27 nov 98
Category: M/Other?, M/K slash--AU of an AU (of an AU?); you'll see what I mean... Jackboot Challenge!
Rating: NC-17 for m/m sex, language
Disclaimers: they aren't mine...but I'm willing to spearhead a daring raid to save them from the clutches of that madman CC!!! Saddle up, we'll head him off at the pass!!!
Spoilers: Triangle, the obvious Terma one, and the bang-bang ones. Yup.
Notes the First: sorry guys--didn't sleep so I could write most of this last night, so it hasn't been beta'ed, and I'm sooooo pissed about that bloody kiss--if I wasn't already torturing that fickle boy somewhere else...forgive!
Feedback most definitely adored!


*
Enemy, Friend
by Ladonna King
lking@agora.rdrop.com
*

Hanging in the arms of two Nazi thugs, terribly aware of the dead captain slumped not a stone's throw away, Mulder still found he couldn't quite believe in the gun pointed at his head. The shock of the man standing before him wiped all such considerations out of his thoughts. Sucking on that damned cigarette so coolly, looking so disgustingly at home in that uniform...God, he wasn't even surprised. Where else could a sonofabitch like him have sprung from? Now seeing Spender...that had been a surprise. Cancerman? Hell, no.

Which made his shock at Skinner's approach, in an impeccably crisp Nazi uniform, all the more complete. All he could do was stare while his boss--old boss--a man he had sometimes considered almost a friend, handed his FBI credentials over to the enemy. Jesus.

An order passed that he didn't understand, but he found himself suddenly out of range of the gun, hauled unceremoniously towards the door. "Skinner!" he couldn't help shouting. "Skinner, help me!" But the man just stared at him like he was insane.

Back down the stairs in the pouring rain, and a hard blow across the back of his head when he tried to struggle. Even throwing himself over the side of the boat again would be preferable to this. He had to get out of here... No, wait. First, he had to find out where this ship was heading. Didn't he? God, he didn't know what the fuck was going on anymore. Scully in the ballroom, giving him the same stare Skinner had. Like *he* was the one that was crazy. And what the hell was *she* doing here, anyway? The way things were going, Pendrell was bound to show up in a bellhop costume at any moment.

When they shoved him back inside the ship proper, he plowed face-first into a dead black uniform, the warm steel of someone's chest pressed briefly against his cheek. An angry shout caught him and his escort up short, and as the men behind him yanked him upright by the elbows, he had just enough time to realize that while the words sounded German, the accent was indefinably wrong.

Looking up into a pair of furious green eyes, he felt the bottom dropping out of his world. "Krycek," he spat hoarsely. "I should've known I'd see you here..."

The man beside Krycek spouted something at his escort in an angry tone, his accent thick but apparently understandable. The men flanking Mulder snapped to immediate attention, their hands tightening painfully on his arms. Shit. Krycek a Nazi too? One more thing that just didn't surprise him at all. The bastard actually looked good in the uniform; it suited him, in more ways than one. Traitor. Murderer. Why not monster as well?

The man's hand suddenly came up, silencing his companion. His *left* hand. Wait... "Dierkoff," Krycek said shortly, his voice deceptively mild, with a slighter burr of the same accent. Mulder was willing to bet it was Russian. Once his companion had subsided, Krycek quietly addressed Mulder's guards, in what sounded like fluent German, while they barked out answers like American grunts to a drill sergeant, eyes forward, chins up. Fuck. Somehow, some way, Krycek had managed to insinuate himself into their midst, into a position of power here. He probably got a kick out of having Nazis bowing and scraping for him. Mulder wanted to wrap his hands around that pale throat more than he ever had in his life.

Then Krycek nodded once, and turned sharply on his heel, motioning for his companion to follow. Mulder's escort trailed along after. "Krycek? Dammit, Krycek!" he yelled, but his captors struck him swiftly, impersonally, silencing his shouts. Fuming, Mulder yanked at the hands holding him, but they dragged his arms up higher, the muscles in his shoulders screaming as the joints threatened to dislocate entirely. Krycek didn't even turn to look.

They marched him swiftly down the empty, ornate halls, the thick carpeting not muffling the squelch of his still-sodden shoes or the precise thud of German bootheels. Only the man ahead of him remained silent, and Mulder found himself staring resentfully at the back of the dark head under the sinister black cap, the broad shoulders wrapped in a raven's coat. If he had a knife... There was a dagger and a pistol on Krycek's belt, the perfect means if he could find the perfect opportunity. All he needed was a chance...

Krycek's companion jumped briskly ahead, opening a door and stepping aside for Krycek to enter first. Mulder found himself manhandled into a darkened room, the only light spilling in from the doorway until someone behind him flipped a switch. Mulder was simply amazed by Krycek's arrogant attitude. Was this the same guy who'd sniveled at him in Hong Kong, the scared little rat he'd pushed around in front of his militia buddies? Give the man half a dozen Nazis behind him, and he suddenly turned into royalty.

Krycek waved a negligent hand, the clipped remark that followed bringing Mulder's captors to attention once more, babbling anxiously. Mulder recognized a protest when he heard one, but Krycek just turned, slowly, and fixed a flat stare on the unfortunates behind him that was so cold, even Mulder shivered. He found himself waiting with the same breathless anticipation as the Germans while Krycek paused, blinking deliberately, those startlingly long lashes looking not the least bit feminine now. Even his face, always too boyish and young for the man, suddenly took on a terrifying cast, though the change was so subtle, Mulder couldn't have put his finger on just what it was. But Krycek no longer looked like anyone Mulder wanted to cross. For just that one moment, Krycek could have claimed he was the devil, and Mulder would have wanted to believe.

One word passed those strangely soft, obscenely sensuous lips. And Mulder found himself pushed unceremoniously to the floor, his escort snapping once more to stiff attention, and filing out. Gingerly, Mulder rolled over to sit upright, leaning back on his hands as he watched their departure with stunned bemusement. Krycek was a fucking fool. Turning back to face the sneaking bastard, he tried to catalog the unfamiliar expression on the too-familiar face, one he'd seen in more dreams than he wished to remember, and came up short. Distrust? Uncertainty? An overabundance of confidence, definitely. And questions. Many, many questions.

