Disclaimer: They ain't mine. But if they ever come up for sale, I planon maxing out the ol' credit card.

Category: Slash of the M/K variety. NC-17 for explicit sex and generalbad language. Kiddies, keep out.

Acknowledgments: To Orithain, Nonie and Viridian for beta-reading andinvaluable pointers, and Carol and Ria for everything else. They know why.<g>

Description: Krycek takes a vacation on Fantasy Island. The *new* FantasyIsland, with Malcolm McDowell as Mr. Roarke. No midgets, no white suits-- no kidding.

Warning: Character death. Sort of.

I was going to submit this one to a zine, but a couple persistent soulsnagged me to post it instead. And, being a feedback slut, I caved. <g>

Feedback may be addressed to: dnivling@redshift.com

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FANTASY MAN

by

Sugar Rush
 

The sea was blue, and so was the sky, joining seamlessly up ahead onthe horizon, flawless and clear as a huge blue topaz. I'd forgotten anythingthis beautiful existed. Beautiful and tranquil -- staring out at it wasstarting to lull me into a nice dopey trance. I didn't mind; it was probablythe best I'd do until I got wherever I was going. I'd never been able tosleep on planes.

Beautiful and tranquil and...*pure.* Yeah, that was the word. I hadn'teven thought it in so long the idea was foreign to me. Was anything pureanymore? Was anybody? I was -- pure evil, at least in Mulder's eyes. Fromhis point of view, I guess it probably looked a hell of a lot like the truth.I'd done what I had to do to survive. Other people had died to keep me stillbreathing, still walking around -- minus an arm, but after everything I'dbeen through in the past few years, it was an acceptable loss. I was alive,and I didn't regret it. Most days, anyway.

The plane banked, and I unbuckled, moving to one of the vacant seatson the other side of the aisle, peering out the window. I could see somethinga little ways off in the distance, something lushly green and hilly andsurrounded by water, with a distinctly sandy-looking beige ribbon rimmingits outer edge. An island.

An island somewhere in the South Pacific. Not Oahu or Maui or any ofthe other Hawaiian Islands -- I'd had a stopover in Honolulu last night,just long enough to catch this little single-engine chartered job and takeoff into the skies again. They'd stopped once during the night to refuel,but hadn't taken on any other passengers; I was still the only one. NotTahiti, not Bali either. I didn't know where I was going, and I didn't care,as long as I got there soon; my muscles felt like they'd turned to lead,my eyes gritty, burning from lack of sleep. All I wanted was someplace tolay low for a week or two, a place to rest and regroup and not have to lookover my shoulder every other fucking minute. Someplace quiet. Someplacewarm.

My boss hadn't shown for our last meeting, but he'd left me a packageat the usual dropoff point, my locker down at the Chain Bridge Road Greyhoundstation. Inside was twenty thousand in cash and a note:

"Mr. Krycek --

If I have not contacted you in person by this time, you must assume thatI am dead, and under no circumstances should you try to contact any of my-- *our* -- former associates.

The tide has turned, and in a way none of us would ever have expected.I advise you to leave Washington -- for a short time, at least. The smallstipend I have enclosed should be enough to help you on your way.

Stay alive, Mr. Krycek, and contact Mulder when you return. He believes-- or, if he does not by now, he never will. The rest I leave for him toexplain.

Good luck to you."

No signature, not even an initial, but that was hardly a surprise. I'dbeen working for the guy for months now, and he'd never told me his name.I didn't know any of their names; to me they were a bunch of dried-up oldfarts huddled in a Manhattan apartment, dark three-thousand-dollar suitsblending in with the shadows and the dust motes, sipping their coffee andscotch with such fucking civilized grace while they planned the world'send. Men like them didn't have names. Officially, they didn't even exist.The apartment was leased to the U.S. Justice Department -- my boss had letthat much slip once, but *only* once -- and if anyone happened to pay theplace an uninvited visit, all they'd find would be musty air and four stark,bare walls. If I even tried telling anyone everything I'd seen and heardin all those dark, quiet, closeted meetings, they'd call me crazy. As crazyas Mulder.

God, *that* was funny.

"Better buckle up, sir," the pilot said, giving me a quickover-the-shoulder glance, "we'll be landing in a couple minutes."

There was no airport within my range of vision, not even a runway, butI'd noticed back in Honolulu that the plane was equipped with pontoons forwater landings. It glided to the ocean's surface smooth as glass, touchingdown a little ways off from a pier I spied in the distance. As the planedrew closer, two tiny ant-size figures grew gradually larger, more distinct,finally assuming normal human shape and proportions. Two men -- one thinand dark-suited with a shock of spiky white hair, the other shorter andheavier-set, wearing a hotel bellman's uniform. There was a golf cart afew feet behind them, I saw as I climbed out of the plane, feeling distinctlyawkward in my scuffed and dirty jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket. If theywere expecting their usual class of guest, they were about to be extremelydisappointed.

"Mr. Krycek?" the white-haired guy said, coming toward me witha smile and an outstretched hand. He had blue eyes, the most startling,deep shade of blue I'd ever seen, like the sky up in the mountains afterit'd just snowed. Crisp and clean and...icy. I shivered.

"Um, yeah, I'm Krycek. How'd you know who I--"

"We received your reservation just last night. I'm your host, Mr.Roarke. Welcome to Fantasy Island."

I gaped, looking him and the bellman up and down, biting back a giggle.He couldn't've said what I thought he'd just said. Could he? "S-Sowhere's the midget?"

"I *beg* your pardon?" Barely-disguised indignation broughthis British accent front and center. Oh, this was good. He sounded likemy ex-late-boss's twin brother.

"And, um...shouldn't you be wearing a *white* suit?"

"Oh." Roarke's lips quirked up sourly, and he clasped bothhands behind his back. For just a second, though, I could've sworn I sawthose frosty blue eyes twinkle. "You're referring to the previous management,and they haven't been in residence for quite some time, I'm afraid. I trustyou've had a good flight?"

So much for getting a rise out of the guy. "A little long, but Iguess it was okay."

"Good. I'll have Cal retrieve your luggage, and then I'd be happyto show you the hotel--"

"I don't have any luggage." Off his surprised look, I added,"I, um...left town in a hurry. Didn't have time to pack."

"Ah, well, these things happen. The hotel has an excellent men'sclothing shop, which I'm sure can take care of any additional wardrobe needsfor you. Please," Roarke said, ushering me toward the golf cart, bothof us climbing in. We drove up a long, winding pathway leading to a sprawlingChinese pavilion tucked in the lee of a nearby hill, elegant off-white woodaccented with red trim. Just the sight of it was soothing; I could feelthe muscles in my back and neck finally starting to unclench, giving therest of me permission to relax. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

"Perhaps we should put off the hotel tour until you've had a chanceto rest," Roarke said as the cart pulled into a red-and-white tiledcourtyard, rolling to a halt. "Have a seat in the lobby, and I'll seethat you're checked in."

I probably should've protested, but I was so fucking blitzed I couldbarely put one foot in front of the other; I shuffled into the lobby likesome sick old man, dropping down in a nice overstuffed armchair. I was justnodding off when Roarke gently shook my shoulder, pointing toward the nearbyelevator. I didn't even notice which floor he pushed the button for, butthankfully my room was close to the elevator, two, maybe three rooms down.Roarke opened the door with a flourish, gesturing for me to go in aheadof him.

Everything was white, pure gleaming white -- walls and ceiling and thick,plush carpet, the kind that looked like you could sink into it all the wayup to your knees -- a wide, frothy sea of white. The furniture was whitetoo, but a slightly different shade, cream with red trim, just like thehotel's facade, even the huge big-screen TV in the living room's far corner.An open door led off to one side, and I followed it, stopping dead in thedoorway, staring. More white, fluffy, soothing, ivory-toned white this time,spread over a king-size bed. I went over to it, letting my fingers skimthe comforter, grabbing a handful. Goosedown. Light, warm goosedown. I hadn'tslept under a goosedown comforter in...Christ, since I was a little kid.My grandmother's house out in the country, snow blanketing the ground anda fire flickering in the fireplace all night long and sweet, rich mugs ofwarm cocoa before bed. I ached at the memory.

