February 1999

Disclaimer: So I'm talking to Deep Throat on my Ouija board and he keeps telling me I don't have a chance in hell of getting these guys...

Rating: R for language and m/m affection

Spoilers: This series was already AU...now it's even moreso.

Summary: The unexpected manages to knock the boys off course.

Notes: Lucy, thank you *so* much for your invaluable help with this. Sue, thank you, as always, for your help and for the info. I know you're mad about this, but you've gotten your revenge ;). Row, thanks for the comments and giving it the once over. You guys are too cool :) Any remaining errors are mine.

Feedback: I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who has sent me feedback about this series. It's very much appreciated :) Please let me know what you think about this! fam22771@aol.com (hotmail is being a bitch when it comes to giving me my mail, so...)

The first three parts of this series can be found on TER/MA http://members.tripod.com/~ter_ma/fanfiction.htm

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lying IV: Raised on Promises

by Frankie

==========

From the moment the elevator doors open, it's strikingly clear that this is just a dream. I step inside and the floor lurches sickeningly. Before I can back out, the doors close and I realize that Alex isn't with me. When I look up through the suddenly transparent walls of the elevator, I see him waving at me. He's telling me that he'll catch the next one but I have to warn him that the next one isn't working. I'm shouting at him, but he just smiles and steps into the lift. The doors of my elevator open and the floor rises to tip me out into some kind of lobby. The guy who played Jesus in the movie version of "Jesus Christ Superstar" is standing there. He smiles then moves toward me. I'm about to ask him where Alex went, when he starts picking paint chips out of my hair. Before I can tell him to stop, he breaks out into a verse of "I Could Never Be Your Woman." He sounds exactly like Alex and it dawns on me that this is when I'm supposed to wake up.

I don't open my eyes right away. Instead I keep them closed as I take a quick inventory of what's going on in my apartment. The shower is running and I can hear Alex singing. I smell coffee brewing and, if I'm not mistaken, there's something baking in the oven. If the simple domesticity of the whole scene didn't make me so damn happy, I'd feel nauseous at the sticky sweetness of it all. I smile, even as I force my reluctant eyes open and turn over to look at the clock. 10:15. So much for my promise to myself to sleep until noon on Sundays. Oh well, I guess I can force my lazy ass out of bed and into the shower. I'm sure Alex won't mind if I join him.

I walk into the bathroom and hear Alex still singing. He's launched into the chorus and is declaring he could never be my woman. Hmmm. I push aside the shower curtain and look at him for a moment, admiring the broad shoulders and well muscled back that always respond so well to my touch. My eyes wander down over the firm ass and to the strong legs I've made tremble on a number of occasions. Not visible is the part of him that means the most because it's mine. It's not what you think. I know that Alex Krycek's heart belongs to me.

If anyone would have told me that we'd be living together in a mostly peaceful existence, I would have had them committed without a second thought. But here we are, three months after he came back to me, and we haven't killed each other yet. In fact, life with Alex has not only been satisfying and exciting, but I've never felt safer. That may seem ironic considering how dangerous Alex appears to other people. Hell, he *is* dangerous, but he would never hurt me. I'm convinced our being together is the best thing for both of us. At the risk of sounding like a lovesick idiot, I'd have to say everything's perfect. God, I even love it when we fight and he gets that killer glint in his eye that gives me an instant hard on. I just want to concede and drop to my knees in front of him. And let's not even talk about the make up sex that hurts just enough to make the fight worthwhile.

Still, I wouldn't trade quiet mornings like this for anything since it means he's really mine. Too wrapped up in his song, he still hasn't noticed my presence as I step into the shower. He jumps a little and stops singing when I put my arms around his waist and kiss his sweet smelling back.

"Morning, Sunshine." I laugh as I say it because I know he hates when I call him that. He's not exactly a morning person.

"Don't call me that or I'll have to kick your ass." He turns around and puts his arms around my neck, giving me a quick peck on the lips. "Good morning. Did you sleep well?"

"Yeah." I kiss his neck and lick the water trickling down his skin. "I had that elevator dream again." He tilts his head back and I dot his throat with kisses.

I feel the vibrations of his laughter against my mouth. "Was Jesus in it again?"

"It's not Jesus. It's the actor who played him in the movie."

"Oh, sorry. That makes much more sense."

I move him until his back is against the shower wall, and stare into his eyes. I'm always amazed at the amount of myself reflected in him. It's as if he truly is my other half. "You'd better not be making fun of me."

"What're you gonna do, G-man? Arrest me?" He moves a soapy hand down my back, sending shivers up my spine despite the heat of the water.

"No, but maybe I'll still use the cuffs later if you're good."

"Tease," he says softly, pressing his lips to mine and snaking his tongue into my mouth. I sigh at the sensation of his mouth making love to mine, the roughness with which he assaults every surface only to draw back enough to force me to be the aggressor. Kissing Alex is an exercise in sensuality in which I can always revel.

I break away, slightly breathless. "I love you." I whisper it, but even over the roar of the shower, he hears me. "I'm so glad you're still here."

Before the words are out of my mouth, I wince. Shit, here it comes.

"Dammit, Fox! When are you going to give it a rest?" The look in his eyes is full of hurt and guilt. "I'm not going anywhere! I'm so fucking tired of telling you that."

I stroke the side of his face. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say it out loud."

He purses his lips and frowns. "So you'd rather just think I'm going to up and leave you, huh?"

I shake my head. "Alex, I'm an idiot. I'm the biggest fool to ever walk the Earth. Please don't be mad."

Gently pushing me out of the way, he gets out of the shower and starts to dry off.

I keep the curtain open even as water sprays all over the floor. "Alex..."

He looks at me. "I'm not mad, babe. I just wish you trusted me." His words hit me harder than one of his well-placed punches. "I'm going to get dressed and see if the scones are done." Before he walks out of the bathroom, he turns around. "I love you. Always." He smiles.

The look in his eyes tells me everything I need to know. I'm so grateful to him for knowing what I need to hear, but he shouldn't have to cater to my insecurities. Sometimes I wonder how the hell he can put up with me.

As he closes the door, I curse myself for being the world's neediest asshole. What is my fucking problem? Why is it so hard to believe the guy's here to stay? Maybe I just like having a little drama in my life. Too bad it has to be at the expense of Alex's feelings. I shake my head as I finish my shower, wondering if there's a local chapter of Shitheads Anonymous I can join.

I step out of the shower and grab a towel. As I'm drying off, Alex walks in. I look at him expectantly.

"We don't have any jam, so I'm just gonna pop out for a sec."

I don't say anything, but he knows I'm wondering if he's going to go off to be by himself for a while. He's done it before when I've upset him.