The minute he heard the door shut behind him, he bolted to his feet, flinging himself at Krycek with a snarl of fury. "You sonofabitch!" he yelled, swinging with all his might at the carefully-impassive face.

But Krycek surprised him. The coward who never fought back was not in this room, not tonight. Mulder found himself back on the floor so fast his head spun, his arm wrenched up behind him, face pressed into the carpet while Krycek knelt on his spine, knee digging in painfully. "Guess this is easy when you've got backup, huh, Krycek?" he growled defiantly, but the man's continued silence was unnerving. It wasn't like Krycek to attack without speaking. Hell, it wasn't like him to *attack.* Had he really become that complacent about Krycek's passivity?

"Forgive me, sir," Krycek spoke at last, his accent still present for some unknown reason. "You appear to know me, but I fear I'm at a disadvantage. I would be most interested in your explanation," the smooth, cultured voice turned dangerous, and Mulder found himself shivering despite himself.

"Fuck you, Krycek," Mulder turned his head further sideways, and spat at the man, missing him by inches.

A pair of boots approached his head, then, a familiar angry tone startling him. "Nyet, Kolya," Krycek said calmly, his voice brooking no opposition. Shit. He'd assumed everyone had left. No wonder Krycek had had the guts to fight back... Krycek said something else to the man, who retreated sullenly, glaring down at Mulder with unconcealed outrage.

When Krycek hauled him up and spun him around, Mulder stumbled dizzily, grabbing instinctively for the hard arms that held him up. "They say you are American," Krycek's eyes pierced him deliberately. "Who are you, and who do you work for?"

"Goddammit, Krycek, save the games for your little buddies," Mulder snarled, shaking the other man's hands off. "How the fuck did you get here, damn you? What are you playing at? What's the smoker doing on this ship, dammit, and what--"

Krycek's hand grabbed him suddenly by the collar, pulling him off balance again, while those eyes glared icily into his own. "Perhaps there's been a mistake," he said quietly, but for some reason, the words didn't fill Mulder with confidence. It didn't sound like Krycek was about to explain; it sounded like Mulder had just lost the man's interest entirely. What the fuck was going on here? "I don't know who you've mistaken me for, this 'Krycek.' My name is Vassily Arntzen."

"Arntzen?" Mulder shook his head, frustrated. "Yeah, you used that name with the militia, so what? Come *on,* Krycek, this is getting old! Or are you just afraid to talk in front of your watchdog here? Afraid everyone will know you're a fucking double agent, is that it?"

Krycek suddenly trembled before him, but it was not in fear. "Who are you?" he hissed, shaking Mulder once. "Who sent you? Answer me!"

Something in the man's response chilled Mulder to the core. If anything else could convince him that something was terribly, terribly wrong, it was this strange fearlessness of Krycek's before him, even with the man's attendant to back him up. "M-Mulder. Fox Mulder. With the FBI. Krycek--"

"My name is Arntzen," Krycek's eyes narrowed. "And I don't know any FBI. Who sent you?"

"No one...Kry--"

"Arntzen," Krycek shook him again. "Are you having trouble with the name, Mr. Mulder?"

"I...what's going on?" Mulder said weakly, sick with disorientation. Things weren't right here...something...was out of whack, with this whole mess...

"Answer the question."

"What?"

"*Who sent you?*" That cold face, so close to his own, like a statue of a demon come to life... Krycek--Arntzen?--had just lost all patience, and Mulder felt suddenly, horribly lost. This man...he didn't know what to expect from him. And *that* had been the subject of more dreams than he *ever* cared to think about.

"Please...just tell me what year it is," he found himself whispering, doubt creeping its way through the anger, fear replacing the rage. "Just that..." He knew the answer. He didn't want to *believe* the answer.

A muscle clenched in the jaw of Krycek's double, but the man answered with the same eerie calm he'd displayed before. "1939. September 3, 1939."

"Oh my God..." Mulder couldn't help it; he stared at the man in unabashed horror. How...how the hell was this possible? Was this really Krycek, playing a game? Or was it some alternate version of Krycek, one that didn't exist in Mulder's timeline? Or, most frightening of all...could this be some kin of the man who had betrayed him? The urge to kill him wilted abruptly, leaving him queasy at its passing. As attractive as the idea sounded, the very whisper of the word 'paradox' across his thoughts, now that it might be a possibility, left him shaken and nauseous.

"God is not on this ship," Arntzen's mouth twisted in a frightening, wry smile. "No more questions, American. Who sent you, and why?"

Mulder thought fast. "I'm not here about you," he said quickly. "I'm here because this ship, the _Queen Anne,_ disappeared nearly sixty years ago. Where I come from, it's 1998. I work for the American government, investigating paranormal activity, like the reappearance of *this ship* in my own time. I--you very closely resemble a man I know, Alex Krycek, a..." He almost said 'a spy and a traitor,' but changed his tack at the last moment. "Do you...do you have any children?"

Arntzen's hand tightened momentarily on his collar, but the man's face remained calm. "One. A daughter."

"Then...Alex Krycek may be your grandson...?"

Arntzen's eyes narrowed again, and he shook his head slowly. "Your story has a certain originality, Mr. Mulder, but good acting will earn you no reprieve..."

"Wait! I...I can prove it," he shook his head desperately, grabbing at his pockets. He found himself kneeling on the floor again abruptly, Arntzen's weight settling against his back as his arms were dragged up. "No, wait... My pockets. I--check my pockets. I think they took my ID, but there's gotta be something, check--check my money, all right? No one's going to counterfeit a couple of coins just so I can make a crazy story believable. I *know* it sounds crazy, but I'm telling the truth, dammit!" He was babbling. He didn't even care. All he knew was that he was in more danger here, with this terrifying double, than he had been with what he would have sworn was Cancerman... Now, he wasn't so sure *who* he had seen anymore....

