Wild Justice
by MJ Lee (mj.lee@chello.se)
Website: http://www.ravenswing.com/MJLee

GENRE: Slash, M/K
KEYWORDS: Rape, Angst, Krycektorture
RATING: NC-17
SPOILERS: None
ARCHIVING: As long as you tell me you've archived it and where.
DISCLAIMERS: Nobody belongs to me, except me - (how is that for profound? <g>) Krycek, Mulder, Scully and the wrinkled guys all appear courtesy of CC and Fox.
NOTES: *RAPE WARNING*!!! If rape and violence makes you squick, please go away ::Hollow echoing voice:: You Have Been Warned...

This is my first slashfic and warm thanks go to Ursula and Deb for helpful suggestions, hand-holding and general calming of panicked newbie nerves, :-)

My everlasting gratitude and awed admiration for the most brilliantly ruthless, wonderful beta it has ever been my fortune to come across! Phyre, you're quite simply the best! PS: Yes dear, you deserve every word!

More notes at the end of the story.

FEEDBACK: Yes please.
SUMMARY: Mulder makes a deal with the devil and lives to regret it.


Revenge is a kind of wild justice.

Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Anonymous Office Building
Reston, VA

Darkness shrouded the room, mirroring the part of his soul that had driven him here, the hatred, bitterness and hunger that had brought him to this meeting and to the man facing him.

He sat down and looked at the man across the table. The foulness of smoke filled his nostrils, making his eyes sting.

"I know why you are here, Agent Mulder," the man said. There was no gloating, no triumph, just a calm arrogance, his voice ripe with the surety that sooner or later all would fall to his corruption.

"I want him." The voice, usually so rich, sounded thin and flat.

"Alex Krycek." The legacy of countless cigarettes rasped through the gravely sound.

The name conjured up the shadow of the man, a traitor, with blood on his hands, the face of a fallen angel, and a body to tempt a saint.

"Yes." Mulder leaned forward, eyes looking steadily into the face of his enemy. "What's your price?"

There was a long silence, and then the man slowly exhaled a cloud of smoke. "He is yours, Agent Mulder." The slight movement of desiccated lips might have been interpreted as a smile. "Call it a gift."

"I don't believe you."

The smoker moved one frail shoulder in an indifferent shrug. "You may believe what you want, but I assure you, there is no price."

It could not be this easy. "Why?"

The old man looked at him, his pale eyes enigmatic, and yet there was, for the space of a breath, a strange emotion kindred to tenderness in the pallid blue. "Because, Special Agent Fox Mulder, it is the first thing you have ever asked of me."

The tip of the cigarette glowed hotter as he inhaled. "Whatever you may think of my methods or my aims, I am not completely unsympathetic to the natural desire of a man to avenge his ... father's death."

The pause was filled with enigmatic nuances Mulder was unable to unravel.

"Krycek will be delivered to you soon." A thin, ambiguous smile. "If you have ever hesitated as to his guilt," he held out a black plastic videocassette. "Watching this will resolve your doubts."

Mulder slowly took the cassette. "This means nothing," he said, wishing the words did not sound hollow with the echo of a man who has just sold his soul. "I will still get you, you son of a bitch. I'll expose all your dirty little secrets, and one day I'll see you rot in jail for your crimes."

The threat slid off an impenetrable shield of lies and power. "I would expect nothing less of you, Agent Mulder."

Mulder sat on his couch staring at the TV. Automatically he pushed the rewind button, watching once again his father's face in the mirror, the sadness, perhaps even regret, that filled Bill Mulder's eyes. And then behind him, like some demon sent from hell to collect his soul, Alex Krycek materialized from the shadows.

Mulder watched as his father jerked in surprise, the shadow of fear flowing across his eyes, but when he saw who stood behind him, the fear transformed into tired resignation. Bill Mulder said something softly. There was no sound, but even mute, the calm with which he faced his own death was obvious. Krycek answered, his smile triumphant.

