Fate by Chance Encounter

by Dr Ruthless and LeFey

The sky was sour. A seeping mist swirled and pulsed in the gathering twilight and clouds roiled, seemingly just above his head. He crouched in a shadowed hollow, hoping against hope that he would not be seen.

He had waited, biding his time, for almost the entire day. There hadn't seemed to be much activity in the area, although twice he had seen signs that there was a patrol in the vicinity. He checked his watch. It would be full dark in another half-hour, and then he would return to the silo in search of answers.

There had been little conversation as the Smoker and his gang of government thugs had 'escorted' Scully and himself away from the area. Later, at the small airport, he had quietly murmured to Scully that he was not leaving yet. She had frowned, but nodded, and he had sneaked away, leaving her to take the plane back to DC alone.

Now he was poised. He would have answers soon.

***

Only a faint light illuminated the silo bay. Krycek's eyes narrowed as he tried to map the interior of the room. The being that controlled him cursed these inferior creatures and their light dependant eyesight. But it had chosen the right one to inhabit. It was the source in all the other's thoughts. This one had the answers, knew the locations and had made the deal. The wait was over, now.

A tiny release of chemicals, a rise in temperature distracted the being. The Sentient element of this creature it inhabited was reacting again.

Perhaps it was the darkness, or the confined space. It was hard to discern.

Something like this had happened on the plane as well. The proximity of the other creature, the obstacle called Mulder, had released a mix of chemicals, till the air was heavy with scent.

The being took hold of the creature's fragile awareness and pushed it aside. The being no longer had to busy itself with idle curiosity about the creature's behavior. The vessel had been sufficient for the trip.

It directed the body to turn and look at the ship, once again. The body automatically translated the being's satisfaction at the sight into a smile.

It was safe at last.

Summoning its component parts, the being began to draw itself though the creature's extremities, to pool at the openings beyond which lay the emptiness of outside. It felt no remorse at the constraints it had placed on its captive. All of creation belonged under its jurisdiction. Now, as it gathered itself to leave its unwilling host, it was supremely unconcerned about the plight of the body it was leaving.

Oozing, slithering, dark mercury over the face if its victim, the being began to separate from the vehicle that had brought it to this place.

It was at some level aware of sounds that its victim was uttering.

Puzzled momentarily, it ceased its evacuation and studied the creature. The rich scent of fear surrounded it like a cloud, and the being mentally shrugged, before continuing to void the body it had until now controlled.

Alex felt reality slip away only to be thrown back at him in shreds, poking at him like hot needles. His past collided with the present and gave hints of the future. His mother pressed her cool hand against his forehead as he emptied the contents of his stomach into the toilet in the dingy Moscow apartment of his childhood.

On all fours, he grunted and tried not to scream, as his adolescent sexual exploration with an older boy threatened to tear him apart. In a darkened morgue at Quantico he fought his all too eager gag reflex as Mulder and Scully gave him a surly dismissive glance. In Hong Kong the beautiful Eurasian prostitute pressed against him. His arms encircled Alex so tightly as he fucked that Alex feared he would squeeze the life from him.

And in the silent moments between breaths he watched, disembodied, while the oil-covered creature suffered the agonies of withdrawal as the being inside it returned to the safety of its ship.

Like a room seen in strobe, like a life revealed in a flipbook, bits and pieces of what had been, what is, and what might be the essential Alex Krycek flashed about him.

Alex jerked to consciousness and began to cough. An ugly taste of blood, vomit and diesel filled his senses. In a few moments the coughing subsided and he was able to draw himself to his knees. He was battered and trembling, but a triumphant, feral smile creased his face. He was still alive.

***

The fog had thickened with the dying of the day, and Mulder still crouched, awaiting for he knew not what. Deep inside, something called him, and he remained, motionless still as he attempted to draw the thin thread of the notion to him. Elusive as a wisp of the very mist that surrounded him, the thought plucked at his consciousness, making him uneasily certain that there was something that he just had to do, could not for the life of him leave.

He hissed in his breath, feeling the dank cold of the chilly evening, and wondered for about the fiftieth time what the hell he was doing, and why he hadn't just gone home with Scully. He knew that he didn't want to be there, with his feet feeling like lumps of ice, sinking into the viscous mud that surrounded the silo. His belly growled at him and he cursed his own intuition yet again. What the fuck could it be?

Idly, he thought of the strange man who had once been his partner, and who had led him here, wondering where he might be right now. Sitting in front of a warm fire drinking schnapps and thinking of ways to make Mulder feel uncomfortable, he was sure. In a few minutes more, the moon would be rising, and he would be in danger of discovery. Whatever he was going to do, he had to do right now. He knew that he was going to go back into the silo, back to where Alex had brought him.

His mind dwelled on the stocky body of the double agent Alex Krycek, and his mind gave a tiny stab of recognition. Whatever was going on right now involved Krycek. For some reason, he just knew it, and that decided him at last. He felt uneasily charged, as though someone somewhere was attempting to send him a message. Sighing, he rose to his feet and moved through the squelching mud towards the silo.

It was party time.

There was a muffled click as the heavy reinforced door began to unlock. Mulder tore past it and was plastered against a wall, out of sight, by the time it opened.