"Kolya," Arntzen said shortly, and the man's companion stepped smartly forward, dragging Mulder up and around to face Arntzen again. Krycek's double stared expressionlessly at him for a long moment, then stepped closer, reaching around Mulder to thrust his hands into the back pockets of his still-damp jeans.

The feel of someone else's hands on his ass, especially these, was far too uncomfortably intimate. He started to squirm despite himself, but Kolya's grip on his arms tightened warningly. He knew Arntzen's orderly would just as soon kill him as look at him; he had the look of a professional subordinate, a man more than comfortable in his role and murderously jealous of his master's honor. Mulder really didn't want to push the man, either of them.

But being groped by a lookalike for Alex Krycek was really a bit too much. All he had to do was think of those beautiful, long-fingered hands, splayed over his body, and--

He was instantly hard. And ready to kill something over it.

Finding nothing, Arntzen withdrew his hands, only to thrust them, one after the other, into Mulder's front pockets. Mulder jumped again, his face heating alarmingly as Arntzen's questing fingers brushed over his erection, digging deep. Something shifted in the man's face then, but Mulder didn't want to know what it was. God, this wasn't the Bermuda Triangle; this was Hell.

Arntzen came up with a couple of soggy sunflower seeds, a crumpled gum wrapper, and a handful of coins, some of them shiny-new copper pennies from Mulder's own year. Examining them wordlessly, Arntzen slowly frowned, looking over at Mulder warily. "1998," he said slowly. "And you say you were looking for this ship."

"Yes. It doesn't belong here..."

"And you really don't know who I am."

"I...I know you look a lot like a man I know. But no. I...I guess...I guess I don't know you," Mulder slumped a bit. "This...this wasn't what I was expecting to find."

Arntzen stared at him consideringly for a moment longer, then nodded once to his orderly, who let Mulder go. "This man, this...Krycek. Why did you attack me when you thought I was him? You claim he is a spy?"

"I...yes," Mulder grimaced uncomfortably. If Krycek really was this man's grandson, or even great-grandson, then Arntzen might just take offense in permanent ways... "He was assigned to be my partner for while, in the FBI. But it turned out he was working for that smoking bastard upstairs..."

"Not the Russians?" Arntzen inquired with a mildness Mulder didn't quite trust, and a strange glint of humor in his eye.

"Yeah...the Russians too," Mulder admitted grudgingly.

Arntzen snorted, rocking back on his heels. "Mr. Mulder, I can assure you that no grandson of mine would be working for the Russians. *Or* for the man you saw upstairs, assuming he survives this cruise," Arntzen added with a feral smile. "I myself am lately of Moscow, you see."

"Moscow? You...defected?" Mulder shook his head, wondering where this sudden information was coming from, and to what purpose.

"Indeed. And not to Germany. Kolya?" he suddenly addressed his companion. Whatever he said next didn't make the other man happy, but Krycek's shadow saluted sharply and left the room, closing the door behind him. When Krycek turned back to Mulder, his eyes had gone serious and hard. "I sent my wife and daughter on ahead of me, with my sister and her husband," Arntzen said quietly, and Mulder shuddered at the veiled menace in his tone. "To America. This," he indicated his SS uniform, "is merely convenient. A way out without rousing the suspicions of my superiors in Moscow, while I pretend to infiltrate this pack of dogs. Stalin, Hitler, all one," he spat disgustedly. "But you...if you are lying, and mean any harm to my family... Threaten them, American, and you'll discover just how long an Arntzen's reach is."

Mulder couldn't take it all in at once. "You...why? Why are you...?"

"You have no idea," Arntzen's lip curled just slightly. "Your people are all so soft. You brandish your rights as if they were destiny, not a privilege. I have lived through the Terror, American. I've sent more men to die than you have even known, and I am sick to death of it. Not for any man, or for any cause, will I do that again."

"What...what were you?"

"An officer in the NKVD," Arntzen shrugged stiffly. The name rang every warning bell Mulder had. "I see you understand. Understand this. I want the killing to be over. I've done all I can, saved what I could, but I am through. This man is dead, as soon as I set foot on American soil. All I want is to be left in peace."

"But can you be?" Mulder heard himself say, and cursed himself roundly. He shouldn't antagonize the man...he should just agree, watch for his moment, and get the hell out of here.

"What do you mean?" Arntzen demanded at once.

"The man I know, Krycek--he's used your name before. Arntzen. You look like you could be twins. How could he be what he is if you...?"

The shift in Arntzen's expression told Mulder the man was hovering right on the edge of rage again, but he made no move towards Mulder. "Mr. Mulder, I repeat, no grandson of mine would work for such scum. Unless, of course," Arntzen's lips curled suddenly at some private thought, "there was a very good reason."

"Reason?" Mulder half-shouted. "Like *what?*"

"For the same reason I'm here. To save his family. To save his people. To save what he could." For some reason, Arntzen no longer looked disturbed at all. Mulder was starting to get dizzy again.

"I don't understand..."

"Have you ever asked this Krycek his reasons?" A small smile tugged at Arntzen's mouth. When Mulder hesitantly shook his head, Arntzen snorted, disgusted and amused at once. "Perhaps you should. For a man who wants him so badly, you don't seem to know him very well."

"What!?" Mulder took a deliberate step backwards, only to be followed by a very purposeful Arntzen.

"Come, Mr. Mulder, the truth. Being in the same room with me is difficult, and it's not only because you want to kill me." Again, that amusement in his voice, heating Mulder's cheeks impossibly. "This man I remind you of. You must have had something besides betrayal between you..."

Arntzen was still advancing, backing Mulder step by inexorable step until his back was pressed to the wall. "He was my partner," Mulder scowled, his voice barely above a whisper. "He sold me out to them."

"And he's never done you any good?" Arntzen pressed, standing so close, Mulder could feel the heat of his body through his own chilled clothing.

