was held off. "No...don't...please. You said..."

"I know," Alex broke in, stifling his lover's frantic whimpers with another long kiss. "But I think," he said, releasing Fox's mouth, "that you deserve a little more than you've gotten the last eighteen hours." One hand grazed Fox's cheek then slid down his throat and whispered over a rigid nipple. "Let me make it up to you."

Eyes that at the moment appeared every bit as green as Alex's, gazed dreamily up at the younger man, hypnotized by the silky, utterly persuasive voice.

"Please, let me."

Fox's eyes dropped shut, and he arched against the hand still brushing over his nipple, silently giving the permission that Alex had asked for.

Emitting a rapturous sigh, Alex came in for another kiss, tenderly feeding on the luscious lips that only a couple of hours ago had been wrapped so ravenously around his cock. Stroking his tongue gently over the soft flesh, he coaxed Fox's mouth open, and he swept inside, teasing the warm interior.

Drowning in bliss, Fox gave himself up to his lover's will, letting Alex seduce his mind and body with silent promises of the heaven he knew well and longed to see. But memories of the demon Alex had been so very recently crowded in and cast suspicion over those promises, prompting Fox to react. He began to cling desperately to Alex, his fingers digging almost painfully into muscles of his lover's back and shoulders. His mouth clamped down on the presence inside, sucking greedily, wanting as much as he could get before it was taken away again...

Alex tensed at the discomfort and attempted to extricate himself from Fox's grip, but the older man's hold was too strong.

"No," he gasped against the demanding mouth. "Wait...easy, baby..." Finally, he managed to loosen Fox's grasp and pinned his hands down on either side of his head.

"Don't," Fox pleaded. "Please, don't."

"Don't what?"

"You're going to stop again."

"No, I'm not. Lisa..."

An abbreviated sob formed in Fox's throat as he strained against the weight holding him down. "I can't take it. Please, no more."

"No," Alex insisted. "No more. I won't stop this time, baby, I won't. No more games."

Fox's struggles died as Alex leaned in and nuzzled the side of his neck. His cries of frustration turned into whimpers of passion as the younger man moved lower, licking delicately at the tender skin of his throat. Seconds later, Alex released his hands, and they began skimming the contours of the well-muscled back, tracing the more prominent scars and lingering over sensitive areas.

"Promise me."

Alex lifted his head and directed a sparkling, deep green gaze at the man beneath him.

"I promise."

In all their time together, Alex had never broken a promise for any reason, and Fox knew that. Sighing softly, he brought Alex back down for another kiss.

Sure now that Fox believed him, Alex deepened the kiss, letting one hand roam over as much of the other man's body as his position allowed, while the other slid under the golden-brown head, cradling it in his palm. He drank in every sweet sound that his wandering hand had persuaded Fox to make, and when it reached his upper thigh, Fox began to tremble violently.

"You're not going to make it, are you?" Alex whispered, lightly caressing the older man's leg.

Fox drew a ragged breath and nodded. "I'm...I'm okay. I'll be all right."

"Are you sure?"

Hesitation then another nod.

"Maybe it would help if our cocks weren't pressed together, huh?"

Before Fox could answer, Alex was lifting himself and dropping to the mattress beside him. He winced at the sudden release of pressure on his cock, and drew a deep breath to calm the fluttering of his insides.

"Oh, God..."

"I'm sorry, lisa." Alex kissed Fox's shoulder then drew his tongue across the same spot. "I should've known better. Are you okay?"

Taking in another long breath through his nose, Fox nodded. "Okay," he said on the exhale then turned pleading eyes to his lover. "Alexei..."

In response, Alex kissed the tip of the other man's nose. Then his mouth. His chin was next, and when he reached Fox's throat, his tongue inched out and drew a moist line all the way down to his chest.

A long, breathy moan left Fox's lips as his lover moved so very slowly to one rigid nipple, gently circling the brown nub before pulling it into his mouth. When Alex began to suck lightly, his body jumped at the pleasurable sting of electricity that sizzled through him.

"So sensitive," Alex moaned releasing the nipple and blowing on it.

"You would be too if I did what you did to me for all those hours," Fox breathed.

Alex looked up at him through a veil of sable lashes. "Are you very upset with me?"

"*Very* upset?"

"You said you hated me," the younger man pouted, dragging his tongue across the hard peak.

"Mmm. You know I don't..." Fox sucked in a hard breath as Alex's teeth closed over the nipple and tugged. "...You know how much I love you."

Alex released the nipple and moved to its twin, flicking at it with the tip of his tongue.