"Why do we always pull the crap assignment?" a disgruntled young male voice asked.

"Bad karma, dude,' Another disembodied voice answered and then laughed. "Come on let's get out of here. The place is secure. We report in and we can still make it to Shandy's by ten."

"I can use a drink, tonight."

"I can use a lot of drinks, tonight."

Mulder peeked around the corner. With the rain and growing gloom it was a safe bet he wouldn't be seen.

The two young marines, by their insignias, were standing in the pool of light that spilled from the open door.

"Go get the truck. We've still got to get those boxes back."

His partner gave a weary shrug.

"That's what I mean about crap assignments."

"Go on," the other man took him by the arm and gave him a push. "The sooner we... "

"Yeah, I know. Leave the door open. You can't see dick out here.

I'll need the light to get back."

"I'll hold it. It's going to go closed if I don't."

Mulder had a plan and these two seemed to be executing it as if they were following his script. The marine holding the door disappeared behind it as he yelled instructions to his fellow who went off to fetch the truck.

It was a good forty feet to the door. Mulder steeled himself, took a deep breath and darted as stealthily as he could. He entered the doorway just as the man holding it from the other side yelled more instructions.

Even his first slapping footfalls on the concrete floor were covered by the shouts called and returned.

He raced down the hall. It branched into a T at the end. Mulder darted into one of the side corridors trying to get as far away from the two marines as possible. A door on one wall read Silo Level. He tried the handle and it opened easily. He slipped into the stairwell and eased himself silently down the steps.

The hallway he found beyond the next door was dimly lit. The heavy concrete walls, painted in light gray, echoed his footsteps. Up ahead he saw the outline of another door with the legend 1013 stenciled above it.

The sounds of retreating feet disturbed his concentration, and he turned to see what might be behind him. As he did, he felt a biting pain behind his eyes. Gasping, he staggered back to lean against the wall, and collapsed, shivering. When he turned again towards the door, the pain left him as suddenly as it had come, leaving him nauseous, but capable once more of forward movement.

He searched the dimly lit corridor with his eyes. A sound came to him through the dead air, and he thought he saw a flicker of movement from the corner of his eye, but when he turned to look, he could discern nothing in the vicinity but shadows.

He closed his eyes, listening intently. Somewhere, faintly, there was the drip, drip, drip of water, but the soldiers he had seen were now long gone, and he was alone with the nagging feeling that would not leave him.

There was something he must do, and now, right now.

Shaking his head, he tried to rid himself of thoughts that seemed to ooze thickly through his mind, snail trails of ideas that refused to stay still long enough to capture. There was something... Something that compelled him, and the answer, he suddenly knew it clearly, lay behind the door that was in front of him.

He moved forward, the feeling of apprehension making the contents of his stomach curdle as he reached for the door fastening. Spinning it around, he swung back the slab of metal, idly noting that the number it bore was his birthday.

Inside was blackness.

Mulder felt the sound rather than heard it. A dull thump, thump, thump invaded his consciousness. As he swam up from the haze that had

overtaken him he felt the coolness of the gray concrete wall against his back and head.

Thump, thump, thump. The sound echoed through the hallway, through the

walls, through his head. It took a minute before he realized it was coming from outside himself.

Thump, thump, thump. He heard it now, clearly heard it but it still echoed in his head.

He rose, his vision swimming from the movement. He steadied himself against the wall for a moment.

Thump, thump, thump. The sound was still in stereo, inside and outside his head.

Mulder straightened and looked down the hall. He had done this before, he was certain. What he saw was no surprise, a reinforced door with his birthday stenciled above.

Thump, thump, thump. Still in his head, still in the air but this time he saw the door vibrate like a drum in time to each beat.

He pushed himself away from the wall and took a halting step.

A wave of anger, pain, frustration and terror wrenched through him. He thought he heard a voice calling out, but it was like someone shouting in a storm. Maybe he just imagined it. Maybe whatever was plaguing him was causing hallucinations. The sensations did not pass. Mulder steeled himself and took another step.

He fought his way through the maelstrom towards the sound he knew was real.

Thump, thump, thump. The sound continued and Mulder kept his gaze on the door trying to anchor himself to the reality of the sound and movement.

He had ventured further down the hallway without realizing it. The nearer he drew towards the door the more insistent the voices in his head became.

No, voice. One solitary, anguished voice that now was coming in muffled shouts from behind the door. The words were incomprehensible but the panicked fear roared distinctly in his mind.

Finally, he reached the door and slumped against it. The thunder of the emotions, the words, and the pounding vibrated around him. He looked up and his vision was strained as if he were looking at the sun. Through the blur he made out a small window with wire reinforced glass.

Mulder grabbed the knob and pulled himself erect, facing the door. As he straightened the sounds and fury rose as if trying to reach for a crescendo. A visage began to materialize beyond the glass. Mulder leaned closer, the face grew near and they both jerked back at the same time, quelling all sound.

"Son of a bitch!" The astonished epithet came from Mulder's lips at the same time Krycek's voice echoed the words in his head.

Mulder turned and sank back against the door, laughing uncontrollably.

A vision of ET and Gertie's first meeting flashed through his mind reinforced by the same thoughts from the man on the other side of the door.

The pounding resumed, with anguished yet angry pleas to be released.

