Disclaimer: We don't make any money on these boys. They don't belong to us, and in truth if they just belonged to each other we'd be more than satisfied. If we all write to 1013, maybe some day...
Pairing: Mulder/Krycek
Rating - NC17 for M/M slash. If this offends, move on.
Plot: Explanation of the comment in "Wedding of the Year" that Alex had tormented Fox physically. We were asked.
Spoilers? Well, Alex has one arm...
Thanks to phyre for beta.
Archive: MKFightClub, RatB, Basement, Chaelyndra... anywhere you like, if you tell us.
Feedback:
pbs_janeeyre@compuserve.com
sashworth@home.com

 

 

Mindfield

by Ruthless and Relentless

 

Fox Mulder was in a bit of a spot, more than a bit, in fact. He was tethered hand and foot to his own bed, with a gag, and a cock restraint, and he didn't know where his lover had gone. He was still desperately trying to work out how this situation had come about.

Mulder writhed ineffectually, the very bindings conspiring to keep him engorged as he desperately tried to get himself off, or to get himself free. He was furious, but excited too, and could clearly picture the scene when Alex would return and he could turn the tables on him. The very thought was almost enough. The idea of Alex, red faced and drenched in sweat, shuddering his orgasm out beneath him was so sexy that Mulder felt as if he could almost come.

Almost... He was close, so close when the door opened, and he heard a giggle.

Oh, no! Scully. She was leaning on the doorjamb, helpless with laughter as she surveyed Mulder's predicament.

"Alex called me and told me that he'd left a turkey ready for roasting on his bed." Her giggles overwhelmed her again, and she stood, crowing out her mirth while Mulder's excitement dwindled and died, his cock shriveled to nothing, and he averted mortified eyes from his partner's laughing face. "He asked me to come and rescue it. I hadn't a clue what he was talking about until I got here. He said he'd be back soon. Oh, Mulder... You look so damned f..fff... " She dissolved again, snorting and slapping her thighs. Mulder glared at her, indignant, and at last she stepped forward and released the gag that held him silent.

"When you're done, Scully..." He realized that in his current situation it was just not going to be possible to retain any shred of dignity. "Scully, please let me out of here, I'm cold."

Still guffawing, Scully released him from the handcuffs, leaving him to unfasten his own ankles. As he did so, she retreated again to begin laughing anew. She was still there, dabbing her eyes with a scrap of lace handkerchief when Alex returned.

Leather and faded black jeans worn with a touch of arrogance made Mulder hard all over again, and though he himself was by this time decently clad in his sweats, he felt uneasy as he surreptitiously checked out the direction of Scully's glance. It was only after she had taken her leave with an oblique message regarding Alex's 'turkey' that he had begun to feel comfortable once more. Now, here he was, and he could swear that Alex was going to be the

death of him.

He was hard, aggravated and embarrassed. Sitting on the couch in the dark, waiting for Alex to say something - waiting and thinking. Before Alex had come into his life it seemed as if he had always waited, eternally vigilant as he waited for answers, reasons, and hope. He had thought his quests would give his life meaning, but now he only waited for them to end. He realized he had never waited for beginnings, only endings. Until Alex had come into his life he had never waited for something to awaken, he had spent his time putting things to rest. Now he was waiting for the vessel of his hope, answers, and reasons to relent, and take him into his arms again. Then everything would be right once more. They would be home.

Alex had told Mulder that he, Mulder *was* home. As far as Alex was concerned, an elevator, cars, restaurants, anywhere that Mulder was beside him, was home for Alex.

Mulder thought of the games kids played where something was always designated as base, the safe place. To Alex, Mulder was base. He was safe, grounded, and loved with Mulder. Alex had never played games as a kid. He didn't understand them. You didn't play to win, you won, and therefore it was not play, but Alex understood base. If Mulder had always waited, Alex had always looked for base. In their love they had also found answers to their deepest needs. The answer for each of them was the other.

The bedroom door had opened so quietly that Alex was standing in front of Mulder, half hidden in the darkness almost before he noticed. He was silent.

Mulder kept his tone quiet. "You left something unfinished."

Alex was closer now; Mulder never knew how he did that, covered space without moving. His eyes were now in the light that was coming through the window. He gave Mulder his most arrogant stare. The light caressed those beautiful features. It rested on a high cheekbone, outlining the top of a pale ear, lending a deep blue shadow to the dark hair, showing the shine on the lush lips. Mulder began to rise from the couch, began to rise everywhere in fact and Alex was further away again, hidden, unearthly.

"No" was husked from the darkness.

"I need you" Mulder responded.

"No" was repeated again.

Mulder was angry, he started to finally let it show.

"So, is this my punishment? I can't touch you?"

"Yes"

"For how long? How long does King Alexei plan to punish me?" Mulder was sarcastic, harsh. "You are punishing yourself too!" Mulder shouted.

"Czar Alexei" was the only response, more a breath with sound than words.

"What if I say you're full of shit! What if *I* decide I WILL touch you" Mulder rasped out, furious at being thwarted.

There was no answer.

"I could kick you out for what you did to me tonight! I can stay away from you. You're no great treat. You don't make the rules!" This was Mulder at his most enraged. The tone withered other men but this dark creature of his remained apparently unmoved. He moved into the light again, moved closer to Mulder.

Mulder heard a deep chuckle. He would have lunged at anyone but this man. He feared Alex. He loved him, trusted him, but still he feared him. Alex was the

kind of enigma who could actually cause all these emotions to dwell together in understanding.

Mulder heard Alex move for the door. He knew Alex was letting him hear this, allowing him to make his decision. Alex was fully capable of leaving the room silently, while Mulder continued shouting at the empty darkness, but he let Mulder hear.

Empty. Without Alex empty was all that existed.

"No. NO." The second time the word rose, fear made it quaver. "No. Stay. Don't leave."

"I won't," Alex breathed out, closer than before. Alex was right in front of Mulder now, almost nose to nose, a familiar position.

"I know you better than you know yourself", spoken intimately, low, the breath felt on Mulder's face.

Ever curious, Mulder had to ask. He knew that Alex was expecting him to ask. Alex had uncanny ability to slip inside the skin. He was a natural profiler, far more perceptive than Mulder, far more dangerous because he had no moral limitations about using what he found.

"What do you know about me, Czar Alexei?" Mulder asked, quieter now, calming himself, knowing that as long as Alex was with him, he would always consider himself the winner, no matter what the issue. That, in the end, was all that mattered, all he really cared about.

"I know that if I left you'd suffer. Not for yourself, but for me. You'd suffer knowing I'd lost everything. For the first time in your self-centered life, you've found someone who means more to you than yourself. You can't hurt me, it would kill you."

Mulder was rocked. He slumped to the couch and put his head in his hands. Alex still stood close, unmoving. How did he know? How did Alex know this about him? How did he find Mulder's core and lay it bare so easily? How did this creature know THESE THINGS? Mulder the mystery, Mulder the prima donna, Mulder the brilliant always-right FBI agent was an emperor with no clothes to Alex. Thoughts and ideas washed over him as if he was lying in the surf with the tide coming in, his need for Alex, his respect for Alex, his love for Alex, his awe of Alex. It was typical of Mulder that it didn't occur to him that he didn't know Alex.

"Alright", Mulder whispered. What comes next?

"Wait" floated toward him.

"You think I can't, don't you?" Mulder's aggrieved tones hung in the air between them, a curtain of utter forlornness that Krycek acknowledged with a swift gesture as he leaned forward to stroke his hand over the planes of his lover's cheek and down to drag the full lower lip. His fingers moved over it, caressing it negligently before withdrawing his hand.

"I know you can. You must." There was amusement in the disembodied voice, amusement and something more, a tenderness that Mulder rarely, if ever, saw in his wild lover.

He shivered, and his hand dropped to the bursting erection he was sporting. He closed his eyes, his head thrown back as he dug inside his pants, preparing to bring himself off as speedily as he could. He was totally unprepared for the hand that flashed out to seize his wrist.

"No." The voice was cold again. There was no tenderness there now, and Alex sounded mad this time. "You have to learn some restraint, some control. This

is it, Fox, this is where you learn."

Mulder groaned. He needed Alex, wanted to feel the honeyed swirl of his knowing lips stroking him to that place where he was at last able to forget who he was, and the quest that hung around his neck like a millstone. He wanted to feel totally Alex's creature, his and only his, bound by the swipe of a tongue, and by the heat of a kiss into a servitude that only the two of them realized, and neither of them would ever willingly forfeit.

"But I love you. I need you." Alex began to laugh as he heard Mulder's words. Mulder flashed annoyance at him, and then realized that his ploy had been seen through and discarded instantly. His shoulders slumped, and he shuffled his feet moodily.

"I guess I'll go and get a shower then." He stood, moaning a little as the hard-on he was sporting communicated with the silk of his boxers, sending little bolts of electricity the length of his cock.

"You'd better wait for a minute. I don't want you to fuck things up for yourself, love." Alex reached into his pocket to bring out a tangle of soft, washleather straps. "I want you to wear this."

Mulder looked long at the cock and ball restraints that Alex was holding out to him. He knew that he had opened another of Alex's secret doors. Mulder never knew what was going to be behind any of them. Alex hid himself completely. He let only Mulder into his lair, but even then he never deliberately revealed himself. He left it to Mulder to make his own way through the dark complexity. It had to be that way. Alex's life had bound him so completely that he couldn't reveal himself without help.

Mulder groaned. Not only was he pounding physically, but now his excitement intensified. Exploring Alex required all of Mulder's faculties to stay sharp. He was instantly alert, danger took expansive breaths when one of those doors began to creak. The sexuality and sensuality of the man's insides rivaled his outside, perfection within perfection.

Mulder groaned again. Alex moved closer to him, tilting his head a bit as his eyes kept their impenetrable expression. Sphinx's eyes, Mulder had often thought. Eyes painted in the likeness of an ageless deity.

"Will you put it on me?" Mulder whispered. "Will you do that much for me, Czar Alexei?"

Alex didn't speak. He placed his warm hand at the base of Mulder's balls, pulling them down to make room for the constrictive leather bands and to keep Mulder from coming as the straps were bound on his genitals.

When he had finished, he stroked his hand up Mulder's hard and helpless cock. As Mulder shivered and bit down on his lip, Alex rubbed his cheek on Mulder's. It was a slow, languorous move, stroking the other man's face as a cat does when marking his territory. Before Alex moved away, he pushed his nose deeply into the nape of Mulder's neck and nuzzled, nipping and lapping briefly with teeth and tongue. He pushed in even further and Mulder had to work to stand firm against the pressure. Alex took a deep breath through his nostrils, filling himself with Mulder's scent before he was finished and moved away entirely to the other side of the room. Mulder watched him, speechless, and

his cock bobbed a sad little farewell. Nothing had ever turned him on more than Alex wanting his scent, needing to be filled with his essence, burrowing deeply into him for what he sought. The first time Alex had ever done that with him, Mulder had ripped the clothes off the other man's body, shredding them in his mindless lust. Alex had been bemused at Mulder's behavior.

This had all happened in a matter of moments, yet time was drawn out for Mulder. He stood still, his senses stunned by the other man. He had no idea what to do next.

***

Part 2

***

Stepping into the bathroom, he stripped off his clothing and surveyed his swollen self ruefully. Heaven knew what Alex was intending for him, but he knew it would not be pleasant. He also knew that he would be going through with it, helpless to resist, because he wanted his tormentor so much.

Sadly, he ran the water and stepped under the shower, hoping that he would be able to last the course, and longing for it to be over and done with. He sent his mind back to earlier that evening. Alex had left him, erect and squirming, tied hand and foot to their bed, and gone out.

All he'd done was laugh at Alex. He couldn't see for the life of him why it was such a big deal. Alex, faced with a huge quantity of knives and forks, of differing sizes, had reached into his boot and yanked out a wicked bowie knife, proceeding to hack up the wonderfully tender beef Wellington that had been served to him. They had been at a fancy restaurant close by his mother's home, and Alex had been under the spotlight as Mulder's mother gave him the once over.

The solemn fashion with which his Alex, beautiful in his unaccustomed suit and tie, had dealt with the offending cutlery had merited a snide snicker out of Mulder. Had he paid attention to the sideways look Alex had shot him through his lush eyelashes, he would have known of the score to be settled, but the evening had proceeded well enough after that, and Mulder had forgotten all about it. He'd also forgotten Alex's strong reluctance to attend that evening, and how Alex had given in as always to Mulder's hounding, even allowing Mulder to dress him up so he would be presentable to meet Mrs. Mulder.

When they had gotten home it was not late. Alex had moved in, pressing up against him, kissing him out of his clothing and onto the bed, before snapping on the cuffs, and setting him up for the most amazing orgasm. Alex had gone down on him voraciously, sucking him into the back of his throat as he slid knowing hands over him, touching him, teasing him, making him groan in sheer bliss.

He had been coming. The boiling in his balls had just begun, and his whole body was shrieking 'Alex' with every dazzled nerve ending, when Alex, still urbane in suit and tie, had stood up and smiled at Mulder. He'd removed his suit very carefully, hanging it up in his closet, before donning his regular uniform of black denim and T-shirt. Fox had grunted at him, and Alex had shaken his head and smiled.

"No, Silver-Spoon-Boy." Then Fox had heard the door to the apartment close, and he had been alone.

Now, sadly soaping himself up, he wondered what the test was going to entail, and how long Alex would make him suffer. Finally, he switched the water over to cold, and yelped when the icy water had its desired effect on him, reducing his erection to the shape and texture of a prune, and causing his balls to climb with alacrity into his body cavity.

Alex sauntered into the bathroom just at that moment, and Mulder heard a gentle snicker as he deduced his lover's actions.

"Cold enough for you?"

Climbing out of the shower, blue with cold but otherwise unstimulated, he found Alex waiting with a towel, and hoped that Alex was going to dry him off.

Mulder found that his hopes had been quenched again. Alex handed him the towel and left the bathroom. He dried himself rapidly, rubbing his arms and shoulders briskly but being very careful to be delicate as he dried his terribly sensitive genitals. He wrapped the towel around his waist as he walked into the bedroom. Alex was already in bed, stretching his long muscles soundly as he burrowed into the covers, ignoring Mulder thoroughly. It was clear to Mulder that Alex was not in a giving vein this evening.

Gingerly climbing onto his side of the bed, Mulder lay in silence for a minute.

"Alex?" He ventured into the silence.

No answer.

"Alex, talk to me" he asked. He knew he had antagonized Alex fiercely, but he had to find out why, and how much.

The word "Sleep" was finally growled out to him. It was the biting growl, the one that let Mulder know he could go no further at the moment. Needing the comfort and wanting to give it, he slowly reached over and gently began to stroke the inside of Alex's right arm at the elbow. Long, soft touches, soothing in their rhythm. Mulder had seen Alex do this to himself when he had been in extreme distress. It had fascinated Mulder, he had seen films of wild animals that groomed themselves to help calm down after being frustrated, angered, and afraid. Seeing Alex in this act was something Mulder had stored away for future use. It was a risk to try this now, but he wanted to help Alex relax, something he knew that Alex was not very good at on his own.

For a moment Alex froze at Mulder's touch, and they both remained still. Then Mulder slowly began his stroking again, sweetly and easily on the sensitive area of skin, and only there. Petting delicately over and over in long, gentle strokes. Alex began to rumble deep in his chest, a quiet sound of deep contentment. He moved over a bit closer to Mulder, but still not touching him. As Mulder felt Alex relax, he relaxed with him and they both fell asleep to the slight movement of the gentle caress.

***

Mulder's dreams were uneasy and confused. He had never slept well before he had found Alex, and now only slept well when securely wrapped in his lover's arms. The events of the evening weighed heavily on him, and he hovered restlessly between sleeping and waking, his heart aching, his mind playing over the events of the day, but finding no fault in his own behavior as his mind remained firmly in denial.

Climbing out of the bed in the early hours, leaving the sleeping Alex to lie buried under blankets and pillows, he pulled on his running gear and left the apartment behind, striding out in the new morning as the sun broke on the horizon.

Running was a form of meditation for him, and his mind dwelt on his beautiful, enigmatic lover, and tried to determine what he'd done, and from then how to fix it. He racked his brains, but was unable to account for Alex's attitude to him, and could only hope that he would be over it when

he awoke today. Later, Mulder would often recall this run and his mindset at the time. He would regret how closed and unyielding he had been for so long.

>From there, his imagination roamed to a place where he and Alex were making love, entwined and sweating, wrapped around each other as Alex buried himself deep in his body, tongue and cock moving in synchrony as they sped towards completion. He could feel the excitement of the idea combining with the endorphins generated by his run to give him a real rush, and lengthened his stride, praying that he would be permitted to love Alex and feel complete again. The fact that Alex might somehow feel less than complete never occurred to him. He was so used to being catered to that he never even recognized his own self-absorption.

He paused at the bakery at the end of his street to buy bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, and then as an afterthought, a carton of cranberry juice. Once he had completed his shopping, he loped off back to his apartment, his body singing from the exercise, and his hopes high.

Alex was still sleeping, and Mulder made coffee, took his shower and was dressed in shorts and T-shirt when he took the breakfast in to wake him. As he approached the bed, Alex opened his eyes, a fleeting smile crossing his face like ripples on a pond before disappearing into the depths of stormy green eyes.

"Good morning, Alex. I thought you'd like breakfast?" Mulder's tone was questioning. It was obvious that his lover was still not feeling relaxed; his entire posture was radiating 'touch-me-not' vibes.

His heart sank. It was not going to happen this morning. He smiled sadly at Alex, and sat down on the edge of the bed, offering the tray he had prepared. Alex threw off the covers and rolled swiftly out of the bed. He was walking past Mulder when he dipped down and spoke quietly into his ear,

"Wipe that dying puppy look off your face." Alex then went into the bathroom and shut the door. After a minute, the shower was turned on.

"Damn, damn, double damn, shit damn" Mulder said to himself. He knew that Alex always woke up ravenous, yet the man was still too upset to eat.

Mulder was also in the throes of pounding himself for trying his lethally effective 'sad pout' on Alex. It was just too damn hard to admit that he had really fucked up this time. He knew he shouldn't have pushed so hard at Alex the night before. He knew that there were times that Alex reacted badly to his harassment, and he knew that there were times when it drove Alex mad, yet he had insisted on having his own way and now they were in the midst of a situation that should never have begun.

He would have been shocked and not a little offended to be told that he, rather than Alex, was the brutal one in their relationship.

Alex emerged from the bathroom, naked and flushed. His hair was tufted up and looked as if ducks had nibbled at it. At least, that's how Mulder described it. Usually Alex let Mulder comb his hair and arrange it to his satisfaction, something Mulder adored doing. It was one of the many personal things that Alex had given over to Mulder in his desire to please

his lover.

Mulder knew he was going to have to start the process, so he cleared his throat.

"You're sorry. You shouldn't have pushed me. You'll never do it again," Alex said flatly, repeating Mulder's thoughts back to him in the very words and tone he had used before with Alex, before Mulder could even speak.

"What do you want me to do, love?" Mulder was treading very softly now. His usual ploys were not working. Damn, they *always* worked with Scully! When was he going to learn that one of the greatest reasons he loved Alex was because he could not manipulate him! DAMN!

"Go to work", Alex replied.

"But I want to make this right, Alex. I don't want to leave you like this." Mulder pointed down to the cock and ball harness he was still wearing, "I don't want to leave *me* like *this*!"

Mulder was finishing the sentence when he was lifted up and slammed against the wall. Alex was pressed to him, more threatening naked than any armed intruder could possibly be.

"Don't you even touch yourself today" Alex snarled. "Not even to piss".

Mulder's mouth dropped open. "How am I gonna piss without touching myself?" he gasped.

Alex pressed closer, storms no longer in his eyes. They were flat now, reflecting pools that showed back reflections but nothing of what was under the surface. Frightening eyes.

And it happened, at the most terrible times, as usual. Mulder's mouth started moving before his brain kicked in.

"I suppose I could get Scully to hold it for me while I piss", he said and cringed inside as he heard the words coming out of his possessed mouth.

Alex became completely still. They both remained frozen, a tableau of tension. Alex backed away, moving again with his floating gait. He smiled at Mulder. Mulder hoped with all his heart that he would never have reason to see that smile again in his entire life.

Alex leaned toward him and whispered, "Scully is your friend and a convenience to me. The second she is no longer a convenience . . ." his words trailed off, sucked into the tension in the room. Alex turned away and Mulder thought of what Alex had just said, how he had said it. He was still shaking as he went into the bathroom to get showered and dressed.

Mulder heard Alex moving around in the living room, making much more noise than usual. After he finished dressing he walked out and gaped. Alex was doing his stretching exercises, nude. It was a beautiful sight. He had just gotten to limbering his calves, so he was slowly lowering himself from the waist down until his palms were on the floor. This put his ass straight up in the air. Mulder had to walk past this bounty on his way to the door and he knew he could not touch. Not unless he wanted there to be two men each with one arm living in that apartment. He saw a spoon sitting beside his cellphone.

He put the phone in his pocket and lifted the spoon and looked at it.

"Use it to lift your dick", rumbled across the room to him.

Mulder closed his eyes. It was going to be a very long day.

The naked man took a deep breath, made a powerful, swift move that brought him upright. He stared at Mulder as he began to stroke his torso, moving

his hand down to his groin and the hardening erection. He moaned and threw his head back, exposing his perfect throat and snarled as he began to weave his hand in and around his balls.

"Go!" sliced across the room.

Mulder opened the door, squared his shoulders, put the spoon in his other pocket and left for work.

***

The day dragged on interminably. Mulder snapped at Scully, growled at Skinner's secretary until she burst into tears, and blew his top when the AD asked him for his expenses.

