Fandom: X-Files
Pairing: Alex Krycek/Walter Skinner/Fox Mulder
Rating: NC-17
Status: New
Archive: Anywhere, as a complete story. If you have a constructive critique and wish to use a portion, contact me directly.
E-mail address for feedback: or
Series/Sequel: Is this story part of a series: Stand-alone
Disclaimers: Mulder, Krycek, Skinner and Scully were born to the brain of Chris Carter, but have taken on other lives in mythos, as all valid fictional characters should.
Notes: Let me see, my challenge in March for Sk/K was for Skinner to seduce Alex after a great falling out - done. The wet t-shirt belongs to Ned and Leny for the March challenge on RatB - done. Tara's challenge for April was to allow Skinner to help heal Alex after a rape. Threw in three violations for the price of one.
Mulder wanted to play and he is very stubborn. He also got to be heroic. He is now a happy Mulder muse.
Now, Scully wanted to kill Spender. So, hey, the red head deserves some recreation. Sorry, Scully, shooting out each knee cap and the elbow joints sounded like fun, but there just wasn't time in this story.
Summary: Spender kidnaps Skinner to punish Krycek, but maybe there are things he doesn't know about exactly how well Skinner knew Agent Krycek?
Warnings: Explicit male-to-male sex, rape, torture, violence, and spoilers right up to this season. One last warning, I only wrote one truly tragic ending and it made me cry so, of course, there is a happy end to this story.
Oodles of thanks to Karen-Leigh and Anika. Any remaining errors are mine. I'm an AD like Skinner only on me the initials stand for attention deficit (No joke)


Briar Patch

by Ursula


He was dancing and looking into merry green eyes. Walter loved to dance and, despite his size, he was a reasonably adept partner. His large hands encircled a slim waist. He was naked, as was the man with whom he danced, but no one seemed to notice or care. Walter slid his hands so they rested on the soft skin of his partner's firm ass. It was not like satin; it was warmer and smoother. He pressed close, circling the rounded globes, enjoying the way the hard muscles worked beneath the tender flesh. His erection waved like a conductor's baton, but he was not embarrassed at all to be seen like that.

The man he was with was his lover. He knew that and knew that the look of love in those beautiful eyes was very real and precious to him. Walter knew that he would do anything to keep his lover safe...kill, lie, cheat, steal. He wasn't sure why these actions might be necessary, but he had a sense that his darling needed to be protected. But not today, today was a time for rejoicing.

Mulder was standing not far away, a smile lighting his face. Scully was nibbling on a chocolate pastry and seemed very content as she stood next to her best friend and partner. Walter took an elegant turn and a sable head of hair feathered across his broad, heavily muscled chest. Alex sighed and said, "I love you."

Walter joyously stopped dancing to kiss the valentine curve of Alex's lips. Mulder and Scully applauded and yelled, "Happy Anniversary, guys."

Alex kissed him back, tidy cat tongue flickering between his lips. His elegant hand found the small of Walter's back and petted it before traveling lower. He huskily whispered, "Take me to bed now, Walter. Take me now."

Walter woke in a sweaty tangle of sheets. His hand stroked his cock and he was on the verge of orgasm as his mind still rambled mostly in dreamland. He caught the fading whisper of an endearment and the cloudy form of Alex Krycek winked away. The last inkling of his sweet succubus was the green eyes melting into his even after the surrounding face dissolved into his memory.

Mulder's voice laughed at him. "God, Walter, don't you ever get enough?"

Walter's face burned scarlet as he realized he was truly caught. He glanced at the clock. He'd slept for two hours after he and Mulder had spent at least that amount of time making love. Walter abruptly lost his erection as he remembered his dream. He could have tried and executed his subconscious for luring him to that place. He didn't want to make love to Krycek or even fuck him. He wanted to see the man die in slow, inventive ways.

Mulder said, "I ordered curry. It's on the table. Listen, I have to bow out of the game tomorrow. Something's come up. Scully and I are meeting an informant. I have to leave right away."

Walter found his foot was caught in a sheet. He grunted as he unraveled the fabric. The bed was sticky and rank with their sweat and come. He'd have to wash the sheets. God knows, otherwise it might still be in this condition the next time Mulder decided it was time to romp.

Mulder was already gone by the time Walter showered and dressed. Walter ate the curry, appreciating the hot burn across his lips and the snarl of the spices in his stomach. He had just tidied Mulder's kitchen when the door opened. Walter thought Mulder had forgotten something. When he turned to tease the absent-minded agent, it was not his friend and sometime bed mate at all.

Walter looked at a grinning thug's face. He was one of those square midwestern types with a ruddy complexion, broad bullish features. His blond hair was cut into some generic law enforcement hairstyle. His shoulders seemed unnaturally broad as if he was wearing football pads under his cheap suit, but that being unlikely, those were the real things. He would have looked like an NFL player, were it not for the sleek pistol in his hand.

Standing next to him was a virtual clone, as well armed as the first man. This one had light brown hair and a scar white-lined across his Dudley Do-Right chin. Two more filed into the apartment. One looked like a ringer for Cardinal and the other was a tall, willowy green-eyed knock off Krycek.

The smoking man waited until Walter had been searched before entering. Walter looked into serpentine eyes in various colors, each pair flat of expression except for the glint of satisfied power. Walter was no fool. He wasn't going to tackle those poised guns. He sighed and asked, "What brings you here, Spender? Mulder's not here for you to torture."

Spender nodded to his men and said, "Search the place."

Skinner watched the group work. They didn't ransack. They were tidy. It was too easy to miss something small in a mess. Walter wondered what they were after? He suspected it might have to do with Mulder and his informant.

Spender made a call as they sat at Mulder's tiny table. He asked, "Did he break yet?"

The smoking man's voice was cold as he snapped, "Of course, he'll break. If he hasn't given in yet, you're doing something wrong."

Spender's watery-blue eyes focused on Walter and he said, "On the other hand, I want to reward you, Skinner. Perhaps, I can break pretty Alex and do that at the same time."

Shortly, the thugs gave up on their search. Spender said, "Come along, Skinner. I have work for you."

That was all the man would say. They encountered no one in the walk to the elevator or in the decrepit lobby of the apartment building.

Walter sat in the back seat of a stretch limousine watching the smoking man consume clouds of nicotine and discuss the world's end on a mobile phone the size of his cigarette case.

The weary, pale blue eyes in their rheumy folds of wrinkles contemplated Walter; as his thoughts meandered back from the many ways he would like to hurt the man. Spender said, "Have you heard from dear, inept Alex lately?"

Inept? That was hardly how Walter viewed Alex. He had always assumed that the man was a valued agent. Walter said, "In what way was he inept?"

Spender said, "Failed to seduce either you or Mulder. He was instructed to seduce you both and play one against the other. Failed to kill you with the nanotechnology. Of course, now he seems to have run off with all sorts of things we need. The fool believes that he is in love with Mulder."

Walter drew a startled breath. So Krycek had not kissed and told? Walter said, "Shows you why you should just give up. You aren't going to win."

Spender allowed a slight smile to cross his seamed lips. He said, "We'll just see, won't we? Spender snapped his fingers for one of his minions to light a cigarette for him. This was the tall one with the creamy, pale complexion. He was green eyed and dark haired. He had an insipid prettiness, resembling Krycek without either the darkness of that man's soul or the fire that seemed to run in his veins.

Walter had a good idea why Spender was so angry with Krycek. That man was damned hard to control. Spender could order around this sapless imitation, but what was the point?

Walter asked, "Isn't this the part where you utter a mad laugh and tell me about your evil plot."

Spender puffed out another cloud of smoke and rubbed his fingers over the groin of his Alex substitute. He said, "Wait, Walter, you're a patient man. I actually have a treat for you. Watch this to prepare yourself."

Spender opened a black plastic cover and revealed one of those car adapted VCR and TV units. He popped in videotape. Walter saw his body on a surgical table with doctors panicking over him. He saw his swollen, red-splotched face bristling with tubes and distorted in agony. He watched himself die on that table as Scully and other doctors tried to save him.

It made Walter feel ill, but he didn't let Spender know how he felt. He said, "Couldn't you get something more entertaining? I know how this ends. The hero lives and I do believe he wins in the sequel."

Spender's eyes narrowed even further. He said, "Humor doesn't suit you, Skinner."

Walter said, "Shows how little you know about me."

Spender shrugged and said to the brown haired thug with the ridge of white scarring across his chin, "Blindfold Skinner."

Shortly after being blindfolded, Walter fell asleep. He hadn't slept much before this kidnapping. Mulder and his Alex dream had insured that. The darkness imposed by the heavy black cloth and the swaying comfort of the limousine seduced him to slumber.

The sound of a car door slamming woke him. Spender pulled off the blindfold and said, "We're here."


It was raining hard. The limousine had been so insulated that Walter had not heard the splatter of the wind-driven gouts. Spender waited for an umbrella, but didn't offer Walter any shelter.

They were parked not far from a sagging house with peeling white paint. It boasted a rickety unpainted porch. The yard held heaps of manure and soiled hay. Rusted farm machinery stood in ruins. A garbage mound buzzed with flies. Walter finally noticed a shovel, a shallow rectangular hole in the ground and gasped.

Spender laughed and said, "Don't worry about that. It's not for you."

Hard hands dragged him into a room. Walter confronted Krycek, kneeling on the floor, naked. He had some sort of collar on his neck, Walter recalled seeing something like that on the K-9 dogs in Vietnam.

Krycek was coughing and looked hollow cheeked. The man's face was pale but for red fever spots on his elegant cheeks. His body was mottled with abrasions and marks. He swayed on his knees and his eyes looked dull as if he was not fully conscious.

Mulder was seated on a hideous orange upholstered couch. He had been beaten, but not as badly as Krycek. He was equally naked and also wore a collar. He looked at Walter and winced, mouthing, "I'm sorry."

Walter nodded and turned his attention to the smoking man who stood in front of Krycek, gloating. Spender unzipped and took out his cock; it was no prizewinner. He was only half erect, which emphasized the crooked bedraggled look of his cock.

Skinner grimaced as he realized what Spender intended. Krycek momentarily glanced at him and half shrugged. Walter wasn't sure what that meant. It seemed almost apologetic.