Mulder fumbled in his pocket for the lock-pick he always carried. His head was swimming again and the pain was returning. It took him several tries to unlock the door but finally it swung open.

A blast of sound, emotion and pain swooshed out the door with the stale diesel scented air.

Mulder buckled and sank to his knees as if struck. The sensations were overwhelming. The pain grew and he felt the cool hardness of the concrete floor as he collapsed. Just before the weight of sound, sensation and raw emotion choked out the light he heard Krycek speak.

"Christ! This is all I fucking need."

The ground was moving under him, he was slipping, falling... He moaned once, and then awoke to the disconcerting sensation of being shaken.

Mumbling a protest, he tried to orient himself. The hands, rough and bruising even through his parka, continued to shake him until he growled and batted them away with a curse.

He pulled himself up to stand, squinting in the dim light in an effort to see the man he had just released. Alex Krycek presented a sorry sight as he stood in front of him, his half-hearted pretence at bravado as threadbare as the jeans he was wearing. He was slick with an oily substance that glistened on him as if he were lacquered. He was filthy, and the hands he had just unceremoniously flung from him were torn and bloody. His face showed none of the cocky arrogance that was Krycek's trademark, and if he had been asked, he would have had to say that Alex was a frightened man. Hell, he was not just frightened he was shit-scared.

"Krycek, wanna tell me how you did that?" His voice sounded very thin and small in the oppressive atmosphere, and he closed his mouth with a snap, feeling as if his speech had somehow disturbed one of H. P. Lovecraft's Old Gods.

Krycek merely looked at him, panic showing in his eyes, and then grabbed his arm, pulling him towards the exit.

Mulder, half dragged, half propelled, and totally pissed off, found himself trailed behind Krycek like a party favor as the other man accelerated towards the exit. It took him several minutes to halt the headlong plunge of his companion, but he suddenly knew that he had to. He yanked back on Krycek's collar and brought him to a halt just before the sound of footsteps somewhere in the upper reaches of the building manifested themselves.

He wondered how he knew. Something was driving him tonight. It was if he had no control over his actions. He turned to face Krycek, who had flattened his body against the wall for all the world like a large black bat.

"Krycek," he hissed, "Suppose you tell me what's happening here."

"You get me the fuck out of here Mulder, I'll tell you." It was more a panicked plea than a bargaining move.

Mulder's head was clearing. He looked back at the room that had been Krycek's prison. It was becoming clear to Mulder. The severity of his disorientation was in direct proportion to the nearness of that room. Krycek smacked Mulder, hard on the arm.

"Will you stop zoning out on me. You got in here how do we get out?"

He pressed himself against the security of the wall once more.

"There's a door down there," he pointed past them but before he could even finish Krycek bolted in direction Mulder had pointed.

When Mulder caught up to him he was pressed against the wall on the first landing looking desperately towards the door at the top of the next flight of stairs.

Krycek grabbed Mulder by the coat and pulled him roughly against the wall.

"There's someone up there." The words came out in panicked gasps.

Mulder pried the bloodied, slick fingers off his parka.

"There are two Marine guards left. They're moving boxes out to a truck."

"Must be parts of the ship."

"What ship? What's in here, Krycek."

"Get me out first." The toughness in Krycek was returning.

"We can wait till they leave... "

The words were swallowed in darkness. The lights had been killed and blackness, total and complete, shrunk their world to nothingness.

The heavy outside door closed with a vibrating ominous thud as Mulder felt the other man's arms flail and encircle him.

"Mulder!" The voice was too high pitched, too terrified to be the Krycek he knew. What the hell had happened to him?

"Krycek. Alex," He used the seldom spoken first name to try and snap him back from his near hysteria. "Easy. We'll get out of here."

"Now." The word was barely whispered but told of an imminent breakdown.

Mulder managed to get one hand free so he could feel the wall. He turned in Krycek's grasp.

"Hold on to me, Alex. Were going up the stairs."

Mulder felt along the wall and tested the height of the step with his foot.

Krycek clung to him like a limpet as they stumbled together up the stairs.

It seemed like and eternity till he managed to find the doorknob and release them onto the first floor.

The darkness in the stairwell had been too profound for their eyes to adjust. Now, the ambient light of the first floor exit signs that glowed dimly at the corners of the building seemed almost bright.

As soon as they were out in the corridor, where they could see, Krycek released Mulder and ran.

"Krycek," Mulder called after him to no avail.

"Alex wait!" He started to run as well.

Krycek rounded the corner into the main hallway and raced for the door.

He slammed himself into it shaking the doorknob.

"It's locked from the outside." The panic was rising in his voice again.

Mulder reached him and grabbed at his shoulder trying to stop the pacing, in short nervous steps, that had already started.

"Let me see what I can do." Mulder tried to reassure him with his tone.

He moved Krycek aside and felt the knob with his fingertips. There was minimally more light by the door from a dim work light a few feet away, but it wasn't much help.

"Got it," he said as he felt the keyhole in the knob.

"Why isn't it open?" Krycek pushed him aside rattling and tugging at the doorknob in a futile attempt to open the door.

Mulder shouldered him aside.

"Back-off, Krycek and give me a chance to pick the lock."