He went out, ostensibly to look up some records in the Library of Congress, but in reality to creep about feeling sorry for himself as he brooded over his lover's behavior towards him. He racked his brain trying to devise ways of making Alex give up and take him back into his loving arms.

He pondered away the afternoon fruitlessly and the evening found him installed once again in his office, just beginning to write the report he should have been working on throughout the day. At 7pm, the phone rang. Reaching lackadaisically to pick it up, he snapped his name into the receiver.

"Just checking." The voice tickled his senses even as it brought the lump to his throat. His body thrilled and the leather constraints he wore made their presence felt as they bit painfully. "Are you coming home soon?"

"It will take another hour or so. I've got a report that has to be on Skinner's desk in the morning. How are you feeling, love?" His voice lent a new dimension to the word 'earnest'. He was so sincere he could have made a living as a TV evangelist, but unfortunately, his words seemed to fall into silence. He almost placed the phone back in its cradle before Alex's husky whisper came again.

"I'm fine. Look to yourself. Be home by nine if you want to eat." the unmistakable click of the hang up at the other end of the phone, followed by the dial tone, left him bereft.

He turned, sighing heavily, back to his report.

***

Mulder was in the car and on his way back to his apartment, making it in the door just as his watch clicked precisely to 9pm. He was very pleased with himself. He'd stopped at a swank downtown deli and brought home some authentic Russian pastries, white chocolate covered cherries and a bottle of expensive dry Merlot.

Even though he'd been miserable the entire day, he still was not ready to admit to Alex that he had been wrong. He still was trying every circuitous route, every maneuver he could muster to get back into his angry lover's arms without having to do the unthinkable, admit he had been wrong.

He entered the apartment, it was dimly lit, and his hopes began to arise. Perhaps Alex had made them a nice dinner and they were both going to fuck like bunnies all night. Just as he was smiling to himself at the thought of Alex with a sweet puffy bunny tail, he noticed the kitchen table.

No plates were set out. There was no sign of Alex. He called out and got no answer so he paced through the apartment on his manhunt. When he went into the bedroom and turned on the light he found a can of beans and the can opener sitting on his pillow. Underneath the beans was a folded piece of

paper. He opened it and read it,

"If you are going to give me that earnest crap you should have the gas coming out of both ends," the unsigned note said.

Mulder sat on the bed, put the can of beans on his lap, used the can opener to open them and pulled out the spoon from his coat pocket. He rubbed it clean with his tie and proceeded to eat the beans out of the can. He was miserable.

Suddenly the front door slammed open. Mulder jumped, spilling beans all over himself and his side of the bed. Cursing vociferously, he went to the living room just in time to see Alex standing in the middle of the room as he coaxed the last drops of vodka out of a large, empty bottle.

Seeing Alex standing there, hair in disarray, unshaven, wearing his uniform of black jeans and black leather jacket as he tipped back in a serpentine movement that caused his head to pull back as his pelvis thrust forward was riveting. Alex caught sight of Mulder and gave him a quick glance.

"Got beans on your shoes", Alex commented.

"Where's your shirt?" Mulder responded. When Alex had turned to look at him Mulder had noticed that Alex was slick with sweat, his chest heaving and no shirt covered his muscled torso.

"Why? Need it to clean your shoes?" Alex leered at Mulder. He took the bottle and threw it across the room and it made a deafening sound as it crashed into the wall. Mulder was stunned. He'd never seen Alex really drunk, totally plastered. It was frightening. The thought of Alex out of control made Mulder's stomach do a rollover and in the process a full-bodied fart escaped him.

Alex snickered at him, and for a change Mulder had the grace to seem ashamed as his lover gazed at him in disgust. He backed away, swallowing dryly, as he looked at the state Alex had gotten himself into. He began to wonder if he would ever again feel Alex's warmth around him, or hear that brown-sugar voice caress him with its rough sweetness.

Defeated, he shuffled off into the kitchen, and dumped the can in the garbage. He picked up at his bottle of Merlot, looked at it longingly, then shrugging, he tossed it in the corner. Moving over to the sink he took off his jacket and slipped off his shoes, holding them under the tap to remove the tomato sauce that clung to them before grabbing a piece of kitchen paper to wipe the water away.

>From the other room he could hear Alex singing softly to himself. Alex's voice was normally a joy, but Mulder couldn't for the life of him decipher the song. It rose and fell, a testament to Alex's inebriated state. Mulder sighed heavily then stood up, resolving to make a difference.

He made his way back into the living room and knelt on the carpet in front of his estranged beloved, and offered Alex a bottle of carbonated water he had brought him from the fridge.

Part 3

***

"Alex," he said, trying to think of ways he could get through to his lover without making the situation any worse than it already was. Alex, who was lounging on the couch singing his pseudosong and idly trying to impale one pink nipple with a safety match, opened one eye to glare at him in the kind of way that an owl would, if woken in the height of the day.

Mulder proffered the bottle, and relaxed a tiny bit when Alex accepted it from him, unscrewing the cap with some difficulty. He drew backwards with a little twitch of anxiety as Alex lurched upright. He relaxed again visibly when he saw Alex upend the bottle, draining it with thirsty gulps.

"Baby, we need to talk, please?" He remained on his knees, wanting to touch, wanting to soothe his sweetheart, but he dared not. Alex, all huge, muzzy eyes and sloppy grin, merely stared at him with total lack of understanding. The livid color in his cheeks, and the total nowhere of his expression slowly told Mulder that anything said right now would be lost forever.

He stood, and held his hand out to Alex, and when he took it, Mulder pulled him to his feet, towing him towards the bedroom.

"Come on, baby, that's it. Sleep's what you need... that's the way." He sat Alex down on the edge of the bed, and knelt again, intent on unzipping his boots and removing them. The song had resumed once more, over his head, and as Mulder stood to help him off with his jacket, before laying him down and covering him with the blanket, he felt as though he had stepped through a barrier into a time where he didn't exist.

He stood looking down on his lover, and then, sinuses clogged with unshed tears, he turned back to the living room, his couch, his memories and his loneliness. He had worked himself into an excellent sulk, and he was thoroughly prepared to get the most out of it. Alex didn't want him, didn't care if he were touched or not. Alex was somehow remote from him, and becoming more so with every passing hour.

A crash, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass woke Mulder from his fitful doze. He ran into the bedroom, sure that Alex had fallen out of bed, possibly taking the lamp and nightstand with him. The bedroom was empty. Mulder turned towards the bathroom and froze, stunned. Shards of broken mirror were sprayed over the bathroom. The medicine cabinet had taken a blow of such force that the door hung by one hinge, its contents lying mangled in the sink, strewn over the floor.

Alex was naked, and slicing his chest repeatedly with one of the mirror pieces. He was moving in slow, rhythmic swipes, hat started at the bottom left of his abdomen and continued with such vengeance they reached up into his upper right arm and shoulder, eyes closed as he mutilated himself over and over. Mulder moved fast, coming in low to catch Alex off guard, prepared to take any measure to stop the bloodletting. He knew what this was, he was seeing someone bound in excruciating pain with no way to express it other than outwardly, manifesting the lacerated emotions with lacerated skin.

Mulder rammed into Alex, who seemed almost in a trance, and knocked the piece of glass from his hand as he caught Alex around the waist to keep him from falling over backward into the bathtub. Alex let out a huff of breath at Mulder's onslaught and finally opened his eyes. Mulder knew he had to get Alex some medical attention. Blood was running down his body, covering his torso and legs, puddling at his feet.

At this point the worst had to be over, Alex hadn't eaten all day, he was still drunk but not in a stupor and now he had to be in shock from the cold and blood loss. Pulling a towel off the rack he moved to wrap it around the unmoving man. If Mulder had thought to look at Alex's face, to look into his eyes, he might have been prepared.

Alex was so fast, so terribly fast. He grabbed Mulder's shirt, lifting him from the floor and smashing him against the door. Mulder's head rocked back and hit hard, he slumped to the bathroom floor. He saw Alex dip, slide into a crouch and in his semi-conscious state it seemed that the younger man shifted from something that usually wore human skin into the creature always hidden inside, the being that hated the constrictions of humanity.

Mulder began scuffling his feet, scrambling in a frantic attempt to get as far away from this beast approaching him as possible. Alex moved closer. He stared at Mulder, his eyes no longer evidencing any humanity, his face devoid of all expression. Then he rose-unfolded really- and left the bathroom. Mulder was beginning to regain himself, he started to stand and at the sound Alex turned.

Alex stared at Mulder with his chilling sphinx-eyes. For the very first time, Mulder was afraid for his life. When he thought about the moment afterwards, he realized that his fear of Alex must have been so tangible it had stopped Alex. His lover had pivoted smoothly and moved away.

Something in Alex didn't want to hurt Mulder, so he began preparations to flee instead. He pulled the bureau drawer so harshly it came out entirely, the clothes upended with the drawer. Alex reached into the mess and pulled out a black t-shirt pulling it over his head.

Mulder realized that Alex was going to run and he panicked. He couldn't let Alex go like this. Wounded in body and soul as he was, he was capable of unspeakable acts. As Alex was zipping his jeans, slipping into his boots, Mulder called to him. He hadn't dared to move from the bathroom door.

"Alex, please, you're hurt, need to see a doctor, shouldn't drive . . . " his voice trailed off.

"Shut the fuck up" was snarled back to him.

Mulder couldn't relent, "At least tell me where you are going, please".

"To some other Hell" was the low, venomous response.

Alex picked up his leather jacket, checked his pockets for extra clips and picked up his gun, then headed for the living room. Mulder, desperate, followed him. He reached out to touch Alex and the man jumped, leapt as if he had been touched by fire. Alex was enraged, he put his hand around Mulder's throat and started to squeeze. As Mulder choked, Alex lifted his chin and threw Mulder away from him, turning his fury onto the room.

He swept through it like a maniac, throwing the TV against a wall. It shattered and sparks flew. He overturned lamps, slammed over the empty goldfish tank and swept everything off the shelves, then upended Mulder's desk. Mulder was horrified, not at the mess, but at the display of raw violence, knowing he had instigated this, fueled it. He knew it was meant for him but Alex had channeled it onto the inanimate things instead. When the room was thoroughly demolished, Alex opened the front door and moved into the night

It was a very long time before Mulder moved. He stood, numb, staring at the door as it swung gently on its hinges. After a while, what seemed like forever to Mulder, he moved to close it, and then his shoulders slumped as he finally accepted defeat. He had had his lover here with him, and he had not been able to help him.

He wondered if it was something he could have prevented, or if it was always going to happen. Alex had never been able to put things into words the way he, Mulder could. It made him so sad. Maybe that was it. Maybe he had lost his last chance and now his beautiful lover would drift on, find someone else's bed to grace, and maybe be happy.

"Nooooo!" That sound was dragged from him as if he had been physically harmed. He turned, slamming his hand into the wall with such force that the plaster crumbled, and his hand split, the finger bones shattering as he made contact.

Uncaring, he turned away, heedless of the blood that dripped from his mangled hand to the carpet, and headed for the kitchen to take a garbage sack and begin the sad task of cleaning up.

The shards of glass cut him, the broken wood and china stuck their slivers into him and he continued to pick things up and discard them as if he were an automaton, a pain far deeper than these superficialities knifing into his guts.

At four in the morning he had all the detritus from Alex's rampage cleared and disposed of, and was starting in to vacuum and polish, his mind focused on the single purpose of clearing away every last vestige of it's happening. He swept and polished, vacuumed and dusted until the place was cleaner than it had ever been. No broken furniture, no broken dreams, and nothing to remind him of his lover's departure remained to taunt him.

He had cleared the bedding from the bed and remade it with fresh new sheets. He had bundled everything up and taken it down to the laundry room and it was washing now, cleaning away every trace of his Alex. Soon he would have only faint reminders.

That thought, reverberating inside of him, sounding through him again and again in the gloating tones of desolation, was the cause of his final collapse. He stood in the emptiness of his spotlessly clean apartment. It was not just empty of possessions for which he had never really cared. Love had gone. His lover had left him, and he was alone again.

His shoulders shook, and finally he broke down, stormy tears flowing as he sank to the carpet and rocked to and fro, hugging his injured hand to him almost forgetfully as he keened.

It was there that Scully found him when she let herself into his apartment some time later, wondering why he hadn't shown up for work.

It took her just a few moments to surmise much of what had occurred. During all their years as partners, Mulder provided the mental pyrotechnics and Scully's abilities had often been overlooked. She was used to being underestimated, depended on it in fact, had learned early how to take advantage of the misogynistic elements that she worked within every day as an FBI agent.

She approached the man who was sitting on the floor and staring off into space. Taking everything in its proper order, she went back to her car to bring up her ever-present doctor's bag. After removing the shards from Mulder's hand, she bathed it and bandaged it. It would need to be x-rayed, but his hand had just been the first part of her triage. Now she needed to help him emotionally, for it was evident he was drained. Mulder had not spoken as she tended to him, and she had also been silent. Between his wounds, the state of his apartment, being AWOL from work and the absence of everything that had been a reminder of Alex, she knew that something was very wrong. She also knew that Mulder was in shock. Something had exploded in this apartment. The blast was in Mulder's eyes.

Scully stood, and made her way do the kitchen.. Her movements were less commanding than usual. This part of the triage would require finesse. Contrary to the common opinion of her, she possessed a great deal of that quality; she simply preferred not to waste it on fools. Scully came back from the kitchen with a glass of orange juice and a newly opened pack of sunflower seeds. She placed them beside Mulder, and covered him with the blanket she had snagged out of his bedroom closet.

After she'd bundled up the still silent man, she took off her shoes and padded quietly around the apartment, giving Mulder some space to breathe but keeping him aware of her presence.

As she looked around she made a mental note of all the missing paraphernalia. Not just the TV, lamps, assorted knick-knacks that she knew now resided in the downstairs dumpster, but all of the Mulder-clutter was gone. Mulder would have been shocked if he knew that she was completely familiar with the circumstances. He had no idea that for many of her early years, her father had been a hard drinker before he took the oath. She knew the signs of a drunken rampage all too well.

As she poked around the place, she kept a surreptitious eye on Mulder. As she suspected, her presence, ministrations and silence were beginning to seep in. He was drinking some orange juice and absently crunching on his beloved seeds. The juice would bring up his blood sugar and the seeds were comforting, just what she wanted for him right now.

Scully went into the living room and sat down on the floor beside Mulder. She took his wrist and checked his pulse. It was steady now. He was ready for the last step of her own personal Mulder care.

"I found your ET cufflink", she said quietly. "You must have dislodged it during your cleaning". Mulder's eyes began to focus just a bit.

"I thought it had phoned home," Mulder answered. Scully was pleased at the typical Mulderian reply.

"Mulder, I want you to listen to me. Are you ready to do that?" she asked him.

"I always listen to you, Scully" was his slightly huffy reply.

"No you don't, Mulder, you wait to talk. Now I want you to listen to me, are you ready to do that?" She calmly responded.

This got his attention at last. He figured that Scully was going to pelt him with questions and then end up with telling him it was best to be without Alex. He appreciated her coming over, all her tending to him, but he wanted her to sermonize and then leave. So he nodded 'yes' to her.

Get it over with, he thought.

"Mulder, I know you are hurting, but you've got to hear this." She was being very gentle with him.

//Here it comes. She's going to tell me that I'm better off without Alex.//

"Alex isn't like anyone else, Mulder, you can't manipulate him." This comment caused his head to snap up and his eyes to completely focus.

"He's more than your equal in everything, and you are so damn condescending and demanding it's a wonder he's been able to stay with you this long."

Mulder was shocked. He had expected sympathy, consolation, anything but this! This was too outrageous!

"What are you talking about!" He shouted at her as he rose to his full, indignant height.

"Mulder, if you want to get back the one person you've ever loved more than yourself, sit down, shut up and listen to me" Scully spoke quietly.

Her quietness was what got through; he dropped down to the floor, astonished.

"Scully? What can I do? He cut himself to ribbons, godammit! He hurt himself, and I couldn't stop him, I couldn't help him. He walked away. I don't know if I'll ever see him again." Mulder broke down into sobs, heartsick as he recalled what had happened.

Scully listened to the weeping for a minute or two, and then put her hands on her hips.

"Why don't you cry? That'll make everything fine, won't it? You'll just be able to go right back to your former behavior and know that you felt really bad, without needing to change anything." Mulder's head whipped up and he stared at Scully, normally sleepy eyes as round as pennies as he allowed the sense of what she had said to soak in.

"I don't understand. What are you talking about?" He sounded lost, and she tried to gauge his attitude, decided that she would never have a better chance at getting her message across, and ploughed on.

"Alex is the man you love, right?" He nodded, and she continued. "He loves you, and lets you know that he loves you, right?" another nod. "So how come you don't reciprocate? All I see is you demanding more and more from him. You demand his time, and his attention, his compliance and his approval, and you punish him with your snotty attitude when you don't get them from him just exactly when you demand it. Mulder, you're killing him.

"Love isn't what you can get from a relationship. It's what you give back to it too, and all you've been doing is taking. You don't give anything to him, so you end up driving him away."

Mulder sat, his face a picture of misery. He was trying to listen, Scully's words about his lack of skill in that area were still rankling. A technique he had been taught at Oxford came back to him.

"I hear you say that he loves me and I play games with him, that I demand from him without giving anything back to him? Did I leave anything out?"

Scully patted his arm, approvingly.

"You say you love him, but you're trying to change him. You're trying to stop him from being Alex, and make him into something new... something less. He can't take it, Mulder, he doesn't know how to change, and he doesn't know how to tell you."

Mulder had to ask, things were getting deep and he really needed to understand,

"Scully, why are you telling me this?"

"You expected me to use this opportunity to advise you to stay away from Alex, didn't you? You were planning on letting me say my piece then you'd ignore me as usual and do what ever the hell *you* wanted to do, right?"

Mulder stared up at the small, dignified woman, open-mouthed.

"I'm doing this because it's what you need. You love Alex. I don't know, Mulder, frankly he scares me, but I do think he loves you. I do know that you are happy when you are with him, and before him I hadn't realized how unhappy you really were. I don't want you to be alone. Not many people are ever going to be able to cope with you, Mulder, but Alex can most of the time. Right now, he needs help- your help. He wouldn't have destroyed the apartment if he hadn't been in overwhelming pain."

Scully patted him on the head, then put her hand on his shoulder as she lowered herself down to sit back down on the floor beside him.

"Mulder, you are so intelligent, but you just aren't that smart. Are you even aware that the two qualities don't come in the same neat shrink-wrapped package?" She gave him a sweet little teasing smile when she said 'shrink-wrapped'. Scully wanted to get through to this man who was her best friend, not pound him down.

"So, I'm intelligent, but I'm not smart?" Mulder was locked into her now, very likely one of the few times it had ever happened. "You mean that for all my education and knowledge and ability to retain that knowledge . . .

"You are a blockhead," she finished for him. "Yes, Mulder, that's what I mean.

"Call me Charlie Brown," he murmured. He was looking down at the floor. After a moment he looked up at Scully.

"Samantha used to call me a blockhead", he said softly, honest tears in his eyes now. Tears for things that had been lost. "I never understood before, but she knew me so well, she was so smart . . .and intelligent," he added.

Scully watched him and had the grace to not offer condolences for things that were too raw to be assuaged by small words.

"When did she call you that, Mulder? Do you remember the times when she did it?"

"Yeah. She hated it when I tried to, as she put it "pull a Foxy move" on her. When I tried to push, or demanded that I get my way or when I . . ."

Scully saw him hesitate, saw his hazel eyes ignite for a moment as a long dormant fire was being stoked behind them, she waited.

Mulder took a deep breath and looked away, then he turned and looked Scully in the eyes,

"Samantha hated it when I tried to manipulate her because I could talk faster, spew out more facts and justifications, would roll right over her in order to get my way. She hated it when I wanted her to fit my ideas of who she should be." Mulder lowered his eyes, "She hated it when I took advantage of the fact she loved me so much just to get my own way all the time."

Scully was watching him, still silent. She knew he trusted her so much that he was telling her things he was only beginning to admit to himself. She knew that a good doctor was someone who didn't just hear, he listened.

Mulder leaned in and gave Scully a chaste kiss on her forehead. "I treat you pretty badly too sometimes, don't I?" he asked.

Scully decided that was a discussion for another day. She looked at him and then as she began to rise, she leaned in and kissed him also on the forehead. She leaned on his shoulder and whispered in his ear,

"Sometimes you *can* be a real blockhead, Charlie".

Mulder gave her one of his rare, sweet sincere smiles. She gathered her things and as she was putting on her shoes, she said to him,

"Okay, now we go to the hospital and get your hand x-rayed. I think you can handle the rest of the internal investigation of this X File on your own."

Mulder began to rise, and Scully helped him get dressed. His hand was very sore by now, and he knew he had to get it looked at. Mulder knew that if Scully had not known him so well, cared for him so much, and handled him as carefully as a newborn baby that he would still have been on the floor, sulking, crying and having a great time feeling terrible. He also knew that for the first time, he had been honest with himself and he wasn't too proud of what he was seeing.

Scully's female radar read him perfectly, she looked at him as they were leaving his apartment and told him,

"Mulder, it's never easy seeing our own faults."

"You are right about that. It's perfect isn't it?" he asked, "The two females who have loved me the most both tell me the same thing."

Scully said nothing, merely leading him to the car and waiting for him to climb inside. She knew that the silence would not last for long. Pulling away from the curb, she stole a glance at her partner. He was apparently lost in thought; his brow creased with more than mere pain. After a couple of minutes, just as she had known he would, he began to talk.

"He left me, Scully." The voice was carefully neutral. She nodded to herself. He was testing the waters.

