Fandom: X-Files Mulder/Krycek

Title: Altered Perceptions
By Orithain
Rating: NC-17 for m/m sex

Archive: The Den of Sin, RatB, The Complete Kingdom of Slash, Slashville, Down in the Basement, and All Things Rat. Anywhere else, please ask me first.
Series: Probably
Status: New, complete

Disclaimer: We all know that they don't belong to me, and I promise to put them back when I'm done. The X-Files, Mulder, Krycek et al. belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement is intended. Just let me win the lottery though....

Note: Many thanks to Aries, Nicole, and Rowanne for beta and for being good friends. This story takes places immediately following The End.

Story Summary: Mulder and Krycek learn a bit more about each other.

Altered Perceptions
by Orithain
November 1999

Two weeks after his life went up in flames, Mulder was still stunned. So much of his life, his very identity, was tied up in the X-files. Without them, he was rudderless, lost. Rather than giving them a temporary reassignment, Skinner had ordered him and Scully to take some time off while the future of the division was 'evaluated.' Mulder felt lost and betrayed, deprived of support from the two people he trusted to be there for him. He'd turned to Skinner the day after the fire, expecting understanding and sympathy, and instead he'd gotten a brusque command to stay away from the Bureau until he could act professionally.

Mulder didn't even get a chance to talk to Scully about it because she decided to go visit her bother and his family. Mulder just hoped she didn't run into another clone child. She'd tried to convince him to go with her, saying some time in the sun would do him good, but the thought of Bill Scully was enough to convince Mulder what a bad idea that was. Besides which, he didn't think they were ready for vacations together, especially not with her family. The very idea was enough to give him hives.

After a few days of moping around his apartment, Mulder decided that if they were going to force him to take a vacation, he was damned well going to take a real one. He sent an email to Skinner informing him that he was taking four weeks of his accumulated vacation time. He purposely didn't say where he was going or how he could be reached. He would, of course, have his cell phone with him, but he intended to leave it off. He had to see what he could do, who he was, without the X-files.

Not wanting to be traced, he had the Lone Gunmen make his travel arrangements for him, leaving his destination up to them. Two days later, he woke up in his stateroom aboard a Mediterranean cruise ship and decided he should have been more specific, rather than simply stating that he didn't want to be found and otherwise giving them carte blanche. He looked around, sinking back into the luxurious softness of the pillows, and grumbled at the lack of videos, adult stations, and phone sex operators. He didn't even have someone on the other side of the bed to share this with him and make it bearable.

He tried to picture Scully beside him, but the blue eyes persisted in changing to green, the red hair to sable, the body elongating and changing until... He leapt out of bed with a snarl, refusing to let the metamorphosis reach its conclusion. Scully was the one he wanted a relationship with, no one else!

Mulder hastily showered and dressed in his favorite Speedo. It was early enough that he should be able to get in a few laps before the pool filled up. He headed up to the pool on the top deck and dove in. He never noticed the man off to one side who'd frozen when he'd appeared.

//No. No way. It can*not* be! Shit, it is. I'd recognize that red Speedo anywhere. Goddamnit, there's no way off this fucking ship till we dock at the next port.// Krycek put down his coffee and quietly retreated to his room before Mulder could see him.

He called to find out Mulder's seating assignment, hoping to be able to leave his cabin for meals at least. Although the crewmember was very helpful in trying to find the old friend that Mr. Arntzen thought he'd seen, there was no Fox Mulder listed among the passengers.

Krycek swore again, something he seemed to do a lot whenever Mulder was involved. It seemed he was trapped in his cabin until he could make his escape. Then he'd have the joy of trying to get himself off the island without alerting the Consortium to his whereabouts.

//Damnit, Mulder, do you even have to fuck up my vacation?// Krycek snarled mentally. He sprang to his feet and paced the beautifully appointed stateroom with all the pleasure he'd have felt in the meanest prison cell.

Krycek's plans to avoid Mulder, however, were ruined by the one thing he *had* to come out of his cabin for - a lifeboat drill. Of course, despite his desperate prayers, he and Mulder were in the same section, and, it being virtually impossible for a six-foot-tall man to hide in the open, Mulder spotted him. Krycek offered him a sickly smile, then wondered what god he had pissed off when he and Mulder were assigned to be buddies.

