TITLE: Winter Blues M/K (01/03)
AUTHOR: Tarlan
DATE: 16 October 1999
E-MAIL ADRESS: TarlanX@aol.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Gossamer - yes. Ratlover - Yes. Terma - Yes. Spookey site - Yes. Basement-Yes. Elsewhere please ask.
WEB SITE: http://chaelyndra.com/nicklea/index.html then click on the fiction button
SPOILER WARNING: All Krycek episodes up to and including 2F/1S. RATING: NC-17
CONTENT WARNING: m/m sex and some swearing. WHOOP, WHOOP MAJOR SCHMOOP ALERT. If this isn't your scene then don't bother reading on. You have been warned.
CLASSIFICATION: X
SUMMARY: Mulder decides to search for Alex Krycek when he doesn't show on New Year's Eve.
COMMENTS: Sequel to 'Another Lonely Christmas' and my very, very late response to the 'Krycek 'n' Jackboots Challenge'. Thanks, as always, to Aqualegia for all the encouragement, advice and beta reading. Any and all comments gratefully received - as long as they're constructive. PLEASE FEED ME!! Flames will be circulated around so we can all have a good laugh at your expense so if you don't want the publicity...
DISCLAIMER: Fox Mulder, Alex Krycek and all other X-Files regulars belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and FOX Television. No copyright infringement intended. Any characters you haven't heard of before, are copyrighted to me.

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Winter Blues
by Tarlan
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"And I guess that's why they call it the Blues Time on my hands could be time spent with you Laughing like children Living like lovers Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that's why they call it the Blues" 'And I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues' by Elton John

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Her attention attracted by a soft sigh, Scully scowled at Mulder over the top of the ballistics report she was reading. He was really beginning to irritate her now. For the nth time over the past few days a small smile had flickered across her partner's face as his beautiful green/gold eyes, once again, took on that glazed, faraway look. His long fingers were gently stroking the plush, velvet softness of one of those grey alien dolls that seemed to be the craze this year. She pursed her lips. A present, no doubt, from the woman who had lain snuggled against him on Christmas morning.

Her frown deepened. When he had turned down her offer to spend Christmas Eve at her apartment he had made no mention of having other plans. She had assumed he was merely uncomfortable with the idea of having to socialize with her mother, realizing how Christmas could be a bad time for someone coming from a dysfunctional family such as his. Nevertheless, she had dropped by his apartment early on Christmas morning with the intention of re-issuing her offer to spend the day with her family. Her thoughts drifted back....

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His apartment had been strangely quiet for someone with an acute case of insomnia. It was very rare for there to be no sound, or flickering picture from the TV set, and no sign of him sprawled across the old leather couch. For one moment she thought he was out, and then she heard the soft sound of movement from... the bedroom? Mulder *never* used the bedroom... and that's when she noticed the half-empty bottle of vodka on the coffee table - and two glasses. Her curiosity got the better of her and she crept towards the open doorway of the seldom-used room.

The curtains were closed, but the sharp, cold whiteness of winter light bled through the thin material so she could just make out the sleep-tousled hair and pale face of her partner against the soft blue pillow. He was lying on his back; the blanket pulled up high, head angled slightly to the side towards the door. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise, as it became apparent that a second person-shape was draped across him. Only a small part of the back of the head was visible above the blankets, dark hair pillowed against Mulder's shoulder, features hidden in the curve of his neck as her partner rested his cheek against his lover. She backed out quickly, in embarrassment, her thoughts whirling on who the mystery person might be yet not wanting to be caught staring from the doorway....

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Now, as she sat at her desk watching him dream away another day, her thoughts returned once more to this mystery lover. Her first thought was Phoebe Green, that oh-so-English detective that had caused no end of grief during the Cecil L'Ively case but Mulder had made it clear he was no longer interested in her. Who else had he mentioned over the years? Some Entomologist called Bambi? Or perhaps it was someone new... or someone bought. She clamped down on that thought as uncharitable. Mulder was too handsome to need to buy the services of a Hooker... unless he was desperate.... No. No Hooker was going to buy him a present and she was certain that alien doll was a gift from his bedmate. Scully slammed down the report in disgust.

"Scully? Something bothering you?"

Those faraway eyes were now sharply focused on her face, and she felt a fierce blush burn across her cheeks until even the tips of her ears felt hot.

"Uhh, no. No. Just... can't get into this report."

His eyes narrowed in puzzlement, then a lop-sided grin arched across his handsome face.

"Perhaps it's time to call it a day."

Scully glanced at her wristwatch. It was only three in the afternoon, but most of the building would have been cleared hours ago. No one stayed late on New Years Eve unless they had to... or had no where else to go.

"D'you wanna go for coffee?"

His teeth chewed thoughtfully on his full bottom lip for a moment before he shook his head.

"Can't, Scully. Got plans."

"Anyone I know?" Her own eyes narrowed to thin blue strips at his shuttered expression and, haltingly, she continued. "I... err... dropped by to see you Christmas morning, but you had a... guest."

Fear quickened his breath, but he pushed the sudden dread aside as her words sank in, or more precisely, her tone of voice. There was no accusation, just curiosity. If she had seen... him... then she would have been ranting and foaming at the mouth days ago.

"Just an old friend who just happened to be in town and dropped by out of the blue."

"Are you seeing this old friend tonight?"

"I hope so."

Scully tilted her head at the softened tone. "Someone special?"