"*Shit*. Baby, please. Please, I swear to God, I'm going to come if you don't..."

Alex lifted his head and smiled at Fox, eyes glittering madly. "You really think you can?"

Eyes squeezed shut, Fox nodded frantically.

Alex shuddered happily at the thought, but...

"Some other time." He nipped at the skin just below Fox's nipple. "Right now, I want to make love to you."

"Thank you God, we're finally on the same page," Fox panted.

Alex laughed softly then continued his southerly track, lovingly bathing Fox's stomach. The twitching of muscles beneath his tongue hardened his cock to an impossible extent, and he moved on, letting his mouth flutter over his lover's long neglected erection. The sound the action triggered reminded Alex of nothing even remotely human. He looked up to find the other man's face contorted into a mask of sheer agony and decided that enough was definitely enough.

Licking away the pearl of moisture at the tip of his lover's cock, he kissed the superheated shaft, then the insides of each thigh, and slid up to lie beside Fox again.

Gold-kissed eyelashes fluttered open just long enough to see that Alex had found the lube and was just beginning to unscrew the cap. Fox's eyes closed again, and he issued a long whimper of anticipation.

"Baby." Alex reached for Fox's hand and turned it palm side up. Slick coolness flowed out onto the warm skin, and he kissed Fox's wrist. "Put it on for me."

Swallowing convulsively, Fox opened his eyes and directed his trembling hand down to his lover's waiting cock. Both men groaned softly at his touch, and he slowly and gently applied the gel. When he finished, Alex planted a tender kiss on his lips.

"Thank you, sweetheart."

Alex squeezed some gel onto his own fingers and slipped them between the clenching muscles of Fox's ass.

"Help me, Fox."

Fox obediently spread his legs and bent them at the knee, giving Alex easier access. His fingers tangled in the sheets as one digit gently worked its way inside, and he strained against Alex's hand, whimpering and begging for more.

"You're so tight, moy lisa," Alex crooned, stroking the warm interior. "Squeeze my cock that hard, and I won't last ten seconds."

"I don't care," Fox whined in protest. "Don't wanna wait...can't...don't make me..."

"I won't, baby, I won't. I told you, no more games." Alex withdrew his finger and added a second.

A frustrated hum pushed past Fox's compressed lips, and he bucked involuntarily. "Fuck me," he panted, frantically rocking against his lover's fingers.

With some small degree of difficulty, Alex withdrew from his lover's clutching heat and kneeled between his parted thighs. Stroking the long, lean muscles, Alex slowly shook his head.

"No fucking."

Reading the anguish in Fox's eyes, Alex leaned down and placed a reassuring kiss on his mouth. "I'm going to make love to you," he concluded, brushing his lips back and forth across the older man's.

Trembling fingers tangled themselves in Alex's hair, and glittering pools of gold-splashed green stared up at him. The rest of Fox's body began to shake as violently as his hands as Alex pulled him forward and positioned his cock.

"Look at me, baby," Alex commanded softly as he watched Fox's eyes close. The golden-brown lashes swept upward, and he inched forward. "Stay with me." His respiration deepened as slick, tight heat slowly closed in around him, but his eyes remained focused on the object of his all-consuming desire.

"Beautiful baby...my beautiful..." his words ended on a strangled sob as with one final, gentle thrust, he buried himself completely inside his shuddering lover.

Fox's back lifted off the bed as he cried out what could have been Alex's name, and his muscles seized, trapping the younger man inside.

"Jesus," Alex gasped. "Baby, please...easy." Trembling hands stroked Fox's face and chest. Easy..."

Fox bit down on his lower lip as he fought to control the hurricane of sensation rolling through his body. Release was so close he could taste it, but for Alex, he would try to hold it off.

For Alex.

The one who had taunted and tormented him...made him wait an eternity while *he* came time and again over the last day. And now, Fox was holding it off...hanging on by a ripped fingernail for *him*. Proving once again that his devotion to this man knew no boundary or exception.

Slowly, fraction by painful fraction, Alex felt Fox's vice-grip on him loosen, and he relaxed against the older man's chest. "That's it," he whispered, feeling the tickle of a bead of sweat as it rolled down from the nape of his neck and over his back. "Breathe, lisa."

Fox took breath after shaky breath as his hands moved over Alex's shoulders, and he searched the forest-green depths of his lover's eyes. His mouth opened to speak, but no sound could be heard as he mouthed the simple words that Alex so easily read.

"Love me."