In a few moments they were standing outside under a clear star filled sky.

Krycek doubled for a moment, coughing and panting.

Before Mulder could touch him he straightened.

"We have to get out of the open. You got a car?"

His eyes glittered with a near feral panic.

"Over that rise." Mulder pointed where he had hidden the rental car.

Before he could even lower his arm Krycek was running in that direction.

Mulder labored through the slick mud to catch up.

It was full dark now, and the mists had congealed into a thickening fog that stopped light, magnified sound, and smelled of old and musty things.

The mud clung to his shoes, layer upon layer until he felt that his feet were being held, restrained from making progress, and that he would end his days here. He had a fancy that the place was a living thing, and that it wanted him, that he would nourish it. He kicked clots of earth from his feet and lumbered after the fleeing figure of his erstwhile partner.

When he reached his rental car at last, he was winded, and half frozen in the clammy night. Krycek was hopping from foot to foot outside the car, waiting for him to arrive and with an inward grin he recalled locking the thing. He knew that this would not normally have stopped the other man if he had wanted to be admitted, but there was a car alarm, and although Krycek had panicked, he had retained enough sense to realize that setting it off would not necessarily be a good thing. He was shivering as

Mulder opened the door. Mulder climbed into the car, taking a vaguely sadistic pleasure in waiting to flip the central locking mechanism and admitting the trembling man to the car.

As Krycek tore the door open, Mulder gunned the engine and the car began to move forward almost before the other man was inside. Krycek was now cursing in his low voice, husking out malevolent Russian, then German, and finally English. His words scratched like burnt offerings until finally Mulder had reached the highway.

Setting the car on cruise control, Mulder relaxed, noting that the terror on Krycek's face had receded somewhat. He turned to the other.

"Okay Krycek, you've got five minutes to tell me what's going on here, after which I'm going to stop the car, turn around and take you back unless I'm totally satisfied with your story. What were you doing there?

Where's the DAT tape, and what the hell are you afraid of?" From the corner of his eye, he had seen the white-eyed panic rise in the other man, and slowed the car, finally pulling it over onto the hard shoulder and turning to face his companion.

Krycek was filthy. His clothing was blackened and greasy, and his face, streaked with blood and mucus, shone wanly in the glow of the dash.

Mulder felt a sensation that was half irritation and half pity for the man he had rescued. Krycek turned towards him and moaned.

"Don't... don't send me back. They were gonna leave me in there with that... " his voice broke, and he put his hands over his face. Mulder could see his shoulders shaking. He put out a hand to place it on the other man's shoulder, grimacing at the slick oily sensation of the strangely-soaked jacket. As he laid his hand on Krycek, the distraught counter-spy leaned in towards him, and before he knew it, he found himself with a double armful of distressed double agent.

Mulder hesitated to completely embrace the man. But as the shuddering sobs grew more pronounced he hugged him tightly until his trembling ceased.

Krycek broke the embrace eventually. He pulled slowly away and turned towards the steamed passenger's window. He pretended to look out the window as he wiped at his nose with the back of his hand. He raised his chin and pursed his lips in a moment of embarrassed silence before he spoke.

"The silo... "

He started his explanation but the words were said in such an unsteady, Un-Krycek like voice that Mulder put a hand on his arm to reassure him. There was a hesitant dip of Krycek's head that said this gesture was the last thing he'd expected.

"You need to get cleaned-up and dry," Mulder said quietly. "Do you think we can find a motel around here?"

"I don't know where here' is." Krycek's voice threatened to crack, again.

"We're deep in the wilds of North Dakota." Mulder tried to make it sound like a joke, but by the look on the other man's face it was a tragedy.

He gave Krycek's arm a little squeeze, not knowing what else to do. It seemed to distract the other man from his uneasiness at not knowing where he was. After a moment Krycek looked towards the opaque window again.

Then Mulder started the car and they pulled off into the night.

Krycek was starting to shake by the time Mulder parked the car in front of one of the run down cabins that passed for a motel in these parts.

He'd had to wake the owner, not realizing that it was quarter of two in the morning. And only after he flashed his badge did he get a key and a warning from the Native American that being a federal Agent didn't cut much with the locals after Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge.

Once inside Mulder turned on the battered wall heater and waited for the room to warm.

Krycek stood in the middle of the room hugging himself and shivering.

"Let me use the bathroom for a second, and then you can get in the shower," Mulder said as he walked past him.

Krycek didn't respond except for a quick nod of his head.

After a minute Mulder came back out, peeling off his wet coat.

"There's only one towel in there... "

Krycek headed to the bathroom the moment Mulder vacated it and the unfinished sentence was said to the closed door.

The man took an inordinately long shower. Mulder had entertained the idea of washing himself but he was certain there would be no hot water left by the time Krycek finished.

Mulder stripped down to his underwear. He found that even his T-shirt was damp. He pulled this off as well and draped it over a battered plastic chair and positioned it near the rattling heater.

The room was still cool and Mulder rubbed his bare arms as he made his way to the bed, one bed, one double bed. This is just great. A cold night spent in a musty cabin with a known assassin in a double bed.

"I get all the breaks," he mumbled as he hunkered into the cold slick sheets.