"Not...not enough to pay for what he's done," Mulder stammered, unable to look away from those intent green eyes.

"What he's done to you? Or what he's done to the world?" Arntzen leaned in even closer, until their lips were almost touching. "Where would you say the greater offense lay? The truth."

"I..." Mulder faltered, unable to think with this man pressed so close. There was something horribly...incestuous about it, all in all...not that they'd ever...but he'd wanted to. God, he'd wanted to, right from the first. And *this* version of Krycek was the man he knew taken to every extreme, with none of the flawed, human failings that had made his Krycek so approachably appealing. His Krycek was someone he could have at least fantasized about getting close to, without being laughed away or sneered at. This one would have chewed him up and spit him out, and never looked back. There was something frighteningly attractive in that.

But he forced his mind to the question, trying to make sense of it. Krycek *had* warned him about the militia group's bomb...and the Tunguska rock. And restored his faith, even though it had been a wild goose chase. Or not. He still couldn't remember... And there had been other things, other instances when he had, in his own strange way, tried to *help...* That inexplicable forbearance when Mulder started pounding on him.

That inexplicable kiss. What the hell did it all mean?

"Think about it some more," Arntzen invited softly, and closed the distance between them.

Mulder's eyes closed the moment he felt Arntzen's tongue probing at his lips, seeking entrance. Moaning softly as he opened his mouth to the kiss, he watched all his questions shatter at once. Who needed answers when they could have this? Arntzen kissed him until his breath was gone, hands tracking over his body in slow, maddening caresses, teasing his chilled, already-stiff nipples through the thin fabric of his damp shirt. If it weren't for the wall behind him, Mulder would have collapsed to the floor almost immediately.

When Arntzen's mouth left his, Mulder couldn't stifle a whimper of protest, one that changed to a sharp little yip of surprise and delight as Arntzen's teeth fastened on his neck, followed by another kiss. Shoving Mulder's grey T-shirt up roughly, Arntzen let his head dip lower, his tongue like a brand on Mulder's icy flesh. Sliding wetly around one nipple, then the other, the long, deliberate licks were suddenly replaced by teeth, worrying the small knots of flesh while Mulder thrashed helplessly, holding on to Arntzen's shoulders for dear life. When the other man sucked one hard, Mulder thought he was going to come in his pants.

Arntzen might well have read Mulder's mind. The man's hands suddenly closed on his jeans, practically ripping them open and shoving them down, though they clung to Mulder like a second skin. While Mulder was haltingly trying to toe his shoes off, wriggling his hips to slither further out of his pants, Arntzen dragged Mulder's shirt over his head, until Mulder was standing shiveringly naked before him, and suddenly aware enough to know that this was a bad thing.

Arntzen's wicked green eyes raked him like coals, traveling from the hard muscle of his runner's legs to the breadth of his chest, pausing only momentarily on his weeping erection. Then back up to his flushed face again, and Arntzen reached out calmly, lifting Mulder's chin with a strange smile. "Very beautiful," Arntzen pronounced slowly. "Do you know how beautiful?"

Mulder could only stand there, until Arntzen took one of his hands and placed it against his crotch, wrapping Mulder's cold fingers around the heat and throb of his erection. Mulder's hands suddenly had a life of their own, one stroking the hidden flesh, trying to learn its shape and contour through the cloth, the other working at the fastenings of the man's belt. So near the knife, the gun. Didn't matter. He didn't want them now anyway. Arntzen let Mulder disarm him with a bemused smile, eyes lidding dangerously again as Mulder freed the man from his pants, the uncut cock rising proudly from the black shroud of Arntzen's uniform. God, his mouth was watering at the thought...

Arntzen's hands were on his shoulders, pushing him down firmly. Mulder dropped to his knees at once, not looking up at the familiar stranger's face, his own hands reaching for Arntzen's hips. Would Krycek look like this, have the same graceful curve, smell so close to heaven if Mulder buried his face in those dark curls? Arntzen was fucking magnificent. Mulder nuzzled greedily at the skin of the man's stomach, feeling the pulse of Arntzen's cock against his cheek. Arntzen was every unspoken fantasy made flesh.

But he wasn't...Alex.

But that didn't matter either. There were hands tilting his head up, a finger tapping lightly at his lips, and when they opened to suck it in, he found it replaced with that gorgeous cock, sliding so perfectly over his tongue, fitting his mouth as if Mulder had been shaped for that express purpose. The taste of his skin, slightly salty, was exactly as Mulder would have imagined it, and it too was perfect. Arntzen's hands cupped his cheeks, guiding Mulder back and forth over his cock, forceful, but not enough to choke him. Setting a fast pace. Mulder kept his tongue swirling over the hot flesh, exploring the strangeness of a foreskin, opening his throat to take the man deeper. God, he wanted more, wanted Arntzen's cock deep inside him, and his own arousal was almost painful, but just to touch, to taste...

Arntzen's fingers tightened on his head then, and the man came with a few hard strokes, while Mulder swallowed frantically to keep up. Cleaning the man thoroughly, Mulder had to be pulled off the softening cock, with a quiet groan of disappointment as his mouth was emptied.

And then Arntzen released him, another small smile playing over his lips. Before Mulder could become nervous or embarrassed, Arntzen's foot came up, planted itself in the middle of his chest, and pushed. Mulder went backwards in surprise, but the weight on his chest kept him still. "Beautiful *and* talented," Arntzen's smile widened. Mulder lifted a hand to shove Arntzen's foot away, but found himself hesitating, fingers just touching the gleaming leather of his boot. Arntzen didn't *look* like they were finished. Not at all.

Arntzen shifted a little, bringing the point of his toe up to Mulder's cheek, caressing his face softly. Perfectly balanced. Mulder thought about balance, and aim, the feel of a gun in the hand and the weightless dance of combat, and knew he didn't ever want Vassily Arntzen angry with him. And the cold, smooth leather against his cheek was doing something frightening to Mulder's cock...