Alex looked up at Spender and said in a rusted voice, "Put it near my mouth and I'll bite it off."

Spender looked at his men and said, "Walter needs to match the others."

Walter fought, but ended up naked and collared as well. Spender took a remote control and said, "This isn't as sophisticated as the nanotechnology. Since Alex ran off with all the data on our toys; it will have to do." Spender said, "Alex seems to care enough about Mulder and you to take stupid chances. Perhaps, he'll cooperate to save you."

Walter realized the collar was the electric type used by some to train dogs. Only, the charge was set very high. As his neck was circled with what felt like flames, he screamed and his knees buckled. He felt his head float with the pain. Dimly, he heard Alex say, "Stop, I'll do whatever you say."

Spender laughed and grabbed Alex's hair, forcing that talented mouth to his groin. Walter thought that the attentions paid to Spender's cock could have woke the dead. Yet soon the smoker was slapping Alex's face angrily. He yelled, "No wonder you didn't succeed in your mission. All that training and you're no good at giving head. No wonder you couldn't get Skinner or Mulder to go to bed with you."

Spender gave up on his efforts to get his withered cock to function. He dragged Alex to Mulder and said, "I want to watch him fuck you. Get him hot for you."

Alex coughed some more before he leaned against Mulder. Even under duress, his hand rested on Mulder's ass, caressing. Mulder didn't react for a long time, but finally his hips made telltale thrusts into Alex's mouth.

The smoking man said, "Fuck him, Mulder and make a good show out of it. Otherwise, I'll have my men drag your pretty red haired partner here and let them play these games with her."

Alex leaned over the bedraggled orange couch, his pale ivory buttocks offered enticingly. Mulder glared at Spender and then began to prepare Alex, his fingers gliding and stroking inside him. Since no lubricant had been offered, Mulder was using spit mixed with pre-come from his quivering erection.

Spender walked over to where Walter was held by his brutal cohorts. He stoked Walter's cock. Much as he hated the touch and the show that the bastard was making out of Krycek and Mulder, Walter was beginning to react to the sight of Mulder's tightly muscled ass riding into Alex.

Mulder was bucking harder now and Walter` recognized his lover's signals. He was going to come soon. Mulder lunged rapidly and then arched, crying out. A moment later, he stood, covering his genitals with his hands. Spender said to one of his goons, "Take my son to the bathroom so he can wash off the stink of that traitor. Allow him to dress and return him to this room."

Smirking Spender walked over to Krycek and said, "On the coffee table." That battered piece of furniture looked heavy enough to hold a battle ship. Krycek lay on it looking exhausted and bleak. Spender said, "Draw up your legs, Alex, and show Walter what he gets. Skinner, over here."

Walter looked at the guard who held the remote and obeyed. He was a cool headed man. Even now, enraged, he bided his time. There would be a reckoning. Walter looked at Alex and thought, /for you also, Alex. /

Spender said, "Take him, Walter, take him and think about everything this man has done to you."

Walter met Alex's eyes and saw the fear. He knelt, spat on his hand and carefully inserted his finger. Alex was still open from Mulder and sticky-slick from come. Walter guided his cock inside. Alex had a coughing fit, first opening so wide that Walter was suddenly pressed tightly against his buttocks then clamping down painfully around Walter's cock. Alex whispered, "I'm sorry."

Walter held still. He had expected to lose the erection, but the constriction had merely slowed him. He paused and said, "Put your legs over my shoulders, Alex. Then you won't have to strain to keep them up. I won't let you fall off the table."

Alex almost smiled and obeyed. Walter remembered. The first time...that bland hotel room, the covers tossed in a pile. Alex had lain in this position, big green eyes smiling trustfully at him. Walter remembered his greed and wonder at being given this bounty. Alex had been so beautiful and others paled after him, even Mulder.

This version was vastly changed. The face was harder; all of the adolescent look vanished. He had so many scars; there was the ruin of arm. Still, nothing could destroy the beauty of this man. Nothing could make Walter ignore the fact that he was being forced to take what he desperately wanted anyway.

Walter was gentle, angling in and allowing Krycek to adjust to each new inch of him. When he felt Alex push back to his steady pressure, he thrust slowly, watching him react. The lips, the sweet curve of them, just right, so kissable, drew back from the strong, white teeth. Walter hesitated. Was that pain?

Alex's lips moved. Walter moved close to catch the whisper. He said, "You and Mulder, not a punishment. Don't throw me in the briar patch..."

Walter nodded and said, "Never stopped wanting you, Alex."

Spender said, "Stop whispering. Move, Walter, I want to hear Krycek scream. I want to see him bleed."

Walter lunged faster, but he was under control. He felt Alex yielding to him, despite a cough or two, moving with him. His head felt as if it would explode with pleasure. His body quivered, just a little more. The world had narrowed to the flesh he touched, green eyes in a face he once had explored for an hour. Walter felt as he was dissolving into the man beneath him. His sweat dripped onto Alex. Their flesh combusting against each other. They were wet with exertion. Tears slid down Alex's face and were joined by Walter's salty offering. Then, Walter was coming, yelling a wordless cry.

Hands pulled him away, gave him clothing and led him to wash. When Walter returned, Mulder was shouting and struggling, barely subdued by the two brutes that held him. The scar faced thug held Alex down while the blond one raped him.

Walter managed to pivot and slam his fist into the man who guarded him. He had been paying more attention to the rape scene than to Walter anyway. For one mad minute, it seemed as if Walter could win. He had his fingers on the shoulder holster when the world crashed into white-hot pain from the collar around his neck.

When Walter recovered enough to see, the second man was on top of Alex. That didn't last long. Spender looked around and asked, "Anyone else?"

The various consortium goons had tired of the game. Spender walked over to Krycek who had curled into a knot on the table. He gathered a handful of hair and asked, "Now, Alex, you have a choice, a nice hot bath, a hospital bed, and I'll forgive all. I'll find you some pleasant work such as replacing this vapid ninny." Spender pushed away his catamite who had approached him with a cigarette and lighter.

Alex said, "No, I told you. I destroyed the data. I didn't want anyone to have it."

Spender said, "I don't believe it. I know Mulder doesn't have it. Walter wasn't in contact with you. You either hid it or..." Spender grinned and said, "Scully? That's the missing piece. Where there's Mulder, there's Scully."

Spender pushed Alex to the floor and kicked him. Then he said, "Get up. I believe you gave the information to Scully in exchange for Mulder's favors. We'll find her. You saw what we started for you, Alex. Now, you get to finish it. Come on or I'll have to include Skinner and Mulder in that grave. Seems you care about them more then you care about your own skin."

Alex struggled to his feet and drew himself up straight despite his battered condition. He said, "I'm not running any more, Spender. You can't win no matter what you do to me. I may as well as make that grave big enough for both of us. When they find out how I got my hands on that information, they'll cut you into pieces small enough to feed minnows."

Walter stepped forward as Alex swayed. He said, "Let him get dressed at least. A man deserves to die with some dignity."

Spender said, "Krycek's a rat not a man. Besides we destroyed his clothing to search for our missing information. He just has to go out of the world as he entered it. You and Mulder get to watch that beautiful body dig a grave for itself."

Walter's foot encountered a fold of cloth. It was his undershirt, an over sized garment, which was the last of an economy- sized package that he had bought on sale. Walter remembered laughing at his penury when he opened the plastic to discover the shirts were at least double X sized. They were loose on him, but he wore them anyway to remind himself that there were different ways to pay a price.

Walter picked up the garment. It was not much, hardly enough to do more then partially cover Alex, but Walter picked it up. Oddly no one stopped him as he walked over and handed it to Krycek.

Alex looked at him and said, "Thank you, Walter." He slid the shirt over his head. It fell like a dress past his thighs almost to his knees.

Spender laughed and said, "One fuck and you're that soft on him?"

Walter said, "We were lovers, Spender. I just want you to know that. I touched him and he gave himself to me willing. He cared enough about me to risk his life to keep that a secret."

Mulder said, "Same here, Spender. Of course, I can see why you don't appreciate Alex as much as Walter and I do. I always thought Jeff looked like someone else, not you. I wonder who his father is? I have no doubt anymore after watching you. You could hardly be my father. You couldn't get it up to father Jeff or me." Mulder laughed, sounding genuinely amused. He remarked, "Maybe Jeff and I were half brothers after all. My dad was a handsome man and he knew your ex-wife very well."

Spender snapped an order and Mulder fell to his knees, clawing at the collar. He said, "Next word gets the same."

Mulder looked as if he would still snap out something, but Alex walked to the door, head high despite his blood streaked legs and the wobble in his walk. Walter shook his head at Mulder.

Alex climbed down the rickety ladder into the grave. One armed, it was difficult to do more than scratch endlessly at the soil. As much fell back in as was flung on top when he tried to throw the dirt out. He fell in the mud, once, twice, and the third time...

Mulder said, "I won't stand by for this, Spender. I'll dig his grave for him."

Spender said, "I said, shut up, Mulder." He took the remote for the collar in his hand. Mulder fell again when the shock hit him, but in the meantime, Walter had gotten to the grave. Everyone was looking at Mulder so he had time to climb down and start Alex up the ladder out of the four- foot hole. The white shirt, now soiled at the bottom, clung wetly, making him seem almost more naked than without it.

The guard watched him not saying anything. He lit a cigarette and waited for Spender to react. Spender was railing at Mulder, telling him what an ungrateful bastard he was. After all he had done...

Walter leaned Alex against the wall. He was half way back to the grave before he was noticed.

Spender used the shock on him. Walter knew what to expect now and he managed, despite veins popping with pain, to say, "Fuck you, Spender. Krycek's worth a thousand of you."

Mulder had used the time to reach the grave. He sped down the ladder and took a first shovel full of soil before Spender punished him again.

Walter came forward to take the shovel and took his turn with the punishment. Mulder barely sagged this time before going back.

One of the thugs complained, "Come on, sir, let the guy dig Krycek's grave. It's wet out here and it'll take forever for a cripple to do the job."

Spender conceded and stood with smoldering eyes looking at them. Walter gazed about to see if he could find anything to help dig. Nothing obvious presented itself. Mulder said, "Go get Alex out of the mud. Hold him for both of us, Walter."