Mulder eyed Krycek furiously and vowed to keep hold of the slippery rat bastard. This time, he wasn't getting away, and Mulder was going to get some answers.

After the drill, Mulder quite literally kept a grip on Krycek and hauled him back to his cabin.

"You know," Krycek pointed out, "if I dig my heels in and yell for help, you'll probably get arrested for attempted mugging or something."

Mulder snorted. "Right up until I pull out my ID, Krycek. You'll end up rotting in prison."

Krycek laughed bitterly. "I'll be dead, you mean. You know damned well that every time you've caught up with anyone even remotely associated with the Consortium, that person has come down with a serious case of dead."

"And how is that, Krycek? How do they always find out so quickly?"

Krycek gaped at him. "Are you really that blind? Jesus, Mulder, for someone who's supposedly looking for the truth, you're real good at not seeing what you don't want to. Who is it that always knows what you're doing?"

"Oh, so now I'm supposed to suspect Scully?" Mulder sneered.

"Don't be an ass," Krycek snapped. "Saint Scully is almost as devoted to you as you are to her. No, think about it, Mulder. Someone who works closely with you, who takes you seriously, who's saved your life and gained your trust... They were working from a template when they sent me in, for fuck's sake!"

"Enough with the riddles!"

"Skinner, you stupid fuck!"

The next thing Krycek knew, he was flat on his back on the floor, where he'd landed when Mulder clocked him.

"You couldn't tell the truth to save your life, could you? You're living proof that the Consortium is no good at keeping moles hidden."

"Christ, Mulder, hasn't it occurred to you yet that it was a little too easy to make me?! That black-lunged bastard blew me on purpose!"

"And why would he do that?"

Krycek looked away and refused to answer. Infuriated, Mulder grabbed hold of the front of his shirt, yanked him to his feet and shook him like a terrier with a rat. "Answer me, damn you!" He slammed Krycek up against a wall and glared into his face.

"Because I wouldn't kill you," Krycek mumbled sullenly, once again refusing to meet Mulder's gaze.

"Yeah, right," Mulder scoffed. "That's why I nearly got killed on the cable car."

"That was your own damned fault! What the fuck possessed you to climb around the outside of the fucking thing? I was trying to save your ungrateful hide, and I did. I mean, Jesus, Mulder, do you honestly think they really wanted *Scully*? *You* were their target, and I'd've killed a dozen tram operators if that's what it took to slow you down!" Furious green eyes glared into hazel ones only inches away, and Mulder was startled to see no hint of dissembling.

"So now I'm supposed to believe that you actually give a damn what happens to me?" Mulder sneered, but with the faintest undertone of uncertainty.

Krycek let out a growl of frustration and kissed him. Hard. It was hard to say which of them was more surprised when Mulder's lips parted and he sucked Krycek's tongue into his mouth. Mulder took the half step necessary to press his body against Krycek's, and both men could feel the matching, rock-hard erections throbbing between their bellies. Alex moaned into Mulder's mouth, and Mulder suddenly tore free.

"Fuck! I didn't fall for your act then, and I won't now. *You* are the traitor, and Skinner is one of the few people I can trust."

"Trust to kill you! Damnit, I've been trying to keep you alive for years. Who the hell do you think torched your precious X-files? Who could walk around the Hoover Building unchallenged? Walter Sergei Skinner, that's who!"

"Fuck you, Krycek! If Skinner *were* the traitor, he's had plenty of opportunities to kill me."

"Let me try to get this through to you in words of one syllable. Skinner wants to keep you out of the Consortium's... hair, for lack of a better word. He won't kill you unless there's no choice because, for whatever reason, one faction of the Consortium wants you alive."

"Oh, of course. Silly me. How could I've doubted you?"

"Look, *you* asked *me*. Don't blame me if you don't like the answers," Krycek sulked.

"And you, of course, always tell the truth. Like about killing my father, like in Tunguska. Which, by the way, I see you survived none the worse for wear."

Krycek gaped at him for an instant before tearing his shirt off. "'None the worse for wear'?! Does this look like nothing to you? I nearly lost an arm thanks to you! Fortunately for me, the soldiers from the camp had followed us after your little jailbreak, and they heard me screaming and interrupted before those damned peasants could complete the job of hacking my arm off!"

Mulder stared at the horrific scars on Krycek's left arm, and he could see that it had been a near thing. He slowly placed one hand over the scars, feeling the warmth of the living flesh beneath his palm.

