Chapter 12 of the EATING series.

Author: Josan

Beta: Solan

Date: September, 1999

Summary: Alex talks about his past.


Pairing: Sk/K

Rating: NC-17




Archive: Archive/X, Ratlover, Gossamer.

Any others if you ask: just so I know where this is travelling to.

Comments: jmann@mondenet.com

DISCLAIMER: These are the property of CC, Fox and 1013. They should treat them better




Walter came back from "giving his opinion on the lumber Gene wanted to buy" -- actually coffee and conversation up at the college cafeteria -- to find Alex and his mother laughing over family pictures. At least with Sharon, his mother had waited a good year into their marriage to pull out the family photograph albums. She knew how he hated those early ones when he was all ears and nose.

Still, he did get his back when he went to get something out of Alex's knapsack and saw the pink ballerina room. His mother looked slightly embarrassed, told him to move Alex's things into his room.

She was half way down the stairs when he said, "Mom." She turned to look at him over her shoulder. "Thanks, Mom." And knew she understood that it was for more than suggesting the move.

Now awake, because he often found it difficult to sleep in a strange bed, Walter was propped up on an elbow, examining the face of the man sleeping next to him, in the over-long queensized bed in his mother's house.

"What are you looking at?" Alex's voice was thick with sleep.

"You. I like looking at you when you're not aware of me. Call it a quirk of mine." Walter passed his thumb gently over the stubbled cheek. Alex made a throaty sound, moved so that he lay partially on Walter, snaking his hand around Walter's shoulder. He nestled his face in the crook of Walter's shoulder, his stubble scratching as he made himself comfortable.

Walter cuddled him closer. Seven months ago, Alex would have pulled away from the embrace, would never have initiated it.

"Well" sighed Walter, "not a bad weekend, all things considered."

Alex made another of those throaty sounds of agreement. Then added, "Didn't think it would be so easy."

Walter scoffed. "Yeah, well, you didn't get the gestapo treatment when she got you alone. Still, all things considered, fairly easy." He rubbed his cheek against the dark head. "Will it be easy with your family?"

In all the time they had been together, Alex had never mentioned his family, his life before his working with the FBI. Walter didn't know if this was because Alex didn't feel it was important or because he just didn't want to talk about it. He didn't intend pushing, but still, this was an opportunity to bring the subject up, and he was curious.

Alex grew very still. Walter figured that the hint was enough, that it wasn't going to go further tonight.

When Alex began speaking in a monotone, Walter just kept his mouth shut. He realized quickly that this wasn't easy for Alex, and, now and then, for himself.



"My mother died I was twelve. She hadn't had an easy time being pregnant with me. She'd nearly died when I was born. My father couldn't understand how such a puny baby could cause so much trouble. I barely weighed five pounds at birth; he was used to babies that weighed in closer to ten. Like my sister and my brothers. Like the ones she lost.

"My brothers are about ten months apart in age, about eighteen months older than me. My sister is six years older. All three of them were about twice my size when they were twelve. My father called me 'the runt'. I don't ever remember him using my name. He's a big man, over six foot six. Like my brothers. Back then they all easily weighed in the 250 pound range.

"After she died, the beatings started. Usually around pay time. He got paid twice a month and so twice a month he beat me. I got to be good at not being home when he arrived. At sneaking in after he'd gone to bed. I think he thought the beatings would make a man out of me.

"I hid out in the library a lot. That really bugged him. Books were girl things. Men, real men, didn't waste their time with that sort of thing. My brothers sure didn't. They both repeated grades. But that may also have been because the football coaches liked the size of them. And the fact that they liked to use their muscle.

"I was the family geek. I got good marks at school. Hell, I loved going to school. Some of the teachers really liked having a kid in their classes who actually read ahead for assignments. I know some of them were nice to me because they felt sorry for me. I didn't have any friends because my brothers thought it was fun to intimidate anyone who got friendly with me.

"By the time I hit the last year of high school, I was on my way to a full scholarship. I was even a full year ahead of schedule because I did some courses independently, under teacher supervision.

"My brothers were in the final year classes as well. Except I was in the brown-noser ones and they were in the bozo classes.

"I almost made it out."

It took a long while before Alex continued. Walter said nothing, just held him a bit tighter. It was up to Alex to continue if he wanted to; all he could do was listen.

Finally Alex took a deep breath and took up his story, speaking quickly as if telling it that way would make it easier.

"Three weeks before graduation, I had a line on a full scholarship at the state university. Just needed to keep those final grades up there.