Mulder turned away, partly in embarrassment, and partly to hide the reaction those words caused. Was Alex special? Yes. Yes. Yes. His fingers tightened on the doll as he fought the urge to press the silly stuffed creature against his heart. He cleared his throat and turned back.

"So, are you off to the Party tonight? Wave in the New Year with our fellow Enforcement Agents?"

She smiled, recognizing the change of subject, deciding to ride with his wishes.
//But this is just a postponement, Mulder. After tomorrow I'm gonna drag all the dirty details out of you.// This thought swum deliciously around her head as she laid out her own plans for bringing in the New Year.

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Mulder stamped his feet on the doormat to shake off the snow clinging to his dress shoes, then made his way up to his apartment. He dropped the grocery bags on the kitchen table and then pulled off his coat, leaving it draped over a chair to dry off. He shivered. Damn. He had forgotten to set the timer before he left for work this morning, and the place was as cold as the inside of his refrigerator. Moving swiftly to the heating controls, Mulder turned it up to maximum. No way was he gonna freeze his butt off should his... Guest? Friend?

"Lover."

A warm sensation spread through his chest, curling in the pit of his stomach before tingling downwards into his groin. The remainder of that initial thought was lost in the maelstrom of sensation caused by a single word, then by the torrent of anxiety and fear that followed.

//What if he doesn't come?//

Mulder brushed away the fear and began to sort through the bags, pushing some items into barely stocked cupboards, others into the empty refrigerator. It was the most food he had brought into the apartment in years but he didn't want to give Alex any excuse to run out on him... should he come.

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One month later....

The crisp, newly fallen snow crunched beneath his army boots, the sound echoing sharply in a strangely muffled, deserted world, as he made his way across the square towards the dilapidated apartment building that he presently called 'home'. The sparsely lit streets increased his feelings of isolation... of loneliness... as he moved within the dark shadows, ignoring the insipid orange light glowing from the street lamps. For a moment he wondered where everyone else could be.

//Probably all tucked up safe and warm in their beds// he thought to himself as he pushed his hand deeper into the pocket of the thick overcoat. //Where I oughta be.//

He sighed. In another fifteen minutes he would probably manage to achieve half of that. Warm? Possibly, if the heating hadn't packed up... again. Safe? Nowhere on this planet was safe anymore. Everything he had feared had come to pass. Strughold and his cronies had started packing Humans into the Colonist container ships. It was all going to hell, just as he had told Covarrubias all those months ago. He smiled sadly. There was only one place that had seemed even remotely safe and warm over these past few months - Mulder's arms. His mind drifted back to that one night when the loneliness of his chosen life had been swept away for such a pitifully short time. In many ways he regretted that night, for it had shown him what he truly wanted - and what he couldn't have - and the emptiness that followed seemed so much the worse for knowing. Even so, the thought of Fox Mulder warmed a special place in the soul many believed he did not possess but, like heat applied to frozen fingers, the memory brought searing pain. He felt tears of anger and frustration well up in his eyes but quickly wiped them away before they had a chance to freeze on his face. God, how he wished he could be in Mulder's arms, safe and warm, rolling together under that thick blue coverlet.

//Christ!// So what the hell was he doing here in Berlin, in mid- winter, when he wanted to be in Washington DC with Mulder?

Unfortunately, that particular question seemed far too easy to answer despite all the complications in his life. He sneered at himself. When had he become such a zealot? When had destroying the invading Colonists become a personal crusade? Had the Englishman reached another part of him that he had thought long dead, re-directing that urge for self-preservation, bringing out the Hero in him? Or had this something to do with Fox William Mulder and his quest for the truth? Certainly this new purpose had dampened the survival instincts that had kept him going through the years but, this time, the whole world was at stake rather than just his country. He shook his head deprecatingly as he fumbled with the key in the lock. Alexei Krycek, American patriot turned World Crusader. Perhaps he should start wearing his underwear over his pants and call himself 'Super Rat'.

He shivered and stamped his feet on the mat inside the entrance hall, shut the door quietly behind himself, then climbed the rickety stairs, his boots thudding as heavily as his heart against the bare and splintered wood. He paused outside the door to his small, grimy apartment. Years on the run had taught him to ignore the peeling wallpaper and lumpy beds, but he couldn't help wishing he was back in Mulder's warm apartment, lying wrapped in his arms on the old, comfortable couch, his head pillowed on Mulder's chest, watching some stupid seasonal movie.

//Jesus, Krycek. You're so pathetic.//

He often berated himself, sometimes out loud, but mostly internally and usually in Mulder's sexy monotone.

So, what *was* he doing here in Berlin?

He was here because Conrad Strughold was here. Strughold knew the location of the second Colonist ship. Information vital to the Rebellion. Information he had been directed to obtain for the Human Resistance at any cost. Well, several days ago he had achieved a modicum of success. Backtracking Strughold's movements had led him to a site within the vast desert of North Africa. He had passed along the details but *they* would have to verify it for themselves. All he needed to do now was sit tight, and wait. If the information did not pan out then he might have to make that, possibly suicidal, attempt on Strughold's well-secured office.

From their lack of interest he assumed the Antarctic ship was long gone taking its cargo of Colonist infected Humans with it. According to Mulder's report, which he had obtained through illicit channels, it had taken off following his infiltration to rescue Dana Scully, leaving a gaping chasm behind in the ice field. Krycek had seen the surveillance photos and was still stunned by the sheer size of the hole. He often wondered how come no one had ever noticed something that big entering Earth's atmosphere - let alone leaving the planet. Even if the world's military was in the Consortium's pocket, there were plenty of civilian stations. Obviously, the Colonists had some other method of avoiding detection, and he was dammed if he knew anything about it. But then, he was a 'soldier' not a scientist.