Krycek gasped and trembled at Mulder's touch, and his cock, which had not yet fully subsided, throbbed anew. He shifted slightly, unconsciously spreading his legs wider, and a light kindled in Mulder's eyes.

One hand still on Krycek's arm, Mulder raised his other one and skimmed it along the other man's torso. He watched the nipples begin to pucker under the stimulation, and suddenly, he couldn't wait any longer. He had to touch Krycek, taste him as he'd been wanting to do for years. The hand on Alex's arm moved upward to bury itself in the thick, dark hair that was even softer than Mulder'd imagined. He gripped it in his fist and pulled Krycek's head back to bare his throat.

Alex stood motionless, unable to believe this was really happening. He felt Mulder lick his throat with long swipes of his tongue interspersed with short teasing flicks, and he heard Mulder's hum of pleasure. When Mulder's mouth fastened on one spot, first biting then sucking, Alex moaned and finally dared raise his hands to rest them on Mulder's hips. Mulder responded by thrusting against him, his hard cock rubbing against Alex's, very much like that brief moment in the Hong Kong airport that they'd both relived so many times in their fantasies. Krycek arched into him and sobbed Fox's name.

Hearing his hated first name uttered by that husky voice in tones of desperate pleading, for the first time in his life, Mulder liked it and wanted to hear it again. Abandoning the purpling flesh on Krycek's throat, Mulder nipped and nibbled his way to the moaning man's chest, where he rubbed his face over the already erect nipples.

A deep groan tore from Alex at the rasp of Mulder's stubble on his sensitive nipples, and his grip on Mulder's hips tightened enough to bruise. Mulder chuckled and caught one of the rigid buds of flesh between his teeth, suckling hard while Alex writhed against him, trapped between him and the wall.

Krycek's whimpers increased in pitch and frequency, and he squirmed, his hands coming up to clutch Mulder's head and hold it to him. He yanked at Mulder's clothes, wanting to feel his skin beneath his hands, but he couldn't manage to get them off without Mulder's cooperation. "Fox, *please*," he moaned, tugging at the offending garments until Mulder let go of him long enough to yank off his shirt.

Pressing his now bare chest against Krycek's, Mulder decided he had the start of a good idea. He was absolutely certain that if their chests felt this good, completely naked bodies would feel even better, so he unfastened Alex's pants and pushed them down along with the boxer briefs beneath. Then he stepped back slightly and stared at Alex with a smirk and a raised eyebrow. A wicked grin appeared on Krycek's face and he traced a finger teasingly along the waistband of Mulder's slacks, pausing to toy with the button at the fly.

Mulder pushed forward against Krycek's hand, trying to entice him to continue. He covered Krycek's hand with his own, holding it against him for an instant. "Touch me," he demanded, suddenly greedy.

Alex slowly unfastened him, still teasing despite his own eagerness. The hardened flesh sprang forth as soon as he freed it, and Alex instantly dropped to his knees to get closer. He nuzzled against the blood-engorged length, smiling when Mulder whimpered at the sensation of his day's growth of stubble rubbing the sensitive flesh. He pressed close, inhaling Mulder's scent, and his tongue flicked over the head to taste him. Once he had his first taste of Mulder, several years' worth of repressed desires and fantasies burst forth, and he couldn't get enough of him. He tore at Mulder's slacks and boxers, yanking them over the lean hips and letting them drop in a tangle around the older man's ankles.

Alex caressed the newly revealed flesh, learning every peak and valley of Mulder's body. He filled his palms with the firm ass cheeks and let his finger tips explore the intriguing crevasse between them. Mulder practically purred with contentment, and Alex gasped his pleasure at his partner's responsiveness. He rubbed his aching cock against Mulder's leg, momentarily distracting him until he slid his mouth over Mulder's rigid length.

Mulder let out a deep moan when he felt his cock taken inside the moist warmth of Krycek's mouth. He could feel minute twitches of Alex's tongue against him, teeth lightly pressing, but all Krycek did was hold him. No sucking, no licking, but somehow, it was the most arousing thing he'd ever felt. His hips twitched involuntarily, pushing a little deeper into that welcoming haven, and Krycek took it. He made no movement of acceptance or refusal, but Mulder's cock slid in a little deeper with each movement of his hips.