A flash of the gun! Despite having watched it a thousand times already, Mulder's body clenched in anguish as he saw his father fall, slide down limply, the dark pool of blood widening beneath him.

Even as Bill Mulder's eyes filmed over into death, Krycek stepped forward, and spat, deliberately, into his face. The spittle slid slowly off the skin to the floor, mixing with the growing red spreading across the floor.

He was unaware of the sound he made. A groan erupting from the depths of his soul. A primeval soundless scream as he watched and knew the true impact of the most terrible words in the language: too late.

Mulder's Apartment
Alexandria, VA

Two weeks after his meeting with the old man, Mulder wearily trudged up the stairs to his apartment. The majority of his mind was still on the messy case he and Scully had just solved. Skinner had loaned them temporarily to the Organized Crime Unit after a bout of flu had taken out most of the original surveillance team. Massaging his neck, he tried to remember why he'd ever thought a career in the FBI was a good thing. Ah well, at least it was all over now, the man had been arrested, the case had been closed, and tomorrow he and Scully would be back in the basement again.

Fumbling for his key, he suddenly noticed a thick brown envelope lying outside his door. Frowning, he picked it up. Opening it, a key ring with three keys slid into his hand, the metal cool against his skin, and when he shook the envelope, a folded piece of paper fluttered to the floor. Picking it up, he turned it over and his stomach clenched. It was a doctor's report, dated only two days previously, giving one Alex Krycek a clean bill of health for everything possible under the sun, including AIDS, STDs and TB. Briefly he wondered why the hell the smoker would include that information.

Mulder snorted. As if he didn't know. He shouldn't be surprised; he had always suspected they were perverts and voyeurs. He wanted to kill the son of a bitch, not fuck him. Feeling edgy and restless as he was reminded of the man he hated and the bargain he had made, he unlocked the door.

Hand halfway to the light switch he froze. A trickle of ice whispered down his spine as instincts honed by years of being followed warned him he wasn't alone. Slowly he completed the movement, clicked the switch by the door and was suddenly bathed in light.

The apartment was exactly as he had left it that morning, piles of books and papers stacked everywhere, the dying plant Scully had given him at Christmas, the goldfish swimming around frantically.

And kneeling in the middle of the floor was Alex Krycek.

Mulder blinked once, certain he was hallucinating, but when he opened his eyes again, Krycek had not disappeared.

A low, inhuman spine-chilling growl tore the silence apart. Facing him was the man who had killed his father, the man who had *spit* on his father's dead body.

It took another minute to comprehend exactly how the smoker had kept his promise, but when it finally did, Mulder felt the breath catch in his throat.

Krycek was naked, tanned skin reflecting the light, slow rippling trembles shuddering through him. From the way he kept shifting, it was obvious his muscles were seizing up. Around his neck was a wide leather collar with a chain attached to the back of it, running down the length of his back and locking onto the pair of handcuffs securing his arms. Running down from the handcuffs was another chain, attached to ankle-cuffs. The chain was short enough that it forced him to kneel.

Dark silky hair flopped over wary green eyes, as he looked at Mulder and gave him an ironic smile, some unnamed emotion moving across the still face in the space of a breath. "Hi honey, I'm home."

"You son of a bitch!" Mulder never even realized he had moved until he watched Krycek topple and overbalance, falling heavily as a result of Mulder's fists connecting solidly with his body.

He slowly got to his knees again. "Nice to know some things never change. Roses are red, violets are blue, Mulder sees you, he thumps you on the head." His mouth crooked, "sorry about the lousy rhyme."

Mulder reached down and hauled him almost casually to his feet. He stared at Krycek who gazed back warily. Pale hands tightened hard enough to leave bruises as he silently absorbed the details of the beautiful lying face between his hands. He looked into the wide green eyes with long lashes curling up that gave Krycek a deceptive aura of vulnerability and fragility.