Or maybe it was watching Arntzen get hard again, watching *him.* The man shifted back, and his booted foot slid almost menacingly over Mulder's erection, the light touch more disturbing than a well-placed kick. Arntzen could hurt him badly if he wanted to...or if he misjudged his balance, if the ship rolled suddenly. Arntzen didn't look like the kind of man who misjudged anything more than once. The strange stroking came again, lifting his bobbing cock, gliding between his belly and his erection, cold and smooth as glass. When the sole came down to cover him, Mulder's hips bucked up, desperate for release. Arntzen grinned, nudging Mulder's balls, and Mulder groaned his frustration aloud.

"Turn over," Arntzen instructed mildly, and Mulder rolled automatically, settling into the soft, thick carpet with a sigh. "No. Up. Just your ass," Arntzen added with a smile Mulder could hear. Shivering, he obeyed, rising to his knees with his cheek still pressed to the floor. He almost wondered why he was doing this without a fight.

But he knew. He wanted to do this. More than he could say or hope to understand.

Again, there was a booted foot caressing his cock, polished black leather silken against aching flesh. When Arntzen prodded his knees further apart, Mulder spread them, shameless. Then there was nothing. He was afraid to look. Was Arntzen watching him, sneering at the dumb American whore? Or was it Krycek after all, sneering at *him?* His nerves wound tight, straining for any clue what Arntzen was *doing,* and faintly heard the near-silent tread of Arntzen's return, and the sighing rustle of cloth as the man knelt behind Mulder, touching his hip briefly.

Then there was something warm and slippery brushing across his opening, one slick finger after another insinuating themselves inside him, while Mulder tried to keep some semblance of control. *Alex fucking him--* Arntzen. Arntzen's finger's deep inside him, opening him up, probing until they found his prostate, and Mulder nearly choked on a stifled moan. His hips bucked wildly, thrusting back into Arntzen's hand, tiny whimpers escaping his throat. They sounded like "More," and "please," and "fuck me," even to him.

Another chuckle, not unkind, and the fingers were removed, replaced by something larger. Steel and velvet. Arntzen pushed in slowly, but he felt enormous, splitting Mulder in two. God, it had been so long... He discarded the pain. It wasn't what he needed now. Biting his lip, he pushed himself back to meet the cock that was skewering him, almost crying with relief and satisfaction when he had it anchored firmly inside him, as deep as it could reach.

Arntzen paused for a long moment, stroking Mulder's hip soothingly. Slowly relaxing around the huge presence filling him up, Mulder felt a long shudder tear through him as the pleasure caught up with the discomfort, melting the last of his resistance. Arntzen seemed to know the instant he fell; immediately, the man began to move, with long, driving strokes that pushed Mulder to the limit almost at once. His cheek and shoulders dug into the carpet, and his hands, outstretched to either side of him, clenched on the thick plush desperately. He was going to explode. The world might very well follow after. And nothing, surely, would ever feel this good again.

'Alex!' he cried in the privacy of his own mind. But it was Arntzen whose stroke changed tempo, slowing, each thrust deliberate, with the entire power of that lean frame behind them. Letting Mulder feel his strength. Mulder was writhing in an agony of need, trying to fuck himself harder on Arntzen's cock, struggling against the hands on his hips, a constant soft pleading whispering from bitten lips. When Arntzen relented and slammed into him hard and fast, Mulder gave in to it, riding out the intensity with murmured encouragements. Yes...this was what he wanted. This was exactly what he wanted, or so close it made no difference who wore the eyes that had haunted Mulder's dreams. It didn't matter that Arntzen hadn't touched Mulder's cock once since he entered him; Mulder was going to come.

Arntzen's pace grew abruptly wild, off-tempo, and Mulder knew the other man was close. He wished briefly that he could see that exquisite face, and pretend just for a moment it was the one he knew, strained with passion for *him.* 'Goddamn you, Alex,' he found himself thinking bitterly, with a sadness he rejected staining his heart. 'Why couldn't you have been what you seemed? You and your fucking reasons...'

But he held the picture in his mind's eye anyway, Alex's flushed face, eyes closed, or glazed, a bead of sweat nestled, just so, in the hollow above his lip--

And Mulder was coming even before Arntzen, desperate not to scream as he felt the spatters of his own semen on his belly, half the world fading away as he was turned inside out, fingers clawing at the carpet. Arntzen's orderly was on the other side of that door, and probably half a dozen Nazis. He wouldn't scream, no matter how fucking good it felt. Not least of which because they might mistake pleasure for pain, and he was damned if he would give them the satisfaction.

Convulsing beneath Arntzen's hands, he felt the man's cock pulsing deep inside him, short thrusts ramming him forward. Arntzen's quiet panting, the only concession the man made to passion, filled the room for a brief moment, twined with Mulder's soft groan. When Arntzen relaxed behind Mulder at last, the man smoothed his hand over Mulder's hip once and pulled carefully out. Mulder sagged, eyes closed, waiting to get his own breath back. Another gentle touch coasted down his spine, slicking the sweat that coated Mulder with curious fingers.

Then Arntzen was up, moving away slowly. Mulder rolled over on his side, watching the man disappear, fluidly graceful. He still didn't understand what had motivated Arntzen to do this... He could barely believe he had trusted the man that far, even if he *did* look like Krycek. *Especially* if he looked like Krycek. Mulder lay in a boneless pile, feeling the man's semen slicking his ass and cheeks, and wondered what the hell had just happened.

When Arntzen returned, he had a wet cloth in one hand, his uniform perfect once more. While Mulder lay half-dazed, Arntzen cleaned him up efficiently, though not entirely impersonally. "Come on, Mr. Mulder," he said quietly as he stood once more, tossing the cloth at the nearest table and fastening his gun belt on once more. Mulder felt a twinge of embarrassment at that; he'd had the perfect opportunity to arm himself, but he'd been too fucked-out to notice. God help him... "We have to go."