Mulder stared down through heavy-lidded eyes, seeing himself slide between the slightly swollen, pink lips of his nemesis, and a shudder of extreme arousal ran through him. He pulled out to rub his cock over Krycek's face, leaving strands of precome along his cheeks, marking him as Mulder's, then pushed back inside the eager mouth. He started moving more, thrusting harder into Alex's mouth, and he felt Alex begin to take an active part in the proceedings. Rather than him fucking Krycek's mouth, suddenly Alex was sucking him and had a finger in his ass. Mulder moaned and dropped his head back against the wall, barely even noticing when he banged it. The sensations shooting through his body from his groin and ass were more than enough to distract him from a minor thing like a fractured skull. His hands clenched in Alex's hair, but he didn't attempt to direct him in any way. Krycek clearly knew exactly what he was doing, and he didn't need any help from Mulder.

Mulder whimpered, feeling his orgasm rushing upon him, and he yanked Krycek off him, ignoring his snarl of protest.

"What the fuck, Fox? Suddenly decide I'm not good enough to suck your cock?"

Mulder glared at him but let it slide, knowing that it was frustration talking. Alex thought he'd changed his mind. //Not fucking likely, baby. I've got you now.//

"Guess you really are a cocksucker, huh, Krycek?" Mulder said in a near purr. "Well, some other time, baby. Fantastic as your mouth is, I want to come in your ass this time."

Taken completely by surprise, Alex was left speechless, gaping at Fox with his mouth hanging open. Mulder leaned down to kiss him thoroughly, enjoying the taste of himself mixed with Alex. He still might not be able to trust the little bastard, but he was tired of lying to himself about wanting him. He was going to have him.

Mulder stepped out of the tangled clothing around his ankles and drew Krycek over to the bed, pushing him down on it. He urged Alex onto his belly, then pulled him up onto all fours. He paused for a moment to appreciate the sight of Krycek's ass waiting for him, but looking was *not* what he wanted just then. He knelt behind Krycek, his dripping cock pressed against the puckered ring of muscle, and he rubbed the head around, spreading the scant lubrication of his precome. That and the saliva from the aborted blowjob were all the lube Krycek was getting.

He pressed against the resisting muscle, wanting in but not wanting to hurt Alex, afraid to push harder. Finally, Alex, desperate to feel Mulder inside him, thrust back abruptly, forcing the head of Mulder's cock inside himself. Both men froze, Mulder waiting until Alex relaxed as his body slowly accustomed itself to the welcome intrusion. Only when Alex pushed back against him, trying to get him to move, did Mulder start to thrust into him. He heard Alex's gasp at the burning sensation that filled him, but there was no reluctance in the body beneath him, only eagerness. When he reached around with one hand, the heavy erection lying tight against Krycek's belly dispelled the last of his fears.

They began to move, slowly finding the rhythm, their bodies slapping together, and Mulder groaned aloud at the sheer rightness of the feeling. Being inside Krycek felt like coming home. He pumped Alex's cock as he thrust into him, wanting to make him come, to feel his pleasure before he came.

"Come for me, Alex," he murmured in his ear, tongue tracing the sensitive whorls. "Let it go, baby, give it to me."

Alex's body quivered as he fought to hold on for another moment, not wanting it to end. After all the years of wanting him, Fox Mulder was inside him, was fucking him, and he was going to make it last as long as humanly possible. He whimpered unhappily when he felt his orgasm rising through his body, but Mulder suddenly sat back on his haunches, drawing Alex with him, and wrapped his arms around him, holding him tightly as he came. Even through his own orgasm, Alex felt Mulder's body tense as he exploded deep inside him, and he thought he could never be happier than he was in that moment.

Alex remained motionless, held to Mulder's chest with his softening cock still inside him. He tucked his head under Mulder's chin and tried to snuggle a little closer. A sigh escaped him when Mulder slipped out of him, and he waited for Mulder's reaction now that he was satisfied. He was startled when Mulder shifted them to lie down on their sides, Fox still spooned up behind him, but he luxuriated in the moment of closeness.

Mulder held Krycek against his chest, and he wondered what the hell they were supposed to do next. Since he didn't have the slightest idea, he fell back on his old favorite of interrogating the other man. Of course, doing it naked did give it a certain added spice. "So who's the current mole in the Bureau, Krycek?"