Krycek came out of the bathroom a few minutes later. The sole towel was slung around his neck. His skin was flushed from the hot water as he strode into the room.

He was nude and Mulder checked out the lean muscled body. This wasn't the gawky kid who had been his partner, though he could have looked like this under those baggy suits. Mulder had never had the opportunity to see him any other way.

Krycek ran the towel over his military haircut. Mulder had called it stupid-ass just to get to him. He'd remembered a few remarks that lead him to think hair was a vanity with Krycek. But even with this cropped buzz cut the guy was striking, his features almost sculptural in their beauty.

Good bones, very good bones murmured through Mulder's mind as he watched him.

There was no indication that he knew he was being watched when he said in a low growl, "Will you stop checking me out."

Mulder looked away immediately, but his voice took on a defensive note.

"You come out here naked, it's a small room what the hell am I suppose to look at."

"Like I've got a lot of choice what I'm going to put on right now."

"Put your clothes by the heater to dry."

"There's another heater in the bathroom. I hung mine in there."

Krycek looked around the room for somewhere to sit. The two small plastic chairs were occupied with Mulder's clothes. The only other furniture was the bed, and that was occupied by Mulder.

Krycek draped the towel around his neck again, his hands gripped the ends.

"The only bed, huh?"

Mulder gave an exaggerated glance around the room.

"Apparently."

There was a pause, during which Krycek appeared to be trying to make up his mind. He toweled his damp hair vigorously, then laid the towel down. Finally filling his lungs with a deep, hissing inhalation, he appeared to come to some kind of decision. Standing, he moved to the right hand side of the bed, and pulled back the clothes, laying bare Mulder's shoulders as he did so.

"For heaven's sake, I'd just got that bit warm. There's no need to go yanking the fucking blankets off me. If you've got to get in, can't you just kind of slip in the top of the bed?" Krycek turned to face Mulder, offering him a dark, moody stare that spoke of things he would rather not face.

"Do you want to know what I was doing in that place, Mulder? Do you?" His voice, normally low and intimately throaty had risen to a high quaver.

Mulder could tell that the man was still afraid, and that very fact made him fearful too. He knew that Krycek was no coward.

"Tell me then. Get it off your chest. I'd like to know what I'm dealing with." Mulder was laconic, low key in an attempt to soothe the other man.

Krycek climbed beneath the covers, and lay tense and rigid, so close to Mulder that the FBI agent could feel heat rolling from Krycek in waves, and felt him shivering, ragged movements that set his teeth to chattering.

Mulder was not going to say anything. If the other man wanted to talk, that was fine, but it didn't seem as if he did right then. He merely lay and shook.

There was a long pause, and Mulder, who was finally beginning to feel warm, had begun to drowse, when Krycek turned to him, his eyes glowing fierce in a tormented face.

"Fuck it, Mulder. I don't know how I got there. I was in Hong Kong, and you were there, I remember that. I know I went into the bathroom, and there... there was a woman there. It was so fucking stupid. I laughed at her. Thought she was checking me out, but then everything went black, and I don't remember anything else. I don't know anything, except that there's a godawful taste in my mouth that I can't get rid of." He broke off suddenly, and looked down to where his hand had seized Mulder's shoulder, shaking him in counterpoint to the words he was uttering.

A red tide crept slowly up over his features and he released his grip, seeming to retreat into himself.Mulder saw the change and reached for Krycek as his hand was leaving Mulder's shoulder.

"It's okay." The phrase sounded hollow after the intensity that had colored Krycek's words.

He kept his hand on the other man's bare arm. Without meaning to Mulder began to move his hand, stroking a minimal rhythm. The flesh was oddly silky over the contours of the muscles. It was as if Krycek had been massaged and a residue of oil still anointed his skin.

"It's okay." Mulder repeated trying to pull the other man from his silent brooding. "You remember being on the plane?" Mulder encouraged.

Krycek shook his head no and continued to look away from Mulder.

"You don't remember the car," Mulder was now stating facts because it was clear that Krycek had no recollection of their trip back. He decided to spare him the accident and the two men he'd killed.

Krycek turned his head to look at Mulder. His large green eyes were shiny with unshed tears. When he spoke his voice was surprisingly calm.

An unwanted image of the pretty boy at school who always got beat up but was too tough to cry flitted through Mulder's mind.

"How did you know I was in there?"

The words were spoken quietly but carried an awful accusation with them.

"I didn't," Mulder replied honestly.

"Something drew me there. Something that nearly incapacitated me by the time I reached the door. What was in that room with you?"

"I don't know," the answer came too quickly and Krycek averted his eyes as he spoke.

Mulder fought not to smile and break the mood. Krycek never realized what a transparent liar he was at times.

"You know, I heard you before I ever got to the door."

"Yeah? Some trick! I was screaming my lungs out." His cheeks colored with embarrassment.

"I didn't hear your voice. I could hear your words in my head."

Krycek looked at him, his eyes widening. There was a moment when Mulder was certain he would jump from the bed.

"What was in there, Krycek? I heard you say over and over 'I've got to get away from it.'"

The shocked recognition on the other man's face was all Mulder needed to confirm he was on the right path.

"Krycek, what are you hiding? Something happened to you back there.