"I trust everything meets with your approval, Mr. Krycek?"Roarke asked from the doorway.

"I-I can't afford this."

"But...your reservation--"

"Yeah, I know I have reservation, but nobody told me I was gettingbooked into the damn honeymoon suite!" God, this was embarrassing,but I didn't have much of a choice. I still had a bundle in my pocket, butplaces like this ran a thousand a night, easy. I didn't know how long it'dbe before it was safe for me to go back to DC; better save my pennies now,or I'd be scrounging for them later. "Um...d'you have anything a littleless, um--"

"These are our standard accommodations, Mr. Krycek," Roarkeexplained. "And there's no need for alarm; all your expenses here havebeen paid in advance. My apologies for not making it clear, but I was underthe impression that your travel agent had already told you."

My mind flashed back to DC, to that dingy little hole-in-the-wall travelagency a few doors down from the bus station; I doubted I'd even have gonein if it hadn't started pouring down rain all of a sudden. It was the weirdesttravel office I'd ever been in -- hell, the weirdest *office,* period --no computers, no fax machines, just this little old guy in a natty greysuit and bow tie sitting behind a decrepit typewriter. He'd grinned andoffered me a chair and a cup of coffee, and before I knew it, I'd handedhim three grand in cash and booked myself a vacation. All I'd told him wasI wanted the first flight out of town, preferably to someplace warm. I figuredhe was probably ripping me off, but one look at that Santa-Claus-ish gleamin his eye and I forked it over anyway. Jesus. I wasn't usually such aneasy touch.

But now it looked like I'd lucked into a bargain. "He, um...probablydid tell me, I guess I just wasn't paying attention. So...everything's included?"I asked one more time, just to make sure. "*Everything*?"

"Yes. Sort of bed-and-breakfast style, you know," Roarke repliedwith a tiny smile, and -- God, there was that twinkle again. I wasn't imaginingit. "If there's nothing else, I'll leave you to relax, then?"

"Um...yeah, thanks." I stood there in the middle of the bedroomfor what seemed like a long time after I heard the living room door close,finally moving to the full-length window on the opposite side of the room,parting the white linen drapes, looking outside. I had a beautiful viewof the lagoon where my plane had landed, translucent blue-green water lappinggently at golden sand; it seemed to stretch into infinity, touching, meldingwith the sky.

The soft, liquid wave-sound reminded me I hadn't taken a piss since lastnight in Honolulu. The bathroom was a religious experience, all creamy tileand monogrammed Egyptian cotton towels hanging off polished chrome railings,so fucking shiny I was afraid to touch anything. I peed for what seemedlike five minutes straight, then peeled off my clothes and prosthesis andjumped in the shower. No way was I getting in that nice clean bed, not tillI'd washed all the grunge off me.

The hot, steamy water revived me a little; by the time I climbed backout, I felt about ten pounds lighter. There was a robe hanging on the backof the bathroom door, made from the same smooth white cotton as the towels,the same elegantly-entwined "FI" insignia stitched in fine goldthread over the right breast. I pulled it on.

My nose wrinkled as I scooped my t-shirt up off the floor, catching aquick whiff of it. Padding back into the bedroom, I found a phone on thebedside table, a hotel directory on a pull-out card under the phone, runningmy finger down the list until I found it -- guest laundry services. I punchedin the extension, told them to come up and get everything, no rush, no starch,tomorrow morning was fine. I dumped everything I'd been wearing, leatherjacket included, outside the door, hung up the 'Do Not Disturb' sign, pulledback those white, white sheets and dove between them. I didn't even bothertaking off the robe.

It was like lying on a cloud, soft and springy, enveloping me like akiss. My eyes closed, and I drifted a little, everything that'd happenedin the last few days sifting through my exhausted brain. My boss's note.The money. DC. The plane ride. This place. The note. Mulder.

Hazel eyes danced through my mind, startled hazel eyes, a cheek stubbledand warm under my lips. I'd kissed him, and he hadn't pulled away. I could'vealmost sworn he'd leaned into it; if he'd shifted a little more to the right,I would've hit him square in the mouth. It was the first time we'd touchedwith any kind of tenderness since--

No. I wasn't letting myself get wound up in thoughts like that, not now.I toyed with the sleeve of my robe, running my hand up and over it, savoringits plush, luxurious feel, tracing the monogram with my fingertips. Maybethis really was Fantasy Island; hell, if anybody'd told me last week I'dbe grabbing a few days' R&R in a place like this, I would've calledit a fantasy. Well, right now my number-one fantasy consisted of catchinga few z's. The rest could wait for later -- not that thinking about it eventhen would do one fucking bit of good.

The note. Black oil. Mulder. Fluffy white clouds. Blue, blue sky andbluer sea. Mulder...

Sleep came for me, wrapping me in its warm, senseless blanket, deep andblack and without dreams.

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It was still light out when I woke up, but a quick glance at my watch,then out the window, told me it was the next morning -- about eight-fortythe next morning, Hawaiian time. Christ only knew what time zone I was innow, but the sun was already starting its slow creep upward in the sky,so it was probably closer to ten than nine. I grinned; it'd been a longtime since I'd felt safe enough anywhere to sleep straight through untilI didn't feel exhausted anymore.

As if on cue, my stomach rumbled, reminding me of something else I hadn'tdone since I'd left Honolulu. I called room service, ordered one of everythingon the breakfast menu and hopped in the shower again, adjusting the sprayto tiny hot, then icy-cold, needles, blasting any lingering murkiness frommy brain. There was a razor laid out on the vanity, and shaving cream, thoughapparently I'd been so wiped last night I didn't remember seeing it. Therazor glided over my skin like a lover's whisper, leaving it moist and baby-smooth,with a hint of the cream's spicy scent. I was just tugging the robe backon when I heard a knock at the door.

"Points for timing, not to mention promptness," I murmured,opening the door, eyes widening as the waiter wheeled in a cart with enoughfood on it to save a small African country from starvation. I motioned forhim to park it by the couch, but stopped him before he could lay the covereddishes out on the coffee table. This first-class treatment was startingto make me a little nervous. "S'okay, this is fine, really," Isaid, fumbling in my pocket for the twenty I'd stashed there for him, buthe waved it away with a polite smile, heading for the door.

I tore through my ham and eggs like a vampire fanging a nice, juicy throat,inhaling the whole plate so fast it made me dizzy, chasing it down withhot, hot French roast coffee with cream and one teaspoon of raw sugar. Wafflescame next, with syrup and real butter, topped with fresh strawberries. Bythe time I got to my double-portion of crispy hash browns, my stomach wasscreaming uncle. I slumped down in my chair with the world's dopiest grinon my face. Fantasy number two, slam-dunked.

Another knock, but there was nobody there by the time I swung the dooropen, just my jacket and jeans -- hangered and plastic-bagged and danglingfrom the doorknob -- and a neat, string-tied bundle of my t-shirt and boxerssitting on the carpet. A delicate, vaguely floral odor wafted up, teasingmy nostrils. I picked up the bundle, sticking my face right in it, inhalingdeeply. Fabric softener. I hadn't had clean clothes in so long, I'd forgottenwhat they smelled like.

It seemed a crime to shed the lovely, plush warmth of my robe, but Idid, hanging it back on the bathroom door and pulling on boxers, jeans andt-shirt, unwrapping the jacket. They'd done a great job on the dry-cleaning;it hadn't felt so supple and buttery-soft since the day I'd bought it --they'd even oiled the zipper and stitched up some rips in the lining. Iwas impressed.