Alex was aware of a moment of hurt at Mulder's continued disbelief before he buried it. "I already told you, Mulder. Skinner."

"Give it a rest, Krycek. Try telling the truth for once in your miserable existence."

Krycek pulled away, moving to the edge of the bed, where he sat up. He reached for his pants, intending to get dressed and out of there, but Mulder grabbed his arm and yanked him back, then rolled over on top of him.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"

"Oh, sorry, was I supposed to let you fuck me, then fuck with my mind? Didn't realize I was just supposed to lie back and take it."

Mulder snarled down into his face. "This had nothing to do with that, you little shit. But I suppose you were just trying to get me to trust you again. Too bad, Krycek, just because I want you doesn't mean I trust you." At that distance he couldn't miss the quick flash of hurt in Krycek's eyes, and he began to wonder if maybe, just this once, Alex wasn't playing a game. He shifted position suddenly so that he was lying between Krycek's legs, holding the younger man's wrists beside his head. He settled himself comfortably, then said, "Convince me."

"What?" Krycek seemed distracted by their position, and Mulder smiled faintly.

"You keep telling me that you're on my side and Skinner's the enemy. Prove it. Convince me that you're telling the truth."

"How the hell am I supposed to do that? It's not like I have photographic evidence, you know. It comes down to my word against his, and you don't want to believe me."

Mulder frowned. "You haven't given me a single shred of anything solid to convince me to believe you, just a bald statement of supposed fact. I need details, babe."

"Don't!" Krycek sounded frantic, and Mulder stared at him in honest bewilderment.

"What? What'd I do?"

"Don't call me pet names, then treat me like a whore, Mulder. I don't deserve that." He closed his eyes, refusing to look at Mulder anymore.

That sounded like the most honest reaction he'd ever gotten from Krycek, and Mulder was starting to believe him, at least some of what he said. If he was telling the truth about caring about Mulder, then he'd probably hurt Krycek badly. The blank expression on his face, like the frantic tone of voice he'd used, could be hiding pain. Mulder sighed and kissed him softly, startled when Krycek turned his head to the side, pulling away. Either he was an even better actor than Mulder had ever given him credit for, or he was emotionally involved this time. It was the only explanation for a man who'd been taught to use his sex appeal to draw back.

"Alex. Look at me, Alex," Mulder demanded when the other man's eyes remained stubbornly shut. He shrugged slightly and lowered his mouth to the curve of Alex's jaw, nibbling along it and enjoying the rasp of the stubble against his tongue. When he reached Alex's ear and nipped at the lobe, a moan escaped Krycek, and unhappy green eyes opened and focused on him.

"You're just like all the others, aren't you? I thought you were different, but you're not."

Mulder suddenly felt guilty. He *was* trying to make Krycek take all the risks while maintaining his own emotional distance, and it wasn't fair. He lowered his head, pressing his forehead against Alex's, and sighed. "I'm sorry. I want to believe you. That's the problem. I trusted you once before, and you betrayed me. I don't think I could take that again, not from you."

Alex blinked in surprise, squirming to try to get Mulder to raise his head so he could see him. "Why not from me in particular?"

Mulder smiled wryly. "Because I was more than half in love with you."

Alex just stared at him, completely speechless.

"What, just because I didn't try to fuck you, you didn't realize? I didn't want to take a chance on getting us both fired, not until I was sure. And then you were gone, and I knew you'd betrayed me. "

"I didn't want to. I tried not to. I didn't give them any more than I absolutely had to. But once Smokey left the cigarette butts for you to find, I knew you'd realize that I was working for him. " He took a deep breath. "And I didn't think you would believe me if I tried to tell you the truth, not after they took Scully away from you. "

Mulder sighed. "We'll never know, will we?" He pressed another kiss on Alex's mouth. "Tell me about Skinner."

Alex gazed at him searchingly, gauging the depth of his willingness to listen. Finally he smiled, seeing that Mulder was, at least, going to listen with an open mind.

"Think about it, Fox." Mulder noticed the slip in using his name but didn't comment. "Skinner is the AD of your section. He had to at least approve if not actively promote Scully's and my appointments to the X-files. And you know damned well that we were both supposed to discredit your work, Scully through scientific method and hopefully by getting you involved in a sexual relationship, and me through sex and separating you from Scully once they realized what a mistake they'd made in putting the two of you together. Why would Skinner allow that?"