"Babe, I'm coming right back. I just forgot to pick some up yesterday, okay?" He grins and walks towards me. "You don't get to me that easily anymore." The kiss he gives me is even more reassuring than his words.

"Make it quick, huh?"

He winks at me. "Just try and keep me away." I watch him go and the impulse hits me to take hold of him and never let him out of my arms.

"Alex, I love you." I shout it and I hear a faint "Love you too" in return. The front door shuts and I wonder if I should go with him. As quickly as the unease hits me, it's gone. I finish toweling off and go into the bedroom to get dressed.

I settle on an old, faded pair of jeans and one of Alex's T-shirts. Even though it's freshly laundered, I'm convinced I can still smell him on it. The cotton feels soft against my skin and I'm again bombarded by a pressing need to have him in my arms. It's different from the times I've missed him before; I'm almost panicked because he's not with me. This is getting ridiculous. I seriously consider starting therapy again as I take a deep breath and go to the kitchen.

I fix myself a cup of coffee. No, it's not just coffee. This stuff smells and tastes like it was grown in heaven and brewed by angels. As I think about Alex, I wonder if I'm not too far off. For all the bad he's done, I can't help but see him with a halo over his head. Granted, it's tarnished, dented and badly in need of repairs, but I'm convinced it's there. I wonder what it is about Alex that seems to make all my common sense and good judgment fly out the window. Oh yeah, I love the guy. I shake my head. I have now officially lost my mind.

I direct my attention to some of the things he's changed since he's been here. For one thing, he's completely reorganized my kitchen. I can actually find things now. I take out a couple of plates and put them on the table. His homemade scones smell delicious and I'm tempted to start without him, but I wait. Sipping my coffee, I think of the wonderful, lazy day we have ahead of us. We'll spend it eating, talking, reading the paper, making love, planning how to save the world, and tonight we'll watch "The Simpsons" and "That '70s Show." There's nothing good on after that, so we'll head to bed early and he'll proceed to make me scream loud enough to make the neighbors wish I'd never moved in. There's something to be said for a routine.

Leaning against the kitchen counter, I finish my coffee and patiently await my lover's return. He just went to the store. It's not a big deal. Why do I feel like I'm trying to convince myself of something?

Before I drive myself batty, I go into the living room and start looking at the paper. Settling onto the couch and setting aside the sections I know Alex likes to read first, I start perusing the sports section. The words on the page make no sense to me and I give up with a sigh of disgust. I hope he hasn't gone off somewhere to sulk, not after telling me he was fine. As I stand up, I can't decide whether to be pissed off or worried. Unable to choose, I settle on being justifiably put out and figure I'll make good use of my time alone.

I boot up my computer and go online. Having not checked my mail in a couple of days, I'm greeted by the annoying little ping that means people have been trying to get in touch with me. I sigh as I realize I'm so tired of the life I have. I immediately backtrack. The only part of my life that is fulfilling is my relationship with Alex. Unfortunately, I can't tell the other people in my life about him because they'd want to arrest him. Things like that have a tendency to put a strain on a relationship. I grin when I try to imagine the look on Scully's face when I tell her that I'm in love with the man who killed my father. It wouldn't matter if I explained that by killing him, Alex saved my life. I can picture her face after I tell her about my father's involvement with the Consortium and the fact that he was going to finally tell me the truth knowing I would be killed for what I knew. Alex shot him before he could do that. Scully would listen, make her trademark "Mulder, you are out of your mind" face, and proceed to arrange for my deprogramming.

As I delete the spam from porn sites and get rich quick schemes, I glance at the time. He's been gone for almost an hour. I ignore the flutter of anxiety in my stomach and tell myself I'll give it another hour before I start to get worried. In the meantime, going through my mail, I see one from Byers.

Mulder-

Here is all the information we could get about the financial situation you asked us to look into for you. Apparently there are a number of offshore holdings and investments under a variety of assumed names. Attached are some of the account numbers we found. We're still getting the others for you.

Byers

I download the file with Alex's bank account numbers. I'm not going to do anything with the information. I only wanted to know where his money comes from. When he moved in with me, I asked him if he would need me to help him out financially. He made some mysterious comment about a "former associate" who "owed him big and is still paying." I remember shrugging and pretending to dismiss it. Of course, I immediately asked the guys to see what they could find out. I hadn't expected much, but as always, they surprise the hell out of me. I still don't know who's paying him, but I do know that he's pretty much set for life. Killing people must just be a hobby for him now. I'm a little worried about that fact, not because of any moral implications but because I don't want him to get caught. As selfish as that sounds, it's one of my greatest fears. If the day comes when Alex has to finally pay for the things he's done, I know he'll be gone for a long time. Part of me wonders if that's why he's with me and content to stay holed up in my apartment. Has he finally found a place to hide that's so ridiculous no one would think to look for him here? Hide in plain sight, huh, Alex? I instantly regret that thought. He wouldn't use me like that, especially considering he can afford to go anywhere in the world he wants. I finally comprehend the situation. The idiot sticks around because of me. I am so fucking thick sometimes.

It takes me about forty minutes to finish going through and answering my mail. I stretch my aching back, then turn off the computer. Alex should be home soon. Even if he is off sulking somewhere, he's never gone for more than a couple of hours. When he gets back I'll just hold on to him and never let go. At that thought, I'm again struck by an anxious need to have him here. This time the feeling nestles in my stomach and makes me nauseous enough to cause the bitter taste of bile to rise in my throat before it goes away.

I spend the next hour trying to distract myself by attempting to clean the mess on my desk, but to no avail. If I move anything, I won't be able to find it again. Maybe I should let Alex take a crack at it. He has a way of doing things that invariably makes life easier, at least for me. When I glance at the clock and see that it's been three hours since he left, I feel a sharp pain in my chest. Something's wrong. Nothing would keep him away from me this long. He knows I'd worry and he wouldn't do that to me.

I start pacing back and forth in my living room, frustrated that I can't go find him because he might call. He could always reach me on my cell, but it's a moot point. I don't have any earthly idea where he might have gone. Alex, please be okay. Please call me. I jump when the phone rings and I run to answer it.

"Where are you?" I answer the phone, relieved that he's okay.

"Mulder? It's me."

Scully? Why is she calling me?

"Listen, Scully, I need to keep the line open. I'm expecting a call."

"Mulder, I think you'll want to hear this."

I bite back my impatience. "What is it?"

"Guess who we've finally got in custody?"

My heart stops.

"Mulder? You there?"

Somehow I manage to speak. "Yeah. Who is it?"

She doesn't have to tell me. I can't breathe and all I can hear is the blood pounding in my ears. My heart is beating so loudly I think that Scully will have to shout in order for me to hear her.

