Fandom: XF (M/K)

Series: Part III of Not On My Watch

Rated NC-17 language and m/m sexual situations

Archive: Allslash, Archive X, TER/MA, All Things Rat, Den of Sin, Slashville. Anywhere else, please ask me, first.

Web pages: http://www.squidge.org/terma/aries/aries.htm, http://members.tripod.com/Nic-S/Tee/Ariestitle.html

Summary: Okay, time to find out who my friends are. This is part three in the Not On My Watch Series. Those of you who read part two know that there were hints thrown about Skinner's feelings for Mulder. We're about to deal with that. And, in my defense, let me just say....wait...you know what? I'll tell you at the *end* of the story.

Disclaimer: Mulder, Krycek, Scully, Skinner and Cancer Man belong to CC. Anyone else who appears in this story is a creation of my own mind...or...what's left of it.

Eternal thanks to Nic for wonderful beta, constant encouragement and always listening to my mad ravings. Thanks to Ori for snarling and growling at me after reading certain parts which, of course, I will not name here. Snarling and growling always means I'm on the right track. Thanks to Sue for all her enthusiasm and demanding another club scene. Coming up just for you in part four, Sue. Big smoochies to Tirinar and Niff for being such sweetie pies and for their continued interest.

Feedback satisfies the little troll who lives under my desk. Keep feeding him, and he'll consider letting me live. You can reach me at MMCUSN@aol.com

 

 

Comfort Is A Four-Letter Word

by Aries

Scully walked off the crowded elevator and turned in the direction of the A.D.'s office. As she reached the top of the corridor, her pace slowed, and her heart raced.

//Wonder if this is what it feels like to go to the gallows...//

She entered and knocked twice at the side door. Hearing the command to enter, she took a deep breath and turned the knob. Closing the door softly behind her, she glanced over at the man behind the desk.

Clothing perfectly creased, and not a sparse hair out of place, Walter Skinner was the picture of rugged elegance. A Humvee and handgrenade type of man treading water in a black ocean of bureaucratic bullshit. A man who had been trained to plow through obstacles, not dance around them. Yet, day after day he did the Gene Kelly bit, and made people believe that he belonged in this world. That he was as at home in it as any of them.

His commanding presence could be felt in the halls long before he could be seen. The floors seemed to rumble with his approaching footsteps, and when he came into view, conversations stopped and heads turned. To those few who were courageous enough to utter a 'Good morning sir', as he stalked past, he would simply nod in response. But in the estimation of most, a nod from A.D. Skinner was worth two dozen verbal replies from any of the other assistant directors.

Always respected and sometimes feared, it seemed the only people whom he trusted enough to travel in his sphere of existence were Agents Mulder and Scully. Only they were allowed the occasional glimpse under the hard-as-nails, no nonsense exterior.

Scully was never sure why Skinner chose to let only them in. It was as big a mystery to her as his reasons for putting his ass on the line time and again in the interest of championing his most brilliant, most eccentric agent.

Mulder...

She knew this recent turn of events had put Skinner in a difficult position, and the ultimatum he issued to Mulder yesterday was done grudgingly. But he could not ignore the possibility of some pretty disastrous results from Mulder's involvement with a man he considered to be a very real danger to them all.

Unfortunately, Mulder stubbornly refused to see it, and now he was paying for his obstinacy...in more ways than one.

"What did you wish to see me about, Agent Scully?"

Scully moved into the room, cautiously taking her usual seat.

"Agent Mulder, sir."

"How did I know? Agent Scully, nothing has changed since yesterday..."

"Actually, sir, something *has* changed."

The A.D. leaned back in his chair and waited.

"Sir, Krycek is gone."

"Gone?"

"Yes, sir. He left in the middle of the night while Mulder was asleep. Mulder woke up at around two a.m. and thought he might have been in the bathroom or something. But when quite a bit of time went by, he got up and went looking for him. He was gone."

"Mulder told you this?"

"Yes, sir. My car wouldn't start this morning, and I called him for a ride. I couldn't reach him on his home or cell phone, and I started to worry. I took a cab over to his place, and I found him sitting on his couch. He was almost catatonic. After a lot of coaxing, I got him to tell me what happened."

Skinner watched his fingers drum rhythmically on the top of his desk for a long while before he looked up at his lone agent.

"Where is he now?"

"He's still at home."

Her statement received a nod of acknowledgment.

"You know what really kills me?" The agitation rose in her voice. "He almost had me." She shook her head. "My God, I was ready to buy into all that garbage he was shoveling."

Skinner gave her a surprised look. "You were?"

She nodded and closed her eyes, rubbing her right temple. "I went to see him yesterday after our meeting...I had it right."

"You had what right?"

"I basically told him that I knew that all he was trying to do was torch Mulder's career. He denied it to the death, of course. But I'd say his little disappearing act last night confirms it." She opened her eyes and looked at the man across from her. "Sir, would you please consider giving Mulder a little time? I'm sure you can appreciate the uniqueness of the circumstances."

Brown eyes lowered. "Of course. Tell him he's got whatever time he needs."

"Thank you, sir."

"Are you going back to his apartment now?"

"No. He wants to be by himself for a while. I'm going to check on him, though, tonight before I go home."

Scully rose to leave, but before she reached the door, Skinner's voice stopped her.

"Scully?"

"Yes, sir?"

"He's really *that* upset about this?"

Her eyes met his, staring intently.

"His answer to you today, sir, would have been the same as yesterday."

It was a rather roundabout answer, but her point came through loud and clear.

The woman left the room, and Skinner sat alone, processing this new information.

In the course of one day, he had been hit with the news that Fox Mulder, untouchable object of his most private fantasies, was not the man he had thought him to be. Suddenly, he'd become very touchable. Only, it was Alex Krycek, of *all* people, doing all the touching. And now, approximately eighteen hours after *that* little gem of a discovery, Krycek was history, and Mulder was sitting home...alone and brooding, and would at some point be in need of some understanding and comfort...

He closed his eyes and for one brief moment allowed himself the luxury of imagining what it would be like if Mulder would let him be the one to offer that understanding and comfort.

His lip twitched slightly and he drew in an unsteady breath as his mind played out the scenario.

Mulder...walking into his office, despondent, eyes downcast...his mouth...God, that mouth, turned downward in a beautiful, sad pout...explaining to him what had happened...apologizing for his terrible lapse in judgement.

Himself...moving around to the front of his desk and standing before his repentant agent...telling him it was all right and offering soft words of solace as his knuckles traveled down the other man's arm...

The buzz of the intercom roused him out of his reverie. He gave himself a quick mental shake and hit the button.

"Yes, Kimberly?"

"Sir, you didn't forget the meeting with the Director this morning, did you?"

His eyes went down to his watch.

Five minutes to nine.

//Shit.//

"No, Kimberly, I didn't. Thank you."

He bolted from his chair, slipped into his jacket, and rushed out the side door.

 

***

 

Mulder lay sprawled across his sofa, phone in hand, staring at the dark leather of the back cushion. Without looking, his thumb located the talk button and pressed it. When he heard the faint sound of the dial tone, he located redial, hit that button, and listened.

"The cell phone customer you are trying to reach is unavailable or has traveled outside the coverage area. Please try your number again later..."

He disconnected and released a soft, stuttering breath. He continued to lie quietly, but inside, he was screaming to find the sense in what Alex had done. Pleading to be given one good reason why he should be lying here alone.

Hearing no answer, he let his eyelids drop and once again felt for the talk button.

 

***

 

Scully filed the last of her reports and locked up the office.

//Well, that was one long-ass day.//

She took the elevator upstairs, made a brief appearance at the lab, then exited the building.

As promised, she drove directly to her partner's apartment. When she reached number forty-two, she pulled her key out and unlocked the door.

//No point in knocking, he probably won't answer the door.//

"Mulder?" She called, peering into the dark room.

No answer.

She turned on the nearest light, and her eyes immediately fell on the figure seated at the end of the sofa.

"Mulder...how long have you been sitting there?" She approached and sat down next to him. "Mulder? Come on, say something."

"Say what?" He asked flatly, turning blood-shot eyes up to her. "Say you were right? Say I was an asshole for believing a single word he said to me?"

"No. Mulder, I'm sorry..."

"Really? I thought you'd be jumping for joy."

"You're miserable. How could that make me happy?"

"You were *right*. I know how important that is to you."

She bowed her head. "Mulder, you can't think that me being right means more to me than your feelings. I hate that this has happened to you. But it *has* happened. You said you needed to take the chance. You have. And now you're sure." She reached out and pushed a few stray hairs away from his face. "Let him go. He's not worth a single second of grief."

Mulder looked down at his hands and shook his head. "I need...I need to know..."

"What do you need to know?"

"Why. *How*..."

"To tear you apart, that's why. His heart is a black hole...that's *how*."

Mulder got up and crossed over to the window. "No...no, Scully, no."

"Mulder..."

//Don't. Don't do this with him. Not now.//

"Have you eaten?"

Long silence, then, "No."

"Why don't I fix you something?"

"I don't want anything."

"Have you had anything at all today?"

"No."

"Mulder, you've got to eat."

"I'm not hungry."

"Mulder..."

"Cut it out, Scully, okay? I'll eat when I get hungry."

"Fine. I won't bug you....I talked to Skinner today."

No response. Not even a glance.

"He said to take all the time you need."

"To what? Clean out my office? Bet you two had a nice little gloating session this morning."

"*No*, Mulder. Why are you doing this? We're your friends. We want to help you through this."

"All I want right now is to be left alone."

"To do what? Sit here in the dark and brood?"

"Maybe."

"Well, I'm not going to let you."

"You don't have a choice. Go home, Scully. Please."

She wanted to argue, but six years with the man had given her enough experience to know when there was no chance of her winning.

"All right, fine. I'll go." She got to her feet and moved in behind him, closing the distance between them to just a few inches. Fighting the urge to wrap her arms around him, she contented herself with a hand on his shoulder. "But I'm *not* going to let you mope around here forever, Mulder. I can't. I'll see you tomorrow."

Long after Scully had left, Mulder stood there at the window, staring down into the street. Over an hour later, the walls had begun to close in on him. Without really thinking about where he was going, he picked up his jacket and keys, and exited the apartment.

 

***

 

Nine fifty-two.

//What the hell are you still doing here?//

Even as he asked the question, Skinner knew the answer.

Better to sit here and work until he couldn't see straight, than to go home and snuggle up to a frozen dinner and a bottle of beer, driving himself crazy with thoughts of something that would never be.

He worked until his eyes refused to focus any longer then packed up and headed down to his car. He walked slowly through the parking garage, listening to the lonely echo of his heels on the concrete. An object in his peripheral vision stopped his forward movement, and he turned his head to the right, focusing on the vehicle at the other end of the lot. His eyes narrowed, taking a good, long look, then spun around and headed back into the building.

Quietly, he moved through the halls and stopped at his destination. The door should have been locked at this time of night, but he tried the knob anyway and found that the door was indeed open.

He stepped inside, quickly scanning the room and found what he was looking for. He walked across the room and took a seat opposite the sofa, silently observing the rumpled heap.

"Your couch at home being re-upholstered?"

Mulder replied, not moving an inch from the careless sprawl he'd assumed. "You're here late."

"Lot of work to catch up on...Mulder, what are you doing here?"

"According to Scully, this is still my office."

"Yeah, it is. But it's late. Why aren't you at home?"

Mulder shrugged. "Just had the sudden urge to get the hell out. Wound up here."

"Mulder, I'm...I must admit, I'm at a loss for something to say."

"That's okay. I'm not really in the mood to listen. Where you on your way home?"

"Yeah. I saw your car and came back to see if you were all right."

"Peachy. Thanks. Don't let me keep you."

Skinner folded his hands in his lap, fighting back the wild urge to grab Mulder and shake the shit out of him...then kiss away every last thought of Alex Krycek.

"There's nothing pressing waiting for me at home." He fell silent for a moment, then asked, "Mulder....would you like to talk about it?"

A soft, snorting laugh drifted up from the couch.

"You might feel better."

"No, I don't think I will."

Skinner sat with his head down, looking at his hands. "Well, lying here in the dark isn't going to help either." He looked up at the man who had yet to meet his gaze. "Why don't we go get a drink or something? Get the hell out of here."

"You shooting for a new career in counseling?"

"No, dammit, I could just really use a beer."

Mulder shifted, swinging his legs off the couch and planting his feet on the floor. Finally, he looked at the other man.

"You could *really* use a beer? You know, sir, if you're stressed about something, alcohol isn't the answer."

Skinner gave him that agitated turn of the head.

"Well," Mulder said softly, "you know what? Maybe I could *really* use a beer too."

The older man studied him for a moment, trying to read Mulder's eyes, but they were expressionless. He rose from his seat, opened the door, and waited. Mulder hesitated for a brief moment, then picked up his jacket and preceded the A.D. out the door.

 

***

 

Friday night, and the bar that Skinner chose was jumping.

The men located two open seats at the end of the bar and sat themselves down. They ordered a couple of Michelobs, and Mulder turned to the other man, curiosity etching his otherwise listless features.

"So, you want to tell me why you went from my executioner to Dear Abby in the course of twenty-four hours?"

Sharp eyes peered over the wire rims of Skinner's glasses. "I didn't want to have to give you that choice, Agent Mulder, but what else could I do? You had just come to me and informed me that you were in what I perceived to be a very dangerous relationship with a man who spells the word trust, s-c-r-e-w. In the interest of FBI security, I should have booted you; no argument, no explanation. It was out of friendship that I gave you the opportunity to choose."

Mulder looked down into the beer that was just placed in front of him. "I would have chosen him."

"Scully warned me that you would. It would have been a great loss for the Bureau."

Mulder took a sip of his beer then spoke into it. "If he came back tomorrow and offered up a reasonable explanation for why he disappeared without a word, I'd take him back." Glazed eyes looked up into the stunned face of the man beside him. "Just so you know."

Not knowing how to answer that one, Skinner raised his glass to his lips and drained half the contents. Before he finished the rest, he ordered them two more. As he was starting on his third, Mulder moved on to Vodka and orange juice. With two beers and now, the two Vodkas in him, Mulder began to get chatty.

"So, tell me. You don't seem nearly as bent out of shape as I thought you'd be about finding out that I swing both ways."

Skinner shifted uncomfortably on his stool. I...I believe a person's sexual preferences are their own, and no business of anyone else."

The younger man raised his eyebrows and stuck out his lower lip. "Wow." He waved to the bartender and pointed to his empty glass. "I'm...I'm.....surprised."

"Why?"

He shrugged nonchalantly. "Just thought all you gung-ho, John Wayne, ex-Marine types weren't very tolerant of that sort of thing."

"I have my own mind, Mulder. My own beliefs."

"Well, that's...that's really great." He tossed down his third Vodka. "Because I happen to know of a couple of guys who'd *love* to..."

Skinner's head snapped around and he blinked at his tipsy agent.

"...Well..." Mulder held up his hand. "...nevermind." He tapped on Skinner's glass. "You've been nursing that one long enough, don't you think?"

The older man gave him a soft grunt. "*Somebody's* gotta drive."

Mulder snickered and nodded to the bartender. "Good old Walt. Responsible to his last breath. You know, when the big guy retires or kicks off or whatever, they're gonna make *you* Director."

"You think so, huh?"

"Not a doubt in my mind." He patted the other man's hand. "You da man."

"You think they'd see me as being so responsible if they knew I was just sitting here and letting one of my agents get hammered?"

"Hey, I can get as drunk as I want to in my off time. And you can get drunk with me. Come on, Walt, have another one."

"No, I've had enough. And actually, I think you have, too."

Mulder turned and looked around the bar, then back to Skinner. "Noooo, I don't think so. I can still see." He scratched the back of his head and pouted. "I can still feel."

"Well, I think you'd want to quit while you *could* still do those things."

Mulder shook his head. "Don't want to feel. If I can still feel, I can still hurt." He squinted up at the other man. "You know, if I described him to you...what he's been like with me the last month or so, and I didn't tell you who I was talking about, you'd never guess it was him."

Skinner rested his head on one hand and gazed steadily at him. "No?"

"Nope. He took...." He stopped then began again. "He took such good care of me when I was wounded and sick. And later...he was s-so sweet. That might sound like a girly term to you, but I don't know of a better way to put it. He made me...he...he made me believe absolutely that he want...wanted me." He bowed his head, and a warm hand settled on his shoulder.

"For what it's worth, Mulder, I really am sorry. Not that he's gone, I won't lie to you about that. But I'm sorry that you're hurting because of it."

"I can't stand it. I want it to stop."

The hand slid across to his other shoulder and gently kneaded it. "It *will* stop. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the next day. But it will. In the meantime, you've got people you can lean on. You know Scully is right there for you whenever you need her. So am I."

The golden-brown head nodded in appreciation.

"Now, what do you say we get you home?"

Skinner summoned the bartender and paid the tab, then, with an arm around Mulder's waist to steady him, he walked the younger man out to his car and lowered him into the passenger's seat. Once he had Mulder securely strapped in, he took his own seat and headed for Helgand Place.

 

***

The one who watched the two men exit the bar released his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and started the car. Slowly, he pulled out of the lot and headed in the same direction that they had gone.

***

 

Skinner poured the virtually unconscious man onto the sofa and picked up the ringing phone.

"Hello? ....Hello?"

"A.D. Skinner?"

"Yes...Scully?"

"Yes, sir. What are you doing at Mulder's? Is something wrong?"

"No, why do you ask?"

"Because I've been trying to reach him for hours, and now at almost one o'clock, you answer his phone."

"Yeah. Well, I was working late and as I was leaving, I noticed his car in the garage. I found him in his office, looking pretty bad. We talked for a little while, and I managed to convince him to come out for a drink."

"And he went?"

"Surprised me too. He had a few too many, and I drove him home. We just got in the door."

"Where is he?"

"Passed out on the couch. I don't think I'm even going to try to get him to bed. I'll make him comfortable right here, and then I'll be going. You'll check on him in the morning, I assume?"

"Of course."

"All right."

"...Sir? Mulder does a lot of talking when he gets a few drinks in him..."

"Yes, he does."

"Did he say anything about how he was feeling?"

"Enough for me to know that this isn't going away any time soon."

Silence. Then, "Goodnight, sir."

"Goodnight, Scully."

Skinner disconnected, then he turned to look down at the unconscious man.

Uncombed hair, a day's growth of whiskers, and sloshed out of mind, this man was still the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

Skinner bent and pulled Mulder's legs up onto the couch, then removed his shoes, and stuffed a pillow under his head. The sleeping man issued a soft groan of protest, but otherwise, never moved. He retreated into the bedroom and returned with a blanket. He unfolded the quilted cover and tucked it around the limp form, then squatted beside the sofa.

"It'll be okay, Fox," he murmured softly, brushing the hair away from Mulder's face. "I swear, if that fucker ever crosses my path again, I'll kill him."

His fingers lingered for a bit longer, brushing through the silky strands, then reluctantly, he pulled away and rose to his feet. Shutting the light off, he turned and left without looking back.

 

***

 

Fifteen minutes, twenty-nine seconds.

//Well, either nothing happened, or you've got some endurance problems that you should be looking into, Walt.//

Alert eyes watched the A.D. get into his car and drive away, then they turned up to the darkened window of apartment forty-two.

//Accept his offer of comfort, Fox, and it'll only be a matter of time.//

He drew in a deep breath and released it slowly.

//You wouldn't, would you? Well, why not? I'm sure you're thinking right about now that I'm everything Scully told you I was and more. And I'll be willing to bet that old Walt kicked in a few opinions of his own just in case Scully didn't do a good enough job on you.//

His lips curled into a sneer.

//Gonna play this for all it's worth, aren't ya Walter? You've got your opportunity, and you're not gonna let it pass you by. But he's not so easily had. Believe me, I know. And he *wanted* *me*. No, Walt, you won't make him forget me so easily.//

Some of the arrogance seeped away.

//You couldn't forget me so easily, could you, baby? Even though it'd be the best thing for you. You couldn't, could you? You told me you were mine.//

He slumped back against the seat and wrapped his arms around himself.

"You told me you were mine."

 

***

 

"Shit."

Mulder grimaced and covered his face, blocking out the glare of the sun. He blinked slowly, trying to accustom himself to the brightness.

"Oh, God..."

He closed his eyes again, trying to cope with the pounding of his head, but they snapped open again when fragmented memories of last night came back to him.

He remembered being in his office. Then Skinner came in. They talked, went out to some bar...he apparently had *way* too much to drink, they talked somemore, and...

And what?

He couldn't remember anything else.

Except the pain.

It washed over him again, compounding his headache and adding another layer to the ache that had settled over his heart.

He groaned, pulling the blanket up over his head, and tried to block out thoughts of the one who was a permanent part of him.

Alex. His beautiful Alex.

So convincing. So sincere.

How did he get his eyes to look like that when he stared at Fox? How did he get just the right tone in his voice when he spoke to him? How did he put so much feeling into every touch and not mean any of it?

Mulder squeezed his eyes shut and retreated farther into the shelter of the blanket.

//I thought maybe you might loved me. I thought we belonged to each other. I can't...I can't...//

"I can't believe you were just using me," he whispered, grimacing at the pain those few uttered words brought to his head. He swallowed down the sudden saltiness that stung the back of his throat, but some of it made its way to the corner of one eye and puddled there, clinging to his lashes.

The knock on the door drew another groan from him. He recognized it as Scully's knock, and he knew that if he didn't get up to answer it, she'd simply let herself in. And that's exactly what he let her do.

"Mulder?" Scully's gaze immediately fell on the heap beneath the blanket on the couch, and she sighed as she closed the door behind her. She crossed into the living room and bent at the waist, observing the motionless form.

The blanket was pulled up over his face, so all she could see was his hair. "Mulder? She whispered softly, hating to wake him, but she needed to make sure he was all right.

There was no movement at first, then slowly, the blanket lowered, and red, swollen eyes blinked up at her.

"My God, Mulder, you look like hell."

He gave no response, other than to turn his head and close his eyes.

"How much did you drink last night?"

The eyes opened half-way. "How did you know?"

"I'd been trying to call you all night. Finally, at around one, Skinner answered your phone."

Soft grunt.

"So...feel better?"

"Feel like shit."

"I figured. Why don't you go take a shower? I'll get you some coffee and something to eat."

"No food," Mulder moaned, pulling the blanket up over his head.

"You need to put something in your stomach, Mulder. Just some toast, okay? Come on, now. Up."

Finally, with a little more coaxing, she got him up and into the bathroom. Once she heard the shower go on, she walked into the kitchen, starting the coffee, and pulled a half loaf of bread out of the cabinet. Upon inspection, she noticed no mold.

"Wow. New bread, Mulder?"

Once the coffee was done, she poured herself a cup and waited. Ten minutes later, Mulder dragged himself into the kitchen and sank down into a chair at the table.

"Feel a little better, now?" Scully asked as she got up to toast the bread.

"I assume you're asking about the hangover."

"Yeah. I know you don't feel any better about Krycek." Scully slid the lever down on the toaster then came up behind her partner and combed her fingers through his damp hair. "I know that's going to take some time."

"I need to see him."

"What? No, Mulder, you don't."

"I do. I need...I need to know. I need him to look at me and tell me why."

"Mulder, if he was man enough to do that, he would have, instead of sneaking out on you in the middle of the night. Besides, why do you need him to tell you? You know why he left."

"I want to hear the words from his mouth."

"Why would you even *think* of wanting the torture yourself that way? He's gone, Mulder. Mission accomplished. Or so he thinks. The only reason you should want to see him now, would be to shoot him."

He ignored the remark. "But maybe there's a reason. Maybe something happened that I don't know about..."

"You think something happened from the time you went to bed to the time he snuck out of here? Come on, Mulder."

The toast popped up, and she turned to retrieve the slices. "What do you want on these?"

"Do I have any grape jelly?"

"I don't know, *do* you?"

"If I do, it's in the fridge."

She opened the door and immediately located the jar that sat alone on the second shelf toward the back. "Uh, Mulder..." She unscrewed the cap and squinted into the jar, grimacing. "You don't want this."

A soft sigh rose from the table. "Butter's fine, then."

She spread a thin layer of butter on each slice, and set them in front of him. "Now, eat that. All of it."

As Mulder choked the toast down, she sat across from him, sipping her coffee. "I can't believe Skinner let you get drunk."

"What was he going to do? He's my boss, not my father, and I was on my own time. Besides, it was *his* idea to go out for a beer."

"*A* beer didn't do this to you, Mulder."

No reply.

"So, what are you going to do today?"

"I don't know. Nothing...got some stuff here I can work on, I guess....maybe."

Scully shrugged. "I was going to go see my mother today. You want to come out with me?"

"No. Thanks."

"Mulder, it'll do you no good to sit around here and brood."

"So instead I'll sit around your mother's and brood? Really...no thanks."

"Mulder..."

"Look. Scully. I understand what you're trying to do. Really. And I appreciate it. But what I really need right now is to be left alone. I need to work through this by myself."

Scully gave her partner a dubious look.

"I promise, I'm not going to go for a stroll on the Beltway at traffic hour, and I'm not going to put a gun in my mouth, or anything else like that. I just want to be left alone. Okay?"

"...Okay. Against my better judgment, okay." She finished her coffee, washed her cup, then came to stand at his side. "I'm going. Promise if you want to talk, you'll call me?"

"You'll be at your mother's."

"I don't care where I am. Just call me."

Mulder nodded absently, staring down into the crumbs in the plate in front of him.

"I'll talk to you later." She planted a lingering kiss in his hair, then left the apartment.

Mulder sat at the table for almost twenty minutes after his partner had gone then picked himself up and trudged back into the living room. There, he sank back onto the sofa and again drew the blanket up over his head.

 

***

 

"Scully."

"Agent Scully, I hope I'm not disturbing you."

"No, sir. I'm just spending the weekend with my mother. Is something wrong?"

"No. No, I just...I've been trying to reach Agent Mulder for the better part of the day, but I'm not getting any answer. Have you seen him today?"

"Yes, sir. This morning."

"How was he?"

"Hung over. I got him to shower and eat some toast, though."

"All right. I was just a bit concerned when he didn't answer his phone."

"He said he wanted to be left alone today. I have to assume that he just doesn't want to take any calls. I'll try him in the morning. If he still doesn't answer, I'll come home."

"No, Scully. You stay with your mother as long as you want to. *I'll* call him in the morning, and if he doesn't answer, I'll go check on him."

"Thank you, sir, but you don't have to do that. He's my partner, and..."

"It's no problem at all," Skinner interrupted quickly. "Besides, I'm still feeling a little responsible for his condition today. I've got nothing planned this weekend, so it's no problem for me to go over there and see that he's all right."

"All right then." Scully paused, then added, "Thank you, sir."

"Enjoy your time with your mother."

"I will. Goodbye, sir."

Skinner disconnected then dropped down onto the edge of his sofa. He took off his glasses and tossed them onto the coffee table, then massaged the bridge of his nose.

//Go over there now. You won't feel right until you do.//

//No, Scully said he wanted to be alone. Respect his wishes and leave him alone. You can live without seeing him until tomorrow.//

//Yeah, okay, so what are you going to do until then?//

He sat quietly for a few more minutes then pulled his gun out of its drawer, strapped on his holster, and headed out to the firing range.

 

***

 

Alex changed position for the hundredth time, knowing it would do no good. Sleep was now a thing of the past. He was back to cat-napping now that he no longer had Fox beside him.

He flipped onto his back and glanced over at the clock.

Two-thirty.

Wonderful.

He stared up at the ceiling, trying to think peaceful thoughts, and of course, the only thing that would occupy his mind was Fox. Naked and sweaty Fox, writhing and arching beneath him as he slid in and out of his slick warmth. Beautiful Fox, whimpering with pleasure as Alex stroked his magnificent cock, and he hurtled toward completion. Exhausted, satisfied Fox, curled in his arms, purring blissfully as they descended into sleep...

Those thoughts made his blood race and his cock swell, and now there no way in *hell* he was getting to sleep.

He threw the blanket off and stalked over to his bag, rummaging through it. Finding what he was looking for, he fell back onto the bed, and lubed up the vibrator. He turned slightly to the side and carefully worked it into his ass, using teasing little thrusts the way Fox sometimes did. When it was all the way in, he turned it on to the low setting and closed his eyes. He moved it slowly, pulling it out almost to the tip, then sliding it back in, imagining it was Fox making love to him so gently.

As he continued to slowly fuck himself, his other hand traveled over his chest, lightly skimming then plucking his hardened nipples. His body twitched and his former lover's name fell from his lips in a soft whisper.

The instrument's gentle vibrations started to do their job, and soon he was squirming and panting, his body begging for release. He increased the pace of his thrusts, and his hand dropped down to his cock, stroking it firmly.

//You're so beautiful, baby...come on, Alex. Come for me...//

Alex listened to the imagined voice of his Fox and sobbed his name.

"God, Fox....I love you...I love you so much, baby..."

//Show me, Alex. Show me how much.//

Alex's mouth dropped open and a harsh cry escaped it as his body went into meltdown. His hand moved wildly over his cock, milking every last bit of fluid from it, and when he was through, he lay there, sticky, and exhausted, and...