Why are you trying to pretend?" Mulder watched, fascinated as the man lying beside him crumpled. His body hunched and his face seemed suddenly much younger. Krycek rocked from side to side, and his whole expression changed from the usual cocky and irritating smirk, to reveal a fear that went bone deep, stripping him naked of artifice and leaving exposed to Mulder's watchfulness.

Mulder had thought he would be pleased to see his adversary suffering in this way, but now it had come to it, he was merely terrified. He shivered, and instinctively drew a little closer to the distressed man in the bed beside him. The urge to reach out and comfort him loomed like a tangible presence. Sliding an uncertain hand along the other man's shaking shoulder, he pulled Krycek in to his embrace, thoughts of the terror that might be lying in wait for the two of them causing him to search for the warmth of human contact.

Rolling together, The two men took comfort from each other in the only way open to them, their arms holding each tightly. For a long time, they remained, staring unseeing at the distance, but then, as each realized the enormity of their actions, they drew apart from each other, ashamed of their very need.

Turning, Mulder mumbled his goodnight to the other man, then, not waiting for Krycek's response, he switched out the light and pulled the blankets up to his chin.

***

Sleep didn't come easy to them that night. When they did succeed in dozing, the dreams that flitted through their heads were ominous and frightening. When the depths of sleep finally claimed them it was close to dawn. The two of them seemed to fall asleep together, and as their tossing and turning stilled, they began, together, to enter REM sleep.

It was Krycek who first began to moan, long, low sounds that spoke of horror past imagining. Only minutes later, Mulder cried out, and gestured as if he was fending off something large and angry.

Just then, Krycek sat bolt upright in the bed and screamed in a voice made ragged by too many howls of anguish. Mulder jolted awake, the dream of that slick other riding his veins fading as he became aware of the room, of the bed, and of Krycek.

Pulling himself up to sitting, he encircled the younger man's shoulders with his arm, and pulled Krycek back to lie against him.

"It's what happened to you, isn't it? The dream. You had it too, didn't you?" and gently put his hand out to cup Krycek's chin, pushing the man's face up to look at him.

Pupils hopelessly dilated, Krycek's glazed stare seemed to focus on some elder god, some behemoth that lay coiled in the scummy recesses of his thoughts. Mulder looked at the face that swam below him, thick lashes fringing dark eyes, little nose, deliciously tip-tilted above a mouth that ordinarily was quirked in a sneer, but which at the moment was trembling and loose.

He lowered his head, and brushed that quivering mouth with his own.

Soft as a whisper, gentle as the drift of snow in the night air, he kissed the man in his arms.

Krycek responded to Mulder's touch, his own lips searching tentatively along the outlines of lips that waited for him to make the next move. There was a tiny gasp as he broke away and buried his head in Mulder's shoulder.

"Please, don't make me go back there." The words were a muffled plea prayed against Mulder's bare skin. "I can't. I'll do anything you want."

Mulder felt the man's arms tighten around his waist. Hands desperately caressed his back trying to persuade. Mulder wondered, as he stroked Krycek's hair, how many times he had debased himself like this. How many times had he been forced to sell the only thing he had, his beautiful being, in order to find safety?

It wasn't the image Mulder carried with him. In his mind Krycek was an evil, hateful thing. Confident to the point of arrogance, Mulder imagined him wreaking havoc and laughing at other's misfortunes as he traversed life with malicious ease.

"Tell me what you want," he said more urgently when Mulder didn't respond.

"I can do *anything*." The last word rung out from a throat too tight from fear.

The horrible thought that he would do *anything* rather than return to the silo made Mulder pull him closer.

"You don't have to go back," Mulder reassured him, his cheek pressed against Krycek's still damp hair. "Just tell what you saw."

Krycek pulled away. His eyes were red and threatened tears but he rolled to his back and was silent for a moment as he struggled to compose himself.

*One tough piece of work, * Mulder thought as he watched him. He'd played this out right to the edge and now that he'd won it was only taking him seconds to change gears.

"I can't really tell you what it was," he said as he stared at the ceiling.

"Krycek!" Mulder warned sharply.

"Mulder, I can't!" He rolled on his side to face him. "I don't *know* what it was. There's some object in the silo. A big piece of machinery but I'm not sure what it's supposed to be. Something came out of me, a liquid. But it wasn't just a liquid. It was like it had... intelligence... or purpose... or something. It went into the thing... the machinery... whatever it was in there." He looked away and trembled slightly. "I just saw the very last of it, when it left. And I realized I was still alive."

Mulder stroked his cheek trying to calm his reaction to the memories.

"That answers some questions."

Krycek jerked his chin up, lips pursed for a moment before he spoke.

"I've got a question, too." A feral heat sparked in his eyes. "Why did you kiss me?"

Mulder froze. The unspeakable had been uttered and now he would have to face it. He didn't know himself why he had done it, but looking at the forlorn and vaguely dirty sensuality of the man beside him, he knew that he wanted to do it again.

He faltered, and a slight smile crept over Krycek's lips.

"Krycek, I... " He paused, not knowing what else to say, and felt a wave of heat engulf him, flushing his face as it rose.

Krycek snickered then, almost inaudibly, and Mulder felt his anger mount.