Groaning, Mulder pushed himself to his feet, regarding Arntzen warily. "Go where?" he asked suspiciously, glancing surreptitiously at his clothes. He wished he'd at least pulled his shirt on before standing...

"I can't keep you here indefinitely," Arntzen told him matter-of-factly. "This isn't my command; I'm here as a guest, an observer. You're going to have to go with them for now."

"What? But..." Mulder felt sick, used. Irrational thought. Arntzen hadn't offered to set himself up as any kind of protector, or to run interference for Mulder. But there was just something about being fucked by a man who was probably your enemy and then being tossed to the dogs that made his stomach clench. His own damn fault, of course--but that didn't make it any easier to take.

"I told you, this isn't my command. Dierkoff is the only man here who answers directly to me. I can't risk discovery. There's more than my life at stake, or yours. But I'll see to it you get free. You have my word."

It was said so seriously, Mulder almost wanted to laugh. Trust the word of a Krycek? An Arntzen? He had to be joking... "If I could just get off this ship," he shook his head, desperately, "I'm sure I'd end up back in the right time..."

Arntzen shook his head. "You'll have to wait. And trust me. Come, now. Get dressed, Mr. Mulder."

Silently, Mulder obeyed, fuming. Okay, so he had been an idiot, letting fantasy mingle too closely with reality like that...it still made him feel like a cheap whore, being so casually fucked and herded out. Maybe Arntzen would slip a couple of twenties in Mulder's pocket on their way out.

Arntzen did stop him at the door, but with another of those careful little smiles, as if his face had not been accustomed to easy cheer for untold years. "Mr. Mulder, I know you don't trust me. But if you are wise enough to know your enemy," he said slowly, casting his eyes pointedly towards the ceiling, and the room where the smoking man held sway above them, "are you wise enough to know the enemy of your enemy?" Mulder blinked, wordless, letting the old adage play through his head.

'The enemy of my enemy is my friend....' "Which of you is my friend?" he shook his head helplessly. "No matter which way I turn, it's a lie."

"'It is always the case that the one who is not your friend will request your neutrality, and that the one who is your friend will request your armed support,'" Arntzen's enigmatic smile grew as he recited the passage.

Mulder stared at him for a long moment before the irony caught up to him. "You shouldn't quote Machiavelli, Comrade Arntzen," he found a small smile of his own. "It might give people ideas."

"Talk to my grandson, Mr. Mulder," Arntzen shrugged carelessly. "And be ready for anything. Trust no one."

Mulder took those words, at least, to heart.

***

Crawling along the floor with Scully--almost-Scully?--at his heels, Mulder concentrated primarily on not getting stepped on. There were irate Brits, outraged Nazis, hysterical passengers, and the entire hotheaded Jamaican engine crew milling all around him, and he suddenly realized he knew exactly what it felt like to get caught unawares in a stampede. Someone landed *on* him when they were almost to the door, and Mulder decided he'd had it; if the sonofabitch was in uniform, he was a dead man.

"Watch it, ye bloody sod!" his attacker, such as he was, bellowed down at him, flailing indiscriminately until he got a good look at who he'd used for a trampoline. "Oh, it's you, is it! Daft bugger--"

"How'd you get out of the engine room?" Mulder howled over the chaos, pushing the crewman off him. Well, he *was* in uniform...did it really matter whether it was white or black?

"Eh, it was one of them bloody Jerrys, if ye can believe," the man turned a pained face towards the heavens, ducking a random kick. Scully had passed them *both* by, Mulder noticed; he really had to catch up with her, but.... "Shot the guard, he did, and said we'd do well to get our arses up to the ballroom if we cared to stop the war, ye see...well, and I was all for killing 'im, too, but the man's *deadly,* he--'ere, now! I said, 'ere now!" the man suddenly turned his attention on someone who'd shoved into him from behind, bounding to his feet and swinging wildly. Mulder had just enough time to recognize Spender's bloodied and bewildered face before scuttling towards the door as quickly as possible, hot on Scully's trail.

So, Arntzen *had* kept his word...and on a more grandiose scale than Mulder could ever have foreseen. He doubted Arntzen had been thinking of just Mulder with this little diversion in mind...was it possible he knew about "Thor's Hammer" as well? So many questions...

"Scully!" he shouted, catching sight of the redhead just rounding a corner. Of course, she didn't stop. Wasn't *anyone* who they appeared to be, dammit? "Scully, wait up! It's Mulder!"

Shit. Some days it just didn't pay to get out of bed.

***

He felt decidedly...odd, sitting here in his darkened apartment, gun in hand, waiting for a night visitor. It was just after one in the morning, and he had no way of knowing whether what he'd set up would work or not. He knew half the shadow conspiracies in the world were tapping his phone, bugging his apartment, reading his e-mail...in a way, he almost didn't mind. It kept him on his toes, after all...

And it was really a simple matter to leak a warning to *himself,* for once, about an attempt on his life. And then to arrange a meeting with a completely fictional informant, one that would supposedly get him out of the apartment. If *he* were an assassin, he'd be waiting when Mulder got back. Now he just needed to wait and see who would take the bait. With any luck, it would be Krycek, not someone looking to snatch a good idea and run with it.

At half past one, his front door opened with a quiet snick, a dark figure easing in so carefully, not a singe board creaked. Mulder waited until the door had been shut and locked once more before reaching to turn on a lamp, his gun aimed at the figure's heart.

Krycek didn't even speak as he dropped into a crouch, his own gun coming up so fast, Mulder was barely aware of the movement. For an instant, Mulder's finger tightened on the trigger, but he kept himself ruthlessly still, fascinated despite himself by Krycek's reaction.

That first deadly coil of muscle froze the minute Krycek recognized Mulder's face. In the space of a heartbeat, the man's whole demeanor changed, from single-minded intent, the kind of cold purpose he'd only seen on that face once before, to a belated, nervous chagrin, the face of the class clown about to get a whipping. "Gee, Mulder," Krycek quipped flippantly, straightening without lowering his gun, "if you'd wanted to talk, you could just have asked..."