"You're dead, you fucking piece of shit!" Mulder hissed, backhanding him. Unable to catch himself Krycek fell heavily with a loud thump, and Mulder felt a rush of satisfaction.

Krycek was slower to get to his knees again, head bent. "Look, if you're going to kill me, can we please cut out all this macho posturing?" He managed a wry grin. "I know you like to threaten me with everything under the sun, but," he shivered, "I'm cold, hungry and sore, so lets just cut out the chatter and threats and get down to whatever you want to do." He tugged at the handcuffs. "Besides, it's not as if I'm in a position to do anything to stop you."

Mulder laughed, viciously hauling him on his feet and throwing him down on the sofa. "You don't get it, do you, Krycek?" He threaded his hand through dark hair, wrenched up his head and enjoyed the small hiss of pain the other man couldn't repress. "It's not your decision. Nothing is your decision."

"I see, so ... what? I am not to question why, just to do or die?" Krycek asked sarcastically.

Mulder grinned at him. "Now you're getting it." He frowned as his fingers caught on the leather collar Krycek was wearing. "What is this?"

"The smoker's idea of a joke," Krycek bit out.

Mulder leaned down and read the small brass plaque on it. 'Property of Fox Mulder.' A mirthless, abrupt chuckle. "Well, hell, I never thought the old man had it in him."

Krycek glared at him. "Just tell me one thing, how the fuck can you make deals with the smoker, even for the satisfaction of getting me? You have to know that he's a hundred times more dangerous than I could ever be." He gave Mulder a glittering look. "I just kill people, he destroys them."

Mulder's fingers tightened around the collar. "I know what he is, and I'll bring him down one of these days, but *you* murdered my father."

An odd expression crossed Krycek's face. "I only regret one thing about killing Bill Mulder."

"What's that?" Mulder ground out between clenched teeth.

"That it was too fast and easy. He didn't deserve the mercy of a bullet in the head." Krycek said coolly.

Mulder stared at him for a long, stunned moment, and then he went mad.

Hard knuckles connected with a dull thud as he hit Krycek across the room. Krycek made no attempt to defend himself and only emitted muffled groans when Mulder's shoes connected with his ribs and stomach, and hard fists crunched into his jaw.

His only response to the assault was to try and tuck himself into a ball to protect his more vulnerable parts. However, the way he was chained prevented him from everything but spastic, convulsive, aborted movements. Krycek acknowledged each hard punch and unrelenting blow with nothing more than a soft grunt, his very passivity driving Mulder to even greater fury.

The silence of the night was torn apart by dark, bloody vengeance.

Krycek's breathing came in slow, heavy gasps, as if the very act of squeezing air in and out of tortured lungs was too much of an effort.

Mulder stood above him, fists still clenched, trying to force back the black killing hatred. He knew he was teetering on the brink of something he would regret, but fury still sang through his blood demanding an outlet.

Taking a deep breath to calm his racing heart Mulder abruptly realized, to his faint shock, that he was harder than he'd ever been, his cock throbbing in time to the pounding of his pulse. He hesitated briefly, but then his lips peeled back into a cold, pitiless smile.

Why not? Why the hell not? It wouldn't kill Krycek, but it would sure as hell make him wish he were dead.

Reaching down he threw the limp and unresisting body across the table and bent down to unlock the chain running from his handcuffs to the ankle cuffs, kicking the long legs apart. Krycek laid very still, his arms still twisted painfully up behind his back by the cuffs and the chain attached to it. Mulder stared hungrily at the taut, graceful curve of the ass before him, and finally admitted to himself what his unconscious had known since the first time he'd laid eyes on his new, adoring, puppyish partner; he wanted Alex Krycek.

Unzipping his pants, Mulder felt pre-cum already dripping from the head of his cock, oh Christ, did he ever want this! Using his thumbs, he brutally wrenched the ass cheeks open, fingers sliding inside the tight ring of muscle.