But there was only so much they could fix or clean. The jeans were prettybad -- frayed at the waist and pant-cuffs, the knees so scuffed they werejust about ready to tear clean through -- and the t-shirt already had smallholes in the armpits. Time to pay a visit to that men's store Roarke hadmentioned.

It was in the lobby, just a couple doors down from the registration desk.The Armani suit display in the front window almost made me turn tail andrun, but I sucked down a breath and went in -- hell, my money was just asgreen as anybody else's. I picked out two new pairs of jeans -- one blue,one black -- and four t-shirts, then segued over to the swimwear rack. Speedosin every style and color of the rainbow; I eyed the red for a couple seconds,but finally chose the royal blue. There was a beach towel in the exact samecolor, so I got that too. Then came three pairs of new boxers and, on awhim, a black leather carry-on bag that matched my jacket perfectly; ifnothing else, at least I'd leave this place with a couple decent changesof clothes. Handing over four crisp C-notes, I sauntered back to the elevatorwith a carefree ripple of pride. I couldn't remember the last time I'd boughtsomething without worrying about how much it cost. I could definitely getused to the feeling.

It was way too gorgeous a day to stay inside, and I didn't intend to;racing back to my room, I shucked my clothes and the prosthesis in recordtime. My new Speedo fit like a second skin, but I'd wear the robe over it,at least until I got down to the beach. I could do without everybody inthe lobby staring at the arm that wasn't there anymore.

'Everybody' turned out to be almost nobody -- with the exception of thefront desk clerk and the salesguy in the men's clothing shop, I got outof the hotel without seeing a single other employee or guest. Followinga well-marked footpath, I padded down to the beach, the sand warm and fineas baby-powder under my feet, finding a well-shaded spot under a huge palmtree, spreading out my towel. It was the biggest towel I'd ever seen, easilyas big as the comforter on my bed, a dark blue inksplotch on the sand. Chuckling,I shrugged off my robe and sat down, scooting to the bottom edge of thetowel where a narrow strip of sunlight fell, flopping back, arm flung overmy eyes, digging my toes in the sand. God, it felt great.

I was pretty close to nodding off when I heard an almost imperceptibleshuffle and slide -- footsteps on sand. I sat up to see Roarke walking towardme, taking his time, hands in his suit pockets, giving me a small smilewhen he saw that I'd noticed him.

"It appears you're enjoying your stay with us, Mr. Krycek. No, pleasedon't get up," he added, waving me back down on the blanket, gaze flickingover me, lingering momentarily at my left shoulder. "Relax, please.That's what you're here for, isn't it?"

"Looks a little deserted," I remarked, nodding toward the restof the beach. There still wasn't anybody else around, either down here orup on the hotel terrace overlooking the lagoon.

"Yes, well, as it's the off-season, you're our only guest at themoment. So if it's peace and quiet you're looking for, you're in luck --until the next plane arrives in four days' time."

Blue eyes locked on mine, razored ice-shards shooting straight throughme. I had to look away.

"What are you looking for, Mr. Krycek?"

"I-I'm not looking for anything. I'm just taking a vacation."

"Oh, I think you are. And the truly wondrous thing about this placeis, things that are impossible in the outside world are completely possiblehere. Whatever you desire, you can have."

"C'mon, you're kidding, right? You can't mean--"

"I never kid the guests, Mr. Krycek. This really *is* Fantasy Island.Everything you've heard is true." Another smile, warmer this time,and suddenly the twinkle in his eye was back. "Except for the midgetand the white suit, of course."

I grabbed the robe, yanking it up over my shoulders, covering my leftarm. My stump. It was silly, I knew, feeling so embarrassed all of a sudden;Roarke had already seen it and he hadn't run screaming in the other direction-- but then, I was a paying guest. Wouldn't do to piss me off.

Still, it was tempting, so damn tempting to just say the words, to callhis bluff and ask for it, ask for my arm back. If he was lying, nothingwould happen -- no harm, no foul -- and if he wasn't, I could live the fantasy,if only for a few days. A few days of not having to put on that fuckingprosthesis every morning. A few days with no phantom pain. A few days ofpretending I was whole again. *Normal* again.

But who'd give a fuck? Who'd even notice, besides me? I'd gone to bedalone last night, showered alone, had breakfast alone -- and here I wasnow, sitting on a beach in paradise, *alone.* I'd been on the run so longI'd gotten used to it. I'd stopped wishing for what I knew I could neverhave.

"There's someone..." I murmured, gazing out at the ocean, clearturquoise waves tearing at the shore with sharp frothy teeth, "someoneI care about. I'd like to have him here with me."

"So why isn't he, if I may ask?"

"We've, um...got kind of a love-hate relationship. I love him, hehates me." A laugh, low and ragged, bubbled up from my throat; I hadto bite down on the sleeve of my robe to stifle it. "All I want isa few days where I can...pretend four years ago didn't happen, that I didn'tbetray him. Where I can pretend he doesn't hate me."

"Ah, I see. The way it should have been," Roarke nodded. "Well,as fantasies go, it's a fairly simple one, though in your case far fromperfect."

"What d'you mean, in *my* case?"

"Well, as I've already pointed out, the object of your fantasy isn'tactually here, so we'll have to improvise, extrapolate his appearance andpersonality from your memories of him. Which may or may not be what youreally want." One corner of his mouth quirked up slyly. "Of course,that's for you to say."

I was nodding before he was even done talking. I didn't want to thinkabout it, didn't want another chance to back out. If I had it, I knew I'dtake it, and no way was I going to sleep in that beautiful, empty hotelroom by myself tonight. "Yeah, yeah, it's fine, it's what I want, socould we just--"

"You're sure? There's only one fantasy allowed per visit, so ifyou'd like to give it a bit more thought, please feel free--"

"Look, I've made up my mind, so let's get this show on the road,okay?"

An arched eyebrow, then, "Very well. Done," he said, snappinghis fingers.

I was expecting thunder, lightning, maybe a few dark clouds, but nothing.Nada. Zip. Not even a slight shift in the breeze. If this was magic, I waspretty fucking disappointed. "That's *it*?"

"Yes."

"So where's my fantasy?"

"Believe it or not, it's already begun," Roarke said with asmile, turning, heading back toward the hotel. "Enjoy yourself, Mr.Krycek."

I sat there for a long time, scanning the beach up and down, staringout at the ocean. Nothing happened, nothing but the wind finally kickingup, waves growing choppier, one whitecap after another rolling towards thebeach--

Except one of them wasn't a wave. Someone was swimming out there, armsand legs slicing the water, clean and precise as an Exacto knife, headingfor shore. I could see a dark head bobbing and weaving, then a tall, slenderred-Speedoed body stood, walking the rest of the way through the surf upto the beach.

He looked tanned and gorgeous and he grinned and waved when he saw meand GodohGodohGod I was *not* fucking ready for this. "You should'vecome in with me," Mulder said, diving onto the towel, stretching outnext to me. "The water's about seventy degrees, fucking *perfect.*You'd love it."

I ran two fingers along his arm, water still glistening on his skin likenew diamonds, touching him, touching his skin, solid and warm, just to makesure he was really there, really real. I could feel the pulse softly thrummingin his wrist, skimming my thumb over it, absorbing its rhythm. He lookedthinner than the last time I'd seen him, as thin as he'd been four yearsago and slightly less broad in the chest and shoulders. His hair was stillwet, but I could see a few stray spiky strands wisping out over his forehead.

He was here with me, right here, the way I wanted, the way I remembered.Talk about hitting the fantasy jackpot. "I, um...m-maybe later,"I murmured when he kept staring up at me, obviously waiting for me to saysomething. "Looks like it's getting a little rough out there."