He pushed the key into the lock on his apartment and twisted, shoving hard to open the sticking door then reached in to flick on the light. The bulb made a fizz and pop.

"Shit!"

He sniffed loudly and sighed, if that were not bad enough, the place felt only marginally warmer than outside. Damn heating had packed up again.

"I gotta leave this dump before it kills me."

The weak light from the hallway barely stretched a few feet into the room but it was enough to catch the surface of a small piece of paper lying in his path. Krycek's eyes narrowed and he cocked his head to one side, listening for any betraying sounds but, apart from the humming motor of the ancient refrigerator, the apartment was as silent as a grave. He pulled out his gun and moved sideways into the deepening shadows, crouching low to offer a smaller target. Still nothing. Curiosity drew him slowly forward until he was close enough to read the words.

'Old habits die hard'.

He frowned and crouched down again to reach for the paper, wondering if there was another message on the other side. The hand that whipped out from beneath the bed caught his wrist, pitching him forward onto his face, the gun still held but useless in his grip. Another hand appeared and the pressure of a barrel against his temple stilled his next move.

"You must be losing it, Krycek. I can beat you at your own game."

Krycek raised both eyebrows in surprise at the familiar words and even more familiar voice.

"Mulder?"

"Toss the gun away."

Alex Krycek threw the gun several feet, it landed with a heavy thud and skittered across the floor for another couple of feet. "So what brings you to Berlin, Mulder?"

"Get up."

Krycek huffed, then shook his head slowly before letting it drop to the threadbare carpet. Despite his predicament, he really didn't give a damn what Mulder did to him, and he couldn't help the beaming smile that was, fortunately or not, hidden from Mulder's view... nor could he prevent the warm rush that culminated in his groin as that achingly familiar monotone washed over him.

Mulder pursed his lips together in annoyance when Krycek made no attempt to move, and he slid out from under the bed with as much grace as he could muster. He had spent a fair portion of the day sitting outside this freezing apartment waiting for Krycek's return, all the while debating how he would greet the man. His muscles felt stiff and sore from the cold, and from the inactivity. Once the night began to close in he had given up and decided to break in - if only to get out of the biting wind. He had dared to switch on the light for only a few moments... enough time to acquaint his eidetic memory with the room's layout but, hopefully, not long enough to draw attention to his intrusion. A heavy tap on the bulb was enough to damage the filament and the decision to hide under the bed came a little later, appealing to his warped sense of humour.

Mulder heard Krycek sniff and breathe heavily through his mouth. His lips softened into a small but feral smile as he rose to his feet, brushing away the dust and fluff from his overcoat. He kicked Krycek in the thigh, not gently but not viciously either. Krycek flinched as if expecting more of the same yet seemed reluctant to put up any fight. Any attention from Mulder was better than the loneliness of the past month.

"I said get up."

Mulder reached across and flicked on the bedside lamp, his smile turning to a grin as he took in the pale features and red, runny nose beneath the dark grey Cossack hat.

"You're a little too late for the Rudolph auditions. Christmas was last month."

Krycek sniffed once more, raising his hand to wipe across his nose, and the FBI Agent's grin widened on hearing the congestion in the other that forced the Russian American to take deep breaths.

"You gotta cold? Jesus, Krycek. You look so pathetic."

He frowned when Alex Krycek ducked his head to hide the smile that threatened to break across his face on hearing words, so similar to the ones he had berated himself with earlier, in that very same, almost playful, tone.

"Did you forget to pay the heating bill? This place is freezing. Pack your stuff."

"What?"

Confusion brought a frown that crinkled the bridge of his nose. Something was definitely off-key. Anger he expected... or perhaps a return to the previous 'old habit' of using him for a punch bag, but not this... this... smugness.

"I'm not gonna freeze my butt off here a moment longer, Krycek. Pack your stuff. We're going."

"Now wait a minute..."

Mulder gave him a condescending smile as Krycek picked himself up from the floor. He re-holstered his gun and started opening drawers - all empty.

"Travelling light?"

A deep sigh and a shake of the head were all he gained before Krycek stomped to the tallboy. There seemed little point in staying now that Mulder knew his whereabouts. It could only be a matter of time before other, less friendly parties, arrived on his doorstep - if they were not already waiting outside in the shadows, but it was a risk he had to take. He pulled out a medium sized holdall that contained his jeans and t-shirts and dropped it on the bed, then disappeared for a moment into a nearby room before returning with a wash bag and shoving it viciously into the holdall. Returning to the tallboy, he removed the leather jacket and moved back in front of Mulder. Mulder picked up a worn paperback from the bedside cabinet, eyebrow raising at the title 'The Vampire Lestat'. Several seconds passed.

"That's it? Don't tell me these are all your worldly possessions?"

Krycek bristled in annoyance, snatching the book from Mulder's grasp and placing it in the holdall, but the affronted effect was lost completely as several sneezes in succession overtook him. He gratefully accepted the handkerchief Mulder held out and blew his nose. Then watched as Mulder hefted the holdall and made for the door. He followed stiffly, aware of the danger that might be lurking outside but, inside, he was more than relieved to leave the flea-bitten, roach-infested dump. Mulder paused at the bottom of the stairs.

"I assume you have a car stashed someplace."