"Mulder? Did you hear what I said?"

"Sorry, Scully." My voice shakes. "I...I dropped the phone." I close my eyes and wait for her to say the words that I know will twist a knife in my gut.

"It's Alex Krycek. We finally got him, Mulder."

Suddenly I'm on automatic pilot, asking all the right questions. My mind is going a mile a minute as I try to figure out the best way to get him out of custody and back with me. It's as if I can see myself talking to Scully; it's surreal. I feel so lightheaded I'm afraid that if I move at all, I'll pass out.

"How did you find him?"

"Well, you won't believe it. Apparently he was hit by a car while crossing the street. The driver took off so we don't know if it was an accident or an attempt on his life. Either way, we've got him. He's in the hospital now. I thought you'd want to know as soon as I did."

My legs buckle but I catch myself on the desk before I fall to the floor. I collapse into the chair, the phone clutched to my chest. Despite my attempts to not panic, my heart is about to burst out of my body and I can't breathe. The pressure in my chest is unbearable and I'm suddenly aware of the ridiculous fact that I need to swallow but I can't. I'm gasping for air and my throat is closing. I hear something in the distance and at first I don't know what it is. It almost sounds like a voice, but it's so far away and tinny. All I know is it's not Alex.

"Mulder? Are you there?" There it is again.

I look at the phone in my hand and lift it too my ear.

"Mulder? Hello?" It's Scully's voice. My mouth knows what to do so I answer her and ask where Alex is. She tells me and I watch in amazement as my hand writes down the information. After I hang up the phone, I concentrate on standing up. I tell myself that the sooner I get to the hospital the sooner I can see Alex. It seems to work because suddenly I'm grabbing my jacket and heading out the door.

Somehow I manage to get onto the road without killing myself. The drive gives me the time to gather my wits. He's still alive. He's not dead. I keep repeating the words like a mantra that will help make sense of all of this. I surprise myself when I slam my hand on the steering wheel and scream. I think it was Alex's name.

*****

When I get to the hospital, the first person I see is Scully.

"Mulder, are you okay?" I don't know if I look as panicked as I feel, but she looks at me with such concern, I figure I must. She shakes her head slightly. "That's a stupid question. We've found the man who's responsible for your father's death. Of course you're going to be emotional."

I nod. "Yeah, where is he?"

"Mulder, considering the way you feel about this man, I don't know if you should see him. I don't think it would be safe for either of you at this point."

"No, I need to see him." I don't realize I'm shouting until I notice the curious looks from the people around us.

Scully takes my elbow and walks with me. She lowers her voice. "Mulder, you're not going to be able to get anything out of him right now."

"What happened?" My voice catches in my throat and it's taking every ounce of my will power to not break down. Why won't she just let me see him?

"Well, like I said on the phone, it was a hit and run. Witnesses say the driver didn't even slow down. Both of his legs are broken and most of the bones in his face are fractured. Apparently his face hit the windshield so when they brought him in he was unrecognizable. When they checked for any identification, he had a wallet full of fake IDs. The nurse in charge told the police, who were here to investigate the hit and run. They ran the pictures and guess whose file popped up? It's like everything just fell into place."

Goddammit. How many times had I told him to get rid of all those fucking fake IDs? It's too late for that now. All that matters is that I can see him and that he's alive.

"Where is he?"

"Mulder, he's unconscious. They did a CT scan and there is some swelling in his brain. He can't tell you--"

"Goddammit! Where the hell is he?!"

Her face is a mask of pure shock. I've never screamed at her before but I can't be bothered with her feelings right now. I need to be with Alex. I don't give a shit if she knows about us. I'll take out a full page ad in every major paper in the country declaring my love for him if she will just tell me where he is. Without a word, she takes my hand and walks me down the hallway. There's an armed guard outside his door.

"Mulder, I don't think you should be alone with him."

"Scully, please. I need to see him. I won't hurt him."

She nods at the guard and he moves aside. I'm grateful to her for not pushing the issue further.

I open the door, leaving Scully outside. My stomach tightens into knots at the sight of my poor Alex, his face bandaged, tubes and wires coming out of him. The monitor he's hooked up to is sounding out its steady rhythm. He looks so helpless lying there. I bite my lip and walk to the bed, looking down on the sleeping form of my lover, wanting to kill the first person I see if it brings him back to me. I need to find who did this to him. I need to make someone pay for the pain he's in. I need.....I need him.

I sit down next to the bed and gingerly take his hand. It's so cold. Why is it so cold? I bring it to my lips and kiss it, the tears I don't notice falling from my eyes, dripping onto his cool skin. He smells like the hospital and I realize I don't want this cold, sterile Alex. I want my Alex back. The one who calls me at work just to say he loves me, then hangs up before I can say a word back. I want the Alex who wrestles me for the remote and then puts on what I wanted to watch anyway. What have they done with him?

"Alex?" My voice doesn't come out above a whisper. I have to make sure he hears me. "Alex?" I say it louder. I swear I feel him squeeze my hand, but it's just my imagination. He's not moving.

"Baby, I'm so sorry if I upset you before you left. I know you said that you were fine, but in case you weren't, I...I'm so sorry." I hold his hand between both of mine in an attempt to warm it. I press it to my cheek and imagine that he's going to wake up and caress my face. Then he'll laugh at me for being so worried about him.

I stare at the motionless form in front of me. It's hard for me to believe that this is the same man I was with this morning. The bandages on his face cover every inch of his face. I can't even see his beautiful eyelashes. There isn't a trace of him anywhere. His legs are encased in casts and I notice some dark bruises and cuts on his arms. I close my eyes.

"Please be okay. I don't know what I'll do without you. Who else will keep me in line, huh? If you don't come out of this, I can't..." My voice cracks and lay my head down on his arm, crying as I kiss him from his wrist to the crook of his elbow. I will it to be enough to bring him out of this.

"God, Alex, I promise I'm not going to let them hurt you. We're going to walk out of here together and they'll never take you away from me."

I hear someone at the door and I let go of his hand. Standing quickly, I wipe my eyes.

"Mulder, are...are you okay?" It's Scully and her voice is so full of genuine concern for me, I want nothing more than to tell her what has happened to me over the past few months. I want to tell her that I love Alex and that I want to take him home and take care of him.

I keep my back to her so she doesn't see my reddened eyes. "What do the doctors have to say?"

"They said that he isn't in any immediate danger. His brain needs time for the swelling to go down. That could take up to six months and even then there's no guarantee that he'll have full mental and physical capabilities when he wakes up. Of course, that's assuming he wakes up at all. I'm sorry Mulder, but I don't know if you're going to get the answers you want from him."

