Title: ADJUSTMENTS (1/1)

Part 8 of the EATING series

Author: Josan

Date: August, 1999

Summary: The relationship from Krycek's POV

Pairing: Sk/K

Rating: Pretty much PG

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, but let's not forget that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.





He still had nightmares.

That much hadn't changed.

The difference was that he no longer woke alone.

Often Walter woke him before he was deep in the grip of one, spooning him closer, soothing him back to sleep. Or when he woke, scream caught in his throat, Walter would pull him close, holding him tight until the trembling stopped, his heart stopped pounding, murmuring things that neither of them remembered in the morning. Then he would sleep, wrapped around Walter, knowing that he was safe.

It had taken some getting used to, going to bed each night, not just with the same body, but also in the same bed. And he found that he rather liked sleeping to Walter's snores, often in his ear as Walter liked to sleep somehow linked to him even if they hadn't had sex. No. Even if they hadn't made love. He knew about sex. He was still pretty new to love.

Which was why he probably enjoyed Walter's snoring. He had tried, as an experiment, Sharon's suggestion. And sure enough, Walter had rolled over and the noise had stopped. But he missed both: Walter's arm around him, his snore by his ear.

It had a nice steady rhythm to it. If he woke in the middle of the night, it comforted him, knowing where he was, that he was safe. That for some reason this man cared enough for him to offer him a place. Protection. A way to make reparation for the damage he'd done. And accepted him for what he was.

Not that he expected it to last. Things that good never did. Not for Alex Krycek.

It had been difficult at first. He wasn't used to staying put in one place for any length of time. He was used to furnished rooms, rarely apartments. He travelled light by necessity; unless something fit into his knapsack or could be stored in the bench locker in his truck, he kept nothing.

He had a change of clothes, a couple of extra t-shirts, shorts, socks with him and a good suit and dress shirt in the truck. Right now they hung solitary in his side of the closet or rattled around in his share of the drawers. Past training warred with the desire to fill up his share of space, but he was still too unsure of the long run to go on a buying spree.

Still, one by one, things were beginning to show up. He now owned a pair of dress slacks, a sports coat, a couple of ties, shirts, some new dress boots. He'd appropriated Walter's old bathrobe, liking the feel of the once heavy terry now smoothed by the wear and tear of Walter's body.

His greatest pleasure, and fear, were the books he was slowly accumulating. Books were heavy, took up precious space in a knapsack. He had carried a paperback copy of Faulkner's THE SOUND AND THE FURY till it had fallen apart, held together by a rubber band. Now he had a hard copy edition -- God! a first edition! -- Walter had given him half way through the three months he was committed to the Bureau. He was almost afraid to read that copy. He had held it, just touching it when Walter had surprised him with the book. He had a paperback copy as well, but, sometimes, especially after a gruelling session at the Bureau, he would come home, pretend to read it, just for the comfort of holding it.

And that was something else he had tried hard to avoid doing: thinking of Walter's place as home. Funny how, no matter how hard he fought it, Walter had become home. Not the apartment: that was just a place. But Walter.

More and more, Walter was becoming part of him. He had awakened one night, looked at his sleeping lover and realized that for as long as this lasted he would stop fighting this feeling of belonging -- not of being *owned* -- of belonging to someone. Because, in turn he realized, Walter belonged to him.

Which was why he put up with the petty harassments, the insinuations, the constant challenges to his veracity that were his days at the Bureau. He owed Walter this. Walter had done his best to get him protection, immunity. And besides, Walter was there, every day at four o'clock, to pick him up. No matter what his schedule was that day. To smile at him, pull him in for a kiss, no matter where they were, in the car, on the bike, in the truck. No matter what shit they threw at him at the Bureau, by the time they pulled away from Headquarters, he'd have left it behind. His personal training over the years on the run made that relatively easy.

All in all, the first few months hadn't been too difficult between the two of them. There had been adjustments. But both of them were used to analyzing and evaluating situations.

Walter took his football seriously, allowed him his soccer. Walter hated being disturbed when he was working, respected Alex's need for about an hour of quiet after being questioned all day. Walter muttered over the morning paper, even reading aloud items that irritated or particularly amused him. Alex discovered he liked being read to, offering up his own comments, reading aloud his own bits.

Walter liked a healthy breakfast, muesli, juice, coffee. Alex liked oatmeal -- the real stuff, not the prepackaged stuff -- with cream, lots of brown sugar, pecans. A rare threat in his past life, a daily pleasure in his new one. Walter liked chicken and fish, Alex red meat. He compromised readily on that one, quietly worried about Walter's cholesterol levels. Walter paid him back for that by making sure that there was always chocolate ice cream in the freezer. Chocolate anything was Alex's secret passion. Ben & Jerry's double fudge chocolate for everyday, Godiva anything for special occasions. They splurged on weekends: steaks and red wine (also good for cholesterol, Alex had read in a medical journal).

Weekends spent quietly watching sports, reading, listening to music. Or driving up to Walter's cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The only agenda being getting back in time for the 10 a.m. Monday deadline at the Bureau.

But that was coming to an end. They had begun to run out of questions and, finally, after three months, the answers were paying off for them. They went easier on him.

Jana Cassidy had asked to meet with him one Monday. She was cool but polite. Got right to the point: could he give them more time, say another month, just so that he would be available when they needed him to confirm certain findings. He agreed to think about it, but inside, he worried that this was just a ploy of some kind.

Walter reminded him that all they had agreed to was the three month timetable. If he wanted to extend it, that was his decision. Cassidy had made it clear that there would be no fallout from his saying no. Whatever Alex decided, he would back him.

So he said no. If they needed him, they could contact him -- they knew where he lived. If he had the time, he would be happy to accommodate them.

Because, miracle of miracles, he had a job offer.

The member of the interrogation team that had dealt with his deciphering of the DAT tape, his experience hacking into secure data banks had mentioned him, not by name, to an acquaintance at some local conference. Who was very interested in Alex's specialized abilities. Thomas Nash had tracked him down, called, wondering if Alex might be interested in evaluating some security programs that he and his people were putting together.

There had been one very tentative meeting in a restaurant where the two men, much to Walter's quiet amusement, had sounded each other out. That Thomas Nash was "known to authorities", out of a world fairly similar to the one Alex had left behind, meant that there were no government contacts in the future of Nash Securities. So the fact that Alex would never qualify for security clearance wasn't a problem. A second meeting, at Nash's offices, was easier. By the third, they had agreed that Alex was to take two weeks off after the Bureau's allotted time, then come in on a trial basis for two months.

So here it was, five months after he and Walter had met up again at Beryl's and Alex had a home, a job, a life. A partner. Because, as he had told Sharon, he wasn't going to run out on Walter. And Walter, it seemed, didn't intend to throw him out.

He turned, rubbing his cheek against Walter's shoulder, both of them still wet and sticky from making love. He yawned, feeling deliciously worn out. After picking him up for the last time at the Bureau, Walter had driven out to the countryside, to a secluded B & B. There he had signed them in, pulled Alex into the far bedroom they had been assigned and proceeded to fuck him silly.

A celebration, said Walter.

Of the end of his penance.

Of the start of his new job.

Of the fact that people were beginning to accept them as a couple.

Of the fact that after five months they were still together.

Still, said Walter, in love.

Alex looked at Walter. Dared say it aloud himself for the first time.