Krycek flinched. He hadn't said a word while Mulder had beaten him half to death, but now he raised his head slightly and whispered thickly, through swollen lips, "No, please don't, Mulder. Please."

"Shut up!" Mulder backhanded him. Krycek's pleadings awarded him a fierce satisfaction. *Finally*, he'd found the right way to break the little cockroach. Still, he didn't want to listen to anything but the rush of pleasure coursing through him, and pulling off his tie, he forced it between Krycek's teeth, effectively gagging him.

Thrusting two fingers into the asshole, he laughed low in his throat, bending over the prone body, biting into the inviting curve of the shoulder hunched beneath him. Teeth breaking the skin, he tasted Krycek's blood on his lips. "Enjoying yourself?" he mocked, listening with immense pleasure to the soft incoherent sounds Krycek made, the writhing of tense muscles, trying to hold off and expel the stubby, cruel fingers invading his body.

Pressing close, Mulder felt his cockhead flatten against the too small opening. Frowning, he reached down again and ruthlessly loosened the muscle more, using the warm slickness of the blood beginning to trickle between his fingers as added lubrication.

Krycek's remaining hand opened and closed convulsively, but he didn't make a sound.

Supreme satisfaction rasped through his voice. "Don't want you to enjoy this too much, slut," he growled, hips jerking as he thrust deeply inside, feeling additional delicate membranes tear beneath the assault.

The only answer was a soft moan through the gag as Krycek instinctively tried to crawl away from the pain, from the thrusts that were splitting him in two. Rough fingers, digging into his hips, pulled him back, held him in place, and bent over the table; there was no leverage to resist. In the end, because it was the least hurtful alternative, he raised himself slightly, angling his hips to allow for better access, and rode out the dark red agony, just as he'd done countless times before.

It wasn't fucking, it was raw violence in its most primitive form. It was the domination, the hate-filled vengeance of one man on another for crimes that sliced a heart and soul apart.

It was rape.

With a final groan, Mulder poured himself into Krycek. He remained where he was for a few shuddering moments as he tried to catch his breath, his body soaked in sweat.

Mulder slowly levered himself up. Krycek remained where he was, chin pressed against the smooth surface of the table, eyes closed, a drop of blood languidly rolling down his jaw from where he'd bitten through his lip in agony. Slowly, black eyelashes trembled and opened, and Mulder felt a sudden arrow of fear of the raw hatred darkening the green eyes.

The fear was soon gone, lost in a lingering wave of gratification. He slapped the taut body laid out in front of him hard. "Very nice, Krycek, what a good little whore you are. Come on," he pulled the younger man up by his hair, and led him into the bedroom. "We'll be much more comfortable in bed." He laughed, not bothering to hide his satisfaction at Krycek's flinch. "Well, at least I will, and that's what counts, isn't it?"

The sunlight was already slanting in through the window shades when Mulder finally stirred and woke. He stretched lazily, remembered pleasure lingering in the muscles and bones of his body.

The movement of the mattress replaced satiation with tension as he turned his head to find himself staring into wide green eyes. Krycek was curled up on his side, darkening bruises giving him a battered and faintly rakish appearance, his thighs streaked with dried blood and semen. He was lying very still, just watching Mulder, his face unreadable.

Mulder opened his mouth then closed it again unable to believe his own idiocy. Jesus Christ, he must be the world's most trusting fool. He frowned as he tried to remember what exactly had happened last night. His last memory before going to sleep was of sprawling across his bed in complete exhaustion. Alone in his bed, come to think of it. So what the hell was Krycek doing beside him now?

Krycek made a soft sound, and realizing the other man was still gagged, Mulder reached out and removed his tie, grimacing over the wet sliminess and dropped the soggy mess on the floor beside the bed.

"Thank you," Krycek said quietly. He was watching Mulder, green eyes remote and opaque. Still. Aloof.

Mulder returned the look steadily but didn't say anything. He wondered what exactly you were supposed to say when you woke up to find your mortal enemy beside you in bed.