He moaned and turned onto his chest, burying his face in the pillows.

...and depressed as hell.

He pulled the vibrator out and flung it across the room. It hit the wall with a loud thump and fell to the floor. He roared his frustration into the pillows, and when his throat began to hurt, he went quiet.

//I can't do this. I can't, I...//

//You have to.//

//Why? If *he's* not worried about his job...//

//Then *you* have to. He needs to be there. You know he does.//

//Since when am I so fucking noble? He wanted *me*. He was ready to give it all up for me. I *had* him and I let him go. Am I out of my fucking mind?//

//*Yes*. But for once in your worthless life, you have to be unselfish. Besides, he'd come to resent you. You know he would. If he was so happy about quitting, he'd have told you straight out about it. He *didn't*.//

//But I can't do this. I can't give him up. I miss him. I have to go back. I can't stand this another day.//

//Don't do it. Leave him alone. Don't fuck up his life.//

//But I love him. What if he loved me? Even a little bit? By leaving him like that, I might have fucked him up even worse than I would have by staying.//

//You're reaching.//

//I don't care. I miss him. Maybe he misses me too.//

He fell asleep arguing with himself, neither side having yet won.

 

***

 

Sunday afternoon.

Mulder sat at his computer, staring blankly at the screen.

He'd turned the thing on with every intention of getting some work done, but all that went promptly to hell when he'd noticed that it had started to snow. As he watched the large flakes fall, a desperate kind of despair washed over him.

Thoughts of Alex filled his head and tugged at his aching heart while they inflicted a different sort of torture on the rest of his body. His mind conjured up the rough, smoky sound of his lover's voice wrapping around him, taunting him...whispering things that made his hands shake and his cock throb.

He willed himself to stop, and he turned away from the window. Now he sat here staring at the monitor, not seeing a damn thing but Alex, flushed and smiling, snow kissing his hair and eyelashes, and a heavy vapor falling from his lips as he ordered Fox back into the cabin...

He unconsciously moistened his lips as that image faded and he found Alex and himself naked in front of the fire, kissing and touching; driving each other into a frenzy of need.

His hand slipped down to his crotch, gently massaging the bulge as he heard Alex's gasping moans and could almost feel himself thrusting again and again into his lover's tight heat...

The knock at the door startled him out of his fantasy, and he cursed under his breath, for a moment considering ignoring the intrusion, but the sound came again, this time louder and more persistent.

"Mulder."

His head jerked up at the sound of the muffled baritone.

"Mulder, I saw your car in the garage, I know you're here."

He pushed himself away from the desk and went to the door. Taking a steadying breath, he turned the knob and stepped back as he let the door swing open. He looked down at the floor as a pair of deep-brown eyes, sans the familiar glasses peered at him.

"Are you all right?" A.D. Skinner asked by way of greeting.

"Yeah. Great."

"You don't look so hot," Skinner observed gruffly, noticing the flush of the other man's skin and slightly erratic respiration.

"I'm fine," Mulder whispered, retreating into the apartment, and the other man followed, shutting the door behind him.

"So...you and Scully working as a tag-team?"

"What?"

"Nevermind."

Skinner was silent for a moment, then spoke again. "I've been trying to call you since yesterday. Why aren't you answering your phone?"

"Didn't feel like talking to anyone."

The A.D. heaved a hard sigh. "Do you think you'll be coming back to work tomorrow?"

"I don't know, I...I guess I should."

"I think it'd be the best thing for you. Keep your mind occupied."

Mulder nodded, closing his eyes, then turned to face the window. A noticeable shudder passed through his body, and Skinner came nearer.

"Mulder, what is it? And don't tell me nothing, because it couldn't be more obvious that there's *something*."

"You don't want to know," the younger man rasped from his station at the window.

"I wouldn't ask if I didn't want to know."

"...I was j...I was thinking about him."

"Oh."

Mulder bowed his head, speaking more to himself than the man behind him.

"I want him back," he croaked. "And I want to kill him for doing this to me...I want to know how he *could*. And I want...oh, God, I want *him*..."

Skinner stared at the other man, saying nothing.

"Sorry," Mulder turned and smiled at him through a haze of tears. "Way more than you wanted to know, I'm sure." He again lowered his head.

"It's all right," Skinner offered, firming his chin. "I said I wanted to know." He took a step forward and placed his hand on the younger man's arm. "Mulder..."

Mulder felt the gentle grip of the big hand through his sleeve; felt the comforting warmth, and the tears began to drop silently from his eyes. The next thing he knew, he was resting against the solid mass of the A.D.'s chest, and the other man's arms were wrapped securely around him. And for the first time in twenty some-odd years, he missed having a father.

Skinner's eyes dropped shut, and he luxuriated in the feel of the man in his arms. Lean, hard muscles packed into the long athlete's frame...elegant, strong fingers curled into the front of his shirt...a wealth of silky brown hair brushing his neck as the younger man's head rested on his shoulder...

He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of the man, and he couldn't stop himself when one hand lifted to Mulder's hair and tenderly stroked the thick strands.

Mulder felt the hand in his hair, and suddenly, something wasn't right. The oddest feeling came over him, and he pulled away. "I'm sorry," he whispered, apologizing for more than one reason.

"Don't be sorry," Skinner murmured, battling the urge to pull Mulder back into his arms. "There's no shame in you needing a little consolation. At one time or another, everybody does."

Mulder nodded, looking down at the floor and crossing his arms over his chest. Blaming it on his hypersensitivity due to his very recent state of arousal, he tucked away the impression that the embrace they just shared had an intent greater than that of mere comfort, and turned moist eyes up to the older man.

"Thank you."

"Any time. Have you eaten today?"

Mulder shrugged. "Had some Cheetos earlier."

"Cheetos. That's what you've eaten all day."

"Yeah."

"Come on, let's go somewhere and get some food in you."

"You don't have to babysit me, you know."

"Mulder, I haven't babysat anyone since they stuck me with a platoon full of nineteen-year-olds in Danang."

"Weren't you about the same age?"

The other man gave him a ghost of a smile. "I was twenty. It was my second tour. Now, come on."

Mulder ran a hand through his hair, taking a second to consider the offer. "All right," he said finally. "Just give me a minute to go change."

"Take your time."

When Mulder had disappeared from the room, Skinner dropped heavily onto the sofa, covering his face with his hands and taking a shaky breath.

//How could he do it?// he asked himself. //How could Krycek touch him...how could he look into those amazing eyes...lie beside him, and not feel anything? Jesus, his heart's blacker than I ever would have imagined.//

Twenty minutes later, Mulder emerged from the bedroom, showered and shaven, and wearing a black corduroy shirt over a snug-fitting pair of faded Levis. Outwardly, he looked worlds better, but one glance into his dull eyes told the real story.

They dined at a restaurant not far from Mulder's place, and for the two hours that their meal had lasted, Skinner made light conversation, doing his level best to stay away from anything Krycek-related. When it was over, he drove Mulder home, and before the younger man exited the car, he turned to his new companion.

"Thank you for dinner," he said softly. "And thanks for trying to understand. I know I'm not the easiest person in the whole to deal with in the best of situations..."

Skinner shifted his weight a bit to the right and stretched his arm across the back of the seat. The fringe of hair at the base of Mulder's neck brushed his knuckles, sending a light tingle up his arm.

"No, you're not," he agreed in that gruff but gentle voice. "And God knows I'd like to kick your ass sometimes...okay, a lot of the time..."

The comment brought a tiny smile to Mulder's lips.

"...but it's who you are. And who you are is okay with me."

Mulder lowered his gaze and they sat in silence for a time, then he cleared his throat.

"Well, I'd better going. I'll see you tomorrow, I guess."

Skinner nodded. "Good. I think you'll feel better once you're back to work."

"Yeah, maybe," Mulder agreed even though he knew work wouldn't help. "Good night, sir."

"We're not at work, Mulder."

Mulder gave him a puzzled look.

"Sir is fine at work, but we aren't there. And unlike you, I really have nothing against people calling me by my first name."

Mulder stared in silence, mild confusion etching his features.

"Walter works fine for me. Walt is okay, too."

Mulder took a short breath in through his open mouth. "Oh. Okay...well, I'll see you tomorrow."

Skinner offered a murmured goodnight, and Mulder vacated the car, moving toward his building without a single look back.

The A.D. sat drumming his fingers on the steering wheel for a moment after the other man had disappeared into the building.

//Okay, that wasn't too bad, I guess. You've thrown him a little off balance, though. He's never seen this much of your personality. Take it slowly. Offer him all the comfort and patience he needs. He'll begin to get it soon enough. And maybe by then he'll be ready for someone he knows he'll be able to trust.//

He cast one more glance in the direction of the building before he drove away.

"Maybe."

 

***

 

Mulder walked into his dark apartment and for a moment considered leaving the lights off. At least that way he wouldn't see as well as feel the emptiness.

Telling himself that he was being stupid, he turned on the small lamp at his desk, and noticed that he had a message on his answering machine. Knowing full well who it was from, he hit the play button and walked away, taking his jacket off.

"Hi, Mulder, it's me. I just got home from my mother's. If you're there, please pick up the phone....okay, I'm going to assume that you're not actually there and just ignoring me. Unless I hear otherwise, I'll plan for you being at work tomorrow. Please give me a call when you get this message."

The recorder beeped, went silent, then beeped again. But no words came. Only a silence that rattled Mulder as badly as if he'd actually heard that soft, husky voice speaking to him.

He slammed the closet door shut and wobbled over to the phone, listening.

To what?

//There's nothing there, stupid.//

//No. It's him.//

//Oh, please. It's *silence*. Does his silence sound different from anybody else's?//

He rewound the tape and listened again.

There. Breathing.

Very faint, but he could hear it.

There *had* been someone there. Listening.

"Alex?" he whispered to the machine. "Why didn't you say anything?" He sat down on the edge of the desk, fingertips skimming over the phone. "Why didn't you talk to me?"

 

***

 

"It wasn't him, Mulder."

"I think it was."

"You're grasping at straws. Why would he call you, find out you weren't home, then just sit there, letting your answering machine run, and hang up? Unless it was just to torment you, which, actually, I guess I can see him doing."

Mulder turned away and shook his head. "No."

"Mulder, I know you're still having a hard time believing it, but you really don't have a choice. It's time for you to stop trying to find logical reasons for what he's done and accept that the logic at work here is that of a heartless bastard who never gave a damn about you..."

Scully's speech was interrupted by the ringing phone. She waited for Mulder to answer it, but when her partner made no move toward his desk, she reached over and picked it up.

"Scully....yes, sir. When? All right, we'll be there soon." She hung up and looked to the man who had turned his back to her. "Skinner wants to see us....Mulder?"

"I heard you," he rasped, barely above a whisper. He turned and walked past Scully without another word.

She stood for a moment, eyes closed, composing herself, then spun around and followed him out the door.

 

 

Skinner looked up from the file he held in his hand. The soft knock at the door startled him even though he expected the arrival of his agents at any time.

"Come in."

The door opened and Mulder entered first, followed by Scully.

"You wanted to see us?"

The soft monotone betrayed no emotion, but the look on Mulder's face said so much. Skinner swallowed down the feelings that bubbled up inside of him and got down to business.

"Yes." He held the file up. "This just came across my desk. Thought it might interest you. A man recently disappeared from his home in Mansfield Massachusetts, and four days later, a woman showed up on the doorstep claiming to be him."

Scully's eyebrow arched into her hairline. "Sir, I admit that it's a little odd, but how is this an X-file? I mean, this woman just sounds like a nut to me. Or possibly someone who is involved in the disappearance of the man..."

"That's what the family thought. The man's disappearance was broadcast all over local news, and they figured it was easy enough for some wacko to show up at their home. But this woman knows every thing about them. Names, places, dates...the most intimate moments of their lives were known to her. She even bears the same anvil-shaped birthmark under her hair at the back of her head." He looked from his skeptical agent to the silent one. "Mulder?"

Lifeless hazel eyes turned to the man at the desk.

"What do you think?"

"I...I don't know. I guess I'll have more of an opinion after I check it out."

Skinner's eyes flicked up to Scully's then returned to the sullen face. "Can you be there by tomorrow?"

Mulder nodded and took the proffered file.

"That's all."

The two turned to leave, but Skinner's voice stopped them.

"Agent Mulder, may I have a word?"

Scully hesitated, looking from one man to the other, then proceeded to the door. "Mulder, I'll be in the office."

Mulder nodded and returned to the middle of the room. The door closed softly behind Scully, and Skinner motioned to one of the two chairs in front of his desk. Mulder sat down, eyes to the floor, and waited quietly.

The older man rose from his chair and moved around to the front of the desk, leaning back against it. "What is it?" he asked softly.

Mulder's jaw clenched and relaxed, but he said nothing.

"Mulder."

The younger man closed his eyes and shook his head. "Nothing."

"Don't hand me that."

"I've already been ripped into by Scully, sir, and I really don't have the desire to go through it again with you."

Skinner studied the downturned face for a moment then pushed himself away from his desk. He pulled the unoccupied chair closer to Mulder's and sat down. "Have I...*ripped* into you at all since that first day?"

"...No."

"Then what makes you think I will now?"

No answer.

"Okay. This isn't the place for it, obviously, but...you're not leaving for Massachusetts until tomorrow..."

"And?"

"How about we get together tonight? My place? I'll spring for the pizza."

"I don't...I don't want to burden you with my problems."

"You're not." Skinner placed a hand on the other man's arm. "You need to be able to talk to someone, and forgive me if I'm wrong or out of line, but it doesn't seem as though Scully is being much help to you."

"She tries," Mulder said in a half-hearted defense of his partner. "I guess I really try her patience, though. It's tough for her to deal with sometimes."

"Well, I'm here to handle all the stuff that she can't."

Mulder blinked up at him, clearly perplexed by his continued tolerance of this situation.

"Come over tonight and we can talk about it, all right?"

The younger man hesitated then nodded. "All...all right." He rose from his chair. "I'll see you later, then."

Skinner rose as well and moved back behind his desk, watching as Mulder exited his office. His eyes closed in unison with his office door, and he sat blindly in his chair.

//Easy, Walt.//

He took a deep breath and released it.

//Come on, down boy.//

While he had been speaking to Mulder, images of himself dropping to his knees in front of the younger man and pulling his zipper down flashed through his mind. And of course, in his fantasy, Mulder didn't push him away, he merely sprawled bonelessly in the chair and let Skinner suck him into mindless oblivion.

//Boy, you sure can dream 'em up, can't you?//

He opened his eyes and looked down at the tremendous bulge in his pants.

//God, but what a beautiful dream.//

 

***

 

There was life among the shadows.

The dark figure drifted from a building on the south side of the city, leaving behind five bodies. Inconsequential for the most part, but he prefered to leave no traces. Seconds after he was safely out of the way, the building blew.

Another job done. Another link broken.

It surprised him how easily it was done. How detached he could be about the whole thing. It needed to be done, and he did it.

Simple.

Leaving Fox was also something that needed to be done. Yet, when he did it, it tore his heart to pieces. Still now, days later, he ached. There wasn't a minute of the day or night when his body and his soul didn't scream out for his lover. His misery grew hour by hour and he didn't know what to do to quell it. Twice now, he'd made the decision to go back. To just say 'fuck everything' and go back. But goddamn it to hell, that tiny little sliver of nobility kept asking, 'then what'?

Yeah, then what?

"What if Fox *didn't* tell him to go fuck himself and was as desperate to have him back as he was to be back? That would again leave him out of the Bureau. And he needed to be there. Not only for his own good, but for the good of billions of other people. Alex couldn't be that selfish.

But God, he wanted to be...

The blare of sirens registered dimly in his head as he got into his car and started the engine. A quick glance at his watch, and he was gone.

As easily as a shadow when the lights were switched off.

 

 

"Sorry I'm late, I had some last minute calls to make."

Skinner nodded and stepped aside, allowing Mulder to enter. "I was actually starting to think that you may have changed your mind."

"I thought about it. Thought about just going home and calling you from there, but going back to my apartment really didn't seem very appealing."

Skinner motioned to the sofa, and the two men sat. "So you want to tell me why you're in worse shape today than I left you in last night?"

Mulder rolled his eyes and looked away. "I check...I checked my messages when I got home. First one was from Scully, and the second was nothing."

"Nothing?"

"Silence. I think it was him."

The older man looked down to the cushion between them. "What makes you say that?"

"Just...a feeling I have." Mulder paused then glanced in the other man's direction. "Are you going to tell me I'm crazy?"

"Mulder, many a case has been solved on the *feelings* you had. I'm not going to knock you."

"Wow. Can you say that to Scully? She thinks I'm grasping at straws."

The other man shifted, brushing a piece of lint of off his denim-clad leg. "Mulder, I...if you say you think it was him, I believe you. But ask yourself why he would do that."

"I have. The answers I come up with are those that I really want to believe."

"You still think that there's a logical explanation for his disappearance?"

The younger man's fingers linked tightly together and he lowered his head. "I keep praying for one."

"When do you think you'll stop?"

"I don't know." Mulder raised glittering eyes to the other man. "When he comes back to me?"

"Mulder..." Skinner moved closer and placed a hand on his back. "You're going to drive yourself insane if you continue to think that. Please, don't do this. If you do, he wins."

"And if I *don't*, who wins? Don't tell me that *I* do. The way I see it, either way, I lose."

"I wish there was something I could say. Some magic words that would make this all okay, but there aren't." Skinner's hand began to move in light circles on the other man's back. "Maybe this trip tomorrow will help you to clear your head. You know...change of scenery and all that."

"I don't think so."

"You never know."

"Yeah," Mulder said without conviction. "I guess."

Skinner forced himself to pull his hand away from Mulder's back, and he picked up the phone, changing the subject.

"What do you like on your pizza?"

 

***

 

Eleven-fifteen.

Tired, green eyes watched as Mulder's car pulled into his spot, and the man exited the car and dragged himself to the elevator. When Fox had disappeared from his sight, he retreated to the room that he had procured in the building next door, and sat at the window with a pair of binoculars, watching his former lover move around his apartment.

He knew where Fox had been tonight, and that knowledge drove him up the walls. The more time he spent with Skinner, the more afraid Alex was that...

//That what? That you'll lose him for good? You already *have*. He's not yours anymore. As much as you want him to be, he isn't.//

//God, but I'm his. I can't let him go.//

He directed his words to the figure that had now moved into the bedroom. "How do I let you go, baby? How do I do it?"

A soft groan pushed past his lips as he watched Fox strip naked then lie down on his bed. The older man turned onto his side, facing the window and pulled a pillow to his chest. He whimpered as Fox slowly writhed and rubbed against the pillow under his head.

"Are you missing me, Fox? Do you need to feel my hands on you? God knows I need to feel you."

The man on the bed moved the pillow lower, clasping it to his groin, then rolled over onto his stomach. Slowly, his hips began to move, and he rocked against the puff of cotton, clutching the other pillow to his cheek.

"No," Alex whispered, his hand already traveling down to his jeans. "Oh, God, baby, don't do this to me..."

Fox's mouth fell open on what Alex could only assume was a gasp, and he bucked into the pillow. Alex quickly unzipped his pants and went to work on his engorged cock, attempting to keep up with the other man's pace. "Come on, baby," he choked, his hand moving quickly over the rigid shaft. "Let's go. Come for me..."

He watched as Fox thrashed wildly against the pillow, and Alex felt his orgasm rumble through him. He came quickly and violently, spurting hard over his hand as he fought to keep his footing. He leaned against the window for support, and when his vision cleared, he refocused on the man in his sights. Fox had apparently come at the same time that he did, and was now lying limply, face-down amongst the pillows. Recovering himself, Alex watched him for a moment, entranced by the sheer beauty of the body stretched out on the bed, but then Fox's head turned, and Alex was able to see his face. It was contorted into a pained mask, and his body began to shake. Tears sprang to Alex's eyes as he realized that Fox was crying.

"No," he sobbed, splaying one hand on the window in front of him. "I'm sorry, Fox, I'm so..."

//How can you leave him there like that? If you love him, you'll go to him.//

He zipped his pants and put the binoculars into their case. Before he could move to the door, his other voice stopped him.

//If I love him, I'll let him get over this and get on with his life.//

He looked back to the window. Fox's sobs seemed to have abated, but he still lay there in the same position, looking more miserable than Alex had ever seen him.

"I do love you, Fox." He pitched forward, resting his forehead against the window. "I've never been so fucking confused. What if I do the wrong thing?" Tears sprang to his eyes, coating them with a heavy, blinding mist. "What if I've already done the wrong thing?"

 

 

Oblivious to the fact that he was being watched, Fox lay spent and heartbroken in his bed.

This was how his life was now to be.

Cookie cutter days, investigating case after outrageous case, only once in a great while coming across anything legitimate or worth his time. Even more seldom, incurring a tiny piece to the vast conspiracy puzzle which only seemed to get bigger by the hour...the fruitless, increasingly hopeless search for Samantha...

Empty nights spent jerking off alone, missing the one who had in Scully's and Skinner's opinions, used and deserted him.

He groaned softly, letting the pain flow through him.

Only a few days ago, he vowed never to doubt Alex again. And now here he was, his resolve being pushed to the limits, and he found himself cracking under the tremendous strain.

If Alex was here...if he had stayed, Fox's faith would have remained steadfast, he had no doubt of that. But what was he to believe when the man he loved and trusted beyond any reasonable person's expectation, left him? Just up and disappeared in the middle of the night without a word of explanation or apology...

It hurt him deeply to think that his friends were right...that every minute he'd spent with Alex was nothing but a lie perpetuated by a manipulative, hard-hearted bastard, but it was the only explanation offered up by anyone, including himself.

His head told him to listen to them...that they were making good sense, but his heart...

He hugged the pillow to his chest, buring his face into the softness.

His heart refused to let him believe. Refused to let him listen to reason. It whispered to him in quiet moments like this, and any time logic seemed to be making a pathway to his brain. It reminded him in vivid detail of every touch, every look...every lovingly uttered word between them, and rationalism went to hell.

"Alex," he whisperd into the darkness, "Alex, please..."

 

***

 

"Mulder, that is *not* Mr. Cornell. It's physically impossible." Scully strode beside her partner out of the Mansfield Hospital and out to the street.

"He's so adamant about it, though, Scully," Mulder argued without his usual conviction. "He's even agreed to undergo DNA tests."

"*She*, Mulder, and I don't doubt that she believes she is Mr. Cornell, not after talking to her. But it's obviously some psychosis; drug-induced, or whatever."

"But how do you explain the birthmark? And his knowledge of the location of *Mrs.* Cornell's surgery scar? Not exactly the most visible of spots. And how about the children? He listed for us, in order, every childhood illness they've ever had, and the ages at which they had them."

"She got hold of their medical records."

"And rattled off all that information, just like that."

"Mulder, you're not the only person in the world with an eidetic memory. I...Mulder?" Scully stopped in her tracks and backed up, coming to stand beside her motionless partner. "Mulder, what is it? Why'd you stop?"

Mulder stood frozen for a second, staring into the glass door of a travel agency, then he spun around and headed across the street.

"Mulder!" Scully followed close on his heels. "Mulder, where the hell are you going?" She followed his darting eyes. "What are you looking for?"

Only when he'd exhausted his search, did he finally stop and answer her.

"I think I saw Alex."

"Oh, my God." The irritation in her tone couldn't have been more evident. "Mulder, this thing is bordering on obsession, now. *Stop* it."

"It looked just like him..."

"For crying out loud, Mulder, what would he be doing *here*?"

The question brought her a blank stare.

"Oh," she ranted on, "stupid me. He was following you, of course. He took off on you, and now he's following you around and leaving stealth messages on your answering machine."

Mulder said nothing in response, only turned and crossed back to the other side of the street, and continued on to the car. But Scully was on a roll, and she wasn't giving up so easily. Not this time.

She followed him to their car and fell in beside him as he slammed the driver's side door shut. "You've got to see reason, Mulder," she warned her partner. "I keep hoping this will get better. I keep hoping that every day that passes will bring you closer to sanity, but you only seem to get farther away..."

Mulder sat rigidly, eyes cast downward, listening to her tirade.

"He. Used. You. He lied to you, he fucked you, and he left you. Period. And he's laughing his ass off. I understand how it is that you believed him. Hell, he almost had me suckered with that 'I love him' line. But when he disappeared..."

That 'I love him' line.

Mulder heard nothing after that. His head snapped around and his eyes bored into hers.

"What did you say?"

Scully rattled on, unaware of what she'd done. "I *said*, when he disappeared, I knew..."

"Not that."

"Not what?"

"Not what you just said. The other thing." "What other thing?"

"What 'I love him' line?"

//Shit. Shit, shit...//

"Mulder..."

The dullness in his eyes was replaced by a mad glitter. "*What* 'I love him' line?"

Scully lifted her chin a fraction. "He told me he loved you," she answered indignantly.

"*When*?"

"At the cabin. Mulder, he said he told me because he knew that I wouldn't tell you. He knew you wouldn't believe anything I said that he said or did...he was just trying to yank my chain."

Mulder shifted in his seat so that he faced his partner more fully. "You said he almost had you suckered."

//You know there's no way in hell he's going to let go of this now.//

"Yeah, Mulder. I thought that there *could* have been the slightest possibility that he wasn't completely full of shit."

"Why would you think that?"

"He's a good liar. He seemed genuinely upset when he found out that you were going to quit the Bureau."

"What?" Shock registered in Mulder's eyes. "He...he knew?"

Indignance turned to self-righteousness. "When you walked off after our meeting with Skinner, I went to your apartment to talk to him. I told him what had happened."

"Why?" Mulder's voice raised in volume. "What right did you have?"

"I wanted him to know the damage he'd done! I wanted him to admit it was what he was after all along, but he wouldn't, that son of a bitch."

"Because it wasn't!" Mulder pounded the heels of his hands on the steering wheel to emphasize each word. Jesus! Ah, *shit*!" He started the engine and swerved out into traffic.

"Mulder, what...where are we going?"

"Home."

"Home? But...but what about this case?"

"I'll call and have the DNA results sent to Washington."

"But, Mulder..."

He slammed on the brakes, sending Scully straining against her seatbelt. "You want to stay?" he asked coldly. "*Stay*. I'm going home."

Scully's eyes fell away from Mulder's and she said nothing more.

He turned his attention back to the road and sped toward the airport.

 

***

 

The blanket fell away from Skinner's chest as he sat up, listening.

For a minute there, it almost sounded like...

The buzzer sounded again.

It was.

He looked at the clock and wondered who the hell would be at his door at one-twelve in the morning.

Slipping quickly out of bed, he pulled on the jeans he'd discarded ealier and descended the stairs. "Who is it?" he barked just before reaching the door. The voice on the other side set his blood to racing.

"Sir...Walt, it...it's Mulder."

Quickly, Skinner unlocked the door and threw it open. "What are you doing here? You're supposed to be in Massachusetts."

"I'm handling that. I need...can I come in?"

Skinner stepped aside, realizing that the other man was still standing in the hall. "Of course. I'm sorry...Mulder, what's going on? You look like hell," he commented, noting the wild look in the younger man's eyes.

"I knew there had to be more to it," Mulder began as he swept into the room and began to pace. "I knew he had to have had a reason..."

"Whoa, Mulder, wait. Back up. What are you talking about?"

Mulder continued to stalk the length of the living room. "The day I told you about Alex and me, Scully went to my apartment and confronted him. She told him that I was done at the Bureau."

Skinner shook his head in confusion. "So?"

"I didn't know that he knew. He never let on. He was probably waiting for me to tell him, and I didn't."

"Mulder, I repeat..."

Mulder cut him off. "You don't get it? I didn't *tell* him! He thought I was too upset to talk about it with him. He was afraid that he'd screwed up my life."

"Mulder..." Skinner approached the pacing man cautiously and stood a short distance away. "That's an awful lot to assume, isn't it?"

"No. No, no...I knew there was something. I just didn't know what it was. Now I do." He stopped abruptly, fixing a stormy amber gaze on the other man. "He told her he loved me."

"*What*?"

Mulder nodded and again began to pace. "He told her at the cabin. Oh, God..."

"Mulder." Skinner held out a hand, but it did nothing to stop the other man's movement. "Mulder, if that were true, why wouldn't he tell you?"

"I don't know. Maybe for the same reason I hadn't told *him* yet."

"Told....him...." Skinner's heart sank. "Mulder...you're getting ahead of yourself, here."

"No...I gotta find him. He needs to know..."

A hand shackled his wrist and stopped him in his tracks. "Mulder, stop."

"I can't, I..."

Skinner came to stand before him and grasped his other wrist. "You need to calm down and *think* about this."

"I've done nothing *but* think about it. I have to find him and get this settled."

"Mulder, listen to me." Skinner's grip gentled, and his thumbs moved almost imperceptibly on the other man's skin. "...Why did you come here?"

Mulder stared curiously, then his eyes darted around the room. "I...don't know, I...I needed someone to talk to..."

"Scully?"

The younger man shook his head. "She doesn't understand, she...she kept it from me. Maybe none of this would have happened if she'd told me. Or if she hadn't gone and confronted Alex."