Walter only then noticed that Alex had crumpled to the ground. He went over and picked him up, folding him into his arms.

Alex buried his face in Walter's neck and recited, "When the camp says, dig graves now. We're coming to shoot you. I'll help with your shovel- (I'll know and be with you.) To give you more seconds to look at the sun while I pillow the sand out. For what is love here for if not to smooth ditches for all the world's sons whose dying we share?"

Walter recognized the poem. He said, "That's supposed to be daughters, Alex."

Alex looked up and said, "Can't see the sun, either. It's okay. I'd rather just blot it all out and be held by you. Sorry, Walter. Sorry, I was mad and afraid of Spender. Sorry that I betrayed you. Sorry for everything. Love you. Love Mulder too. You tell him. Not afraid any more. Be proud of me, okay?"

Walter said, "I am proud, Alex...proud to be your lover and your friend. Love you, Alex. I never really stopped."

Alex lay against him, starting to shiver now that Walter's hug had warmed him enough for the numbness to fade. Walter drew him in closer and stroked the trembling back.

It was quiet. No birds sang. You could hear the rain, Alex's labored breaths interspersed with coughs. You could hear the wet sucking sounds and the plop of the mud that Mulder threw out of the grave.

Mulder was slowing. Walter said, "Let me now. Hold Alex."

Alex clung for long moments before realizing that Mulder was going to be with him.

Walter heard Mulder's voice, soothing, telling Alex, "My turn, love, my turn to keep you warm and safe. There's nothing in the world but you, Walter, and I, love. Nothing but us. Pretty soon, we'll go inside, build a fire and then go to our big soft bed."

The murmured fantasy went on as Walter dug deeper. It was a struggle to lift the shovel. He slid once, falling into the pool of water that had collected at the bottom. Catching himself, Walter shivered, wondering if this was to be his grave too. He dug deeper despite muscles sore from convulsions and fighting. He realized that the grave was already nearly an uneven six feet deep hole. He kept working, wanting to delay, hoping. He was not sure what he hoped; maybe that it would suddenly become Mulder's fantasy.

Spender's voice said, "Enough. That's deep enough."

Walter struggled out of the grave, hating that he had to be helped by the thugs. None of them laughed any more. They were all uncomfortable or maybe this was too much for even their scraps of decency. Walter leaned on the shovel, saving his energy.

Mulder tried to hold onto Alex, but he was overpowered. Soon Alex knelt at the edge of the grave, beautiful face streaked with blood, dirt mixing with rain and tears as he faced his tormenter.

Spender took out a gun and said, "Open your mouth, Alex."

Alex obeyed, his eyes resigned. Spender smiled and said, "Last chance. Where's Scully?"

Alex's eyes glittered in the lantern light that illuminated the grave. He looked Spender in the eyes and said, "Just do it. Set me free forever because you'll never have me again anyway."

Walter railed at himself for cowardice, but he couldn't watch this execution. Eyes pressed shut, he heard the shot and his knees swayed. "Alex," he wailed.

The second shot shook him from his grief. He opened his eyes and saw Alex still kneeling, staring into the grave. Dana Scully held a gun in her hand, her face stark white in the flood of headlights. Shots rang out. Noise. Walter saw one of the goons aiming and roared, "Incoming!"

Walter ran with the shovel ready, cutting the air. The metal connected with a heavy thud and Walter contemplated a dead man a moment later.

Isolated glimpses of events strobed into Walter's head. SWAT uniformed men surrounded the remaining consortium goons. Mulder picked Scully up to plant an enthusiastic kiss. Walter moved as if in a trance to Krycek. The man was teetering on the verge of falling into the grave after all. Walter caught him and looked down. Spender lay in the mud and the water. Scully's shot had blown off the side of his head.

Alex asked, "Is he really dead?"

Walter looked at the ruined skull and said, "He's dead."

Alex said, "Good." He promptly passed out, leaving Walter with a sodden mass of soaked former assassin.

Mulder and Scully approached as Walter staggered under the weight into the house. Scully said, "Put him on that table."

Walter grimaced. It was the same one where they had forced him to rape Alex. Where the thugs had done the same. He shook his head and said, "He wouldn't want to wake up on that."

There was a bed in the other room, the mattress bare except for a plastic cover. Walter bore his burden into the bedroom. Mulder followed with Scully in tow. Scully pushed Walter out of the way and said, "Get on the line and arrange for protective custody." Scully frowned and added, "at a hospital, Walter."

Walter couldn't find his cell phone. It was probably at Mulder's apartment. Scully tossed him her phone and went back to her patient. Mulder's nasal voice growled, "You had better stay with us, Alex."

Walter made three calls, barking orders rapidly. By the time he had arranged for a med-evac, Alex was awake. Scully was taking his pulse. Alex said, "I'm so cold."

Scully looked at Walter and Mulder and snapped, "Off with your clothes and get in on either side."

Walter blushed and hesitated. Scully said, "I'm not shooting a porn film. He's hypothermic, Skinner. He needs to warm up now. Now!"

Walter scrambled out of his jeans and sweater as Mulder shucked his torn and wrinkled suit. They hit the bed at the same time and Scully covered all three with a worn blanket.

Alex started to shiver again and cough. His face was yellow and white, frighteningly corpse-like. Walter pulled him close until there was not the space between them for as much as a sheet of paper. Mulder embraced both of them, wrapped groin to ass around Alex.

Alex grimaced and said, "Too sore to do this."

Walter said, "We know that, Alex. We're just going to hold you and make you warm."

"Nice." The man declared, shutting his eyes and nuzzling the hair on Walter's chest.

Mulder said, "Scully, I hope you plan to explain this to the other agents."

Scully laughed and said, "I will. Although it would make such a cute Christmas card. You all look so sweet. Like a bunch of puppies. A pit bull, a Greyhound, and a wolf."

Mulder snorted. He said, "Scully, how did you know to come back here?"

Scully laughed and said, "Are you joking? You and Krycek together means trouble. You two couldn't go to Disneyland without sparking a Latvian invasion or a tidal wave."

Walter thought Alex was going to be all right. Scully wouldn't be joking if the man were dying. Alex snuggled closer. He smelled foul from the rape and wallowing in the barnyard's fetid dirt. Walter wouldn't push him away for that. Mulder stroked Alex's hair, his long fingers caressing in a constant smooth motion. He spared a moment to rub Walter's arm gently as well.

Alex sighed and said, "I told him once, 'I'm alive. Isn't that a surprise?' Here I am. Still alive and he's dead. He really is dead, isn't he?"

Scully sat down to take Alex's pulse. She said, "Dead and in a body bag."

Walter said, "I can hear a chopper. I think Mulder and I better get dressed so they can move Alex."

Alex uttered a desolate sound, not a moan, not a whimper, just a sound of emptiness, as the angels falling from paradise must have made.

Walter said, "Alex, don't be afraid. You're not going to go to prison. If you have the courage to testify against the remaining men."

Alex nodded and said, "Spender was the one that had me by the balls. Now, I'm free of him. That's something. Better than I deserve."

Walter spared a moment from hastily pulling on his soiled and soaked clothes to say, "Alex, it's going to be okay."

Alex looked up at him. Walter said, "Neither of us can undo the past. But there is a future."

Alex's eyes touched lightly on Mulder and then hungrily to Walter. "A future for us?"

Walter nodded, feeling a wash of tenderness so intense that it felt like suddenly stepping into a warm bath after a long cold spell.

They wouldn't let anyone ride with Alex, but Walter knew he had safe coverage on the other side. He turned his weary attention to clean up, arranging the closest surveillance possible on the prisoners. Around midnight, Walter found himself almost alone in the farmyard. He walked over, looking at the tarp-covered piece of ground where Spender had died.

Mulder's voice came out of nowhere to say, "They wouldn't let me drive a stake through his heart to make him stay down."

Walter knew what Mulder meant and agreed with the sentiment. It was a toss-up as to who had suffered the worst at Spender's hands. Mulder patted his arm and said, "Come on, Walter. We have a car and a motel room waiting. This is finished."

Walter nodded. He was suddenly aware of how exhausted he was and filthy, as if he would never get clean. Scully was at the wheel of Ford Taurus with Bureau plates. She wore her green suit, her low heels, not one hair out of place. Walter evaluated her neat, business attire and sighed. He said, "What's a nice girl like you doing with two bums like us?"

Scully said, "Rehabilitation."




Walter sank back into the back seat. He had no intention of sleeping, but his next recollection was Mulder tugging his arm. He felt safe. Maybe safer than he had felt since the first time he had met Spender.

The blinking light of a Holiday Inn illuminated Mulder's dirt smudged face. Walter fought an urge to wipe the worst of the soil off Mulder's sharp cheeks and protuberant nose with his handkerchief.

Mulder said, "Scully's going to get us some clothes. K-mart's still open and I guess it won't kill me to wear jeans from there for one day. I told her your size." Mulder grinned and said, "And after I bragged about that, I also told her what to get you to wear."

Walter woke up at the joke. He smiled, feeling the dried dirt crackle away as his facial muscles stretched to the new expression.

Mulder said, "That's better. Come on. We're checked in."

Walter just had an impression of rose and beige décor. Then, he was in the shower, leaning against the wall, with hot streams of water rushing over him. A sound pushed out of him and to his horror, he realized it was a sob. Another one erupted although he tried to strangle it.

The curtain pushed open and Mulder entered the shower with him. Silently, a rare thing for his loquacious lover, Mulder pulled him close and held on as if they were both drowning and each was the other's life jacket.

A while later, Walter soaped Mulder's long narrow back. He feathered his touch across bruises and ended by a gentle massage of Mulder's firm, sweet peach of an ass. Mulder said, "This feels so good, but I'm out on my feet."

Walter was just as weary. He thought all it would take was making full contact with the bed and he would be out. By unspoken agreement, Mulder and he had slid into the same bed, neither wanting to be alone. Walter surrendered his aching body to the comfort, but he couldn't sleep.

Ignoring the belly down position of Mulder, Walter asked, "You and Alex, how long had that been going on?"