Krycek sighed and led the way out the back door. He paused for a moment, listening to the silence of the night, before crunching his way across the alley to a black Volkswagen Golf. A click signalled the opening of the trunk and he threw in his jacket, waiting until Mulder had dropped the holdall in, before slamming the tailgate shut. He started to move towards the driver's side before Mulder's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Keys."

"My car. I drive." He glared back at the FBI agent. It seemed as though some things never changed. Mulder still hated to relinquish the driver's seat, a trait that extended far beyond transportation.

"Just give me the goddamned keys, Krycek."

"Christ, are you always so fucking annoying?" He stared at the implacable expression and lifted his own eyes heavenward. He really wasn't in the mood for this. "Fuck it! Have the goddamned keys then."

He threw the car keys at his ex-partner and one-time lover, then trudged around the car to the passenger side, totally missing the triumphant smirk that crossed the handsome face. The drive passed by in silence while Krycek stared out of the side window, not wanting to make eye contact with Mulder. He watched the dark, drab streets give way to a wider stretch of open land that was once the East-West divide but there were no remains of the Berlin Wall, no Checkpoint. He began to notice more signs for the airport and frowned. Surely Mulder wasn't planning on forcing him aboard another plane, not that he remembered Hong Kong after going to wash the blood off his face - and that woman...

"Where're we going?" Silence. "Mulder! I'm not getting on any plane with you. I have... I can't leave here yet."

"We're not going to the airport."

Krycek leaned back into his seat, still tense. He relaxed slightly when, ten minutes later, the car pulled off into a hotel parking lot. Mulder got out and released the tailgate. He watched and waited as Krycek made no attempt to leave the car.

"Alex?"

The dark head bowed, the shoulders drooping, then Krycek opened the door and got out. He straightened his hat and moments later they were trudging through the thickening snow shower towards the hotel entrance. Once inside, they brushed the snowflakes from coats, and stamped to remove the snow from their boots. Mulder made his way to the reception desk.

"I'd like to upgrade my room to two sharing."

"I am sorry, Herr Mulder. There are no twin rooms available until Mittwoch... Wednesday. The Conference... However, I can arrange for a... put-you-up, to be sent to your room. Will this satisfy?"

"That's OK. The bed's large enough to share for one night."

Mulder looked around and noticed Krycek was still standing by the entrance, holdall slung across his broad shoulder. His heart skipped a beat as he remembered an old phrase, 'there's nothing like a man in uniform'. The tall, well-built frame looked every inch a soldier, with fur trimmed winter hat, greatcoat and thick- soled, black boots. Mulder tilted his head in a beckoning gesture and Krycek marched towards him, slowly, the boots thudding along the tiled reception area. Several heads turned to watch the handsome Russian 'Officer' pass by, but Mulder barely noticed them, his whole gaze taken up by the heart-wrenching, beautiful sight of his lover. Mulder waited until he was close and spoke sotto voce.

"I like a man in uniform... but you look like you joined the Russian Army."

For a moment he was tempted to tell Mulder that he held the 'honorary' rank of Major, but thought better of it, especially as some Russians would have liked nothing better than to strip him of his rank and execute him after that stunt in Tunguska. Abducting the boy, Dmitri, was one thing, but stealing the vaccine and giving it to the Americans was unforgivable in the eyes of the Russian Consortium. They had wanted the vaccine for themselves, to give their own people an edge but others, those in league with the Rebel Aliens and the now deceased Englishman, had seen his actions in a different light.

He rarely had the opportunity to wear the uniform these days, but the Human Resistance had managed to install him in the Russian Embassy as part of the security force. His rank, position, and knowledge had given him a certain amount of discreet access to individuals within the Berlin Embassy. In fact, it was the sole reason why he was wearing the uniform. Until he knew, one way or another, whether the information on the Colonist ship panned out, he needed to carry on with the assignment. He had only hoped it would not take too long as every passing day increased the risk of discovery.

Tonight he had been returning 'home' from his shift at the Embassy as usual, not expecting to find someone waiting for him. His heart beat a little faster. Not *just* someone. Mulder. His Mulder. The bright green eyes fell headlong into a gold and green gaze. Alex shivered slightly as a warm tendril of desire coiled within him.

"Shall we?"

Mulder gestured towards the elevator and they rode up to the fifth floor in silence. A short walk along the well-lit, and well-decorated, corridor brought them to Mulder's room. He swiped the electronic key card through the lock and turned the handle. The door swung open smoothly and Mulder swept his hand out in a flourish for Krycek to precede him. Alex stopped just inside the door, holdall dropping to the floor, mouth falling open at the sight of the ostentatious room. A far cry from the flea-ridden hovel he had just left. The high walls were papered in soft green and beige. Thick, green velvet curtains, falling from the top of the windows to the floor, were a shade darker than the walls. The thick-piled, luxurious carpet showed no signs of wear and the bed... Krycek looked back at Mulder.

"Not something I expected to see on an FBI expense account."

"This is pleasure - not business."

Krycek mulled over the words for a moment. So Mulder had come here for personal reasons. For a moment he hoped that reason was him, but it was more likely that he had been tipped off about something relating to his quest for the truth. He only hoped that he could convince Mulder to leave before the agent blew his cover at the Embassy. Krycek removed the thick fur trimmed hat and placed it on a beautifully carved chest of drawers, then started to undo his coat but his still frozen fingers wouldn't obey his commands. There were many times when he mourned the loss of his left hand. This was one of them.

"Let me."