Tenderly pressing his palm to Fox's cheek, Alex let his thumb rasp across the older man's lips as he carefully withdrew then slid back home. Hesitating a moment, he successfully executed a second thrust and then a third before Fox's soft cries for satisfaction completely undid him. His hand left his lover's face and slid over his pounding chest and taut abdomen, combing briefly through the dark patch of hair at his groin before wrapping around his diamond-hard erection.

Fox began to gasp, taking in great quantities of air as Alex's hand began to move in unison with his hips, but nothing short of a miracle was going to stop the explosion he'd waited so long for. As gentle as Alex was being, the sensations his tenderness was evoking were anything but. They were violent, and they were devastating, promising a conclusion that would leave Fox's mind and body shattered for hours to come, and he wanted it. More than he wanted to breathe.

Alex watched the color of Fox's eyes change to the closest thing to black he'd ever seen, and he knew there was no turning back. Not that he had any such inclination. He quickened his pace and whispered breathless encouragement to his sobbing lover.

"It's all yours, baby. Come on...take it. I'm there...I'm with you...sweet baby, I'm right there..."

And so was Fox. In one sweating, heaving instant, it was on him. He clung to Alex, trembling violently while tidal waves of devastation ripped his body apart, and his roars of long awaited satisfaction shook the windows in their frames.

Alex held his wailing lover tightly with one arm while his other hand glided quickly over his cock, and he continued to sink again and again into his body, refusing to stop until he'd wrung every last ounce of pleasure from him. He'd tortured Fox long and mercilessly, and now he was going to make damn sure that his lover enjoyed every explosive second of his reward.

The height of the storm passed, and Alex rolled onto his back, pulling Fox into his arms, where he lay shuddering, his body kept on a low hum by the hand still moving over the length his still rigid cock.

"Can't quite stop, can you?" the lazy, satisfied purr tickled Fox's ear.

In answer, the older man grimaced, twitching spasmodically every time Alex squeezed him.

"Want me to stop?"

Emitting a desperate whimper, Fox shook his head and burrowed into Alex's warmth. Another gentle squeeze, and he bucked into his lover's fist, softly gasping his pleasure.

"I have an idea," Alex whispered, gently biting down on Fox's earlobe and pulling. "Since you're still hard..."

Fox shivered in anticipation as Alex rolled over, presenting his back to him. He slid forward, molding himself to his lover's back and guided his semen-slick erection into his ass.

Alex sighed heavily, wiggling against the man behind him and making sure he was as deeply buried inside him as he could be. Fox whimpered into his hair, wrapping him in a weakened embrace.

"I know you're tired, baby," Alex said to him. "Just lie there and let me make you feel good." Slowly, he rocked against Fox, contracting his muscles intermittently as he moved, loving the sound of blissfully exhausted sobs.

Fox nuzzled the back of his lover's neck, tasting the salty tang of sweat as tiny aftershocks continued to control his body. "I love you,"he whispered unsteadily, petting his lover's damp chest.

Alex closed his eyes and smiled, reaching back to stroke Fox's hair. "Still amazing, considering what I've done to you."

"Should be furious with you, but..." Fox paused, moaning softly as another tiny jolt passed through him. "I can't."

"Good thing, or you might have left me years ago."

Finding a bit more strength, Fox tightened his arm around Alex. "Never."

Alex lifted the hand from his chest and placed a soft kiss in the palm. "Finally coming down?" he asked, squeezing the subsiding presence inside him.

Fox nodded, snuggling against his lover. "I don't know how it is I lived through that. Feel like parts of me should be scattered all over the room."

Alex chuckled softly. "I thought you were going to tear me apart."

"Hmm?"

"From the way my back is throbbing, I'd say I'm going to have a couple more scars added to my collection."

"What?" Fox lifted his head and looked down at the younger man's back. Sure enough, a number of angry red welts had risen across his upper back and shoulders. "Shit. Alex, I don't even remember..."

Alex released his lover's now depleted cock and turned to take him in his arms. "I'm *sure* you don't." He grinned and planted a kiss on the tip of the other man's nose. "You're such an animal." Growling, he nipped at the other's lower lip. "Thank God."

Fox returned the grin. The grin turned to a leer, and he spoke, his voice low and honey-sweet. "It's good that you like my bestial side, babe. 'Cause when I recover from this, you're going to pay. And I'm sure you already know this, but you owe me *big*."

Alex squirmed in delight. "I know. It wouldn't be nearly as much fun if you didn't make me pay."

"Sick freak."