"Do you think he really has?" She returned, in an equally bland fashion.

"Dammit, Scully, I don't know what to believe. He smashed the place up. I've never seen him like that before. He was wild. He didn't know me. It was as if he'd gone somewhere else. Oh, Scully... he... " Mulder's voice broke, and he looked away, out of the window.

"What did he do?" She breathed the question, almost afraid of the answer.

"He cut himself. H-he sliced his arm and his chest open. I stopped him and he was going to... I don't know. He turned away from me and tore

through the apartment. I couldn't stop him from hurting himself... Scully, he hates me." The hitch in Mulder's voice told its own tale.

"Mulder, he doesn't hate you. He loves you. He just hates what you're doing to him. You have to try and find another way to be with him." Her voice was gentle but her face was set, and as he glanced at her, he realized that she meant it.

"I don't know what you mean." Whining voice, sidelong glance that slid from hers.

"Don't you?" Just that and no more. When he thought to argue, she pressed her lips together and drove on in silence. Some minutes went by, then he spoke again.

"Where do you think he's gone? Do you think he'll come back to me?" There was pain to be heard in his voice now, and he looked as if his façade was beginning to crumble at last.

"Do you?" Scully turned to face him.

"No." The one word carried with it all the agony he had hidden up until now.

"What are you going to do then, Mulder?" Her question stung, she could see that, and she was glad. She was trying to peel away his layers of resistance, to get to the core of Mulder. She knew that if she could just get deep enough there was a part of him that adored Alex, and wouldn't let him just leave without fighting for him.

"I don't know what to do." He sat, eyes wide, looking at nothing that she could see. She slapped her hand down on the dash. "Dammit, Mulder. What would Krycek do?"

He closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose with his uninjured hand, then he seemed to take command of himself again.

"I have to find him, Scully. He'll need help. Let me out here, please." He took hold of the door handle expectantly.

"You can wait an hour and get that hand treated properly first." The response cut across his rambling, and he turned to her.

"But... "

"But nothing, Mulder. First we treat the hand, and then if you like, I'll help you search for him." And with that, Mulder had to content himself.

Part 4

***

Scully talked to Skinner, telling him that Mulder was overly stressed and in her medical opinion, he not only needed a vacation but also her to keep an eye on him. It was immediately granted.

They searched, but they didn't find him that day. They didn't find him the day after that either. Mulder was desolate, and went through his days in a fog of misery, trying to place himself inside the skin of his beloved. As Saturday drew around, it found him back on his couch, wearing Alex's clothes and swigging vodka as he tried to put himself into the frame of mind that Alex had carried with him into the cold of that night.

***

Cold.

Alex was so cold that it roused him just a little. He wasn't functioning very well, he didn't know why, except that he was so cold. He could barely feel his hand, and his feet didn't respond very well, nor did his legs, even up to his groin.

He couldn't remember how he got here. Alex made a move to try and sit up, but it was a no-go. Didn't really want to sit up that much anyway. Wanted to keep sleeping. He wondered vaguely why his belly and arm hurt so much, but the pain was lessening, so after a while it left his thoughts. He wondered why he was sweating when he was so damn cold, then realized he was shivering and couldn't stop.

Fox would have a fit . . . no . . . Fox would look down on him again, expect him to understand things he didn't even have words for. Fox didn't really like him, he only wanted to fuck him. Fox liked Scully. Scully could talk to Fox.

That had hurt so badly. He had to watch them communicate and leave him out. Like an animal, they thought he was an animal, treated him like an animal . . . maybe they were right. It didn't matter to him now. He was drifting into a place beyond time where things stopped mattering at all.

As his mind began wandering again he remembered being lost in the snow in Russia, long ago. Right now it seemed as if he was in that very same place, lost, cold, confused and alone. Nobody would come and look for him this time either.

He had become used to being alone when he was lost the first time in the terrible cold. Since then he'd always taken care of himself. Now he wanted Fox, but he knew Fox wouldn't look for him. Nobody deliberately sought out dangerous animals. They avoided them. Fox was teaching him that. He was so far beneath Fox he didn't even get treated like a human being.

They all thought he was never afraid, but he was. Right now he was so very afraid. He'd let himself care, allowed himself to love, and he hadn't been good enough . . . he'd tried, but he just wasn't good enough.

They'd told him that from the beginning in Russia. Should have listened. Didn't want to love, couldn't stop it from happening.

Alex was getting sleepy again. The fatigue was deeper down in his bones this time. It was weariness, exhaustion even deeper than he'd known in Russia. He tried to curl up into a ball and lay his head down on the cold basement floor so he could look at Fox's favorite poster as he slid into unconsciousness.

"I want to believe." The words ghosted from his mouth and were whisked away by time and loss as he succumbed to oblivion.

***

As soon as the morning had dawned, Mulder had called Scully. He was finding it difficult to drive with his broken fingers. Scully had appeared, and fussed around re-bandaging his hand, checking out his hang-dog expression, forcing him to eat, and generally clucking over his appearance.

Mulder's hand was freshly strapped up, and she had given him some painkillers to reduce the throb of it. He had suffered the attention in order to placate Scully, and was chafing now to search for Alex. Scully was fussing over him in a way that seemed to him to be superfluous, and he was winding up to let loose a truly horrendous flow of invective at her when she finally straightened up and announced that he would do.

"Jeez, Scully, not a moment too soon. If you only knew how close I was to bursting my clothing and turning green, you'd have been afraid.

"Okay, Mulder. I said I'd help you, and I will. Have you had any new thoughts? Where do you think he might have gone?" Her face was soft, her expression gentle as she prompted him "Have you had any ideas?"

Mulder shook his head, thinking of all the times in the last few days he and Alex had done more than spar with each other. Shaking his head, he came rapidly to the conclusion that he was fresh out of ideas this time. He raised haunted eyes to Scully.

"I never... I didn't... Oh, Scully, how am I ever going to make it up to him?" He pulled himself to his feet, and started for the door, determined to find his lover and drop to his knees in front of him to beg his forgiveness. Scully, forgotten, trotted in his wake, feeling somewhat like a tugboat in the shadow of a mighty cruise ship.

Back in the car, Scully took the wheel, as Mulder sat thinking. He showed no signs of stirring as they approached and then passed the Hoover Building. They were leaving it behind, when Mulder raised his head.

"Could you back up for a minute, Scully? There's something I want to check out. I'll need to go down to the office." She looked at his set, determined face, and quickly turned into a side street, driving back around to come up to the ramp that led them down to their parking stalls. As they left the vehicle, he took off in a hurry. She practically had to run to keep up with the long strides he was taking, and he showed little sign of wanting to wait for her.

"Alex told me about the things that he valued once. I remember him telling me about something of mine that he admired. He told me it was what he loved about me, and I was shocked because I'd always thought it was a joke on my part. It's a starting place. He might have been and taken it. If he has, there will be witnesses. Oh, Scully, do you suppose he ran to someone else? Someone who will give him what I haven't?" He stopped short, his face a mask of anguish, and Scully could do nothing but pat his arm as he stood, processing this new pain.

When at last he started to walk again, it was with a very different gait. It was as if somewhere along the way he had lost his will to fight. Head drooping, he stumbled the rest of the way down the corridor and into his office.

Shoving open the door, he flicked on the light and made for the filing cabinet, intent on pulling the file he had long held on Alex. Scully stood in the doorway watching him as he riffed through the drawer, intent on his quest. The groan made both of them jump.

Mulder drew his gun and made for the other side of the desk, seeking out the source of the eerie sound he had just heard. Scully clipped along behind him, not particularly worried about seeing a ghost, but certainly determined to prevent an intruder shooting Mulder if she could.

As she made for the desk, Mulder suddenly dropped to his knees, and she instantly assumed a fighting stance and yelled "Freeze."

Mulder didn't speak, and as he hunkered down behind the desk, she raced around to see what had happened.

The unconscious form of Alex Krycek greeted her. Mulder was kneeling beside him, fluttering aimlessly, and she realized straight away that he was not going to be of any use whatsoever.

Krycek lay in a curve that spilled his long limbs awry, and his breathing was hesitant. His skin was grey and he looked ill. Dried blood flecked his face. Blood crusted the front of his black T-shirt, making it stiff, and his upper arm was also caked in blood.. There was no sign of his leather jacket.

"Oh, my love." Mulder didn't say anything more. He merely removed his jacket, laying it over the fallen man, and then sat beside him, chafing the one hand that he was holding.

Scully quickly moved in to check on Alex. She was stunned to see him in this condition. It had never crossed her mind that Alex Krycek was vulnerable to anything. As she was doing her vitals checks, her mind finally allowed in everything that she had pushed out for so long.

All these years and she had been treating the man as badly as Mulder, worse, because she had seen him as impervious to any human condition. She had been giving Mulder her advice for his benefit alone, now it hit her hard to be confronted with the reality that she too had been dismissing Alex as somehow less than they were. Scully had seen Alex as something that brought comfort to Mulder, nothing more.

She realized that they had treated X-File monsters with more regard than they had given to Alex. How did they both come to this? After all they had learned, all the truths that had finally been revealed, why did they both treat this man so shamefully? Was it because Alex was so fundamentally different? Neither one of them had even bothered to try and understand him, what he'd been though. Her beautiful, pale skin flushed as she worked on the inert, terribly wounded man. He had been wounded in so many ways and yet no one had offered him any help. He was so alone. She could see now that Alex hadn't turned to someone else because there was no one else. He was tethered to Mulder. Without him, Alex would drift away into the nothing that waited to re-capture him.

She wondered what it was that had drawn Alex to this place, what Mulder had been referencing as something that Alex admired. She knew that even 10 minutes earlier, she wouldn't have given that comment a second thought, so total was her dismissal. Now, she was realizing her errors, and wishing that she could atone.

Mulder was desperate, and as he routinely did in the midst of a crisis he began to regain himself, to become the intensely concentrated professional.

"We have to get him out of here, Scully." There was urgency in the voice. His face was mask-like, save for the eyes, and those were suffering as he clung tight to his stricken lover's hand. Scully nodded, grabbing for her phone and began dialing for an ambulance, but Mulder's hand shot out at that, stopping her.

"Not a hospital, Scully. He won't be able to handle that." She paused for a minute, and then nodded. Mulder was right. There was a time and a place for everything. Alex would be fare better off in a place he knew, with an understanding lover.

"You do know that he needs you, don't you, Mulder?" Mulder gazed at her dumbly, a slight nod all the answer he gave. "You either have to give him what he needs, or cut him loose. It can't be about you any more."

Mulder flushed. He turned almost brusquely to tend to his lover, lifting Alex's head a little until he could insert his thigh beneath it, and then squirming under until he had Alex pillowed between his legs. The moan from Alex made him stiffen a minute, and he turned appealing eyes onto Scully.

"Please help me get him home." The need that radiated from the two men in their tableau there on the floor of their office struck a chord in her. She nodded, and began to make another phone call.

Finally replacing the phone, she bade Mulder to wait, and vanished out of the office, returning ten minutes later with a tall, thin black man who she introduced as her landlord. Between the two of them, they managed to get Alex up off the floor and into Mulder's arms. Then they made for the exit, where Scully's acquaintance, whose name was Lance, had a truck.

Following the conversation with Scully, Lance had loaded into the back of the truck a blanket and some cushions. They made Alex as comfortable as they could, and then, despite protests from Scully, Mulder crawled into the back with Alex, settling himself to hold him during the ride. Nothing that they could say would stir him from his purpose, and finally they set off.

Alex moaned a couple of times, but appeared not to surface into consciousness. Mulder had sat himself with his back to the side of the truck, secured the supine body against him in a manner that would jolt him the least and was now talking to him, telling him all the things that he had never said when Alex was able to hear them.

Holding Alex in his arms, and talking to him at last about all the things that he had wanted to say, but never dared, Fox Mulder suddenly felt peaceful. He was focused, and knew that whatever happened next, he would treat Alex the way he would want to be treated. He bent his head to kiss the face of the other man, and was rewarded by a tiny, sighed "Fox," so faint that he wasn't sure he

had heard it.

"Oh, babe, I love you so much. Don't do this to yourself any more. I can't bear it." He tightened his hold on Alex. When Alex opened his eyes a tiny crack and said "Stupid," he couldn't hold back any longer, and tears flowed to drop onto Alex's face.

The truck pulled up outside Mulder's apartment, and the three of them busied themselves in getting Alex into the apartment, and onto a bed. Scully had placed a towel on the bed, and Mulder laid Alex down onto it, before going to find a bowl of water and a washcloth.

Scully set to work. She had to cut Alex's clothes off him. The struggle to undress him would have been too painful. She laid the warm washcloth on Alex's chest so the blood that had caused his skin to adhere to the material would begin to loosen its harsh hold. Slowly, she and Mulder removed the blood soaked T-shirt. Mulder moaned as he saw the damage that had been done to that pale, sweet skin. In dealing with Alex's outward wounds, so visceral and raw, each step brought Mulder inevitably closer to the damage that he had inflicted on the man emotionally.

Scully was unusually quiet, gentle even in her ministrations as she tended to Alex. Mulder noticed this. He would have to ask her about it later, right now all his concentration was for the man on his bed, the man he loved, the man he lived for.

Alex began to stir a little, his eyes had opened but were unfocused. He began a feeble thrashing. He was so used to waking in danger that it was an instinctive reaction, to take flight even when he could barely move.

"Talk to him Mulder", Scully said quietly. "He's confused, and he's so damn wild I don't know how much more damage he'll do to himself. I need to have him as still as possible for this." She began to work on the wounds.

Mulder moved in closer to Alex, and the unseeing man shifted his head toward the movement, taking a deep breath through his nostrils. Mulder had always been intrigued by Alex's use of his senses, how Alex would scent him, touch him, taste him. He knew that those things were a strong part of Alex's defense and recognition patterns. Alex was still semi-conscious, but as soon as he smelled Mulder, he nuzzled into his pillow. Mulder recognized this. It was Alex's personal signal for Mulder to come closer. He did, inching in to the wounded man, careful not to move the bed or interrupt Scully's ministrations.

A small ripple ran through Alex, not of pain, Scully had taken care of that with drugs, but of recognition. He knew Mulder was with him. Mulder had seen Alex do this before, how he initially quivered whenever his lover approached him.

How could I have ever allowed this to happen? Mulder wondered. How could I ever have thought that someone who literally shook with delight when I was near was not worth everything?

Part 5

***

"Alex, I'm here. You're home, and you're safe." Mulder spoke softly against the skin of his face, so Alex could feel his breath. Alex's extended his tongue and gently tasted Mulder's skin, letting out a small sigh of contentment at the familiarity. Mulder was again captured by this man's singular difference to anyone else he had ever known. Had he expected a man who could smell a foe, and react instantaneously but occasionally sucked his thumb in his sleep, to conform? The enormity of his presumption was becoming clearer to him each minute.

He had exactly what he wanted. He had the man of his dreams, fantasies and needs and he had tried to change him.

Unbelievable.

"Alex baby, I love you. Stay with me, beautiful, don't ever leave again" Mulder breathed to Alex.

As his eyes began to focus, Alex could see him now. He watched Mulder with a flat, dull expression. Yes, Mulder thought, you'll stay with me. You'll let me destroy you. For all your strength, you'll let me take away parts of you a little bit at a time. No more of that, I need you too much. I need you as you are, want you as you are.

"I promise you beloved, from this day on, things will be different." Mulder vowed, and heart in his mouth, he willed all that was inside him to reach forth to Alex.

The flat eyes changed just a bit, and for the first time ever, Mulder saw fear in them.

"It's all right, baby, you don't need to be afraid anymore. I'll protect you as you've protected me," he promised. "I won't hurt you anymore. You were right, it kills me to see you in pain."

This admission was rewarded with the ghost of a smile. Oh, Alex, Mulder thought, You know me and I haven't even tried to know you. I've studied you, pushed and prodded and probed like you were a *thing,* but I never tried to understand you. I never *did* use any restraint with you. I took all I wanted when I wanted and you gave, you always gave and you tried so damn hard to understand me.

"Beautiful," Mulder whispered, "I think that I have the most wonderful man in the world, and getting to know him will be my greatest joy."

The wounded man watching Mulder let out a shuddering breath and closed his eyes. Mulder knew he would have to back up his words, too much damage had been done for mere words to assuage the deep pain he had seen reflected in Alex's eyes.

Scully was finishing now, she had been concentrating on her work, listening as she stitched and bandaged.

"Do you want me to stay the night?" she asked quietly. "I don't mind."

Mulder looked at her closely, he saw tears in her eyes. So much had happened to them all. He could tell that Scully had made many of the same realizations he had, not a moment too soon. Alex's desperation to get his message through, to make contact with Mulder, had almost killed him. What had been a swift journey for Mulder had been an agonizing, endless tangle for Alex.

"No, if you think he will be alright with me, go home and rest. We've worn you out." Mulder answered.

"We've worn him out. We've worn him down", She replied as she watched Alex sleep. "I'm ashamed, Mulder." Before he could reply to that startling statement she spoke again, "Call me, for any reason. I'll be over tomorrow morning". She was not asking him, she was stating a fact. Mulder had a lot to digest here. Even Scully had been profoundly affected by the recent events.

"Thank you, Scully, for everything" he said as he saw her to the door.

She stopped for a moment, turned and looked at him. "We're arrogant people, Mulder." She spoke softly, her eyes lowered, then she turned and went out the door.

Mulder sat watching Alex sleep. He had been in the same position now for hours, and still he sat, his eyes searching for any signs that the sleeping form of his lover might wake and need something. Alex slept on, his breathing noisy and his body restless. He was searching for something, but Mulder wasn't sure what it might be.

At 3am, he heard a sound, soft as a whisper. He moved over to the bed to gaze down on Alex. The eyes were open, and he was looking around, searching frantically for something.

"Hello, beautiful. Is there something you need?" Mulder smiled down at the man in the bed. "Whatever you need, just say. Want some water?" The lowering and raising of long, thick lashes was an assent, and Mulder grabbed for the bottle he had brought in just for this eventuality, sat on the edge of the bed and slipped a hand under the broad shoulders, raising Alex and propping him up against his chest. As he brought the cold water to Alex's mouth and held it for him to swallow, he rubbed his face against the dark, feathery hair of his lover, wanting to feel it against his lips, and wishing that it were possible to do more.

Alex drank long and deep, finally allowing Mulder to put the bottle down with a scant inch in the bottom of it. He murmured a soft 'thank you' that barely brushed itself over Mulder's ears, and Mulder gently laid him down again.

"Do you need anything else?" He knew he was being stupid, and that his pleas were as much to make him feel better as they were for Alex's well being, but he couldn't help himself. He needed to make some kind of gesture to repair the harm he knew he had caused.

Alex said nothing. He had closed his eyes once more, his lashes fanning out on his cheeks, black in the half-light against the fine-grained pallor of his skin. Mulder bent to kiss the sharp protrusion of Alex's cheekbone and was rewarded as he drew away by the ghost of a smile quirking the carefully molded lips.

"Love you, Fox... . Fuck off and let me sleep." A breathy sound that might have been a snicker made it to where Mulder had retreated, and Mulder smiled grimly as he realized that Alex was onto him even now.

"Baby, I know you're tired, and I know you know what I... oh, fuck, baby, I just want to make it up to you. I know you think I'm a shit, and maybe I am, but I'm your shit. I love you. I can't begin to tell you how much I want to make it up to you." Mulder had returned to the bedside, and was now resting his head on the pillow beside Alex. Alex turned his head to the side where he

was, and there was a gleam of half-lidded eyes as he made an effort to look at Mulder.

"Come to bed. Want... . Hold me." A faint breath and that was all, but it rocked Mulder. He quickly shucked the clothes he had been wearing, tidying them away out of sight, knowing that Alex would hate to see them scattered on the floor. Then he moved quickly around to his side of the bed, climbing in beside the over-warm body of his love. Alex gave a little moan, and somehow without seeming to exert any overt effort, drew closer to Mulder until he was pressed up against him. Mulder could tell when he fell asleep, and shortly afterwards he followed Alex down into slumber.

Alex continued his restless movements even in deeper sleep. After a few hours of holding his lover, Mulder decided to check his temperature. He deftly inserted the computerized thermometer in Alex's ear and within a second, had the reading. The hurt man's temperature had gone up a degree, so Mulder decided to rouse Alex just enough to get some more drugs into him.

Picking up the pill bottle that Scully had left, he shook out 2 capsules as she had instructed. He swept his hand gently over Alex's warm brow and it furrowed in response. Mulder kissed the furrow. He had loved that line from the first time it had appeared. He often thought of it as his. After all, who had ever given Alex more reason to frown than he had?

Vague stirring motions told Mulder that he could probably slip Alex the pills without completely waking him. He whispered to him,

"Beautiful, I want to give you some pills. Come on, baby, wake up a little for me."

Alex moved restlessly again, but his head turned toward Mulder and he opened his mouth. Such trust he has in me, Mulder thought. What did I ever do to earn it? He gently lifted Alex a little and slipped the pills into his mouth one at a time, giving a generous sip of water with each one. Alex downed them easily, never opening his eyes, merely drooling a little water. As Mulder lay Alex back on the bed, it seemed as if he had never completely awakened, just as Mulder had hoped.

He went into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and took a long swig of orange juice. He was awake now, but he didn't want to disturb Alex, so he decided he'd work at his laptop. Firstly, he needed to check and make sure all was well in the bedroom. Quietly walking in, he checked Alex's breathing and looked at the time. In about an hour he would take another temperature reading and see if the pills were helping.