Rolling over, Krycek asked, still in the soft, empty voice. "Could you please remove the handcuffs and unlock the chain?"

Mulder hesitated briefly, relieved that he'd at least had the presence of mind to loop the chain from the handcuffs around one of the legs of the bed and securing it there before going to sleep. However, the chain was obviously long enough to allow Krycek to crawl into bed beside him. "What are you doing here?" he growled.

A sarcastic smile twisted Krycek's mouth. "You made a deal, remember? If you're referring to what I'm doing in your bed, the floor is not only cold, but hard." He almost shrugged, "I saw no reason to be any more uncomfortable than I already was."

Mulder didn't know what to say. Krycek's bleak pragmatism was outside anything he had ever experienced. To calmly decide to share the bed of a man who ... he swallowed hard.

Before he could complete the thought, the husky level voice continued, "You have nothing to fear from me, I assure you. But I lost all feeling in my right arm sometime during the night so I'd appreciate it if you could unlock the cuffs, at least temporarily." Caustic cynicism colored his voice. "Or if you prefer, I can pay for the privilege." He moved down the bed, knelt between Mulder's legs and lowered his head.

Mulder opened his mouth, the thought of Krycek's teeth anywhere near his groin sent shivers down his back. Before he'd had time to articulate his instinctive refusal, he almost jumped at the first silky touch of a tongue on his cock. He opened his mouth to say stop, but it emerged as a groan, as Krycek wrapped his tongue around the cockhead, and then slowly sucked the entire thickness into his mouth, taking him deep, alternating a steady suction with licking and nibbling. It didn't take long for Mulder to come, hands clenched in soft springy hair.

Once his breathing had slowed a little, he opened dazed eyes to find Krycek watching him again with inscrutable green eyes. "Please?" the soft husky voice asked, as Krycek half-twisted, jiggling the handcuffs.

Mulder reached out and took the key ring from the table beside his bed still more than a little shocked, not just by what he himself had done, but also by Krycek's reaction. He unlocked the cuffs, listening to the soft but heartfelt moan of pleasure as Krycek brought his arm forward, rotating it.

Krycek stretched slowly and carefully, working out the kinks in cramped muscles. "This wasn't necessary, Mulder," he said with a quiet weariness, shifting away from the other man, shoulders slumping. "Didn't you understand the smoker? I'm yours. You can blow my brains out if you want, or do whatever the hell else you desire."

Mulder stared at him for one long incredulous moment. "And you're not going to resist?" his voice showed open disbelief.

Krycek slowly shook his head. "No."

Mulder gawked at him, unable to believe what he was hearing. Yet, in the light of morning, he began to notice the subtle differences in the man before him. This wasn't the Alex Krycek he knew and hated. The cocky traitor who always worked more than one angle, playing both sides against each other, the ultimate survivor who moved through the shadows with unequaled skill. This was a beaten man, nothing showing in his face except a weary defeat. There was no animation on the elegant features or in the quiescent, opaque eyes.

Testing the boundaries, Mulder demanded, "You mean even if I was to point a gun at your head and pull the trigger you wouldn't try and stop me?"

Krycek nodded.

A sudden glimmer lit hazel eyes. "So, does this mean that you'll tell me what you know about the Consortium?"

A coldly cynical look. "No. I tell you anything and we're both dead." For a moment he seemed to consider that with real pleasure. "Put it this way, you can do whatever you want with my body." Distantly he added, "Beat it, kill it or fuck it, it's yours."

He rose in one smooth movement, and despite himself, Mulder tensed, instincts warning him of a possible attack. However, Krycek just stretched with the boneless, lazy grace of an alley cat. "Can I have the bathroom, or do you want it first?" he asked casually.

Mulder blinked. "What?"

Krycek glanced over his shoulder, a hint of amusement. "I asked if you wanted the bathroom first. I want to take a shower."