"He didn't know," Mulder argued.

Krycek just looked at him. "Wally boy is not the innocent you seem to want to think he is. He's been working with the Consortium since he started with the Bureau. They recruited him out of the military, paid for his education and directed him to the FBI. He's been theirs since day one. Who do you think assigned you the Duane Barry case if not your immediate supervisor?"

Mulder had no answer.

"He sent you there to be killed, Mulder. You were meant to die at Barry's hands, or at best, or maybe worst, be taken when Scully was. She was just an added bonus for them. One more human female to harvest. The fact that you weren't taken and were damn near incapacitated by her kidnapping was serendipitous from their perspective. But with her out of the picture, there was no way they were going to leave me to get closer to you. That was Skinner's job, to gain your complete trust. And he did.

"Jesus, Fox! The man has refused to believe you, has condoned or possibly instigated your commitment to a mental institution and constantly backtracked from his supposed support of you whenever you really needed it. Has he *ever* spoken up publicly in support of you or your theories? I don't think so."

Mulder frowned. Little as he liked to admit it, Krycek was making sense. He knew for a fact that Cancerman had some sort of hold over Skinner; he'd seen the man in his office himself. What if it wasn't unwilling as he'd always thought, but some sort of alliance? Had he placed his trust in the wrong man? He stared into pleading green eyes, wondering if Krycek was a good enough actor to put that expression of honesty into his gaze if he was lying to him again.

Alex sighed heavily and closed his eyes, hiding from Mulder's disbelief. He'd given it his best shot, but as always, happiness was just that little bit out of reach for Aleksei Krycek. He should have known that Mulder would never believe him. Why should he? Alex had betrayed him, and so far as he knew, Skinner never had.

Mulder watched Alex closely, seeing the unhappiness and withdrawal in the other man's face and posture. He'd never have believed that he could feel so distant from a man when he was lying naked on top of him. Clearly, Alex had given up on trying to regain his trust, which meant he might never see him again if he let him leave. Up till now, Krycek had had some hope because he hadn't laid all his cards on the table and been rejected, but that was what had happened tonight.

//So make up your mind, Mulder. Am I really willing never to see him again? Somehow, I've always known that he'd reappear after a few weeks or months, so I never really had to make a decision. He made it easy for me, but he's not going to come back this time. This time I hurt him.// He watched Alex, who lay motionless beneath him, his head again turned away and his eyes closed. //I guess the fact that it bothers me that I hurt him, that I'm not jumping for joy, should tell me something. Jesus, when did I fall in love with Alex Krycek?//

"If you're lying to me again, Alex, please don't let me find out. I'd rather you just killed me."

Alex's eyes shot open at that, and he looked at Mulder, afraid to hope. He couldn't believe the warmth he saw in the hazel gaze. "Mulder?"

Mulder smiled and kissed him softly, his tongue licking at Alex's lips, stroking the soft skin before sliding inside. He explored every inch while Alex's tongue eagerly met his, and his hips moved against Alex at the same time, arousing both of them. Alex finally tore his mouth free, panting, his wrists twisting in the grip Mulder still had on him.

"God, F- Mulder," he gasped.

"It's okay," Mulder murmured, nibbling on his throat, "you can call me Fox. In bed at least. I like the way you say it, all desperate and pleading."

Alex moaned and writhed under him.

"Come on, baby, I want to hear you," Mulder coaxed.

"Fox, *please*. I lo- I want you."

Mulder heard the abortive statement and smiled. "Only want, baby?" he purred, his teeth closing around a hardened nipple.

Alex's back arched even as he looked at Fox, fear clear in his eyes. Mulder closed his own eyes for a moment at this evidence of Alex's wariness. He knew he'd given the other man no reason to trust him.

"I love you, Alex," he said clearly, meeting his lover's gaze forthrightly.

Alex opened his mouth to reply, then paused, not sure if Mulder was setting him up to belittle him again. Mulder smiled sadly, knowing that as much as Alex had betrayed his trust, he'd made it even harder for Alex to trust him.

"I do love you, Alex, and I'm going to make you believe it, no matter how long it takes." He paused, that bringing another problem to mind. "Uh, just how deep are you into the Consortium? Are you just going to disappear again when this cruise is over?"