He'd show this son of a bitch. He'd take what had been offered, and be done with it. Deliberately, he leaned forward and applied his mouth to Krycek's, feeling at once furious and sick with a heavy excitement that caused his belly to surge. The thrill that shuddered through him intensified when Krycek seemed to melt beneath him, parting willing lips and snuggling in against him.

All of a sudden, from feeling chilly, he had gone to superheated excitement. His mouth was glued to Krycek's, and the other man's tongue was sneaking between his lips now in a determined exploration of his oral cavity. The sensation made him moan.

Krycek's arms stole around Mulder's back, pulling him tight against his nakedness, and he seemed to escalate the kiss, lips mashed against him, fingers scrabbling at the skin of his back as he writhed under him.

Mulder felt reality begin a sideways slide away from him, and with a kind of fierce despair, he gave himself over to the onslaught, hands stroking and squeezing as he devoured Krycek's mouth.

The kissing continued. Mouth slid over mouth, tongues stroking and teasing as they each tried to forget who and where they were. Mulder had ceased to think, ceased to function on any plane except for the purely physical, and could feel tiny spurting pulses of heat at his groin as his cock filled, and lengthened. He was growing harder by the second, and could feel that Krycek was aroused as well, the other man's penis was battering his belly as Krycek squirmed against him.

Tearing his mouth away from the heat that was generating between them, he rolled off Krycek to lie on his back, panting. Krycek gave a moan and made as if to follow, but Mulder put out a hand to ward him off. He could feel his heart thumping and he wondered whether his body was preparing him for fight or flight.

"Mulder... " Krycek's voice was low and harsh, his body shuddering as he struggled to get his breathing under control. Mulder lay flat on his back, wanting to continue, but afraid to touch, afraid to place himself under the control of this man beside him.

"I don't know if I can do this, Krycek. You can't actually want to... " he faltered, making the mistake of looking at Krycek. The man was gazing at him, eyes glowing, lips reddened and puffy from the force of their kisses.

He did not look like a man who was being coerced into sex against his will.

He leaned over Mulder, and his warm breath, faintly metallic, tickled the skin of Mulder's cheek. Mulder flinched, and then flinched again as Krycek's hand curled around his penis, squeezing it tightly, stroking it with a sure grip. It was no good. He was not going to be able to resist this onslaught on his body. He stared, eyes cloudy with desire, into Krycek's heated gaze. Krycek didn't speak, he just closed in until his mouth was once more laid against Mulder's, and closed his eyes as he sucked on Mulder's tongue.

They broke away both desperate for breath and panted against each other's necks.

"Touch me," Krycek commanded in a throaty whisper. "I use to catch you looking at me when I was your partner."

As Mulder fumbled up his leg Krycek took his hand and placed it on the hot hardness that pulsed against Mulder's stomach.

The long held breath hissed from between Alex's teeth as Mulder's fingers began a teasing exploration.

"Then, you put me through hell," Alex's voice quavered as Mulder tightened his grip, "when I had to pick you up at the pool. But it looked like you weren't doing much better when I watched you change." Alex gasped as Mulder lightly traced down the veins with just his fingertips. Alex dipped his head and bit his lip fighting to regain control.

It was Mulder's turn to squirm as Krycek's knowing fingers found a sensitive spot. The man still leaning over him laughed softly as Mulder's cock reacted to the sensation and bobbed between their two bellies.

"Feel something you liked?" Krycek asked with sly innuendo.

When Mulder only bit his lip in response Alex continued.

"You were in a pretty bad way when you slipped out of that Speedo." Alex's voice had grown hoarse and the words came in ragged gasps. "Funny thing, Mulder. After getting out of the pool guys usually shrink not grow."

A moan interrupted him as Mulder tossed his head and bit his lip.

Mulder opened his eyes slowly, barely recovering from the intense lust the image had conjured.

"You always talked too much," he said in a voice thick with arousal. He grabbed Alex's butt and pulled himself towards the foot of the bed.

Alex rose to his knees, surprised at the swift, rough movement. But he was even more surprised as Mulder's mouth engulfed his length.

"I saw you," he started his voice barely a whisper, words hanging alone as he continued to torment them both with the erotic memory of that morning.

"You turned away from me... " The words trailed off as Mulder licked and sucked the hard, sensitized flesh. "Ah... You asked... Ah... for a towel...Fucking tease." Mulder's own erection was rubbing, in time to his sucking, against Alex's leg. This sent distracting, ticklish shivers that bolted up his body and circled his already tormented cock. "I tried to keep eye contact. Oh god," he moaned as Mulder took his balls in hand and began to roll them between his fingers. 'I was all twingey and jumping by the time you got dressed. Ah... I... Ah... was half hard for the rest of the day just... ."

Alex was silenced as Mulder's free hand spidered over the back of the man's thigh. It was only seconds before the 'Ah' that had interrupted Alex's thoughts was the only thing he could say. 'Ah', was pulled from him ripped from him, taken seemingly against his will and it spiraled to a crashing climax that left him spent and panting as he slid down Mulder's body and came to rest across his chest.

Mulder shook him off abruptly, and climbed laboriously up onto his knees.

Rolling Alex over onto his back he surveyed the wreckage that had been his adversary for so long. As Alex panted and gasped, trying to catch his breath, Mulder, still diamond hard, was determinedly pulling at his leg, wordless and desperate as he fumbled at the base of the other man's cock.