"Oh, umm, it's yours," Mulder replied without thinking, too stunned by the implication of Krycek's casual statements to do anything other than watch as the other man disappeared inside, followed soon by the hiss of the shower.

Lying back in bed, Mulder tried to analyze what had just happened and wondered if he had just made the biggest mistake of his life in releasing Krycek from the handcuffs. Any normal man would have been ready to kill the person who beat - and did other things - to him. Krycek seemed to take last night in his stride. Almost as if, Mulder thought reluctantly, it was all in day's work being beaten to a pulp and raped. Then again, perhaps it was ... for him.

Still, he must never forget that even with only one remaining hand, his adversary remained a supremely dangerous bastard. Although, Mulder gnawed thoughtfully on his lower lip, the surrender seemed very real.

Ah well, he gave a mental shrug, it wasn't as if he'd ever believe what Krycek said or trust the perfidious snake again. He was also reasonably sure that he could take Krycek in a fight if it became necessary.

Getting out of bed, Mulder frowned admitting to himself that Krycek's seemingly unqualified capitulation was more than a little disconcerting. What he *had* expected was the usual, snarling, sneering, sarcastic s.o.b. This passive, detached man wasn't someone he was sure how to deal with. And then a mirthless smile abruptly stretched his lips.

Of course. He'd almost forgotten.

The smoker had come through and in spades. Fleetingly he wondered exactly how the Consortium controlled a man like Alex Krycek. He would give much to know the methods the old bastard had used to tame Krycek. Not that it really mattered right now. Then he frowned reminding himself, once again, that he must never discount the possibility that it was all a trap ...

As if his musings had summoned the physical reality of the man, Krycek appeared again, a towel wrapped around his hips, wet hair slicked back and newly shaved. "I used your stuff, I hope that's okay," he said calmly.

Mulder nodded automatically but then watched silently as Krycek opened one of the drawers. "What the fuck are you doing?" he demanded sharply.

Taking out a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, Krycek sent him a level glance beneath long black lashes. "I need some clothes. I'll get some of my own later, but for now, I have to borrow yours."

Oh. Of course. Mulder was suddenly recalled to the sight that greeted him last night. He felt his cock stir and harden at the memory of the naked and helpless body, kneeling on the floor. For a moment he considered telling Krycek to go to hell, but logic won the day. Forcing the other man to wander around naked might add to the humiliation, but he was starting to suspect it wouldn't even faze his enemy. So instead of protesting he just got up and went into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.

Standing beneath the warm spray of water, Mulder closed his eyes and wondered when, exactly, he had lost his sanity. He had been accused often enough of being mad, but he had never agreed with his accusers. Not until now. He still had difficulties wrapping his mind around the realization that Alex Krycek was in his apartment.

And especially what he had done last night to Krycek.

Yet, when he searched his mind, he found no regrets. Customarily warm hazel eyes hardened as he reached out and turned off the shower. No, he didn't regret anything. Krycek had deserved every minute. Both the beating, and ... other things.

What did appall him was the realization that what had given him the most satisfaction was not the beating but the using of Krycek's body. Drying himself with a towel he bit his lip, unwilling to acknowledge, even to himself, that instead of being sated, last night had left him hungering for more.

Shaving, Mulder stared at his reflection. "You," he told mirror-Mulder, "are totally mad." Then watched as mirror-Mulder grinned back, as if saying, who gives a fuck? Sighing, he turned away and opened the bathroom door.

He dressed slowly, knotting his tie and bending down to put on his shoes, constantly aware of the faint sounds drifting through the door, the knowledge that there was another person in his apartment.

Looking every inch the FBI agent, he walked into the kitchen to find Krycek making coffee. Hearing Mulder come up behind him he immediately straightened and turned around, then went over to the coffee maker. He poured a cup and held it out without saying a word, watching Mulder carefully.

Mulder took it automatically, both eyebrows going up at the offer, and he wondered briefly if Krycek was trying to drug him ... again. Still, despite his suspicions, he sipped the hot liquid slowly.