"Sorry, babe," Alex cooed. "I'm *done*. No sense in trying to turn me on now."

"You're just lucky I'm done too or I'd have to challenge that." Fox curled himself into Alex's embrace and closed his eyes. "Go to sleep, dammit, I'm beat."

Alex kissed the top of the golden-brown head then rested his cheek on it. "'No, but I can beat you tomorrow, if you like."

"Shut up."

Laughing softly, Alex hugged Fox to him. "'Night, lisa."

Fox's muffled goodnight was the last word spoken before the two men eventually fell into a deep, contented sleep.

********************

"You gonna drop it in, or what?"

"I'm gonna..."

"Sometime this week?"

Alex sent the other man half-hearted glare and looked down at the envelope he held in his hand. It was the right thing to do. He knew it was, and yet...

"Babe?"

Alex took a deep breath and released the white rectangle, watching it disappear into the depths of the mailbox. He turned to his smiling lover, who wrapped him gently in his arms.

"I'm very proud of you."

Alex returned the smile. "That means everything to me." He took a deep breath and nodded. "I think I feel better."

"See? I know it was hard, but you just needed to take that last step."

"It *was* hard," Alex admitted. "Obviously, or it wouldn't have taken me this long to do it." he turned sparkling eyes up to his lover. "Thank you for putting up with all my craziness."

"You were crazy for a damn good reason. I know we thought it was over before, but this is different. I *feel* it, this time. Really, physically feel it."

"I know," Alex breathed, pressing his forehead to Fox's. "I know exactly what you mean. I've never felt this positive before." he leaned into Fox's arms, neither man caring who might be around to see. "We can finally get on with our life."

Fox's mouth brushed Alex's temple, and he murmured against it, "Welcome back, baby." He drew the younger man back for a long, sweet kiss then released him. "Now..." He turned and guided Alex down the sidewalk with one hand placed low in his back. "...there's one more thing you can do to make me *really* proud."

A curious green stare focused on the older man. "What?"

Fox stopped short, pulled back a few steps by Clyde, who had suddenly stopped to sniff a patch of grass. He sighed at the dog's impeccable timing, then looked at Alex. "Make an appointment for this beast to get neutered."

Alex's eyes widened at the suggestion. "But..." he sputtered, looking from Fox to the dog and back again. "C'mon, Fox, that's barbaric!"

"It is *not*. Don't you want him to live a long, healthy life?"

"Of course I do, but..."

"You know it's best. It should've been done a long time ago."

Alex grimaced at the thought. "He'll never forgive me."

"He'll love you more," Fox argued softly, amusement lacing his tone.

"Yeah, well, if you're so sure, then *you* do it."

Fox sighed and shook his head. "Okay, fine. I just figured that since you were the one who took him for all his vet appointments, you would do this too. But...no problem. I'll take care of it. I'll call the vet as soon as we get in the house."

"Jeez, don't you even wanna think about it?"

"I *have* thought about it. This isn't the first conversation we've about this, remember?"

Alex fell into a brooding silence as they resumed their walk.

"It'll be okay, babe," Fox assured the younger man, rubbing his hand up and down his back.

No response.

Fox rolled his eyes and sighed, completing their trip back to the house in silence. Once inside, he gave Clyde some water and caught Alex by the wrist as he passed by, dragging the other man up against his body.

"You mad at me?"

Alex lowered his head and said nothing.

"I can get you to talk."

Nothing.

"As a matter of fact," Fox growled, cupping the denim-clad ass and squeezing, "I can make you scream."

A tiny flash of a smile appeared and disappeared, and a glittering emerald gaze rested on Fox's face. "You think so?"

"I know so."

"I think you're full of shit."

"You challenging me, Krycek?" Fox asked, rubbing their growing erections together.

"Maybe."

Fox grinned at the tone he knew so well.

Alex gasped sharply as without warning, Fox stooped and bent him in half with a hard shoulder to his middle. He recovered a quick breath but used it up quickly, laughing and cursing as Fox lifted and carried him over his shoulder into the bedroom.

"What the hell are you doing?" he yelled, groaning as the older man dropped him none too gently onto the bed. A low, nasty chuckle mocked him as Fox moved to the toy chest and dragged it over to the side of the bed.

"I told you the other day," Fox mumbled, presently engrossed in searching out every sadistic item in their considerable arsenal, "that you owed me *big*." He pulled out an evil looking ten inch vibrator and turned it on, testing the battery. "Time to pay..." He tossed the younger man a purely demonic grin. "...*big*."