"Maybe," Skinner said softly. "But maybe not. Mulder, I can't lie to you. I don't believe that Krycek gives a shit about you. He's a world-class liar. Not to mention a stone-cold killer, and I find it really difficult to believe that he feels anything for anyone."

"You weren't there."

"No, I wasn't. I admit that his line must have been pretty damn good to so completely suck you in like this..." He loosened his hold on the other man's wrists and slid them up his arms and drew them back down as Mulder stood quietly. "He's screwing with your head."

"No..."

"He is."

The younger man lowered his eyes to the patch of carpet between them.

"Fox, look at me."

The use of his first name drew Mulder's attention up to the deep-brown eyes that seemed to want to burn through him.

"Scully may not have always gone about it as delicately as she could have, but she cares about you and she's afraid. I can well understand where she's coming from."

"So, neither one of you trusts my judgment."

"In this case? I think we both question it. It's not as though you came into this blind. You knew who he was. You knew what he was about, yet you allowed him to just walk in and take what he wanted. Can't you understand why Scully and I feel the way we do? We're afraid of what he's done to you...of what he's still doing to you." He paused and drew the younger man in a bit closer. "I can help you if you'll let me."

Mulder searched sparkling brown eyes. "Help?"

Skinner nodded as his hands slid up the backs of the other man's arms. He couldn't believe he was doing this. Just a couple of days ago he'd told himself to take it slowly. Now, standing here so close to the man, touching him, all he wanted to do was rip his clothes off...with his teeth...

Mulder stepped back. "You talk to me as though I'm a drug addict."

"Addictions come in many forms," Skinner countered gently. "Let me help you back." He took a step forward. Then another, and one more until their bodies were lightly touching. The younger man stood frozen as Skinner brought a shaking hand up to his face and skimmed the line of his jaw. "Let me help..."

Mulder continued to stare silently as the older man moved in.

Skinner's head shifted and he brushed his cheek against Mulder's, shuddering at the faint scratch of stubble that covered both faces. He drew back a fraction, and, keeping light contact with the other man's skin, his mouth moved toward the lips he'd so often fantasized about kissing.

"What are you doing?"

The flatly uttered question stopped him just before he could have his first taste of heaven.

One large hand curved itself around the back of Mulder's neck, and Skinner whispered, so close to his mouth that he could feel the vibration.

"I want to give you what you need."

Mulder opened his mouth, attempting to speak. He swallowed hard, then tried again.

"You...you can't."

"Let me try."

"Walter, I'm s-so sorry. I don't feel that way about you."

"I know. But give me the chance to change your mind."

"I can't do that. I love Alex."

"But Alex doesn't love *you*. In spite of whatever he may have told Scully. You shouldn't waste your devotion on him."

Mulder shook his head. "And you shouldn't waste yours on me. I can't be with you."

"What if you never find him? Or what if you do, and you find out that it's the way Scully and I think? Are you going to spend your life alone, mourning the loss of something you're better off without?"

Mulder stepped back and turned away, coming to stand in front of the balcony door. "I don't know. Maybe."

"You don't have to do that."

Mulder looked up and saw the other man's reflection moving up behind him. "You deserve better than that. You deserve to have someone in your life who'll appreciate you...someone who you'll be more to than just a means to an end."

"And what if I find him, and things are the way *I* think they are? What if he *does* love me, and he just left because he thought staying would hurt me? Then, what? Am I out of a job again? Do you people who care about me then turn your backs on me?"

"I can't speak for Scully." The soft baritone sounded just inches behind his left ear. "But I'll always be here."

Mulder turned to face him, watching his face closely for reaction. "You're telling me that you'll be able to look at me every day, knowing that Alex is in my bed every night?" He saw the flinch and waited for the answer.

"I can't tell you that I wouldn't hate it. I would. But I care enough to respect your choice."

"And keep me employed?"

"You know I didn't want to have to issue that ultimatum. But you put me in a really bad spot. If you got back together with...him..." His jaws clenched as he said it. "...I would have to say we'd be back to square one. You'd have to give me some indisputable proof that Krycek was not a threat to our security, and frankly, I don't think there's any way in hell that you'd ever be able to do that."

"Probably not. Not as much as you hate him."

"You used to hate him too."

"But I was always attracted to him." A soft smile curved the younger man's lips. "I've wanted him for as long as I can remember. Now he's mine. Or at least he was."

"He was never yours, Mulder. He might have made you believe that he was, but..."

"He *did* make me believe it," Mulder countered. "And he wasn't lying to me."

Skinner stared at him, a tinge of sadness touching his features. "I guess I'm wasting my time."

"I've been telling you that." He paused, noting the defeated slump to the other's shoulders. "I'm sorry."

Skinner nodded. "You can't help the way you feel. Emotions just can't be turned on and off. I wish they could."

Mulder understood his meaning. "Alex was right. I told him he was out of his mind."

"About what?" Skinner asked the floor.

"He said you had a...'thing' for me. I don't understand how it is I never knew."

"Your attention was always directed someplace else. It's my experience that we rarely see what's right under our noses."

"I wish I knew what to say to you."

"You've already said it. You're not interested."

Mulder's eyes closed and he bowed his head. "I just wish there was something else I could say. You went out of your way to try to comfort me." He raised his head and opened his eyes. "Whatever your reasons were for it, I'm grateful."

A touch of anger edged Skinner's tone. "I did it because I care about you, not to try and get you between the sheets. I won't deny that if you wanted it, I'd have you upstairs and in my bed in the blink of an eye, but every attempt I made to comfort you was sincere."

"I...I'm sorry." Mulder reached out and laid a hand on the other man's arm. "I didn't mean to...I'm...I should be going now."

Before he could remove his hand, Skinner's closed over it. "Do me a favor."

"...What?"

"If you don't find him, or if...if you do and it doesn't work out...remember that I'm here."

Mulder looked away and, without answering, pulled his hand from under the one that rested lightly on top of it.

Skinner backed into the sofa and dropped down to the cushions, staring at the floor as he listened to the door open and close.

 

 

Mulder watched the white lines on the road disappear as his car ate up the miles between Skinner's apartment and his. Suddenly he was reminded of that stupid Pac Man game he used to play in college.

He and his roommates would play four hours, or at least until the other guys had to go study. They would heckle him about his ability to comprehend everything on the first read-through, then go off to cram. When they were gone, he'd sit alone, playing game after game until he'd finally beaten it, and no one wanted to play with him anymore.

He thought now of finding one of those foolish games somewhere and playing it with Alex. He'd given a lot of thought to doing things like that with him. Normal, simple things, like going grocery shopping, and doing the laundry...watching old Bugs Bunny cartoons...

But first he had to find him and bring him home.

But where to look? Alex could be nearly invisible when he wanted to be.

He drove on, fingers drumming impatiently, his mind clicking away, and suddenly a thought came to him.

If he couldn't find Alex, maybe Alex would find *him*...

 

 

"Good morning, sir."

"Morning."

Scully pushed her question aside for a moment to make a different inquiry. "Sir, are you all right?"

"Fine. I just didn't get much sleep last night. What can I do for you, Agent Scully?"

"Have you seen or heard from Mulder?"

"Not since....no...why?"

"He isn't in his office. It doesn't look as though he's been there at all this morning. I tried him at home and I get the machine. I've called his cell phone, and he doesn't answer."

Skinner glanced down at his watch. "It's eleven-thirteen. And you haven't seen or heard from him at all?"

"Not since we got in from Mansfield."

"Well, I'll check around and see if anyone in the building has seen him." He was saying the words, but in his mind he knew that Mulder was more than likely off searching for Krycek, and they wouldn't be able to contact him until he *wanted* to be contacted.

"I'm going to his apartment," Scully said even as she headed to the door. "You'll call me if you turn up anything?"

"Yeah."

When she was gone, Skinner sighed deeply, picked up the phone, and began going through the motions.

 

***

 

"Where the hell is he?" Alex raked a hand through his hair as he headed from the Hoover Building and back to Mulder's place.

He'd followed Fox from Skinner's early this morning, and when all the lights in his apartment had gone out, he'd decided to head back to where he was staying to get a little shuteye. Long before Fox usually left for work, he was back.

Seven-thirty came and went. Then eight...eight-fifteen...

When he'd checked the garage, he'd found that the car was gone, and he had naturally assumed that Fox had gone in earlier than usual. He'd immediately headed for the Hoover Building, and upon arrival, found Scully worked up into a lather over her partner's absence. After a bit of checking, he'd discovered that Fox hadn't been to work at all.

And now he was speeding back to his place to see if he couldn't pick up some clues there.

He pulled into the garage at Helgand Place, and grimaced at the continued absence of Fox's car. Not bothering to wait for the elevator, he sprinted up the four flights of stairs and jogged down the hall to number forty-two. Quickly picking the lock, he entered the apartment and looked around.

A few things in the sink that looked like they might have been there for a couple of days...bed not slept in...answering machine...

Answering machine. The light was blinking.

He pressed the play button and turned a deep shade of infuriated crimson as Fox's voice sounded, and then the unmistakable rasp of that smoking bastard.

"Mr. Mulder. Your cell phone is turned off."

"I forgot to recharge the battery. What do you want?"

"You made a call this evening to someone. You were very agitated. Something about some item of your father's..."

"Where's the surveillance device?"

"Let's get together. You tell me what you found in your father's belongings, and I'll tell you where the cameras are. All eight of them."

"Kiss my ass."

"That's an activity better suited for Alex, isn't it? Oh, yes, that's right. He isn't there any more."

"I want to know what this is I found."

"Well, I can't tell you, can I, unless you let me see it."

"You tried to kill me. Do you really think I'd meet with you?"

"Well, how else do you suggest we do this?"

"I see you're not denying it."

"Business is business, Agent Mulder. Though I like you personally, you've become much too much of a problem. Perhaps if you hand whatever this item is over to me, we can re-evaluate the situation."

Silence, then, "And would you leave Alex alone?"

"Good of you to be concerned about a man who up and left you in the middle of the night."

"Answer the fucking question."

"As upset as I am with Mr. Krycek, yes. He will not be bothered."

"Fine. Meet me at the underpass before exit four on the interstate."

"I'll be there. It'll be good to see you again, Mr. Mulder."

"Wish I could say the same."

The conversation ended, and Alex blinked in utter confusion. "Is he nuts?" he asked himself. "*What* item?" He clasped a hand to the back of his neck. "What the hell is going on, here?"

Checking his portable arsenal, he popped the tape out of the machine

 

 

Scully took no notice of the car that screeched past her on the street as she turned toward Mulder's apartment. She swung into the garage and made her way up to the fourth floor. She entered the apartment, and, turning up nothing in her initial search, checked in with Skinner.

"It's Scully, sir. I'm at Mulder's apartment. I haven't found anything that might give us a clue as to where he is...yes, sir. Has anyone there seen him?" She covered her face with one hand. "I'm getting worried, sir. I'm beginning to think that he may be off looking for Krycek."

Skinner sank down into his chair, phone to his ear. "What makes you say that?"

Scully paced the length of Mulder's living room. "You never asked me this morning what we were doing home. While in Massachusetts, he thought he saw Krycek. Some reflection in a store window...I got upset with him and said something I obviously shouldn't have, because it really put him over the edge. He wanted to come home right away, and I think it may have been to go looking for Krycek."

"Well, Agent Scully, if that's the case, we have no choice but to sit back and wait until he comes back or decides to contact us."

"Yes, sir, but what if he actually *finds* Krycek? He could possibly be in danger."

"I agree, Scully, but what do we do? We wouldn't even begin to know where to start looking for him. I think at this point, the only thing we can do is nothing. Mulder has to work through this himself. There's nothing you or I can do or say to help him. He needs to see it through, however it turns out. It's the only way he's going to get any peace."

"If he survives it."

There was a brief silence, then Skinner spoke. "You're going to keep looking for him, aren't you?"

"I have to."

"All right. Let me know if you turn anything up."

"I will."

Scully disconnected and decided to search the apartment one more time.

 

 

 

 

Mulder smelled the smoke long before he saw its source.

"Good morning, Mr. Mulder. I trust you slept well?"

"Who wouldn't?" Mulder looked around the bare room. "With accomodations as luxurious as these..."

"Glad you approve. Now. Where is it?"

Mulder smirked up at him, but inside he was just a bit nervous. The lie he was about to tell wasn't *all* falacy, but he had no way of knowing how big a deal it would be to his captor. Any way he looked at it, he'd be dead meat soon, unless...

Alex would show. No doubt about it. Scully could deny it from now till Christmas, but he knew that his former lover was still watching him. As soon as he realized that he was missing, Alex would go to his apartment looking for clues, find the answering machine tape, and be on his trail. He'd know where to look. Fox had more faith in Alex finding him than he did in the sun rising every morning.

Apparently from the amount of personnel and hardware that Smokey was carting around with him, he knew it too. He just hoped Alex would get there *before* they killed him...

"You think I'd bring it *with* me?"

"Wasn't that the whole point?" The watery eyes narrowed. "Unless for some reason you're pulling my leg, Agent Mulder. Now, why would you do that?"

"That's for me to know and you to find out."

"Oh, I *will* find out." He leaned in close, and Mulder turned away from the stale, smoky breath. "And I'll use the most unpleasant methods at my disposal." With a tap on the door, he summoned two burly men into the room. "Agent Mulder, meet Donald and John. I don't know which is which, but it really makes no difference. They aren't here for a social call. They're here to persuade you to tell me the truth about this item of yours." He nodded to the two men, and they wrestled Mulder to his feet. "Now. What have you found...if anything?"

Mulder cocked his head, chewing thoughtfully on his lower lip.

//Ah, what the hell? I'll either get a rise out of him, or I won't.//

"You spent an awful lot of time in Chilmark."

"Your father and I were good friends."

"I never could recall a whole lot about that part of my life, but lately I've been remembering things."

The withered smirk faded a bit. "Things?""Yeah. I remember you giving him a book one Christmas. He thanked you and you told him that every one of the...*group* received the same thing. You told him to be careful with it and put it somewhere out of the reach of little hands. Then just weeks before my sister disappeared, you told him to burn the book. I never could understand why someone would give a Christmas present, then ask the recipient to burn it..."

"Do you have a point, Agent Mulder?"

"Yeah." Mulder watched his face. "He never burned that book. I found it. I found what was in it. I want to know what it means."

"Where is that book?" The man hissed in his face.

//Ooooh, bingo. Too bad he actually *did* burn the damned thing.//

"I want to know about it, first."

The smoker backed away and nodded to one of the men who doubled Mulder over with a punch to the stomach while the other held his arms behind his back.

"Tell me where it is."

Mulder breathed deeply, trying to stop himself from coughing. "Tell me...tell me what it is, first."

"It's no concern of yours, that's what it is."

"I beg to differ. It was my father's concern. He's dead, thank you very much, and since I'm his only known surviving child...again, thank you...it's mine. Tell me."

The man shook his head as he pulled a cigarette from a crumpled pack. He lit it and took a long drag before nodding again.

The man holding Mulder let him go, just as the other delivered another punch. The blow knocked him to the floor, and he knelt there, doubled over with his arms wrapped around his middle.

"Fine, I'll find it myself. I hope you don't mind if I do a little redecorating in your apartment and in your office."

"Hey...listen, could you put my garbage out while you're at my apartment? I forgot to do that before I left, and it's really gonna stink up the joint..."

"You're an amusing man, Agent Mulder. One would think that between your quick wit and your other...talents...you would have been able to keep Alex Krycek interested for a *little* bit longer than you did."

"Well," Mulder sneered up at him. "You know how unpredictable he can be."

"Yes." The man blew a stream of smoke in his direction. "Yes, he certainly can be that." He motioned with a tiny toss of his head, and the man closest to Mulder backhanded him with a closed fist, sending him sprawling into blackness.

 

 

"Man, I got a headache the size of all outdoors."

The guard at the window turned to his companion. "Did you take anything?"

"Nah."

"Why the hell not?"

"This new chick I've been seeing is into herbal remedies. She says there's a natural cure for every problem."

"Doesn't work, does it?"

The man at the desk rubbed his temples. "Nope. Think I'm gonna have to dump her."

The other laughed and returned his gaze to the window. "No shit."

"God, I wish I could just...take my head off..."

"Oh, yeah, that'd be real..." The sudden cracking noise and thump spun him around and he came face to muzzle with a gun. At the other end of the weapon, a tall, green-eyed man pointed to his dead friend, smiled at him, and held his index finger up to his lips.

 

***

 

A soft moan rose up from the floor as the door opened and someone attempted to haul Mulder up to his feet.

"Get him to the car, quickly."

"I'm *tryin'*, but he's a dead weight! This'd be a lot easier if he was awake..."

"If he finds us, there's going to be a lot more dead weight around here, now hurry!"

"Why the hell'd we have to come back here for him, anyway?"

"Shut up, and pick him up!"

As the man hefted Mulder up, he was knocked back by an abrupt butt to the head. The man they'd thought to be unconscious came to life, and the two fell back onto the bare mattress. As they struggled, the third fled the room, smelling the approach of hell.

Mulder gathered his strength and landed an awkward cross to the man's jaw. They both fell to the floor, and Mulder's head hit the iron pipe that ran up from the floor to the ceiling. As the other man was rising up, a bullet square to his chest knocked him back onto the bed.

Mulder lay motionless as the dark figure fully entered the room and with only a glance at the body, crouched beside him.

"Fox," Alex whispered.

No response.

"God, baby, talk to me."

He smiled to himself as he heard the fuzzy but unmistakable voice of his Alex.

//Got here even faster than I thought you would.//

Alex took a deep, stuttering breath and offered up a fast prayer of thanks as Fox's eyelashes fluttered and he uttered a pained groan. A heavy-lidded stare fixed on his face and the other man's mouth began to move.

Seeing his difficulty, Alex put two fingers to his lips. "No, it's okay. Just be quiet. I'll get you out of here."

Slowly, he lifted Mulder from the floor and half-walked, half-carried him out and to his car. When he'd made sure that his passenger was comfortable, he pulled away from the building and made his way out to the road. The minute they were safely on their way, Mulder's head rolled to the left and his eyes drifted open.

"Alex..."

The younger man looked across the seat and lifted a hand to the other's cheek. "Yeah, it's me. You're gonna be okay, Fox. I'm taking you to the hospital."

"Nooo. No hospital."

"Fox, you were unconscious. You could have a concussion."

"I'm all right. Just want to go home."

"That is *not* a good idea."

"You can call Scully. Please, Alex. I don't want to go to the hospital."

"Dammit....all right." He stroked Fox's cheek once more before he returned his hand to the wheel. "But if Scully says you belong in a hospital, you go. Clear?"

Fox gave him a nearly imperceptible nod. He was quiet for a while, then asked, "Why'd you leave me?"

Alex released a harsh rush of breath and glanced over at the other man. "Let's...let me just get you home, okay?"

Fox answered with silence. He lay his head against the back of the seat and stared at Alex through the curtain of his lashes, unwilling to take his eyes off of the beautiful face he'd missed so much, for even a minute.

While he drove, Alex pulled his cell phone out of the inside pocket of his jacket and asked Fox for Scully's number. He punched the numbers in and listened. The phone rang only twice before Scully answered.

"Scully...it's Alex." He pulled the phone away from his ear, letting Fox hear her screeching. "Scully....Scully!" When the screaming stopped, he put the phone back to his ear. "*God*. That's better. Scully, I've got Fox..."

The screaming began again.

"Would you shut the hell up, a minute? I'm taking him *home*....*yes*. He's been injured....quit yelling! I called you, didn't I? Now are you going to meet us there, or what? Okay, we'll be there in about five minutes." He hung up and tossed the phone onto the seat, muttering.

"Goddamn harpy..."

Fox let the irritated observation pass without comment.

Alex looked over to the man beside him, and his tone softened. "We're almost there. You okay?"

Another nod.

A few mintues later, they arrived at Fox's building, and Alex helped him out of the car and into his apartment. As soon as he had Fox settled comfortably on the couch, he began running his hands over the older man.

"Are you hurt anywhere else?" he asked, observing the bruising and small cut on the right side of his face.

"Got punched a couple of times in the stomach...must've hit my head."

"I would assume that's why you were unconscious when I found you," Alex murmured, running his hands through Fox's hair. "Yeah, you got a nice lump in the back here. Fox, what the hell were you doing there?"

The other man's gaze dropped from Alex's, and he stared at his hands. "I needed to find you."

Alex shook his head in confusion.

"You said you'd always take good care of me."

"I believe that was in reference to keeping you stocked with batteries."

"You know it meant more than that. *I* know it meant more than that...I knew you were still keeping an eye on me, and I didn't know how to find you..."

Alex cocked his head and his eyebrows drew down into a suspicious frown. "*And*?"

Fox shrugged. "And..."

"You didn't."

Plaintive hazel eyes looked up at him. "I didn't know another way to make you come to me."

"So..." Alex bowed his head and stared at the floor. "...so you *purposely* got yourself snatched by the man who you *knew* wanted you dead?"

"I know how impossible you are to find if you don't *want* to be found."

"So you got yourself captured and almost *killed*?" Alex leapt from the sofa and stood screaming in front of Fox. "Are you out of your fucking *mind*?"

Fox's tone rose to almost match the other man's. "Well, I wouldn't have had to go to such extremes if you hadn't *left* *me*!"

"Oh, don't use that as an excuse for *this* insanity."

"It's not an excuse, but it *is* the cause of all this!"

"I left because I was fucking up your life!"

"Who *said*?"

"Well, *you* sure didn't." Alex prowled the length of floor in front of the sofa. "I asked you, and what did I get? A pat on the head and an 'it's okay, Alex'. You were about to throw your whole career away, it was killing you, and you couldn't even talk to me about it! Do you know what I felt like?"

It was Fox's turn. "Well, why the hell didn't you tell me that you knew? You know when I found out that Scully told you? Just a couple of days ago. She was yelling at me for insisting that I saw you in Massachusetts, and she let it slip." He raised a hand to his forehead. "I...we both fucked up, okay?"

"Yeah," Alex agreed. "Yeah, I can tell you that I fucked up too. But *you*." He pointed at the older man. "*You* fucked up royally!"

"Are we back to that?"

"Shit yeah, we're back to that! He would have *killed* you! Don't you understand that?"

The knock at the door interrupted Fox's answer.

Alex whirled around stalked to the door, throwing it open. Scully swept in, closely followed by Skinner, who glared at the other man as he passed.

"Mulder, are you all right?" Scully asked as she dropped beside him and immediately began to examine him.

"No, he's *not* all right," the agitated voice came from a few feet in front of them. "He's gone *nuts*."

Skinner looked from the standing man to the one who was sitting. "What the hell is he talking about?"

"Go ahead, Fox." He waved a hand in the air and walked away. "Tell 'em what you did. Insane bastard..."

When no answer was forthcoming, Alex turned and moved toward them. "Smokey had him." He looked to Fox. "You wanna tell them *how* it is that you came to be his prisoner? No? Okay, I will. He got himself caught on purpose so I'd find him."

"You *what*?"

The shocked chorus made Mulder flinch. "I had to find him," he said in defense, then looked up into furious green eyes. "I had to tell you."

"You had to *tell* me...what did you have to tell me that you couldn't have written me a damn note? You said you knew I was still watching you. You could have left it for me to find like I did the tape. Christ." He began to pace again then suddenly stopped and held his hands out parallel to each other, growling at the other man through gritted teeth. "I oughta break your goddamn neck, you know it?"

"And I'll drop you before you can reach him," Skinner warned.

Alex turned around and squinted at the other man. "Tie a knot in it, would you, Wally? This isn't your concern. What the hell are you doing here, anyway?"

"Not that I've got to answer to *you*, but it damn well *does* concern me. One of my agents was in trouble. He's been injured. I'm here to make sure that he's all right. And now he's receiving threats of bodily harm in the presence of witnesses..."

Alex responded with a harsh laugh. "Are you serious? Stupid question, Alex, of course he's serious. Does he know how to be anything else? Listen, Skinner. If it wasn't for me, he'd be dead right now. You think I'd *actually* hurt him?" When he received no answer, he continued. "And about that 'coming to make sure that he's all right' bull...tell me. Do you make housecalls to *all* of your injured agents? I doubt it."

Skinner glared silently.

"Not going to argue the point? No, of course not. Because it's true..."

Fox watched warily, ready to jump in if he had to, but knowing that sooner or later this would have to happen, and it might as well be now.

Skinner's top lip curled and he sneered at the younger man. "Go to hell, Krycek."

"I know the way there blindfolded. I'm out, and I don't plan on going back."

The larger man folded his arms across his chest. "Ohhh. Mulder your salvation?"

"If you want to put it that way."

"Well, that's sweet. Krycek, I doubt that God himself could save *you*."

"Bad to the bone, huh?"

"Absolutely."

"He's wasting his time on me..."

"You said it."

"He'd be much better off with someone stable. Trustworthy." He grinned at the older man. "Someone like...Scully." He glanced toward the sofa and winked at the woman who, if she could, would pull out her gun and blow him off the face of the earth. He returned his gaze to the man in front of him, and the humor faded. "Or you."

Skinner's face turned a furious shade of red.

"Didn't go very well, did it, Wally? Oh, I'll admit I was a bit nervous there for a while. I thought you might actually be able to succeed where Scully had failed. I was afraid that you might turn his head...get him to see me the way you wanted him to..."

Scully looked from one man to the other, shocked. Shocked at what she was hearing, and even more shocked that Skinner denied none of it.

"But in the end, you couldn't do it. His faith in me was too strong." The smirk returned. "Drives you crazy, doesn't it?"

Skinner's eyes left Alex's face, and he looked down at Mulder. "Are you listening to him? This is the arrogant son of a bitch that you just had to have back. *This* is what you want?"

Fox brushed Scully's hands away as she tried to turn his head. He tried to answer the question, but his partner insisted on having his attention.

"Mulder, look at me for just a second, would you?"

He sighed impatiently and turned his head, letting her shine her penlight into his eyes.

"I think he's okay," she directed her conversation to Skinner, avoiding his gaze even as he avoided hers. "Just banged up a little."

Fox ignored her and turned his attention back to Alex. "Alex, I need to tell you..."

"He doesn't need to go to the hospital?"

"No, sir, I don't think so."

Skinner chose then to light into his agent.

"Now that I know you're all right...are you *insane*? Do you know what could have happened to you?"

The question diverted Fox's attention from the angry, green, hypnotic glare of the man in front of him.

"Yeah, I know. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid."

"You're lucky you're not dead."

"Yeah, and, hmm. Who have I got to thank for that?" He refocused his attention. "Alex..."

Skinner stepped forward, coming to within just inches of Alex's face. "He can also take the credit for you being there in the first place."

"That's true, Krycek. You saved him, but he wouldn't have been in that situation if not for you," Scully added icily.

"Would you both just shut up for a minute?"

All three heads snapped around in Mulder's direction. He shot a warning glare to Scully and Skinner, then looked up at Alex.

"Scully told me what you said to her at the cabin."

Alex said nothing. His eyes merely flicked suspiciously from the seated man to his partner, then back again.

"That's when I realized exactly why you left me." Sincere, amber-flecked eyes stared up at the younger man. "I love you, too."

The angry glitter faded from Alex's eyes and his jaw went slack.

Fox continued. "I'm sorry that I didn't let you in. I'm sorry that I didn't tell you how I felt that day, but Alex, it would have changed nothing. I wouldn't, and I *still* won't give you up for the X-files, my career, or *anything*." He looked into the two blatantly aggravated faces of the others. "They think I'm out of my mind for feeling that way. They think I'll come to regret it, but..."

"So do I," Alex rasped softly. "And I couldn't live with myself if you did."

Fox rose from the sofa and wobbled over to the younger man. "How did you feel while we were apart?"

"God," Alex breathed. "Sick. Hopeless. Desperate...depressed as all hell..."

"Desperate," Fox whispered within inches of the other man's mouth. "That's a good word. Me too."

The younger man averted his eyes, catching his meaning.

"Do you want to feel all those things for the rest of your life? Fox asked gently. "I don't. But I will if you leave me again."

Alex shook his head slowly and looked back up into the other man's eyes. "I can't leave. I knew that if I was ever this close to you again, I'd never be able to find the strength to pull myself away..."

Skinner watched the exchange, a mixture of emotions swirling inside of him, not the least of which was deep jealousy. *He'd* never see that look in Mulder's eyes when the younger man looked at him. Mulder would never speak to *him* in that low, tender tone...

His attention switched to Krycek.

If the man was acting, he ought to be nominated for an Oscar. Every last bit of his attention seemed focused on the man in front of him, and his eyes appeared to glow with the same love that Mulder's did.

God, he wanted to kill him...

Fox lifted his hands to the jacket Alex still wore and curled his fingers into the worn leather. "It's true, isn't it?"

"What?" Alex answered softly. Luminescent hazel eyes warmed him.

"What Scully said. I want to hear you say it."

Alex closed his eyes and his mouth turned up into a hint of a smile. When he opened his eyes, he raised a gentle hand to the back of Fox's head. "I love you, baby."

The words sent a shudder of ecstasty through Fox, and he melted into his lover's arms.

As the two men clung to each other, Skinner drifted from the room and into the kitchen. Scully followed seconds later and found him leaning against the counter, arms folded across his chest, eyes down to the floor.

"What do you think?"