"That night, my father was out somewhere. My brothers and their pals were boozing downstairs. My sister and I were in our bedrooms, doors locked. Like they usually were when there was a drinkfest downstairs.

"A couple of the pals broke my door down, dragged me down the stairs. They announced that it was time the fag got a taste of what was waiting for him in the real world.

"My brothers just stood there, laughing. God, what an idiot I was! I actually thought they would stop it before...

"I know I screamed. Loud enough and long enough for a neighbour to call the cops. I was unconscious by the time they arrived. I still don't know if my two brothers took a turn in me. I think most of their pals did."

"Jesus! Alex!" Walter whispered, trying to hold him closer; Alex rubbed his cheek against his shoulder as if seeking to increase contact. He kept on.

"I wrote my final exams from a hospital bed. Didn't do very well. One of the guidance counsellors wrote a letter to the university explaining my low marks were due to a severe accident that had occurred just before exams. They didn't give me a full scholarship, but a partial one. Said they would upgrade if my first year marks were acceptable.

"My father came to see me. Once." Alex paused. "Told me I had brought shame onto the family. The cops had never had to come to his house before. He hit me. One of the nurses saw him, told him to stop hitting his son. 'Son?' said my father. 'What son? My sons are at home. This one is my daughter.'

"That was the last time I saw him.

"I got my sister to bring over my things from my bedroom. The counsellor was taking me home with her until I could leave. I had about a thousand dollars hidden in a book -- it had taken me two years to earn that money without my father or my brothers finding out and taking it -- something to live on until I could get a job. My sister must have found the money, because it wasn't in the book when I looked for it. And she left town the same day by bus.

"The counsellor gave me a couple of hundred to tide me over and I found a really cheap room to live in. The scholarship only covered tuition, not books, supplies. Back then, computer courses didn't come cheap. And I thought I was real lucky to find two jobs to pay for everything.

"And, for a while, it worked. I think I slept maybe three hours a day, between balancing jobs, school. But I loved it. Even the smells, the noises of the rooming house didn't bother me.

"But then one night I got mugged, lost my money and missed a couple of nights' work. I lost that job. Finally I convinced the guy to give me another chance. He did, but he paid me under the table, and a lot less than before. It was a pizza place and he told me to take the left-overs as part of my pay. At least, it cut down on my food bill, but even today, I can't stand the stuff."

Walter made a mental note to himself about that.

"It was harder and harder to pay attention in class. I kept on falling asleep. My marks were going down. I knew I was losing the scholarship."

Alex bitterly mocked himself, his voice grew harsher. "I started thinking my father was right: I was a fool to think I could do this."

"Then, one night, some guy offered me $25 for a blow job. I'd had lots of guys come on to me, but this time I thought, What the hell, why not prove my father right? I took him up on it. I wasn't very good. I'd never done anything like that before. He was pissed off until he found out I was a 'virgin'. Well, in my mind, I still was. I had never done this before voluntarily.

"Then he offered me $50 to let him fuck me." He waited for Walter to say something.

Walter moved his hand, just stroking, warming the tensed back; Alex's body was beginning to feel cooler against his. He didn't want to speak, to break into Alex's thoughts. He didn't know what to say. This was hard enough for Alex, he didn't need the addition of dealing with his anger at the situation.

"I needed the money. My rent was due and I didn't have it. And just to add to the whole thing, I'd begun growing. I must have grown six inches that year. And not just my height. My shoes didn't fit any more. Every time I turned around, there was another expense I hadn't counted on.

"After that, I hustled. Just enough to make it. I was pretty naive there, too. I learned the hard way not to hustle on weekends. The hookers didn't like it, complained to their pimps.

"Mid-week was okay. It was pretty dead, and I found myself a spot on the street that got me at least one trick every time I stood there, if I waited long enough.

"Then I got beaten up again, this time by some of the hookers. Because, it turned out, I wasn't charging enough. I was charging just enough to make up the shortfall. The new rate meant I could quit my jobs. I caught up on my sleep, started bringing my marks up. But not high enough. I lost the scholarship. But I made enough hustling in bars that summer to take a summer course, to pay the first half of the year, buy my books, buy some clothes that fit. I used my room for clients who wanted more than a blow job. or didn't want to do it in the car. Eventually, I got thrown out of there. But I found another room, closer to the action with a landlord that didn't care what went on in the rooms so long as he got his rent money and a percentage."