"I thought you liked it rough." One push sent me tumbling overon my back, Mulder swooping down on me like a hot stormfront, tongue jabbingpast my lips, invading my mouth. He tasted wet and warm and salty-sweet,and it took more than one push to get him to stop before air starvationmade me pass out. "Well, only sometimes, huh?" he grinned, proppinghimself up on one elbow, looking over at me, his other hand resting on myleft shoulder, rubbing gently, absently. "You okay?"

"Y-yeah, I'm fine, why?"

"You got a funny look on your face there for a second, like youget when your arm's hurting. Is it?"

Now that he mentioned it, it wasn't. That was weird -- my shoulder usuallyached all the time from the weight of the prosthesis. Even when I'd takenit off for awhile, I sometimes got the sensation that my fingers were stillthere, still wiggling on the end of a perfectly good arm, though latelythat only happened when I was tired. It hadn't happened last night, though."No, I'm okay, I'm fine, it's just...your, um...enthusiasm caught mea little off-guard, I guess."

"Sorry, babe, I didn't mean to. C'mere," he whispered, leaningin close, dusting my forehead and eyelids with tiny butterfly kisses, workinghis way down to the tip of my nose, both of us giggling by the time he reachedmy mouth. He was gentler this time, taking his time, planting soft littlepecks at each corner, waiting for my lips to part for him before cominginside. A tiny urging, and he was rolling half on top of me, hands all overme, one of his thighs between both of mine. I gasped, holding onto him,arching and thrusting up under him like a horny dog, both of us rock-hardin seconds. He lifted up a little, breaking the kiss, giving me a half-sly,half-questioning look. "You want?"

I was way past the capacity for rational speech at that point. Tugginghim back down, mouths locking again, I snaked my hand down, sliding insidehis Speedo, grasping, stroking his cock, pulling the red material down asbest I could. Mulder skinned it down and off in a single quick, jerky movement,then did the same with mine, flinging them to the sand a few feet away.Perfect place for them.

The tip of his cock prodded my belly, wet, leaking with excitement. Hisskin was wet too; I could smell the ocean-scent still clinging to him, cleanand salty and mixed with the musky tang of sweat, sending a fresh surgeof lust spiraling straight to my own cock. I slung my thigh over his hip,pulling him close, pulling him in, thrusting, rolling against him, lettinghim know I was ready.

He was ready too, more than ready, but he held himself in check, movingslowly at first, heat and sticky-moist friction building until we were bothbucking and plunging blindly, plowing each other's bellies, swamped anddrowning in each other's wake, going down for the last time. He had me onthe edge, right there on the fucking edge and he knew it, grinning, mouthslashing down like a sharpened straight-razor, stealing my last breath,pulling back, both of us gasping, bathed in sweat. "C'mon, babe, doit, I know you can do it. Come for me..."

And I did, screaming his name, warm silkiness jetting from my cock, allover me, all over both of us, Mulder following a split-second later, comingso hard I could've sworn I saw his eyes roll back in his head. He didn'tpass out, though, and luckily neither did I, rolling him gently off me andonto his side before he got too heavy, resting my head on his chest, armwrapped around his waist. I could hear his heart thumping wildly, hear himmumbling sweet, gentle words I couldn't quite make out, feel his fingerstangling in my hair. I kissed a trail down his chest, tasting sweat andsemen, both of us finally going still, silent.

The sun had crept halfway up our towel by the time we opened our eyesagain. We were both smeared sticky with come from crotch to chest, so wetook a stroll down to the water to wash up. Mulder dragged me in up to mywaist, splashing me like a gleeful five-year-old until I was so wet I figuredI might as well just plunge in head-first and get it over with. The waterwas as warm as he'd said, warm as a heated pool from the midday sun, blue-greenliquid silk pouring over me. Heaven on earth.

"You, um...didn't happen to bring sunscreen, did you?" Mulderasked.

I *knew* there was something I forgot to buy when I was out shoppingthis morning. Damn. I shook my head.

"Then we'd better go in," he said, cocking his head towardthe hotel, "unless you wanna be toast in a few minutes. That sun'sgetting nasty."

I nodded, trudging back to the towel with a sigh, giggling when I scoopedmy brand-new blue Speedo up off the sand. It was ruined, ripped all theway up one side-seam, same as Mulder's. No wonder he got them off us sofast. Mulder shrugged when he saw what he'd done, then handed me my robeand picked up the towel, draping it around himself toga-style, coveringall vital areas. At least we'd be marginally decent until we got back tothe room.

We walked back hand in hand, though I felt my face go red as soon aswe entered the lobby; I hadn't seen anybody else out on the beach all day,but that didn't mean they hadn't seen us. None of the staff blinked an eyelash,though, smiling politely as we passed through on our way to the elevator,not even when Mulder kissed me full on the mouth -- with *tongue,* for Chrissakes-- right as that heavy-set bellman walked by.

We laughed our asses off all the way up to the fourth floor, racing eachother to the door, through the living room, into the bedroom. Mulder threwoff the towel, launching himself headlong onto the bed, hurling a pillowat me, but I caught it before it could smack me in the face, smacking himwith it instead, rolling him onto his back, straddling him, pinning himdown, laughing so hard my ribs felt like they were going to poke right throughmy skin. When I'd caught my breath I leaned down slowly, smiling, teasinghim with tiny little nips all over his face, saving that luscious lowerlip of his for last, sucking it into my mouth, finally dipping in for areal kiss, tongues dancing, delving. "I love you, you know. Alwayshave."

I don't know what made me say it. Maybe it was because I knew none ofthis was permanent, none of it mattered; I could do all the things I'd alwayswanted with him, say anything and everything I'd never said, and I'd stillcome out squeaky-clean in the wash. Maybe I just wanted to hear myself saythe words for their own sake, give them their own permanence and reality,something I could take away with me when I got back on that plane in a fewdays. The perfect souvenir of a perfect fantasy.

He didn't say anything, just smiled, a different kind of smile this time,gentle and distant and even a little sad, giving me a nudge to get me toroll to my side beside him so that we faced each other. It felt nice, calmeven, lying here together touching, kissing, without any sexual urgencythis time, just being together, enjoying the moment. We'd never had thatbefore. I'd never had it before with anyone, period.

He fell asleep a few minutes later, turning onto his stomach, burrowinginto the covers like a lazy kitten, face half-pushed into the pillows. Hisskin looked dark, tawny as bronze against the sheets's snowy whiteness.Yesterday I'd thought that pure blue, blue sea just outside my window wasthe most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I was wrong.

I slipped my arm around his waist again, and closed my eyes.

-----------------------------------------

There was something very small, very warm and very, very wet crawlingdown the back of my neck, tracing the line of my vertebrae, licking, tasting.The tip of someone's tongue. Mulder's tongue. Mulder's fingers strokingmy shoulder, carding through my hair. There were plenty of other ways towake up out of a sound sleep, but they couldn't feel as good as this.

He stopped when he realized I was awake, hand resting on my hip in silentquery, but when I didn't move, didn't protest, he picked up without missinga beat, Braille-reading a bumpy trail all the way down my spine with lipsand tongue and teeth, blowing warm air on the moist, love-bitten stripehe'd just painted, chuckling at my shivers. He'd done the same thing thatone night we'd spent together four years ago, the night I'd killed Cole,I remembered muzzily, flipping over on my stomach. He'd stayed with me,held me, calmed me, fucked me senseless, seduced me awake and fucked meagain. The first time I'd killed a man; that's what I'd told him, and he'dbelieved me. He'd trusted me then.

A quick shift and slide, and Mulder was scooting down between my splayedlegs, mouth hovering right over the spot where my spine sloped down to meetmy ass, breathing on it, flicking his tongue out, teasing, barely touching.My cock jumped, twitched, hips arching off the mattress, chafing the soft,warm sheets, pushing up into Mulder's face, giving him what I knew he waswaiting for. I wasn't sure what I was waiting for, but in the next secondI found out, Mulder's hand slipping deftly into the cleft of my ass, spreadingme, holding me open, one finger sliding in up to the first knuckle, givinga few experimental thrusts, pulling out.