Mulder groaned and pulled the pillow over his head, holding it in place with his scarred hands. Walter pried the protection away and peered into the one bleary hazel eye he revealed.

"Gawd, Walter, what's your problem? We were never exclusive." Mulder complained.

Walter said, "You're right, but I thought we had arrived at a place where there was more trust. You didn't feel it was important to tell me that Krycek was your informant? We won't even get into your bedding him."

Mulder finally turned on his back. He folded his fingers, otter like across his slightly rounded stomach.

Walter said, "I'm not angry. I just want to know."

Mulder said, "I told you about him coming to me and telling me about that base. Then after my mother died, I took a few days off. I was moping and one moment later, Krycek was standing in my apartment. I swear he must have walked through the walls."

Mulder smiled ruefully. "As you might expect, I tried to pound his face into mush. He put up his left arm to block and I hit it. It was hard. I thought 'Why would he wear armor on just the one arm?' Then, I ripped his shirt off to see and...his arm. His beautiful arm was gone."

Mulder swallowed hard, the knot traveling down his long throat and bobbing his prominent Adam's apple. Mulder said. "I knew what had happened and when, but I couldn't say anything. He sat there on the floor with blood dripping from his nose and his lip swelling. I just pulled him up, sat him on my couch, and ice packed his face. All of a sudden, I had his head in my lap and I was just touching him, touching him all over. His nose had barely stopped bleeding before I had him on the floor, ass in the air. It was so good as we are together, something about Alex..."

Walter admitted, "I know."

Mulder said, "You would think he would be outraged. I didn't even really ask. I just took. I woke up the next morning with him wrapped around me, clinging like a limpet. Even more than he used to."

Mulder said, "I started in on him after breakfast which he cooked. I called him names for half an hour straight. He just took it. Then, when I was deciding whether to screw him or beat him up, he gave me information. Dates, times, places, like a cornucopia of potential evidence. When he finished, I asked him what he wanted in compensation. He reached over and put his hand on my groin. Yeah, that's how I paid him. I felt pretty on top of the world after that. Not only did Krycek give me anything I asked from the consortium, but also I got to screw him and he would thank me for it."

Mulder looked at Walter and said, "I'm the good guy, right?"

Walter shook his head helplessly. Unfortunately, the images that Mulder evoked aroused him instead of upsetting him. He sighed. He doubted that Alex would ever allow anyone to touch him again.

Mulder said, "Scully said we, all three of us, need to see a sexual assault therapist. That, even if we were on top, it was like a rape for each of us, not just for Alex."

Walter grimaced. He hadn't much use for counselors. He had refused their services after Vietnam and avoided them at the bureau unless ordered. He was intelligent enough to understand he might need them, but he was a private person, intensely so. He said, "I don't know about that. I want to forget. Alex should have one though. Shit...I wish one of us could have gone with him..."

There was no segueing between his words and sleep. If Mulder had replied, he didn't know.

Walter woke screaming from a dream in which he was shoveling dirt down over Alex Krycek's face, laughing at the begging and tears. In his dream, Alex lacked all his limbs and wore the black pajama uniform of the Viet Cong. Walter woke yelling that he didn't want to do it.

Blinking he looked at Mulder standing a safe distance away. Mulder remarked, "That must have been a lovely one. There are your clothes. Scully and I are checking us out. We'll meet you at the dining room.

Dry toast, a glass of milk, and two cups of coffee restored Walter to reasonably human level of consciousness. They had decided to fly back. All of them were still exhausted and no one felt like driving. Mulder slept on Walter's shoulder, nose nestled in the crook of his neck. Walter scowled, challenging any one else on the plane to say anything. He woke up with his own head leaning on Scully so if anyone thought anything, it must have been interesting contemplations.


Much as he had meant to see him sooner, it was not until next evening that he arrived at the isolated room in the military hospital. The guards were attentive, checking his ID and frisking him despite it. That pleased Walter immensely. He knew better than anyone that even the most loyal people could be suborned by the consortium.

Alex looked as pale as the sheets. He had an IV attached to his surviving arm and a tube threaded down his nose. An oxygen inhaler was taped to his face. Walter silently moved a chair, thinking Alex was asleep. The luscious lashes fluttered open and green eyes peered shyly from beneath.

Alex said in a harsh whisper, "Mulder said that I look like Darth Vader with all this shit connected."

Walter's lips twitched in a smile and he said, "Mulder always was the tactful one."

Alex smiled back, a seconds long one-sided smile. He said, "I thought you weren't going to come to see me. All that stuff I said...I won't hold you to it. I know you were just humoring me because I was in such bad shape."

Walter shook his head. He said, "I meant it."

Walter reached out, touched a strand of hair. He noted that it was dirty. No one had bathed Alex yet. Still, he rolled the locks between his fingers, glad that it was no longer as short as it had been that day on the balcony.

Walter said, "Mulder tells me that you've been living out of storage lockers and motel rooms."

Alex's twitch of the lips was more the ironic expression that was the only smile Walter had seen since Alex had disappeared into the rat bastard. He said, "When I'm lucky...sometimes, there's no hotel room. Mulder lets me stay the whole night when I bring him something good and, you know," Krycek actually blushed at this point before completing his sentence with a vague "if it goes well after..."

Walter said, "Mulder and I were talking about after you leave the hospital."

Alex sighed and said, "To a safe house."

Walter said, "I can't promise you that it's safe, but I do have a guest room now."

Alex's eyes peeked beneath lowered lashes. Green filtered sunlight glinting through a forest of velvet fronds. He said, "You don't have to be nice to me because of what happened. I deserved everything."

Walter hated the way the husky voice traveled from his ears to his brain, sleeking a passage down his spine to make his cock stir. He felt the head of his erection rub against the cotton of his briefs and was disgusted with his body. He said, "Yeah, maybe, you did deserve some punishment. Maybe we all did but not that kind. Besides, I want to be nice to you, all right?"

Alex nodded, mere hint of movement against all the strictures of his condition. "Okay, the doctor's said I'll be good as new inside. It took a couple stitches, but in a while..."

Walter lowered his head and kissed the too prominent cheekbones of his former enemy. He said, "It's not like that. You don't have to pay for your keep or bribe me. When it happens, if it happens, you have to be ready."

Alex looked up at him in wonder. He said, "But you don't think I'm dirty or anything because of those other guys?" Alex's voice grew rougher. He said, "Since we were together, it wasn't just Mulder. Spender made me...punished me because he knew I hated acting like a whore."

Walter said, "It's going to be okay. This is something I need, Alex. I need someone that needs me."

"Mulder..." Alex said, his thought incomplete as a volley of coughs swallowed his words.

Walter chose to answer what he thought Alex meant. He said, "Mulder's like a cat. He purrs when he wants to be stroked and stalks away when he's had enough."

Alex caught his breath and said, "He said that he loved me."

Walter quashed his jealousy and said, "I'm not surprised. I thought that he did." Walter brushed the tip of Alex's nose with his finger.

Alex smiled softly and said, "You used to do that when you thought I was asleep. Pet my nose and then kiss it."

Walter planted a kiss on the pert feature and said, "I adore your nose." He surveyed Alex's features and said, "Hell, there's not much of you that I don't think is a measure of perfection."

Alex rasped, "Right, all scarred and bony."

Walter said, "Well, maybe you could do with prescription chocolate as a reward when you get better."

A nurse's aid entered with a cart. Implements for a sponge bath sat on the stainless steel. She looked as shiny and sterile as her instruments. She wore enough protective gear to work in a biological hazard lab. Alex looked at the woman with dread. She snapped, "Sir, you'll have to leave. It's time for his bath."

Walter drew up to his full height. She was a tall, brawny woman, but he made her look as petite as Scully. He said, "I'll give him his bath."

The nurse's brow, the little bit that showed under cap and above protective glasses, furled. She said, "What?"

Skinner enunciated each syllable clearly. "I'm going to give him his bath."

Alex looked relieved and said, "Yes, that's what I want. Walter knows I don't have AIDS. So would you if you looked at my chart."

The woman looked at the cart, shrugged and remarked, "I'll pick it up later."

Walter prepared the basin. The soap smelled antiseptic. He would buy something nicer if he did this again. He took the sponge and started with the hair, washed the tearstains from the eyes, removed a speck of lint from the vulnerably offered throat. He stopped to use the shaving kit and kissed the smooth cheek when he was done. Alex's eyes were shining.

When Walter tugged down the covers, Alex said, "It's ugly down there. The arm, the marks, the plumbing."

Walter said, "When I was waiting to go home in Saigon, the hospital was short handed. It was in the middle of one of the heaviest periods of fire during the war. I was doing pretty well so I volunteered to help. Not much I didn't see, Alex."

Alex closed his eyes. Walter was glad because, despite his words, he winced. He had cared about the men he helped in Saigon, but this was different. This was a body he had loved and cherished before he rejected it.

Walter had seen men with amputations in all stages of healing, but this stump was a mess. He could see that the puckered ridges and hollows were covered with burn scars. The end was neat, perhaps a later operation to correct the horror of the original cuts. There were marks where a cut had gone wild. Defense scars. Alex had been awake and fighting when it happened.

Walter felt a dizzy wave. God, don't do anything to make it hurt Alex worse, he chided his queasy stomach. He concentrated on the rest of the body after handling the stump as if it was rice paper.

One of the goons had bitten Alex in several spots. The wounds were scabbed now where teeth had cruelly sank into the tender flesh of the neck and around one of the sweet, pinkish brown nipples. Bruises outlined the indentations. Alex was mottled like a leopard, bruises vying with unmarked flesh equally in proportion.

Walter knew how to move the catheter-implanted penis without adding more discomfort. He felt the balls stir in the velvety sacs as he washed them and smiled at that. Maybe Alex would be okay after all.

Alex's ass, an ass that might have graced any number of classical statues, was heavily bruised. Walter finished his work, kissed Alex in the hollow of his spine after drying him. He was reaching for the help buzzer to get assistance to change the sheets when Mulder's laughing voice said, "Hmm, I don't remember you playing nurse all those times when I was in the hospital.

Walter saw the accumulation of shopping bags and half smiled. Mulder's inheritance was only guilt free for him when he spent it on someone else.

Walter drawled out, "Alex... doesn't bite."