Alex yelped as Mulder found the slight indentation that marked his anus, and began to circle it, hands shaking a little in his haste.

"Shit, Mulder! Have you ever done this before? You can't just stick it into me like that. It will kill me. We've got to have something to lubricate it or you're gonna tear me in half with that thing." There was a faint hint of laughter in Krycek's voice that made Mulder see red, and he began to spit into his hand. Krycek shuddered, and struggled to rise, but Mulder shoved him roughly back onto the bed.

"I'm gonna do this. I need... " Krycek squirmed uncomfortably.

"Listen, you jerk. I tell you we need lube. For God's sake let me get my jacket." Mulder started, and a tide of crimson rose over his shoulders, up his neck and across his face to stain it red. He shook himself.

"Sorry. I um... " The man was virtually cringing, and his erection, until that point hard and dripping, was now diminishing.

Krycek rolled from under him to fetch his jacket, fumbling through the pockets until he came up with a couple of lubricated condoms.

Brandishing his find, he slid back onto the bed, to where Mulder still knelt, dispirited, and reached to slide a knowing hand around his back, pulling him in to a close embrace.

Mulder averted his face when Krycek would have kissed him and after a moment, Krycek shrugged his shoulders, and stooped to sink his teeth sharply into one of Mulder's nipples, causing him to cry out and turn to face his tormentor.

Laughing, Krycek dived in and captured the reluctant man's mouth, bruising it with the force of his passion. For a moment, Mulder resisted, and then, with a soft cry that was somewhere between fear and need, he carried Krycek over onto his back, settling himself atop him, his hands clutching and stroking as his mouth devoured his companion.

His cock, a little shamefacedly, began to rise up once more, and Alex slipped his hand down to circle it determinedly, pulling the loose skin up and down until he could feel Mulder's breathing start to hitch.

Mulder was out of control now. Blood pounded in his temples as he felt the other man's touch. When Krycek took his hand away he groaned, struggling after the contact again. Krycek, condom in hand, grabbed hold of Mulder's hair and yanked his head back, snarling at the avid, unfocused face he revealed.

Mulder seemed to come to himself a little, and rolled over so that Krycek could apply the condom to his hard length. Then he scrambled to his knees once again and waited for Krycek to do something, anything that would give him a sign of how to proceed.

Krycek, dark eyed and glamorous as he lay, finally took pity on the confused man he was with and raised his legs to spread them apart.

Mulder, lips once again seeking contact with any part of Krycek he could reach, allowed the other man to guide the tip of his cock to the place it needed to reach, and then he pushed home sharply, making Krycek grunt and tense.

Lying in Krycek's arms, his mouth locked to the other man's, Mulder felt strangely light headed. Something in the back of his mind seemed to be urging him on, telling him that this was right. This was how it should be, and that Alex was his.

Alex began the motion, and the silken prickles of sensation that shot through his cock began to take him. He suddenly found himself plunging.

He found his hips pistoning as he drove into Alex, hard and fast, harder, faster, and then brutally, pounding while the sweetness grew, swelled, splintered and fragmented, sending him over the edge of conscious thought and turning him into a being that was aware only of the pleasure slick flesh afforded him.

Lying drained, his head pillowed on Alex's shoulder, his nose buried in the crevice beneath Alex's ear, he slowly pulled his thoughts back to the reality of their situation.

They spoke little before sleep took them. A murmured 'thank you', a few astonished compliments, but both men had been exhausted before they ever spent themselves.

***

He stood for a long time and watched him sleep. He wasn't sure why he waited. He'd been dressed and ready for some time now. There seemed no choice but to leave. He chastised himself for the delay and shook his head at his own foolishness.

Was he just waiting, hoping that the sleeping man would wake before he left? And then what? Did he want to be asked to stay? Could he really expect the other to want to go with him? Those weren't real options. All of them had so many complications that they would be strangled in all the strings attached.

He ran his hand over his face, a silent act of exasperation. Why did life have to be so damn complicated? Why at least did his have to be? It was moments like this that made him realize how alone - no, actually isolated - he was. It was frightening to look into the abyss but worse to know he had made contact with someone, someone under different circumstances that he could have made a life with, and that was going to be torn away as well.

He took out his wallet and checked the contents. He didn't carry much cash but what he had should be enough to get the other man out of this berg in the middle of nowhere. He started to put the folded money on the bed but stopped. The gesture might be misinterpreted. He took off his gloves and put the money inside. He put these on the bed as an offering to protect the other from the cold. The cold both inside and outside of both of them, he thought, and hoped the meaning would come across.

He looked one last time at the elegant beauty of the body tangled in the sheets. His cheeks flushed at the memory of what they'd done. What this man and his elemental sensuality had driven him to do.

"If only life were simple," he whispered to himself.

But he acknowledged this was the simplest way. It had always been the easy way out to deny what he wanted. He could fly in the face of authority at the risk of his own life but when personal complications arose he always took the path of least resistance.

"Coward," he seethed under his breath as he reached for the doorknob. He closed the door gently behind him but his hand shook with inexpressible rage at the inevitability of what he was doing.

In a moment he was in the car and Fox Mulder drove away.