Skinner straightened his posture and assumed his usual rigid manner. "I don't know what to think."

Scully advanced and stopped a couple of feet in front of him. "That makes two of us. Sir...those things that Krycek was saying..."

Skinner turned a hard stare on her, but it didn't stop her from continuing.

"You did nothing to dispute what he said. I saw your face..."

The A.D. closed his eyes and tilted his head back. "It would appear that you and I are in the same boat, Agent Scully," he said softly. "....Are you surprised?"

"Yes, sir, actually I am."

"Is it a problem for you?"

Scully thought a while then spoke up, resignation saturating her tone. "I suppose not. It isn't as though either of us is even in the running."

"I don't get it," Skinner grated. "Alex *Krycek*?"

"I know you probably don't want to be anywhere around them, sir. Neither do I, but I *was* forced to be for a few days. I...I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but they're really very sweet together. I've seen Krycek be completely docile...*submissive*...two words I didn't even think he knew the meaning of. He seemed so sincere..."

"The words Krycek and sincere don't belong anywhere near each other."

"I know. I feel the same way...usually. Then something will happen to make me think otherwise. He can't...it's impossible for him to be acting all the time, in every situation. I don't know how that look in his eyes can be faked."

Skinner gave her an incredulous stare.

"I'm not ready to canonize the man, but I can't deny that there are times when I simply am not so sure that he's out to do Mulder in. The bottom line, sir, is that I care enough about Mulder to want him to be happy. And if it's Krycek that makes him happy, then what can I do?" She sighed softly. "What can either of us do?"

 

 

Fox's hair flowed like silk through Alex's fingers as he combed them through the thick fringe at the back of his lover's head. The older man nuzzled the curve of his shoulder then kissed the side of his neck. "I love you," Fox whispered against his skin. "I love you, I..."

Alex's lips came down on his, cutting off his words and his breath. He sighed into the younger man's mouth as their tongues rediscovered each other, sliding and twining together. Their bodies pressed closer seeking out the familiar hardness and warmth, and when they came up for a breath, Alex growled softly into Fox's mouth.

"Don't think that you're off the hook."

Fox brushed his lips against Alex's, then tickled them with a slow pass of his tongue. "I'm not?"

"No, you're not. You scared ten years off my life. You're going to pay for it."

Fox writhed against him. "How?"

"Don't worry, I'll think of a proper punishment for you."

"Why does the thought of that make my cock throb?"

"Simple. You're an outrageous slut." Alex stroked his back and ass. "And I love you."

"We gotta get them out of here," Fox moaned and lowered his head to Alex's shoulder, "while I'm still able to control myself."

"I'll take care of it." Alex kissed the golden-brown head, then turned Fox toward the sofa. "You sit down and rest."

"Alex." Fox caught his hand before he could turn away. "Be nice."

The younger man leaned over his lover and brushed the tips of their noses together. "Of *course*, I'll be nice."

"I'm serious, Alex, I really don't think I have the strength right now to separate you and Skinner."

Alex laughed softly. "I'll be on my best behavior, I promise." He kissed Fox and headed into the kitchen. He pushed the door open and found Scully and Skinner standing by the sink, talking softly.

"Get out."

Scully cocked her head, wrinkling her brow. "Excuse me?"

"Which one of those two words didn't you understand? Get. Out."

The petite woman folded her arms across her chest and glared at him. "You'll forgive me, Krycek, if I ignore you. Who the hell are you to tell me to get out of my partner's apartment?"

"You're his work partner. I'm his *life* partner. I believe that gives me the authority."

Skinner pushed away from the counter.

"You leave him, then you pop back into his life and just take over?"

"I'm not taking *over*. But he's had a rough few hours, we've been apart for a while, and we'd really like to be alone now. It isn't a difficult concept to grasp, Walt, even for you. Now, if you don't mind, get the hell out so I can go make love to my man." He opened the door and waved the two out in front of him.

Fox stood as the three exited the room. Alex went straight to him and wrapped him in his arms.

"See?" The younger man murmured, "No screaming, no gunplay, no bloodshed."

Fox gave him a mildly exasperated sigh.

"How do you feel?"

"A little achy. A little tired."

Alex gently guided Fox's head down to his shoulder then tossed a look over in the direction of Scully and Skinner. "Well," he said loud enough to be heard as he petted his lover's hair, "as soon as your guests leave, I'm putting you to bed."

Fox rubbed his head against the younger man's shoulder, virtually purring with contentment. As he opened his eyes, the somber faces of his partner and supervisor came into focus. Unwilling to pull himself from Alex's embrace, he gave them a tiny smile. "Thanks for coming over. I appreciate your concern, but I'm okay now."

"We're *still* concerned," Skinner responded. "Mulder..."

Before he could continue, Scully laid a hand on his arm and gave him a barely noticeable shake of her head. His jaw tightened, but he said no more, and they moved to the door.

Alex kissed Fox lightly on his lips and followed their departing guests. As they passed into the hall, Skinner turned and issued a soft warning.

"You do anything to him..."

Alex's laugh interrupted his threat.

"Walter...Walt..." He leaned in until their faces were only inches apart. "...Wally...I'm going to do plenty to him. And he's going to love every minute of it."

Skinner's jaw convulsed, but he said nothing.

"I really do feel sorry for you," Alex whispered. "And I can't blame you. Who *wouldn't* want him?" His eyelids drooped, and he gave the other man a smoldering look. "He's so goddamn pretty when he's squirming and whimpering. And when he comes...oh, God, when he comes..." Alex caught his lower lip between his teeth and inhaled audibly. Then his face changed to an unreadable mask. "Too bad you'll never know. You have a good night, now." He closed the door in Skinner's flushed face and leaned against it, smiling at Fox.

"Alex, what were you telling him?"

"Just telling them to drive safely and thanking them for stopping by."

"Why don't I believe you?"

The younger man gave him an innocent shrug.

Fox shook his head. "Prick."

One corner of Alex's mouth slanted upward. "Sweet talking me isn't going to get you out of trouble."

"Oh." Fox smirked. "Am I still in trouble?"

"Uh, yeah." Alex approached and slid one hand along Fox's jaw. He let the hand travel to the back of his lover's head, and anchored it tightly in his hair. "Listen to me," he said softly. "This part is serious. That had to have been the craziest thing you've ever done, and you've done some insane shit. I understand what your reasons were for doing it, but what *if* I didn't get your clue? Or what if I didn't get there in time? You could have been dead right now. You would have left me alone for the rest of my life." He shook his head. "I can't even *imagine* my life without you." He snapped his fingers in the other man's face. "Yet, I came this close to having to realize it..."

Fox had half a dozen arguments for him, but remained silent.

"Fortunately, it worked out all right, but thoughts of me finding you dead...or not at all, keep running through my head, and they're driving me crazy."

"I'm here," Fox answered softly. "You found me. I knew you would."

"I appreciate your faith in me, Fox, but it isn't realistic. You're here in front of me...I'm looking at you...I'm touching you, and still I'm shaking inside at the thought of what could have been. I can't tell you how upset I am with you."

Fox sucked his lower lip into his mouth and lowered his gaze, and Alex's heart leapt in his chest.

//And they say *I* play dirty...//

Alex's loosened his grip on Fox's hair and came around to cup his chin. "I love you," he whispered. "I wouldn't be so upset with you if I didn't."

Fox stepped forward and lowered his head to his lover's shoulder, moulding their bodies together.

Alex inhaled deeply and rested his hands on the other man's hips while he nuzzled his hair. "You did a very bad thing, Fox. I have to punish you."

Fox shuddered at his lover's words, and he winced at the further hardening of his already firm cock.

Alex released him and backed away. "Come with me."

Fox meekly followed him into the bedroom.

"Stay here." Alex walked into the bathroom and turned on the tap in the tub, waiting until the water was the desired temperature, then he returned.

"What are you doing?"

"Running your bath." Alex stepped forward and began to undress the older man.

Fox stood quietly as he worked, trying to understand what the hell it was that Alex was doing. Finally, he decided that it would probably be best not to question the younger man, and he just went with it. When he stood before the other man, naked, Alex looked him up and down. His hand came up and caressed Fox's rib area.

"You've got a little light bruising here. Does it hurt?"

"Not much."

"I never asked you. That man I shot. Was he the one that did this to you?"

"Yes."

A satisfied, feral gleam lit the green eyes. "Good," Alex said softly. His eyes met Fox's, and he motioned toward the bathroom with a small toss of his head. Fox moved silently into the steam-warmed room, and waited. Alex held his hand out, and when Fox slid his into it, he helped the older man into the tub. He finally removed his jacket and kneeled on the small rug in front of the tub. Picking up the sponge and bottle of bath gel, he squeezed on a generous amount and began to gently scrub his lover's back.

Fox closed his eyes, enjoying every moment of his *punishment*, allowing himself to feel every stroke of the sponge, the tiny tingle of the soap bubbles, and the occasional rub of Alex's bare knuckles on his skin.

Alex worked silently, mesmerized by the way the water ran in rivulets down his lover's body, and the silky, slick glow of his skin. He washed Fox an inch at a time, taking care to cover his entire back before moving to his chest. The sponge skimmed his shoulders then passed over his nipples, pulling a very soft moan from Fox. He ignored the sound and continued in his task, moving on when it was completed.

Fox's eyelashes fluttered as Alex slowly washed each of his arms, gently working the lather from fingers to shoulder, massaging the muscles that until now, Fox hadn't even realized were tense. He caressed the sensitive skin at the back of Fox's neck, then stroked the sponge up and around the convulsing throat, and traveled a leisurely path down his chest and stomach, stopping just shy of that part of him that begged for attention.

Fox groaned as the sponge detoured, flowing down one leg, rubbing and soothing the long muscles. He flinched as it danced over the ticklish underside of his foot, then relaxed again as Alex made him bend his leg at the knee, and the sponge moved over his calf in small circles, then proceeded up to his thigh.

Suddenly Alex stopped, and Fox's eyes flew open. He gazed into the unsmiling face, then his body turned in the direction that the hand on his back pushed him into. Now resting on his hip, head pillowed against the folded towel that Alex had placed at the edge of the tub, his eyes closed again as his lover finished washing his legs, then concentrated on his ass.

Slowly, Alex followed the rounded curves, drawing circles on the smooth skin, and gently working his way into the crevice. Fox writhed against the probing sponge and groaned when his lover's other hand came down on his hip to stop the movement. Alex pressed deeper, finding the tight ring hidden beneath. He passed the sponge over the opening, and Fox shuddered, whining softly. Inch by excruciating inch, he pushed the sponge inside. Ignoring Fox's desperate whimpers, he continued until more than half of it had disappeared into the tight entrance.

Fox gripped the side of the tub until his knuckles showed white as he was stretched and filled slightly past the point of comfort. He uttered not one sound of complaint though, knowing that he would gladly take more if it was Alex's wish...

Leaving the sponge in place, Alex turned Fox back into a sitting position and met his gaze. As he studied the pleading amber eyes, his hand wandered over his lover's body, still ignoring the aching cock. Then, finally, he spoke.

"Have you figured out yet what your punishment is, Fox?"

The other man closed his eyes and nodded.

"How severe do you think it should be?"

"What..." Fox swallowed hard, not believing he was about to say this. "...Whatever you decide."

Alex skimmed a nipple with his fingertips. "Good answer." He slid Fox farther down onto his back and pulled the sponge slowly out of him. "Your bath is over. Get out of the tub."

Fox stood on trembling legs and stepped out onto the rug that Alex had just vacated, and the younger man stepped forward, wrapping a large bath towel around him. Gently, Alex dried him, favoring him with the occasional kiss to his shoulder or neck. As he dried the lower half of Fox's body, his lips brushed his upper thigh, and Fox's cock jumped in response. His own cock throbbed within the confines of his jeans, and he knew that he'd better do something about it or he'd never be able to draw this out the way he wanted.

He finished his task, then dropped the towel onto the edge of the tub, and met Fox's eyes.

"Bedroom."

Fox obeyed the one-word command, preceeding Alex into the other room, and standing by the bed. Alex arranged the pillows, then motioned for Fox to lie down, which the older man did without question. His eyes roved over the body stretched out before him, and his cock strained against the zipper of his pants. A soft grunt pushed past his lips, as he turned around and went to Fox's closet.

Curious eyes watched as Alex rooted through the closet and came out with a couple of neckties. The younger man approached and wrapped a tie around one wrist and secured it to the headboard. He repeated the action with the other wrist, then moved down and straddled Fox on his hands and knees.

"Is that uncomfortable?"

The other man shook his head and whimpered softly as Alex stroked his chest.

"Good." He pushed himself away, then walked toward the chair at the end of the bed, unbuckling his pants as he did. "I've got a small problem, baby." He pulled the chair up beside the bed, and drew the zipper down. Pushing the jeans down over his legs, he sat the chair and gave Fox a good view of his very erect cock. "You see this?" He stroked the length of it gently. "It's driving me crazy. It's distracting, and I need to do something about it..."

Fox watched intently, absently licking his lips as Alex teased himself. "I'd love to feel your mouth around it, but you'd enjoy it too much. Wouldn't be much of a punishment, would it? Well, I guess I'll have to take care of myself tonight."

"No," Fox sobbed. "Alex, please..."

"Please, what?"

"Let me...let me do it. Please..."

"No. You watch. And while you're suffering, you think about what it was that got you here in the first place." As he spoke, he continued to caress himself .

Fox strained against his restraints, though he knew such and action was pointless. "Don't do this to me, Alex," Fox pleaded. "It's been so long..."

"Yeah, it has. It doesn't make me happy to be doing this, Fox." He tilted his head back and gasped as he increased the speed of his strokes. "You think I enjoy sitting over here jerking off when you're only a few feet away from me?" he panted. "You think I wouldn't rather be buried in your ass? God, it's killing me. But you're going to learn, baby. You will *not* pull any more stunts like the one you pulled yesterday."

"I won't," Fox sobbed, "I promise, Alex..."

"I know you won't. I know..." Alex stopped talking and concentrated on the sensations that were now fogging his brain. He pressed his lips together and arched his back as he began to jerk his cock to completion.

"Please," Fox whispered unheard as Alex twisted and moaned in the chair, and his eyes dropped shut when the familiar sounds of his lover in the throes of orgasm reached his ears.

Alex sat sprawled in the chair, sticky and spent. He groaned softly, removing his hand from his softening cock, and opened his eyes. As they began to refocus, he saw Fox, lying against the pillows, cock rigid and flushed, in obvious agony. He took a few more seconds to compose himself then stood up kicking his pants off, and slid up on the bed beside him. He held his hand up to the other man's mouth, and Fox licked hungrily at it, removing all traces of semen. "Very good," he rumbled softly, then straddled his lover's chest. "So good, I'll let you clean my cock."

Fox opened his mouth, and while Alex held his cock for him, he proceeded to lick away all traces of residual semen.

Alex stroked Fox's hair while the older man cleaned him, then, deciding that it was enough, he pulled away, leaving his lover more frustrated than before.

"Thank you, baby." He leaned over Fox and placed a tender kiss on his mouth. "I feel so much better, now." He reached for his pants and pulled them on, and much to Fox's dismay, he walked to the door.

"Where are you going?"

Alex turned around and faced him. 'I'm going to let you get a little rest."

"*No*!"

The younger man walked back to the bed and cupped his lover's cheek. "Yes. You said it was my decision, remember? Get some sleep. You've had a hard couple of days."

"Alex...please. I'm begging you...I can't...I can't take it..."

The words were kind, but the expression was blank. "You can, and you will. Go to sleep." He leaned down and kissed the tip of Fox's nose. "I love you." He walked to the door and closed it behind him, leaving a dazed and tormented Fox to wonder just how long he planned to drag this out.

 

 

After Skinner parted from Scully in the parking garage, he drove to the bar that he had taken Mulder to. He never did this on a worknight, but as special circumstances prevailed, he talked himself into it.

Much quieter than a Friday night, the place was only half full. He found himself a quiet table at the back of the place where he could sit and lick his wounds undisturbed. The waitress found him fairly quickly, and he placed his drink order. While he waited, he looked around the bar, observing the various groups of people. Some laughing, some deeply engrossed in conversation, others apparently arguing, but there was one thing that they all had in common. None of them were alone.

His drink was placed in front of him, and after thanking the waitress, he retreated back into himself.

Not one who was usually given to these sessions of self pity, he let himself go, tonight.

Too old. Too bald. Too authoritarian. Too cautious to be attractive to a young, beautiful, irrepressible man who spent so much of his time walking the edge of destruction with his life balanced in one hand, and his career in the other.

Thinking along those lines, he could almost begin to see what it was that Mulder saw in Alex Krycek.

More of a wildcard than the man who was in love with him, Alex Krycek seemed much more of a kindred spirit. He was someone who would walk that edge *with* Mulder, not try to pull him down too soon to safety.

Skinner's brow drew down into a deep frown.

But he *would* pull Mulder to safety. He'd done it three times that Skinner knew about.

He tossed his scotch back and grimaced.

The best of both worlds.

That was it. That's what Mulder needed, and Krycek would provide that for him. Freedom to do his thing, no matter how outrageous, and the security of knowing that someone had his back if he needed it.

He ordered another drink and continued to brood.

It wasn't fair. He would have done that for Mulder if he could, but his position didn't allow him that luxury...

//Come on, Walter, even if you could, he wouldn't be interested in you. Look at you and look at Krycek. He's young and handsome, and apparently has forgotten more about taking care of a man than you ever *knew*.//

He tossed down his second drink the moment it was served then buried his face in his hands.

They were probably going at it hot and heavy by now. He could see it all over Mulder's face when he and Scully came out of the kitchen. He'd refused to peel himself away from Krycek to even offer them a proper good-bye, and Skinner could see the look of pure lust sparkling in his eyes as Krycek stroked and petted him.

The minute Krycek shut the door in his face, Mulder was probably right there behind him, demanding to be swept into the whirlpool of sensual bliss promised to him in every flash of those stormy, green eyes.

He could see them now, Mulder pinned beneath the other man on his bed, sweat rolling down their bodies as Krycek slammed into him, again and again...

He wasn't sure why it was that particular image that played in his head. He supposed it was because of the way he viewed the other man. He knew one side of Alex Krycek, and one side only, and the thought that he could possibly be sweet, or tender, or submissive was inconceivable, even though Scully had attested to it. Even though he'd seen the look in his eyes as Mulder admitted that he loved him...even though he said the words in return and looked for all the world like he meant them.

This was the image he still carried in his head. Krycek in total control. Brutal and emotionless, selfishly taking his pleasure, and only incidentally taking Mulder with him on his journey to satisfaction.

His fingers clasped together, squeezing to the point of numbness.

It was a sick thing to think, but it made him feel better. Somehow that particular thought was less disquieting than the idea that they were actually lying together, kissing and stroking, and making love so sweetly...

"...*Sir*..."

His head snapped up, and he blinked at the concerned waitress.

"I'm...I'm sorry, I guess I was pretty deep in thought."

"That's okay," the woman answered, smiling at the embarrassed man. "I was beginning to think you had left us."

"Sorry."

"Would you like another drink?"

"...No. No, I don't think so. I think I've had about enough."

The woman smiled again. "That's what I like. A man who's responsible enough to know when to quit."

"Yeah, that's me," he muttered. "Mr. Responsible."

"It's not a *bad* thing, you know."

"No. No, of course not."

"You don't sound convinced." She cocked her head and studied the man sitting in front of her. "Somebody do a number on you?"

"Nobody but myself." He peeled off a few bills and handed them to the woman. She took the money and sat down at the table.

"Don't worry," she said, smiling at his confused expression. "My shift is over. You were my last customer."

He nodded and looked down at his hands.

"Hey, you know, I'll go if you want me to, but it just looks to me like you could use a little pick-me-up. Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger than someone you know. Would you like to get something off your chest?"

Skinner looked up at the pleasant, attractive face, and suddenly he found himself rattling on like a seven-year old home after an eventful day at school.

"There's...someone. Someone I've known for years. I've been attracted to this person for almost as long as I've know them. They were involved with someone else, then something happened and the person left them. I tried to be a friend. Offer what comfort I could. I knew I should've kept my distance, but I couldn't help myself. This person was so upset. So despondent. I wanted to take the pain away...make them forget. I couldn't. The person told me as much. Told me that nothing but the return of their lover could make them happy." His gaze dropped to the table and he went silent.

"Is this person the man you were in here with the other night?"

His shocked eyes met hers and she gave him an understanding smile.

"Hey, I'm a woman. I notice when a handsome man comes into this place. And when *two* walk in at the same time..."

He did not respond to the compliment.

"It's all right, I'm not about to judge you. Though I must say that I'm a bit disappointed. I guess it'd be kind of pointless now to flirt with you."

He shook his head and one corner of his mouth twitched into some semblance of a smile. "I *was* married."

The waitress brightened. "Oh, so you swing both ways?"

The smile became more conspicuous. He liked this woman.

"So, what happened?"

"He found out how I felt. I hadn't intended him to...not so soon, but... he was never anything but honest with me about his feelings. I knew I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell, still I hoped. His lover returned today and really drove it home. He'll never be with me. And so here I sit, feeling sorry for myself...can't even get a proper buzz going..."

"You're right," she said. "You are feeling sorry for yourself. Knock it off. The one you want doesn't want you. Happens all the time. You're a good-looking, honest, respectable guy. If he'd rather have someone who runs in and out of his life on a whim, it's his choice." She leaned in and whispered confidentially. "The pretty ones are always so weird. I know. I used to go out with one. I'm well rid of him."

Skinner shook his head. "He's not just pretty. Okay, yeah, he's a little weird, but he's brilliant. And he's compassionate and sensitive..."

"And his heart belongs to someone else. Another man?"

Skinner nodded.

"Bad boy type? Leather jacket, earring...not exactly a pillar of virtue?"

He blinked at her dead-on assessment.

She laughed softly. "I just figured he was more than likely the exact opposite of you."

Skinner nodded. "He's like a magnet. The way he moves...his voice. Just a look...one word from him, hypnotizes this man. It's like he forgets who he is..."

"Maybe not," she observed. "Maybe it's with this magnetic, mesmerizing dog that he really *knows* who he is." She covered his hand and gave him a sympathetic smile. "You gotta let him go. He isn't yours. Doesn't sound like he ever will be. Not as long as this man chooses to hold on to him."

"He says he loves him, but I can't believe it. I don't know if he's ever told the truth in his life."

"Well, whatever the truth is, it'll reveal itself in time. Let him be. If you stick your nose into their relationship, all you'll succeed in doing is drive him so far away, he won't even want to be your friend anymore...assuming you still *can* be his friend..."

"We're thrown together every day. It's mandatory that we keep up communitcations."

"Ah. Work?"

"Yeah."

"Well, honey, good luck."

Skinner glanced at his watch. "Thanks. I really have to be going now. I have to be up early."

The two rose from the table and walked in the direction of the bar.

"Goodnight, handsome," the waitress called softly as they parted company. "Maybe I'll see you around."

He hesitated then nodded his acknowledgment and left the building, feeling just a little bit better. It wasn't until he was almost halfway home that he realized he'd never even asked for her name.

 

 

Fox opened his eyes and found himself in total blackness.

He couldn't believe he'd actually fallen asleep. How long he'd been out, he had no way of knowing, but he had to have been damn tired to be able to fall asleep tied to his bed and aroused to the point of pain.

He moaned softly and moved his arms as far as the restraints would allow, his cock quickly coming to life as he recalled his bath and the way Alex had tormented him through its duration. Then, not long afterward, he was tied up here and Alex sat just a few feet away, masturbating. He had to listen and watch as his lover came, panting and gasping, unable to touch him. Then to make the torture worse, he'd allowed Fox to lick his cock clean and then left him here alone and frustrated.

"Alex," he called softly into the darkness, steadily working himself into the same state he'd been in earlier. And again, a little louder, on a sobbing gasp. "Alex..."

"I'm here, baby."

Fox strained to see into the void, to determine exactly where the smoky rasp came from.

There was a faint click followed by a hiss, and a small flame appeared, illuminating the hand that held the match. It moved a few inches to the right, and touched off another flame. The original light was extinguished, and the hand picked up the candle it had just lit, raising it high enough for Fox to see his lover's face.

Alex turned away and moved silently around the room, lighting the candles he'd set in place while Fox slept. "I haven't been here the whole time," he said as he moved, "I actually just came in about half an hour ago."

Fox's eyes focused on the softly illuminated figure. "How long have I been asleep?"

"Almost three hours."

"Three hours?"

"Yeah." The younger man stood at the end of the bed, staring intently. "Are you hungry? I fixed us some supper."

"Y-yeah."

He wasn't really, but if he said yes, Alex would have to untie him so he could eat, and then maybe he'd be able to touch him and properly convey his need...

"Be back in a minute." Alex moved forward and leaned in to kiss his lover's mouth, lingering for a moment on the soft flesh.

Fox's lips parted and his tongue inched out, sweeping across Alex's mouth and finding access to the warm interior. He heard the younger man's soft moan and pushed farther inside, finding and engaging his tongue in a slow, sensual duel. His hips arched upward, desperately seeking some sort of contact, but a hand clasping in his hair drew his attention.

Alex held Fox's head to the pillows, and he pulled away. "That mouth could tempt the purest saint to sin." He backed away from the bed and moved to the door. "I'll be back."

When he was gone, Fox began to whine softly, having nothing else to concentrate on but the ache of his cock. He closed his eyes and took a long, deep breath, praying that Alex returned soon.

Five minutes later, his prayer was answered when Alex entered bearing a tray full of fried chicken, potatoes, biscuits and corn. Fox had to admit to himself that it did smell awfully good, and his stomach rumbled its agreement.

Alex set the tray down and advanced toward the bed. He untied the restraints and coaxed Fox into a sitting position, then retied his wrists to each of his thighs, allowing just a little room for movement.

"Nooo. Alex, come on," Fox pleaded as his lover secured the first knot.

"You're not going to touch me or yourself," Alex said matter-of-factly as he worked on the second knot.

"I won't, I promise, I....how am I supposed to eat?"

Alex retreived the tray and set it down over Fox's legs. "I'm going to feed you." He looked into deeply frustrated eyes. "Your efforts are wasted, Fox. Now relax and accept your punishment. It won't go on forever, I promise." He moved in as close as he could without their lips touching. "And when it's done, I'm going to make you forget your own name..."

Fox shuddered.

"...You're going to scream until you can't scream anymore..."

"Oh, God...Alex..."

"...You won't be able to sit down for a week, and Scully, Skinner and anybody else who might be paying attention is going to know that you've been fucked long and hard..."

Fox whimpered and leaned forward, trying to reach his lover's mouth. A hand at his throat moved him back against the headboard.

"But not yet." The hand gentled and stroked the sensitive skin, then skimmed the older man's cheek. "Now, let's eat."

For nearly half an hour, Alex fed himself and his restrained lover, often dropping bits of food onto Fox's body and picking them off with his teeth or tongue. When he had Fox writhing and pleading for mercy, he cleared the tray away, then returned to the side of the bed. "Was it good?" he asked as his hand slid up to the top button of his shirt.

Fox nodded, his eyes trained on Alex's hand.

The younger man slowly undid the button then moved on to the next. "How about some dessert?"

Fox's hips bucked slightly off the bed in response to Alex's offer.

"Was that a yes?"

"Yes," Fox rasped. "Please..."

Alex said nothing more as he finished removing his shirt, then started on his jeans. He held Fox's eyes with his own as he undid the top button and pulled the zipper down, revealing the rigid, flushed shaft behind it. He pushed the jeans down to his knees and sat down on the edge of the bed, removing his shoes and socks, then pulled the denim down and off. Finally, he stood naked before his tortured lover.

Fox's eyes raked over him and he unconsciously bit into his lower lip.

"You ready for your dessert?" Alex asked softly while one hand grazed the underside of his own cock.

Fox mouthed the word yes as his body squirmed in anticipation.

Alex approached and untied one hand, bringing it back up to the headboard and securing it there. As he reached for Fox's other hand, the older man began to fight.

"No...*no*..."

Alex wrenched Fox's arm up above his head and held it to the mattress until the older man ceased to struggle. "You just tacked another hour onto your punishment," he growled, receiving a desperate sob as a response.

"No, Alex, please. I can't. Find another way..."

"Would anything else be as effective?" Alex asked as he now unbent Fox's arm and tied it to the headboard. "Of course not," he answered his own question.

"Alex...baby, I promise...I..."

Alex stretched out beside Fox and stroked his cheek with one knuckle. "What do you promise?"

Fox rubbed his face against the finger, grateful for any contact. "I'll be good," he pleaded. "I won't...I won't do anything else to upset you."

"Of course you will," Alex purred. "You're an exasperating, infuriating, stubborn man. Sounds like I'm describing myself." He paused and went on. "Anyway, if you *didn't* do things to upset me, you wouldn't be you. What I *do* want from you is your word that you'll never intentionally put yourself in danger again. I don't care what your reasons are."

"I promise. I promise..."

"Good. Then I won't have to punish you any more after this."

Fox turned his head and groaned. "You're not going to let me go."

"Not till we're through." He slid off the bed and again headed out of the room.

"Where are you going now?"