Mulder set down his burdens and said, "Ah, you like it when I bite, admit it."

Mulder reached into the bag and extracted a green bottle decorated with mossy velvet ribbons and faux jewels. "Voila, skin oil...all natural and smells like heaven."

Alex's eyes lit and he said, "Oh, God, I need that."

Mulder cocked his head and said, "Let me put it on?"

Alex said, "Yes, please. Walter, too?"

Mulder said, "Whatever you want, as a politician once said, this is the kinder, gentler me."

The oil did smell good. It reminded him of the scent that Alex used to wear. Walter used to pretend to believe it was his natural fragrance; sweet, sexy, sensuous just like the young man for whom he had felt such insuppressible desire.

Walter hated to stop touching Alex even when every uninjured inch of him was covered with oil. Spender had forced him to taste an addiction that he had never fully mastered. Now, he wanted Alex, part of him not even caring how ill the man was. He snapped controls down on his libido, threatening an icy bath when he got home.

Mulder was watching him. He smiled and said nothing. Self-restraint from Mulder? Walter thought that perhaps they had all died and this was a waiting chamber to heaven.

Walter forced a smile as Alex blinked sleepily. He said, "We had better change the bed and then let you sleep."

Mulder supported Alex's head as Walter moved the pillow to change the slip. He stopped as he encountered soft cloth underneath. He picked it up, his shirt, the ridiculous undershirt he had been wearing and had put on Alex to defy Spender.

Alex begged, "Please leave it. Please..."

Walter bundled it up and said, "I wasn't going to take it back."

Alex's eyes slid away from him and the rose in his cheeks was no longer only fever spots. Walter said puzzled, "I know we took that off him. Did you pick it up, Mulder?"

Mulder shrugged and said, "He wanted it. I paid a deputy to go and find it, express it back here." Mulder shrugged and said, "Getting too soft in my old age." Mulder took the shirt from Walter and said, "There's your security blanket. Until we get you to Walter's and then you can have the real thing."

It took a few moments to smooth on a hospital gown, change the remainder of the bedding, and draw up the cover. Before they were done, Alex was sound asleep, his face only slightly less white than the pillow.

Mulder distributed the rest of his bag around the room. Clothes to wear out of the hospital, a few magazines, and two books. He set three stuffed toys on the table near the bed. Walter looked, a rat, a fox, and a badger...

Mulder said, "It was a toss up between the badger and a bulldog, but just look at that expression. That's the way you look when you read my expense reports."

Walter snorted and said, "I had hair before you were assigned to me, Mulder. This isn't male pattern baldness. I tore it out reading those reports."

A soft chuckle came from the bed. They had woken Alex. He said, "Like it used to be. It's what you dream about when you live like I have. Ordinary things, the way you and Mulder used to argue and I would pretend I was part of the chair, trying not to laugh."

Mulder said, "Then, you would straighten all my paperwork for a box of chocolate and a kiss."

Krycek managed to laugh again. He said, "Made Walter buy me lunch twice by telling him it was the price for getting the expenses in a justification that Disbursements would buy."

"Double dipping?" Walter accused.

Alex nodded, wincing as something pulled painfully at the movement. He yawned. Walter leaned down and kissed him on the cheek. Mulder did the same. Walter said, "You rest now. You don't have to give me an answer about my place right away."

Alex quickly said, "I don't have to think. I want to have a home. A real place with a bed that feels the same every night."

Mulder smiled and said, "And Walter's place is bigger so you won't feel pressured by having to share the same bed right away."

Walter frowned at that. He said, "He doesn't have to ever share my bed to stay with me."

Alex said, "They raped me, Walter. They didn't castrate me."

Walter heard the rat bastard in the clip and thrust of that irate response. He said, "Well, that would have been a sacrilege, don't you agree, Mulder?"

Mulder said, "Very much so." He kissed Alex again, this time on the lips and said, "Sleep, love."



Noon, Walter had gone in early, clearing his desk of the most urgent of his backlog of report reading. He went through the pile of annual leave slips and personnel trivia, generous for once with the least absurd of the reimbursement requests.

Mulder was meeting him with lunch at the hospital. The hospital allowed Alex semi-solid food now. Thank God for that, the boy had continued to lose weight until he looked like a bundle of bones held together by parchment.

Walter passed through security to hear Mulder's voice rising in the room. His lover was in a full-blown Mulder rant. The target was the day nurse. She was withering under the barrage spewing at her in those unique New Englander nasal tones.

As Walter stepped onto the battlefield, he noticed that Alex's hand was empty. They had taken the IV out yesterday and, since then, Alex seemed to have had Walter's shirt in his hand in every idle moment. Jesus, it had just been a moment of guilt-induced kindness, but Alex seemed to regard it as something incredibly special. It made Walter both pleased and uncomfortable to have the garment substitute for him.

That pretty much summed up the situation. Walter Skinner admitted he was a very confused man. His gut level response to that horrible day had been to forget Krycek, the rat bastard, and to remember sweet, tender Alex, the lover he had never been able to eject from his heart. Still, there was so much pain and rage between the two periods of time. He didn't want to lose Alex again, but how could he forgive?

Mulder roared at the red-faced nurse. "He needs that. If you won't go look for it, we will!"

Fifteen minutes later, Walter was looking through bundles of clean laundry. Mulder was making messes not far away. "They said it has to be somewhere in here."

Walter chided, "Stop flinging the stuff all over. Shake out the sheets a little in case the shirt is clinging to the folds. And stick to one bin at a time. How can we tell where we've looked if you keep jittering about like that?"

The humor struck Walter a few minutes later. He laughed as Mulder grumbled his way to the bottom of one of the huge metal bins. All you could see was that trim ass and the long, long legs. The rest of Mulder was leaning so far into the bin that it was a temptation...hell; Walter grabbed two handfuls of tight ass and did it.

Mulder yelled, "Walter, I am fucking going to get you for this. Come here. Help me out."

Walter had no problem with foreseeing the consequences. He shook his head and said, "Nope. You deserved that for every expense account I ever had to send back to you three times. And for every report you wrote that had the director asking about psychological exams for both of us."

Mulder grumbled then yipped, "Hey, here it is. I found it."

Walter laughed, "See, that's justice. You suffered a little and now you're rewarded." He leaned over the edge and steadied it for Mulder to climb out.

Mulder gripped his arm and climbed over the edge. A kiss and a playful bite later, they went back with the prize. Alex's tray was untouched. His eyes glistened and his nose was redder than before they had left. However, his face lit when Mulder presented the love token. Mulder sprawled on the bed and proceeded to tell Alex about how Walter threw him into the laundry bin. And about how he found the shirt in the process of extricating his body from the piles of linen.

A soft chuckle, almost a giggle emerged from that lovely mouth as Alex said, "You're my hero, Mulder."

Shyly, Alex added, "And Walter is too." His lips trembled and he lowered his eyes. He whispered, "I know I'm being stupid about the shirt, but it makes me feel anchored. It's been like a dream and I keep being afraid I'll wake up in that grave.

Walter couldn't resist petting the dark plush of that hair or placing a kiss in the small indentation at the brow. The taste of him, redolent of memories. Walter inhaled. Despite the hospital odors, Alex smelled like Alex should again, thanks to Mulder's shopping trips. Walter teased, "You can have a whole drawer full of my shirts if you want. Hell, I'll raid Mulder's tie collection if you want a favor from him as well."

Alex shuddered delicately and primly said, "Just the shirt, thank you. Mulder's ties would give me nightmares."

Mulder sniffed at that, but he looked relieved. Sleeping beauty was coming back to life. Walter wondered what the end result would be? He knew there never would be a sweet little agent Krycek again. He hoped the rat bastard was equally dead. Alex would have to decide who he was and whether that person really wanted either or both of them.


It ended up being a very brief lunch but, even so, Walter was late for his weekly report to the deputy director. He looked at that bulldog face and kept his composure as the man dressed him down as if he were a new agent who had pulled some stupid stunt.

Walter stood it, fully prepared if necessary to explain that he had held back some of the information on the files Alex had provided. One of them concerned some unfortunate ties to a certain conservative politician. This was no crime in itself, but leaking information about investigations to a media hound was.

Walter didn't have to use the threat. He was glad. He almost smiled. He and Alex were a little more ruthless and opportunistic than Mulder. Maybe they could bond over that. Discuss dark deeds...but they had not been done dirt cheap. Walter had lost so much self respect over the services he had reluctantly performed for Spender. A small part of the rage he had felt was because Alex was a worse traitor. It felt good to compare and condemn him instead of facing his own agonized conscience.

Walter worked late, finished the day's labor as far as he could delve. It was like digging a hole in the sand; as much filtered back as you threw out. He might have remained until morning, but Mulder planted his ass on the last pile of reports. He spread his legs out indelicately and then managed to spin Walter's desk chair in a full circle.

Mulder handed Walter a prescription slip. Walter read two words, "Fuck Mulder". The handwriting was sloppy, but he still recognized Alex's script behind the ruse. It was signed, "Dr. Rat".

Walter asked, "Are you sure that this wasn't just his comment to you?"

Mulder grinned, "No, he was happy as hell with me. I snuck in peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. If he hadn't already given us all his secrets, he would have surrendered them happily after the first spoonful.

Walter grumbled, "I'm sure his doctor would have said that was too rich for his system."

Mulder seriously replied, "If we don't ever do things that are too rich for our system, what's the point?"

His long fingers played with his tie. He said, "Alex told me that once he threatened to undress right in your office if you didn't lay off and go home. He said, you held out right down to his trousers."

Walter blushed. How the hell was he supposed to know that his secretary was loyally slaving in the next room? When she had walked in unexpectedly, Walter had blathered, "All right, Krycek, now I believe you really do need another shoulder harness. I see that it's chafing." Walter was sure that she hadn't bought it. It hadn't mattered later that night after they switched positions for a second round. It had been the only time he had let Alex literally fuck his body instead of his mind.

Walter stood up. Mulder was an exhibitionist by nature. He'd probably parade bare-assed through the office if Walter didn't decide to leave immediately.

Mulder's hand draped possessively over his lap all the way home. He didn't unzip him; just let those elegant fingers rest hotly over his clothed cock. By the time they were at the last intersection, public indecency sounded pretty good.