Alex chewed his lip, wondering how to answer him. It sounded like Fox wanted him to stay around, but how could that be? "I, uh, I'm pretty much a free agent now. The Brit took me under his wing, and he doesn't keep me on too short a leash. In fact, if I had any reason to, I could probably get myself all the way out with a little effort."

Mulder sighed. "I want you to stay with me, for us to work everything out and have a life like normal people, but not at the expense of your safety. I'd rather have you once in while than for you to get killed because I got greedy."

"You really mean it," Alex said slowly in tones of disbelief.

"Yeah, I do. We've wasted a lot of time, but I want to try to get it right now."

"What about your job... Scully? She won't be happy if I suddenly show up in your life," Alex warned.

"My job, well, technically they can't fire me for getting involved in a same-sex relationship. And if they do, first, it'll make an interesting court case and headlines, which, come to think of it, would not be such a bad thing. If we're in the headlines, they won't dare move against you. Besides, if Skinner really is a plant, then I'm probably better off working outside the Bureau."

Alex winced. "You know you need the Bureau's resources, Fox. I don't want you to hate me again because I made you lose the job you love."

Mulder nuzzled against him briefly. "There's no guarantee that there will ever be an X-files division again, Alex. Since the fire destroyed most of the files, Skinner's been talking about reassigning Scully and me elsewhere. Apparently other divisions could benefit from our high solve rate."

"Please. You expect me to believe that you, Mr. Paranoid himself, don't have back-up copies of the files somewhere?"

Mulder grinned. "Not officially, I don't. That would be against procedures."

"Just... don't burn your bridges before you have to."

"That much I can promise." Mulder smiled. "As for Scully, I think she'll support me if I explain it all to her."

"And if she doesn't?" Alex asked carefully.

"Then I won't make the same mistake again. I choose *you*, Alex." He looked straight into his eyes. "Please don't make me regret it. I'll live with whatever happens with my job and with Scully as long as we're together." He realized he was giving Krycek the opportunity to destroy him if this was another trick, but he was determined to take the chance. This time he was going to believe.

Alex gasped, knowing as well as Mulder what he was telling him. He'd never believed that he'd see the day that Fox chose him over Scully, but that was what he'd just done. He smiled happily up into his lover's eyes. "I love you, Fox."

Mulder's eyes closed in relief. He covered Alex's lips with his own in a deep, searching kiss, finally releasing Alex's wrists and cupping one palm tenderly along his jaw.

Alex wrapped his arms around Fox, slowly tracing the length of his back. He reveled in the freedom to touch this man as he wanted, knowing that Fox wanted him too. He wriggled under Mulder, wanting more, wanting to be touched, and Mulder gave him what he wanted.

Hands stroked, mouths tasted, eyes swept over each other, and both men concentrated on making the other feel pleasure. With his teeth, Mulder tugged on one of Alex's nipples, remembering the reaction he'd gotten earlier, and once again Alex arched into the touch. Fox kept that up for a while, switching back and forth until both nipples were reddened, aching, and rigid, and Alex was whimpering constantly. He smiled at the sight of Alex's writhing body, lost in sensation, his hands clenched in the sheets. He sat back for a moment, just enjoying the vision laid out before him.

Green eyes opened and focused on him in frustration. "What are you waiting for?"

"You're so beautiful," Fox said in tones of wonder, tracing the length of his body with slightly trembling fingertips. "I can't believe you're mine."

Alex caught one hand and drew it to his lips to press a kiss on it. "All yours," he vowed just before taking Mulder's fingers inside his mouth and suckling on them. Mulder watched those lips wrap around him, and he groaned thinking of them around his cock. Alex was staring into his eyes while giving his hand a blowjob, and it was incredibly erotic. He suddenly pulled away from Alex and got up to head into the washroom, leaving Alex staring after him in disbelief.

He was back in moments, flourishing the bottle of baby oil he'd grabbed, and Alex looked happy again. Fox climbed back on top of him and kissed him while their hands ran over each other's body. Alex moaned and nipped hard at Fox's lower lip.

"I want you in me, Fox." His hands trembled on Mulder's back.