Smart boy, was Krycek. Mulder only frowned, raking his eyes over the other man with a depth of concentration that surprised even himself. Yes, that was definitely Krycek...same impossibly green eyes, same perfect face, though perhaps a little thinner than when he'd seen it last. Same mouth curled up in a mocking sneer. Same decidedly fake left arm--and he couldn't help noticing the way Krycek shifted suddenly, as if wanting to hide the sight of it from Mulder's probing stare. There was no way, though, that this could be the man he'd seen on the _Queen Anne._ No way in hell.

"Put the gun down, Krycek, and have a seat," Mulder said shortly, waving his own toward the couch. He had taken the chair unconsciously, but he was glad of it now; for an instant, something in the man's mocking stare made him think Krycek was going to head *his* way instead.

"Put the gun down?" Krycek smiled, right on cue. "What will I use to defend my honor, Agent Mulder?"

Not quite a direct hit, but far too damned close. "As I recall, *you* were the one who molested *me* last time," he growled, trying to keep his mind on that damned kiss. Not the night on the boat. "Will you fucking get on with it?"

"No yelling?" Krycek's brows shot up in mock horror. "No fighting, no punching? Christ, Mulder, you're getting old..."

"So's this. *Sit,*" Mulder let his voice ice over.

Shrugging suddenly, Krycek thumbed the safety back over on his gun, but instead of putting it down somewhere, he shoved it back into its holster. "So, what was it you wanted to talk about?" he asked casually as he stalked over to the couch, flopping down and sprawling out like some overgrown stray cat.

Mulder glared into Krycek's utterly guileless eyes for a moment before giving up, deciding the battle over the damn gun just wasn't worth it. He was tired of playing this game by Krycek's rules. The man kept him off-balance any way he could, Mulder knew that. These sudden capitulations, the omnipresent sneers, the way his face could suddenly go all hurt when Mulder tore into him. The way he *let* Mulder beat him up. So he'd drop his guard? feel guilty? do it more often? Mulder didn't have the faintest idea. Sometimes he got the feeling Krycek didn't either, that he just picked the most infuriating response he could imagine and went with it, gleefully.

Well, the hell with that. Mulder was going for the throat this time, the truth and nothing but the truth, 'So help me God, if you fuck with me *one more time,* Alex Krycek...'

"I want you to tell me about your grandfather," he deadpanned instead, and watched the first real emotions he'd ever seen flicker across Krycek's face.

Bingo.

The man positively went white. But as all the color drained out of his face, those eyes practically began to glow, lit with an intense ferocity Mulder knew intimately. Shock, wary suspicion, outright fury--and then Krycek's face went cold and hard, as impenetrable as the one Mulder had seen once before. "Why do you ask?" Krycek replied, and even his voice had taken on that quiet, deadly murmur, the tone of a man who knew a whisper could kill. "Wouldn't you rather know about my father? Or yours?" he continued, practically begging for the next round of Mulder vs. Krycek to begin, winner takes all.

"Them too," Mulder nodded amiably. "But later. What was his name, Krycek, will you tell me that?"

Krycek seemed to consider the question for a moment before nodding. "No," he said paradoxically, and sat perfectly still, waiting for the bullet to come.

Mulder snorted. He'd actually been expecting that response. Good to know he was finally getting a handle on the man... "Then I'll tell you. His name was Vassily Arntzen, once an officer with the NKVD, who defected to America with his wife, daughter, sister, and brother-in-law, in 1939. How am I doing so far?"

Krycek remained a silent lump on the couch, but his eyes spoke volumes. Only the fact that Mulder actually had his gun in hand kept Krycek from coming across the table at him with his bare hands. God, these people were postively rabid about their family...ironic, that Krycek spread such chaos in *other* people's houses. "All right, I'll take that as a yes. On September 3, 1939, your grandfather was on board the _Queen Anne,_ having infiltrated the SS--"

This time, the shock on Krycek's face was untainted by any other emotion. To Mulder's surprise, though, Krycek was shaking his head. "No...no, it didn't happen like that," the man whispered. "He told me...he told me all about it. He was having trouble getting out, and he thought he would have to go that route, but at the last minute...an old friend came through for him. No one...no one else ever heard about that...how the hell did you know?"

"He *wasn't* there?" Mulder demanded, just as dumbfounded. "Wait...he had to have been there...I *talked* to him, dammit!"

"What? What the fuck are you talking about?" Krycek scowled, perplexed. "My grandfather's been dead five years, Mulder."

"I talked to him--I was on board the _Queen Anne_ when it came out of the Triangle--"

"The Bermuda Triangle?" Krycek hazarded a guess, still staring at him like he was some particularly bizarre lab experiment gone wrong. "I heard about your...trip, Mulder..."

"I was *not* drugged!" Mulder shouted, fuming. "I was there, and I saw what I saw! Arntzen was there with a man named Kolya Dierkoff--"

"Shit," Krycek deflated again, his skepticism crumbling into helpless bewilderment. "How the hell do you know all this, dammit? There isn't anyone you could ask..."

"That's because I talked to your grandfather in 1939!" Mulder insisted.

"So why am I here?" Alex shook his head, looking harried. "This doesn't make any sense..."

"He told me to ask you your reasons," Mulder replied simply, watching Krycek's face again.

Krycek looked confused for a minute, then appalled as comprehension slowly dawned. "You are so fucking lucky that wasn't really my grandfather," Krycek growled fiercely, crossing his arms and leaning back hard against the couch, as if making a conscious decision *not* to kill Mulder.

"It *could* have been your grandfather," Mulder objected stubbornly. "It just didn't happen to be." Krycek's look of pained understanding was almost amusing. Like the younger man didn't really *want* to be able to follow the twists and turns of Mulder's logic. "But that's what I want. That's what he told me to ask for. I want to know why, Krycek. Tonight. All of it."