Slamming the door shut, Walter spun Mulder around. It took a little practice to slant the kiss correctly under the prominent nose. It was well worth the effort. Walter admitted that kissing Mulder was nearly as good as fucking someone else. That mouth with its full, sulky lower lip was made for sucking, licking, and nibbling. It was worth kissing for an hour at a time. Mulder's tongue was as agile as he was sometimes clumsy. It promised later pleasures as it darted and explored Walter's mouth. God, he was ready. Had been ready for days.

Still pinning his squirming lover to the door, Walter managed to get Mulder's clothing off without shredding anything. He left a trail of garments to the bed. Normally, they always seemed to be dancing around the issue of who penetrated whom - if they wanted to do that at all. This evening, Walter made it clear from the start.

He had those long, lean legs up almost instantly. His mouth worked assiduously over Mulder. Walter had to appreciate that Mulder cleaned thoroughly before wiggling his assets on his desk. He probed with his tongue, rubbed the spot above so pressure from within and without soon had Mulder in a rare state of arousal and boneless surrender at the same time.

Mulder handed him lubrication and a condom. His eyes twinkled from the bed. "Thought you wanted to finish that paperwork, Walter? Maybe I should just go home, visit my porn collection?"

"No!" Walter roared, hastily preparing. Sliding in. Finding that walking around with a half erection for days was no way to prolong lovemaking. However, Mulder was writhing and finished right after him. Walter was ready to lay back and rest before round two. He thought they both had enjoyed the romp so why did Mulder look pissed? Mulder got up, showered, dressed, and was headed for the door.

Walter asked, "What did I do wrong?"

Mulder grimaced, "Wrong name. I'm not Alex. I do understand, but maybe we should wait to do this again until after you figure out what you're going to do about him.

Standing in the remodeled house alone, Walter felt very sorry for himself. He went to change the bed sheets in the new bed and then slept in his old one in the guest room anyway.

Walter woke up grouchy, a morning erection bobbing that wanted more than a piss to relieve it. Walter gave it a cold shower and a withering lecture. At his age, he should know better than to say the wrong name. At his age, he shouldn't be dwelling on a beautiful face, soft skin, and green eyes. He took his hand off his recalcitrant appendage. Blasting it with even colder water.

Walter went to check on the progress of the remodeling crew. He had left his alarm in the other room; only the noise of the workmen had saved him from a late day. The sunroom looked as if the tarp fairy had gone wild. He had seen the drawing, but this chaos of buckets, ladders, tools, and covers made it seem far from a reality.

Of course, none of this was being put to use. All three of the crew had coffee and doughnuts. Rich, nut covered, maple slathered things. The last time Walter had eaten one of those was around the time of his first ulcer.

Walter snapped at the workmen, "I thought we paid you extra to finish this on time? I'm not paying for any coffee breaks!"

The burly contractor shook his head and said, "Look, Mr. Skinner, the glass has to set. It's almost ready and then, we get back to work. Tomorrow noon, at the latest. Ahead of schedule."

Walter growled and went to change for work. Half of his house was covered in a plastic tarp. Mulder had babbled about a California king sized bed, a sun porch, and a hot tub of all things. The tub already sat in a screened enclosure. The huge bed with that required sets of two hundred dollar sheets squatted in his bedroom. Walter thought that Mulder and he had properly tried and not found it wanting last night right down to the first scene of an argument after sex.

The sun porch wasn't as easily done. The tile was imported. The insulated panes of glass did not come cheap. To have it all ready for Alex's discharge from the hospital meant overtime. The cost actually tapped Mulder's capital, but Walter supposed it didn't matter.

Spender had left bequests to all four of them; Walter thought it was his way of getting the last word. The smoking man had been cremated. Up in smoke to face, Walter hoped, crowds of ghosts hungry for revenge. Walter had intended to refuse the money, but Alex said, "You want to give it to the government, Walt? Find some kid's program and donate it. Take care of your taxes that way too."

Alex made no bones about keeping his share. He had borrowed a laptop and already was researching stocks from his hospital bed in between answering questions.

Walter and Mulder had to answer questions too. So much for privacy. If it weren't for all the loose ends, Walter would have resigned. One last compromise. The price of Alex's information was high. He walked on his past crimes, not that they could hang much on him anyway. Leaving the FBI, without turning in his cell phone and laptop, was the only evidence that hadn't disappeared. He was a clever man; Walter had always known that.

Alex wasn't done when he had protected his own freedom. He had negotiated Mulder back into the X files and protected him from losing his security clearances.

Walter too was protected. Every reference that might have revealed the hold that Spender had on him had been deleted. Alex must have somehow continued to tap into Consortium files from the hospital. He couldn't have anticipated this clean a sweep before Spender's death.

The one thing from which Alex could not protect either Mulder or Walter was the gossip. It got around as Spender's men talked about what had happened as they were interrogated. Walter heard that his new nickname was "Butch" Skinner. Well, he should regard this as an opportunity to find out who his real friends were.

Walter grumped and went to work. He walked through the Hoover Building briskly and confidently, as always. Hollow with anticipation and worry. What in the hell did he really want from Krycek? A lover. A pet? Revenge? Sex...well, no doubt about that. He wanted Alex back in his bed.


Meetings...Skinner had years of practice in screening his ears for his name or really pertinent data at these exercises in futility. He had actually heard something useful in...oh what year was that? Jimmy Carter was still in office.

Loggins bustled up and said, "AD Skinner, what did you think?"

Walter said, "Great charts, really informative presentation." Loggins, was he personnel or accounting? Oh, well, shoot for something generic. Skinner added, "I am sure it will increase productivity.

A muffled giggle sounded from Elaine Hathaway. She was one of the faithful, head of research for years, incorruptible and quietly brilliant. She took Skinner's arm and led him aside. She said, "Walter, the meeting was about the remodel. That was the presenter who covered the restroom revisions. Productivity?"

Walter looked around and shrugged, "Probably the most accurate comment I ever made. Listen, I am running away. I have things to do."

Elaine smiled and said, "Yes, I heard he was being released soon."

Walter growled, "Rumors really travel fast around this place."

Elaine shook her head. "Not rumors, I delegated myself to the last interview. We knew each other. I met him in the library quite often before he started to make friends." Her smile showed she knew why little agent Krycek abandoned the library after a few weeks in the building.

Walter asked, "What do you think?"

Elaine said, "I think there are at least two lucky men in the world. He's matured well."

Walter agreed. He reminded himself to stop for beef and seeds. It was a favorite dish for all three. Prime Rib, marinated until it dissolved on your tongue. Honey-mustard dip and bite sized pieces just right for feeding someone else. One last report shoved into the in basket. He walked right past an irate looking Culpepper. Asshole wasn't happy that Walter had kicked people off the security teams assigned to Alex.

Alex was already miserable about being surrounded by so many armed strangers. He didn't need anyone who muttered jokes about gay men and rape. The man who made the comment had not known Skinner was in the restroom when he spoke. His partner apologized and assured Skinner that he didn't think the joke was funny. He said that he would be glad to be reassigned to someone new.

Skinner said, "Don't. I don't have time for this. I get the final call on Alex Krycek. He's the key to a lot of unsolved crimes and to some high up security risks. Your man was unprofessional. I didn't write him up only because Krycek said it wasn't important. So, get out of my way. Sign that agent up for some kind of diversity training. Personnel always wants agents to go to those things."



Escaped. The sky was drizzling, one of those days where every oxygen molecule was replaced by liquid. Sun porch indeed, Mulder! Of course, the full spectrum lights would be almost as good. Skinner sighed, a few mornings out there sharing champagne breakfasts with his beautiful young men. Maybe it would be worth the fuss. In any event, he would be so glad to see those workmen leave.

The order was ready when he arrived. The place was a hole in the wall, but the food was good. He used to meet Alex here in the short time when they had been together before Sharon called and said they weren't finished after all. There was this one dark booth. Alex would pretend to be engrossed in his food as his stocking foot rippled teasing caresses up Walter's legs.

Walter remembered hot mustard kisses in the small restroom, walking back to the table and hoping no one noticed the bulge in his suit pants.

Walter remembered eating leftover Chinese food at three in the morning after making love half the night. He would go in to work, exhausted, but in remarkably good moods. Sharon never gave him that. He loved her, but she never catered to him the way Alex did. Of course, he told himself for years after that it was all ploys. Now, well, he hoped. He hoped that he wasn't too old to have another taste of paradise.

Walter walked past the guards, feeling their eyes upon him. It was difficult to know whether or not they had a very good idea as to why he and Mulder spent every night in that hospital room with their old enemy.

Mulder sat on the bed. He was feeding Alex wonton from a carton and dribbling broth down his chin. Walter folded his arms, put on a stern look and said, "You spilled, Mulder. That needs to be cleaned up."

Mulder smirked at him. He licked the broth clean with his clever tongue. All that arguing gave him wonderful jaw strength and that tongue was amazing in it's dexterity. Alex laughed. He laughed more often each day. Mulder smirked at Walter, pleased with himself.

Somehow, Walter wedged onto the bed too. He took turns feeding Alex and Mulder until they insisted that he eat as well. As unpleasant as this hospital room could be, Walter knew it would always be in his memory.
Alex's case of "walking pneumonia" and the trauma of the rape made it easy to suppress all the unresolved anger. These sterile walls gave them a safe place to rebuild an impossibly shattered relationship.

Alex fed Walter the last bit of sesame beef. He leaned back against Mulder, using the lanky agent as a pillow. His mouth glistened with sauce as he carefully dabbed at Walter's lips.

Walter thought about kissing the traces from Alex's lips. He really wanted to do it. He even started to lean close. Unaccountably, he stopped himself. It was too soon, he thought.

Mulder and he both stayed until the nurse threw them out. Walter asked, "Are you coming to my house tonight?"

Mulder grinned and said, "Sure, but just to sleep. I meant what I said. Ah, Walter, don't make that face. I sulk so much better than you do. Tough it out, man."

Mulder stubbornly kept to his word. Later that night, Walter looked down at Mulder's leanly muscled body and sourly pulled up the covers. If he couldn't have that ass, he didn't want to see it.