Warm breath replaced it, warm breath and Mulder's tongue laving me fromanus to balls and back again, pushing all the way inside me, in and outand in like the world's tiniest, wettest, most velvety cock and that wasit, I was moaning, pounding and twisting my pillow so hard I tore the insidelining, feathers pouring out, spilling onto the floor.

And suddenly he stopped, pulling away, leaving me hanging, hovering onthe brink, leopard spots dancing an insane waltz over my corneas, pulsepounding so fucking hard inside my head I thought for sure this was it,the end, I was dying, I was gonna burst an artery any second and fucking*die* in this bed--

Then I heard something, something close yet weirdly muffled, dimly realizingit was the bedside table drawer opening and closing, and he was back, kissingmy shoulder, murmuring something to me, something low and soothing thatI couldn't understand, a finger easing back inside me, cool, slippery, twofingers now, opening me, getting me ready.

I was just starting to get into it, swaying with his new rhythm, impalingmyself on his hand, when he pulled out again and then I felt it, the tipof his cock pushing into me, gently, gradually, sinking in all the way,hot as a live coal, pulsing in time with the beat of his heart. I couldn'tmove, couldn't think anymore, all I could do was lie there, trying not toforget how to breathe, and suddenly his hand was reaching up, closing overmy death-grip on the pillow, fingers entwining, draping himself over myback, mouth close to my ear, lapping, nipping at the lobe, thrusting intome, long and hard and deep.

I'd forgotten how big he was, like a huge steel bar splitting open myspine, but I moved too, grinding, arching my back, meeting him stroke forstroke, pushing my cock into the sticky, bunched-up sheet, pain fading now,turning to fire, fire and lightning seeping under my skin, shooting, spiralingalong every nerve-ending, swamping my vision. I could still hear him whispering,though, murmuring to me, a dark, erotic stream poured straight into my brain,and that was it, I was sobbing, screaming, shattering like a sheet of glasswith a brick flung through it.

Mulder's eyes were the first thing I saw when I opened mine, hoveringover me, huge and hazel and terrified. "Jesus, Alex, you scared theshit out of me!"

"Why, whatsa matter?"

"You've been out cold for the last couple minutes. I thought I wasgonna have to call 911 or something."

"I don't think they have 911 here," I chuckled, sitting upgingerly, every muscle in my thighs and lower back voicing a loud protest."But maybe they should. *Christ.*"

"Look, just don't do that again, okay?"

"It's not up to me, stud-muffins."

He blushed, actually blushed; I could see his skin pinkening from foreheadto neck. It made him look like a shy little kid, so fucking adorable. "Alex..."

I pulled him close, kissing him, tousling silky, spiky hair. "Nexttime I'll fuck you through the mattress, and we'll call ourselves even,okay?"

He ducked his head, then, glancing back up with a grin, "So...youhungry?"

We ordered room service and sacked out on the couch in front of the TV,gorging ourselves on pizza and beer and chips and just about anything elsewe could eat with our fingers, nodding off halfway through Letterman, spoonedtogether, wiped but happy. I didn't care if the rest of the world disappeared.I almost wished it would.

----------------------------------------------

//An earthquake woke me with a harsh sudden jolt bed shaking so hardI almost got dumped on the floor no not an earthquake Mulder thrashing whimperingnext to me having a nightmare--//

//Sliding closer arm wrapping around him stroking his shoulder kissinghis throat holding him like that time in Tunguska I'd gone back in his cellafter they'd brought him back from the experiment he was delirious out ofit sobbing calling Scully Scully help me and I'd held him held him in bothmy arms held him till he calmed down fell asleep Christ I could still feelit soft satiny strands whispering between my fingers fingers that weren'tthere anymore--//

//And he calmed now quieting still and quiet dark wispy hair spillingover my pillow skin like coffee with cream against white white sheets turningto me opening his eyes deep hazel irises swimming in inky black--//

//Grabbing me pinning me kissing me tongue shoving in my mouth openingme making me take it making me taste it cold thick liquid black cold oozingbleeding out of him out of his mouth his nose his eyes out of him into me--//

And I jerked awake, sitting straight up, panting, heart skipping. Slidingto the edge of the mattress, I slumped over, head between my legs, anythingto stop this fucking pounding inside my skull--

And at the door. I waited, staring stupidly at the far wall, glancingdown at Mulder lying there next to me sleeping the sleep of the extremelywell-fucked and hoping whoever it was would give up and go away, but minuteswent by, and the damn knocking persisted. Standing up shakily, I snaggedmy robe up off the floor and tugged it on, lurching to the front door, yankingit open. "This place better be on fucking *fire,* or I'm gonna ripsomebody a new--"

It was Roarke. Smiling, hands clasped behind his back, wearing the samedark suit he'd had on the day I got here. Either the guy didn't sweat orelse every suit in his wardrobe was identical. "Ah, it appears I'vewoken you. My apologies, Mr. Krycek. And no, as it happens, the hotel isn'ton fire. But were you aware you've had the 'Do Not Disturb' sign out forthe past two days?"

"So?"

"Well, the housekeeping staff was becoming a bit concerned and askedme to come up and see that you're all right. You are, I trust?"

"Yeah, I'm, um...fine," I murmured, hand rubbing through myhair, a sudden rush of blood turning me prickly-hot from forehead to chest."Look, I'm sorry I took your head off there, but I just--"

"No apology required. However, if I may make a small suggestion,perhaps you might want to take breakfast down in the dining room this morning,and give the housekeepers a chance to tidy up your suite." With a nod,he was heading back to the elevator before I could get another word out.

Closing the door, I leaned against it with a sigh, wiping grit-rimmedeyes. The living room was a mess, last night's dinner dishes still scatteredover the coffee table, one bath towel on the floor, one hanging off theedge of the couch, both stiff and streaked with dried semen. Well, at leastwe'd had the presence of mind not to come all over the furniture.

By the time I stumbled back to the bedroom Mulder was beginning to stir,yawning, stretching, squinting at the early-morning sun streaking in throughthe window. "What's goin' on? I thought I heard somebody at the door."

"Yeah, it was Roarke," I replied, flopping back onto the bed."We're getting kicked out so the maids can clean the room."

"Mmmm, 'kay," he mumbled, sitting up, yawning again, hugginghis knees. "Wanna go for a walk before breakfast?"

"A *walk*?"

"Yeah, you know -- putting one foot in front of the other, actually*going* somewhere."

"I'm not going any further than the fucking dining room."

"Aw, c'mon, it'll be fun. And besides," he added with a grin,leaning in for a deep, wet kiss, "all that exercise'll just make youhungrier for later."

"Like with you I need another excuse."

"Al-ex..."

A groan. I knew when I was licked. And if I had my way, I'd be back inthis bed being licked all over very, very soon. "Okay, okay, I give."

Forty-five minutes later we finally emerged from the room, showered andshaved and neatly dressed. My new blue jeans were a little short on him,and deliciously tight in all the right places, but since I didn't have asecond pair of sneakers, we had to stop down at the men's store to buy hima pair, then headed out for the beach.

The sun was perfect, warm and golden without that steely backbone thatpromised hellish temperatures later. We strolled along hand in hand forwhat seemed like miles, finally veering off on an overgrown footpath leadingup into the trees, green and shady and silent. It was nice, I had to admit,just being with him like this, enjoying the solitude and each other, bothof us practically crowing with simultaneous joy when we came upon this gorgeouslittle grotto covered in orchids and hibiscus and birds-of-paradise, a riotof red and yellow and violet and a million other colors I couldn't beginto name. Another week here was starting to look like a definite possibility.

"C'mere," Mulder said, grabbing my hand, picking a white orchid,tucking it behind my ear, kissing me, both of us breaking out in giggles."Now you look like a native."