Alex felt he had to try and explain, even if Walter didn't understand. "Once classes started, I only hustled when I needed the money, usually with my regular johns, guys I saw maybe once a month. They're the ones who paid for food, for those unexpected extras.

"Just before mid-terms that Christmas, this limo-type car came cruising down the street. I was waiting for one of my regulars, but he hadn't shown up. The driver seemed to be looking for a particular type. He stopped in front of me, nodded towards the back door.

"There was a guy inside. Older."

Walter's gut clenched. He had a feeling he knew what was coming.

"He looked me over and told me to get in. We negotiated price. I had taken a chance that the limo, the driver meant the guy had money. We settled on $200 for the night.

"The driver pulled up to a motel and all three of us went into this room. I made a bit of a fuss. Told him the deal was for one man, not two. He said there was only going to be one: the driver. He just wanted to watch.

"I didn't have any experience with a watcher. I wasn't sure how that worked. Before I could say anything, the man took out his wallet, started pulling out hundreds. Ten of them.

"I remember thinking: a thousand dollars. Shit! If I were careful, that would mean I wouldn't have to hustle for some time. So I did as the driver asked and we gave the man his show. He just smoked the entire time we performed."

Dear God! Walter closed his eyes, rubbed his cheek against the dark head resting so still on his shoulder.

"When we were done, the driver got dressed and left. I started to get dressed too but the Smoker stopped me. Reminded me it was for the night. He told me to stand in front of him. He looked me over, made me turn around, bend forward. He never touched me.

"He called me by name. That scared the shit out of me because I'd never told him and he'd never asked. He said he had a proposition for me. In return for paying all my expenses: that meant tuition, books, living quarters, food, clothes, even a bit of spending money, I was to make myself available to him two weekends a month, Friday after classes to 6 a.m. Monday. He would take into consideration exam time: he wouldn't make use of me then. Same thing if I had a major assignment due. He'd have to check on that, of course, but he wanted me to do well.

"I would also give him any time off from regular classes. Holidays, reading week. We'd discuss the summers when we came to them.

"That way, I could spend whatever time he didn't need me on my studies. I had been recommended to him by someone at the university. I had brains, he'd been told, but was wasting myself, just trying to stay alive. He hated to see a bright mind fail because certain advantages weren't there. He liked to think that this proposition would offer me the advantages I needed. That he liked giving deserving students a chance. He wasn't asking that much from me in return.

"He gave me five minutes to think over his proposition.

"I took it." His voice scorned, "Why not? It wasn't any different than what I was doing right then.

"He was smart about it. He played me well. We went back and cleaned out my room. He already had an apartment. Not in a fancy part of town where I would have felt like a kept toy. But a regular, furnished one-bedroom apartment, in an older part of town. A nice quiet building in a nice quiet district. No drug pushers. No loud parties. No one being beaten up. No whores with their johns.

"No smells.

"He told me he'd see me after exams. He had given me the thousand at the motel, told me to keep that for myself. Gave me another thousand for food and things. I promised him I'd keep an accounting of all the money I spent. He seemed to find that funny."

Alex was quiet for a while, remembering the initial pleasure of having a decent place for himself, peace and quiet, feeling safe for the first time in his life.

"I must have taken a dozen showers those first days. All the hot water I wanted, at any time. Clean sheets. The place came with a washer and dryer. And he did as he promised: he left me alone to get through mid- terms.

"That was something else I wasn't used to: the quiet in the building. I could pull an all-nighter and not have to stuff cotton in my ears.

"God," his voice held the hint of a smile, "I *loved* that place."

Then the bitter mocking tone came back. "He certainly had done his homework on me.

"He and the driver came for me as I got back to the apartment after my last exam. He asked me how they had gone. Seemed truly interested in my evaluation of the exams.

"We drove a couple of hours out of the city. To this really nice cottage by a lake. He introduced me to the three men that lived there. He told me they were going to provide me with some instruction that I would find useful. That he'd pick me up in a couple of weeks.

"I almost panicked there. He hadn't mentioned this as part of the deal. But the guys went out of their way to put my mind at ease. And they did teach me. All sorts of useful skills. And not just for servicing a client. They taught me how to defend myself. With my hands. With a knife. One of them even insisted I learn to shoot a handgun. They thought it was funny that I didn't know how to drive, didn't have a driver's license. They gave me lessons in that, too.

"When the Smoker picked me up, he told me that he wanted me to impress some old competitor of his, and dropped me off at this guy's house. The driver picked me up the next morning, took me home."

"And that's the way it worked. I didn't often see the Smoker. Usually his driver picked me up, drove me to the john's, picked me up later.