"I'll be back," Alex called as he continued out the door. He returned minutes later with a bowl of strawberry ice cream and set it down on the nightstand. He stooped down and pulled a small bundle wrapped in a bath towel out from under the bed and placed it on the mattress.

Fox watched warily as Alex unwrapped the bundle, then his eyelids drooped and he sucked in a hard breath as the contents were revealed to him.

A simple, studded cock ring, a red silk scarf, some lube, a vibrator that he assumed was his own, and a larger, thicker, but very life-like dildo.

"I got you some new toys to go with your vibrator," Alex said as he picked up the red silk first. "You like them?"

Not sure how he should answer, Fox remained silent.

Alex straddled his waist and rubbed the material against his face. "You can answer me honestly."

"I...I don't know," Fox breathed, nuzzling the silk.

"You like *this*..."

The older man nodded.

"Feels good?" Alex dragged the scarf down Fox's chest, stroking it over his nipples.

Another nod.

Alex pulled his hand away and began to neatly fold the material lengthwise. He covered Fox's eyes and secured the scarf at the back of his head. "Now let's see if you like this..."

Fox jumped as for the first time in ages, his lover touched his cock.

Quickly and efficiently, Alex fastened the cock ring around the base of the swollen shaft and watched as his lover gritted his teeth and let out an agonized moan. "I guess you don't like that as much," he murmured. "You know what *that's* going to do, don't you? It's going to keep you from coming." Now unseen, he smiled at Fox's sob. "That's the bad news. The good news is, when I take it off, you're going to come harder than you ever imagined you could. And all of a sudden, you're going to love this little strip of leather. "Now let's see, what else?" He reached for the vibrator and the lube. Squeezing some out onto the vibrator, he spread it over the latex shaft then pulled Fox down until he had better access to his ass. "Did I tell you that I broke my vibrator?" He asked as he spread his lover's cheeks and stroked the tip over his anus.

Fox's muscles seized, and he cried out as the cool, slick object pressed against him.

"Easy, baby," Alex hummed softly as he inched the shaft inside. "What was I saying? Oh, yeah. I broke my vibrator. Chucked it against the wall one night after I finished fucking myself with it. I was so frustrated..." He ignored Fox's continued cries and pushed the vibrator deeper. "I mean, I came, but it wasn't the same. I'm sure you know what I mean. It was you I wanted." He paused, then slid the vibrator in the rest of the way. "Do you miss fucking me, baby?"

"Yes," Fox choked. "Miss...miss you...oh, *God*..."

Alex turned the vibrator on low and shifted Fox so that the end stayed wedged against the mattress. "How's that?" he asked, knowing damn well that he was pushing his lover to the limit and beyond.

"Please...Alex, please...I'll do anything for you. Anything, but *please* let...let me come..."

"I will," Alex whispered into his ear. "But I'm not through with you yet." His tongue danced around the outside edge of Fox's ear then tickled the inside for a moment before embarking on the next part of his torture.

Something cool, smooth, and sweet touched Fox's lips, and he stopped whimpering long enough to realize it was the ice cream. He lapped cautiously at the melting dessert.

But that was no spoon it was on.

His tongue ventured farther out, sliding along the ridge of the latex head of the dildo, then disappeared back into his mouth carrying the ice cream inside. The next lick and the one after that were bolder, more wanton, and Alex's cock twitched as he watched his lover's tongue slither over the smooth shaft.

When Fox removed all of the ice cream, Alex dipped the tip of the dildo back into the bowl. As he again touched the head to Fox's lips, he reached behind his head and untied the scarf.

Fox blinked as his eyes refocused, then he looked at the man in front of him.

Alex said nothing. He simply held Fox's gaze and nudged the dildo against his mouth. Fox's lips parted, and he slid the head between them. In seconds, he was sucking hungrily at the latex, drawing more and more into his mouth until he was deep throating the thing, and Alex's hands began to tremble.

Fox was whimpering continuously now. His eyes dropped shut as Alex slowly fucked his mouth with the dildo, and the vibrator sent tremor after tremor through his lower body. The sensations being sent to his cock went way beyond agony, and he was sure that if Alex stimulated him *any* more, he would explode.

Alex lowered his head to Fox's chest, and the tip of his tongue flicked delicately at the painfully hard nipples. The muffled shriek vibrated down the dildo and into his hand.

"Shhhhh." He blew on one moistened nipple, then gently clamped his teeth around it and pulled.

Fox arched up off the bed, twisting his head from side to side as he screamed.

Alex lost his grip on the dildo and it fell to the floor. He released Fox's nipple from his mouth, and he slid up until he was sitting on the older man's thighs, knees straddling his hips. His weight put more pressure on the vibrator, it shifted, just barely touching Fox's prostate, and he screamed again.

"Mmmm," Alex purred against his mouth, "is that the spot?"

Fox bucked under him, sobbing and cursing.

"Yeah, I guess that's it." Alex reached down and lightly stroked his lover's cock, watching with satisfaction as Fox hissed through clenched teeth and arched against his hand. "Do you wanna fuck me, baby?"

Fox forced his eyes to open, and he trained them on his tormentor. "Don't tease me."

"I'm not." Alex lifted himself up a few inches and held his lover's cock as he sank down onto it.

"Oh, my God," Fox whispered harshly, "oh, my God. I can't...I..." He bucked again and again, pushing himself as deeply into his lover as he could go, all the while sobbing broken, unintelligible words. Mind-shattering orgasm loomed right in front of him, but he couldn't grasp it...it wouldn't come...

Alex reached out, his hands stroking and kneading the other man's flesh as he rode him. His own cock screamed for release, and as tempted as he was to really drive Fox insane and jerk himself off again, he didn't. The next time he came, it would be while he was deep inside Fox, and his beautiful, tormented love would be coming with him...

Fox strained against the ties, and the veins stood out on his neck. A wild howl broke from his throat, and as quickly as the sound had risen, it was smothered as Alex took his mouth in a kiss that demanded his attention. He arched into the kiss, opening his mouth for his lover's probing tongue, and shuddered as his senses went into overload. He was now being fucked in every way he possibly could be, and still, he could not come.

A tear of extreme frustration escaped past his closed lids, and just as he thought his mind and body would break in two, Alex pulled away from him. The younger man lifted himself off of his cock and gently pulled the vibrator out of his ass, twisting it slowly from side to side as he did. Fox lay twitching and empty, all stimulation having been removed at once. Then a breath, warm and sweet on his lips, prompted him to open his eyes. Almost black eyes stared down at him, and Alex traced the swell of his lower lip with the tip of his tongue.

"I'm going to untie you," he whispered, incurring a grateful whimper. "And then I'm going to take the cock ring off."

"Oh, God, thank you," Fox sobbed, writhing against his lover.

"And then," Alex paused, making sure he had Fox's undivided attention. "I'm going to fuck you into tomorrow."

Fox's neck arched as jolts of electricity accompanied Alex's words. He lay as still as his trembling body would allow as Alex untied first one hand and then the other. The younger man massaged his wrists then kissed each one and laid his arms at his sides.

"Now, relax." He stroked Fox's cheek and placed a light kiss on his chin. "Breathe easy..."

Fox stiffened but did his best to obey Alex's instructions as he removed the studded strap. He gathered up fistfuls of sheet, biting his lip until at last, the strap dropped to the floor.

Alex picked up the lube and settled himself on top of Fox. "It's all right, baby," he murmured in soothing tones, noticing that Fox's arms were still at his sides, "you can touch me."

Fox's fingers unwound from the sheets and slid up over Alex's hips. They lingered on the rounded muscles of his ass, rubbing and squeezing, then wandered up and down his back as he pushed upward, whining impatiently.

Quickly, Alex squeezed some lube into his hand and reached between them, applying it to his cock. "Okay, baby," he rasped as he threw the tube aside and reared back, flipping Fox over and pulling him up onto his knees. He held the writhing man as still as he could with one hand while he guided his cock with the other toward his goal.

Fox pressed his cheek to the pillow, gasping at that first tentative thrust, and before he could suck the breath back in, it was lost. All at once Alex was there, perpetrating an exquisitely ferocious assault on his body, driving relentlessly forward even as he yanked Fox back against him. He withdrew almost to the tip, then slammed back in, and Fox rediscovered his voice.

Alex's mouth trembled into a satisfied smile as his lover emitted a loud, mewling sob. He plunged one hand into the golden-brown hair and pulled Fox up so that he was now on his hands and knees. Not releasing his grasp on the tangled strands, he again surged forward, enjoying the slap of flesh against flesh, and the tight, hot grip on his cock.

"Beautiful," he ground out between gritted teeth, now pounding into Fox with short, fast strokes. "Squeeze me, baby....oh, God, yeah..."

Wracked with agony and drenched in sweat, Fox stuggled to hold himself up, but his weakening muscles refused to cooperate. As his shoulders began to sink to the mattress, he felt Alex pull out of him. Before he could protest, he was jerked onto his back, and his lover unceremoniously plunged back into him.

"Fuck...fuck me, Alex," he gasped, clawing at the younger man's perspiraton-slick back. "Please...harder..."

"Yeah?" Alex drew back and drove in. "You want it harder?"

"*Yes*. Oh, God, please."

Alex was hanging on by a thread, but he refused to come until he had made good on his promise. He gritted his teeth and proceeded to fuck Fox within an inch of his life. "How's that?" he growled, ramming his cock again and again into his lover's ass.

Fox responded with a bone-jarring wail.

"That's it, baby...that's what I want." Alex picked up the silk scarf and wrapped it around his lover's cock. "Come on, beautiful..." His hand moved over the silk-draped shaft, milking it in time to his quickening thrusts. "...give it to me..."

The wail turned to a ferocious, sobbing scream as the unbearable tension finally burst and Fox came, drenching the scarf and Alex's hand in his semen. He thrashed wildly, spending every ounce of his strength then went limp, whining softly as he was pressed repeatedly into the mattress.

"Jesus," Alex grated, "thank you, baby...thank..." Two more brutal thrusts and he exploded, filling Fox with his heat. His body shuddered uncontrollably then collapsed on top of his motionless lover. He lay quivering, head resting on Fox's shoulder, and before any of his thoughts could organize into anything intelligent, he had joined the other man in oblivion.

 

 

Alex blinked in the darkness and turned his head in the direction of the alarm clock.

Two forty-five.

//Shit. Good thing those candles were slow burning.//

He turned and looked at the man beside him.

Though at some point Alex had moved from on top of him to beside him, Fox looked as though he hadn't budged since he'd passed out in this position at least three hours before.

Alex stroked the stubbled cheek with the backs of his fingers, smiling at the tiny twitch of the sleep-swollen lips. He slipped out of bed and moved quietly around the room, snuffing out all of the candles, then walked into the bathroom. Five minutes later, he returned and got back into bed, snuggling close to his unconscious lover and drifted back into sleep.

 

***

 

Bacon.

"Mmmmmm."

Coffee.

Fresh baked...something.

Fox's eyes fluttered open and he moaned softly as he began to move.

"Shit."

The grimace turned to a grin as he remembered the cause of his sore muscles. He pulled himself into a sitting position and winced again, turning onto his side.

Another grin.

Alex wasn't kidding when he said he wouldn't be able to sit down for a week.

Bless his sadistic heart.

Fox slipped out of bed and performed a few simple stretches, trying to loosen up. A few curses later, he headed for the bathroom and a hot shower.

 

***

 

Alex smiled as the kitched door opened and he felt Fox approach.

"How's your ass?"

The older man pressed against his lover's back, wrapping his arms around his waist.

"How do you *think* it is?"

Alex turned to face him, eyes sparkling. He reached down, stroking a hand over Fox's rear. "I don't know," he purred. "You're *walking*." "Yeah. Not without some discomfort. We won't even *talk* about sitting."

"Awww. I'm sorry."

"Fucking liar. "

Alex gave him an impish grin. "Okay, so I'm lying. Tell me you didn't love it."

"I didn't love it."

"Now, who's lying?"

Fox chuckled and tightened his hold on the younger man. He dropped his head to Alex's shoulder and lightly nuzzled his neck. "Actually," he purred, "you've made me your slave for life."

"You mean you weren't before?"

Fox closed his teeth over a patch of skin and growled softly in answer.

"If you're not careful," Alex warned, his cock beginning to stir, "it's gonna be *two* weeks before you can sit."

Fox released him and gently licked the area. "Is that supposed to be a threat?"

"It probably would be for anyone but you." He gave his lover a lascivious smirk. "So, you gonna eat here, at the counter, or what?"

"No, wise-ass, I'll sit."

Alex served breakfast then sat and watched, amused, as Fox winced and sighed, trying to find a comfortable position.

"Want me to get you a pillow?" Alex snickered. "Or one of those donut things that people with hemmoroids use?"

Fox picked up a hot corn muffin and gave Alex a mock glare. "Fuck you."

Twin pools of deep green glittered with growing lust. "Promise?"

Fox picked a piece off of the muffin and fed it to the younger man. "Bet on it."

As they ate, their conversaton took on a different tone.

"So, what do you think Smokey's going to do now?"

Alex swallowed his mouthful of scrambled eggs before replying. "Stay the hell out of my sight if he knows what's good for him."

Fox snapped his fingers. "Speaking of sight. We gotta search the apartment. He's got it bugged."

Alex rubbed his temple with two fingers. "That's right, he did allude to that in the answering machine recording."

"I'd actually forgotten about it till a few minutes ago."

"Okay. Let's finish breakfast and then we'll turn this place upside down...unless it really bugs you that he may be watching us eat..."

"No." Fox looked around and raised his glass of orange juice. "But God knows what else he might be watching."

Alex grinned. "You mean, you think the old pervert was watching us last night?"

Fox shrugged then shuddered.

"Hope you got your rocks off, motherfucker," Alex spoke into the air. "It was the last time."

When breakfast was done, the two men loaded the dishwashwer, then began their search. Five hours later, they'd turned up a phone bug and one camera in the bedroom.

"Shit, he really did have one in the bedroom," Fox moaned after Alex had destroyed the device.

"I didn't call him an old pervert for nothing." Alex gathered up the pieces and dropped them into the garbage bag they'd brought into the room with them. He turned and found Fox sitting on the bed, a combination of disgust and anger in his eyes. He set the bag down and came to kneel before his lover. "It bothers you that much?"

Distrubed hazel eyes looked up into his. "Y-yeah. Doesn't it bother you?"

Alex shrugged. "Even if he taped us, there's nothing he's going to do with it..." He grinned. "...except watch it and jerk off." The grin turned to a half-grimace. "A disgusting thought....anyway..." He cupped Fox's chin and smiled up at him. "It's okay, baby, there's nothing to worry about. Believe me, despite that three pack a day habit, the man really does want to live."

No response.

The smile faded. "*Is* there something to worry about?"

Fox's head tilted a bit to the side. "What do you mean?"

"I don't know." Alex rose to his feet. "Fox, did..." He stopped, not wanting to ask, but he took a breath and posed the question. "Did anything happen with you and..."

Understanding widened Fox's eyes. "*No*."

"Nothing at all?"

"*Nothing*. Alex, why would you..." He paused, recalling Alex's confrontation with Skinner the night before. "*That's* what all that was about. You know, I was so intent on telling you that I loved you, most of it went right over my head at the time, but...you'd been watching me. You saw me coming and going with Skinner."

"Yeah," Alex said softly. "I saw you. I was fairly sure that nothing had happened, but..."

Fox rose to stand face to face with his lover. "But *nothing*. I have to tell you that you *were* right when you told me that he wanted me. But as soon as I realized it, I laid it all out for him. I was kind, but I told him that under no uncertain terms, you were all I wanted."

Alex nodded then asked another question. "What made you realize it?"

Fox inhaled deeply, then let it out before answering. "Different little things he said...looks...the way he touched me. I...I started wondering, but I thought it was just me. I felt terrible about it. Then the night I came home from Massachusetts...wait...let's get something straight first...that *was* you I saw, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

The older man nodded. "Okay. Where was I? Uh...that night I went to his apartment. I was so upset with Scully and he'd been so good about listening to me. I went there and started ranting, and I guess...well, he *said* he couldn't help himself..."

"Couldn't help himself *what*?"

"He just...touched me. They were more like...caresses..."

Alex's jaw tightened but he remained silent.

"He tried to kiss me..."

Until that last statement.

"He what?"

"Tried, Alex, I said he *tried*. I stopped him." Fox threaded his fingers through his lover's hair. "And that's when I told him that I belonged to you." He brushed his lips against Alex's. "Just you."

Alex wound his arms around Fox's waist and covered his lips in a long, possessive kiss. When he pulled away, he hugged Fox to him. "Mine," he whispered into his lover's hair.

"I'm glad you're so happy about it." Fox rubbed his head against Alex's shoulder. "Because chances are, you're going to have a whole lot of me on your hands." He lifted his head and looked into his lover's confused eyes. "I'd made it clear to Skinner that if you were to come back to me, I'd take you back. Then I asked him about my job."

Alex's eyes dropped shut for a brief moment then opened. "What'd he say? As if I couldn't guess."

"In essence, he said it'd depend on how he read you."

"Shit. If I'd known that, babe, I'd have made an effort to be nice to him..."

"Oh, yeah, you'd love that. No, I don't want my job security dependent on how well you can kiss Skinner's ass. I've told you several times, it isn't *that* important."

"It *is* important, Fox. In your position, there are resouces that you can more readily access than me..."

"Alex, I don't believe that there's anything I can get my hands on that *you* can't."

"That's true. But you'd more than likely leave a lot less of a mess in your wake than I would." He reached up and lightly massaged the back of Fox's neck. "Besides, for *years* you've put your blood into the X-files. It's your baby. You can't tell me it wouldn't break your heart to have to lose it."

Fox kissed each of his lover's cheeks then the tip of his nose. "*You're* my baby. And giving you up would break my heart into a thousand *more* pieces...it did. I don't ever want to feel emptiness like that again."

Alex dropped his head down onto Fox's shoulder and sighed softly into the mustard-colored cotton of his shirt. "I don't want you to look at me years...maybe *months* from now and think, 'shit, what've I done?' I don't want you to end up hating me. That's why I left. I'd rather go knowing you still loved me. I'd rather remember seeing love in your eyes than loathing. I couldn't live with that."

Fox grasped a handful of hair and pulled Alex's head up. "And how do you think I'd be able to live with wondering what the hell had happened?"

"I thought that in time Scully would convince you that she was right and you'd go back to hating me."

Fox merely stared, shaking his head.

"I'm sorry," Alex murmured. "I guess we're both a couple of dummies."

A smile curved Fox's lips. "S'cuse me?"

Alex returned the smile. "*We*. As in you and me. I was a dummy for thinking you wouldn't react the way you did, and you were a dummy for letting yourself drop into Smokey's lap."

Fox bowed his head in submission. "Okay, okay. From now on we make nothing but smart moves, all right?"

Alex kissed the top of his head. "Works for me. So...since you're more than likely out of a job, what do you think about us working together?" His lips brushed over Fox's, and he breathed against them, "We'll kick their asses, baby. Together, you and I will be unstoppable. We can get this shit cleaned up in no time."

Fox smiled at the prospect of working side by side with his lover. "You mean we could travel together?"

"Yeah." Alex nuzzled his neck. "We'd never have to be apart. We could watch each other's backs."

"Mmmm." Fox's hands skimmed over his lover. "I love washing your back. The way the water and the soap run down over the muscles, and your skin is so slick and..."

"Uh. Babe. I said *watch*, not wash."

"Oh. Well, I'd love to watch it too. Let's do it in front of a mirror so I can see how it moves when you're fucking me..."

Alex laughed softly. "You just can't get your mind out of the gutter, can you? I can see you now, wanting to rip my clothes off amidst the rubble of a building we just blew up."

Fox moaned and began to unbutton Alex's shirt. "Stop, you're making me hot."

"Oh, please," Alex chuckled, allowing his lover to continue. "Asking you for the time of day makes you hot."

Fox undid the last button and began to tug at the shirt. "You complaining?"

Alex assisted his lover and let the shirt drop to the floor. "Hell no. I was just making an observation."

"Uh huh." Fox shed his own shirt and pulled Alex into his arms. Their lips fused and he swallowed the younger man's groan even as he sucked his tongue into his mouth. As they kissed, his hands wandered the expanse of Alex's back, stroking over the flexing muscle, then one hand dipped below the waistband of his jeans, skimming the beginning curve of his ass.

"Take em off," Alex mumbled into his lovers' mouth as he pressed against the growing bulge in his jeans.

"Good idea." Fox backed off, undoing his own jeans and pulling them down just far enough to free his cock. "That's better."

"Well," Alex stammered, "I meant *mine*, but both is good..."

Fox cupped the back of the younger man's head, massaging lightly. "Uh, yeah, but not quite yet."

Alex sent him a suspicious frown. "No?"

"No. First I want you to get down on your knees."

The frown turned into a salacious grin. "Right here?"

"Yeah, right here."

Slowly, he sank to his knees, his eyes never leaving Fox's face. "Now, what?" His voice was a husky whisper as his hands skimmed the backs of the older man's legs.

Fox gave Alex a trace of a smile and gently pulled his head forward until his cock bumped the corner of his mouth.

Eyes still glued on his lover's, Alex moved his head back and forth, letting the solid column of flesh brush his mouth and cheeks. On the next pass, his tongue crept out and stroked the velvety skin, causing Fox's body to jerk slightly. Sable eyelashes swept downward momentarily as Alex kissed away the pearly drop at the tip, then they rose again, revealing eyes darkened to near-blackness. They stared up into eyes that at this moment seemed a deep bluish-green, and the bowed lips opened, sliding over the flared head.

Fox's head tilted back and a soft gasp pushed from his throat as he felt moist warmth engulf the head of his cock. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the heavenly sensation of his lover's tongue sliding over the blunt surface...carefully tracing the prominent ridge, and tickling the small opening at the tip. Unconsciously, his hips began to sway, and his fingers slid through Alex's hair, curling around the sable strands at the back of his head.

Alex's hands slid up over Fox's ass and carefully pulled him forward. It took very little encouragement to get the older man moving in the right direction, and Alex moaned aloud, finding the ample length of muscle now filling his mouth and nudging the back of his throat. His fingers tightened, clutching his lover's ass as Fox pulled back, leaving only the head inside his mouth, then slid forward again.

"Oh, God." The utterance barely reached Alex's ears, but nevertheless Fox had said it, whispering the two words like a prayer. His hips rotated as he inched forward again, giving Alex what he craved.

Alex sucked greedily at every new inch of flesh that was fed to him, and when it was suddenly all taken away, he whined in protest. Fox pulled him up, letting him slide up along his body, then held him in a loving embrace.

"I'm sorry, baby," Fox's shaky voice murmured. "I was too close, and I refuse to come until I'm inside you."

Alex shuddered at the declaration then quickly undid his jeans and pulled them off. He wrapped himself around the other man, kissing and licking his overheated skin. "Then fuck me, Fox. Please."

Fox took a moment to compose himself then reached behind his back, grasping Alex's wrists and pulling his hands behind his own back. He held them there and stared into the glazed depths of his lover's eyes. "How bad do you want it?" he whispered.

"Oh, God, baby, I want it *bad*," Alex whimpered, trying to get close enough to rub against him.

Fox held him away, increasing his frustration, then spun him around and pushed him face first into the mattress. Again capturing Alex's hands behind his back, Fox held them with one hand while he reached into the nightstand drawer with the other. He unscrewed the cap with his teeth, then squeezed the cool gel directly onto his cock. He gritted his teeth as he stroked it on, then guided his cock into the younger man's raised ass.

Alex cried out into the blanket beneath his head and pushed back, trying to get more of his lover into him as quickly as possible, but Fox held back and gave him a firm but painless smack on one rounded cheek.

"Patience, my love," the older man purred. "You're lucky I don't do to you what you did to me last night." He leaned over Alex's back, licking his way to his shoulder. "Don't think I won't *ever* do it. I'm just going to wait until you least expect it." He bit into the curved flesh between Alex's shoulder and neck, pulling a harsh grunt from the younger man. As he sucked the skin into his mouth, he thrust forward, fully burying himself in his lover's slick heat.

A loud, unintelligible sound tumbled from Alex's lips, and he trembled at the sensation. "Fuck me," he begged almost too softly to be heard, then said it again a little louder. Then again and again, until he was sobbing it into the mattress.

"You got it, baby." One hand kept Alex's wrists firmly secured behind his back while the other grasped his shoulder, and Fox began to slam into him with short, fast strokes.

Alex howled as the tension escalated to an unbearable level. His cock screamed for relief, but he couldn't touch it, and Fox refused to let go of his hands. "Baby," he begged breathlessly, "baby...please...please, oh, *shit*, please..."

Fox released his hands and pushed him onto his stomach. He rolled Alex quickly onto his back and, falling on top of him, hooked his hands under his knees. As he pulled them up, Alex automatically wrapped his legs around his waist, and he drove home. As he began to thrust, he grasped his lover's cock and stroked it as quickly as his hips moved. Alex's harsh sobs pushed him to more violent action. He gathered his strength and rammed into the younger man, jerking his cock harder and faster until they were both gasping and screaming their satisfaction into the still morning air.

Alex groaned softly as Fox's head came down with a not-so-gentle thump on his shoulder, and he smiled wearily as he turned his face into his lover's hair. "What a stud," he breathed, into the golden-brown silk. His comment earned him a weak squeeze and a kiss on his neck.

"Must be the company I keep."

Alex draped his arms over Fox's back and nuzzled his forehead. "I'll never get enough of you....hey...let's go out tonight."

Fox lifted his head from his lover's shoulder and squinted down at him. "Could you warn me before you switch gears like that?"

"Sorry. Actually one is kinda tied to the other."

"How do you figure?"

"I want to take you someplace special."

"*Special*?"

"Don't look so suspicious. It's someplace we'll both enjoy."

"Where is it?"

"Down on K Street. Dimly lit, good music...three different dance floor levels...interesting scenery." His hand swept from Fox's back to his ass and squeezed gently. "Lots of nooks and corners to get...lost in..."

Fox squirmed in his lover's arms. "Sounds fascinating, but, Alex...right in Washington?"

"Who the hell's gonna see you there? And if you *do* see anybody you know there, you can be pretty damn sure that they're not gonna be passing judgement on you."

"True."

"Come on, baby," Alex coaxed. "Let me take you out. We need to celebrate, don't we?"

"Yeah." Fox brushed Alex's jaw with his fingertips. "Yeah, we do."

"Good. We're gonna have such a good time."

They lay together for a while longer, then picked themselves up and headed into the shower.

 

 

 

 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and talking, and of course, teasing. They ate a light supper at six-thirty and began preparing for their night out at around nine.

"This is getting dressed to go out?" Fox asked as he pulled his worn jeans down over the black boots that Alex had dug out of his closet.

"To this place? Yep." Alex secured the silver hoop in his left ear and ran a hand through his hair.

Fox stood up and gave his lover the once-over.

Faded jeans that looked about as old as the pair he was wearing, and snug enough to emphasize his beautiful ass and the bulge he was already sporting. A tight, white t-shirt, and the ever-present leather jacket added to the ensemble, and the earring, day's growth of stubble, and Doc Martens completed it.

"You look good enough to eat," Fox observed as he approached his lover.

Alex gave him a curious look. "*Really*?"

"Mmm hmm."

He smiled then, and grazed the underside of his lover's chin with one finger. "So do you." His finger traveled down the length of Fox's throat and ended at the closure of his black silk shirt. Gently, he worked at the fastening, bringing the total of undone buttons to three. Hazel eyes rose to meet his, and his lover gave him a seductive smile.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing," Alex responded softly, petting the sprinkling of golden-brown hair.

"We're not going to make it out of here if you keep that up," Fox teased, rubbing his cheek against the other man's.

"Oh, no." Alex removed his hand from his lover's chest. "We're going *out* tonight. Let's go." He opened up the closet door and, retrieving a blanket, headed into the living room.

"Uh...Alex?" Fox called after his lover as he followed, "what's the blanket for?"

"Blanket? What blanket?"

 

***

 

Tepid beef stew and a beer.

//Boy, this is living.//

Skinner shoved the bowl aside and looked over at the paper he'd picked up on his way home today.

It had taken him fifteen minutes of walking in circles to decide to actually buy the singles paper, and when he finally did, he kept his head down, paid the vendor, and walked quickly away.

Now it sat on his coffee table, unread and unfolded...beckoning to him.

He gingerly picked the paper up and opened it. He immediately noticed a large gay and lesbian section, advertising the many clubs and events in the area.

"Damn."

He'd had no idea that Washington had such a large homosexual community, but the ads for at least twenty to thirty clubs, and pages and pages of singles ads certainly seemed to confirm it.

He closed his eyes and rolled the paper up in his square hands.

//What the hell are you doing?//

The throbbing in his jeans answered that question.

//But it's not a meaningless fuck you want. It's *him*.//

//Well, you can't *have* him, can you? Every last inch of him belongs to that son of a bitch Krycek. So why *not* go looking for a little action? You've jerked off how many times since yesterday and what good has it done you? Maybe a nice warm mouth will fix you...for a little while, at least...//

He unrolled the paper and spread it out before him.