I pushed him flat against a mossy tree and kissed him back, hard, thentook off up the path, laughing, fingers entwining again when he finallycaught up with me. The path climbed into the hills, hills becoming steeper,thick, dense rainforest enfolding us, lush, breathtakingly beautiful. Finallywe saw something up ahead, a small building at the foot of a mountain, andwe headed for it, both of us winded by now, grateful for a place to sitdown and rest a few minutes.

It was a station, a tramway station -- I could see the cables stretchingall the way up the mountain, the mountain itself so tall I couldn't seethe top of it, just wispy patches of fog clinging to where its peak shouldhave been. I shivered, but followed Mulder inside.

But it didn't look like there was anyplace to sit, except inside thetramcar. Mulder had its door open before I could tell him not to bother,going inside, collapsing on one of the hard-backed seats, making the carsway a little. I hung back, looking inside but not going in. This was alla little too fucking familiar, and it was making me nervous. "C'mon,Mulder, let's go back to the hotel. I'm getting hungry."

"In a minute, okay? Let me get my breath back."

My back and legs were aching, so I finally caved, going in, sitting down,perched on the edge of the seat, foot tapping the floor.

Mulder flashed me a sour look, getting up, going over to look at thetramcar's control panel, flipping a switch. I just about hit the fuckingceiling when the car's motor whirred to life. "Hey, it works!"he said, grinning like a little kid on Christmas morning.

"Okay, okay, so it works, so turn it off and let's get going already."

"C'mon, let's take a ride up to the top."

A sudden chill swept me. "Unh-uh."

"Why not?" Now he sounded like a whiny little kid.

"Because I don't want to. Come on, let's go," I said, standingup, heading for the door.

"Okay, fine, you can wait down here," he replied testily, flickinganother switch, making the car shimmy and jerk. "*I'm* going up tothe top."

I made it to the door, but I didn't step out, just stood there, handpoised on the door-latch, staring at it, finally yanking it closed, securingit, sinking back down in my seat. I wasn't spending the rest of the morningsitting in that fucking station waiting for him to come back for me. Muldershot me a tiny triumphant grin, gunning the car's motor, easing it out ofthe station, up the mountain.

It was a long ride, long and bumpy, rising through the green, green hills.Looking down and back, I could see where we'd come from, the station, theforest and the beach beyond, all the way down to a tiny pale splotch thathad to be the hotel. I had no idea we'd come this far, all the way to theopposite end of the island. It was another world over here.

In more ways than one. The car hit a fogbank as we cleared the secondtower, marshmallowy white enveloping us then just as quickly receding, thetrees around us shimmering, changing shape, no more palms and rainforest,now it looked like pines and maple and oaks beneath us, leaves turning red,yellow with early autumn. Just like that day at Skyland Mountain four yearsago. Oh, shit. Oh, Christ.

Things inside were changing too. Mulder'd turned suddenly nervous, agitated,pacing from the window to the control panel and back again, swaying thecar, beating his palm on the glass, muttering, "Come on, come *on,*goddamn it!" I was up out of my seat, ready to tell him to reverseit, take us back down, but it was too late, the car was already pullinginto the topside station, docking, with Mulder flicking the motor off. "I'mnot going out there," I snapped, seizing his arm, "and neitherare you."

"What the hell's the matter with you, Alex? C'mon, let me go--"

"Take us back down. *Now.*"

"Are you crazy? Scully's out there, I've got to--"

"Damn it, you don't understand, this isn't real, none of it's real,you don't have to go out there, if we turn around and go back it'll alljust go away--"

"C'mon, Alex, let me go right now, I mean it--"

"*NO!*"

His eyes turned cold, flinty, like stagnant grey ice-shards right therein front of me, exactly the way he'd looked back in Tunguska, the last timehe'd pounded the living shit out of me. "Get your fucking hands offme," he snarled, jerking away, striding out of the car, out of thestation.

He was halfway up the hill by the time I caught up with him. It was darknow, black and unforgiving except for the headlights up ahead, car headlights.Scully's car, parked at the side of the road at the hill's summit, enginestill running, front door and trunk open, a man bending over the trunk,reaching in, lifting Scully out. Duane Barry.

Mulder was running now, and so was I, struggling to keep up with him,but my foot snagged a rock and I went down, smacking the ground hard, gettingup just in time to hear Mulder's voice calling out, calling Barry's name,ordering him to freeze--

And then the sharp, brittle crack of a gunshot.

I saw him fall, saw him hit the ground in eerie slow-motion, bright redblooming in the center of his chest, saw Barry standing by the car, Scully'sgun in his hand, but it was all darkening, melting away, the car, Barry,Scully, everything but Mulder lying there on the cold, cold ground, gasping,wheezing, one hand scrabbling, digging convulsively in the grass. I fellto my knees, cradling him, dragging off my jacket, covering him with it,trying to keep him warm.

"S'okay, baby, s'okay, you're gonna be okay, everything's gonnabe okay, I'm gonna get you down from here, get you to a hospital, just hangon," I babbled, stroking him, rocking him, leaning down, giving hima tiny, chaste kiss. His lips were already cold, cold and blue as a corpse's,working, trying to say something, only a thin, wordless rasp coming out.All he could do was stare at me, right up at me, eyes wide, deep and hazel--

Glassy now, glassy and flat and lifeless.

I could feel the last breath seeping out of him, his body going limp,leaden in my arms, like wet, shredded paper. His eyes were still open, andI closed them, gently kissing each eyelid, laying him back down on the ground.

I didn't get up for a long time, just sat there looking at him, memorizingevery feature, every strand of silky brown hair. Wetness stung my face,but I didn't wipe it away; my handkerchief was in my jacket, but I leftit where it was, keeping Mulder safe, keeping him warm.

I heard a soft underfoot crunch of mulch and pine needles but didn'tbother looking up. I knew who it was, who it had to be. Roarke. "Itrust your fantasy's played itself out to your satisfaction, Mr. Krycek?"

My knees wobbled so much I could barely stand, but somehow I did, glaringat him, fighting the urge to smash him across that smug British jaw. "Thisis *not* what I asked for."

"Actually, I believe it is. If I recall correctly, you said oneof the things you wanted for your fantasy was to pretend you'd never betrayedhim. I merely recreated the scenario of your original betrayal and allowedyou the opportunity to make a different choice. Which you did."

"Bullshit. You call that a *choice*?"

"You had an inkling of what was going to happen the moment you sawthat tramcar, but you got on anyway. Admit it -- you couldn't bear to lethim go up there and face what you knew he'd have to face alone. *Again.*"

My mouth suddenly tasted like the Mojave. "I-I didn't mean for himto get fucking *killed.*"

"Different choices naturally bring about different consequences.Perhaps stopping that tramcar, keeping Mulder from the top of that mountainfor those few crucial minutes was the best thing you could have done forhim. You may very well have saved his life that night. I'm surprised you'venever considered that possibility."

I heard him but I didn't listen, just marched past him, back down thehill, back to the tramcar, getting in, slamming the door, heading back downthe mountain without him. Funny, but the station only had space for onecar. I wondered how Roarke had gotten up there so quickly.

My other new clothes -- the ones Mulder'd been wearing, and my jacket-- were laid out neatly on the bed when I got back to the room, comforterand sheets crisp and pristine, just like the day I'd arrived. It lookedlike I'd never been here. Like Mulder'd never been here.

But then, he never had. The man I'd spent the last three days with wasa ghost, a shadow of the past made flesh from my memories. Somewhere alongthe line fantasy and reality had lost their sharp edges in my mind, startedto meld, merge. I'd told a fantasy I was in love with him, but even in myfantasy I couldn't make him say the words back to me, because I knew itwasn't real. But I'd wanted it to be real, to be the way it was, not theway it should have been.