Her words are more than I can take and I fall back into the chair. I bury my face in my hands. This can't be happening. How could everything have been so normal this morning, and now I'm in my lover's hospital room? Why the fuck did this have to happen now? We'd finally gotten beyond the bullshit and actually had some semblance of a life together. I raise my head and look at the man that has meant so much to me for so long. It hasn't all been good or right, and at this point in time I regret every trace of hostility that there ever was between us. Had I the ability to go back in time at this moment, I would erase every ill word, every fight, every time I put my hands on him with the intention of hurting him.

I hear Scully walk up behind me and feel her place her hands on my shoulders.

"Mulder, I know you're upset..."

She stops talking when I reach out my hand and take Alex's. I bring it to my lips and kiss it.

"Mulder..." I feel her take her hands off me and I'm vaguely aware of the curiosity in her voice. I don't care anymore. Without Alex, my life is over. The last thing I'm going to worry about are my colleagues and my job when my lover's in some fucking hospital bed. God, all that wasted time. All the games. I hate Alex for not letting me love him longer than I've been allowed to. I hate myself even more for all the times I hurt him knowing how I felt about him. Things could have been so different if I'd told him sooner.

"Mulder?" This time I turn my head to look at her. Her eyes are full of questions. I'm surprised to see compassion and understanding in them as well. Her pity is more than I can take and I turn away.

"Scully, help me. What can I do?"

"There's not much you can do. I'm sorry. What he needs most right now is time. The nature of his injury..." I wonder why she's paused. I look at her.

"Tell me what happened."

She looks down at her hands before she continues. "His face bore the brunt of the impact when he hit the windshield. The people who saw it said that his head shattered the glass."

I close my eyes and kiss his hand. "Scully, if..." I curse myself for using that word. It's like I'm giving up on him. "When he wakes up, will he be the same?"

She sighs and rubs my back. "Mulder, that's hard to say. If you mean physically, his legs should heal normally and with plastic surgery, the facial injuries will eventually be repaired."

"What exactly happened to his face?" I look at the bandages again and try to imagine his beautiful face under them, crushed beyond recognition.

"Mulder, I told you that he has fractured..."

"What exactly? I want to know. Please."

"I don't know how.....Mulder, almost all the bones in his face were broken. His nose was crushed, the cheekbones, forehead and jaw were shattered. He....there are a lot of cuts and abrasions."

"Okay." I don't know what else to say to her. His face is gone. I don't care if he's scarred for life, just as long as he wakes up.

"Well, I'll leave you two alone."

After Scully closes the door, I turn my attention back to Alex. God, Alex, how much did you feel? How much pain were you in before you slipped into unconsciousness? Did you feel the car hitting you, feel the bones in your legs breaking? Were you terrified when you saw the windshield about to crush your face? Alex, did you call my name and wonder why I wasn't there to help you?

The door opens and a nurse comes in. "Sir, I need to change his bandages now."

"Can't I stay in here while you do that?"

"Perhaps you shouldn't." She smiles and I think about it. Maybe she's right. I get up and leave him, feeling guilty and incredibly apprehensive as I do.

Scully sees me walk out of Alex's room and takes my arm.

"I thought you'd want to go to the chapel with me, Mulder. It'll be quiet."

We walk down the hallway to a small room marked "chapel." Scully enters and I follow her. This is the closest I've been to a church in years and I feel out of place. Despite the fact that I don't subscribe to any religion, I can't help thinking that a chapel isn't the place to discuss my murderous lover and his current condition. It's a matter of respect for the solemnity of our surroundings as well. If someone else walks in while Scully and I are talking, they should be allowed to use this room for its intended purpose without the distraction of our talking.

"Scully, isn't there someplace else we could talk? An empty room or something?"

"Why?"

"I don't think the things we're going to talk about mix with the pews."

"Oh, okay. I'm sure we can find something."

I follow her out and watch as she goes to the nurses' station. One of the nurses points to a door down the hall and Scully smiles. She motions me over.

"They said we can talk in that conference room."

We enter and Scully closes the door. Feeling suddenly uncomfortable, I look around the room, taking in the sterile, nondescript decor that is representative of possibly every hospital conference room in the country. Scully doesn't say anything and we both stand there knowing that we need to talk, but not knowing how to start.

I decide to break the awkward silence. "Scully, don't you want to know why?"

She pauses before she answers. It's apparent she's trying to choose her words carefully. "I don't need to know why. You're the one who has to live with this relationship, not me. You don't need my approval or my understanding."

I look at her. "That's it?"

"Okay, yes, I have to admit that I wonder how you can love someone who has betrayed you. And I'm not just talking about your father. He made you trust him and then he destroyed that trust without any remorse."

"You don't know that, Scully. You don't know him. You don't know what he's been through."

"Fine, then let's talk about what he's done to me. Even if you can forgive what he's done to you, what about me, Mulder? You're not the only one this guy has hurt."

"Scully, you know he didn't kill your sister." I keep talking before she can respond. "I don't expect you to forget about his involvement with your abduction. I just want you to understand where I'm coming from."

"Why do I have to understand? Isn't it enough for me to accept it without necessarily understanding it?"

"But why would you accept it--"

"Mulder, I care about you. That's why I won't judge you. I think I'm allowed to wonder about your decisions, but that's not the same as judging you. Does that make sense?"

I nod my head.

"Besides, if Alex is the reason you've been looking so happy for the past few months, then I can't fault him for that. Obviously, he's had quite an impact on your life." She takes my hand in hers. "I'm so sorry that this happened."

"Thank you, Scully." Her words and support touch me and I feel such gratitude. The compassion she's displaying is a welcome and surprising alternative to how she could have reacted.

She smiles at me, then looks down at our hands. "Mulder, about his being in custody..."

I pull my hand out of her grasp. "Scully, I can't let him be taken away."

"He's a wanted man, Mulder. Too many people know he's here. Skinner called to make sure that we're doing everything we can to ensure he stays in custody."

I scoff at her words. "I don't think he's going anywhere, Scully. You can tell Skinner not to worry."

"We also have to protect him from the people who most likely made this attempt on his life."

"What makes you think this was deliberate?"

"Well, I spoke to the police again while you were with him, and they said that the witnesses they talked to said it looked like more than a hit and run. Not only did the driver not attempt to avoid him or slow down, he or she actually directed the car at Alex when he tried to get out of the way."

Scully's words wash over me and I feel as if I've been sucker punched. Some son of a bitch ran Alex down like an animal and will probably try to finish the job once it's been discovered the attempt was unsuccessful. "Oh god. Scully, he's still in danger."

"Now that I know about the two of you, I am going to do my best to make sure he stays safe."

"Until he goes to prison, right?"