"I don't have time for all of it tonight," Krycek scowled, not looking away. "I spent hours staking out this fucking apartment, you see, because the guy who wanted to talk to me was too much of an idiot to just ask. *No,* he has to get creative--"

"Quit stalling, Krycek," Mulder warned. "I'm in no fucking mood. Level with me, or we end this my way."

"We always do things your way," Krycek spat venomously, eyes narrowed to slits. "Why should tonight be any different?"

Mulder had to take a deep breath. And another. "Because I'm tired of doing things my way. I *want* to try something different."

And that was more than true. He was tired of hating Krycek and not knowing what he'd done to deserve that kind of betrayal. He was tired of the confusion Krycek scattered in his wake like camouflage. He was tried of wanting Krycek and not having him, or having him and not being able to keep him. And he was definitely tired of running to Scully every time he got scared, crossing every gender and theological barrier to lay on a case of the Jewish Mother Guilts even the most devout Catholic had to sit in awe of. 'Scully, I love you; Scully, I need you: Scully, you make me a whole person.

'Scully, please, God, hold my hand, because I am so fucking afraid of the dark.'

He was tired of running, whether it was to her or after Krycek or away from the past. Around in circles. What he wanted right now was so simple, and so hard to grab hold of--one single kernel of truth. It didn't have to be anything earth-shattering; the world didn't have to tremble when you spoke its name. But he wanted, needed, something to build on, however small. One small word. A place to start over, and start over right. On his terms. Surely, that couldn't be too much to ask, even for him.

Krycek blinked at him, and sat staring for what felt like forever. When he spoke, chills raced up and down Mulder's spine. "You want to know my reasons? To save my family. My people. To save what I could." Krycek shook his head, and finally looked away.

"From what?" Mulder asked quietly, afraid to break the spell. The words of a dead man that had never existed still echoed in the room, spoken by the grandson that might never have been. It was uncanny, terrifying, and so heart-stoppingly *hopeful.* In this, at least, he knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Krycek was telling the truth.

And when Alex looked up again, the wry humor in his eyes, cynicism untouched by mockery for once, told him his next answer was true as well. "From the aliens, Mulder. There *is* an invasion planned, you know. I mean, I'd hate it if it'd conflict with any of your plans, but the date has been set..."

"You bastard," Mulder said slowly, without heat, too stunned to take it all in just then. "You miserable fucking sonofabitch. I ought to shoot you right fucking now."

"Probably," Krycek grinned, but there were shadows dancing in his eyes again. "My grandfather probably would have. Somewhere nonfatal. And then he'd have patched me up, nursed me back to health, then beat the shit out of me." Krycek shrugged a little, and added, "Then he'd have put me to work. So, what's it gonna be, Mulder? You gonna shoot me? Or are you gonna put me to work? Or both?"

Mulder couldn't answer at first. "What was your grandfather doing in 1939?" he asked instead. "The real one."

"Smuggling people out of Russia, mostly," Krycek shrugged again. "He coordinated an Underground Railroad for people to escape the Great Terror. A lot of our people's parents and grandparents came over that way."

"Your *people?*" Mulder demanded.

"Yeah," Krycek snorted. "Did you think I was fighting the aliens by myself? This," his sneer reappeared briefly as he brandished his dead left arm, "doesn't make me Luke Skywalker, Mulder. I can't use the Force, and I put up the toy swords and the hero complex a long time ago. And," he added with a slightly less bitter smile, "I know who my father is."

Mulder counted to ten, slowly. "Are you *trying* to piss me off?" he asked at last.

"Probably," Krycek admitted with a sigh. "Old habits die hard."

"Well, fucking kill them," Mulder snarled, deliberately laying his gun aside. "If we're going to fucking work together, I want all this crap settled. All the cards out on the table, from both of us."

"All of them?" Krycek asked with a completely different smile.

"Yes, all of them!"

"Does that mean you're finally gonna fuck me, Mulder?" Krycek asked with that same nearly-innocent charm, the rest of him threatening to disappear slowly around that widening smile. Mulder just stared at him, speechless. Had Krycek really just propositioned him? Alex Krycek? *His* Alex Krycek? God help him, if this was still the Bermuda Triangle... "Or I could fuck you, of course. If you'd rather. You look like you might."

"Might?" Mulder heard himself parrot, disbelieving.

"Might rather I fucked you," Krycek shrugged easily.

"Jesus Christ..."

"Not the last time I checked," Krycek chuckled indulgently, but there was a hint of something under his voice, a tinge of...doubt? Did Krycek really think Mulder would say *no?*

There was the matter of the arm, or lack of one. Mulder couldn't say he really cared. Krycek's body defied belief, but it was Krycek himself that had hooked him, the mercurial personality, dry humor and scathing sarcasm, puppyish idealism and hardened cynicism.

But then there was the matter of Mulder's father, Scully's abduction, her sister's death. Now that...that was enough to make him hesitate. He wanted answers for those things. He wouldn't rest until he got them. But if Vassily Arntzen was right...

"'It is always the case that the one who is not your friend will request your neutrality,'" Mulder frowned a little. Krycek answered with a grin that could blind a less cautious man.

"'...and the one who is your friend will request your armed support.' You really *have* been talking to my grandfather, haven't you?" Mulder hunched one shoulder, still frowning. Krycek's eyes turned curiously gentle then, something Mulder hadn't ever seen on that man's face before. "Well, Mulder? What's it gonna be? Are we friends?"

Mulder took a deep breath, and let out a long sigh. "Yeah. Friends." For a long moment, they sat there staring at each other across the table, finding some peace in the silence, where there had never quite been any before. Then Mulder felt a grin stretch across his face, impossible to contain. "Wanna fuck?"

Krycek actually looked surprised for a moment, before his own grin returned, exponentially brighter. "Hell, yes."

And that, Mulder knew, was also the truth.

***
end
***

Notes the Second: Okay, hopefully this made sense without having read "Breathless," but this would be an AU of that AU, within the AU of the episode itself. Got a headache? Me too! It's probably caffeine withdrawal. Trust me.