Walter supposed his love life was the subject of much discussion. He wondered what they would say if he told them he was looking at a long bleak wait before the love life was other than moribund.


It was Saturday; Walter had delegated Mulder to bring Alex home. The contractor was at his deadline and Walter had vowed to rescind the incentive if he was so much as half an hour over. That was satisfaction.

But he wasn't going to have that much satisfaction. The only thing left was a small patch of tile. Mulder had ordered a ton of tile in the room, terracotta on the floors, and blue ceramic nearly to the ceiling. Walter wondered what the man planned? Food fights? It was pretty. Perhaps it was not in the best of taste, but Sharon had been one of those people with overwhelming aesthetic scruples. She had needed dollops of fun and empathy. Mulder's idea of décor and decorum was infinitely more entertaining.

Walter looked at his watch. Five minutes to spare from the deadline. The smirking contractor pulled the last scrap of tape off. He twitched his mustache and explained, "The room had to cure for two days before you use it."

Walter nodded and handed over the check. Use the room? There wasn't much temptation in that. The place reeked of chemicals. Shortly after the well-paid crew left, Walter heard a car and walked out. Walter opened the door for Alex. Ceremoniously conducted him to the door, framing him with Mulder on the other side.

Walter spread his arms grandly and said, "Home, Alex."

Alex's lips trembled slightly. He softly said, "Thank you, Walter. Thank you for everything."

Walter showed Alex the sunroom, intended to show him the hot tub, but as soon as Alex saw the bed, he uttered a groan and made his way to it. He had his clothes off before Walter realized the tour was over.

Alex said, "I'm sorry. Tired."

He was wearing the shirt. He kept it on. And nothing else. Just the thin, old t shirt that hung down to his thighs. Pretty picture. Cold shower.

Walter helped Mulder with the one suitcase, one plastic clad suit hanger, the laptop, the box of books, the guitar. Oh my God, the guitar! He hadn't even thought about that. Walter asked, "Can he still play it?"

Mulder sighed and said, "A few things. The best he can do with the prosthesis is hold onto it. Doesn't complain. Never complains about the arm or much of anything.

Mulder opened the suitcase and unloaded two pairs of black jeans, two long sleeved black sweaters, two long sleeved black tee shirts, socks, and no underwear. Walter said, "It looks like he needs to go shopping. Unless he goes commando all the time.

Mulder muttered, "He said why bother? People just ripped it off him."

Walter felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. Fuck Spender to hell even if he was already there. Walter growled, "That's over."

Mulder arranged the stuffed toys. Walter said, "About that night."

Mulder said, "I'm not angry. Not now anyway. I might have done the same if I hadn't resolved my feelings about him before this all happened.

Walter asked, "If I ask what your conclusion is, are you going to punch me?"

Mulder answered slowly, "No, you have a right to know. It was around the third time I "paid" Alex; I suddenly realized that if it stopped, I would have gone crazy looking for him. He's heroin, he's an addiction." Mulder shook his head. "Oh, hell, I love him, Walter. Funny thing is, somewhere in the middle of digging that grave, I think I fell in love with you too. That was never supposed to happen. I kept thinking the feeling was just all the pain...the effects of shared hardship. Yet, it hasn't gone away. I didn't sleep at all in my own apartment. That's why I came back here last night."

Walter smiled. He smiled all the way from the heart out. He had always valued the relationship more than Mulder. Maybe that was the key. Take care of Alex and keep him safe. Love Mulder and take him to bed.

Walter went to finish his project. Homemade chicken soup with fat noodles, fresh from the deli a few blocks away, and heaps of vegetables. He added a packet of spices and stirred. It smelled good, safe, and nurturing. There, that should tell Alex something when he woke up.

Mulder had curled on one side of Alex, his long nose having found a home in the crook of that long ivory column of throat. Alex had kicked off the covers. The beloved shirt folded around his flat navel, revealed the dark curls at his groin, the still overly sharp protrusions of hips, and the concavity of his abdomen. One of Mulder's hands lay splayed, protectively across the juncture of material and flesh. With Mulder draped like that, you wouldn't know that the left side was imperfect. Wouldn't have a hint that someone had ruined one of the world's beauties.

Not thinking, Walter stripped. Got in on the right side. Alex frowned in his sleep, opened his eyes, green eyes darkening with anxiety. Walter murmured, "You're safe. Got you on both sides, Alex. Go back to sleep."

The right hand gripped his arm and then merely draped across it. Walter listened to the muted sounds from outside. Listened to the semi- snore from Mulder and the deep, still, slightly wet breaths from Alex. Pulled under, sweet and warm, drowning in warm honey.

A routine was established. Mulder's fish found a place in the sunroom. He kept his apartment but never went home to it. Alex answered questions, preferred to stay home and have agents come to the house. He never stopped in when someone insisted that he go to the FBI building. Alex was always silent, often clutching the shirt on those days.

Even when Alex had good days, Walter noticed that he spent a great deal of time wandering around with just that garment on. The cheap cotton, worn from washing, clung to every crevice and outlined every protrusion. If Alex had just wandered about nude, Walter was convinced he would have got used to it. The shirt was worse. It hid enough to make Walter keep looking, fascinate on what piece of anatomy the thin material would next outline. Walter refused to ask him to put something on. He promised himself that he wouldn't look the next time Alex bent down and the hem rode way up. Broke his promise every time and stared greedily.

Watching the round bottom wiggle as Alex folded laundry, Walter observed that Alex was growing sleek again. He had started to work out on the home gym two days out of the hospital. It was no use forbidding it. Alex would just sneak. It didn't seem to set him back. Soon, Alex was eating as much as he always had. Sure proof that the devil claimed him; Alex never gained an ounce after hitting his perfect weight no matter how much chocolate he devoured.

Walter tried teasing Mulder into bed several times. His lover wouldn't have sex with him. Just grinned and said, "Work it out, Walter. You're a smart man, figure out what you want and move on it."

Right. Walter told himself, "I am a tower of strength. Alex was raped. I shouldn't force anything. He needs to make the first move."

He masturbated until he felt raw and idiotic.


No moves. Alex talked to him. Played chess with him. Plastered himself around Walter like a second skin when they slept in the big bed. Alex always slept in the bed. Mulder usually slept in the bed, sometimes ended up on the couch with the remote to the TV fallen wherever he dropped it from a sleeping hand. Walter occasionally took his old bed in the guest room so he could sleep without the constant tease of his beloved, but untouchable lovers.

However, Alex had nightmares if neither of them slept with him. Walter always seemed to hear first and dutifully moved back. Held Alex. Massaged his back. Walter heard Alex apologize for his weakness, soothed him back to sleep and lay awake with a raging hard-on until morning.


It had been three weeks since Alex had entered his home. Walter had a late meeting. He had an agent in trouble in the field and spent four weary hours making sure he was safe. It was past midnight when Walter went home. He needed a shower. He hadn't eaten much. He found food in the fridge. It was homemade lasagna ready for him to warm up. He ate it and wanted to just catch a glimpse of his lovers before he went in the shower. The near thing with Agent Drew had him on edge.

The room smelled like sex. Mulder had moved just enough to let Alex breathe. One of the condoms was all the way in the trash. The other, a black one that must be from Mulder's flavored collection draped on the side of the plastic lined basket.

Walter looked at the contented expressions, at Alex's hand gripping Mulder's hair. Mulder was sleeping on Walter's side of the bed, the side that faced Alex's good arm.

"Fuck" he roared, letting his suit jacket drop to the floor. He heard Mulder yelling for him to stop, as he gunned his engine in a fashion he would have reamed Mulder for doing.

Walter had no clear images until he looked up at a man who dwarfed him. Bronze skin, a heavy beard, piercing black eyes, and a ponytail of curly dark hair. "I'm calling a cab and taking your keys. Word of advice. If this is your solution to your problems, go here."

The bartender pressed a card in his hand. Walter wanted to laugh. AA. He didn't need AA unless that stood for Alex Anonymous. He wondered if there were enough brokenhearted men and women for a support group?

"He's a Rat Bastard. Mulder is a......not a rat. Fox-Bastard!" Walter loved it. He felt very clever and vindicated. Yes, they took his little house, his orderly life, and his routine and they wouldn't even let him fuck them. "Fox-bastard and Rat-Bastard wrestling in a bed. Laughing at Walter."

He had the hiccups. He was crying and hiccupping. He had to piss and he was reasonably certain that he was going to throw up. The turbaned cab driver left him. Walter focused enough to throw several bills on the car seat. Staggered out.

Mulder appeared out of nowhere. Long, lanky form supporting him. Walter decided to give him another chance. He draped himself on Mulder, grabbed the back of his head and kissed him. He wanted to thrill the hell out of Mulder. He burped.

Mulder's voice scolded. "Fucking hell, Walter. I must love you to put up with that! the fucking shower."

Last thing he remembered was being tortured. First, they put his head in the toilet then they assaulted him with mouthwash. Lastly, they held him under a stinging shower for hours.

Walter looked for the demons cautiously from under one eyelid. Alex was calmly seated on the bed and looking at him. Walter had the immediate good sense to realize that he had behaved like a maniac and a fucking asshole. He was a dead man.

Alex said, "Mulder called in sick for you. Drink this."

V-8 juice. Walter made himself swallow all of it. Alex replaced it with peculiar tasting water. He said, "Now this, all of it."

Walter frowned, drank it, handed the glass back, and wobbled to the bathroom. He pissed for five minutes straight, sat on the toilet and the smell from his own bowels nearly made him pass out. What the hell had he eaten at that bar?

Walter showered in the other bathroom. He shaved. He straightened his shoulders and went to be dressed down by Alex.

Alex was in the small office, which now filled to bursting with computers. "Busy, working, bug off." Alex said through gritted teeth.

All right, the cold shoulder, which was no big surprise. Walter gathered up suits and took them to the drycleaners. Alex was setting out lunch when he returned. Alex watched him eat. Cleaned the kitchen. Walter had given up trying to convince him that he didn't have to do most of the housework just because he was home during the day. Walter had half decided that he could put in a few hours at work when Alex appeared in front of him. Walter set the phone down and said, "I'm sorry. I had no right to be jealous of either of you."