"Mulder, you know that he has to answer to the authorities for his crimes."

"I know that. I've been working at the same agency you have, Scully. I can't just forget that."

"Then why did you get involved with him?" She raises her voice and I can't tell if its out of frustration or concern. "If you've been together for all this time, you've obviously been harboring a fugitive. Do you understand how much trouble you will be in if that ever gets out?"

The last thing I need is Scully telling me what I have at stake. It's not as if I haven't thought about it before now. As much as I appreciate her support, I wonder what the hell she's trying to say to me. Before I can censor myself, I lash out at her.

"Are you going to turn me in, Scully? Are you going to run to Skinner and tell him who I've been playing footsie with? Well, guess what? It's been going on for a lot longer than you think." I spit the words out at her and even the shocked expression on her face isn't enough to stop me. "Yeah, Scully. Alex Krycek has been fucking me for months. It's really easy to forget about his crimes when he's in my bed. Even you wouldn't want to turn him in."

"Mulder, don't---"

"Why not? You already think I'm a criminal. I should just come clean, right? You know how many times he would come to me after he'd just killed someone? Did I care? Hell, no. All I wanted was for him to give me what I needed. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was in love with him. I think I have been since he and I were partners." I stop and see the expression on her face as if for the first time. What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I taking this out on my one ally in this whole thing? "Scully, I--I'm sorry. I don't even know what I'm saying or why I'm telling you this." I sit down in one of the chairs and take a deep breath. "I can't let him go to prison. I love him"

"Mulder, you don't have a choice."

I shake my head. "There's always a choice, Scully."

"Does he love you?"

I don't expect her question. "What? Of course he does."

"How do you know?"

"He told me. He tells me all the time. He...he shows me." I see Scully blush slightly and can imagine what she's thinking. "Scully, he's so different when he's with me. I know how much he loves me and I think he needs me as much as I need him."

She sighs and sits down next to me. "Mulder, do you know what you're doing?"

"For the first time, I'm absolutely sure about what I'm doing." I take her hand. "I'm so sorry for what I said to you before. I was way out of line."

"It's forgotten, okay?"

I look at her in utter disbelief. How the hell can she be so understanding about this whole thing? I realize I shouldn't question it and just take it for what it is, but I'm touched by her behavior. I know that she'll help me through this.

I stand up and walk to the door. "My career is over, Scully." My back is to her. "The minute the Bureau finds out about this, I'm finished."

I hear her stand up and feel her hand as it rests on my back. "How are they going to find out? No one knows about the two of you. No one has seen or heard anything."

"Thank you." She rubs my back slowly and I appreciate the contact. "Do you think the nurse has finished changing his bandages?"

"Yes, but I think you need to go home."

I turn around to look at her. "Why? I just got here."

"Look, if you're here too long, people will start to wonder why you have such an interest in him."

"The Bureau knows about my history with him."

"That's true, but you're not acting like a man who's finally going to see justice served."

"I can't just leave him."

"I'm not suggesting you do that. Just go home and put on some more appropriate clothes. You can come back and say that you want to make sure he has the proper protection in case another attempt is made on his life."

I reluctantly agree with her. I won't be gone all day, just long enough to change and come right back.

"Okay. I'm going to go home and get dressed. Will you stay here and watch him until I get back?"

She nods.

"I'll be back as soon as I can. If anything changes, I want you to call me."

"Of course."

*****

I walk into my apartment and I almost expect him to come out of the kitchen, grinning at me and asking if his G-man caught any bad guys. How did I live alone for all these years? The three months we've been living together has completely changed my home. Alex has managed to make his presence known in every inch of my apartment. I see and feel him everywhere.

I tell myself to focus. I need to change so I walk into the bedroom and go to the closet. As I open the door and see his few clothes hanging there, I remember that we have a date to go shopping for some new things. He's been resisting me but I've finally succeeded in wearing him down. I knew it was just a matter of time before I bent him to my will. When he gets home...For a second I'd forgotten about him being in the hospital. How the hell could I do that?

I notice the T-shirt he was wearing yesterday is on the floor next to the closet. I reach down and pick it up. Clutching it to my face, I breathe in his scent. I want so desperately to touch his face and kiss his mouth, it makes me ache. I want to feel his hand trailing down my back and his lips kissing me between my shoulder blades as we make love. I take another breath and imagine the way his arms feel around me right before we fall asleep and how his warm, steady breathing tickles the back of my neck.

Last night we had decided to plan a trip together. I don't know if he was just placating me, but he'd smiled at me as I described the places I wanted to go with him. He'd nodded when I'd asked him if he thought Graceland should be made a national treasure. Then I'd pinned him under me and kissed his laughing mouth after I saw the face he'd made when he thought I wasn't looking. At that moment I had been so content to go anywhere with him and live out the rest of our days in relative peace. As he held me before we fell asleep, he'd told me that if anything ever happened to him, he wanted me to go on with my life. I told him that if anything ever happened to him, I wouldn't have a life. He'd laughed softly and said I didn't have one now. Then he told me he loved me. His hot breath against my cheek was more comforting than anything I'd felt before.

I look at my watch and realize I've been sitting on the floor for an hour. I stand up and start to change into one of my suits. As I put on the jacket and slip my badge into the breast pocket, my fingers graze something. I pull out a slip of paper. Unfolding it, I immediately recognize Alex's handwriting.

I just wanted you to think about me today.

Oh god, babe. There's no way I could ever do anything else.

*****

When I return to the hospital, I am surprised to see Skinner there with Scully. I'm glad that I heeded Scully's advice and changed. I feel like I can at least pretend to function in an official capacity if I'm armed with my badge and my gun.

"Agent Mulder." Skinner acknowledges me curtly.

"Sir."

"You must be glad to see this man finally in custody where he belongs. We all have a lot of questions for him."

I nod my head slowly and glance at Scully. She smiles and it helps me.

"Agent Scully was just telling me that we may have to wait a while before we can learn anything from him. I'm going to make arrangements for him to be transferred to the prison infirmary."

My heart stops. "But Sir, he's still in a coma. I don't think he'd be safe if we move him." I fight to keep the desperation I'm feeling out of my voice.

"Agent Mulder, he will be well guarded."

"Sir, I don't think he should be moved right now." My mind is racing as I try to think of a way to stall him.

"Agent Mulder has a point, Sir," Scully says quickly. "It may be too risky to move him at this point in time. Perhaps a few more days will be sufficient to ensure his safe transfer." I could kiss her.

Skinner looks at her, then at me. "Fine. I'll make the arrangements for the prisoner to be moved in three days, barring any unforeseen complications."

Scully nods. "That would probably be best."