Alex was still moving restlessly. Mulder sat in the bedroom chair to keep watch for a while. He couldn't bear to be apart from Alex, so he figured he'd stay with him. It would help him feel useful. Mulder could never get enough of looking at him and he didn't often get to indulge in his passion for voyeurism with this man. Alex always seemed to know when he was being watched, and it made him uncomfortable. Mulder was snatching at an opportunity that rarely came his way. He sat now, watching, memorizing, studying and cataloging. He took in each feature slowly, tucking the notations away in his many-layered mind.

As he looked over his lover, he began to grow hard. He shouldn't have been surprised, but he was. With the recent stress and hurt, he thought his libido would be taking a catnap, but it was waking up with a vengeance as he gazed raptly at the sleeping man. He felt guilty for a moment, but then decided that the joys of self-relief were supremely under-rated.

He stroked himself through his boxers, and immediately realized that he had better shuck them fast. He was so ready to come he was about to explode. Within a few strokes he was biting his lip to suppress a groan as he climaxed. Mulder closed his eyes for a minute. It had been way too long since he had touched Alex. He wanted Alex so much his guts throbbed all the way to the base of his balls. Mulder reached down, picking up his boxers, and used them to wipe himself as he took a look at the clock. An hour had flown by. It was now time to check on Alex. Moving over to him as quietly as possible he prepared to insert the thermometer in the sleeping man's ear.

"Pervert," was softly growled up at him.

He turned on a small night-light and saw overly bright eyes now watching him. Caught! He should have known. Alex was proof that the supernatural existed.

"I'm just trying to take your temperature. You were burning up," Mulder answered. "That's why I am defiling your ear. Not that I wouldn't do it ordinarily" he ended somewhat under his breath.

"You were scruuuuutinizing me again, Mulder, " Alex rolled out the word lasciviously.

Oh yes, Mulder thought, baby was definitely on the upswing.

"How long have you been completely awake, sneak?" He ran his hand over Alex's lips as he spoke. A quick tongue appeared and licked his hand, sucking in a finger and holding it for a moment before releasing it.

"Long enough", was the mocking reply. "You taste like your boxers," Alex said.

"And how would you know . . ."

"I've chewed through them a few times," cut him off in mid-sentence.

This, indeed, was true. Mulder had kept those pairs in a special place; he couldn't bear to part with them when they had such lovely teeth marks shredding them.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, but I was concerned," Mulder sat down on the bed.

"You're taking good care of me?" Was said in a questioning voice.

Mulder leaned in and kissed Alex softly, on his lips, then on his ear. "That's going to be the order of the day from now on. You'll just have to get used to it".

His words were greeted with silence. Mulder looked into Alex's eyes. The other man was solemnly studying him. Mulder waited, knowing that there was more waiting to be said.

"Mulder?" spoken so softly it went almost unheard.

"Yes, I'm listening, I'm paying attention."

//For the first time, I AM paying attention//

"Will you talk to me?" The faint query sounded childlike. "Will you talk to me like you talk to her?"

Mulder knew instantly what he meant, and regret left a hole in him that he knew would never completely fill in again.

"Yes, baby, I will. I need to talk to you" he replied gently. "I need you, Alex, for who you are; for all you are. I've been a fool. She told me that the other day, and I finally realized it was the truth."

Green eyes widened. "She told you?" Was the surprised reply.

"Yes, she did. She also told me that she and I are arrogant people, and she's right".

"The truth is out there . . .now", was said almost to himself, but loud enough for Alex to hear.

"I like your arrogance" was the unexpected response. "You can't be you if you aren't arrogant." This last was said as a statement of fact.

"How about I tone it down for a certain, special person? Would that still be me?" Mulder was once more fascinated by his unpredictable beloved. He should be apologizing on his knees, and Alex was telling him not to stop being himself. The very thing Alex needed so much, he gave fully. Mulder was in awe of just how fortunate he was to have his Alex.

"Yeah," was accompanied by a wide yawn.

"How about I get back into bed and we both sleep some more? Does that sound good Sleeping Beauty?"

"Don't you need to defile my ear again?" was barely a murmur as sleep was overtaking the exhausted man.

"Oh yes, Alex, I need to defile your ear and a whole lot more once we get you well again." Mulder reached for the thermometer as he said this.

"Pervert", was breathed out to him again as Alex nuzzled in closer, lying his head on Mulder's chest as he finally gave way to complete rest.

***

The morning came and went, while the lovers continued to sleep.

When Special Agent Dana Scully let herself into the apartment, and crossed quietly to the bedroom to peer around the door, she could see Mulder, his arm flung protectively around Alex, who lay facing the door. Both of them appeared to be deeply asleep, and she caught her breath as she gazed at them. Alex had regained some of his color, though the dark circles beneath his eyes were mute testament to the ordeal he had been through.

Backing quietly away, she made for the kitchen, taking with her the bag of groceries she'd brought with her. Shaking her head at the interior of Mulder's fridge, she began to stow them away. Once it was done to her satisfaction, she began preparations for a meal. She set coffee on to filter, and set to scrambling eggs and frying slices of ham as she fed the toaster.

Portioning out the food, she quickly added juice, Alex's medication, coffee, sugar and cream to the tray she had prepared, and carried it through to the bedroom. As she entered the room, she could see that Alex was staring at her, his face an inscrutable mask, though he seemed content to lie still within the circle of Mulder's arm.

Bringing the tray up to the bed, she placed it on the floor and sat on the edge of the bed, putting out her hand to feel his temperature.

"Not scientific, Scully. Fox uses a gadget he stuffs in my ear." The words were whispered. Scully took a deep breath and tried to divert him from talking.

"Are you hungry, by any chance? I don't think I can eat all of this myself."

Mulder began to stir at that point, opening first one eye, and pausing to nuzzle into the back of Alex's neck, before deciding that he was actually required to be physically present. Reluctantly, he released Alex, and rolled to sit up, pulling pillows into place for Alex to lean on. Scully picked up

the tray and gave it over to Mulder, while she returned to the kitchen for the coffee.

When she returned with the drinks and a plate of toast, she discovered the two of them bickering over which one of them most deserved a particularly juicy piece of ham, and found herself grinning like a lunatic. She stayed to chat with them as they consumed the entire feast, finding that it was much easier to be at ease with the two of them than she had feared it might be. Whatever demons they were battling, they were certainly not visiting them on her.

She made sure Alex had taken the antibiotics she had prescribed for him, cleared away the dishes that were now pretty close to polished clean, and then left them to it, pausing only to caution Mulder against allowing Alex to overdo things. He was still weak, and a little feverish. He had to be in a lot of pain, but he was already making noises about getting up and carrying on as usual. Scully had let the two of them know in no uncertain terms just how she would deal with the pair of them, should they allow Alex to make himself any worse.

As she let herself out, Alex grinned hazily up at Fox.

"Now there's a terrific houseguest. Brings the food, cooks, cleans up and goes. Invite her again if you like." Mulder stroked Alex's smooth flank, needing to touch Alex, but not quite sure yet if his caresses would be welcome.

"She's okay, Scully. I think sometimes that she understands you better than I do. Help me to understand you, baby. I can't bear to see you hurting any more." He lay alongside Alex, leaning up on one elbow as he searched Alex's face.

"Fox, I can't explain myself. So many things have happened to me, to bring me to where I am now." Alex spoke in a rush, his words tumbling over one another in their efforts to be released.

Mulder laid a hand against Alex's face, gently turning him until the two of them were eye to eye, the tips of their noses almost touching. Alex extended the tip of a very pink tongue once again, reaching to touch it to Mulder's lips, before relaxing back once more.

"Baby, tell me something about yourself. Something you think I really need to know. Just one thing." Alex considered him, peeping at him slyly from beneath his sinfully long lashes, before smiling a tiny smile that just missed being a self-satisfied smirk.

"When I was at Quantico, I really did stick up for you. It wasn't a lie." Mulder felt stunned. He didn't know what to say. At that minute he was fighting a losing battle with his libido. Alex's artlessly seductive manner was getting to him, and the urge to move in just that little bit further and place his lips against that perfect mouth was almost too much for him to bear.

He rolled back to lay against the pillows, trying hard to keep himself under control.

The pain medication that Scully had slipped into Alex's orange juice was beginning to take effect. As Mulder was manfully struggling not to start at Alex's toes and devour him entirely, the object of Mulder's longing was getting sleepy. Mulder was dumbfounded as Alex crept over to him, pushed and plumped on

him as if he were a pillow that needed to be fluffed, tucked his head into Mulder's shoulder, then fell deeply asleep again.

Mulder lay there staring at the ceiling and opened his mouth to let out a long, silent wail. He was going nuts. Such was life with a sex god.

He looked down at the soft, dark head lying so sweetly against him. How could a man have such a beautifully shaped head? Not only was his head perfectly shaped, even Alex's ears were lovely. Mulder hadn't been able to isolate the word that described that nose, no words he found so far did it justice. He had spent one entire day in the FBI library just looking up words that might describe Alex's nose, but nada. Not one did it.

That had been the day he fully realized his obsession with Alex. He knew that he was going to give up years of his life if he tried to describe Alex's eyes. Even the color had no real word. Green was just a driver's license description.

He had seen lots of beautiful bodies in his life - most of them dead of course, but still beautiful. There was a quality inside Alex that lit the spark of seductiveness, turning it into an inferno. It was always there, burning bright, even now as Alex slept. He even breathed sexy.

That was Mulder's last straw so he gently unfolded the doped man from himself and headed toward the bathroom. What a week! At least in the past he had been able to come home to Alex to let that fire burn out his problems, but now he seemed to be the water that almost quenched the fire. Self-revelation was not nearly as satisfying as self-fulfillment. When you have a sex god knocked out and cozy in your bed, a man had to do what a man had to do.

Fox Mulder gave himself a mental shake and headed for the shower. Turning on the water, he waited for the flow to grow warm and stepped underneath it. Grimly, he surveyed the effect that watching Alex had produced on him, and sighed. He could jerk off - again - true, but what would be the point?

Soaping his body up, he allowed himself to picture the clean limbs and sleeping features of the man currently slumbering in his bed. He allowed the warmth of the water to batter his limbs, feeling the sensuous patter of the flow on his body. He hissed in a breath as he felt the run-off trickle down the inside of his thighs, and then, regretfully, he turned the water over to cold. Teeth gritted, he allowed the shock of it to cool his ardor, causing his penis to shrink down and his breath to catch with the sheer, heart-stopping blast.

He was going to wait. He was going to prove to Alex somehow that he was more than just a bunch of wants and needs. He loved Alex, and he would wait for him to lead in their newly re-worked, fledgling relationship. He was going to prove that he didn't always need instant gratification. He was going to show Alex that he loved him enough to give him anything he wanted, even if it meant that he had blue balls.

Shivering and wishing that life were kinder, he stepped out from under the punishing stream, and reached for a towel to dry himself. Taking the razor, he

soaped his face, shaving efficiently, and then slapped on cologne that stung his face, making him curse like a stevedore.

Dressing himself in his casual clothes, he headed out of the apartment and off to the mall. He had decided that he was going to make Alex feel loved if it killed him.

Making for the first store on his mental list, he made a few purchases. He bought sweet scented massage oil, a variety of candles in different shapes and fragrances, and a butt plug. Having found the bathroom, he took a minute of two to insert the plug, happy in the knowledge that discomfort now would become pleasure later.

He bought a bunch of sweet scented roses, and a quart of Black Forest ice cream, a bottle of Stoli and a jug of cranberry juice. Finally, he went looking for an outfit, feeling rather silly, but sure that Alex would be worth it.

He bought a raw silk shirt and a pair of tight pants that clung nicely to his ass. He was going to make Alex know that he was not only his chosen companion, but also the most important thing in his life.

***

Returning home, he found Alex still sleeping. Swiftly stowing everything he had bought, he found his laptop where he had left it, settled down in the chair in the bedroom, and began his wait for Alex to wake up once more. He knew that there would be much discussion before the two of them would be able to make love again, but at least the way was open now for the two of them to get things straightened out. They never again would have the same problems.

He was content. Somewhere inside him, lurked a feeling of excitement. He and Alex would be closer together than ever before this episode was closed. He couldn't wait.

He had been working at his laptop when the telephone rang. Scully was calling to check in, as reliable as the phases of the moon.

"How is he, Mulder?" Straight to the point as always.

"Still sleeping, after that Orange Juice Mickey you slipped him. Thanks for doing it, he was in a lot of pain," Mulder was downright jovial about her sly doping of his lover.

"Would you have been able to get a pill into him any other way?" she asked, matching his jovial tone.

"Yeah, I probably could have managed a suppository but you would have had to make another house call just to identify my remains."

Scully had let out a very distinct snort at the mental image. "You sound good, better than you have in a long time." She was still taking temperatures.

"I am, Scully. Thank you. For everything." Mulder knew she'd get all the inflections. It suddenly occurred to him that it was no wonder this relationship made Alex so jealous. For the first time, he was seeing things from Alex's perspective.

"Keep him on the painkillers at least through the night. They have a side effect, they are natural anti-inhibitors . . ."

" . . . So that is why he's been talking so much!" Mulder finished the sentence, as he finally understood Alex's unusual verbosity earlier in the day.

"I thought you might like to know, this might be a good time . . ."

" . . . He's opened up more in the last few hours than ever before. Think it would be ethically justifiable to keep him drugged forever?"

"Nope. You still have your own work to do." Scully wasn't leaving him any room for squirming. They said their good-byes. Mulder heard coughing from the bedroom and headed in to check on Alex.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he reached over and put his hand on Alex's pale forehead. It was still too warm. He was being peered at by a half-awake beauty in serious need of a shave and sporting a spectacular case of 'bed hair'. Mulder leaned into his warmth, stroking Alex's shoulders,

"Don't you ever look bad?" He murmured. "It would help so much if you could just not look so damn beautiful all the time." He was now gently rubbing Alex's back as he talked, "Get fat. Look dissipated. Have the decency to at least look terrible once in a while," he said in a truly exasperated tone. His little tirade was rewarded with soft snickering.

"Feed me." Alex attempted to roll over, but he stopped abruptly, and his face drained of color.

"Stay still," Mulder commanded. "Let me help you". He gently took the wounded man in his arms, helping him finish the turn. He propped him in the bed with plenty of pillows to support him, and one under his aching right arm. Mulder sat beside Alex and stroked his forehead until his breathing became less harsh.

"I have some food ready. You still hungry?" He knew the answer to that. Alex was always hungry.

Alex nodded, momentarily spent from the fierce pain. Mulder kissed the pale face and went toward the kitchen. When he returned, he had a large tray set with soup, sandwiches, white chocolate cherries and more orange juice. Alex's eyes were closed but he snapped them open when he smelled the food. They began a quiet meal; Mulder really did have to feed Alex. His arm was too sore to move and when he insisted, it was unsteady, so in the interest of getting food into rather than on himself, he let Mulder do all the work.

Alex had noticed the red rose in the water glass that was sitting on the tray. He looked at it intently, and asked Mulder to bring it close so he could smell it. Mulder watched as Alex inhaled the fragrance and closed his eyes, looking like a vintner tasting an excellent wine. Again Mulder marveled at what he didn't know about this man. Alex opened his eyes just a bit, the lashes covering his expression.

"What's a guy got to do to get one of those cherries?" he husked.

It was the most erotic moment in Mulder's life. Alex, supine in his bed, the red rose highlighting the beauty of his skin, peeping at him as he thrummed for chocolate. Mulder took a moment to catch his breath, letting his memory record this moment indelibly.

"A guy has to take his antibiotics and pain medication first," He was finally able to answer.

"No."

"Yes."

"NO!"

"I also have ice cream", Mulder was playing rough now, determined to get the pills into Alex. He could see the other man was hurting badly. He was not going to lose this battle of wills.

Silence. Long silence. The two men watched each other, unmoving, unyielding.

"Black Forest Ice Cream," Mulder finally broke the silence.

"Damn!" The soft sigh was barely perceptible. He gave Alex the pills, leaving the rule unspoken between them that first came the medicine, then the treats.

They shared the ice cream and the cherries, savoring every bite. Mulder was having a wonderful time feeding Alex, and his lover was enjoying being pampered. Mulder held out the last white chocolate cherry.

"It's yours if you tell me something else about yourself that I don't know," he teased. Alex could never leave any sweets in the apartment, if they were there, he was obsessive about hunting them down. Mulder dangled the cherry in front of him. Alex snapped his teeth at it, almost catching it and surprising Mulder into sharp laughter.

"You Russian sweet-hound!" he exclaimed. The cherry was now dangled a safe distance away from its predator.

"I'm not Russian," Alex said mildly. This was chased by a brief yawn. The pain medication was kicking in, in every way. Mulder stayed silent.

"My mother was Tartar, so I am considered Tartar."

"That's Mongolian, isn't it?" Incredible, it fit so well. Alex's beauty, his large beautiful eyes with those unbelievable lashes, lush dark hair and pale skin, the elegantly molded body were all exotic.

"Yes. My mother was a direct descendant of Genghis Kahn. She was tribal royalty."

"Alex, baby, is this the truth?" Mulder asked, incredulous.

"Umhuh, I spoke Mongolian until I was 5. I could ride a horse before I could walk and I could cut your head off with a sabre, so give me that cherry!"

Mulder did.

"What about your father?" Alex had intrigued Mulder far more than he had ever anticipated.

"She chose him from outside of the tribe. She read in the ashes that he would give her a manchild. He was a warrior, a Russian. As royalty, she had the right to choose the father for her child. He never knew about me, she took what she wanted from him and the tribe disappeared back onto the steppes."

Here was a Tolstoy character incarnate reclining in his bed.

"Tell me more," Mulder prompted. He had mentally shifted from bleak D.C. into a world of grand adventure. That it was over the top was what made him believe Alex. Plus the man was pumped full of the equivalent of a truth serum.

"Enough for now," Alex answered. He suspected he had talked too much but he didn't know how it had happened. "I didn't mean to tell you so much", he mumbled.

"You're safe, baby, I will keep all your secrets," Mulder reassured him.

"Am I safe with you?" Alex asked, his voice trembling.

Mulder leaned in until he was right in front of Alex's face.

"Yes. I promise. You are safe with me from this moment on."

A gentle smile crossed the tired man's face.

"That's all I ever wanted."

"I've never given anyone all they ever wanted before. I am going to love doing it for you," was Mulder's tender reply.

There was no response. His stomach full, and his mind eased by the gentle words of the man he loved, Alex had allowed the medication to bear him away to dreamland.

 

 

 

 

Part 6

***

Mulder stood gazing down on his lover. His heart was so full that he felt as if he could no longer contain it. He wanted to hold Alex tightly. He wanted to kiss him until their lips bled, and then to smear the blood until it mingled. He wanted somehow to climb inside of Alex's skin so that the two of them could no longer ever be parted. He was sure of his love for Alex, as he was sure he needed oxygen. Somehow, from being a treacherous rat-bastard that required battering and chastising for his crimes, Alex had become his lodestar. Without Alex in his life, Mulder no longer knew how to function.

He glanced at his watch. It was still early, and he knew that he wouldn't sleep. He dropped to his knees beside Alex, unwilling to wake him from his healing rest, but desperate to touch him, to know him in ways he hadn't even realized existed until now.

He studied the features of his enigmatic beloved, at rest as he was. He had seen this face contorted in anger. He had seen it softened by love for him, and he had seen it most frequently hidden by a mask that gave away nothing of the man behind it.

Gazing down at him now, he drank in the beauty of bone lying spare beneath the smooth, concealing flesh. He took in the mystery of darkened hollows, filled with blue-veined, translucent lids beneath which lay green, inquisitive depths. This man was totally unfathomable, and he, Mulder, wouldn't have it any other way.

He stooped, brushing his lips against Alex's. He could do this, he knew he could. He could avoid the easy lure of jerking himself off, because his Alex was sick. When he became well again, Mulder would be ready for him. That would be soon enough.

He turned to find his running gear, dressed himself, and left the apartment, sublimating all his energies into the length of his stride, pushing himself hard as he paced through the lamplit world of the evening.

***

On his return, his first care was to check on Alex. He was lying quietly, but the flash of eyes in the light from the doorway told Mulder that he wasn't sleeping. He moved to the bedside, and saw Alex's teeth gleam in a pirate smile as he inhaled the rich scent of Mulder's exercising.

Kneeling to bring his face in line with that of his love, he placed his forehead against Alex's, and murmured his hello.

"You smell good." The roughened edges of his chocolate voice trailed over Mulder's senses, and he shivered.

"Just doing a little sublimating, baby. I want you so much. I've got to get a hobby." Mulder's words were self-deprecating, and he invited Alex to share in the joke.

"I know how it is. Me too," Alex confided, and Mulder could see that there was indeed a growing presence beneath the bedclothes. He kissed Alex gently.

"I can help you out there, love. Just give me a chance." Carefully, trying not to disturb the injured man, he felt beneath the covers, fingers dancing over lean flesh to discover the source of Alex's discomfort lying long and heated against his belly.

Mulder took hold of it, and Alex gasped, leaning his head back, and closed his eyes. Realizing that masturbation was probably going to be far too painful for Alex to contemplate, Mulder rolled back the bedclothes, revealing Alex's cock, licked his lips, and went down on him.

This was no tease. This was a prescription for pleasure as Mulder used his mouth to draw that pleasure into the man he loved, sucking hard at the glossy purple of the head, running his tongue around it, before sinking down to engulf it utterly. Alex's hips jerked uncontrollably once, then twice, and at last a third time as Mulder stroked his tight balls, and they gave up their bitter content. The wordless cry and the bitten lip let him know that he had made Alex feel good.

Tenderly replacing the covers, he brushed Alex's lips with his own, and turned to go and take yet another cold shower.