He drank, hazel eyes narrowed thoughtfully as he silently examined the man in front of him.

Watching him move around the kitchen with a barefooted grace, Mulder was reminded one again that Krycek was almost as tall and more muscular than himself, or at least he had been. Pursing his lips, he estimated that his adversary must have lost a hell of a lot of weight since their last confrontation, perhaps as much as 20 or 25 pounds. It made him wonder what Krycek had been doing since the last time they'd met. All that remained of Alex Krycek were whipcord sinews and long, fine bones. The loss of weight should have accentuated his height but instead it just made him look impossibly slender and impossibly young. He had also, obviously, spent considerable time being burned by a hotter sun than the one Washington or the Northern Hemisphere provided. The tan covered his entire body, as Mulder knew from seeing every inch of Krycek last night. He quickly shied away from that particular memory. It was not somewhere he wanted to go right now.

The tawn of the skin brought out the intense green of Krycek's eyes and the faint flush of his lips. He was, Mulder thought dispassionately, a remarkably good-looking individual. Too bad his exterior didn't match the putrefaction of his soul.

It must be the way Krycek ducked his head and hunched his shoulders that added to the illusion of a smaller, slighter man than he actually was, Mulder continued to muse. Momentary humor lit his eyes, or perhaps it was the way he allowed himself to be manhandled?

Ignoring the silent scrutiny, Krycek reached up to get some sugar from the shelf. The borrowed T-shirt rode up his back showing off an expanse of tanned skin and black bruising. He looked, Mulder thought holding back a sudden smile, like a kid in borrowed clothes. Then he realized that Krycek had turned and was watching him carefully, he raised an eyebrow in response.

Krycek hesitated before apparently making up his mind. "Mulder?" he said softly.

"What is it?" Mulder leaned his hip against the kitchen bench, sipping his coffee.

White teeth bit into an already maltreated lip for a moment, and then Krycek said quietly, "I'm not going to fight or resist or anything like that. So, could we please cut out the handcuffs?" He tensed looking down at the floor.

Mulder frowned, hazel eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "You really hate being cuffed?" It was the first time Krycek had ever admitted to any weakness.

Krycek nodded, still not looking at him. "Yeah, it's like an old phobia, y'know?" A strange emotion moved across his face.

He almost asked why Krycek had submitted to being cuffed and chained last night, but then realized the answer was obvious.

So instead, Mulder just shrugged, "All right. No cuffs, and no tricks," he warned, putting down his mug. Giving the bowed head a warning look, he said pleasantly, "Be here when I come back, Krycek or you'll regret it."

Krycek turned his head away, the morning sun bringing out blue-black highlights in the still damp strands. "You still don't understand, do you? I'm *yours* Mulder. I don't know how much you think your soul is worth, but I'm it." His voice was very remote. "I won't even leave this apartment without your permission, but I would very much like to get some of my stuff. Is that all right?"

"As long as you're back before I'm home," Mulder said coolly, glorying in the sight and sound of Krycek's submission.

He had known, even in the blackness of his rage last night, that he could not kill Krycek not in cold blood. Consequently, he had been at somewhat of a loss of what to do that would punish the man hated in a way that even approached the severity of his crimes. He had wanted to hit Krycek where it hurt and to leave scars on his traitor's soul that would never fade. He had wanted to pay Krycek back with the same coin that the double-crossing bastard had used to inflict the bitter misery and guilt that haunted Mulder's soul.

Of course, he could always haul him into jail and watch him rot behind bars. Yet the thought gave him no gratification. His hatred of Alex Krycek ran too deep and was too primal to be satisfied with an abstract concept like justice. He didn't want justice; he wanted vengeance.

Now, at last, he knew how to get it.

Mulder & Scully's Office
FBI Headquarters

In the office, absently typing out a report that Scully had nagged him about for weeks, Mulder frowned at the computer screen seeing not black letters, but intense green eyes and a face that looked too boyish to belong to pure evil. Strange that after everything Krycek had done, he could still pull off the wide-eyed innocent look.