"At the end of that school year, I had my marks back up where they should have been. Convinced him to let me take a couple of courses in the spring term, another couple in the summer term to pull my grade average up. He said he liked that initiative in me.

"Just as classes began that fall, I came home from the library to find him in my living room. Before I could say anything, he pointed to the table in the dining area. The latest in top of the line PCs was set up on it. In recognition of the fine work I had been doing in school.

"Jesus, did he know me!" Alex actually gave a bit of a laugh. "Knew that no one had ever given me anything for something my brain did. My teachers had encouraged me, but never anything like this.

"He reminded me that he liked to reward good work.

"So, I gave him good work. In school and out of it. He never mentioned the little jaunts the driver took me on. Only showed up to compliment me on school work, to take me out to supper to show he was interested in me. To give me another reward. Like a car. Not a new one, but one that was just sporty enough. He even arranged for a local mechanic to show me how to maintain it.

"The final month of my final year he came to see me again. Before he could say anything, I thanked him for all his support. Told him I realized that whatever work I had done for him away from school probably didn't cover the amount he had spent on me. I told him I would like to know how much I owed him, that it may take a while, but I would pay him back when I got a job. Thanks to him, my job potential was excellent. It probably wouldn't take that long to pay him back.

"Fuck, I was so very proud of myself for making that offer to him." He was quiet for some time. Then scorned, "Jesus! What a *fucking* idiot!"

That was the last emotion he showed for the rest of his story. He spoke as if he were reporting an incident to a superior, some unimportant thing.

"He smiled at me as he lit up. Said, no, don't worry about that. Just finish off the year with my usual proficiency. I had the apartment and everything else till the end of the month.

"I remember being very grateful. He just smiled.

"They picked me up on my way home from the last exam. They took me back to the cottage. Instruction was...different this time. When he came to see me, it had only been a week, but it seemed like forever to me.

"He informed me, with that smile of his, that I belonged to him. To do with as he pleased. He hoped that I understood the situation. Oh, and that since a particular skill of mine had appeared over the week, my ability to endure fairly high levels of pain, I was going to get a couple of days' specialized instruction in that area.

"I don't remember being moved. I came to in a dark room, no windows, no lights. A sort of pad as a mattress. No clothes, nothing to cover myself with. Once a day, two of them would come in, cuff me to four rings on the floor, face down, spread-eagle, and leave me there. For hours.

"When they released me to go back to my mat, they would give me food and water, watch me eat and take the bowls away. There was a hole in one corner to use as a toilet.

"One day, they brought me out, put me in another room. Still no windows, but this time a light that came on for about eight hours at a time, a bed with linen, some clothes. There was a small bathroom with a shower. Regular meals. The next day, they brought in a box with books. The sort that I liked to read.

"They left me there for three more days, then they put me back in the first room, spread-eagled on the floor.

"The Smoker came at some point. Told me it was up to me to decide which room I wanted to stay in while I was housed in this particular location.

"He gave me five minutes to think it over.

"A week later, he moved me to another house, this time the room had windows, behind bars, but better than what I'd had before. He sent me out to service a variety of people, none of the ones I had serviced before for him. If I came back the worse for wear, he had a physician look me over.

"When he realized that I understood the situation, he moved me again, to another house, into a room that had no bars.


"There was always a debriefing when I came back. He wanted me to describe the rooms I had been in. The attitudes of the johns. What had I heard? What could I infer?

"He started suggesting that I look for specific things. He gave me a small camera to use when I found them. Sometimes he wanted me to bring things back. Left it up to me as to the manner of the bringing back.

"Then he just told me to look around and see what I could find. If he liked what I brought back, there would be a new book. A printout or a disc of a computer program he wanted me to hack into. A tape to decipher. Because he didn't want me to lose those skills either.

"If he didn't like what I brought, or if I hadn't found what he wanted...well, he had a couple of drivers who enjoyed 'applying incentive', as he called it.

"The one time I tried to get away..." He took a deep breath. "Well, let's just say I learnt my lesson and never tried it again.

"Then one day, about eighteen months after I'd been taken, he called me into his office, handed me over to Peskow. Told me he'd see me in six months. After my new training. Peskow took me to Russia. When I came back, the Smoker informed me I had been accepted at Quantico.

"You know the rest."



Alex didn't speak again after that. It took Walter some time to realize that he had fallen asleep.

He spent the rest of the night, holding tightly onto Alex as he thought over what Alex had told him.

It was dawn before he fell asleep.