Make that a freezing shower. Mulder was determined to prove he had self-restraint. Years ago, Scully had suggested that he look up the word since he clearly had no concept of what it meant. Now his behavior had literally shredded Alex. Mulder's empathy was emerging from its burrow, poking its head into the light, bewildered and blinking at being roused from dormancy. It really, really wanted to slink back down into the sweet cobwebby places again. He knew he had to get it into action before it did.

Toweling his hair, he walked into the bedroom. Alex was sitting up, his long legs planted over the side of the bed as he began an attempt to rise.

"What are you doing!" burst out of Mulder. He was about to remonstrate further but his exclamation had gained him a searing flash of green. Those eyes had their own language, equal parts threat, promise, death and delight. Mulder thought that Alex should have them registered as a deadly weapon. No wonder the man talked so little, his entire body was a vocabulary.

"I need to move around" Alex spoke straight ahead, not turning to look at Mulder again. He was concentrating on fighting the pills and pain to get to his feet.

"No you don't, you need to stay still, you are too weak to be moving around." Mulder was adamant, firm.

"Fuck weak," hissed out to him. So much for firmness.

Mulder moved over to Alex, placing his hands on both shoulders to hold the other man down on the bed and *keep* him from rising.

"Help me, or get the hell out of my way, but don't pretend you can stop me", Alex still did not look at Mulder. He spoke coldly. The implied threat as substantial as nitroglycerine about to start shaking.

Mulder knelt down until he was on eye level with Alex. Now he had to back up his previous promises, he had to find a way to communicate with his primal lover. The idea of putting out a fresh haunch of meat surrounded by Godiva chocolates flitted through his mind but it would never work with Alex. He'd be putting a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound.

"Tell me why it is necessary for you to get up, okay? That's all I want to know", Mulder's tone was conversational.

Alex sent a seething glare through him, tossed his head restlessly, and rolled his shoulders.

"I'm bunched up", his voice was almost inaudible, so low that he rumbled. Mulder recognized a known danger signal.

Mulder fought a smile, but the smile won.

"You're what? Bunched up?" Mulder was giggling now.

The glare lost all heat. It became glacial.

Mulder was trying so hard, but he was totally taken off guard and he just kept up that damn giggling.

"Bbbbbbunched uuuup?" he was finally able to squeak out. The squeak became a howl when Alex whipped his head toward him and bit his nose. Hard.

"OOOOOOowwwwwwwwwww! Hey! I fed you dammit, you can't be hungry again!"

It was now Alex's turn to be taken off guard. He let out a shout of laughter, brief and unexpected.

The two men both recognized the absurdity of the situation at the same time. They fell silent and looked down at their feet, like two little boys caught stealing butter beans from their neighbor's garden.

Mulder spoke first, "Alex, what do you need? Tell me what you need, baby." He was calm, focused on his volatile lover, ignoring his throbbing nose, focused with the eerie Mulder concentration. It was the first time in any instance other than a sexual one that Alex had ever been the recipient of that focus. It began to calm him, work its magic and take away the turmoil. Mulder's full attention filled him with an inner stillness he could never achieve on his own. He looked up and met the other man's eyes. This feeling was new to him. It was blissful. He spoke quietly,

"I need to piss".

Mulder knew they had made a major breakthrough. Self restraint was kicking the inside of his head the same way a baby kicks inside its mother, getting his attention, demanding recognition. He gave in and listened to it. Don't try to squeeze too hard now, be nonchalant. Let the moment flow.

He smiled at Alex, a natural smile, with a happy little quirk to its corner.

"How about you lie back down, and I get the jug that Scully left and you can use that? Hmm, baby? It won't hurt you that way, it's the smart thing to do, not the weak thing," his voice was full of good humor but not mocking. He watched as Alex visibly began to relax his body. A small groan escaped him, being tensed for a fight while in such bad shape took a toll.

Mulder thought quickly, he could offer to help Alex, but empathy spoke up and told him not to. Not now, let him make his own choice. Alex slowly scrooched back on the bed, lying his head on the pillows. He was sweating, the exertion of getting up, together with the confrontation had weakened him. Fox checked him over with a brief glance and went and got the urine bottle. He knelt beside the bed and held the bottle while Alex relieved himself. Getting to his feet he took the bottle into the bathroom and rinsed it with soapy water. His nose was beginning to hurt. He checked in his shaving mirror and saw that he was going to have a glorious bruise but his skin had not been broken.

He heard a soft call from the bedroom. Walking in, Alex motioned for him to sit on the bed. Alex looked at his nose for a moment then lowered his lashes,

"I'm sorry."

"Apology accepted. I shouldn't have laughed. No wait. Alex, sometimes you are just funny and you don't even realize it. 'Bunched up' was funny. I was couldn't help laughing, but I wasn't making fun of you. I was laughing because it was so unique, so *you* and I love that."

"Like I love your arrogance?"

"Yes, good point. I love the things that make you *you, * just like you love those qualities in me."

"You think I'm funny?" This was asked in a genuine incredulous tone.

"Absolutely, my beautiful one. Your mind, intellect, and wit are a constant source of pleasure for me. No one anywhere is anything like you. I had no choice but to love you, you're irresistible to me in every way."

"I'm your little X File," said tonelessly, flat.

"You are Alex, my beloved, my other half, the diviner of my soul and my heart's delight. You're my reason for living. You are *not* my little X File".

Serious green eyes studied him intently, weaving past his expression, making way into his essence, waiting to be hurt, ready to snap shut and keep out the darkness of pain. For the first time, they found no reason to fear or flee. Alex let out a quiet breath that turned into a sigh. It started from his toes and worked its way out of his body, taking all the fear with it. When it left, stillness came in to refill the empty places. Blessed stillness that only Mulder could ever have given to him. All he'd ever wanted. He shuddered from the alien feel, giving it time to find its place in him.

Mulder saw all these things. He wouldn't have a week ago, but this terrible week had made him raw also and his rawness brought extra sensitivity and he saw. He understood.

"How about I give you a nice sponge bath and a shave? Will you let me do that, Alexei?" He asked quietly, not telling, not insisting but asking permission, admitting that Alex had the right to refuse, and acknowledging for the first time they were equals. Asking to be allowed to help the person he loved more than himself.

"Hmmmm", Alex was thrumming again. Mulder loved that sound, only he ever got to hear it. Only he could cause it to manifest. That was all the answer he needed.

Mulder retreated to the bathroom and collected Alex's things together. Once he had razor, foam, cologne, a couple of large towels and a comb together, he brought them through to lay beside the bed, and then ambled off for more supplies, leaving Alex looking content as he watched.

Eventually he had everything that he thought he might need, and came in bearing a large bowl of water from which the steam was rising. Setting it down on the floor, he pulled back the duvet, and exposed his lover's naked body.

Pausing to survey the lean length of him, Mulder took in the narrow feet, the long, sturdy legs with their sprinkling of hairs. Those legs lead up to ivory hips separated by the flat belly, the wisp of fuzz that thickened at his groin into a floss of dark curls, and the lolling brown of his genitalia, neatly curled at rest between his legs.

As his glance traveled upward over the deep muscles of his chest, the dressings

that Scully had applied stood out from Alex's pale skin. His arm lay on the pillow, bandaged from elbow to shoulder, and his chest and shoulders were also shrouded in gauze. Alex lay against his bank of pillows, observing Fox take inventory, his lips quirked in the vaguest ghost of a smile as he did so. The smile broadened as he watched Fox remove his shirt, followed by the sweat pants he wore, leaving him clad only in his Calvin Klein's, and Alex lowered his lids in a deliberately lascivious movement that sent a sudden rush of strange creatures to flutter in Mulder's belly.

Raising Alex's feet, Fox slid a towel beneath them, and began to apply soap to a large brown sponge. Wielding it briskly, He sat on the edge of the bed, picked up one leg, and began to apply the soap. Lathering, stroking, and then rinsing, he worked his way up the first leg, finally drying it tenderly and laying it aside while he focused on the other one. Once he had cleansed both legs, he dried them off gently and moved up sit beside Alex.

Alex, who had viewed his lover's proceedings with a smile, looked a little disappointed when Fox turned his attention to the recumbent man's face, first washing it tenderly, and then raising him gently so that he could give Alex's neck and shoulders the same treatment. Once he had finished passing the face cloth over the sweat-slick skin, he thrust a hand behind Alex's shoulders to pull him forward just enough to drape a towel around his neck, a little clumsy with the bandages that still covered his own hand.

When he picked up the canister of shaving foam, squirted a little into the palm of his hand and then began to apply it to Alex's stubbly chin, the recipient of this honor began to giggle. As Fox traced the jaw, the cheeks and the chin of his beloved with the fragrant white soap, Alex's laughter grew. In an exasperated moment, Fox took a dollop of foam and transferred it to the tip of Alex's nose, and grinned at the sudden cessation of the hilarity. Sitting as close to him on the bed as he could, Fox began to shave Alex, Alex pulling faces to stretch his skin tight for his lover, and Fox's face coming out in sympathy as he worked.

Deftly wielding the razor, Mulder began to clear the undergrowth that obscured Alex's features, and as he got half way around the beautiful face, he paused.

"Baby, you look so cute, I could eat you." Alex peeped at him through lowered lashes, and Mulder's belly flipped strangely, making him gasp. He leaned forward to brush his lips over Alex's parted ones, and again, sending his tongue to flicker in a tantalizing tease of the other man's mouth. Drawing away, he searched Alex's half-shaven face, dwelling on the languorous droop of his half-veiled eyes, the beauty of his finely molded mouth and the way that his tongue tip licked delicately, cat-like, tasting the traces of Mulder's kiss.

He was lost. Hordes of tiny fluttering creatures invaded him, and he felt his cock shudder and rise. He leaned forward again to lick softly at the lips, slip inside them to seek out that pink and pointed tongue, and his lips touched, then pressed, and at last crushed down on Alex's mouth as he kissed

Alex with all the soul that he had. The foam that covered Alex's cheek spread out until it smeared Fox too, and still they kissed, Fox delving in to explore the hard barrier of teeth, and the softness that lay beyond, tasting, touching, and cataloguing.

Breaking apart at last, Fox realized that he would need to put more foam on Alex if he were to complete the business of removing his whiskers. About the only patch that remained on his lover's face was the dollop he had stuck on his nose. Amazingly enough it remained. Fox schooled his features into a solemn expression and began to replenish the shaving cream. Alex gave him a flirtatious sideways look and began to do his Santa Clause impression, and then Mulder found himself giving Alex a white, foamy beard and bushy white eyebrows.

"You looked like a bear backing out of a hole. Now you look like my Granddad."

Mulder caught hold of the towel once more, as Alex said mildly, "Come on, Fox, shave me, It's cold under here."

Contrite, Fox turned to pull the duvet over Alex, but Alex shook his head,

"No, I meant under the foam. Come on. Get it off me, baby, please." Grinning at him, Mulder picked up the neglected razor and re-applied it, removing the foam from the area he had already shaved before progressing round to the other side.

Watching Alex preen under this treatment, he wanted so badly to hold him tightly and make love to him that he thought he might explode, but he continued until the rest of his lover's face was devoid of whisker. Rinsing the razor off one more time, he lifted his hand to the foam covered eyebrows, and Alex's eyes opened wide.

"You wouldn't." The breathy protest was soft, but Fox paused, and smiled into his lover's eyes, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"Is that a challenge, baby?" He placed a soft kiss on the lips so close to his.

"Fuck, no. I look ridiculous without my eyebrows." The aggrieved voice made Fox snicker.

"How the hell do you know?" He inquired politely, trying to imagine the way Alex would look. Alex merely grunted at him, refusing to be drawn, and Mulder finally completed the shave, laying the razor aside and taking the cloth to wipe all traces of the foam from the face of his lover.

"Why is your hand in bandages?" Alex had noticed, and Mulder blushed, resisting the urge to hide his injured paw behind his back.

"I hit it on something." He mumbled. Alex ducked his head then to place a kiss on the bandage that covered his hand, and Fox froze, before sweeping Alex up into his arms, and kissing him as hard and as passionately as he could. The kiss deepened until he suddenly recalled, contrite all of a sudden, that Alex was suffering from severely infected wounds, and that his very passion could be hurting him.

Slowly releasing him, settling him back against the pillows, Mulder turned back to his task, and resumed his bathing of his beloved's body. Soaping up the flannel, he passed it over the smooth sides, the shoulder with its terribly ruined arm, concentrating on the armpit. Then he switched, attacking the injured side. Mulder cleansed his lover, slowly, gently, and thoroughly,

devoting the care and attention to each new part of Alex that it deserved.

At last, only the genitals remained, and Fox turned his attention to them, washing them, patting them gently dry, and kissing them gently before drawing the duvet up once again to cover Alex.

As much as Alex reveled in all of Mulder's attentions and ministrations, it was clear they had also exhausted him. Signs that only Mulder could read showed the younger man was in pain again, needing rest. Alex had grown quiet, his left shoulder hitched slightly, he was breathing through his mouth, all things that Mulder knew were signs of unspoken distress. He had been surprised at how much he'd enjoyed caring for his lover. Mulder was new to being careful on someone else's behalf. He hadn't the experience to know the act ministered to both parties. It was something he was noting, filing away to think about later. Right now, he wanted to find a way to have Alex get the rest he needed, aware as he was of Alex's intense dislike of feeling 'managed'.

Mulder kneeled down by the bed so he could get close to Alex's luminous eyes. The two men watched each other in silence for several moments, each enjoying the simple pleasures of having the other near. Mulder reached over and began to casually stroke Alex's glossy, dark hair. The loving gesture took on so much more meaning when he considered that no one ever did so twice if they did not have his permission. Having a broken hand in a cast for six weeks tended to cause people to remember not to make the same mistake.

"Alexei, I'm tired. I need to catch up on some rest, so how about I go take a nap on the couch for a while. Do you mind?" Mulder asked.

"Sleep here", was the soft response.

Mulder gently climbed into the bed, making himself comfortable on his side, arranging pillows, making sleepy sounds as he puttered. After he had settled, the warm body beside him began to snuggle over to him, tucking into him and conforming to his body. Mulder pulled the blankets over them both, keeping Alex warm. The dark head lay on his shoulder, and he reached out and closed his arms around the broad shoulders and deep chest. The two men gradually settled in and grew still. After a very brief time, Mulder heard soft snoring.

How easy that had been, he thought. They would still have been in a tug of wills if he had insisted that Alex needed to sleep. With a less demanding approach, the two of them had bedded down peacefully. He began to reflect on the differences his new behavior with his tempestuous lover had produced. It could have been like this all along if he had been paying attention. Living together was never going to be smooth, but it also didn't have to be so difficult. When he vowed to change for Alex's sake he had no concept that he would also benefit.

He mentally sifted through the things he had been observing and began to ponder on them. There was a lot for Mulder to absorb, he was determined not to make the same mistakes with Alex again. He didn't think either one of them would live through it if he did. Holding onto his precious love, he too slipped into contented sleep.

Part 7

***

The morning came slithering past the drawn drapes, and poked shiny fingers into the eyes of the two sleeping men. Alex lay tangled up in the arms of his lover, and for a change, he slept soundly, as dead to the world as though he had finally learned to trust.

Mulder was the first to wake, feeling the heat of close contact with Alex as if it were a prize he had won. He resisted his first impulse, which was to hug the sleeping man until he was breathless, and slowly rolled until he could watch his love sleeping.

Alex lay snuggled against him, his short hair standing in spikes and his tender mouth slightly open as he snored faintly. His lashes curled thickly against translucent cheeks that curved into stubble-stained chin. The innocence that shone from him was not even slightly tainted by the slender neck, and the delicate molding of his lips. Mulder thought that he could watch him for the rest of his life.

As ever, the weight of Mulder's gaze told on Alex, and instinct kicked in. Before many more minutes had passed by, Mulder saw the flutter of lashes that raised a mere fraction, permitting Alex to see without being seen. Another instant, and the faintest crinkle appeared above his nose, just between his brows as Mulder watched, and saw wakefulness cross his face like the tide. When finally he found himself under the scrutiny of a pair of brilliant green eyes, Fox was trembling with the need to hold back and not touch, not hurt, not frighten his lover away.

Alex smiled. It was a smile without artifice, and for the first time Fox felt his head reel as he realized just what he had found, and how close he had come to losing it. For Mulder, time started there and then, with that smile. Alex's face lit up the room in a way that the sunlight could not, and Fox thought to himself that he could drown happily inside that smile, if only Alex would continue to show it to him.

"Good morning, baby. How do you feel?" The words in themselves were mundane, but the response they evoked turned them into magic, glittering in the air between them. Alex grinned at him, lazily stretching, and the sweat-slick sheen of sickness he had worn for the past day or so seemed hardly noticeable.

"Feel pretty good, Fox. Hungry. You gonna feed me?" The tip of a pinkly curled tongue swiped at the rose of Alex's lips, and Fox couldn't hold himself back now. Leaning forward to place his own needful mouth to Alex, he sank himself into a kissing that was soft, but insistent, and which had total possession as its hidden agenda.

Alex chuckled faintly as his mouth met and was consumed by Mulder's. He melted into the warmth of closeness, and his arm, swathed in bandages as it was, moved clumsily to lie around Fox as they kissed each other breathless.

When at last Mulder broke away, he was trembling; his whole body a testament to the desire he was trying to control.

Grinning hugely at nothing, and possibly happier than he had ever felt, Fox Mulder hopped out of the bed and took himself off to find sustenance for his lover. When Dana Scully finally appeared, a little while later, she found

the two of them eating toast and laughing at jokes only they could understand.

On the wall beside Alex, Mulder had put up his poster, which read 'I want to believe', and now the two of them were bickering amicably about whether or not it was straight between bites of thickly buttered toast.

As she began to remove Alex's dressings to check on the state of his wounds, he smiled shyly at her.

"Thanks, Scully. It's getting better now." Looking down at him, she shook her head and affected as stern an expression as she could manage.

"Don't you try and sweet talk me. I know your kind. Give you an inch and you take more than just a mile. You're lucky I didn't bring my whip with me. You deserve to be beaten, you. you. " Alex's eyes had widened a little as she started to speak, but as the speech progressed, he had grinned lazily, and then begun to chuckle, until finally her chastisement had disintegrated into giggles. Mulder, feeling somewhat left out, lounged on the bed watching the interplay between the two of them, and shaking his head in wonder.

Scully sat more of her endless supply of pills on the breakfast tray, explaining to the two men when and how Alex was to take them. Alex wrinkled his nose in frustration at being told he still needed to be medicated but his demeanor was remarkably calm, the most he allowed himself was a swift lowering of his lashes so he could peep out at the small redhead. A twinkle started in Mulder's eye and wove its way down to his mouth, he was having a delightful time observing the enormous change in both of his partners attitudes towards one another.

Having succeeded in giving out all the information without having even one bottle hurtle through the room, Scully felt comfortable enough to do a more serious examination of Alex's unbandaged, healing wounds. She started with a perfunctory hand on his forehead, the classic female gesture of concern.

Once more, Alex commented on her using her hand instead of the digital thermometer. He probably would have remained his usual silent self, but he needed to gain a little ground after being told he still needed to take the affronting medicines.

"Again with the hand on the brow? Where's that high tech gadget Fox had? He kept menacing my ear with it every time he came near me. I guess I'm lucky he didn't feel the need to stick it up my ass." She gave him a level stare.

"I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time." She was rewarded with a laugh. Alex's eyes gleamed at her from beneath lowered lashes, as he took her measure, and found her more interesting than he had believed.

The back and forth banter would probably gone by without remembrance, but Scully had never, in all the years and all the encounters, heard Alex laugh. It was a heady, sweet sound. Almost childlike in its breathy expulsion. How long has it been, she thought, since this man had laughed? Is laughter like other expressions of emotions and if not exercised it doesn't mature and lose its inherent youthful simplicity? She looked over to Mulder, catching him watching his lover, mesmerized. He was also affected by hearing the unexpected laughter. The two of them looked up at the same time, holding

each other's eyes as they shared the same thoughts. Sharing thoughts for the first time about Alex, it was a time of breakthroughs for all of them.

Back to business again, she ran her fingers lightly around the healing scars on Alex's body. He had done much damage to himself.

Alex lay quietly, unflinching at what she knew had to be a very painful examination. Mulder pulled in closer, knowing she was being as cautious as possible but aware Alex was in pain. Alex lay his head back on the pillows, his only concession to distress, and as she continued up onto his arm, Fox began softly stroking the dark hair in a soothing rhythm. For all the quiet languidity of the morning, he never lost his awareness that his lover was an unpredictable, dangerous being. Fox wanted Alex to be cared for, but he also wanted to keep Scully safe should Alex become distressed and turn on her out of an instinctive need to stop the pain.

Finally, she was finished, never commenting on the extent of the scarring. She too, was aware that they had been spending a gentle moment with someone who could instantaneously become lethal. Scully was not about to push Alex. She suspected that he was not in complete control of himself, ever. Feral reactions came from him so readily, she had observed he had to put effort into bringing civilized behavior to the forefront.

She began to re bandage his arm and torso. Something crossed her mind, something she would have discarded even attempting previously but she decided to try and make the connection now.

"Mulder, would you get me a mug of hot tea, please?"

"Coming right up. Do you want no-name brand, or my treasured 16-year-old Earl Grey tea bag?

Her eyebrows rose significantly. "You have a 16-year-old tea bag?" Mulder, you amaze me.

"Hey, I amaze myself. It came straight from Oxford. I packed it when I came home from college," he beamed at her as he gave his explanation. "It was old when I got it so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt when I say it's *merely* 16-years-old. If you don't use it, I'm going to have to sign it up for Social Security".

Now it was her turn to wrinkle her nose, "Give me the no-name brand, please".

When Mulder was safely out of earshot, she looked down at Alex. "I'd like to ask you something," she ventured.