Alex squirmed on the mattress, drawing himself up toward the headboard. "Yeah, uh...I know, but don't you think..." He stopped in mid sentence, whimpering at the sight of the ball gag and full body harness.

"Don't I think what?" Fox asked nonchalantly, adjusting the leather straps.

Alex swallowed hard, unable to resume his train of thought. "I...I don't...I don't know..."

"What'sa matter, babe? You seem a little nervous."

"Nervous?" Alex asked, voice cracking like fine crystal in an earthquake. "N-no..."

"No?" Fox questioned, picking up a pair of tiny nipple clamps and stalking toward the wide-eyed man. "Aww, baby. You really should be..."

********************

"Matt? You've got mail, honey."

The young man walked in from his mother's living room, noticing the woman's odd expression. He looked down at her hands and turned almost as white as the envelope she held. He looked up into his mother's eyes, not knowing what to do.

"What...what do you think he wants?" he asked, again eyeing the return address.

"We won't know until you open it," the woman replied, holding the envelope out to her son.

Gingerly, he took the object and moved a few feet away.

"I can't..." He stopped and took a steadying breath. "I can't imagine what he could have to say to me."

"Matt..."

"I know, I know. Open it and find out." Matthew took a deep breath and ripped the envelope open, pulling out two folded sheets of paper. He looked up at his mother who still hovered nearby. "Mom, do you...do you mind if I read it to myself, first?"

"Of course not, honey. It's a private matter. If you feel you'd like to share it later, you know you can do that." That said, the woman quietly slipped from the room, leaving Matthew alone with the last he'd ever hear of Alex...
 

Matthew,

I've had some time to think since we last met, and I've decided that for the benefit of all concerned, this matter needs to be put to rest; finally and for good.

For almost a year now, I've let memories of you and Justin Saint James haunt me. Night and day, you were there. One or both of you. Sometimes just lingering in the background, at the very least irritating me like a persistent rash. And sometimes you were right out there in front, completely decimating what I thought I had left of my mind, and taking my world, my relationship with Fox right to the edge of destruction.

It wasn't me who pulled us out of the fire. I didn't even know we were that close to ruin, so obsessed was I with proving to myself and the world that I was *not* a beaten man. It was Fox. Always Fox who would put on the brakes and drag us back from the catastrophic end I was driving us toward.

He tried. God knows he tried so hard to make me see. To make me understand what I was doing to us, and I wouldn't listen. But always, he searched for another way. He wouldn't give up, though there were times when I made it almost impossible for him to go on trying. I swear to Christ, I still don't know what it is I did to deserve his love, but I'm eternally grateful for it, and for him and him alone, I'd lay down my life. I don't know of a better way to express to you the depth of my love for this man.

Things came to a head after your letter arrived asking for a meeting between us. I absolutely refused, making him toss the letter immediately into the garbage. He tried to talk to me. He pleaded with me to take the opportunity to get things settled once and for all, and I accused him of wanting to reopen my wounds. That hurt him. I saw the pain in his beautiful eyes, and still I couldn't bring myself to listen. I went on hurting him and finally, after two nearly fatal incidents; one involving myself, and the other involving us both, I started to come around. Fox begged me to help put us back where we belonged, and finally I listened. But not as well as I should have.

At his insistence I met with you, and all I could think about during the time you were here was what you did to me, and how much I wanted you to suffer for it.

His idea wasn't working. Not because it was a bad one. It wasn't. I sabotaged those meetings before I even got to them with my hatred and unwillingness to forgive. It consumed me. It turned my life upside down and used up all my energy. Energy better spent living my life. Loving my Fox. I can't do that anymore. I won't. I had a perfect life with Fox before you and Saint James, and I'll have it again.

To do that, I have to let go. Let go of the pain and the hate. I have to admit to myself that you truly felt as though you had no choice in doing what you did. If you had, you never would have let Saint James control you the way he did. Being who I am, it was very hard for me to understand that. But with Fox's help, I've worked through it, and I'm able to actually sit down and write this letter to you. It's something I never thought I'd be able to do. Something I never thought I'd *want* to do. But here I am.

I need to be free, Matthew. And I haven't been. Not since the day Saint James took me from my home. I've been his prisoner for far longer than the few days he had me caged in Connecticut. I realize now that the only way for me to truly be free is to free you as well.

I've let it go. All of it. The anger, the guilt. The fear. Now, you let it go. Reclaim yourself and find a life. There's one out there for you. And if you're extremely lucky, you might even find one half as perfect as mine.

Alex

The End of Admissions 9