"No." Baldly, and Alex's eyes flew open in shock. He stared at Mulder in stunned dismay, thinking that it had all been a trick. Then Mulder smiled, poured a bit of the oil into his palm, and stroked it onto Alex's rigid cock. Alex caught his breath, not daring to believe, not until Fox rose up and slowly lowered himself against Alex, gasping as the bulbous head pressed against his opening. The oil eased his entrance, and Alex felt himself gradually slide inside Mulder, who didn't stop the long glide until his ass was pressed against his lover.

Alex gripped Fox's thighs while he remained motionless, letting his body get accustomed to the presence inside him. It had been a long time, but he loved the sensation of Alex filling him. Finally, his eyes opened again and met Alex's, and he began to move. Alex gasped and barely restrained himself from thrusting up into that tight heat, somehow managing to let Fox retain control. He raised his hands to Fox's chest, and Mulder caught them in his own, their fingers meshing together while he rose and fell on Alex.

Alex moaned desperately, held on the knife edge of pleasure by Fox's slow movements, loving every second but feeling he'd die if he didn't come soon. Mulder grinned down at him, knowing what he was feeling and enjoying every second of it.

"What's wrong, Alex? Do you need something else?" he asked, trying not to laugh as he spoke.

Alex snarled at him and flipped them over so he was on top. Fox's taunt had been the last straw, and he intended to show the older man who was in charge. Then Fox moved under him, and when Alex could think again, he knew that Mulder was. He laughed, lowering his head to kiss his lover, and thrust into him, Fox's cock being stimulated between them, both of them trembling as the pleasure began to wash through them. As they came, Alex groaned Fox's name into his mouth, hearing him cry something that might have been his own name.

Alex lay on top of Fox, Mulder's arms wrapped tightly around him, holding him close, and he'd never felt better in his life. He was still inside his lover, and he never wanted the moment to end. Mulder was rubbing his cheek lightly against his chest as if he, too, couldn't get enough of the other man.

"We're really going to do this, aren't we?" he said, still stunned by the rapid, complete reversal of their relationship.

"Yes. If you want to," Mulder replied, still nuzzling against him.

"If *I* want to?" Alex laughed incredulously. "You're offering me what I've always wanted and never thought I could have."

Mulder pressed a kiss onto the nipple only inches from where his head had been pillowed. "Then I'd say we're definitely doing this. So let's just enjoy the cruise, and we'll deal with everything when we get back."



At the Washington airport two weeks later, Alex sent Mulder for a cart while he got their luggage, and Mulder almost walked right into Skinner.

"Sir," he said, startled.

"You do not *tell* me that you're taking additional time off, Agent Mulder; you *ask* my permission," the angry AD bit out.

"How did you know where to find me?"

Skinner blinked. "In case it's escaped your notice, I *am* an assistant director of the FBI... you know, investigation."

Mulder just looked at him. He strongly doubted that the FBI could find something the Gunmen wanted to keep hidden, at least not without a full scale investigation. Mulder let it go, not prepared to discuss Skinner's involvement in the Consortium. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Alex heading toward them, his face carefully blank.

"Hey, babe, no carts?" was Alex's greeting.

"Krycek!" Skinner took a single step toward him, and Mulder moved into his path. "Step aside, Agent Mulder; this man is a wanted felon."

"Wanted for what? Better still, by whom? You don't have a single shred of evidence that he's actually broken any laws."

"This man is a traitor! Not to mention that you've been saying for years that he killed your father."

Mulder looked straight at him. "But then, I've been known to misjudge people, haven't I?"

Skinner remained silent, shooting a hard glance in Alex's direction. Mulder nodded slowly. He hadn't been sure until just then, but as far as he was concerned, Skinner's reaction proved that what Alex had said was true.

"If you'll excuse us," his expression made it clear that he didn't particularly care whether Skinner objected or not, "it was a long flight, and we're tired. We're going home."

As Krycek stepped past him, Skinner grabbed his arm. "What the hell did you tell him?"

Krycek smirked. "The truth."

Skinner swore viciously, his hand tightening on Krycek's arm.

"Get your hands off me," Alex rasped.

Instead he balled his free hand into a fist.

"Let go of him, Skinner." Mulder's voice reminded him of where they were, and he slowly released the younger man.

"This isn't over."

"Yes, it is," Mulder stated coldly. He and Alex gathered their luggage and left without another word, leaving Skinner to fume impotently.


The Englishman breathed a sigh of satisfaction where he stood concealed by the crowds.

"Finally!" he exulted, watching Mulder and Krycek walk away together.