"Agent Mulder, I sincerely hope this isn't an attempt on your part to have access to the prisoner. I know you hate this man, but you'll only hurt yourself if anything happens to him."

My throat is dry. "Sir, I can assure you, I do not want to harm this man."

"Fine. I will see both of you tomorrow morning."

I wait until he is out of the hospital before I say anything to Scully.

"Why did you tell him that?"

"I don't know. I suppose I think you should have a few more days with him."

"Why?"

She looks up at me and I'm taken back by the tears I see in her eyes. "Mulder, do you know how much I care about you? I don't want to see you hurt. I want to do whatever I can to help you. If this is all I can do, then so be it."

I put my arms around her and hold her close to me. I'm touched by her loyalty and display of emotion. "Scully, your support means so much to me. Thank you."

"You don't have to thank me, Mulder." She looks up at me. "To tell you the truth, I'm a little jealous of Alex."

My mouth drops open and I stare at her, shocked. "Why on earth are you jealous?"

She smiles. "Well, you and I have been partners for so much longer than you and he ever were. I've never even gotten a real kiss from you." I'm about to start stuttering like an idiot when she winks at me.

"God, Scully, you scared the shit out of me."

"Gee, thanks."

"No, I meant--"

"Mulder, you're too easy." She grins and for the first time since I got here, I feel a little better. She steps back. "Why don't you go see Alex. I'm gonna head home."

"I'll see you tomorrow morning."

"Okay."

As soon as she leaves I go to Alex's room. I don't recognize the guard standing outside his room so I show him my badge. He nods and steps aside. I take a deep breath then open the door.

Once again I'm struck by how helpless Alex looks lying alone in his hospital bed. It's all I can do to not climb into bed with him, take him into my arms and hold him against my chest until he wakes up. Instead I take off my jacket and drape it over one of the chairs in the room. I move another chair next to the bed and loosen my tie, ready to stay here until they kick me out. I already have a reputation for being crazy, so maybe this will just fill a pattern of seemingly bizarre behavior. I can hear it now. 'Did you hear about Mulder? He spent the night at the hospital with the guy who killed his father. Little obsessive don't you think?' It doesn't matter what they think. I've heard worse.

I take Alex's hand, running my thumb over the knuckles. I bring it to my face and rub it against my cheek. He's so close, I can feel it. He just needs a little help to come back. I shift so I can lean on the bed and put my head down next to his. My lips are inches from his ear.

"Hey, baby. Guess who's our latest ally? Scully! I know, it shocked the hell out of me too. I'm not sure if she's okay with our relationship because you got hurt, or if she would have always been okay with it. What do you think?

"Oh, I should let you know that Skinner wants to move you in a few days. I'm trying to figure out a way to get you released, babe, but you're a very popular guy. You won't believe how many men and women are interested in you. Of course, they're not as interested as I am, but that goes without saying doesn't it? Why in the world did you have to be so good at breaking the law?" I lift my head and look at his bandaged face. I know I'm rambling but, knowing comatose patients can still hear what's going on around them, I want to talk to him and let him know that I'm with him. Maybe the sound of my voice will help him to find his way back to me. I kiss his hand, holding it to my lips for a few minutes before rubbing it against my cheek. If I try hard enough I can imagine he's touching me on his own. I sigh and put my head back down next to his.

"You know, I went home to change and I was thinking about the trip we want to plan. I know you were just humoring me, but what do you say, as soon as you're better, we go to Hawaii? Or how about Mexico or Jamaica? We don't have to go anywhere that touristy if you don't want to. I'll go anywhere you want. Hell, why don't we just run away to South America and be done with the whole damn thing? Do you think you could get used to the easy life? I sure could.

"I got your note. Do you have any idea how often I think about you during the day? God, I think about you more than anything I've ever thought about, even sex. Of course, when I think of you, sex isn't that far behind. Not that I just love you for your body. You do know that don't you? Don't laugh at me, but as much as I love your body, I love your mind and your heart so much more. Even if we could never make love again, I wouldn't care. Something tells me that somewhere deep in that brain of yours, you're laughing your ass off right now. Go ahead, have a good chuckle at your boyfriend's expense. Sometimes I don't think you realize how brilliant and loving you are. I could talk to you for hours about anything and be content simply because you're with me.

"I don't want to go home tonight. Even if I sleep on the couch, I can't imagine being alone. Do you see what you've done to me? You've taken over my whole life, Alex. I've never been happier." Just when I thought I had things under control, I feel my throat constricting as my emotions start to get the better of me.

"Alex," I whisper. "You'd better damn well come out of this. Maybe you can cut a deal and they'll let you go. You've got to wake up, sweetie. Come on."

The sound of someone opening the door startles me and I stand up quickly, straightening my tie. A nurse walks over to the bed.

"Sir, visiting hours are over. You'll have to leave."

"But I'm a Federal Agent. I'm here to guard this man."

"Then I'm afraid you'll have to guard him outside. He needs his rest now." She checks his monitors and IV. When I don't move she fixes me with a look they must teach in nursing school. "Sir. I must insist that you leave."

I look at Alex, wanting to say good-bye to him but with Florence Nightingale's evil twin staring me down, it's not going to happen. If I could tell her what he means to me, I wonder if she'd let me stay. I immediately dismiss it as a ridiculous thought since I can't risk anyone besides Scully knowing. I look at Alex longingly, silently telling him how much I love him. With a silent prayer that he'll hear me somehow, I pick up my jacket and walk out.

"Heading home?"

I look at the man guarding Alex's room. "Actually, I think I'll stick around for a little while longer. I'm going to get some coffee. You want anything?"

He shakes his head. "I'm fine thanks. My relief should be here soon."

"Okay. You're doing a great job, by the way. Thank you." I mean it but can't decide if the guy thinks I'm being a smartass. He doesn't say anything so I figure he knows I'm sincere.

I put on my jacket and stop at the nurses' station to ask where I can get some coffee. They point me towards a room housing several vending machines. I put some money into the coffee machine and watch a paper cup drop down and rapidly fill with swamp colored swill. As the smell wafts upward, I think about how I'd give anything for some of the heavenly brew I had this morning. My god, was it just this morning? Looking at my watch, I'm shocked to see that it's only ten o'clock. How can it be possible that I haven't been here for days? I pick up the cup of what they have the nerve to call coffee and, against my better judgment, take a sip. There was a time when I would drink this stuff by the gallon but living with Alex has spoiled me for anything less than the best. The second my taste buds register the filth, I realize I'm forever ruined for institutional coffee. I throw it away and walk back to Alex's room.

When I pass the nurses' station, one of them waves to get my attention. I walk over to her slowly.

"Yes?"

"Who is he?" Her voice is low and conspiratorial.