//Now. Where the hell to go?//

 

***

 

Alex's car pulled into a large parking lot behind the club, and the two alighted from the vehicle. He took Fox's hand and they made their way toward the front of the building. As they walked past a green Buick, Fox smiled. Inside, a couple of men were kissing and groping each other like there was no tomorrow.

"I guess we're at the right place," he said dryly, looking from the car to another couple just outside the front of the club. One of the men was against the wall and the other was pressed up against him, mouth clamped on his neck.

Just before they reached the door, it burst open and a slightly-built blonde man dashed from the building and down the street. A larger man, also blonde, ran out after him, calling his name.

"Somebody's upset," Fox commented as they finally reached the door, and one of the men against the wall tore his attention away from his partner long enough to respond.

"Jimmy and Roger. Those two have a fight at least twice a week." Then, without missing a beat, he resumed sucking on his lover's neck.

Alex snorted, shaking his head, and opened the door. With his hand closed securely around Fox's, they stepped inside.

The club was pretty much as Alex had described it. Fairly dark with three large levels for dancing off to the right. Fox looked up and noticed another floor circling the perimeter of the place. There, he noticed mostly tables and a few sofas, most of which were occupied. The denizens of the second floor, if not otherwise engaged, sipped their drinks and watched the goings-on below.

"Want to get something to drink?"

Fox's attention snapped back to his lover, and he nodded. Alex tugged him gently toward the bar, and while they waited to place their order, the younger man slipped his hand beneath Fox's leather jacket and rubbed his silk-covered back.

"What do you think?"

Fox looked around again, noting the sensuous throb of the music and rhythmic gyrations of the bodies on the dance floor, and looked back to his lover. "I like it."

Alex snaked his arm around Fox's waist and pulled him against his chest. "I knew you would. It's very uh..." He glanced to his left at the couple who were feverishly humping each other against the bar, then looked back. "...inspirational."

Before Fox could reply, the two to their left cried out, one after the other, then slumped against each other. Fox buried his head in Alex's chest, and he shook with laughter.

"Hey, what's so funny?" Alex inquired, slipping a hand under Fox's chin and lifting his head. "By the end of the night, you're going to be coming, too. Of course, it'll be better than *that*..."

Fox's eyes widened. "What? Oh...oh, no, I *won't*."

"Oh, yes, you *will*."

"Not *here*, I won't."

Alex anchored his hand in Fox's hair, holding his head still for the searing gaze the older man had come to know as deadly serious. "Yes, you will."

Fox's mouth trembled into a nervous smile. "Alex...I...I..."

"You what?" His hips moved slowly, seducing; cajoling and mesmerizing the other's into an identical rhythm.

Fox watched the green eyes darken to something resembling a starless sky, and he fell. Just fell into them as easily as if they were a pool of warm, still water. He leaned slowly forward, never closing his eyes until the very last moment, and delicately brushed his lips across his lover's.

Alex slid one hand down to Fox's ass as they writhed together, just barely making contact, and his tongue slithered out to caress his lover's trembling mouth. "Are you going to come for me tonight?"

Fox sucked in a shaky breath and nodded.

"Whenever and wherever I want you to?" He felt the soft rush of breath as Fox whispered the word 'yes' against his lips.

"Good." Alex bit down on that pouting lower lip and tugged gently. "I knew you'd see it my way."

The bartender finally made it down to their end of the bar and Alex placed the order. When they had their drinks in hand, they moved through the crowd, Alex pulling his lover along behind him. Finding no open tables, they moved into a dark corner of the club, and Alex backed Fox into the wall. He leaned into the older man, letting his lover feel every inch of him. He then took a long swallow from his beer bottle, and as he pulled it away, he rubbed it across Fox's mouth.

"Have I told you how incredibly fucking hot you look tonight?"

"More or less," Fox answered in that same smoky tone.

Alex gave him a half-smirk and let the mouth of the bottle slide over his chin and down the column of his throat. "So damn fucking sexy."

Fox watched silently as Alex drained his bottle then looked at the one dangling from his fingers. He reached down and gently pulled the bottle from Fox's grip and held it up to his mouth. Fox obediently parted his lips and drank as Alex held the bottle. When he'd drained most of the contents, Alex disposed of both bottles and pulled him out onto the dance floor.

Choosing the most conspicuous spot on the third level, Alex jerked his lover against him and they started to move in time to the pounding beat.

A few couples around them watched in appreciation as the two men writhed in perfectly in-sync, wild abandon, quickly and completely becoming lost in the music and each other.

His face not more than three inches from his lover's, Alex watched small beads of sweat appear on Fox's face and run down it as his body undulated in his lover's embrace. Unable to resist temptation, he moved and and licked the moisture away from Fox's jaw. He felt the vibration of the older man's groan, and Fox's head fell back, giving him clear access to his throat.

Several people watched, hypnotized, as the two rocked against each other, and one licked a long path up the other's throat. When he reached his partner's chin, he tangled one hand in his hair and pulled him into a ravenous kiss...

As the erotic scene played out on the third level, a newcomer entered the club, looking around and at the same time trying to remain unnoticed. Soon enough, he followed the attention of a good many people and squinted at the familiar men dancing at least six feet above the main floor.

Men.

Barely.

The way they moved. The way they clutched at each other; devoured each other's mouths, it was so feral, so...barely human.

They were gorgeous.

The one with the lighter hair shifted his head and all at once, Walter Skinner's world collapsed.

Mulder and Krycek.

"Jesus Christ."

The man he'd come to stand beside looked over at him and smiled. "Fucking hot, aren't they? The temperature has shot up at least thirty degrees since they've been up there. Watch." The man's eyes darted around. "Any time now, this place is going to explode."

Skinner blinked, unable to tear his eyes away...unable to keep his heart from thudding painfully in his chest. "Wh-what do you mean?"

"They've got everybody in this joint horny, now." The stranger smiled at the larger man. "*Everybody's* gonna get some tonight."

Skinner continued to watch, all at once horrified and hypnotized. This wasn't happening to him. This was *not* happening to him. Of all the goddamn clubs in this city, he had to pick this one...

The driving beat faded and switched to something slow, and sexy, and impossibly romantic, and the two simply melted into the new rhythm. Alex's mouth gentled on his lover's, and he pulled him into this arms, holding him in a loving embrace as they swayed gently. Their hands glided over each other, keeping themselves well aroused, and when a voice sounded only inches behind Alex's right ear, his eyes snapped open in surprise.

"Hey, uh...mind if I cut in?"

He and Fox looked at the man who stood about as tall as they did. Deep blue eyes flicked hopefully from his face to Fox's.

"Just one dance." The man smiled at Alex. "I'll give him right back to you...assuming he wants to come back."

Alex felt Fox's hands clench in his shirt and the golden-brown head dropped to his shoulder. "Sorry," he said flatly, petting his lover's head.

The other man nodded and smiled politely. "Can't say I blame you. Have a good night."

When the stranger had gone, Alex urged Fox to lift his head.

"A lot of that goes on here."

"That?"

"Yeah. There are a ton of singles here. They come to pair off for the night. A single person might go through seven or eight guys before he finds the one he wants. That guy wanted you. He gave it a shot and failed...he won't bother us again." He hugged his lover to him. "Word'll get around fast that we're together and we'll be pretty much left alone. They'll just content themselves to watch."

Fox rubbed his head against the younger man's shoulder then picked his head up. "I thought I was going to come at least three times during that first dance."

"Why didn't you?" Alex pivoted and continued to rock with his lover.

Fox gave him a timid smile. "I didn't think you'd be happy if I did."

Alex's fingers stroked a path down Fox's chest and began to work the buttons of his shirt loose. "And you want to make me happy?"

Fox's eyes grew heavy, and he nodded, whispering, "You know I do."

Alex's hand swept inside his lover's open shirt and grazed one hard nipple. "Then let's find someplace to get comfortable." He took Fox's hand and, keeping the other man very close, he moved through the crowd and found a newly deserted sofa. He dropped down to the cushions, pulling Fox with him...

 

 

Having ordered himself a beer, Skinner prowled around the room, ignoring a number of propositions and leering looks. Shit, he was here, so he might as well observe these two together while Alex didn't know he had an audience.

He found a spot that was out of the men's immediate line of sight, but where he had a good view. And minutes after he settled down to watch, he wished he hadn't. His hand tightened around his bottle as Mulder curled against that bastard, stroking and nuzzling him. And the look on Krycek's face was one of pure, sensuous bliss.

 

***

Alex let his head drop back over the sofa cushion, enjoying his lover's attention. He stroked and petted the older man's back and hair, then curled his fingers in the strands and gently pulled Fox's head up. Their eyes met, and Alex opened his mouth to speak.

Skinner couldn't make out a word at this distance, but when Krycek had finished speaking, Fox pitched forward, wrapping his arms around the other man's waist and began kissing and nipping his way down his t-shirt covered chest. Before he realized it, he was watching, slack-jawed, as Mulder lowered his head and nuzzled the other man's crotch. He forgot how to breathe as he saw Mulder's tongue creep out from between his lips and lick slowly at the denim-covered bulge. Krycek's head rolled from side to side, then he lifted it a few inches off the back of the sofa and said something else. Mulder looked up at him, and he caressed the older man's face, then moved his hand to his crotch. He undid the button and pulled the zipper down, then reached inside. He held his own cock with one hand and placed the other on his lover's head.

"Don't do it, Mulder," Skinner whispered desperately, though he knew it was pointless. "Don't let him degrade you in front of this crowd..." He looked around and realized that Mulder and Krycek weren't the only two engaged in such activity. All around him couples were making out; giving and receiving head...some outright fucking, and no one but those who were getting off on it were watching. He looked back and released a low groan when he found Mulder deep-throating the man on the sofa with him. Despite his disgust, his cock swelled painfully in his jeans, and the urge to unzip and jerk off overwhelmed him.

//What the fuck? Other's are doing it.//

"I can do that for you."

His eyes snapped up to the man standing over him. "What?"

The man sank down beside him and let a hand creep up his leg. "You're stroking yourself. Let me do it for you. I've been told I give great hand jobs."

"No...*no*. Get the hell out of here."

The man followed Skinner's gaze. "Wish it was you he was sucking on like that? Hey, me too. But it's a no-go. Did you see them dancing earlier? They're so deep into each other, ain't nobody ever gonna pull them out. So, why the hell not get a little pleasure where we can while we fantasize that the pretty slut with the perfect mouth is sucking us into oblivion?"

"He's not a slut," Skinner growled, more than a bit irritated by the other man's comment.

"Hey, relax babe, it's not a *bad* thing, you know." He studied the older man's expression and smiled. "Ohhhh, I got it." He looked from Skinner, to the couple on the sofa, then back. "You *know* them. Or at least *him*." His eyes took on a delighted glint. "Was he *yours*? Is that it? And he left you for that fine thang he's with now?"

Skinner lowered his head, and his jaw began to clench.

"Don't feel bad, man. At least you can understand why he wants the guy. That's one gorgeous piece of meat right there. How about when they dump you for some greasy scrub, and when you demand to know why, they give you some horse shit about how they feel like you just don't love them anymore. Okay. So I wasn't a cuddler. But the sex was fuckin' awesome, and he can't ever deny it, the little shit..."

Skinner tuned the man out as Mulder's head rose and fell, Krycek's cock disappearing again and again into his mouth. And Krycek, seemingly hanging on by a fingernail continued to stroke and encourage the other man...

 

***

 

"That's it, baby," Alex gasped as Fox's mouth caressed every inch of him. "God, you're so hot...oh...oh, shit. Fox, wait...stop, baby." He pulled Fox's head away and sat trembling while the older man pulled himself up and snuggled against his heaving chest.

"Alex," Fox cooed against his lover's throat. "Why'd you want me to stop?"

"Too close, baby," Alex gasped. "I was too damn close."

Fox kissed his way up to the younger man's ear and moaned into it, "Don't you want to come in my mouth, Alex?"

Alex's eyes rolled up into his head and his lids dropped over them as his lover continued to provoke him.

"I want to suck every last drop from you. Please let me..."

"Jesus Christ." Alex shifted, holding Fox's head still, and took his mouth in a fierce kiss. After long seconds, he released the older man, leaving him writhing and whimpering. "I'll be back," he whispered against Fox's mouth, then moved to push the older man away. He rose to his feet, then zipped his pants and leaned over the body sprawled on the sofa. "You behave yourself while I'm gone."

Fox reached up, curling his fingers in Alex's jacket. "Where are you going?"

The younger man smoothed the frown from his lover's brow. "Don't worry, I won't leave you for long, but I gotta hit the men's room, then I gotta go get something."

"Something?"

"Yeah." Alex kissed the pouting lips then pryed Fox's fingers loose from his jacket. "Be back in a few." He straightened up and groaned, meeting his lover's heavy-lidded stare.

So damn beautiful.

He forced himself to turn and walk away, giving warning glares to those who were hovering nearby. The predators backed away, correctly reading the glitter in his eyes, and he headed into the bathroom.

 

***

 

Skinner watched, confused and angry that Krycek would actually leave Mulder in that condition and *alone* there with all those vultures orbiting the sofa. Though it had now been a few minutes since Krycek had gone, and not a one of them attempted to approach the man draped over the sofa.

His eyes fell back to Mulder, and he took a deep, steadying breath.

Absolutely gorgeous in repose, the long, lean body lay in a boneless heap across the length of the sofa. Head thrown back over the arm, hair carelessly tousled, and one hand resting on his forehead while the other dangled over the edge of the seat.

God, what a picture. Every pore in the man's body screamed 'fuck me', and so many people would have loved to oblige. He could see it in their expressions...in the way they stared and in every flick of their tongues over too-dry lips.

He was one of them.

He looked around realizing for the first time that his unwanted companion had gone.

//Guess he got tired of talking to himself.//

As he was turning his attention back to the man on the sofa, a familiar voice sounded just behind his right ear.

"You following us or what?"

He spun in his seat and came face to face with Alex Krycek.

"What are doing here, Walt?"

"I didn't follow you," the older man snapped, averting his gaze.

"But you were watching us."

"Half the club was watching you. What the hell are you doing to him, Krycek?"

"Nothing he doesn't want me to do." The younger man moved, coming to stand beside the one who had remained seated. "I didn't know you came to places like this."

Skinner avoided the observation and glanced down at the blanket that the other man carried.

Alex followed the brown gaze and smiled down at Skinner. "They have a rule here. No fucking on uncovered furniture." He smiled as the older man's face went from crimson to near-purple. "Hey, breathe, Wally. Don't have a stroke, now."

"You're...you're *not*."

"I'm not?"

"You wouldn't do that to him."

"Why do you keep saying that? I repeat. I am not doing *anything* to Fox that he isn't begging for me to do to him."

"You're telling me he *wanted* to give you a blow job there in front of all those people?"

"Yeah, that's what I'm saying. What d'you think? You think I held a gun on him? You think I hypnotized him? News flash, Wally, I'm not a magician and, contrary to popular belief, I am *not* the devil. I'm a man just like you are..." He looked the other man up and down. "Well...not *just* like you...and I can't make Fox do anything that he really doesn't want to do. Now. If you'll excuse me..."

"Krycek."

Alex stopped and looked back at the older man.

"Krycek...don't."

Alex gave him a sly grin. "It's just like t.v., Wally. If you don't like what's on, shut it off." That said, he turned on his heel and headed back to his lover.

Skinner sat, clenching his hands and wishing he'd never come to this place.

//He's right, though. You don't want to see it? Get up and walk the hell out.//

Yet, he stayed and watched as the dark-haired man leaned over his lover and dragged his tongue across the slightly parted lips...

 

 

Fox moaned at the feel of his lover's tongue on his mouth, and he stretched up for a kiss. Alex obliged him, then coaxed him to stand. As the younger man spread the folded blanket over the sofa, Fox stood behind him, rubbing and caressing his back and ass.

"Now, are you going to tell me what that's for?"

Alex finished tucking the blanket into the cushions and turned around, pulling Fox into his arms. He laid a long, hungry kiss on him then sat down, pulling the older man across his lap.

Fox forgot his question as Alex brought their mouths together once again.

Tenderly, Alex's mouth slid over the other man's while one hand traveled slowly over his thigh, up his hip and side, then back down, leaving a trail of tingling flesh in its wake.

"I love you so much, baby."

The words flowed like warm honey from his lips, sweetly caressing Fox and sending delicious tingles up his spine.

Fox shuddered delicately at Alex's declaration and sighed softly into his mouth. He curled his arm around his lover's neck, and his lips parted, pressing a bit closer and silently asking for more.

Green eyes flicked up momentarily, meeting with those on the other side of the room, then Alex took his lover's mouth in a deep, bone-melting kiss. While one hand cradled Fox, the other pulled his shirt free of his jeans, and, pulling the older man's arm away from his neck, he pushed the shirt from his shoulders.

Fox arched his back and moaned softly as Alex's hand skimmed over his chest, stroking the hot skin. His tongue tangled with his lover's, caressing and teasing, and turning the heat up on his already over-heated senses. As they kissed, Alex's fingers closed over one nipple, and he withdrew from the younger man's mouth, gasping loudly as his head fell back over the arm that held him.

"That feel good, sweetheart?" Alex rumbled against his throat as he pulled gently on the hard nub.

Fox whimpered and nodded, his eyes half opening.

Alex leaned down and grazed his lover's lips with his own. "I love to make you feel good. There's nothing more beautiful in the world than my Fox when he's turned on." Alex glanced around, quickly surveying their immediate situation. "You know, there are about twenty people watching us." He paused, waiting for Fox's reaction. When the older man sighed and writhed against him, a satisfied smirk curved his mouth. "That makes you hot, doesn't it baby? Tell me."

Fox's chest heaved slowly with the effort it took him to form the word. "Yes," he hissed, rubbing his head against Alex's arm.

"I know it does," Alex purred. "It's in your eyes. They tell me so much." His hand left Fox's chest and slid down over the quivering muscles of his abdomen, then came to rest over the rock-hard bulge in his jeans. A choked moan escaped Fox's throat, and Alex squeezed gently. "I have a surprise for you, Fox."

Golden-brown eyelashes fluttered in the effort of remain open, and Fox turned his head, blinking up at his lover.

Alex stared down into passion-darkened eyes and, as he lovingly stroked Fox's restrained cock, he opened his mouth to speak.

"We have a special guest."

Fox sent him a confused look.

"Skinner is here."

"S-Skinner?"

"And he's watching us."

Fox exhaled and forgot to inhale.

"I saw him as I was coming back in from the car. He didn't follow us, he just happened in here. But he sat there and watched you suck my cock. He'd like to kill me...he *wants* to leave, but he can't. He won't. He's too turned on." His hand began moving in circles over the denim-covered mound. "Just like everybody else who's watching us." He smiled. "We're very pretty together, you know..." Gently, he undid the top button on Fox's jeans. "...you can't blame him for wanting to watch. And you know, maybe this is just what he needs."

Refusing to look around, Fox kept his eyes focused on Alex's. "What he needs?"

The younger man grasped the zipper and slowly worked it downward. "Yeah. He needs to know. I don't think he really knows."

Fox's eyes closed and re-opened as Alex's hand slipped inside the fold of his underwear. "Knows what?"

Alex's fingers curled around the older man's cock and squeezed gently. "That you're mine."

Exquisitely swollen lips parted on a long gasp. "He knows."

"He doesn't want to believe it. He keeps hoping that I'll turn out to be who he thinks I am. He keeps hoping I'll leave you." Alex's hand moved up and down the rigid shaft. "Never. He needs to know that he'll *never* have you." He moved his hand away from his lover's aching cock and started to push his pants down. "Are you mine, Fox?"

Fox stared, mesmerized by the turbulent ocean of green above him. He gave a faint hint of a nod, and before he knew it, he was lifting his hips so that his lover could push his jeans down to his knees.

"Show me, baby...show him."

Alex manuevered himself from under Fox's weight and finished removing the clothing from his lower body. Making quick work of his own, he pulled Fox's legs apart and kneeled between them. As he reached into the inside pocket of the jacket he still wore, he produced a small tube of lubricant then leaned over his overcome lover. "Are you ready, baby?" he asked, squeezing some gel out onto his fingers.

"Yes," Fox rasped, squirming beneath him. "Please, Alex."

Alex kissed his mouth softly then slowly worked his way down, licking and teasing the perspiration-slick skin. He paused at Fox's navel, tickling the indentation then followed the fine line of hair that flowed into the darker thatch that surrounded his cock.

 

***

 

The man who sat sweating not more than twenty feet away, swallowed a frustrated groan as the one laid out on the sofa threw his head back and cried out his lover's name. Even through the blaring music he could hear the sound clearly.

Understandable, he thought, since the bastard kneeling between Mulder's legs had just sucked his cock into his mouth and slid two fingers into his ass.

His own cock threatened to rip a hole through his pants as he watched the man he would never have pant and writhe under his lover's attention.

//What the fuck are you doing? Why are you torturing yourself this way?//

//He won't do it. He won't let that son of a bitch fuck him here in front of all these degenerates. He'll stop it. I want to see him stop it.//

//When you say 'degenerates', are you including yourself? Go home, Walt. You're playing right along with Krycek's warped little game. Don't let him....what...what the fuck is he doing?//

 

***

 

Fox bucked into Alex's mouth, sobbing for release, but the younger man picked his head up, letting his tongue drag along the swollen shaft. He briefly teased the head, licking away the bitter drop of fluid at the tip, then pulled his lover up. He skimmed Fox's jaw with his knuckles, then kissed the tip of his nose.

"Fox...look at me, baby."

The older man's lashes lifted part of the way and he focused a glassy stare on the man before him.

"Do something for me."

Fox swallowed against the dryness in his throat then responded. "What?" he whispered on a ragged breath.

"Ride me."

Fox's mouth fell open and he released a hard breath.

"Please, love." Alex brushed his lips against the other man's. "I love the way you move when you're on top of me."

Without a word, Fox pulled himself to the edge of the sofa with shaking arms and waited until Alex had dropped to his back. He then climbed on top of the prone man and sat up.

Alex reached up, stroking the older man's chest and arms. "You're in control, lover. I'm all yours."

Fox bit down on the corner of his lower lip as Alex plucked lightly at his nipples. He raised his hands up to his lover's, stroking over the backs of them, then down his arms and up again. He hesitated then bent over, bringing their lips together for a long, soft kiss. When he pulled away, he sat up, lifting himself just far enough to guide the other man's cock to his slick opening.

"Oh, God, yesssss." Alex's head rolled back and forth as he felt himself slide into his lover's tight warmth. His hands fell to Fox's legs and slid over his thighs, clenching in the muscles there. His jaw tightened as Fox began to move, and he hissed through gritted teeth, "Show him..."

Fox arched his neck, and he groaned into the pulsing air as he rocked against the man beneath him. "Jesus..." He lifted his head and looked down into black eyes. "I can't...Alex, I can't..." His gaze turned up to a trio of men lounging on a larger sofa about ten feet away, stroking and petting each other while they watched. His eyes dropped back to his lover's. "...can't hold on..."

"Yes, you can, baby," Alex insisted as his hands wandered over Fox's thighs then up to his chest. "Just a little longer. Please? You feel so good."

Fox emitted a soft sob but held himself in check as he continued to glide up and down on his lover's glistening cock.

"Thank you, sweetheart," Alex panted. "Thank you." His fingertips stroked over Fox's throat, then his face. "I love you...my God, I love you..."

Magic words.

Fox grasped the younger man's hands, lacing their fingers together, then held them down beside his head. He leaned in, engaging Alex in a hard, breath-stealing kiss, and when he finally broke away, his mouth moved to the base of the other man's neck, sucking abruptly at the sensitive curve just before the start of his shoulder.

Alex gritted his teeth, enduring the sweet, hot pain as he bucked upward, pushing himself deeper into his lover. Unable to help himself, he cried out as Fox's teeth sank into his flesh, leaving deep grooves when the older man finally pulled away.

And now it was he who couldn't wait.

He wrapped his hand around his lover's cock and began to milk it as their movements turned frantic. His head rolled to the side, and, though initially unfocused, his eyes adjusted to his surroundings, and he fixed a heavy-lidded, glazed stare on the man across the room. His eyes closed as Fox thrashed against him, and his hand automatically increased its speed, insuring that they reached satisfaction together.

"Come on, Alex," Fox gasped as he squeezed his lover's cock on every upstroke. "I'm right there...come with me..."

Alex jerked against Fox as he felt the tremendous release of pressure, and he threw his head back, emitting a long, sobbing growl. His hand stopped moving at the very peak of his climax, but soon resumed its jerky movements, and seconds later, it was covered in warm, slick fluid as Fox shuddered and screamed above him.

 

 

Skinner took no notice of the numbness in his hands as they clenched together. He'd sat right here through the whole thing and still couldn't believe what he'd seen.

Fox Mulder fucking Alex *Krycek* in the middle of a gay club and loving every sticky, sweaty minute of it.

He could say he was disgusted, but it wouldn't be entirely true. The disgust part only came in so far as Krycek was concerned. But Mulder...Fox....he was gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful.

Jesus, his cock throbbed.

How could Mulder waste himself on such a dirty, low, rotten motherfucker when he could know what a real relationship felt like...*and* keep his job...

His regard fell back to the two who were now collapsed on the sofa. Mulder lay on top of Krycek, head tucked under his chin, softly nuzzling his chest, and Krycek...

The green eyes drifted open and again focused on his. A weary but cocky smile was sent his way, and then he turned his attention back to his lover, tightening his arms around the exhausted body and kissing the top of his head.

Skinner closed his eyes, trying to will the shaking of his hands to stop.

//What am I going to do...what the *hell* am I going to do?//

 

***

 

Fox opened his eyes and lifted his head, looking down into the sated face of his lover. Seeing the self-satisfied, amber gleam, Alex smiled up at him, stroking his stubbled chin.

"You're a really bad influence on me."

Fox fell back to his chest, laughing. "Oh, yeah. I don't know what the hell you're doing with a guy like me." He went quiet for a few brief seconds, then pressed into his lover, burying his face in the curve of his shoulder. "Uh...Alex? Maybe we should put our pants on now?"

"What'sa matter, babe? Feeling a draft?"

"No, but...both of your hands are on my back, right?"

"Yeah..."

"Well, somebody's hand was just on my ass."

"*What*?" Alex shifted quickly, practically pushing Fox off of him, and the two men sat up.

Eyes that until this moment were on them, slid away as a piercing green gaze roamed the immediate area.

"You don't think that anyone's gonna step forward and admit to it, do you?" Fox asked while handing Alex his pants and pulling his own on.

Alex sent another glare around the room, then got dressed. Putting his ire aside, he pulled the older man into his arms. "I think Skinner is gone. I don't see him around."

Fox's head lowered at the mention of the other man. "I wonder what he was doing here."

"I don't know." Alex mumbled against his lover's forehead then drew back a bit. "Do I detect a little regret in your voice?"

"I just...I don't want to hurt him, Alex."

"If he's hurting, babe, it's his own fault. He could easily have picked himself up and got the hell out of here as soon as he saw us. Instead, he sat and watched."

"I know, but..."

"But, what?"

"He's still a friend."

"A friend who wants to nail you...even now."

"After tonight? I don't think so."

Alex cupped his lover's chin and lifted until he could see his eyes. "He may have been convinced that he can't have you, but it won't stop him from wanting you. Nothing ever stopped *me* from wanting you."

Fox gave him a soft smile. "Assuming you're right, I wonder what watching us would accomplish...besides aggravating himself, I mean."

"Wally's that gotta-see-it-for-himself type of guy." A devish grin lit his face. "He saw. Now he's gone home to jerk off under the covers...in the dark..."

"Alex..."

"What? He didn't *have* to. I bet he could've found at least one guy around here who wanted to see what kind of heat he was packin'..."

Fox rolled his eyes and shook his head.

"So, if he'd rather go home and whack off while he fantasizes about fucking *my* man, that's his business. I see no reason why you should feel bad about it...I'm thirsty. Want a drink?"

Fox gave his head a quick shake. "I thought you were going to warn me before you did that."

Alex laughed and gave him a fast kiss. "Sorry 'bout that." He summoned a passing waiter and ordered a couple of beers, then relaxed back against the sofa. "God, you did me in. My legs feel like spaghetti."

Fox leaned in, kissing then nipping at his mouth. "You're getting old, Krycek."

"Yeah, well, if I'm old, what does that make you?"

"Me?" The older man grinned. "I'm in my prime."

"Oh. Right." Alex nodded. "Of course, you are."

Fox delivered a stinging slap to his lover's thigh and rose to his feet. "I'm going to the men's room. Try not to miss me too much."

Alex winked at him then tilted his head back against the cushion and closed his eyes. Only a few minutes after his lover had departed, his eyes reopened and he looked up at the man who stood over him. He quickly sized up the newcomer and cocked his head to one side.

"Can I help you?"

"God, I hope so." The standing man's eyes roved appreciatively over the sprawled figure. "I've been looking for a man like you."

Alex gave him a cocky grin. "Who hasn't?"

The other man smiled back. "I knew it."

"Knew what?"

"Knew you were just loaded with attitude. A true Dom."

"Really."

"I was watching you with that sweet thing you're with. Isn't hard to see who's top dog."

Alex listened, amused.