Alex nodded and said, "Walter, we have to talk. I'm not good at it. You're not good at it. Mulder can talk marathons and still never admit to a human feeling."

Walter nodded and said, "I know. I'll never do anything like that again. It's just that I thought you weren't ready."

Alex sighed and said, "How many times did I have to stick my ass up nearly in your face before you'd have gotten the message?"

Walter was angry now. He said, "With everything that happened, I felt that you needed to make the first move."

Alex said, "I did that the first time. You told me on that balcony at your old place that it was entirely my fault. I screwed up your marriage, fucked with your head, and used you. So, I'm not making any moves. I want you. But if you want me this time, you do the seducing."

Walter nearly laughed, but he saw enough of that cold, hard warrior in Alex to hold back the sarcastic sound. He looked again. Alex was serious. Shit, he had never seduced a man.

Alex had thrown himself at him. Mulder had given him a massage and merely sat down on the towering erection that resulted. Everything else was short, furtive and mostly purchased encounters.

Walter had seduced Sharon. Expensive restaurants, theaters, the ballet, opera (He wore earplugs. He hated opera.) Took his whole romance according to Emily Post right down to the wedding and the honeymoon.

There had been other women. He had pursued and been pursued about equally. Men, however, Walter doubted that Emily Post had any hints about that. Alex sighed and handed him a book. It had a great picture on the cover of two gorgeous guys kissing. "Getting and keeping your man" Jack Hart.

He looked up and Alex smiled. "Thought you needed help."

Walter didn't throw it at him. He put the book down and did go into work. Mulder made no comment when they sat down to dinner. That wasn't like him. They invited him to the hot tub. He declined. Chose to wash the dishes before Alex could load them in the dishwasher.

Walter worked out. Alex came in and stood watching him, lips parted and a little sweat beading up. "Looking good, Walter." Alex said and went out of the room.

Walter worked out to the edge of exhaustion and went to take a bath. He took the book as an afterthought. He spent several minutes looking at the pictures and skipped to the parts about enhancing your sex life. Hmm, he had never been inspired to jerk off to Emily Post. Jack Hart was a lot more fun.

Walter slept in the guest room. He woke up early and went into work. Saturday was as good a day as any to work. He found himself with an empty in-basket at noon. This was never supposed to happen. The entire microcosm at the FBI depended on no-one's inbox ever being entirely empty. Ah, he would check his secretary's inbox. That was also empty. Shit, he'd have to go home.


Walter found himself at the door of the candy store without knowing how he got there. Well, Alex liked chocolate. Walter picked out an assortment and watched it packaged into a lace doily lined box. He laughed as he discovered chocolate covered sunflower seeds, garlic flavored sunflower seeds, and even cayenne sprinkled seed. Walter grabbed a basket and filled it to the top with the strange concoctions.

There was even a Fox toy to surmount the heap of packages before the store covered it with colored cellophane. But he wasn't trying to seduce either man. Not by far.

Of course, the bookstore was certainly not any kind of effort either. Walter just felt like buying Mulder a first edition Edgar Cayce book. Walter pondered through the bookstore aisles. Alex would love this place. Walter stopped near the poetry section. He'd have to bring Alex here if the man didn't make up an excuse not to go with him. Walter frowned. He suddenly realized that Alex seldom left the house.

In fact, Walter frowned. Had Alex ever left the house since his arrival except to go to the FBI building? Never mind, they would deal with that in the misty future.

As long as he was in this aisle, Walter pawed through the books. It was a good selection. He hesitated between ee cummings and Robert Frost, before spotting the slim volume. "The First Morning" was a first edition, but it wasn't too expensive. Peter Viereck was an obscure poet, but Alex loved his works.

Walter noticed a book out of place and reached greedily for the oversized volume. The Chas Addam's first edition was expensive. He shrugged. They all loved the morbid cartoonist so they could share this.


The house smelled good. Walter recognized the smell of Alex's chicken baked in clay. Walter grimaced as he saw Alex had drafted Mulder to help. The man couldn't cook. The man couldn't make a salad. He always cut the lettuce rather than tearing it plus he forgot to rinse the vegetables. He also used the bitter ends of the celery and finding a whiskered green onion end was always disconcerting.

Alex said, "Don't worry. I'm supervising closely."

Green eyes checked the packages covertly. Alex prowled closer. Walter said, "After dinner."

The food tasted better with conversation and jokes. Walter waited until the table was clear before revealing his purchases. Mulder smirked at the exotic seeds, but was willing to try them. Alex put his prosthesis around the chocolate box guarding it and nibbled on one piece of chocolate after another.

Walter finally remarked, "Generally, people share, Alex."

Alex said, "I'm a rat bastard. Rats don't share."

Mulder attacked from behind, pinning Alex's arms. Walter got the box away and picked a lumpy looking, white sprinkled confection. Alex wailed, "Not that one, I was going to have that one next."

Walter waved in front of Alex's nose and said, "Trade it for a kiss."

Alex made a ridiculous exaggerated smooching face. Walter freed him from Mulder, kissed him, tasted the chocolate, tasted the back of his throat and the forgotten chocolate nearly fell until Mulder plucked it to safety. He was nibbling the edges when Walter came up for air. They shared it.

They reacquainted themselves with Chas Addams. Alex read several poems from the poetry book. Walter was glad that Alex skipped the one he quoted when Walter was holding him at the grave. Alex read hopelessly pretty and romantic things until Mulder stole the book. Mulder concluded with the one about the seven sons who rampaged through their father's house, ravishing and then eating the maids.

Walter joined them in bed, reached out traced two different hips and rested his hand on Alex's cock. Alex removed the hand and said, "Far as I go on a first date, Walter."

"Shit." Walter said, "Alex..."

Mulder thought it was very funny. He said, "Try champagne tomorrow. Alex's funny when he'd tipsy on champagne."

Mulder was joking, but Walter took it seriously. They spent the afternoon in the hot tub until they moved to the couch for heavy necking, a little awkward when three necks were involved. They finished the expensive champagne and started on the back up bottle with the very domestic label. Walter felt inspired to relate the dream he had in Mulder's apartment.

Mulder roared. "So you are dancing naked in a ball room and no one notices?"

Walter drew on great dignity and said, "I didn't say that. They applauded."

Mulder turned on the music system and said, "This I have to see. Alex, I seem to remember that I won a certain bet. Pay up. Anything I want."

Alex complained, "That was supposed to be anything you wanted in bed."

Mulder said, "Ah, but we didn't say that. Pay up. Strip."

Walter wasn't really drunk. He was just relaxed. Dancing was seducing. Naked dancing might just skip ahead a few steps. He undressed neatly until Mulder started to clap and say, "Take it all off, Walt."
His coordination was great for a man his age, a slightly tipsy man of his years. The briefs hit Mulder right in the face and caught on his nose. Mulder pulled them off and spun them on his finger. He said, "Dance, my lovelies. Don't make me get my gun."

Alex dropped his pants and said, "Can't have you do that. You would probably shoot something useful off yourself."

Walter bowed and said, "May I have this dance?"

Alex rolled his eyes, but bowed back and presented his hand. Walter quickly slipped his hands down to the exact position he had found in his dream. It was even better than he dreamed. They moved so well together and Alex's face relaxed. His head drooped down to Walter's shoulder. Walter felt the warm breath on his skin and the sudden teasing lick. He shuddered.

The circles grew tighter until they were no longer moving their feet. They swayed. Walter felt like he was going to come right there, standing up, from nothing but the friction of their gently rubbing bodies and heat of Alex's skin.

Alex somehow got his hand in between them, pinched the base of Walter's cock hard enough to elicit a whimper and snarled, "You had better fucking ask me right now or I swear I'm going to push you down and jump on you."

When Walter recovered his breath, he quickly said, "Alex, please let me make love to you."

Alex said, "About fucking time. Yeah!"

As raw as the need felt, Walter found that he held off. He had to taste him, all of him. God, his skin was still so soft. Alex shivered constantly under his touch. He was incoherent, his hand pulling Walter closer. His head rolled against the pillows. He looked like he was in agony. Walter eased off his consumption and Alex glared, "Don't stop."

Walter touched the stump. He had never been willing to handle it, flinched when he accidentally touched it. He brought his lips to it. Alex whispered, "Not there."

Walter said, "Part of you, scars and all."

Walter moved on, held off until Mulder's hand was slicking a condom on his straining erection. Lubrication followed. Mulder's hand guided him inside Alex and held him at the base of his cock.

Mulder said, "You don't really want to make it that quick. Alex is always so hot inside, so sleek. I love the way his legs try to pull me in, make me move harder."

Mulder's hand moved to Walter's ass, massaging it as Walter shuddered above Alex. Walter got his hand on Alex's erection, working it in rhythm to his thrusts. Alex's hand gripped the pillow, flailed. Alex arched, pushed hard against him and Walter couldn't take it, couldn't hold back.

A sound ripped out as he came. His hips pumped into Alex, his heart was racing. Then he was looking into Alex's face, wanted to kiss away the tears that coursed down his rosy cheeks. He only had the energy to roll off and pull Alex into the shelter of his arms.

Mulder tended them both, his face unexpectedly gentle. He removed the condom and bathed them with warm washcloths. Mulder grinned and said, "Considerably better than my best porn tape."

Walter reached up a weary hand to bring Mulder's lips to his. "Mulder? Shut up, Mulder." Took the kiss. Mulder tasted like all three of them. Walter looked into the hazel eyes and said, "I love you." Reached for Alex and brought him even closer. "I love you both."

"We know." Two voices.

Plaintively, Walter asked, "Do I have to seduce you every time I want to make love to you?"

Alex's sleep drowsed voice answered, "We'll take turns. Walter?"

Walter mustered the energy to answer. "Yes, love?"

Alex said, "Not sure if I need to sleep with your shirt anymore."

Walter yawned, turned over and draped his arm over Alex, stretched until he felt Mulder's rock hard hips and sighed. Maybe he ought to order flowers for Spender's niche in the crematorium next to poor Jeffrey's. Thank him for throwing them all in the briar patch.

The path had not been without thorns, but the middle was very, very safe and beautiful.

And Walter slept, not even dreaming.

The end...