I didn't see Roarke again until it was time for me to board the planethe next morning. "Take care, Mr. Krycek," he said, extendinghis hand. I didn't take it. "You have a second chance waiting for youat home," he added with a tiny smile. "Not all of us can say that,you know."

I got on the plane, closing my eyes until we were airborne, staring downat the sea, black now, not blue, a solid sheet of black below me. Ripplingblack. Oily black.

I had a three-hour layover in Honolulu, and I spent it in a bar knockingback vodka, Stolichnaya, straight shots, icy-cold, finally slapping downa twenty for the whole bottle, taking it to a dark, quiet back table. Somethingstarted poking me in my side when I slumped down against the seat cushions;I dug around in my pocket, fishing out the note. My boss's note.

I skimmed it again, and again, slugging another shot, and another, savoringthe slow burn slithering all the way down into my belly, words swirling,swimming in front of my eyes. I didn't know what he meant, what any of itmeant, not anymore. The end of the world was coming, and I didn't give afuck. Maybe I should've told Roarke; he might've gotten a couple laughsout of it, if he'd believed me at all.

No, there was only one person who'd believe me now, if what my boss'snote said was true. One person I had to see once I got back, no matter howmuch it ripped me up inside.

I wondered if I could buy another bottle to bring with me on the plane.

------------------------------------------------

Mulder didn't come home the first night I staked out his apartment, orthe next night, or the next. Finally I went up and picked his lock, slippinginside unnoticed, flicking on the light, checking out the bedroom when thekitchen and living room proved empty. He wasn't there, and it appeared hehadn't been for a few days, at least; everything was covered in a fine filmof dust, dirty plates still on the kitchen table, piled up in the sink.Looked like I was in for a wait.

Kicking back on the couch, I turned on the TV, flipping channels untilmy stomach started rumbling. There was a pretty good Chinese restaurantacross the street; I called in an order on my cell phone, heaving myselfoff the couch to answer the door around forty minutes later. There wasn'ta single clean plate in any of the cupboards, so I washed what was on thetable and sink, drying one for myself, stacking the rest in the dish drainer,plopping myself down at the table, digging gratefully into my fried riceand kung-pao chicken.

A few minutes later, there came a sudden twist and crunch of a key inthe front door, and Mulder shuffled in. He looked like he'd been draggedthrough a knothole backwards, face stubbled and sunburned, hair stickingup in unkempt tufts, wearing dirty jeans and heavy boots and a snow-vestover long-sleeved thermal underwear. He blinked when he saw me sitting there,shaking his head, tossing his battered duffle bag on the floor next to mychair. "I think this must be a nightmare, but after the last week,it's hard to tell," he mumbled, yanking out the other chair, ploppingdown, hands on either side of his face, staring at me. "Christ, I'm*not* dreaming, am I?"

I choked back a snort. "Mulder, you don't know how funny that is."

"Huh?"

"Here." I shoved a carton at him, unwrapping a fresh set ofchopsticks. "Eat first, then we'll talk."

He downed the rice quickly, and looked a lot better once he had -- well,more alert anyway. "So where've you been for the last few days?"I prompted.

"The Great White South."

"*What*?"

"Antarctica."

"What's in Antarctica?"

"Whatever it was, it's not there anymore."

"Mulder, you're not making any sense."

So he started talking, low and raspy, gazing down at the table, tellingme about the case he and Scully'd been working on, the bombing in Dallas,the bodies they'd found in the exploded building there, the Bureau tryingto break up his and Scully's partnership, bees and cornfields out in themiddle of the desert, Scully's disappearance, what my boss had told him-- and given him -- minutes before he'd blown himself straight to hell,the mutated black oil, Antarctica and what he'd found there. Finally heran out of words and just sat there, giving me a shrug and his usual moodystare, plainly wondering if even I found all this too fucking crazy to believe.

"So she's okay?" I prompted.

"What?"

"Scully. She's gonna be all right?"

"Y-Yeah. We both got a little frostbitten, and she, um...had tospend a few days in the hospital in Sydney, but we're okay."

Silence. I could hear the kitchen faucet slowly dripping; I probablyhadn't turned it off tightly enough when I'd finished washing the dishes.

"Well, it's good to know it works," I murmured. Off his look,I added, "the vaccine, I mean."

"You already knew your boss had the vaccine before I mentioned it,didn't you?"

I hesitated, then nodded. "The Russians've been working on it almostas long as the Americans. I, um...stole a vial of it back in Tunguska, andmy boss blackmailed me into handing it over to him. At least now I knowhe didn't save it to use on himself and those other Consortium bastards."

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"If it wasn't for you, Scully'd be dead now, or..." He trailedoff, biting his lip, rubbing a hand over his face. "You helped saveher life, and I'm grateful."

I didn't know what to say to that. Maybe there was nothing to say. AllI knew was I wanted out of here, and right now. I couldn't sit here listeningto this, to his fucking *gratitude,* not for another second. "I-I'dbetter go," I said, getting up.

"I didn't believe what you said before," Mulder said softly."About the war, the invasion. I believe you now."

"Because of what you saw in Antarctica?"

"And Texas. And Skyland Mountain, and Tunguska and everywhere elseI've been in the past five years. I should've trusted my instincts, andI didn't. I lost my nerve."

"And *I* gave it back to you?"

For a second it looked like he might actually be mulling the question,but apparently he'd decided it wasn't worth his time, because all he didwas shrug again. I'd had enough of this evasive bullshit. Turning, I headedfor the door.

"Hey, where're you going?"

My hand was on the knob, gripping it, poised and ready, but the soundof his voice froze me in place. "Why the fuck do you care?"

"Look, Alex, if you need a place to stay..."

*Alex.* Alex, not Krycek. He hadn't called me that -- not really -- sincethat day back at the Hoover Building four years ago, the day he'd askedfor the keys to my car. The day I'd disappeared. I didn't want to turn back,didn't want to face him again, but suddenly my legs had their own ideas."S'okay, I-I'll, um...get a hotel or something."

"You don't have to."

"I've got money," I snapped. "I can take care of myself."

"That's not what I meant."

I could see what he meant; it was all there, in the way he sat, the wayhe was looking at me now, relaxed, open, all guards coming down in frontof my eyes. I'd never seen him this way before, not for real, anyway. Maybehe was just tired, too tired to keep up the effort. Maybe everything he'dbeen through in the past week had taught him to live in the moment, grabwhat you can when you can, look doom in the face and flip it off. Not abad philosophy to have, considering what we both knew was coming.

"Don't go," he said.

Two words. Two short, simple words were all I needed to hear. I steppedback into the kitchen. "Y-You sure?"

"Yeah, I am," he replied with a tired little half-grin, gettingup, heading for the bedroom. "I'm gonna have a shower. You look likeyou could use one too."

I heard the water coming on in the bathroom, heard Mulder opening theshower door, stepping inside, but all I could do was stand where I was,glued to the spot, paralyzed. He hadn't seen me without my jacket sinceTunguska, and I'd been careful not to let him see or touch the prosthesisthe last time I'd been here in his apartment. He didn't know, and I didn'tknow how to tell him.

But maybe showing was better than telling. My Fantasy-Mulder had seenand accepted my loss, and me, without qualm or hesitation. The real Mulderwasn't all that different. Whatever he'd been in my fantasy had come fromthe way I remembered him -- and I had a pretty good memory.

I'd shed most of my clothes by the time I got to the bathroom door, kickingoff my boxers, snapping the straps on my prosthesis, laying it on the vanity.The room was already humid, hazy with steam, but I could see Mulder behindthe foggy glass, soap in his hair, sticking his head under the spray. Nowor never. I slid open the door and climbed in.

It took him a minute to finish rinsing and see me, really *see* me. Hismouth dropped open a little, astonished but not repulsed, eyes finally meetingmine, swallowing hard. "Tunguska?" he mouthed.

I nodded. "How'd you--"

"Somebody tried to do the same thing to me. Can I, um...I mean,is it okay if I--"

"You can touch it if you want."