"Anyway, I had a propostion for you."

"Is that right?"

"Yeah." The man glanced to his right. "See the guy at the fourth table from that post?"

Alex leaned back to look. "....Yeah."

"That's my Rodney. If you couldn't tell, he's a sub...big time. And I would *love* to watch you do him. And maybe later, the three of us could..."

"Could *what*?"

Alex's eyes shifted, and he grinned up at Fox who had come to stand directly behind the other man.

Before the man could answer, Fox spoke again, an irritated, possessive glitter in his eyes. "He's not doing anything with you, Rodney, or anyone else." He brushed past the man, taking a seat beside Alex, petting the sable head as the younger man nestled against him. Alex turned his face up, and Fox immediately claimed his mouth. When he broke the kiss, he bit into Alex's lower lip until his victim moaned, then released him and looked back up at the confused man. "You still here?"

Alex waved goodbye to the speechless, retreating man then turned his attention to Fox.

"You weren't very nice to that guy. In fact, you were actually kinda mean." He rubbed his head against his lover's shoulder. "Damn, I'm turned on."

Fox broke into laughter. "You're a twisted bastard."

"Yeah..." Alex took the beers and paid the waiter who had just arrived. "...don't you just love me?"

They drank their beer, danced a little more, then headed for home. Once there, they ripped at each other's clothing, tumbled into the shower and emerged twenty minutes later, exhausted but clean. They fell naked into bed, Alex sprawled across his lover's chest, and they almost immediately drifted into a deep sleep.

 

***

 

"You gonna get that?" Alex murmured to his groaning lover as the ring of the phone pierced the air.

"You're closer."

Alex groped around and finally found the offending object.

"H'llo?"

Silence, then, "Krycek."

Alex's mouth turned into a sleepy smile. "Hey, Walt. What happened to you last night? Fox and I were gonna invite you over for a drink afterward. You looked like you could have used one..."

"Oh, God," Fox groaned. "Give me the damn phone."

Alex moved out of his reach, now fully awake and in perfect, pain-in-the-ass form.

"Hey, Walt, you there?"

There was a heavy silence, then Skinner responded in a low, deliberate voice. "You and I need to talk, Krycek."

"Isn't that what we're doing?"

"Face to face."

"Man to man?"

"Well, you're half right. Meet me at six at my apartment."

"You got it, stud..."

"*Alex*."

He gave Fox a slightly annoyed look and sighed into the phone. "I'm going to give Fox the phone before he pops a vein. Really nice talking to you. Have a good day..."

Fox snatched the phone from Alex's loosened grip and held it up to his ear. "Hello." He heard the long intake of breath, then the soft baritone.

"Mulder...uh...listen, I'm sorry if I woke you up."

"S'okay."

"I'm...I'm sorry about yesterday, too. I should have left as soon as I saw you."

"Don't worry about it...is that why you called?"

"No. No, I...I just called to tell you that your job is still there if you want it." Silence greeted his announcement. "Mulder?"

"Yeah. I'm here. I uh...I guess I really didn't expect to hear that, especially..."

"Especially after last night? Yeah. Me either, but your personal life has nothing to do with your professional life, and if you're very sure that Krycek isn't a risk, then that's good enough for me."

Fox glanced over at his lover who had stretched out alongside him, snuggling into the pillows. He caressed Alex's stubbled cheek and smiled down into the curious face.

"Will you come back to work?"

"...No stipulations?"

"No."

"All right. I'll come back."

Alex's eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Good. See you on Monday, then."

"Right....Walter?"

There was a brief hesitation, then the other man answered.

"Yes?"

"Thank you."

"...Goodbye, Mulder."

Fox waited for the click then placed the phone down on the mattress.

"So, he wants you to come back."

"Yeah."

"Why the sudden change of heart?"

"He's a fair, reasonable man, Alex. He knows he needs me on the X-files."

"He knows he needs you in his bed."

"*And* he knows it's never going to happen. It'll be business as usual."

"Yeah, okay."

"It *will* be."

Alex patted his lover's hand. "Yeah, babe. And then you'll wake up."

"Do you have to be so damned cynical?"

Alex propped himself up on one elbow, resting his head in his hand. "Have I, or have I not, been right so far about both Scully *and* Skinner?"

Fox heaved a heavy sigh. "Yeah, but..."

One dark eyebrow arched.

Fox suddenly rolled over onto the younger man, flattening and pinning him to the mattress. "Don't be so damned smug. Everything's gonna be okay. We'll work it out," he murmured just before his mouth came down on Alex's, obliterating any more thoughts of Skinner and work.

Over an hour later, they collapsed together, struggling for breath.

"God, you're gonna be the death of me," Fox complained good-naturedly, scattering a number of kisses in his lover's hair.

"You started it," Alex rumbled contentedly. "Besides, I thought you were in your prime?"

"That was last night. This morning, I'm feeling just a little old."

The two fell into a long silence, happy to lie coiled together, then Fox shifted, reaching for the phone.

"Who're you calling?"

"Scully."

Alex groaned and rolled onto his back, throwing one arm over his eyes. "So much for basking in the afterglow."

Fox cut him an impatient look as he punched in Scully's number. "You know, you're really gonna have to...Scully. It's me. Yeah...umm, I just wanted to call you to let you know that I'll be back at work on Monday." His voice took on an edge of irritation. "No, Scully, he's right here."

"Morning, Red," Alex called in his sweetest voice, prompting Fox to cover his mouth with his free hand. He chuckled into his lover's palm, then dragged his tongue across it.

Fox stifled a giggle and yanked his hand away, curling it into a fist and waving it at the younger man. Alex responded to the threat by dropping his head into Fox's lap and nuzzling his flaccid cock.

"Bastard. What? No, Scully, I'm not...yeah. He called me a little while ago. He promised no conditions. Huh? Hoarse? N-no, I'm not coming down with a cold. No. J-just a little tired still. Yeah...I will." His hand lowered to Alex's head, running his fingers through the uncombed hair as the younger man began to lick gently at his awakening cock. "I'll get some, Scully. Yeah, I promise. Gotta get out to the store anyway. Okay...right...see you then."

Fox hung up and dropped the phone down by his leg as he pressed his head back into the pillows and moaned.

Alex continued to tease his lover until he was fully erect, then sucked the entire length of the hardened shaft into his mouth. He brought Fox along quickly, unwilling to let his lover go until he felt the bitter proof of his relief pour down his throat. When Fox lay weakly against the pillows, a lazy smile playing at his lips, Alex slid up, kissing him softly. "I'm hungry," he whispered against his lover's mouth.

"Mmm hmm..."

"Come on. Up." He moved away and pulled Fox to his feet, then led him into the bathroom. "Hey...what was Scully telling you to get?"

"Vitamin C. She thinks I may be coming down with something because my voice sounded hoarse."

"Why didn't you just tell her?"

"Oh, yeah," Fox dead-panned as Alex turned on the shower. "That would've been good. 'No, Scully, I'm not catching cold or anything, it's just that Alex has got his head buried in my crotch here, and...'"

When the water was warm, Alex hauled him into the tub. "She's gotta get used to it sometime."

"I know." Fox turned his face up to the spray, saturating his hair, then let Alex do the same. "But I'd rather not push her into it. Let her do it in her own time."

Alex broke into laughter as he turned Fox around and began to wash his back. "Okay, sure. We'll let her do it in her own time. By then we'll either be dead or too old to care."

Skinne

 

 

r shivered in the frigid evening air as he looked down from his balcony to the street below.

Not many cars out tonight, and even fewer pedestrians.

Too cold to be out. People were home with their families having dinner. With friends having a drink or two to fortify themselves against the winter chill...with lovers, bundled away under a layer of blankets...

Before self-pity could drown him in its miserable depths, he noticed a small black car moving up the street. It slowed as it approached his building then swung into the parking garage. The hair on the back of his neck prickled at his skin, and he knew that it had to be Krycek.

He moved into the warmth of his apartment, shutting the door quickly behind him, then paced slowly, waiting for the other man to make his appearance.

The duration of his wait was very brief, though to him, it seemed an eternity.

He took a deep breath and moved to the door when the knock sounded. Swinging the door open, he glared at the young man who stood leaning against the outside frame, arms crossed over his chest.

"Damn, Walt, why the look? Am I late or something?"

Skinner answered his question with a question. "Mulder know you're here?"

"Do you think I'd be here if he knew? I just told him I needed to go out for a while and that I'd be back soon...you gonna let me in, or are we gonna talk right here?"

Skinner scanned the length of the younger man's lean, relaxed body, taking in the worn boots, faded jeans that hugged him in all the right places, and leather jacket that put the finishing touches on his 'who gives a shit' demeanor. He stepped aside, grunting in disgust as Krycek prowled into the room.

"So," the younger man began, brushing past him, "you didn't tell me on the phone this morning. Did you enjoy yourself last night? You must have. You stayed long enough." He stopped in the middle of the living room and grinned at Skinner. "What d'you think? Pretty amazing, huh?"

Skinner's lip merely twitched.

"Told you he was gorgeous when he came." Alex closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. His eyes opened slowly and he gave the older man a sly grin. "And he's all mine." The tip of his tongue slid across the edge of his teeth and the grin faded. "So what do you want?"

The air whistled as Skinner's fist connected with Alex's jaw, spinning the younger man a hundred and eighty degrees.

The younger man froze in his twisted position, taking a moment to allow his vision to clear and the ringing in his head to stop. Finally, he opened his eyes wide, then his mouth, moving his jaw back and forth.

//Shit.//

He shook his head and turned back to face the man who stood before him, hands clenched, and hatred glittering in his eyes. His hand slid over his jaw, and a slow smile curved his lips.

"Nice right hook you got there. Feel better?"

Skinner answered, jaw not budging an inch. "A little."

"Well, that's good, but now *I* feel like shit."

Skinner saw the blow coming but couldn't move fast enough to avoid it. His head snapped back and he stumbled into the side of a chair, falling over the arm and landing sprawled on the seat. Before he could jump to his feet, he found himself inches from the gleaming black barrel of a gun.

Alex stood stone-still, pointing the Varjag at the other man's forehead. "Sorry, Wally," he purred. "I know you would have loved to get another shot in, and while I'm a sucker for a good fight, Fox kinda likes my pretty face the way it is. Now, are you gonna play nice, or do I have to stand here like this until my arm falls off?"

Skinner pulled himself into a more dignified position and glared at the younger man. "I called you here to talk."

"Not much talking so far."

"Put the gun away and sit down."

Alex secured the weapon and tucked it back into the waistband of his jeans. "I prefer to stand. Now why the hell have you got me here?"

"I want the truth from you...if you're capable."

"Truth about what?"

"What do you want with him?"

Alex stalked away, moving a few steps toward the sliding doors, then spun back to face Skinner. "Oh, for the love of...what is it with you and Scully?"

"We care about Mulder."

"Do you? Do you *really*."

"*Yes*."

"Then leave him alone. Stop trying to *protect* him."

"Somebody's got to."

"What, I haven't been doing a good enough job?"

"It's you he needs protection from."

Alex shook his head, laughing softly. "Walter, Walter, Walter. You're *so* wrong. He couldn't be more safe. I wouldn't hurt a hair on his pretty head. And I'd kill any motherfucker who even dared to look at him sideways." He moved forward and sat on the arm of the chair opposite the other man. "He'd do the same for me. Want to know why? He loves me. Oh, but you heard that the other day..."

"And I believed him," Skinner interrupted. "That's what scares the hell out of me. When you finally decide that you're tired of him and take off, it's going to devastate him."

"I'm not going anywhere, Walt." Alex paused for a moment, making sure that he had the other man's attention, then continued. "Hear what I'm telling you. Let the words saturate your brain. It should be easy. You got no hair up there to stop them. You listening? Okay. I. Love. Fox. Did you get that or do I need to wheel in a chalkboard?"

"Your assurances carry no weight with me, Krycek. I know who and what you are. You're incapable of love just like you're incapable of telling the truth."

"Fox would beg to differ. He's sure I love him."

"He's confused."

"Oh, really?"

"I don't know what you've done to him, but..."

Alex covered his face and rubbed his eyes with his fingertips. "God, you sound like Scully. Don't you two ever give it a rest?"

"Hard to do when someone we both care for is flirting with the devil."

"Thanks for the compliment, Wally, but we've gone *way* past flirting...and by the way. I know why you offered him his job back."

"Do you really?"

"It's got nothing to do with trusting his judgement. If you did, you wouldn't have me here. You know that if he isn't at the Bureau, you can't be near him. You can't be there to comfort him when I fuck up."

"And you *will* fuck up, Krycek. It's inevitable. And yeah, he *will* need someone to comfort him."

"Why don't you just say what you mean, Walt?"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Comfort him, fuck him...same thing, isn't it?"

"I'm not even going to respond to that."

"You don't have to," Alex said softly. "Give it up, Skinner. It's not going to happen. I'm not leaving him. I love him."

Skinner stared at the younger man, shaking his head. "You don't love him, you self-centered bastard. If you did, you never would have done what you did to him last night."

"What I did to him," Alex repeated. "You really think he's some mindless twit, don't you? Believe me Wally, he was into it in a very big way."

"*I* would never put someone I loved on display for a bunch of drunk, horny men like you did."

"I didn't *put* him on display," Alex sneered. "He knew exactly what he was doing, and he loved it. He *wanted* it. And I'll *never* refuse him anything he wants."

"Come on, Krycek, you mean anything *you* want."

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I didn't want it too. And I'm not going to tell you that I didn't initiate it. But I took my cues from Fox. He was in the driver's seat."

"How the hell can you say that? Are you forgetting that I was there?"

A wry grin twitched at the corners of Alex's mouth. "No, I'm not forgetting how you stayed and watched every second of it. Fox actually felt bad afterward, you know. Said he didn't want to hurt you. Isn't he sweet? It's one of the things I love about him. His sense of adventure is another. And then there's his..."

"You call last night an adventure? I call it degradation."

"You're just pissed because it wasn't you under him." Alex cocked his head to one side. "What, nothing to say?"

The older man fixed a hateful stare on him.

"Tell me, Wally. Tell me it's not true. Can't, can you?"

"Not in a club full of people. I have more respect for him than that."

A mocking laugh reached Skinner's ears. "You mean you've got more fear than that. You're afraid of him. You want him, but you wouldn't know what to do with him if you had him. You could never satisfy his appetites, and you know it..."

"You have no idea what I could do for him."

"No, you're right. I can't imagine what you could do for him. I know what you can't, though." Alex studied the other man's expression. "You try to keep a tight leash on him at work. You try to control him...to hold him back, but he keeps getting away from you. You want to make him into who you want him to be. So does Scully. But you can't. You never will. The sooner you get that, the better off you'll be."

"I don't know why I should explain this to you, but there's a certain amount of discipline involved in our job, Krycek. I *have* to reel him in sometimes."

"*Sometimes*. If it's a matter of safety, yeah, but that isn't your only reason. And it's certainly not the only time you interfere. You've got a bigger agenda than that. You've been trying to restrain him for years now. "You figure if you can make him conform at work, then he'd be more easily trained to accept the confines of a personal relationship with you. Doesn't work, does it? Yet, you continue to try. That's why you'd never have him. Even if I was nowhere in the picture and you managed to snag him, you wouldn't keep him. You couldn't. He'd start to suffocate and he'd be gone."

"You're crazy. I indulge him plenty."

"Short lived though it may be. As soon as he wanders beyond the edges of your shadow, you're ready to bust out the collar and leash."

"Sounds more like *your* M.O., Krycek, not mine."

"Well," the younger man grinned, "it's true that the thought of Fox in a studded collar does get me pretty hot." He gave a deliberate little shudder. " Anyway...tell me something. Let's say for just a minute that he was with you. And one night he mentioned to you that he'd really love to suck you off under your desk during work hours. What would you do? Tell the truth."

"What do you *think* I'd do?" the older man snapped. "You know the trouble we'd both be in if..."

"Stop." Alex held a hand in the air. "Stop, stop before I fall asleep. You know what *I'd* do? I'd make it happen. Any way I could."

"I would expect no less from you, Krycek, perverse as you are. All you can see is your own sick need. To hell with what's best for him."

"Wally, your ideas and my ideas of what's best for Fox are miles apart. And it might surprise you to know that my ideas and needs fall pretty much in line with his. We're very much in tune to each other. And as that *is* true, I know when my interference is warranted and when it isn't. He's a grown man, Wally, not a child. If I treated him the way you and Scully do, our relationship would be over in a month."

Skinner snorted. "So, what was all that ranting and raving you were doing when we were at his apartment? Was that all a big act for our benefit?"

"*No*, Walter, that was real. I never said that Fox never did some unreasonable, crazy shit. If his life is in danger, I won't hesitate to step in. I understood his thinking in this particular situation, but I didn't agree with it. Though if our positions were reversed and I had no other choice, I would have done the same thing. Love'll make you do some pretty insane stuff. I never understood that until now."

"Oooh, I'm melting. Who knew you were such a romantic, Krycek."

Alex gave him a blank look. "Fox knows. You know, you won't believe this, just like you haven't believed anything else I've said to you, but I was scared to death when I realized where he was. They could have killed him before I reached him..."

"Yeah, and then who would you have to toy with?"

Alex stared at the older man, shaking his head in disbelief. "You'll never get it. You're too comfortable with your hate and your jealousy to ever get it." He moved slowly in the direction of the door. When he reached it, he turned and faced the other man who had remained seated. "You just see that Fox is settled and happy back at his job." He gave Skinner a hard stare. "I'll take care of the rest."

Skinner could do nothing but sit and stare as the younger man slipped out of his apartment.

 

 

The flickering of the television filled the otherwise dark room with a bluish-white light, dancing over the prone body of the man who lay patiently waiting for his lover's return.

Alex hadn't said where he was going, and unsure of whether he should push the issue, Fox had remained silent. Besides, Alex'd probably tell him about it when he got back.

He glanced absently down at his watch, then turned his attention to the news.

Close to two hours after he had left, Alex returned, carrying an armful of roses. He walked in and sat at the edge of the sofa, wearing a lopsided grin. He set the roses down on the coffee table and turned to face Fox.

"Hi honey, I'm home."

Fox shook his head, chuckling softly. "You're a sick puppy." His grin faded as the pale light revealed a dark patch along the left side of the younger man's jaw. "Alex...what happened to you?"

Alex brought his hand up to his face. "Oh. Uh...I...whacked myself in the face with my car door?"

"Alex, come on. Where were you?"

Might as well tell him the truth. When he got to work tomorrow and took a look at Skinner, he was going to know for sure.

"Skinner and I had a nice little chat."

Fox bounded off the sofa to turn the light on and returned. He touched his lover's face gently, but anger brewed in his eyes. "Skinner did this?"

"Don't get too bent out of shape, Fox, he's wearing a matching bruise."

A half dozen questions raced through Fox's mind. He hastily picked one, and the inquest began.

"Where'd you see him?"

"His place."

"That's where you had to go?"

"Yeah. When he called this morning, he asked to talk. Well, I don't know if *asked* is the right word for it."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Would you have let me go?"

"*No*."

"That's why I didn't tell you. Wally and I needed to get things squared away."

Fox blew out a heavy sigh. "By beating on each other."

"We didn't *beat* on each other. We each threw only one punch."

"Who started it?"

"Well...I guess that depends on what you mean by *started it*. If you want to know who threw the first punch, he did. But I guess I provoked him."

"You *guess*."

Alex shrugged. "Yeah. I mean, if he had you and I wanted you, and he was taunting me about it, I supposed I'd slug him too."

"God, Alex..." Fox gave him a chastising look, then further investigated his jaw. "Looks a little swollen. I don't know what good ice is going to do now, but it can't hurt. Stay put." He vacated his seat and walked into the kitchen, returning minutes later with a plastic bag full of ice, wrapped in a towel. He held the ice pack to Alex's face, and the younger man looked up at him through a sweep of dark lashes.

"You mad?"

"I'm not happy. And don't look at me like that."

"Like what?"

"Like *that*."

"Why not?"

"Because I can't concentrate, that's why not."

"Oh." Alex leaned forward and rested his head on Fox's shoulder.

"What are you doing?"

"Not looking at you."

"God, you're impossible."

"More trouble than I'm worth?"

Fox set the ice pack down and tilted Alex's head up. He studied the younger man for a moment then smiled, shaking his head. He moved in, taking Alex's mouth in a lingering, tender kiss, then wrapped him in his arms.

"You're a shitload of trouble, Krycek, but well worth every bit of it. But uh...babe?"

Alex nuzzled his lover's shoulder. "Hmm?"

Fox gently pushed the younger man away and again lifted the ice to his cheek. "Could you please, pleeease not provoke Skinner anymore? I'm not saying he was right to punch you. In fact, I'm pretty pissed about it, but baby, I don't want to go through the rest of our lives...or at least the rest of my career refereeing the two of you."

"Yeah, I can try, but we're never going to be friends, Fox. Not even close."

"I know that. And I know that this is an uncomfortable situation at best. But I've got to work with Skinner...*and* Scully, and at some point we're all going to wind up in each other's company. It'd really makes things a little easier for everybody if the threat of bloodshed wasn't looming over us."

Alex shrugged. "I'll do my part, I promise."

"Thank you." Fox bestowed a quick kiss on the younger man's lips, then drew back, fixing a narrow stare on him. "Now. What the hell did you two talk about?"

"It was the same old 'you're using him, no I'm not' shit. We'll be old and gray, celebrating thirty years together, and he still won't believe that I'm in this because I love you."

Fox smirked, pulled the ice pack away from Alex's face to investigate the swelling, then replaced it. "I don't think it'll take *that* long."

Alex brought his hand up, covering the one that held the ice to his jaw. His thumb rasped across his lover's knuckles. "He said that if I loved you, I wouldn't have degraded you."

"When'd you do that?"

"At the club. He thinks you did what you did only because I wanted you to."

Fox smiled and gave a small shake of his head.

"Fox?"

"What?"

"You didn't, did you?"

"Didn't what?"

"Just go along with it because it's what I wanted."

"Alex..." Fox set the ice pack down on the coffee table and moved closer to the other man, stopping when their legs were touching. "I love you with my whole heart and soul, but if I really don't want to do something, I promise you, you will *not* be able to talk me into it. And as I know that you can be just as stubborn as I can, I think I can pretty much guarantee you big fights in our future." His statement was received with a smile. "Feel better?"

Alex pushed him back against the cushions and nestled into the warmth of his chest. "Yeah."

"Of course, Skinner has no idea that what he said got you wondering, does he?"

"Hell no. Never show the enemy weakness."

"The *enemy*?"

"He ain't no ally. So...you like your flowers?" Alex pulled a single bloom from the bouquet that lay on the table.

"Yes, darling," Fox responded in a light, feminine tone. "You're so thoughtful."

"Uh huh."

The rose skipped along Fox's jaw, tickling and teasing.

"I..." he laughed softly, rubbing his hand along the path that the flower had taken. "I'd better put those in water, don't you think?"

"Actually," Alex purred, leaning in until their lips were just barely touching, "I've got a better use for them."

"I should've known."

Alex gathered up the roses and took Fox's hand, pulling him up and into the bedroom. Tossing the flowers down onto the bed, he began to unbutton Fox's shirt. "You ever fantasize about making love on a bed of roses, baby?" he asked, brushing his lips over the newly exposed skin.

Fox stifled a moan. "No, Alex, I really can't say that I have. I think I'd be afraid of the stems jabbing me in bad places."

Alex pulled away and gave him an exasperated look. "Not the stems, wiseass. Just the petals."

"Oh." Fox grinned and shrugged. "No. What's it like?"

"Don't know." Alex undid the last two buttons and ran his hands slowly over his lover's chest. "Never did it before. Never *wanted* to do it before." His hands moved around to Fox's back, and he pulled the older man against him. "But I can see you..." His hands wandered up and down the smooth skin. "...so beautiful, showered in rose petals..."

"Where did *this* come from?"

Alex laughed softly. "It's freezing out. On the way back here I started thinking about spring and seeing the cherry trees in bloom. You ever take a walk through them on a windy day? It's like a pink snowstorm. So anyway, I got to thinking of us lying under them, and all these petals raining down on us as we made love."

Fox grinned. "So, of course you turned into the first florist you saw and picked up an armload of pink roses..."

Alex pulled his lover's shirt off. "Too long to wait for cherry blossoms." He tossed the shirt onto the chair near the foot of the bed then turned his attention back to Fox. His palms glided over the older man's chest, circling the puckering nipples, then moving up and over his shoulders. "Your skin is so warm."

"Yeah," Fox murmured, focusing his gaze on Alex's mouth, "well, you kinda got my blood pumping."

"Let's see what else I can get pumping." Alex's lips parted, sliding across his lover's mouth before closing over it.

Fox's fingers clenched in Alex's shirt, pulling it free of his jeans as they kissed, then he went to work on the buttons. Once his lover's shirt joined his on the chair, he reached down to undo the faded jeans. As he pulled away from Alex's mouth intent on pulling his pants down, the younger man pulled him back, initiating a second, desperate kiss. When Alex finally released him, he smiled at the younger man, confused and out of breath.

"What was that about?"

"Sorry," Alex panted. "I had to have more."

"And you couldn't wait two mintues."

"No, I couldn't."

Quickly, they finished undressing each other, then Alex lifted a rose from the pile, tearing the head away from the calyx and sprinkling the petals over the mattress. This he did again and again until the whole bed was littered with rose petals. He looked from Fox to the bed, motioning silently for the other man to lie down.

Fox sat on the bed, smiling at the way the soft petals felt against his skin, then he swung himself around so that he was lying on his back. Alex stood over him, admiring the view.

"Very nice. How does it feel?"

"Odd," Fox answered honestly. But nice. Soft."

Alex inhaled and pulled another rose apart, and then another. He released a few petals at a time, watching them flutter and settle gently over and around his lover's body. Fox squirmed with pleasure, as he was gradually covered in a blanket of pink, then giggled softly as a petal fell across his lips. He blew it off then looked up at Alex, eyes shining.

"You gonna bury me or what?"

Alex nodded. "Till just your cock and your nose are sticking up."

Fox lifted his head, and a handfull of petals fell from his hair. "Is that a crack regarding the size of my nose?"

"Nooo." Alex picked up the last rose and settled himself on top of the older man. "I love your nose. It's perfect just like the rest of you." He dragged the rose down the bridge of Fox's nose. "Beautiful." The rose moved over Fox's lips, down his chin and throat, and ended where their bodies touched. "This feels good," he sighed, wriggling against the body beneath him and enjoying the silken sensastion of the rose petals sliding between them.

"Yeah, it does," Fox answered, stroking his back.

"When spring comes, I want to go out one night and make love to you under the cherry trees."

Fox laughed but said nothing.

"I'm serious, you know."

"Alex, we can't."

"Forget can't. There's no such word as can't. Unless I'm telling you I can't hold it anymore..."

Hazel eyes rolled in mock exasperation.

"Would you like to do it?"

Fox's eyes closed and his mouth curved into a soft smile. "It sounds nice."

Alex lifted his weight from Fox's and settled himself on the mattress, pressing into his lover's side. The rose danced over the older's man's chest, skimming each nipple and teasing them into tight brown peaks. "Oh, yeah, baby. I'd love to lay you down in a patch of new grass and listen to all those pretty sounds you make, echoing in the spring breeze..."

Fox arched and gasped softly as Alex's words and the feather-light touch of the rose against his skin sent tingles through the far reaches of his body.

Alex smiled as he watched his lover writhe in pleasure. He drew the rose slowly down Fox's chest and abdomen, letting it barely brush the scattering of light hair that led down to the heavier thatch of dark curls. He watched the rigid cock twitch in response, but he did not let the rose touch it. Instead, he drew the pink blossom down one thigh, scattering individual petals as it moved. When he reached Fox's shin, he worked his way back up, taking care to avoid his lover's cock, and let the rose slide down the other leg.

"Alex?"

"Yeah?"

"Please touch me."

"I *am* touching you."

//Oh, no. Oh, please, please, please. Not now...//

"Yes, you are, and it feels so good. B-but I really need for you to touch my cock."

"Why?" Alex brushed the rose against the sole of Fox's foot and watched it jump.

"Cause I *need* you to."

"Fox?" Alex grinned. "Are your teeth clenched?"

No answer.

"You do that when you're annoyed about something. Are you annoyed with me, Fox?"

"No, I am *not* annoyed. But I will be in about thirty seconds if you don't do what I'm asking."

A soft, satisfied chuckle accompanied the brush of the rose over the length of Fox's flushed erection. Alex watched pleased as the older man's muscles bunched and his cock leapt, seeking more contact than that of a mere whisper of a touch. He flicked the rose back and forth across the tip of his lover's cock until the edges of the petals glistened with the moisture they'd gathered.

Fox's hips bucked and a series of short, harsh sounds rolled from his throat.

"Hey, I've got a question," Alex asked curiously, lightly flogging the older man's cock and balls with the head of the rose."Do you think that I could make you come like this?"

"If I said no, would you just take my word for it and put me out of my misery?"

Alex smiled sweetly down at him. "Nah. What fun would that be?"

"Tons of fun, I promise you."

Alex shook his head vigorously, grinning from ear to ear. "No, I think I'll have to run a little experiment here..."