Mulder moved in front of him and began to tease the buttons through the holes, his golden, glowing eyes never once leaving their deep, forest green counterparts. He pushed the coat open and off the shoulders, its heavy weight dragging it from the unresisting body until it pooled at Krycek's feet. Mulder stepped back to admire the deep brown uniform. The jacket with its red epaulettes and flash fitted perfectly, tapering from the broad shoulders to the much narrower waist. The pants flared out slightly from where they tucked into the boots. Even the trudge through the snow had not dulled the shine in the black leather. The stunning effect was suddenly blasted into oblivion by another string of sneezes. Mulder grabbed a box of Kleenex off the dresser and threw it at Krycek.

"Thanks."

"A shower."

"What?"

"That'll help warm you up. You're frozen."

Mulder moved forward once more and began to unbutton the jacket with fingers that felt far more competent and able than he expected. He felt a pulse jump in his groin, and a tightness, as the material of his pants stretched around his burgeoning erection.

//Oh God, Alex. See what you do to me!// A hand brushed his fingers aside.

"I can manage now."

"At least let me help take off your boots."

Krycek stared at him for a moment and then relented. To be honest, he had found it hard enough removing the boots when he had *both* arms. He sat down on the edge of the bed, his heart fluttering at the sight of Fox Mulder kneeling before him. Mulder grabbed the back of the heel and the toe and pulled. Alex flexed his foot and the boot slid smoothly off. It was discarded but, instead of reaching for the other boot, Mulder grabbed his foot, stripped off the thick woollen sock and began to massage. Strong fingers circled across the ball of his cold foot then moved to knead each toe in turn, gradually bringing warmth back into his extremities. He then moved to the other foot, grabbing the boot as before and waiting for Alex to flex before pulling slowly. The sock followed the first, and another massage left more than just his feet tingling.

Mulder gazed up with lidded eyes, a smile tugging gently at his luscious mouth as he noticed the telltale bulge in front of him. It pleased him to know Alex still felt the same desire for him. He raised his eyes higher and took in the flushed face.

"I'll... finish undressing in the bathroom."

Mulder rose to his feet in one fluid motion and held out a hand that was reluctantly taken. He watched as Krycek moved swiftly to the bathroom, detouring only to snatch up his holdall on the way. The door snicked shut behind him. Mulder gazed at the closed door for a moment then decided that it would be better if he weren't still standing there where Krycek came out again. After hanging the leather jacket, and both his and Krycek's overcoats, in the wardrobe, he collapsed onto the bed with a sigh, his thoughts racing back to Christmas Day.....

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Alex had spent the whole of Christmas Day with him. They had stayed in bed most of the morning, limbs entangled, lips and hands caressing silken skin, only moving to get food and to pee. Eventually they had showered and dressed, flicking on the TV and lying together, full length, on the couch. Mulder had wrapped his arms around his lover, pulling the muscular frame back against him snugly as they finished watching some stupid film about Santa Claus... until Alex had suddenly leapt up.

"I forgot."

He drew the gaily-wrapped box from the carrier and passed it to Mulder, watching in apprehension as the paper was torn off. His face had brightened, a heartstring pulling smile lighting up the beautiful, angelic features when Mulder looked up in pleasure. The soft grey alien doll seemed to follow them around for the rest of the day, as if permanently attached to its new owner. Gradually, darkness fell and Mulder noticed the increasing number of times that his lover glanced at the clock on the VCR. A deep sigh heralded the end of their time together.

"I've gotta go."

"Why?"

"Because... but I'd like to come back."

"New Year's Eve?" Silence fell for moment.

"I'll try... but I can't promise. Things might come up." His fingers had stroked along Mulder's stubbled cheek. "Whatever happens, I want you to know this is the best Christmas I've had in a long, long time and I..."

Krycek looked away without finishing and Mulder could only nod in response, his own thoughts echoing that of his lover's. And then Alex was gone, leaving Mulder's world far emptier, but with a glimmer of bright hope that they would spend another day like this very soon.....


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Mulder's thoughts raced forward.....

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The stroke of Midnight on New Years Eve was accompanied by the sound of raised voices. He moved to the window and watched people pour out of nearby apartment buildings to dance in the street. Party poppers and firecrackers added to the mayhem, but the lone man felt only a new emptiness. *He* hadn't come. His phone jangled moments later and, heart in mouth, he reached across to snag the receiver.

/Mulder! It's Scully. Happy New Year./

"Hey! Same back."

/Did your guest arrive?/ The silence was all she needed to guess the answer... that and the slight disappointment apparent in his voice. /Maybe they were held up... or something came up. Why don't you come on down here. The Party's just begun./

"Thanks, but no thanks. I'll hang around here just in case."

/Mulder...?/

"Hey Scully! Enjoy the party. Give Skinner a kiss from me!"

/Too late, I already did!/

Mulder almost felt guilty for the smile that crossed his face but the mischief in his partner's slightly inebriated voice lifted some of the despondency.

/Hey, I'll call again later./

"Sure. Later."

As he replaced the receiver her words came back to haunt him. /Maybe they were held up./ His chest constricted for a moment in panic. What if...? He forced a deep breath into his lungs and berated himself. Krycek knew how to take care of himself... wasn't that what he did best? But still his thoughts returned to that 'What if'?

Sometime over the next hour he had made the decision to find Alex. The first, most obvious place to check was, mentally speaking, the hardest... the FBI database on reported deaths. There had been one bad moment when he came across a 'John Doe' answering Krycek's description but the amputated arm had been the right not the left. A Gulf War Veteran who had decided to bump up the Christmas Suicide statistics by eating his own gun.