"Who?"

"The man you're here to watch. Is he one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted?"

I lean in close and whisper. "That's classified information. Tell no one that you asked and everything should be okay."

The expression on her face is priceless. Alex would love it. I must remember to tell him when I go in to see him again. I'm hoping to sneak back into his room tonight, but Florence isn't too far away and she looks like a ballbuster if I ever saw one. Resigning myself to sit with the worried masses in the waiting area, I take a seat in one of the Day-Glo orange chairs. A young woman to my left is crying softly and I wonder who she's here for. As if she feels me looking at her, she raises her head and catches my eyes before I can look away. She smiles slightly and wipes her eyes.

"I've been here for hours and they won't tell me anything."

"What happened?" It helps me to talk to someone else even if it's only for a few minutes.

"It's my dad. He had brain surgery and I haven't heard anything since they told me he came through okay. They won't let me in to see him because he's in ICU. When I ask to speak to a doctor, they just tell me that someone will talk to me and then I don't hear anything." She starts to cry again and I feel a pang of sympathy for her suffering.

"Come with me." I stand up and put my hand out to her. She takes it and we walk to the nurses' station.

"Excuse me," I say to the nurse who asked me about Alex earlier. I gesture to the woman beside me. "This young woman is waiting for information about her father and has not been told anything for the past few hours. Can you see to it that someone gets out here to update her ASAP?"

"Yes, of course."

"And make sure she gets to see him." I know I'm out of line, but maybe using my position can help this kid even if it couldn't help me stay with Alex.

The nurse nods and looks at her. "What's his name, dear?"

She turns to me, her eyes wide. "Thank you."

"If you have anymore problems, let me know." I go back to sit down and feel a little less helpless. If I can't do anything to help Alex right now, at least I can be of some use to somebody.

*****

I've read every damn magazine here. Since most of them are circa 1990, it's almost like a lesson on recent history. I look at my watch and see that it's one o'clock. I sneak a look at the nurses' station and, not seeing anyone who could stop me from going into Alex's room, casually walk to his door. I show the new guard my badge and, like his predecessor, he steps aside and allows me entrance. I'm grateful that he doesn't question why I'm going into Alex's room at this hour, but I'm also concerned that it's not an indication of his lack of vigilance in his duty. It's a good thing I'm still here.

The only illumination in the room comes from a small light next to his bed. Alex lies eerily quiet and still, the lights and blips of the monitors the only indication that he is alive. A surreal thought flashes across my mind and I'm sure this is all a joke. I expect him to sit up, yank the bandages off his face, and tell me how gullible I am. As the beeps drone steadily and nothing happens, I realize this is all real and he's not waking up any time soon. I sit down in the chair that is still beside the bed, and take his hand, content to stay here watching over him, feeling his skin against mine. As I slowly entwine our fingers, I'm reminded of the times he would reach for my hand and do the same. He said he liked how it felt as if our hands were becoming one, then he'd look a little embarrassed and I'd kiss him to let him know that I thought he was wonderful. I lean forward and kiss the side of his face, barely feeling the rough surface of the bandages brush against my lips. With a sigh I lay my head down next to his and watch his chest rise and fall, taking whatever comfort I can in the steady rhythm.

I'm suddenly aware of a hand gently shaking my shoulder. I open my eyes, feeling disoriented and groggy. When it dawns on me where I am and what I've been doing, I sit up with a start.

"I--It's not what it looks like." I stammer and stand up, trying to straighten my hair and think of a way to explain.

The nurse, a middle-aged woman with a kind face and gentle smile, doesn't say anything. I watch as she checks on the IV and takes Alex's pulse. When she finishes tending to him, she looks at me.

"It looks like you care about him," she states matter-of-factly. "I only woke you up because my shift ends soon and I wasn't sure if you'd want someone else seeing you with him."

I look at the time. It's six o'clock which means she had to have come in to check on him while I was sleeping. "Thank you for letting me stay."

She tilts her head slightly and squints. "Well, I didn't think your being in here would disturb him, especially since you were fast asleep."

"I appreciate that. I would also appreciate your discretion."

"It's nobody's business what I saw." She starts to leave, then pauses. "Things aren't looking good for you two."

I'm stunned by her non sequitur. "What do you mean?"

"We just got the call that arrangements are being made to move him tonight."

That can't be right. Skinner said he'd wait. "Excuse me?"

"Aren't you supposed to know about these things?"

"I thought I was," I say, mostly to myself.

"It's a shame. I'm sorry." She smiles sympathetically then walks out.

I look down at Alex. "Baby, I'm going to talk to Skinner." I take his hand and kiss it quickly. "I'll be back as soon as I can. I love you."

I walk out of Alex's room so angry I can't see straight. I take out my cell phone and dial Skinner's home number. There's no answer. I curse and walk quickly out of the hospital to my car.

*****

Since it's still early when I get to the Hoover, I'm not sure if Skinner will be there yet. No matter, I will wait for him. I go upstairs to his office and see his door is open. When I walk in, I see him sitting at his desk and I can smell cigarette smoke in the air.

"Agent Mulder. What are you doing here?" He's surprised to see me.

I stand in front of his desk. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Pardon me?"

"Why are you moving Krycek tonight?"

He frowns. "How do you know about that?"

"That doesn't matter. Why are you doing it?"

"I spoke to his doctors myself and they said there was no reason why he could not be moved. I have a matter to discuss with you as well, Agent Mulder. I received word that you spent the night at the hospital."

I feel my face start to burn. "Who told you that?"

"The man who was assigned to watch his door all night. He wanted to know why he had to be there if a Federal Agent was already assigned."

"Sir, I--"

"Mulder, I don't know what is going on, but I think it would be best if you stayed away from Krycek until this matter has been handled."

"Sir?"

"You are not to have any more contact with the prisoner until he is able to be questioned, is that clear?"

"What? You can't do that!"

"If I have reason to believe that you may harm him, I am well within my rights to take any action to ensure his safety."

I can't believe what I'm hearing. How can he think I'd hurt Alex? I know that's a ridiculous question considering the way I've treated him in the past, but, god, if only I could tell him what Alex means to me. I'm not an idiot. I know that if the true nature of our relationship comes out, I still won't be allowed to see him because they'll know I have a vested interest in getting him out of custody. I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. "Sir, if I wanted to harm him, I had ample opportunity."

"I don't understand what you were doing with him, but this is evidence that you are becoming obsessed."

"Sir, are you trying to keep me away because you believe I may harm him? Or do you want me out of the way so the people who made this attempt on his life can have better access to him?" The words are out of my mouth before I can think about what I'm saying. I'm willing to risk his anger if it means a chance to see Alex.