He looked up at her in curiosity and nodded his assent.

"What does Mulder's poster mean to you, Alex?"

He looked from her to the poster, and then dropped his eyes, almost as if he were shy. Scully wouldn't normally have noticed, but as a faint flush crept over his cheek, she put out her hand to lay it against his face.

"It's okay. You don't have to tell me, you know. I was just curious. It seems to mean so much." She began to withdraw her hand, and he leaned his face into it, and then shyly peeped at her from under those thick lashes, as though measuring her.

"It's okay. I don't mind." The breathy tone floated to her, and she sat beside him, her hand still on his cheek. "I gave it to him, way back when you were at Quantico and I was his partner." The flush deepened on his neck as he spoke, and he fell silent once more. Scully waited, not sure if she

would hear more, or if he had finished.

Mulder could be heard in the background, muttering to himself as he did things in the kitchen, and Scully had almost decided that Alex was not going to confide any further in her when he began speaking again.

"He used to have this poster up that said "the truth is out there." Remember it?" She nodded silently, willing him to continue. Another pause, and this time she relaxed, knowing that Alex would continue in his own time. Alex looked up at her, and she could see doubt warring with trust in the depths of his eyes. She smiled at him, and withdrew her hand at last, settling herself in a friendly attitude of attention.

"When. when I was in the X-Files office one day, I saw it. It just wasn't the right motto. I bought him the new one." Alex smiled as he remembered back. "That's when he looked at me, and said 'what do you want to believe, Krycek?' and I."

He was. He was definitely blushing. Scully raised an eyebrow at him as she held her breath, wondering what he would tell her.

"I kissed him. It was the only way I could answer him." Alex looked at her, something challenging in his glance, and she nodded, wondering what Mulder's response might have been, but not wanting to break the spell. "That's when we first. "

The voice died away. Alex was remembering a time long gone, and Scully had begun wishing that someone felt that deeply about her. They were sitting in silence, each with their own thoughts when Mulder came back into the bedroom, triumphantly bearing a mug full of tea.

He passed the prize over to Scully, and stood back with a proprietary air as she sipped it. As she drank, he apparently decided that she was not going to hurl the cup from her and shriek that he was poisoning her. He relaxed, and sank back down to curl at the end of the bed, around Alex's feet.

"You guys are really quiet. What's the matter?" He looked from the one to the other, and they both ignored him for a short while, still sharing some kind of secret bond, then Alex lifted his eyes again.

"I was just telling Scully here."

"Call me Dana, Alex. I think you probably deserve it now I've seen you naked." Scully grinned at him. To her surprise, Alex blushed again.

"I was telling Dana about the poster." He glanced up at it as he spoke, and Mulder smiled as he listened.

"Yeah, Scully. That was the first gift Alex gave me. It kinda started the whole thing between us. We were down in the basement, and I can still remember the way he looked at me. Oh, baby, you were so earnest and sweet. When you kissed me, I couldn't believe it. I'd been wanting you so badly, and you seemed so innocent." Mulder squirmed up to lie alongside Alex, idly toying with the long fingers that lay at rest on the bed. "You were so damned hot I couldn't believe it." He put up a hand to stroke the dark feathery hair. "Sometimes I still can't."

"I like that poster. Wanted to believe in you. Still do." Alex rested his head against the grey clad shoulder beside him. Scully sipped her tea and watched, delighting in the affection that seemed to enclose the two men, wrapping them in a glow of warmth that was infectious. As Mulder briefly

touched his lips to Alex's, she shook her head with a smile.

One of the many traits that made Scully such an excellent friend and partner was she knew when to arrive and when to leave. Mulder had always appreciated that about her, even if he never told her. She finished her tea, gave Alex a sisterly pinch on his blanketed toes, gaining her another slight blush which she dearly enjoyed, made a mental note to buy Mulder some decent tea and headed for the door. Mulder saw her out, meaning to thank her for all of her help.

"Thank you, Scully." Mulder said. He didn't quite know how to express everything he was feeling, it gave him a flash of profiler insight into Alex's constant predicaments with emotional expressiveness. He was about to blunder on when she interrupted him.

"Thank *you, * Mulder. Thank you for calling me and trusting me. Thank you for letting me help. I needed to be able to do this, I needed a chance to start over with Alex too." She gave Mulder a surprisingly strong, swift hug and then was out the door.

He sauntered in to the bedroom, musing over the influx of information of the past few days, all the things that seemed to be under his nose that he had never spotted before. When he entered the room he sat on the bed, still reflecting, sorting. Alex watched him. He knew the look, Fox was downloading data again. He could watch Mulder all he wanted and the man never noticed. That never failed to amuse Alex.

Alex quietly began to slip into a sitting position and swing his legs over the bed. It was time for him to get his bearings back. He had both feet on the floor when Mulder snapped to and saw his movements. A swift flash of determined green eyes and a slight upward chin jerk let him know that this time, Alex would not be dissuaded. He reached over and placed his hand on top of Alex's.

"Let me help you, Alexei. After all this time in bed you're going to be a bit dizzy." Mulder gave the hand a slight squeeze as he said this, signaling that he just wanted to be helpful. Alex stayed in place and nodded. Mulder came around the bed and as Alex rose from the bed he placed his arm around the trim waist. He was immediately startled at the amount of weight Alex had lost, but he kept quiet. Alex did indeed sway a little, but with each step he became more sure-footed. 'Soon he'll be gliding again, moving in his usual unusual manner,' Mulder thought. They walked together through the apartment, Alex stopping at the window for a moment before moving on. He began to sway again after about 10 minutes and Mulder guided him back to the bedroom.

"Back to bed, baby," he said and Alex complied. He was getting stronger but he still tired easily.

Alex looked at him with a puzzled expression and then swiftly looked down. Something was bothering him, very much.

Mulder sank to his knees, he loved being eye to eye with Alex, but Alex would not look up.

"What is it, Alex?" The mood of the morning was still quiet, but a small crackle of energy was now evident. Alex was quiet for a very long time and Mulder did something he had never done before. He waited patiently for Alex to answer. He knew Alex would answer, but he had always been impatient with

the long silences in the past and often went onto something else before Alex spoke. When Mulder did that, Alex never brought the subject up again. Never voiced his unspoken answers.

"Where is the Mulder-clutter, the TV, the . . .?" his words trailed off. Mulder had been ready for this. He suspected that Alex did not remember anything of what had happened the night he tore through the place in a rampage. Alex was still looking down, he had become very rigid and his breath was coming in sharp, swift gulps.

"Just a minute, let me show you something," Mulder said, and he gently ran his hand over Alex's down turned head. He walked over to his bureau and opened a drawer, took something out and returned to his station, kneeling by the bed.

"Alex, look at me. Please". After a moment Alex looked up, radiant eyes clouded in distress.

"Hurricane Alex touched down here a few nights ago. He was caused by a long cold front that refused to move, meeting with an incoming rush of turbulent warmth, and when the two collided he couldn't bear the pressure any longer and he erupted in the apartment. He did considerable damage to lots of things but he swept the place clean of the unyielding freeze that had been here for so long. I think he was necessary, and he did me two great favors".

The only answer was the slightest unclouding of two emerald eyes and a tiny frown that Mulder always thought of as his very own.

"First, Hurricane Alex thawed out an arctic New England heart, and second he found my lost ET cufflink", Mulder brandished the little cufflink as if he had ushered an entire alien into the room just for Alex to see.

Alex leaned over and kissed Mulder rapidly, soundly and thoroughly all over his face, paying special attention to the nose he had attacked just days ago.

The day passed quietly. Alex slept, woke to take medicine when it was offered, and ate the food that Mulder brought him. Mulder stayed at his side for much of the time, wanting to be the first thing his lover saw when he awoke, and finding a satisfaction in just being with Alex. His mind was full of questions that burned against the inside of his brain. He wanted to find out more of Alex, even as he knew that his love would always be a creature that he could only half know.

It was if Alex had come to him from some shadowy time beyond the mundane world. How could he ever hold him? How would he ever be able to keep him close when he was so obviously from another place? He didn't know, but he would try.

As the shadows began to lengthen, Alex stirred, stretched himself luxuriously, and requested assistance to get up, flashing Mulder a small, mischievous smile as Mulder hastened to do what was needed.

"I could get used to this," He observed as they walked through to the bathroom. "I deserve a servant. You're supposed to crouch down for me to rest my feet on your back, though." Mulder gave him a long, level look as they arrived at their destination, and Alex grinned unashamedly.

"It's a good idea in principle, but I can think of far better ways to fill the day than as a footstool. If you want me to crouch down, I can be

persuaded, but it would have to be for something more exciting than having your feet on my back." Alex snickered. He was casting around the bathroom, trying to find his toothbrush, as he spoke, and as he took in the damage that had been caused by his rampage his face clouded over.

He brushed his teeth swiftly, all his previous playfulness forgotten in his anguish at his own destructiveness. Fox sat on the edge of the tub and watched as Alex shaved. The hand was steady again, although Alex's face appeared a little pinched. As he ran the water away, Alex turned and stepped towards the bath.

"What, love?" Mulder knew very well what Alex wanted, and was afraid that it would prove too much for him.

"Need a shower. Help me?" Alex fixed huge, beseeching eyes on Fox, and right there his will to resist crumbled, and he found himself turning to start the water and test the temperature.

"Alex, are you sure it's going to be okay? I don't want you to be hurt. " He was already slipping off his shoes, stepping out of his sweats and reaching to steady his lover as Alex eagerly stepped beneath the flow.

"I'll be okay. Thanks." Alex wore a private little smile as Fox climbed in behind him, snaking his arms around him as he reached for the shampoo. As Alex washed himself, Fox held Alex steady, trying to hold himself in check as he felt the warm naked length of Alex pressed against him. He was so in need that he could only hang on and grit his teeth, knowing in his heart that Alex was not yet fit enough and that he would still have to wait.

He was hard, and Alex was leaning back against him as he soaped and sponged himself. It was nothing short of torture, and when Alex suddenly turned around with what could only be described as a giggle, and began to wash him, it was almost too much.

When Alex reached down to soap Mulder's balls, his talented fingers slid along tingling flesh to stroke rhythmically along his cock, and he could no longer stop himself from groaning, and pushing into Alex's hand.

One stroke had him gasping. Two, and he tensed, eyes unfocused as he fought himself, not sure if he would be able to remain standing if he came. Three, and then four and it was all over. He felt the molten flow of his ejaculation surging up from somewhere behind his navel to slam its way though him spurting from him to be washed away as Alex moved in slowly to kiss him.

His chest was heaving, and Alex's mouth was tracing heated patterns on the skin of his shoulder. He gave another moan and pulled Alex up to lean against him.

"Fox, I'm clean now." The smile was pure mischief, and Mulder gave him an answering grin as he reached to turn off the tap and then moved to make sure that Alex got safely out of the tub.

Gingerly drying Alex, he placed kisses on every part of the man that he could reach. Alex was quietly amused, and appeared to be holding up well.

"Do you want to stay up out of bed for a while, Alex?" Fox was thinking that it might be a good thing to tire him out before settling him back into bed for the night. Alex nodded solemnly, and Fox proffered the sweats he had been wearing, before going off to find something else for himself to wear.

Fox checked Alex's healing wounds and decided they didn't need to be re bandaged. Alex was a fast healer. That quality had saved his life in countless situations. It was his hidden wounds that had never healed. The indomitable Mulder attention was now focused on seeing to it that those wounds finally got the proper attention and never reopened again.

Fox had thrown on a bathrobe so he could check on Alex's progress with the sweats. Dressing with one arm was difficult enough, dressing with one wounded arm could be a circus act. He came around the corner to see Alex standing in his nude glory and glowering at the sweatshirt which was tangled up into a half-inside out ball. The sight was irresistible. Alex looked like a frustrated little boy, all frown and rumpled hair. Mulder scooted up behind him and wrapped his arms around the now too-slim waist. Alex continued staring at the offending garment and Mulder noticed he was trembling.

"Need some help?" Fox asked.

"All I can get" Alex said, too quietly. Mulder noticed the mood change immediately. It had to be frightening as hell to have only one arm and then have *it* out of commission.

"It's okay Alex. Everything is okay now. Let me help you, it's what you'd do for me." It was a logical, true response. Alex always responded to logic.

Alex leaned back into Mulder's arms. He nuzzled his cheek against Mulder's, His body began to lose its tension. Fox reached around and picked up the sweatshirt, untangled it, and slipped it over Alex's head. Then, he picked up the sweat pants.

"I only have one problem with this," he said solemnly.

Huge green eyes met his, watching him, expressionless, ready for an oncoming blow.

"I like you so much better naked", Mulder grinned as he ran a hand appreciatively over Alex's beautiful, firm ass and down a long, powerful thigh.

The watchful eyes blinked, needing time to register that play had been offered and not pain. Alex frowned and snorted, ducking his head to hide his enormous relief, not ducking fast enough though. file://Oh Alex, how many times have I hit you with words? They caused you more pain than my fists. //

Alex stepped into the offered sweat pants and Mulder pulled them up for him. He let the younger man keep his head ducked, permitting him to get composed. They walked out to the living room together. Mulder saw Alex scanning the room, cataloging all that was missing. He also noticed that Alex was still trembling and now seemed skittish and wary. Deal with this now, Mulder thought. Alex is vulnerable, help him. It was an entirely new concept for Fox, that his deadly lover could be vulnerable, afraid.

Mulder was going to put his hand on Alex's shoulder but thought better of it. It was best not to touch Alex unexpectedly when he was uncertain of himself. The old scuffmarks from his shoes hitting the ceiling proved it.

"Alexei", spoken quietly, almost nonchalantly.

Again, huge green eyes met his; again they were expressionless, sphinx eyes.

"Out with the old, Alexei, in with the new. It's my new motto. I've never meant anything more in my life." He put everything in himself into those few words.

"I want to believe", was the barely audible reply.

Settling his lover down onto the couch, Mulder took himself off to the bedroom to get dressed. Lacking a mirror, he studied himself in the reflection of the undraped window as he posed in his new and flattering clothes. He brushed his hair and stalked out, barefoot and loose hipped, to sit beside his appreciative Tartar prince.

Alex leaned back to survey Mulder appreciatively. Mulder felt a surge of excitement worm its way up from his nether regions, and shivered a little.

file://Got you, baby. //

He smiled.

"See anything you like?"

Alex was studying him intently, starting with the bare feet, and working his way up with a slow intensity that made Mulder quiver. He could feel himself respond to the scrutiny as though it were a hand on him, and his breathing shortened as he watched the other man lean forward, deliberately slicking his lips with a curl of pink tongue.

"You are an incitement to riot, baby." Mulder whispered, his voice made throaty by the desire that was coursing through him. Alex smiled then, a knowing smile that hinted at knowledge of pleasure beyond the ordinary, and Mulder felt himself stiffen as his body tingled in response.

"You gonna riot for me, Fox?" Alex's voice was quiet too, and there was a promise in it to which Fox could feel his cock respond.

"What do you want me to do, Alex?" Mulder leaned closer, hoping that Alex would sway in and kiss him, but he didn't. Instead, he shifted back to lay against the cushions, drawing his knees up and assuming a casual attitude.

"Come on, Fox. Show me what you can do. I want to see you move for me." Mulder turned and faced Alex. Alex looked blandly back, wiggling his eyebrows at Mulder.

"I'm trying to decide if there's anything I like. Come on. Sell it! Show me. I haven't got all night." Mulder stared at Alex as if he had gone mad. Then the humor of the situation hit him and he giggled.

"Okay, you asked for it, you degenerate brat! Here it comes." He stood, brushing down his clothes and turned to walk away from Alex, heading for the kitchen and the small radio-cassette player that sat on the top of his fridge.

He returned carrying the small black object, and plugged it in. The sound of Isaac Hayes began to fill the apartment, and Alex practically choked as he recognized "Shaft."

He didn't laugh for long. Mulder began a long legged, loose limbed glide around the furniture until he was a mere couple of feet away from Alex, and there he stopped, moving gently to the music as he got the feel for it. He could see that Alex found it interesting. His keen eyes spotted the sheen

of sweat that had broken out on Alex's forehead. He swayed to and fro to the beat of the music, and almost negligently moved one hand to trail over his groin, as the other moved up to unfasten the topmost buttons of his shirt.

Alex licked his lips again, and Mulder could tell that he was getting it right. He shuffled around a little, until he was standing sideways on to Alex, and moved both hands back to slide over his behind as he threw his head back, his eyes closed.

This time, he was rewarded by the sound of a quick intake of breath and smiled as he felt the rush of blood to his cock, making it bulge against the tightly fitting front of his pants. He remained with his side turned to Alex, and slowly unfastened more buttons, until the shirt was hanging loosely off one shoulder.

He shook his head until his hair flopped over one eye, and gradually shimmied out of the shirt until it was held only at the cuffs. Slowly, he unfastened one cuff, and withdrew his hand, tugging the shirt off with as much style as he could manage. Alex grunted at that, a guttural sound that made Mulder's pulse leap to hear it.

His hand moved to the top button at his fly, and he opened it, sliding his hands down inside to run over the silky skin beneath. At this, Alex gave a definite gasp, and Mulder threw back his head again, moaning theatrically, and turning his back on Alex as he slid down the zipper and pushed his pants down a fraction of an inch.

Alex was making his appreciative sound now, and Mulder pushed the pants down to around half mast, wriggling suggestively, and then pulling them back as he heard a sigh of disappointment. He turned and walked closer to Alex, his erect cock plainly visible at the opening of his fly, and pushed his hips towards Alex, pulling back as Alex reached to touch. He backed off with a wagging of his finger as he taunted Alex, who was no longer leaning back.

Spinning around again very suddenly, he slowly slid the pants down until they reached his knees, stepping out of them and bending to peer at Alex lasciviously from between his parted legs.

Alex was no longer on the couch at all.

Alex had forsaken his vantagepoint to come up behind Fox, and a second later, Fox found himself flipped over to lie on his back on the carpet. Suddenly Alex was on top of him, kissing him hard and there was no evidence of pain in Alex at all as he drove his tongue to the depths of Fox's mouth. Ruthlessly Alex held him still as he parted Fox's thighs and fumbled for the solid erection that Fox was sporting. His touch was fire, hot and sweet, that burned the length of his cock, sending tight tingles along his inner thighs and making him moan, this time for real.

His arms slipped around Alex, holding him as tightly as he dared, afraid to burst his lover's stitches. Alex seemed to have no such fear, and he continued to mine for Fox's fillings as he gathered moisture from the steadily oozing cock he was holding, prior to moving back to seek out and find the opening that lay behind his balls.

Fox parted his thighs to assist Alex, and groaned as he felt the press and then the burn as fingers found their way inside him. The mouth that was

pressed to his showed no sign of letting up. Fox thrust up against the fingers that were stroking him so intimately, and moaned again as he felt them withdraw.

Seconds later, he felt the pressure of Alex's dick and spread himself as wide as he could, holding his breath as he felt Alex press into him. His belly turned liquid as the slide and rub of his lover's cock brought him to a level of desperation that manifested itself in the bucking of his hips and the avid sucking at Alex's mouth.

Deliberately, Alex pushed himself deeper and deeper into Fox, until he was entirely encased in rippling, shuddering heat. Fox could feel Alex against him, inside him, sliding against the sweetest spot of all as he began to move.

It didn't last long. It couldn't. Fox had been a very long time without, and he felt the tightness turn into a tingle, turn into a flooding need to pour himself out. Loose oceans of liquid silver coursed through him as Alex moved faster, finally stuttering to a halt as he strained to push inside Fox just one more, tiny fraction of an inch.

As Alex collapsed, mouth still glued to Fox's, Fox threw both arms around him, and held him tightly, the feel of Alex buried inside him almost making him want to cry.

At last, as Alex drew away to smile hazily at him, he gazed up at him.

"I've missed you, moy lyubov. I guess you feel better." He rolled his head to nuzzle into Alex's neck.

"Feel good." That sweet mouth descended onto his once more, and intelligent thought was suspended for the time being.

Alex nuzzled and nipped around Fox's hairline, pushing in deep to gain his scent, pull it into himself. This never failed to go straight to Fox's cock. He was ready to take on round two with his feral playbaby when Alex yawned widely and started snuggling down into Fox's shoulder, fully prepared to sleep right where he was. Mulder knew the sensible thing was to get Alex back into bed before he completely conked out, but the seductiveness of having his lover curled around him 'right now' won. Alex could sleep anywhere, but Mulder had noticed it was a wary rest, never sound. Only when Alex was next to him did he truly relax into a deep sleep. He felt Alex stretch his shoulders and back as he relaxed, and within minutes he was soundly asleep.

Fox reached up and put his arms around Alex, feeling the deep chest as it evenly rose and fell. He liked being this man's security blanket, liked it a lot more than he had ever realized before.

Time passed as the lovers remained bound together. Fox didn't sleep, he was enjoying the sensations too much. He'd missed this intimacy, underestimated how much he *needed* it. Alex had changed him in the most fundamental ways. This week had caused him to realize so many of them. Lying on the floor holding his precious beloved was the most important thing in the world to him, something he'd almost lost. He could sleep later, he was not about to miss a moment of his precious Alex-as-his-blanket-time.

Alex started hiccuping in his sleep, Fox knew this would wake him in a few minutes. Once Alex got the hiccups, he couldn't shake them completely for several days. They didn't stay with him constantly over that period of time,

but they kept returning, vexing Alex each time. Privately Fox thought it was very funny, but he'd had the sense to keep that to himself.

He was right, the dark head lifted slightly from his shoulder and moonlight in the window highlighted the planes on the beautiful face. Alex's body spasmed again and Fox heard a quiet, "Fuck."