Weeks passed by with no leads and then, as he trudged into his apartment after another fruitless day, he spotted a small piece of paper lying just inside the door. Mulder pulled out his gun and made a thorough search of the apartment before returning to the note. He grimaced, realising that, this time, it had probably been slipped under the door. Snatching it up he glanced at the writing and was instantly disappointed. The handwriting was not the same as before, so Alex had not written the note. Mulder read the words. On one side was 'Seek and ye shall find', on the other an address in Berlin.

A small ray of hope flared within him. The only 'seeking' he had performed lately was the search for Alexei Krycek. A simple phone call confirmed there was a seat on a flight heading out in a few hours. He would have just enough time to pack a bag and make a few more calls.

He knew no one would complain if he requested a vacation - certainly not his new boss who wanted nothing better than to have him out of his sight, so he typed out an Email and sent it to Kersh's secretary. Scully would be more difficult to handle, especially as he couldn't tell her why this trip was so important, but she had a generosity of spirit that had been his mainstay for many years, she would let him go with just a single request... to take care.

He picked up the phone and called her number.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

So here he was, lying fully clothed on a comfortable king-size bed, in an expensive hotel suite in Berlin, with the sound of a shower and a pair of black leather, Russian army boots the only visible evidence that Alex was here. He stood up and grabbed the phone, calling up room service. As he placed an order, he divested himself of his own thick woollen jumper and boots. He sat on the edge of the bed and waited for the sound of the shower to stop. Ten minutes later, Krycek appeared, his lower body wrapped in a large bath sheet.

Krycek waited cautiously at the bathroom door, watching... but Mulder made no threatening moves, so he eased forward until he had reached the dresser. His eyes never left Mulder's face as he brushed fingers through his fast drying hair. It didn't prevent a few strands from sticking up out of place, but there was nothing he could do about that except get another 'stupid-ass' haircut.

A knock at the door brought him swinging round, but Mulder didn't seem nonplussed as he swiftly rose to answer it. The man, garbed in hotel livery, hardly batted an eyelid as he wheeled in the trolley, despite the sight of a half-naked man with only one arm poised in front of the dresser. He laid the covered dishes on the table; two place settings, deposited a small package on the dresser, graciously accepted a tip and pushed the trolley back out of the suite.

"I thought you might be hungry. I know I am."

"Why?"

"Why am I hungry?"

Krycek halted. He knew what he wanted to say. Why are you treating me so well? Why aren't you hitting me rather than hitting *on* me? Mulder smiled enigmatically as if he had heard those questions but made no attempt to answer them. Instead he sat at the table and lifted up the dish cover. After a moment's hesitation, Alex joined him, the box of Kleenex following him to the table. He felt rather self-conscious sitting opposite half- naked, the discomfort apparent in his face. Despite the temptation, Mulder left the table and reached into the wardrobe, removing a bathrobe and offering it to his companion. Krycek smiled in grateful relief, shrugging into the robe before allowing the bath towel to drop unceremoniously to the floor. They ate in silence. Krycek kept his eyes lowered to his plate, confusion and embarrassment filling them on the few occasions when he looked up to find Mulder staring at him with an unreadable expression. Mulder found it increasingly difficult to prevent his happiness and relief shining out at his companion, but he wasn't going to make it easy for Krycek. Eventually, they pushed the dishes aside. Krycek stared across at Mulder feeling full and lethargic. He watched as Mulder went to the dresser to retrieve the package, face tilting in puzzlement as the FBI Agent removed a bottle, twisted off the cap and filled a small container with a thick, green liquid, before holding it out to Alex.

"Cold remedy. The British swear by it."

Krycek took the small plastic cup and, after a moment's hesitation, downed the contents in one swallow. His face contorted in disgust, and he glared back as Mulder's soft laughter filled the room.

"You can sleep on the right."

Without further words Mulder disappeared into the bathroom. By the time he returned Alex was fast asleep. He stood for a moment staring down at the sleep-softened face snuggled into the soft pillow, finally allowing a warm smile of satisfaction to lighten his features. He slipped under the covers beside his lover, angling his body towards the other man, and closed his eyes. There would be plenty of time to reach out tomorrow but, for now, Alex needed to sleep - and so did he.

********************

His dream that night was filled with frightening images. Faceless men, sharp-clawed aliens and frozen people encased in their individual tombs. He wandered around the dark corridors, looking left and right in near panic. Every face was known; Scully, Skinner, his mother, Samantha... yet none were the face he was seeking and, behind it all, he could hear a clock ticking off the seconds as time slowly ran out until....

The ringing of the bedside phone catapulted him out of the dream. Mulder wiped the sheen of sweat from his forehead and grabbed the handset. As he answered he became aware of the bright green eyes watching him and felt the tense remnants of the dream float away. Looking slightly stunned he held it out.

"It's for you."

Frowning slightly, wondering who knew he was here, Krycek took the receiver and placed it to one perfectly formed, slightly pointed ear, saying only a single word: "Yes?"

After a few moments, looking much less worried, he handed it back to Mulder. When Mulder held it close he was to hear only the dialling tone, the caller had disconnected. He turned a puzzled expression on his bed companion, raising one eyebrow quizzically.

"It seems my work here in Berlin is over. A courier will be delivering two flight tickets to the Concierge."

"Two?"

"One of them is in *your* name." Krycek saw another question forming in Mulder's bright eyes and answered it. "Same destination... Washington DC. Flight leaves in 4 hours."