"Agent Mulder," his steady, even tone surprises me. "I am ordering you to stay away from the hospital because I believe you are a threat to the life of the man in custody. If you disobey you will be arrested and relieved of your duties. Now is that understood?"

"No, it is not understood!" I know I'm shouting and could draw some unwelcome attention if anyone is nearby, but don't care. "I won't let you do this."

"You don't have a choice. Hospital security has been notified."

I walk around his desk until I am standing inches from him. He can't seem to meet my eyes. "I won't let them get away with this. I will find a way to stop it."

"If you insist on being involved in this matter, you have two choices. You can be taken into custody now as a precautionary measure, or you can go home and consider yourself on suspension until further notice."

I lean down and lower my voice. "Sir, what do they have on you? Why are you doing this?"

He turns his head and we are eye to eye. I try to read his expression, but all he reveals is the same stoic facade I've seen since he became my supervisor. "Go home, Agent Mulder."

"Sir, I will. May I ask you one thing?"

"What is it?"

"Will you allow Agent Scully to accompany Krycek when he is being transferred?" It's a long shot, but I have to ask. If I can't be with him, I'd like for someone who at least knows about the two of us and who I trust to be there.

He seems to mull it over and then agrees. "Agent Scully can ride in the ambulance with him. I trust her to be objective should anything happen to him during or after the transfer."

"What are you talking about?" I cannot believe that he is being so careless. Is he trying to help me by telling me that something's going to happen during the transfer? Does he want Scully there to save Alex if an attempt is made? My head is spinning as I try to make sense of what is going on.

"You are dismissed, Agent Mulder." He turns his attention back to his work. Our conversation is officially over.

I leave his office and once I'm out of earshot, call my partner.

She answers after the first ring.

"It's me. I need you to help me. Skinner wants to move Alex tonight."

"What? Why?"

"He talked to his doctors and found out he can be moved. Can you help me?"

"Of course. What do you want me to do?"

"If we can't stop this, I want you to be with him when they take him. Skinner said you could ride with Alex."

"Why? Where are you going to be?"

"Skinner told me I can't have any contact with Alex until he's ready to answer our questions. I'm suspended until further notice."

"Suspended? What's going on, Mulder?"

"He says it's because he thinks I'm a danger to Alex, but I believe it's so they can make another attempt on his life."

"Mulder, I don't think they'd be that obvious."

"Scully, I can't take any chances. Just make sure he's okay."

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know. I'll call you if I can think of anything to delay this."

I hang up and put my phone back in my pocket. My mind is racing. Assuming Scully manages to thwart any attempt on Alex's life, he's still going to be in prison. Even after he wakes up, there's no guarantee that he'll be able to make a deal and get released. Why the fuck can't I do anything to help him?

I go down to my car and get in, feeling more helpless than I ever have. Letting out an angry cry, I punch the dashboard, not feeling the pain as I scrape the skin from my knuckles. This cannot be happening. My life is not ending. I lay my head on the steering wheel and breathe shakily, finally giving in to my frustration and letting the tears flow. God, Alex, I don't know what to do. I try to think of what he would do. He's so damn good at bucking the system, I know he'd find a way to save himself. I'm disgusted with my uselessness. Completely dejected, I start my car and head home.

*****

My apartment is the last place I want to be, but I'm glad that I can feel him surrounding me. I collapse on my couch and turn on the television, absently flipping through the channels in a vain attempt to temporarily distract myself from my situation. If I dwell on it, I will go crazy.

After making the rounds of all the insipid morning talk shows, I angrily turn off the television and stand up. What the fuck am I doing? I need to be thinking of a way to help Alex! My stomach is in knots and I want to shoot someone. Though the impulse disturbs me, the thought of shedding blood is the only thing that satisfies and comforts me at this moment. I wonder if this is how Alex feels sometimes and if it's what makes it so easy for him to treat life as if it has no value. How ironic that I'm desperate to save the life of a man who is responsible for who knows how many deaths. Why do I deserve to have him alive when I've just sat by and allowed him to get away with so much? I may not have pulled the trigger, but perhaps this is my way of being punished for looking the other way when he did. Fuck. Now I sound like the universe is conspiring against me. Sometimes shit happens, Fox. The world doesn't revolve around you. Get the hell over it.

Properly chastised, I turn on my computer, hoping that a little web surfing will calm me down until I can think of something. I don't expect much, but anything is better than these feelings of helplessness and anxiety. I notice I have another email from Byers. He's sent me the rest of the information about Alex's financial status and I'm very impressed. My god, he could buy and sell people left and right. As I look at the string of numbers on my monitor, I'm struck by inspiration. There has got to be someone who can pull some strings and get him released and I could spend a chunk of that money trying to make that happen. With the right help and for the right price, anything's possible. I shoot off an email to the guys to see if they can recommend anyone who can help me out. I know that I'm running out of time.

*****

It's almost midnight when the phone rings. I answer it on the first ring.

"Mulder, it's me."

I've been waiting for her to call and let me know what happened with Alex. My heart feels as if it's about to burst through my chest as I wait for her to tell me.

"Did he make it?"

"No." I know that she's careful about what she says to me because in all likelihood, my line is not secure. "He was pronounced dead en route."

The words echo in my ear as their meaning begins to sink in. Afraid that my voice will betray what I'm feeling, I don't react to what she has told me. I swallow hard and will myself to not slam the phone down and head out of my apartment.

"I've already filed the autopsy report and Skinner wants us in his office tomorrow morning to get the details of what happened. I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Yeah." I barely choke the word out and hang up, my thoughts a mad jumble as the enormity of what she's told me finally hits me full force. I race to the bedroom and fling open the closet doors. Every sign that he was ever in my life needs to be eradicated. Nothing can be left to ever show that we had a life here together. I find a box and go through my apartment gathering up his things, erasing every sign of him from my life. The life we created together is over and I don't want there to be any evidence left behind for people to misunderstand once I'm gone.

When I'm satisfied I've removed any evidence that he was ever here, I tape the box shut. All that's left for me now is to make a few final arrangements. I sit down at my desk and take out some paper and a pen. Before I begin to write my letters, I glance at my empty fish tank. I never did have much luck with the poor fish that were unfortunate enough to end up there. I'll tell Scully she should take it because I'm sure she'll be able to fill it and keep the occupants alive for longer than I ever could. It may seem trivial, but I know she'll think of me when she looks at it. As I start Scully's note, I realize that Frohike's finally going to get my tape collection. I hope he gets more pleasure from them than they gave me. Having Alex in my life was better than anything I'd seen or done before. I close my eyes as I think about him and what I'm prepared to do to be with him. I'm not afraid.

=====end=====

fam22771@aol.com