"No," Fox pleaded. "No, you..." His words faded into a moan as Alex's hand moved continuously, letting the rose glide up and down his cock.

"You like that, Fox?"

The other man sighed audibly and nodded.

"Like it enough to come?"

"I can't...I...it's just a tease..."

Alex lowered his head, brushing his mouth over his lover's. "Aww. Okay, I'll tell you what? I'll give you a little more help." He moved away, pulling open the nightstand drawer and removing the tube of Astroglide.

Fox's breath came out in a rush of relief and his body began to shake slightly. "God, thank you...thank you."

Alex smirked down at him and, laying the rose down by the other man's hip, he stroked some of the cool gel onto his own throbbing erection. He moaned softly at the sensation, then removed his hand. "Sit up, babe."

Fox obeyed and waited for his next instruction. He watched as Alex lay back against the pillows and drew the rose down his thigh. The younger man smiled up at him and stroked his own cock. "Let's go."

Quickly, Fox straddled his lover's hips, impaling himself on his cock. Just as he was about to push downward, Alex's hands at his waist, stopped him.

"Whoa, baby. Easy."

Fox shook his head in defiance. "I need you." His eyes closed, and a hard breath escaped his lips as Alex pushed up gently and stroked the rose along the side of his cock.

"I know." Alex crooned. "But can we do this nice and easy? For a little while at least?"

Fox stared down at the younger man, impatience glittering in his eyes. "All right," he gave in. "Just for a little while."

He relaxed the best he could and let Alex guide him slowly with one hand while he teased his cock with the other. His head rolled back as he moved, feeling the hard warmth fill him, and the light pressure of the rose stroking over his cock. The sensations made him shiver, and his cock throbbed, begging for relief. He endured the agonizingly slow pace for a few minutes more, then opened his eyes to find his lover staring up at him.

Alex gave Fox a trembling smile. "You're beautiful to watch."

Fox bit down on his lower lip and said nothing as he fought to maintain his composure.

"Now, I want to watch you come." His hips rocked faster, and the rose again slapped lightly against his cock.

A soft whimper formed in Fox's throat as he moved against his lover with more force. "Alex," he panted, unable to stand it a moment longer. "Please..."

"It's up to you, baby," Alex encouraged, stroking and occasionally flogging the older man's cock with the wilting bloom. "Any time you're ready." He tilted his pelvis and drew his knees up, supporting the older man as he began to thrash.

Fox screamed as Alex's cock now hit his prostate on nearly every stroke.

"You got it, baby," Alex gasped, never letting up on the subtle stimulation of his lover's tormented cock. "Come on...take me with you..."

Sweat trickled down Fox's face and neck as he slammed back against Alex's hips again and again. Loud, guttural sounds filled the air as he came, shooting a stream of thick fluid up and over Alex's hand and belly.

Alex immediately followed him, sobbing Fox's name as violent spasms shook his body. He emptied himself into his lover then sagged against the pillows, soon finding himself with an armful of exhausted, sweat-slick Fox.

They lay quietly, each man attempting to catch his breath, then Fox opened his eyes and looked down at Alex.

"We look like we should be a float in Pasadena."

Alex broke into laughter, plucking a rose petal from Fox's chest. "Okay, so I didn't think about how they were gonna stick to us."

"No kidding."

"They'll come right off of us, and all we gotta do is fold the sheet up and shake it out the window. It was fun, wasn't it?"

"Yeah." Fox picked up the single remaining rose and grinned down at Alex. "I should press this one in a book with a little note. 'February twenty-sixth. Nineteen ninety-nine. Here lies the only rose in the world to ever get a man off.'"

"How do you know it's the only one?"

"Aww, Alex, there can't possibly be somebody out there kinkier than you."

Alex stretched up for a light kiss. "That's sweet. Come on, let's get these petals off before they dry and we have to use window scrapers or something."

Over an hour and a half later, everything was cleaned up, and the two were between fresh sheets, sleeping a deep, dreamless sleep.

 

 

"Nice to see you at your desk."

Fox smiled up at his partner. "Thanks."

"I'm glad Skinner realized how important it is to have you here....muffin?"

Fox glanced at the offered bag in Scully's left hand. "No thanks. Alex made me a big breakfast this morning."

Blue eyes cut down to the floor. "Oh. Well..."

"If you've got two cups of coffee in there, though, I'll take one. I need all the caffeine I can get."

"Rough night?"

Fox smiled softly. "No."

When it was clear that he would say no more, Scully turned away and set the bag down on her desk. She hung her coat up and removed two cups from the paper sack, handing one to her partner.

"Thanks." He took a sip and cleared his throat. "So...I see a bunch of stuff piled up here on my desk. Guess I'd better start slogging through it."

Before Scully could answer, a soft knock sounded at the partially open door.

"Good morning, sir," Scully addressed the A.D. as he came to stand just inside the doorway.

"Morning." Skinner glanced from Scully to Fox. Their eyes held for a moment, and he looked away. "Good to have you back, Agent Mulder."

"Thank you," Fox said softly, but his voice as well as his stare was hard as nails.

"Sir? What happened to you?" Scully asked, now noticing the bruise on the left side of the A.D.'s face.

Skinner gave a nonchalant shake of his head. "Nothing. Just a stupid little accident."

"*Little* accident? Looks like you were hit with a brick."

Skinner's eyes flicked quickly from Fox to his partner. Scully did not miss the look.

"N-no, I'm fine. It's not that big a deal. Uh...anyway, I just wanted to come down and welcome Agent Mulder back and let you both know that there's a department meeting at eleven in conference room three."

The two agents nodded and Skinner took a step backward. "I'll see you both there."

Without another word, he left the office as soon as he'd closed the door behind him, Scully turned on her partner.

"What the hell was that?"

"What was what?"

"You know what happened to him, don't you?"

No reply.

"Mulder...tell me you didn't slug him."

"Of *course* not."

"Well then, *what*..." Her mouth dropped open and she stared blankly at him. "No...oh, no." Her voice lowered to a harsh whisper. "*Krycek* did that?"

Still nothing.

"*Mulder*..."

"You don't know what happened, Scully."

"I don't *care* what happened. Your boyfriend hit your boss!"

"Because my boss hit him first!"

Scully stared in silence.

"That's right, Scully. Skinner insisted that they talk, Alex met him *without* my knowledge at his apartment, and Skinner let him have it."

"Krycek must have done something to provoke him."

"You're just going to find any way you can to pin this on Alex, aren't you?"

"I'm sorry, Mulder, but I just really have a hard time imagining that Skinner hit him without the slightest bit of provocation."

"I'm not saying that they didn't have words beforehand, but it was Skinner who threw the first punch. Now, you didn't really expect Alex to stand there and take it, did you?"

"N-no, but...God, Mulder, couldn't he have just left?"

"*Alex*?"

She sighed heavily. "Okay, I suppose that was a stupid question. So, if you weren't there, who broke up the fight?"

"There *was* no fight. They each only threw one punch, then they talked."

"Talked," Scully repeated. "Why can't I see that?"

"I didn't say that it was a friendly chat, Scully. I said they talked."

"So, is anything settled?"

"Probably about as settled as things are with *you* two."

"So. Not really."

"Not really. You three have *got* to come to some sort of understanding though, Scully."

Mulder, I've told you that I'll try and deal with this thing for your sake. I don't know what more you could want from me. I'll never trust Krycek."

"Why, Scully? Who had more reason to distrust him than me? And now I trust him with my life."

"And I still think you need a psychiatrist."

"Why, because I'm in love?"

"Mulder, you know perfectly well that I would never..." she paused and took a breath. "..would never begrudge you any happiness. But this has nothing to do with you being in love, and everything to do with who it is you're in love *with*."

"God. I'm so tired of going through this with you. Just...promise me you'll be civil. That's all I ask of either of you."

"Don't worry about me. I promise I'll never take a swing at your boyfriend's pretty face."

"You say it with such disdain."

"What?"

"Boyfriend." He studied her for a long moment then said softly, "I'm sorry."

"Sorry about what?"

"I'm...I...I'm sorry if I...if this has hurt you in any way."

Scully's eyes slipped away from his. "I'm fine, Mulder. As...as long as he doesn't hurt *you*."

"He won't. Not intentionally."

"That's not good enough."

"I appreciate your sentiments, Scully, but they're not exactly reasonable. Two people can be deeply in love and still hurt each other. It happens. They don't mean to, but it *does* happen sometimes. I've hurt *him*..."

"It's inconceivable to think that Alex Krycek could ever be emotionally hurt."

"Why not, Scully? If you love, you're subject to hurt. And he loves me."

Scully shrugged. "I guess that's where it begins, Mulder. I'm still having a hard time with that."

"Contrary to what you think, Scully, he *is* a human being, and he's got feelings...and they run very deep."

Scully's lack of a response came as no big surprise to him. He knew she still didn't believe it, and he also knew that she wearied rather quickly of these 'Alex' duscussions, especially when she made absolutely no headway.

"Well, I'd better get moving on these files."

Scully looked to the stack of folders on her partner's desk and nodded. "Okay," she answered solemnly. "I've got some work of my own to do." She drifted over to her desk and sat down, eyeing the man who had immersed himself in the files before him.

//God help you if you're wrong about him, Mulder. In fact, he may have to help us all.//

 

***

 

"Come in."

The door to Skinner's office swung silently open and Fox Mulder stalked in, composed, resolute, and sexy as all get out. Gold-flecked eyes focused on his target as long, purposeful strides carried him to the front of the AD's desk. Skinner took a deep, steadying breath and motioned to the other man's usual seat. Fox ignored the offer and stared down at him.

"I was not a very happy camper last night. In fact, I'm still not."

Skinner looked down at the pen he twirled between his fingers. "I didn't think you would be."

"Then, why?" There was the slightest edge of irritation in his tone. "Why did you ask him to your place? Why'd you hit him?"

"In case you hadn't noticed, it didn't exactly go unanswered."

Fox's gaze flicked to the bruising on the other man's face then returned to his eyes. "You had to have expected that you'd get as good as you gave."

"I didn't expect anything. I didn't think. I was too angry. By the time I was able to give it a second thought, I was sprawled across a chair, seeing stars."

"What were you so angry about?"

Skinner drew himself up straighter in his chair. "Your...lover...is an infuritaing, arrogant man. He enjoys pushing people's buttons. He can't go around instigating trouble with impunity..."

Fox didn't ask what it was that Alex had said to piss Skinner off; he was pretty sure he could accurately guess.

"...He would have received a lot worse," Skinner continued honestly, "if I hadn't found myself with a gun pointed in my face."

"Gun?"

"Oh, you don't know about that? After he hit me and I fell back into the chair, I started to get up, but he pulled a gun on me."

"And *that's* what stopped you from killing each other?"

"Yeah. He said you wouldn't appreciate it if he went home with his face all messed up." Skinner stopped talking and watched as the other man turned and prowled the width of the room. He chewed on a tiny corner of his mouth as his eyes followed each sweep of those long, Armani-encased legs and imagined them naked and wrapped tightly around his hips, muscles flexing as they pulled him in, wanting him deeper and deeper...

"....should have pulled his gun on you..." Skinner blinked, pulling himself out of his impossible fantasy and turned his attention up to the man who had stopped pacing and was now speaking to him. "...he shouldn't have. But you shouldn't have asked him to your apartment. What did you hope to accomplish knowing full well that you would never believe anything he said to you?"

"I don't...I don't know. I guess I just hoped I'd be able to read him...to make some sort of definite determination. I hoped I'd be able to learn what his intentions really are."

Fox folded his arms across his chest. "And?"

The other man shook his head. "All I can see is trouble."

"Because it's all you want to see. It's all you and Scully will ever want to see."

Skinner averted his eyes. "Do me favor," Fox said softly, drawing the older man's attention back. "Just leave it alone. I'm living my life the way I want to, and I'm happier than I've ever been. I'll be fine...as long as I have him, I'll be just fine. I'd like for you to be able to accept that, but if you really can't, I'll understand and just ask that we not discuss my personal life at all." He watched the older man for some sign of a response. When there was none, he spoke again. "I'm very sorry if I'd given you any...if you'd thought for even a second, we could've..."

Skinner held up a hand. "You didn't. It's my fault. All mine. I'll keep a personal distance. But..."

Fox waited.

"Still, please know that if you should ever need me or..."

"Thank you."

Skinner stared for a few seconds longer than he needed to then looked down at his desk. "Go on home, Agent Mulder. I'm sure it's where you'd like to be right now."

Fox nodded and backed up a few steps before turning and vacating the room.

The slow, painful thud of his heart ticked off the seconds as Skinner stared down at the folder in his clenched hands. The impulse to fling it across the room was almost too much to resist, but ultimately, good-sense and discipline took over. He drew in a long breath and let it out slowly, still looking down at the folder. He opened it up and regarded the jumble of words before him.

//Fuck it.//

He pushed himself away from his desk, snatched his jacket off of the

 

 

 

Home.

Fox opened the door and walked in, sniffing appreciatively at the smells coming from the kitchen. He smiled uncontrollably as the reality of just how much his life had changed hit him.

He took his coat off and walked into the kitchen, practically hitting Alex with the door as the other man was exiting.

"Sorry," Fox laughed softly and wrapped his arms around the younger man. "Hi honey, I'm home."

"No kidding." Alex returned the embrace then laid a tender kiss on his lover's lips. "You hungry?"

"Yeah. Smells great."

"It'll be ready in about fifteen minutes, so why don't you go change?"

"Okay." He stole another quick kiss and turned to the door. Just as he reached it, he stopped and smirked at the other man. "Why do I feel the urge to put on a cardigan sweater and call you June?"

"If you want to look like a geek, go right ahead," Alex shrugged. "But I'll tell you what. Don't expect to see me in a blonde wig and pearls any time soon."

Fox laughed all the way to the bedroom.

He pushed the door open, and the laughter turned into a choking cough.

"Ohhhhh my...God...."

 

***

 

Alex carried two heaping plates out into the dining room and set them down. As he was turning back into the kitchen, Fox's voice rumbled from the direction of the bedroom.

"Al-ex!"

He threw his head back and laughed softly.

Fox came back into the room with a look on his face that sent Alex in a fit of giggles.

"What did you do?"

"What's it look like I did?"

"I *know* what it looks like, I want to know why!"

"That isn't what you asked. You asked *what* did I do."

"Alex, quit talking in circles. You *know* what I mean!"

Alex gave him an irresistible pout. "You don't like it?"

"I..." Fox sputtered, not knowing exactly what to say. "What possessed you to..."

"Remember when you said you'd like to watch me while I was fucking you?"

Fox blinked then stared. "Yeah, but...Alex, you don't have to take things so literally..."

Alex's shoulders slumped. "You *don't* like it."

"I...I didn't say that..."

"You didn't say you *did*."

"I'm just a little shocked, you know? I mean...I...oh, God..."

"I'll take it down if you want."

"No! N-no, I didn't say I wanted you to do that."

Alex stared down at the floor, giving Fox his best sulk. "I just wanted to surprise you. I thought you'd like it. Guess I should have asked first."

Alex could play him like a fiddle.

Thing was, he knew it...and he loved it.

Fox slipped his arms around the younger man's waist and pulled him close.

"I *am* surprised, baby. I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I didn't like it."

Alex brightened. "So you *do* like it?"

"Yeah." Fox kissed the tip of his nose. "Uh...but, umm...it's not gonna fall on us or anything, is it?"

"Of course not. There's a special adhesive just for that."

Fox nodded. "Okay." He glanced over to the table. "Why don't we eat before dinner gets cold?" He let his hand slide up and down Alex's back. "Then we can go and uh...have a better look at your handiwork."

Alex growled softly, nipping at Fox's lower lip. "You got it." He took the older man by the hand and led him to the table.

While they ate, they made conversation about Fox's day and his confrontations with Scully and Skinner. When the meal had ended, he helped Alex clean up and they adjorned to the bedroom.

Fox craned his neck, looking up at the eight by eight squares that took up an area of roughly four feet by six feet.

"You work fast."

Alex approached him from behind and nibbled at the back of his neck. "Only when I need to."

The older man's head fell forward and he moaned almost inaudibly as Alex continued to tease the sensitive patch of skin. Almost any place Alex touched him seemed to result in arousal, but this was definitely one of Fox's more erogenous zones. He shuddered as the younger man nipped and pulled at the fine hairs that ran along the length of his neck.

"Mmmm."

Alex licked a trail from the base of Fox's neck up into his hair. "Yes?"

"You know what that does to me."

"Oh, yeah, I know." Alex wrapped his arms around the older man and ran his hands up and down his chest. "I can feel it."

Fox shivered again as his lover's voice rumbled against his skin. He closed a hand over Alex's, and, raising it up to his lips, planted a soft kiss in the palm. He then pushed it downward, letting both hands slide along the length his body, and stopping when he felt the warmth cover his restrained cock. "Can you feel that?"

Alex bit gently into Fox's neck, growling as he did. At the same time, he squeezed the solid bulge under his hand. "For me?"

"All for you, sweetheart."

Alex undid his lover's pants and slid his hand inside, burrowing past the silk underwear. Both men groaned simultaneously when his fingers came in direct contact with the rock-solid length of muscle. He tenderly caressed the shaft while beginning to unbutton Fox's shirt with his free hand.

Fox's head rolled and fell back against Alex's shoulder as the younger man pushed the edges of his shirt aside and brushed his fingers over his hardened, cotton-covered nipples. He grunted softly, feeling the shirt being jerked down his arms and back, and then he was pushed away and spun around so that they were now face to face. Alex finished removing his shirt, dropping it into a pool of blue at their feet, then pulled the white undershirt up over his head and let it fall to the floor as well. The remaining articles of clothing immediately followed, and when Fox was completely stripped, Alex guided him down to the mattress. One lingering kiss, and the younger man backed away.

Fox stretched then relaxed against the pillows as he watched his lover slowly strip off his own clothing, mesmerized by the smooth flow of muscle beneath the satiny skin. When Alex had bent to pull his pants off, Fox's eyes flicked up to the mirror, and the thrill of seeing himself naked and aroused, sprawled over the bed awaiting his lover, sizzled through his body, deeply flushing his skin and sending tiny pinpricks of pleasurable pain to its surface.

When Alex had finished removing his clothing, he slid up beside Fox, letting a hand drift over his chest and abdomen. Propping his head in his other hand, he let his eyes wander upward. He watched silently for a while as he stroked and petted his aroused lover, then he smiled down into Fox's face.

"It's almost like being outside of yourself, isn't it?"

Fox nodded mutely.

"I like being able to see all of you at once." Alex's eyes again rose to the mirrors, and his fingers brushed over one nipple, then gently pinched the brown peak. He smiled as Fox responded. "I like seeing the way your whole body reacts when I touch you..."

Their eyes met and held in the mirror, and a slow smile tilted the corners of Alex's mouth. His hand slipped downward, lightly caressing the older man's cock. "Look, Fox," he whispered, his fingers closing around the shaft. When Fox's gaze followed his direction, he spoke again. "You're so beautiful..." His thumb passed over the tip of his lover's cock, glazing the head with a thin layer of the viscous fluid that had gathered there. He looked up to find Fox panting softly as he watched through a fall of golden-brown lashes. "Tell me what you want, baby."

Exquisitely full lips parted, and Alex almost had to strain to hear the soft rasp of his lover's voice.

"I want to watch you suck me."

A purely demonic grin lit Alex's face, and he lowered himself, slowly kissing and licking in a straight line down to his lover's cock.

Fox's mouth fell open and a hard gasp tumbled out as he watched Alex's head move over his crotch.

"God..."

His hands clenched in the pillow under his head as he fought to keep himself from thrusting up into the moist heat of Alex's mouth. He watched the younger man's hands gently stroke his thighs and hips as the sable head moved in a lazy, aimless fashion, sucking and pulling his cock in a variety of directions, and issued a long moan.

Alex smiled as his lover voiced his desire. He turned onto his side, pulling Fox with him, and he drew back, momentarily letting go of the other man's cock.

"Now you can watch yourself fuck my mouth," he murmured up at the one who was now petting his hair. He curved his fingers into Fox's ass and pulled him forward. "Come on, baby. Give it to me." Still looking up into Fox's golden-green gaze, he opened his mouth and his tongue lashed at the tip of the blunt head.

Fox's lips curled into a sensual snarl, and his fingers tangled in Alex's hair as he thrust forward. His eyes turned up into the mirror, and he watched his cock disappear inch by inch into the hungry mouth. The ability to think or speak left him, and instinct took over as he held Alex's head motionless and began to thrust in and out of his mouth.

Alex clung to Fox's ass, his whimpers of pleasure muffled, as again and again his lover drove inside, sliding over his tongue and hitting the back of his throat. His eyes drifted shut and he gave himself up to the passion of Fox's possession, relaxing his throat and allowing the other man to thrust as deeply as he could.

Fox gritted his teeth, fighting to keep from answering his body's plea for release. He slowed his thrusts, hoping it would be enough to stave off the storm that he knew would soon roll in, but it wasn't.

"Alex...Jeez....babe...baby..." His fingers tightened in the younger man's hair and pulled him away. Glazed, green eyes stared dazedly up at him, and he stroked the stubbled cheek with a trembling hand. "Fuck me," he whispered, half-demanding, half-pleading.

Alex blinked, partially clearing the fog from his head, and slid up, rolling Fox onto his back. He lay over the older man, kissing him deeply, letting him taste himself. As their tongues danced together, he reached out to the nightstand, groping for the drawer. Unable to reach it, he finally had to pull away from his lover's mouth. Fox's frustrated groan brought him back instantly.

"I need to get the lube, baby," he explained against Fox's lips before planting another soft kiss on them. "Just wait two seconds..."

Fox writhed impatiently as Alex lifted himself away and quickly plucked the lube from the drawer. He was back in an instant, and Fox pulled him down, his mouth searching for the warmth it needed.

Alex gave in to him again, nipping and sucking at his lips, feeding his ravenous desire before again withdrawing.

"No," Fox gasped, lifting his head from the pillow and trying to pull Alex back down to him.

"Easy," he crooned softly, as he squeezed some lube into his hand and began to gently apply it to his throbbing erection. His upper lip twitched as he endured his own touch, then he squeezed a bit more out onto two fingers and pulled Fox's legs up and back. He gave his lover a soft smile and motioned upward with his eyes, indicating that Fox should watch the mirror.

Gilded eyes rose to their reflection, and Fox watched as Alex's fingers stroked down the underside of his cock, over his balls and between the muscular cheeks of his ass. His hands curled into the sheets as slowly, Alex inched both fingers into him at once. He struggled to keep his eyes open, feeling the tingle of pleasure as Alex pushed into him up to the second knuckles then twisted his fingers back and forth, working them in as far a they would go.

"Watch, Fox," Alex whispered. "Watch your expression..."

He stroked over Fox's prostate and the older man arched, crying out his name.

"You see? I love that look..." He stimulated the same spot and smiled as he received a slightly more frantic reaction. "It's mine, isn't it?" His eyes flicked up and met Fox's in the mirrors. "Just mine?"

Fox nodded, panting. "Just...just yours."

A deep growl rumbled in Alex's chest, and he gently pulled his fingers out, promptly replacing them with the tip of his cock. He pushed forward steadily, not stopping until the head was fully embedded in Fox's heat.

"Don't...don't stop, Alex. I want it," Fox whined, "please.."

"Shhh. Wait, baby," Alex pleaded breathlessly. "Let me...just...wait..."

Fox's head rolled impatiently from side to side but he kept the rest of his body as still as he could, understanding how close Alex was to the edge. He focused on the mirrors above him, scanning the body that lay over his.

Beautfully symmetrical, smooth, and graceful, and powerfully built, even at rest he wore an aura of strength and agility unmatched by anyone Fox knew.

He raised a hand to Alex's hair, combing his fingers through the glossy, sable strands, then let his hand slide downward over the broad back, memorizing its hardness and texture. He watched intently, loving the way the sinews tightened and relaxed under his touch. He smiled as Alex twitched when his fingers wandered over the downy hairs at the small of his back, then, finally, he moved lower, watching the magnificent, taut ass clench in anticipation. Using both hands now, Fox covered the rounded muscles, kneading gently, and listening to his lover's low moans of pleasure. He trembled at the thought of seeing this perfect body in motion as Alex fucked him into next week...

Feeling Fox's body quaking beneath him, Alex pulled himself together and lifted his head. He gazed down into lust-filled eyes, stroking his lover's jaw, then he lowered his head, engaging Fox in a slow, breath-stealing kiss as he began to move.

Fox broke the kiss, gasping into the air as the younger man buried his cock inside him. His fingers tightened in Alex's ass, pulling him in as he arched up, wanting to feel him deeper than he ever had.

"Baby...please...fuck me. F...fuck me." Fox wrapped his legs tightly around Alex's waist and began to buck beneath him. "Do it. *Do* it..."

Grimacing, Alex rose up on his forearms, hands tucked under Fox's shoulders, his fingers biting into his lover's flesh. He began to rock, steadily but slowly driving into the other man's slick heat. His mouth fell open and a long hiss escaped his throat as the sensations began to overwhelm him, and he increased the speed of his thrusts.

Fox watched, mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the two of them tangled together...every muscle in Alex's body working in concert as he took them closer and closer to the eye of the storm. "I love you," he whispered to the reflection, watching his own hands work feverishly over the straining muscles. "God, I love you..."

Alex shuddered, hearing the passionately uttered words. He could hear them every day, ten times a day, and they would always have the same effect on him.

He slipped a hand between them, wrapping his fingers around his lover's cock and began to stroke it.

"My baby," he choked, "my beautiful...show me." He thrust harder. "Show me how much..."

Fox stiffened then began to jerk uncontrollably as he emitted a sobbing scream and coated Alex's hand and his own belly with a seemingly endless stream of warm fluid. At almost exactly that same moment, his insides were flooded with slick heat as Alex's screams of pleasure joined his own.

Alex collapsed on top of his lover, dropping his head to his shoulder. He moaned softly as he slipped out of Fox when the older man's legs slid down to the bed, but was too weak to do much else.

Fox uttered a groan of complaint as well, and wrapped his arms around Alex's back. He opened his eyes and smiled up at the image that met his eyes...

His beautiful Alex, exhausted and covered in perspiration, sprawled comfortably over his own body...lips turned into a weary, luscious pout...eyelashes dark as soot, dusting the curve of his cheek...

He watched his hand slide up and down over the slick back then weave through Alex's hair. He dropped a tender kiss on the crown of his lover's head then closed his eyes. Long minutes later, Alex began to stir. Fox kissed him again then gently squeezed his shoulder.

"Hey."

"Hmm?"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"My present." Fox could feel Alex smiling against his shoulder.

"My pleasure." He lifted his head. "Literally."

Fox grinned, stroking the hair back from his forehead. "You're gorgeous to watch...just like I knew you would be."

Alex returned the grin. "Later, I get to watch *you*."

"Uh...later?"

Alex shrugged and looked at the clock. "It's still early."

Fox turned his head to see what Alex considered *early*.

"It's after nine. God, how did it get to be that time?"

"That *time*? What are you, seventy?"

Fox smirked and gave Alex's ass a playful swat. "The way you work me? I'll be there in a couple of years, max." He stared off into space. "Then you'll move on to your next victim, suck him dry, and find someone else..."

Alex shook his head as his lover rambled. "Never. Like it or not, you're stuck with me." He lowered his head to Fox's, nuzzling his cheek. "I love you. Always...even if you do get all old and wrinkled, and I'm still young and handsome..."

Fox grasped his wrists, flipping him over so that he was now pinned to the mattress. "Is that right?"

Alex laughed uncontrollably, unable to gather the strength to break free. "Yeah. I'll just tell people you're my father..."

"You're going to suffer for that," Fox promised then bit into his lover's shoulder.

"Oww! Shit!"

"That hurt?"

"Yeah!"

"Figured I might as well get a few good ones in," Fox taunted, "you know, while I've still got my own teeth."

Alex laughed and winced at the dull throb that began in his shoulder. "Okay, okay." He looked up into sparkling eyes and the humor faded a bit. He removed a hand from Fox's loosened grip and reached up, tracing the swell of his lover's bottom lip. "Seriously...I do love you..."

Fox grasped the hand and placed a soft kiss in the palm.

"No matter what anyone says to you."

"I know that, Alex."

"Don't ever forget it."

"Never."

Alex smiled up at the other man then looked past him to his reflection. "Mmmmm, nice."

Fox cocked his head curiously. "What?"

"You...from behind. Very pretty." His tongue slithered out, licking his bottom lip. "You know," he purred, slipping a hand down to Fox's ass and caressing it gently, "it really isn't that late..."

 

END ??

 

Nah. You know how fond I am of dragging things out.

Anyway...I said at the end of this chapter, I'd defend myself concerning the way I treated poor Walt.

I like the surly one, I really do. The man is tres cool. But for the purposes of this story, I had to be kinda mean to him. Well....Alex did. And as cool as I think Skinner is, and even though he came too close for the comfort of some of my buddies, he will never, ever, in any of my stories be knockin' boots with either of my boys. In Aries' universe, Fox and Alex belong to each other exclusively.

Okay, I've yacked long enough. On to part four...

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