"Let's get into bed, baby," he suggested as he lightly ran his fingers over the wing-like eyebrows of his lover.

"Umpf," Was the best Alex could manage between assaults on his diaphragm. He really was exhausted; Fox could see it in the tightness of flesh around his mouth. They slowly disentangled themselves, both reluctant to leave their warm, satisfying cuddle. Each one supported the other as they headed into the bedroom. Alex was not fully awake and he slipped into the bed in one sinuous motion, reaching out for Fox immediately. Not about to let anything about this night go unsavored, Fox dropped all thoughts of washing up as he also crawled into the bed, taking Alex's questing hand in his. He was rewarded with a long, deep sigh of satisfaction, interrupted by a fierce hiccup. Alex moaned as he buried his head into Fox's shoulder again.

"Shhh, Alexei, they'll stop in a minute", he whispered. He began gently rubbing small, soothing circles on the broad back, and loving the feel of warm skin. Alex burrowed in a little deeper in response. As the offending spasms subsided, Fox again felt the complete relaxation of the powerful body that was nearly merged with his own. He fell asleep a very happy man.

The morning came before they were ready for it.

As Mulder opened his eyes on the day, he stretched his limbs luxuriously. Life felt good. He was entranced by the feeling of well-being that suffused him. Casting his mind back to the night before, he relived his lover's sudden recovery. Alex had amazed him. He'd delighted him, that was for sure, but it was astonishing to Fox to see Alex back in such physical strength. He was still aching, in a pleasant sort of way, from the pounding Alex had given him, and just thinking about it was turning him to jelly.

At last, Alex loved him again. Alex wanted him. Life was good.

He lay, his mind dwelling on Alex's beauty, his sensuality, and the sheer heat that he radiated, and he began to formulate a plan.

What if. His mind raced a little. What if he could get Alex to trust him. The thought made Mulder shudder, and down in the area of his groin, certain parts of him were acting like a Greek Chorus as he thought about the things he could do to Alex. He could picture Alex, totally beside himself, drenched in sweat and begging for release, and the thought made him want to wake Alex up right now and beg him. He rolled over to face Alex, and his heart jumped to his mouth as he gazed at the pale face of the man he loved, smoothed out and innocent in sleep.

He could be a little boy. Who could tell that he was deadly? Who would ever know, looking at the carefully molded lips, the lush, dark lashes, and the high cheekbones, that this man was an assassin? He looked more like a choirboy. Mulder allowed himself to think of Alex, clad in white robes,

face lit by sun through stained glass, singing a paean to the glory of God. It wasn't far fetched. Alex could sing very well.

Alex, as ever, seemed to pick up on the fact that he was being watched, and opened his eyes drowsily.

"Watching me again? Go to sleep." Mulder grinned at him, and leaned forward to cover Alex's lips in an all-consuming, toe-curling kiss. Alex seemed amenable to this, stretching out to mold himself along Mulder's warm, sleepy body, and permitting Mulder to explore his mouth in a most amiable fashion.

Minutes later, he drew away, and moved to get up out of the bed. Alex reached out a still somewhat shaky hand to hold him back from leaving the bed.

"Stay." The word was terse, but it was spoken with a delicious little dimple showing at the corner of Alex's mouth.

"Sorry." Mulder rolled over to his elbows, feet dangling over the edge of the bed, and took Alex's face in his hands. "The bathroom calls me. I must obey." He grinned down at Alex's sudden pout. "Tell you what, baby, I want to try an experiment. You know what I want?"

Alex shook his head, still smiling a little as he looked up at Mulder. His tongue slyly poked out to moisten his lips in a move that Mulder just knew was calculated to drive him crazy. He stroked a considering finger down from the tip of Alex's tip tilted nose, dragging the lower lip down as he did so, and smiling at Alex's attempt to capture it with suddenly bared teeth.

"I want to tie you up, baby. Tie you tight enough so that you can't fight back, and then I want to drive you out of your mind. I want to make you wait until I decide that you're ready, and I want to see you lose control and let that animal inside of you loose for me. One day, baby, it will happen, and you'll come so hard. " Fox shook himself. The image his mind was generating made him feel as though his knees were stuffed with Jell-O.

Alex shook his head, a frown on his face. It was apparent to Fox that the idea was a little unsettling for him. Dropping a quick kiss on Alex's nose, Mulder took himself off to the bathroom, leaving Alex to ponder what he'd said.

Fox was so eager now that he had to work hard at not rushing out of the bathroom.

His visions of Alex unleashed were becoming increasingly erotic, but he knew he had to move slowly with his primal beloved. Exiting from the bathroom, he saw that Alex was sitting up in bed, casually nude, one long leg curled under him. Alex looked up at him, a long penetrating gaze that revealed nothing.

"You don't understand this, do you, baby?" He asked Alex.

His only answer was a brusque head motion that meant "No". Alex was unsettled by the suggestion of being bound. Mulder had expected it. You don't take something wild and expect it to submit easily.

"You did it to me" Fox said quietly.

"Is that why? Retribution?" Alex's voice was cool. Fox wanted him to understand, and as he had expected this was Alex's first thought.

"Oh no, not that, beautiful. No retribution. Playtime. For both of us."

Alex frowned, and looked down. Mulder began to talk to him in earnest.

"Alexei, if I had you aroused and asked you not to touch me, would you do as I asked?"

"No."

"If I had you aroused and asked you not to touch yourself if you wanted to come, would you do as I asked?

"No."

"If I had you so aroused that you could let yourself be free, let down all your barriers and show me who you really are, would you do as I asked?

Alex looked up at him, reached out and gently brushed Fox's arm, then moved away a bit and looked down as he spoke.

"You can't ever do that Fox. I . . . don't know." The words trailed off.

"You're afraid of what you might do. I know that, Alex." Fox was watching Alex intently, wondering what it was like not to know your own capabilities? To be so wild that nothing was off limits? He realized that he wanted to know, he wanted to see Alex in that condition. It was an exquisitely sensual concept.

"That's why I want to tie you, Alex. So you can be free and know that you won't hurt me. So I can touch you as I want, tease you as I want, make you wait to feel soooo good. I've seen that part of you before, now I want you to know what it's like to be free from all fear of your actions. Wouldn't you like to be free, Alex?"

"So you'd tie me so I can be free?" Impossibly thick lashes started to rise slowly revealing glinting green eyes. Eyes that told Mulder that Alex was getting the idea. Now it was Alex's turn to ask questions.

"Will you let me go when I want?"

"No".

"Will I be able to get free by myself?"

"No".

"Will you let me talk?"

"No".

Now the most important question. The one that meant the most.

"Will you stay with me?"

Part 9

***

"Oh yes, baby. I won't leave your side for a second." Mulder could begin to feel it now, the answer was in Alex's physical responses. He had begun to quiver, as he so often did when he was most aroused, when he was near Fox. Alex lifted his chin, staring arrogantly at Mulder.

"You won't win."

Fox was about to protest this was not a contest, but he reconsidered. In Alex's mind, everything was competitive. Alex saw this as a personal challenge, a test for both of them. In a way it was. It was a test of how much Alex trusted him, a test of his willingness to let Alex be himself.

"Yes I will. I'll make you crazy with need, watch you fight to get loose, be there the entire time as you writhe under my touch, helpless and hard." He was breathing hard as he finished his speech. If he didn't get himself under control he was going to come right here on the sheets just thinking about what he had planned for Alex. His erection was merrily playing skyscraper, and about to add another floor.

Alex was panting, he had started a low rumbling deep in his chest. His eyes had dilated, and he began a slow cat-like crawl across the bed, powerful muscles moving slowly under silken skin as he approached Mulder. He was as hard as Mulder, and it was clear now that he was prowly, eager, needing some hard playtime after all these days of rest. Both of them were aroused intensely from the wordplay. He stopped inches from Mulder's face.

Hot breath was panted on Mulder's cheek, as the words were growled in his ear.

"You. Won't. Win."

The game was on.

Fox risked leaning forward to place a quick kiss on the mouth so close to his, and then backed away swiftly, leaving Alex crouched on the bed.

He sank back on his haunches, hungry eyes watching as Mulder dressed himself and left the room.

Mulder was making coffee and heating up a couple of pop tarts when Alex wandered into the kitchen. Fox could see that he had something on his mind, and the Mulder of a week ago would have pestered him, demanding to know what was bothering him, and would probably never have found out. The new Mulder waited with a quiet certainty that everything would come in its season. Sitting at the table with a steaming mug in his grasp, Alex took a breath.

"I don't... " He stopped, eyes brilliant, uncertain as he willed Mulder to reply. Mulder touched his hand, waiting, a soft smile on his face.

"I don't want to be gagged. Need you to talk to me, Fox. Need to be able to talk to you." He was looking down into his cup, and he missed the fierce look of exultation that flashed over Fox's face.

// Whether you know it or not, baby, I won, and you're gonna win too. //

"Alex? Baby, are you going to try it? I promise you that I'll not gag you. I promise you that you'll have the best time, and I promise you that I'll take good care of you." Mulder's face was tender now, and Alex, a little sheepish, nodded, and then ducked his head to lay it briefly against the hand that was covering his own.

"When?" The word was so soft that Fox almost missed it.

"When do you want?" Mulder was holding his breath now, so excited that he could barely keep from trembling.

"Now." The demand was unequivocal. Green eyes leveled, and stared through Mulder like a bullet, firing clean into his gut, and causing tremors of lust to shake him.

"I have to get ready then, love. I need a little time for that. Suppose you give me a couple of hours?" Alex was smiling now, but still looking a little insecure. "Alexei? It will be good. I promise you."

Leaving Alex to finish his coffee and breakfast, Mulder rose and went to see about getting the things he would need.

As he left the room, he could hear a whispered Russian phrase follow him. He didn't stop right then to ask what it meant. Instead he stored it up in his head for later, for the time when they would be lying against each other, sated and Alex might tell him what it meant.

"Speshit' takzhe, moi lyubov."

***

Mulder came out of the bedroom with his car keys in hand.

"Alex, I need to get a few things, I won't be long." He said this in as breezy a manner as possible, hoping he could get make a clean getaway. As he approached the door, there was a swift, hard tug on the back of his sweatshirt. Alex hadn't made a sound leaving the kitchen. He seemed to materialize in back of Mulder, Pop Tart in hand. Fox would have been exasperated, but the sight of his beautiful lover-assassin calmly consuming the child's breakfast treat, while his eyes tracked Mulder's every movement, was intoxicating.

"Hey Alex, why don't you come with me?" Mulder said in a teasing tone. Alex had finished off the Pop Tart and was paying attention to licking all the icing off every finger. He didn't respond, just smiled, and began licking with longer, deeper strokes of his tongue, pausing to suck each finger entirely into his mouth. Mulder watched this display with great delight, Alex's every day behavior made porn videos lame in comparison.

Fox had been casing the boutique for weeks, and had developed a friendship with the owner. She was very good at her work, a fount of information on what Fox may want to purchase and why. When Fox came in that day with a silent, uneasy Alex behind him, the owner had understood immediately.

As Alex looked around, she took Mulder aside and advised him that some of the things he had been considering would need to be more advanced, stronger. Mulder wondered if she was trying to get more money out of him until she inclined her head toward Krycek, and murmured to him, "You really expect to hold that creature with playthings, Honey? You're going to need pro equipment unless you want him ripping this stuff in half before he heads in to do the same to you." The point was well made. Alex left the store, pacing an endless figure eight right outside the door. The owner watched him covertly as she rang up Mulder's purchases. She packaged everything very nicely, and took Mulder's hand and placed a card in it. "Here Honey, this is my private number, you call if you need any 'consultations'."

They drove home in silence, Alex not rummaging through Mulder's purchases as he usually did. He had started quivering again, and Fox placed his hand on Alex's knee.

"We don't need to do this. I don't want you to be afraid."

Alex snorted, growling deep in his throat. "You'll be afraid if I get loose." This was not a threat, it was a statement of fact and Mulder knew it.

"You won't get loose, Alex. Not until I'm ready."

"Lady made you buy the real stuff, didn't she?" Alex hadn't missed anything.

"Yes, after seeing you, she did."

"Good. That's why I went with you."

###

Alex was lying on their bed, bound and ready for Mulder, and Mulder couldn't believe just how lucky he was.

Heavy-duty leather cuffs with double locks and sheepskin linings held Alex's hand and feet. He also wore a special upper-arm cuff that would prevent him from lifting up his left side. All of these things had been used for two purposes, to keep Alex from experiencing any pain and to keep this powerful man from escaping.

When Fox had finished the binding, Alex had tested the equipment with swift, strong movements. He'd panicked for a moment when he realized he could not readily get free. Fox had been expecting this; helplessness was not a state Alex easily accepted. As he saw Alex's expression become alarmed, he had knelt beside him. Stroking his torso, running his fingers through Alex's hair and talking soothingly had helped his lover control his alarm. Alex began to relax under the gentle hands and voice. Soon he was in control again, deliciously spread eagled, waiting for Mulder to do whatever he willed with him.

Mulder had given him a bath with musk scented oils, and dried him tenderly, kissing him as he did so. Alex had permitted the activities with a lazy, knowing smile that Mulder found he couldn't look at for too long without feeling very close to exploding. His lover had visibly restrained himself from taking the initiative, and the strain was showing on him too.

When the time came for Alex to lie on the bed, his nervousness began to show in full. Fox remained quiet as Alex stalked around the room, casting sultry glances at him. Fox could tell that he needed to be sure, now that the time had come for commitment. Alex stood with his back to Fox, then straightened, rolling those broad shoulders as he turned. He stalked over to Fox, chin lifting, cock hard, a delicious sight.

"Do it", he growled, and then went to lie down on the bed.

Fox took his reclining lover's hand, kissed it and began. He finished tightening the ankle cuff strap to the heavy bedframe, and gently stroked Alex's leg, sliding his hand along from the bone of Alex's knee, up his inner thigh.

"Thank you, love. Thank you for giving yourself to me. I promise that you won't regret it." Alex gave him a look from which all tenderness had fled.

"I want you. Do it now," Alex's voice was more animal rumble than human speech.

Fox gazed down at the length of Alex, stretched out for him. His heart was fluttering in his throat. His mouth felt dry and cottony as he surveyed the solid planes of his lover's body. He smiled down at Alex, and sat down

beside him, stooping to lick his chin. Then he reached out to lay his hands on Alex's chest. He leaned forward to inhale Alex's scent, and then began to lick and suckle at Alex's throat. As he did, he began to tell Alex just what he had in store for him.

"I'm going to kiss every inch of your body, then I'm going to lick it. Maybe it'll be gentle, maybe not. You won't know until you feel it, baby." He suited action to words, his mouth travelling to suck at the angle of Alex's jaw. Fox knew he'd better pay attention to Alex's face now, because in a little while he was not going to be able to get near that part of his passion-suffused beauty. He had prior experience with how Alex used his teeth when he was frustrated. His nose still hurt.

Alex had responded immediately to Fox's words. Sharp, hard breathing, narrowed green eyes, his tongue running over dry lips. He rolled his hips, finding the parts of his body that he could move were very limited. He'd growled for real this time, animal sounds he was not even aware of making.

"Gonna suck on your skin until you have my marks all over you. I'm gonna sign you all over." He delved into the soft skin of the inside of Alex's elbow, and nibbled, then sucked until the bruise rose purple between his teeth. As Alex uttered a faint moan, Mulder moved to attack the flesh at the base of his throat, licking and sucking, drawing back to blow on the spot, and then nuzzling in again. He'd stopped when Alex used his chin to butt him harshly on the top of his head. Fox had never been so excited. Alex was going to fight him in every way he could, making the reversed positions even more erotic.

Fox moved further down Alex's torso, making a point of getting eye contact with him as he did. He rubbed the top of his head as he grinned at Alex, letting him know that he was about to make Alex pay for the head-butt.

Alex grunted, shifting his position uneasily, as he understood Fox's unsaid message. Mulder continued to use his tongue and teeth on the softness of his extremities and Alex writhed in a futile attempt to move away. Mulder suddenly began to scratch lightly over flesh that had been sensitized by repeated suckling, and Alex began to say something in Russian in his husky, sex deepened voice.

Picking up the very cock and ball restraint that Alex had fastened on him a week- or was it a lifetime ago - Mulder showed it to Alex. The bound man was not expecting this, and he reared his head, pounding it on the bed.

"NO!" He roared out to Fox.

"I make the rules now, baby, and you have no choice. You can fight this, but it is going to go on you." Fox said quietly, almost serene in his awareness of being completely in control of his pantherbaby.

Alex fought him, bucking his hips strongly, but he had very little movement from the tightly pulled restraints. Fox smiled, and fixed the device to Alex's already healthy erection. Alex shuddered at the touch, tossing his head on the pillow. Sweating now, his lush eyelashes spiky from the moisture. Mulder retreated from his genitals almost at once, murmuring "Not yet, love. Definitely not yet." Guttural Russian, spat out venomously was

the response.

Turning back to Alex's torso, he began to play with the recumbent man's nipples, licking first, then sucking, then nipping sharply at each one in turn. With each nip, Alex fought to move away. When he finally moved his mouth to the area of Alex's underarm, his fingers took over, plucking and scratching until Alex began to writhe ceaselessly, and uttered a needy but fierce "Fox!" Alex's cock was now stone hard, red and throbbing, his balls beginning to swell from the need to come.

Mulder smiled up at him then wordlessly, and sat up, then stood and moved to where Alex's tidy feet lay, held at ankles that were encased in their strapping. Taking the restrained man's foot in both hands, he knelt to breathe on the captive limb. Alex, who had his head up, watching him with a thunderous expression of outrage, gave a shriek and flung his head back onto the bed as Fox suddenly sucked Alex's big toe into his mouth, swirling his tongue around it.

Torture! Alex couldn't kick, couldn't draw his foot away, had to bear the sensation of heated tongue on ticklish flesh. His body was drawing in as far as the tight restraints would allow, his back bowing slightly in his frenzy to get free from the tickling. That damn tickling was going straight to his cock. Fox watched him surreptitiously, silently thanking the boutique owner for making him buy the strongest restraints. No other would have held Alex.

"I'll kill you . . .fuck me . . .now!" Alex's voice was rough and rumbling, his breathing coming in harsh, swift pants.

Fox snickered, and redoubled his attentions on the foot before turning back to him with a wide grin. Alex screamed in response, gritting his teeth and frowning furiously.

"Wait, darling. It's feeling good, but it's only just starting. By the time I let you come you're gonna think that you died and went to heaven."

This lovingly spoken intention was met with a lethal green slit-eyed glare and violently snapping teeth. Fox was nowhere near those teeth, but Alex had to express his frustration somehow. With that, Fox stooped and went to work on his lover in earnest, licking and nibbling, scratching and blowing cool air over the resulting abrasions, until the man on the bed was writhing continuously, his head moving violently from side to side.

Slowly, inexorably, Mulder drew closer and closer to the center of Alex's body, mouth and hands busily working to drive his lover crazier. After another ten minutes of this, Alex was beyond coherency. He was spewing Russian at Fox in the vilest possible tone. Mulder was totally aroused himself, and had begun to feel as though he himself was the subject of the torture. Watching Alex begin to lose himself in erotic madness was a scintillating experience.

Abruptly sitting up, he smoothed down his silken clothing, and turned to Alex.

"I'm a little... warm, baby. I need to cool off." Alex, sweat trickling down his face, purple cock drooling, and chest heaving, watched him with widening eyes. His entire body grew tense, and rigid.

"Nooo. . .you, you promised not to leave!" The voice, starting low, rose to a panicked intensity as Fox stood up, about to leave the bed. He recognized

Alex's terror immediately and turned back to him. He went to the bed and knelt beside his lover, making strong eye contact. He cautiously placed his hand on Alex's damp hair.

"I'm thirsty, baby. It's hard work slaving over a hot Alex", he said soothingly. "I'll be back in a flash, promise." When he saw the panic leave Alex's eyes, he left the room, reappearing swiftly with a couple of cans of cold lager. Alex was fighting to get his breathing under control.

Popping the tab on one of the cans, Fox took a long pull at the contents, and then, still cautious of his teeth, scooped Alex's head up to present him with the can. Alex drank a little, and spat it in his face. Fox released him, laughing. Pantherbaby did not appreciate his timing.

"There's nothing quite like a cold beer when you're hot and bothered." He said sweetly, watching Alex as he poured a libation into his navel. Alex hissed, and spat at him again. He was furious, getting near to the place where Fox wanted him. He screamed in rage when Fox leaned down, lapping the beer up with a hot tongue.

Placing the can on the bedside table, Fox began to unfasten the buttons on his shirt, slipping it off his shoulders and moving his fingers up to pluck at his own nipples. Alex watched him intently, a jungle animal sizing up its prey. Fox threw his head back, his hands sliding over his own flesh in teasing, circling patterns. Alex began to thrash harder, frustrated beyond his ability to cope because he could not touch Fox.

"Fox." Alex's whisper was seductive and Mulder smiled down at him sunnily.

"Soon, baby, I'm gonna go to work on that gorgeous cock of yours soon." He shucked the shirt, and unbuttoned the 501s he was wearing, bucking his hips so that Alex could see that he wore no underwear, and that he was aroused...

"Now!" Alex was still whispering, but his voice would have carried for a mile. "Give . . ." the voice tapered off into a low, rumbling growl.

"I'm ready, I think. I'm gonna start on your cock now, sweet thing. I'm going to lick it, and you're going to really know what it feels like to go out of your mind."

"I'm going to rip off your head", was the tender response. Fox didn't doubt that at that minute, Alex meant every word.