Mulder nodded as if he fully understood what had transpired. He watched carefully as Alex Krycek looked away in embarrassment; his eyes narrowing when he realised that the younger man had something to ask... something that he was afraid to ask. He waited, patiently.

"Why did you come to Berlin?"

The voice was so soft it was almost inaudible, but Mulder had been expecting this question.

"For you."

Krycek glanced up into the golden eyes, trembling fingers reaching out to trace the curve of the luscious bottom lip.

"Why?"

A gentle smile curved Mulder's mouth; a smile that was mirrored in the bright, hazel eyes. After a moment Krycek realised that no answer would be forthcoming leaving him to second guess. Several answers popped into his head but he carefully avoided the one that said 'because he cares about you'. Instead he asked another question.

"How did you know where to find me?"

Mulder reached into the drawer of the beside cabinet and withdrew a small piece of paper, the same piece of paper he had found on his hallway floor. He handed it to Krycek and waited for a reaction.

Alex frowned, the skin over the bridge of his nose crinkling as his eyes narrowed. Only his new employers knew where he was... and then the frown disappeared. He blushed. Until recently, every encounter between the two of them had led to violence, usually with him being on the receiving end. There could be only one reason why they would trust Mulder now. Only one reason why they would send the agent to retrieve him. *They* knew about their new-found relationship... but how? He had been so discreet, they had spent only a single night and day together... so how did they know? Mulder answered his unspoken question.

"When you didn't show on New Years Eve I decided to look for you. Yesterday I found this note with a Berlin address on it. I booked a flight. I got on the plane and..." His widened his arms to encompass the room. "...the rest is history."

"Again. Why?"

Mulder grinned at the slight tremble in his companion's voice. His own deepened in response.

"How about I show you why."

Mulder reached out and pulled the dark head towards him taking the soft lips in a gentle, almost chaste kiss. He pulled back and smiled into startled sea-green eyes before reaching forward once more. This time his lips pressed harder, more demanding and he sighed as Alex softened beneath him, lips parting to allow the deeper possession that Mulder craved.

A hand reached up tentatively, carding through his thick, chestnut hair. Slowly, he forced the younger man down onto the mattress until his own chest covered the strong torso. He pulled his mouth away, his incisive mind recognising the confusion warring with desire expressed on the beautiful face below him. Krycek's kiss-swollen lips shined, mesmerising him as he focused on that sweet mouth, with it's soft cupid's bow and slightly thicker lower lip, reddened by the pressure of their kiss.

Leaning up on one elbow, Mulder allowed his other hand to trace a path along the well-remembered features, smiling at the tell-tale remnants of a '24 hour' cold that had worked itself out overnight. A curtain of dark lashes closed, hiding green eyes turned almost black by lust-dilated pupils, as Mulder's fingers smoothed along one dark eyebrow, across the temple to follow the form of a perfect ear around the slight point and down to the fleshy lobe. He leaned forward to nibble at the succulent flesh, his soft breath eliciting small moans from his lover, before returning to plunder the slightly open mouth anew.

The moans grew louder as Mulder's fingers drifted down to tease one small nipple into a hardened point; before reaching lower still, dipping into the navel and then following the path of fine hair that drifted down across the firm belly, carefully avoiding the swollen flesh that arched up from the thick thatch of dark, curly hair below.

His questing fingers trailed along the silky skin of inner thigh, lightly scraping the taut sac as his tongue thrust deep into Krycek's mouth. He could sense the frustration in the man below him as Alex tried to reciprocate but Mulder wanted to dominate... wanted to show Alex who was in control... wanted to punish the other for disappearing from his life, having wreaked such havoc last Christmas. Mulder wanted there to be no doubt in Alex Krycek's mind that he was no longer a free agent... that Mulder owned him as deeply as he, himself, was possessed. The love that had finally revealed itself after years of torment, pain, and denial would not be placated by a single night and day. Mulder wanted more... and he knew, instinctively, that Alex needed and wanted him just as badly.

The body beneath him arched from the bed as tumescent flesh sought the friction that would bring the completion it craved. Mulder relented, his hand reaching down to wrap around the thick shaft. A sob vibrated against his mouth as his hand moved up and down the aching flesh, the thumb rubbing across the sensitive tip, smearing precum to ease the friction. He allowed the body beneath him to dictate the pace, gradually increasing the tempo as the hips rose and bucked until the body stilled, the mouth beneath him opening wider as Alex cried out, his sobs muffled by the mouth clamped so tightly to his own.

Alex fell back against the mattress in a boneless heap, stunned that a hand-job could have such an effect on him. It had never felt that good even when he used his *own* right hand. Mulder had released him from that bruising kiss moments after the cataclysmic orgasm and, as he tried to catch his breath, he felt cool, gel-slicked fingers stroke across the perineum and circle the tight muscle beyond. His sated body made no attempt to prevent the invasion as fingers pushed gently inside, caressing and stretching, causing a sensation within him that walked the fine line between intense pleasure and exquisite pain.

The fingers left him and he felt his legs being drawn up over Mulder's thighs as his lover positioned himself for that most intimate possession. With a gentle thrust, Mulder pushed the head of his gel-slicked shaft into the tight, hot channel. He held still, waiting for Alex to adjust before pushing forward again. Slowly, with infinite care, he sheathed himself and only when he could go no further did he open his eyes to seek out those of his partner. He waited until all sign of pain had receded from the sweat-soaked, face before starting a slow, burning rhythm in and out of the heated flesh, at no time taking his eyes from his beloved's face. He revelled in the submission as he snapped his hips forward in a firmer thrust until he was pummelling into the acquiescent body. The impending orgasm crept up on him, a warmth spreading out from his groin, curling in his belly and then exploding along his nerve endings, setting his whole being alight with an intensity of pleasure that bordered on pain.