His fingers were slow and gentle, stroking down from my shoulder, tracingthe jagged scars, hazel eyes taking in everything, biting his lip. "Doesit hurt?"

"Some. I guess I'm used to it by now." I shrugged. "It'sno big deal, it's just an arm. I've got another one."

"'Kay," he murmured, accepting my apparent acceptance of itwith a nod, giving my shoulder a squeeze, reaching up for the showerhead,waggling it, spraying me from foot to neck, both of us breaking into giggles.I flashed back to that first day on the beach, and felt myself startingto relax.

I slumped back against the cool beige tile, letting the water hit me,lazily watching Mulder wash himself with a thick, sudsy sponge and rinseoff again, groaning in happy relief, half his exhaustion seeming to fallaway in an instant, swirling down the drain with the soap. Then, grinning,he turned to me with the sponge, starting with my neck and shoulders, downmy right arm and across my chest and belly, dribbling slick, bubbly waterall the way, leaning in, coming closer, bodies touching before our lipsdid, wet and slippery and so fucking perfect my knees almost buckled underme. "You want?" he murmured, nipping, teasing, half-kissing, half-biting.His stubble scratched but it felt good, sandpaper skin and that full, silkymouth blazing a trail down my throat.

"Y-Yeah, but--"

"What?"

"*Bed.*"

He gave me a look. "You sure?"

"I'm gonna fall on my ass in a minute if we stay in here."

"Okay, okay, gimme a sec," he chuckled, stepping back, steppingout to let me rinse off, throwing me a towel as I climbed out, barely lettingme dry off before he was pulling me along into the bedroom, tumbling usonto the bed together, kissing me deep and hard then pulling away, staringdown at me like he'd never seen me before. It was the same way for me, Isupposed -- except I felt like I was about to get my cherry popped for thesecond time in a week. "*What*?" he asked.

"What d'you mean, what?"

"You've got this goofy look on your face, and I wanna know why."

"No, you don't."

"Yeah, I do. *Give.*"

"Mulder--"

"Give it up, Alex. I mean it."

Christ, how was I gonna say this? "I-I've just been, um...fantasizingabout you for a long time, and now that this is really, *really* happening...Id-dunno, it just seems kinda...weird. But in a good way," I added quickly.

"You've been fantasizing about me," he repeated, completelydeadpan. "For a long time."

"Yeah."

"How long?"

"Oh, days. Months. Years."

He grinned. "*Really*?"

"C'mon, Mulder, your ego doesn't need that big a boost."

"Well, if you're not gonna put that sexy mouth to good use, I will.C'mere." And down we went in a tangle of arms and legs, rolling androughhousing, shoving rumpled clothes off onto the floor, me sliding downbetween his legs, licking, sucking his balls, tonguing the silken tip ofhis cock, opening, taking him deep. He hit the back of my throat on thefirst stroke, gagging me, making me pull off and try again, swallowing himmore slowly this time, wrapping my tongue up and down the length of him,gliding back down to the tip to tickle and tease. Fingers winding in myhair told me I was on the right track, soft gasps stabbing the air as Iplunged and kept plunging, sucking him harder, faster, gasps turning tomoans, moans to one long, rasping cry, his cock jerking, spasming, hot,salty cream jetting over my tongue, down my throat.

I gave the tip of his cock a last kiss and scooted up next to him, strokinghis shoulder, his chest. He looked beautiful, lying there panting, sheenedwith sweat, smelled beautiful too, like come, all warm and spicy. I gavehim what he wanted, what I knew he wanted when he reached for me, pullingme down, shoving my tongue between his lips, flicking, dancing, entwining,letting him taste himself. My cock jumped, twitched in response, proddinghis hip.

"Hmmm...and how're we gonna take care of this?" Mulder wonderedaloud, grasping, squeezing me, grinning at my sharp intake of breath. "Whatd'you want?"

"Um, doesn't matter, anything you want--"

"Got that right here," he replied, stroking my arm, leaningin for another kiss. "Look, Alex...if you wanna do me, I don't mind."

I wasn't sure I'd heard him right. He'd never suggested this before,not four years ago, not back on the island. It'd never occurred to me toask this of him, even within the framework of my fantasy; it'd just seemedso unlike him to willingly give up that kind of control, especially to me.

But maybe that was what he needed now, what we both needed. He livedso much inside his own head, breaking free had to be the ultimate relief.Maybe that was his fantasy. Far be it from me to keep it from coming true.

He was already rolling onto his stomach, but I stopped him, turning himon his left side; no way could I keep my balance lying on top of him withonly one arm to steady myself. All I wanted to do now was hold him, anyway,and I did, arm wrapping around him, fingers toying with the soft, crisphairs dusting the center of his chest, tweaking pebbled nipples. The low,throaty little sounds he was making told me he'd started that slow, sweetclimb back to full arousal, but despite my own throbbing cock, I was inno hurry. I wasn't coming inside him until I had him begging for it.

Soft, wet kisses were the way to start, trailing my lips from his hairlineall the way down one shoulder blade, then the other, sweat prickling, stingingon my tongue, inhaling salty-musk richness. I could've spent a whole daylike this, licking him from forehead to ankle and back again. That lowerlip of his was a goddamned meal in itself.

My hand drifted down, tickling his belly, reaching lower. God, he washalf-hard already and getting harder, straining, pumping into my hand, grindinghis ass into my crotch. His firm, plush ass.

So much for restraint; my last tattered shreds ripped, blowing away likea flag in a hurricane. Shoving two fingers in his mouth, I growled, "youwant it?" and he did, biting, wetting them, teeth dragging as I tuggedthem away, reaching down and around, parting him, probing his anus withone tentative fingertip. He felt hot and satiny and he relaxed instantlyfor me, both fingers sliding in with ease. "C'mon," I heard himbreathe, ragged, desperate, horny as hell, "c'mon, Alex, I'm ready."

I hoped he still had what I needed in the bedside table, and he did;I rolled the rubber on in a blur of motion, slicking it with extra lube,sliding back, thigh slung over his hip, arm around his waist, positioningmyself, giving a tiny push, gasping, sinking in all the way in one long,deep stroke, like a knife splitting a perfectly ripe peach.

He was a furnace inside, scalding, crisping me all the way to the endsof my hair, but I held back, taking it slow and easy, kissing, biting hisshoulder, waves of pleasure pulsing up through my cock, flooding my brain,shoving me right to the fucking brink. He must've known what he was doingto me, because he gave a tiny squeeze, tightening his muscles around meagain and again and that was it, I was pounding, slamming into him, grabbing,pumping his cock, and he was coming, shooting all over my hand, me following,coming so hard my vision went red. Hazy, fading red.

He was lying curled at my side when I finally opened my eyes, one armdraped lazily half-across my belly, soft breath tickling my chest. "Youokay?" he asked muzzily, looking up with a sleepy smile. "Youkinda conked out there for a couple minutes. I was starting to get worried."

"S'okay, it's not the first time it's happened."

"So...when do I get to hear about all these great fantasies of yours?"

"Jesus, Mulder, anybody ever tell you you're an egomaniac?"

"Hey, that's *Mr.* Egomaniac to you."

"Smart-ass."

"You're breaking my heart."

"Pain-in-the-ass."

"Takes one."

I groaned. "Case closed."

"Aw, c'mon, Alex. *Tell* me."

This was too much. For a single freaky nanosecond I could almost sweartime had spun backward to a week ago, and I was still on the island, inmy room, lying in bed with my fantasy man. The one I'd fallen in love with.The one who wasn't real.

"Goddamn you, Roarke," I murmured. "You and your fuckingsecond chances."

"What'd you say?"

"Nothing."

Silence.

"So...you gonna tell me or not?"

"*Not,*" I answered firmly, tousling his hair, leaning in fora kiss. "I think I'll show you instead."

-- END --