Fox slowly lowered his jeans, finally sitting and kicking them off his legs, and then climbed astride Alex, rubbing his cock along the firm muscles of the other man's belly while Alex bucked up to get more contact, growling unceasingly. After a few minutes of intense motion, Fox rolled off and bent to inspect the cock that was bobbing wildly against Alex's belly. When he moved off him, Alex shrieked incoherently, raging at him, getting closer each time to letting go. Fox gently took hold of the hot, rigid cock, making it jump all over again, then sucked the tip of it into his mouth, dipping his tongue into the eye of it, and tasting the steady beading of pre-ejaculate that was forming.

Tongue swirling, he concentrated on the crown, chuckling as Alex began to threaten him all over again. Voice almost gone now, Alex was speaking a mixture of all the different languages he knew. He was a one man United

Nations of profanity.

The cursing grew softer, hoarser, until it gave way to gasping sobs. Fox had never heard Alex sob before, so he gradually began to use firmer, more sweeping sucking motions, dipping his head down to take more and more of Alex in until the whole of his cock was embedded in the heat of that sensual and delicious mouth. Alex was stretched out, taut as a bow as he desperately tried to let go. He was past all ability to think, need drove him now.

Alex was shuddering, his head bent impossibly back and his mouth opened in a soundless scream when Fox loosened and removed the cock restraint.

"Come on, baby, come for me now, if you can." And he went down on Alex, sucking him down as far as he could, while Alex's body gave an enormous buck upwards, coming close to pulling his arm and legs from their sockets, in a screaming rage as he shot spurt after spurt into Fox's hot mouth.

Fox continued to suck on Alex for several minutes after he finally went limp. He was lying, bathed in sweat, and glowing. Looking at him seared Fox's eyes, he was so damned beautiful.

"Let me go." The voice was raspy, exhausted spoken in a whisper.

"Are you kidding me, love? I've only just begun. There's a long, long way to go before I let you go. It's going to get better before we're done." Alex's face clouded over, a storm was brewing.

"I came for you, damn it. Let me go." The voice was pure venom, accompanied by a swift, startlingly fierce exertion on the unrelenting restraints. Fox nodded to himself. There was going to be a lot more fun before he was through - fun and danger. He knew better than to let himself forget that for a moment.

"Oh, baby. There's no way. I'm not done with you yet. You and I are going to really know what the edge is like before we're done. Trust me, love. I won't let you fall. I love you so much, my Alexei."

Alex was fighting the restraints, furious at Fox for not doing as he had commanded, paying absolutely no heed to Fox's words. He was tired of the game now, he wanted to be free, needed to be free.

Fox climbed carefully to sit astride Alex's hips again, and his untended erection stood out accusingly as he did so.

Alex had been prepared to rage further, but the evidence of his lover's arousal quickened his interest. He watched Fox hungrily, licked his lips.

"Give it to me?" The voice was husky, the beast in his eyes veiled for the moment, and Fox leaned down to kiss his chest.

"Just watch, Alex. Rest and watch." Mulder began to stroke himself, rubbing his fingers over the crown of his erection to gather up moisture before taking hold of himself and beginning to stroke his cock. As he caressed himself, his hips began to shudder, and he could feel that he was very close indeed. "All yours, baby. It's all for you." He was pulling hard on himself, feeling the build of orgasm rush towards him as he gazed into Alex's hot, impotent eyes.

Alex was watching Fox's hand moving over his penis. Moans continuously came from him, he couldn't stand not being able to touch his lover, yet he was mesmerized at the display. He licked his lips again, watching his love

work himself up to a frenzy.

"Fox... want... " The sound of Alex's voice worked on him like an aphrodisiac, and he felt the wave of tension along his thighs, the tightening and pulse of his balls, and the flash flood of pleasure that shot through him, built and shot again. He arched and groaned as his cock spat white onto Alex's chest, his chin, and across his lips.

Alex dragged his tongue over the little splashes of thick fluid that glistened on his face, and his eyes were fixed onto Mulder's.

"Let me go. Want to fuck you, need to," husky breathy words, desperation in their delivery. When Fox moved back just a bit, he encountered the cock that he had emptied just a few minutes prior, standing hard once more. Fox smiled down at Alex.

"For me? You shouldn't have."

Alex briefly lifted his head, breaking eye contact. His breathing began to become labored. Fox moved off his chest, alarmed by the abrupt change.

Fox knelt beside the restrained man, prepared to release him immediately if he was in real distress.

"Alexei, look at me. Talk to me", his voice was quiet, very concerned.

The dark head turned towards him, shudders now running through the taut body, but it was those eyes, those sphinx eyes that transfixed Fox.

"Please, Fox, please . . .pain," the familiar voice was laced with distress, pleading, but the eyes remained unreadable and suddenly, in a flash of insight, Fox understood.

"Oh Baby, you're so good. I never realized how good you are until now. You almost had me. A week ago you would have won, but not now. Beautiful One, there are going to be some things you won't like now that I'm paying close attention to you. This is one of them." Fox let a slow, victorious smile play across his lips.

Alex screamed in rage. Incoherent sounds ripped from him as realized his ploy hadn't worked. He wasn't going to be set free. He was trapped.

Part 10

***

Trapped.

He went berserk.

Fox had wanted him to play near the edge, Alex had gone over it. Now he was lethal. Fox watched him, rapt, but very cautious. He was witnessing the purest form of fury, and he was its focal point. Fox had been the diamond cutter, striking with precision until the veneer of civilization shattered, exposing the inner Alex.

This was a spitting, hissing Bengal tiger, and he gazed in awe at the bound, primal rage.

"God, Alex, I love you so much." He moved to stroke Alex's soft, firm skin, massaging the remnants of his ejaculation into the firmly muscled chest and arms. Alex was trembling, long deep shudders travelling through his body. Eyes that were slitted pools, black as the abyss, stared into Fox.

He continued to caress and stroke his lover for a minute or two more, seduced by the power of the fighting, bound body. Then he turned to search the night table. Alex was past controlling himself, fighting the restraints continually. Even in his extremis, he watched Fox's every move, missing nothing. It felt as though Fox was the enemy now, but Fox knew that the whole of humanity was the enemy of the beast that lived hidden inside Alex.

Mulder fumbled through the contents of his drawer, and removed the small sachet that he found there, tearing it open with white teeth, and then squeezing the contents out into his hand.

Alex stared at him, his face mask-like in the lamplight. The room filled with the smell of his anger, heat rose from his body as it strained violently to be free. Fox made a point of smiling sweetly and without any malice as he knelt at groin level, and took hold of the glistening erection that was spiking from Alex's groin. He began smoothing on the lube that he had warmed between the palm of his hands, ignoring the ominous snarling of the man he had at his mercy. As he slid his hands up and down the length of the purple-brown shaft, Fox lowered his head to take first one of Alex's balls, and then the other into the warm haven of his mouth, playing his tongue over the crinkled velvet of his scrotum.

He took a slippery finger and stroked from Alex's balls, along his perineum and down to his anus, pausing to tease it with a fingertip. He slid his finger in and circled it, withdrawing it again to press the soft flesh beneath Alex's balls.

Alex had been thrashing, sweat flying from his hair, his lips pulled back from sharp teeth as he vacuumed the air from the room into his throbbing lungs. He began to buck, and Fox leaned hard onto him, holding his hips in position as he told Alex to wait, because he was in control.

The snarl that greeted this last message came from the center of Alex's body and worked its way out. He was exhausted, but he could not stop. He was past words, past thought, past anything but sensation. He was terrifying, he was also indescribably erotic. Fox licked the length of the vein that ran down the center of Alex's cock eliciting a low, throaty ululation, a cry that went straight to Fox's middle.

Quickly, he scrambled to sit astride Alex, working hard to balance himself. He fed the length of Alex's penis into his slick, hot channel, taking Alex inside until Fox sat with the other man's cock embedded totally within him.

Alex renewed his fighting, fervent in his need to be free; showing a systematic determination that was frightening in its intensity. He had just enough breath to hiss. Mulder gazed down at him in awe. This was what he'd dreamed of. Alex was so sexy like this that it made Fox melt inside. The taut flesh, sweat-slick and straining, was a thing of beauty, and the wildness in his lover's eyes was entrancing in its danger. Fox had always courted danger, now he was astride it, riding it and swept into the savagery.

Fox had known that Alex contained a savage within him, and had long wanted to see it reveal itself. Now he had it displayed for him, and it was so bestial that he was shocked, and not just a little afraid. He fed on the fear, letting it excite him even more. He began to move on his lover's cock, impaling himself, groaning out his love for Alex as he rode him.

Looking at Alex, he was entranced, and couldn't stop from telling him so, the words slipping out through gritted teeth as Fox moved on him. The burn of penetration had eased into a sensation that was first a dull ache, and next a curling of pleasure that brought the breath rapidly between his teeth and made him feel as though his guts were turning to liquid. Moving his hand down to clasp his own erection, Fox began to stroke it again, eyes glued to Alex as he raged beneath the onslaught - raged, and then responded, knowing nothing but arousal. Lost to anything else.

>From the slow tease to wild, desperate fucking they went in the space of a few minutes. Mulder, so turned on by his helplessly bound lover that he could hardly function, set a pace that moved faster and harder as he plunged over Alex's body.

Alex, rigid and trembling, was unable to hold back, and the scream as he came mingled with Mulder's cry. Between the two of them they felt the sensations take them, and as the heated intensity of orgasm rocked them, they felt utterly connected, their eyes locked, and their bodies slick against each other with the effort of coming. As Alex discharged himself inside Mulder's silken interior, Fox loosed a spattering of creamy white over his lover's belly for the second time that evening, and then collapsed forward to lie along the panting body, head on Alex's chest.

For the next little while, they lay, sated, Mulder's head snugged against his lover's heart, listening to the pounding subside, and become a regular, steady beating. Alex began again to struggle against his bonds.

"Fox." The voice was raspy, and Mulder looked up at Alex, taking in exhausted, dark eyes, and a haunted expression. "Let me go . . .bathroom." The latter was spoken with such an air of tragedy about it, that he had to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing at his lover. Alex was too worn down to be subtle, he was unknowingly overacting, trying every trick at his disposal to get free. Fox was ready, again.

"It's okay, baby. I've got just the thing for you here." Fox gave a sweet smile and dove to one side of the bed, returning with the hospital bottle he had placed there in case of just such an eventuality. Alex, who really did want to relieve himself, refused. He began to move his head back and forth on the pillow in frustration.

Fox spoke quietly to him "Alexei, I am not going to let you go until I am finished. I told you that when we started. Now let me help you."

"Let me go!"

"No."

Fox spoke the last with a quiet authority. Alex began finally to realize he was not going to get free. He could not get himself free, he had proven that, and Fox was not going to give in to any of his manipulations. He moaned, as anger, fear, and finally anger *at* his fear took him over. He began trembling.

Fox had been watching him intently. He was ready. Reaching underneath the bed he pulled out a soft, damp cloth and began wiping his lover's overheated body. As he gently wiped, he took up an equally soft, dry towel and dried where he had wiped. He used long slow strokes, moving down the perfect legs. Working as carefully as if he were grooming a skittish, terrified thoroughbred. Alex still refused to look at him, but the trembling began to subside.

Fox heard soft, rasping words being spoken. "Speak English, Alexei", he said.

"Why?"

"Why won't I let you go?

"Da".

"That's easy love, because I'm not finished." Fox would give no other explanation.

"Don't be afraid of me Alex, you're absolutely safe. Don't be angry because you can't get away, it's what I planned all along." Mulder the profiler had been able to discern that much from his complex lover.

Alex was quiet for a long time, then he turned his head and watched Fox solemnly, peeking at him under long, spiky lashes. Fox let him watch. He continued his gentle ministrations in silence. He took his time, and worked especially carefully along the new long scar that reached from torso to muscled arm.

In silence he lifted up the hospital bottle again and showed it to Alex, who this time nodded his assent. Fox helped him relieve a very full bladder.

Mulder had taken up the can of lager, and was drinking from it thirstily. When he caught sight of Alex's longing expression, he moved to raise Alex's head once again.

"I know you've got to be thirsty, baby. You can't roar and screech the way you have without being parched. Want a drink, love?" Alex nodded, fixing him with a wide-eyed expression that held far more respect that Fox had seen from him before.

Fox smiled. "Tell you what, I'll trade you a drink for a chance to wipe your face for you, but no biting, right?"

Alex nodded, and his lids fluttered closed as he turned his face up to Fox. Mulder tenderly wiped the beloved face, moving the damp hair off the perfect forehead and toweling gently to dry it a little.

"Will you let me kiss you, baby? No biting? I so want to kiss you," he asked.

Again, Alex nodded assent.

Fox quickly stooped to cover his lover's plush lips with his own, cradling Alex's head in his hands as he explored the recesses of the mouth that had only

a few minutes prior been spitting fury at him.

Long and luscious, the kiss deepened, and Mulder found himself moaning as he stroked Alex's face, kissing him until his breath hitched. When finally he drew away, Alex's eyes were shining, and Fox grabbed the can, bringing it to Alex's lips where he drank greedily. Mulder looked down at Alex, lying in disarray and the glimmer of an idea filtered through his mind. Did he dare? He gazed lovingly down at Alex, who was now licking his lips.

He placed the can back on the nightstand, and stood to consider the limp form of his lover. Alex, who had been looking somewhat smug, began to appear a little apprehensive as an entirely new expression crossed Mulder's face. He began to collect pillows, and toss them together down at Alex's hip level. When he began to push them under Alex's hips, Alex raised his head, looking at Mulder reproachfully.

"What now? Let me go!" Alex did not relent. Neither did Fox.

Fox laughed, and there was a note of suppressed excitement in his voice that communicated itself to Alex, making him restless again. Looking at Fox, Alex could see that his lover was erect, and furrowed his brow as he attempted to work out what was arousing him so much.

As Fox climbed onto the bed to kneel between Alex's knees, Alex began to feel a little apprehensive, and when he reached for the lube, slathering it over his fingers, Alex raised his head again, puzzled.

"Aren't you tired yet?" Fox laughed again, a laugh Alex did not particularly like.

"God, no, never too tired." He swooped down to lick and nibble at Alex's groin again, chuckling deep in his throat as Alex moaned uncertainly. "It's okay, beloved, I'll never hurt you, but this is gonna be so damned good."

His slippery fingers traveled down to the soft depression at the base of Alex's balls, and gently, teasingly, Fox began to slip his fingers in and out of his lover. As he played, his mouth working busily to augment the sensations as he ran his tongue over the hardening ridges and veins of Alex's penis. Alex, his body splayed and his hips raised over a mound of pillows, couldn't see what Fox was doing, but the sensations he was experiencing were new to him. As Fox managed to insert a second finger inside his anus alongside the first it suddenly dawned on him what Fox was going to do.

"No!" His voice was hoarse, and contained a note that was very close to panic.

"You don't get to choose, love. I'm in control, and I promise that whatever I do to you, you're going to love. Stay with me, baby." Alex fought and sweat began to bead his forehead and his upper lip once more. He did not like this at all.

"Fox? Please!" At that point Mulder had two fingers inside Alex, and he crooked them as he felt for the place he knew would feel good for his lover, using his tongue to add a counterpoint around the head of Alex's cock, as it filled and stood beaded with moisture.

As he manipulated the channel, he could feel it loosen, and he added more lube, stroking it inside Alex, circling his fingers, spreading them apart a little to

widen the opening. Alex was shivering now, these sensations were new to him, and he was torn, hanging between anger at the intrusion and lust from the sensations. Fox took advantage of Alex's exhaustion, playing on his inability to fight him for real, and took the head of Alex's cock between his lips, his tongue teasing the slit from which dripped little trickles of moisture.

"You make love to me, baby, and it's always wonderful. What you do to me feels amazing. I want to show you how good it feels. I want you to know what you do to me." Fox sucked noisily on Alex's cock, and managed to get a third finger inside the restrained man's anus to widen the passage there.

Alex said nothing, he was trapped and he was furious. His eyes were very wide and dark. He bit his lip and shivered. Fox turned to apply some lubrication to his own cock. He knew that he had to make this really perfect for Alex if he wanted to maintain his trust. Fox had already come twice, and he was almost certain that he'd be able to hold back and make it feel good, but he was so aroused that there was a nagging suspicion of a doubt in his mind.

Alex growled then, and Fox felt the sound as a thrill that ran the length of his cock. He hoped he would be able to make it last.

Crouching, he removed his fingers, hearing Alex gasp and moan at their loss, and watching the little wiggle that his lover gave as he sought further stimulation. That was what he'd been waiting for, a sign from Alex's body that what he was about to do would be okay.

"Give me a minute and it will feel really good, I promise." He took hold of the other man's cock, squeezed it as he centered his own and began to thrust himself slowly home. The heat made him cry out as his prick slid deep inside the other man. Pausing there, suspended between delight and terror, Mulder drank in the sensations.

Alex's ass felt hot and tight, and the walls clung to his rigid cock, slick and delicious, smoothing and sucking as he drove inside, pushing up tight until his balls rested against the sleek, plush softness of Alex's cheeks.

Leaning hard on his lover, pressing inside Alex as far as he could go, Fox began to work the sturdy cock which had drooped a little as he sank himself into the core of his lover. He could feel Alex's body start to quicken, and his breathing turn from the shallow panting of panic to deeper rasping intakes of air. Constant moans escaping him signified desire. As Mulder rocked in and out of his lover he kept up a running commentary telling Alex how grateful he was, how wonderful Alex felt beneath him, and how much he, Fox, loved him.

Alex began to growl in return, a low sound that kept pace with Fox's words. Alex began to fight again, but this time he was moving with Mulder and not against him. Fox was overwhelmed by the change, the eroticism of having the strong body undulate with him as the primal in Alex took forefront again.

It grew. The glow of desire became a flame that licked his groin, curled around his cock, and ignited him. All too soon he knew that he would lose himself inside Alex. Despairing, he pounded into him. He was so caught up

with the miracle of sweet sensation that had taken him that he was taken completely by surprise by Alex's sudden tremor as his ass clenched around him, milking his cock. He screamed with astonishment echoing the roar that had come from Alex.

Opening his eyes, he looked down on his lover, whose head was thrashing from side to side, and whose cock was trailing sticky dribbles of ejaculate down over Fox's fingers as he pumped it. The sight was too much. He felt the tightening, and the surge as he drove in hard, and then he was coming, shooting into Alex for the first time ever, and sobbing as he did so, because it felt so damned good, and he never had thought it would happen.

They lay together at last, hearts pounding together as they began to recover. Alex's chest heaving beneath Fox's cheek as he lay gasping. Slowly, Fox slid up to lie with his mouth buried in the crease of Alex's neck, and Alex rolled his head so that he could lie with his lips touching Fox's forehead.

After a few minutes, Fox raised his face and their lips met in a kiss that was both tender and gentle. For long minutes they continued to kiss, their lips soft against each other now that passion had been slaked. For perhaps the first time, Fox felt the sweet certainty of absolute love for this being in his arms.

As their lips parted, Alex fixed him with a look that was three parts mischief and one part dogged determination.

"Again?" Fox gave a shout of laughter.

"Do you really think that either of us could manage another? You've gotta be joking, baby. I reached my limit about one and a half orgasms ago. God knows where I got the strength for that last one." Fox was kissing down the side of Alex's face, as Alex lay, totally relaxed, seemingly permitting whatever liberties Fox cared to take. At Mulder's words he sniggered, arching an eyebrow.

Mulder was about to unfasten the cuff that held Alex's truncated left arm, when his senses became fully alert. Stopping, he moved down to Alex's side. There was no way he was going to release his Pantherbaby until he was totally sure the beast inside was quelled. As a test, he laid his hand gently on Alex's cheek. No attempt was made to bite him. That was good. Fox petted an enticingly shaped ear, letting his fingers run down to caress a long, elegant neck. Alex gently moved into the caress, another good sign. Finally, Fox leaned down to examine the smoldering green eyes and saw only play and the after effects of satiation in them, the best sign of all. He began to unfasten the cuff, smoothing the skin, and laying kisses along the arm. He put the cuff aside, and turned to release Alex's feet. Long legs were stretched luxuriously, each foot seductively rolled around. The beast he summoned had completely retreated. When at last he moved to loosen the strap that held Alex's right arm, he was unprepared when Alex lunged upwards, his face horribly blank as he loomed over Mulder.

He jerked backwards, scooting to the end of the bed in a single movement, and falling off to land on his behind with a thump. Alex dissolved into giggles.

"I owed you that. I'm too tired to intimidate you properly." He grinned unrepentantly before slipping round to lounge with his head pillowed on his arm, peeping at Mulder from beneath the thick fringe of lashes. Mulder clipped him smartly around the back of the head.

"Let me know when you plan on doing it properly! I'll have my heart pills ready and you'd better know CPR!" Fox managed between wheezes. He had expected to be dead in seconds. "You took ten years off my life just then."

"Next time, I may take off more . . ." Alex let the sentence drop.

Fox's eyes grew round, "Next time?" There was so much promise in that unfinished sentence. Alex took him by the back of the head and pulled him in for a deep kiss. There was to be no answer for Fox that night, he would have to live with the tease, for now. He twined his fingers into Alex's short hair, and leaned to kiss him again. "I love you, you asshole!"

"Czar Asshole." Alex's smile was seraphic as he lolled on the bed. "Come, minion, and know your place. With a low laugh, Mulder clambered to his feet and moved to lie alongside Alex, and take him in his arms again.

"Alex... " His lips were alongside Alex's delicate ear, his voice a breathy tickle. Alex raised his eyebrow in inquiry again. "I didn't quite tell you the truth before. You really are my own private X-File."

Alex pulled away just far enough to take in the earnest face of his lover, and smiled again, a little of the wildness in his spirit showing through as he did. Green fire lit his eyes as he softly replied,

"I know."

End