Subconsciously, he felt the friction ease as his semen bathed the passage taking the raw edge off of his climax as he spiralled back to Earth.

Mulder collapsed on top of his lover, his harsh breathing gradually fading as his racing heart slowed back down. With carefully measured movements, Mulder eased himself out of his lover and flopped to the side, reaching out to pull Alex against him until the dark head was pillowed into the crook of his neck. Mulder rubbed his cheek against the dark hair as his arm snaked across Alex's chest to hold him tight.

Several minutes passed by in silence and Mulder was almost convinced Krycek had fallen back to sleep when his lover suddenly pulled away, out of his embrace. He watched as Alex sat up, drawing his knees up almost to his chin, looking for all the world like a sad and lost boy.

"What's wrong?"

Krycek gazed down at the handsome man who had shared more than just his bed.

"Us. We're wrong."

"Why?"

"Because of what you are..." the husky voice dropped to a soft whisper "...what *I* am."

Mulder raised himself up until they were sitting side by side, backs against the headboard.

"I know what we are. If I'm prepared to forgive and forget, then why should it be a problem."

Krycek turned to look at Mulder in amazement. He gave a bitter laugh. It was part of what he loved about Fox William Mulder, this combination of being both worldly-wise and yet strangely innocent. He had killed Mulder's father. OK, so it had been necessary. Bill Mulder had been threatening to reveal everything to the American People... to the World... and the result would have been catastrophic. The Colonists had only agreed to stick to the timetable as long as their plans remained relatively secret. If Bill Mulder had gone public then Colonisation would have begun immediately and the Human Resistance had not been ready for that. Alex wondered if he should tell Mulder that his father's death had been ordered by both the Resistance *and* the Consortium. One of the few times that their orders had coincided. Not that it had made the job any easier. Killing was not a habit he wanted to become accustomed to, just a necessary evil. Was Mulder really ready to forgive him for his father's death? And what of all the other things he had been forced to do, either through necessity, or to maintain his cover?

"Will Scully forgive and forget? Will Skinner say 'Hey, no hard feelings for...'" Alex turned away.

He wondered if Mulder knew it was Alexei Krycek who had controlled the nanotechnology that had almost killed AD Skinner. It was all part of a plan put together by the Human Resistance, its purpose to become clearer at a later date. And what of the future? The Resistance had plans to get him back inside the Consortium... at a high level. He would no longer be just a foot soldier, instead he would have a position of some authority. He would be privy to the most secret information, attend high- powered meetings; be in the right place to influence decisions and people.

Alex bowed his head in despair. When the Englishman had taken him into his confidence as well as under his protection, Alex had learnt the full extent of the Consortium's betrayal of the Human Race; and something inside him, some sense of nobility that he had not thought he possessed, had ignited. All the pieces of the puzzle had come together except for one seemingly insignificant corner. Fox Mulder. Alex was almost certain that Mulder was more than just a pawn... or an irritant... to the Consortium. What he had never expected was for Fox Mulder to become so important to him.

"Perhaps, when this is all over..."

Mulder turned and grabbed Alex by the shoulders.

"This has already been going on for 50 years. For all any of us knows, another 50 years may pass before it's *all over*. I don't want to reach the end of my life full of regrets for what could have been. I've already spent too many years doing just that."

Alex closed his eyes to shut out the earnest expression on his lover's face. His eyes shot open with Mulder's next words.

"A compromise."

"What?"

"A compromise. If we can't be together openly then..." Mulder paused. Did he need to say anything more? The look on Alex's face said he did. "Then we take what we can, when we can."

"Do you understand what you're proposing? A few hours snatched in back-street motels. Pretending to be 'enemies' whenever anyone else is around? Can you accept that? Could you *live* with that?"

"*Yes*, if the only alternative is to walk away... because that's one option I can't take Alex." Mulder sighed. "I've lost too many people I care about. I'm not going to lose you too. And when *it* is all over, one way or the other, I want you to promise to come to me... openly."

The triple agent regarded his companion, noting the implacable expression written across his lover's face.

"There's no guarantee that either of us will still be standing when this is over..." He sighed and looked at Mulder directly. "...but, I promise you, if we are, then I *will* come."

"And in the interim?"

Krycek smiled, thinking clearer now. The Resistance would never have revealed his location to Mulder unless they wanted to cement the growing bond between them, providing a new ally to stand by his side in the coming years. Perhaps this was the way it was meant to be. It was, certainly, more than he ever expected to have, more than he felt he deserved. But if Mulder was willing to accept *them* on these terms then who was he to argue? Something inside him melted as he realised that he would never again have to fear loneliness as long as Mulder was out there and, maybe one day, they would be able to stand together in the open and declare to the whole world how they felt about each other. Until then, they would live for each stolen moment.

"In the interim... don't be *too* afraid of dark alleyways. You never know what kind of rat will be waiting there for you."

THE END

*************************************
Don't wish it away
Don't look at it like it's forever.
Between you and me I can honestly say
That things can only get better
And while I'm away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won't be long
Until you and me run
To a place in our hearts
Where we hide.
'And I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues' by Elton John

*************************************

End