Mulder's face hardened abruptly. Innocent? Yeah right, Krycek was an expert liar and traitor. He was also the kind of scum who shot unarmed old men in their own bathrooms. Once again, he savored the memory of last night. Of Krycek's body jerking and falling to the floor. The son of a bitch could at least feel pain. Although beating him had not given him the satisfaction heid hoped for. Fuck, the sick bastard was probably perverted enough to enjoy it.

Mulder smiled grimly. Well, he sure as hell hadn't enjoyed the rest of the night.

"Mulder? Mulder? Mulder!"

"What?" He looked up to find Scully frowning at him.

"I was going to ask if you were having a bad dream, except you're obviously awake," Scully said crisply.

Mulder shook his head, "I'm fine, just a little distracted." He glanced at her and briefly speculated what her reaction would be if he told her what he was thinking about. He could all but hear her exasperated voice, 'Mulder, have you gone completely insane?' Instead, he gave her a patented Mulder grin as she started to tap her heel impatiently, waiting for an answer.

Her tone sharpened, as she demanded, "What's the matter with you, Mulder?"

He drifted off again, listening to the sound of her voice but not the words. Scully. His partner who had followed him, not blindly, but fearlessly into darkness, and who had paid a higher price than anyone should have to, for her loyalty and trust. That guilt would remain with him until the day he died.

For you, Scully, he thought. Last night was for you as much as for me.

"I agree," he said absently, a relatively safe answer, all the time wondering if Krycek had returned by now. Darkly he cursed his own gullibility. How the hell could he have been foolish enough to trust Krycek alone in his apartment? Christ, what kind of naive idiot was he?

"Mulder? Mulder!" He was dragged back to the present to find an exasperated Scully glaring at him. "What on earth's the matter with you?" she repeated. "More than usual I mean."

He opened his mouth wondering what to answer, when she suddenly smiled. "Aha! I know. I saw the report as well, last night. You're going UFO watching aren't you?"

Grateful for the mistake that gave him a way out, he offered her a patented Mulder grin. "Yeah, I am. Wanna come along?" He made the offer in the certainty that she would wrinkle her nose and shake her head.

"No, thank you, once was more than enough for me," she said tartly and sighed again but also gave him one of her rare warm smiles. "Go on, get out of here, I'll see you sometime after lunch tomorrow. Don't forget to pack the mosquito repellent. The last time you went UFO watching you drove me insane with your itching."

Mulder didn't have to be told twice. He was out of the building and away before she'd had the chance to change her mind.

Bounding up the stairs, too impatient to wait for the elevator, Mulder unlocked the door to his apartment sure that he would meet nothing but emptiness. Once inside he stopped - and released a breath he hadn't even realized he was holding - at the sight of the wiry body folded into his couch, reading a book. Krycek had obviously got his own clothes, so his well-washed jeans actually fit, and the checkered shirt was tucked neatly into the waistband.

Hearing the door open, Krycek put his book down beside him and stood up, a wary, uncertain expression flowing across his face.

Mulder closed the door, throwing his keys on the hall table. "Hello."

"Hi," Krycek gave him an ambiguous look. "Umm, I wasn't sure what you wanted to do about dinner, so I got a couple of steaks."

Mulder raised an eyebrow unable to hide his astonishment at Krycek's offer. "Is this included in your services?" His voice mocked.

Krycek didn't take the bait although his eyes hardened. "Sure, if you want it to be. Are you hungry?"

Loosening his tie, Mulder motioned for him to come close. Krycek tensed and for a moment Mulder thought he'd refuse. Hazel eyes turned cold as ice as he watched the dark head bend and the body slowly obey. All expression was suddenly wiped from Krycek's face leaving it blank and distant.

Mulder pulled him into his arms and kissed him with a lingering, lazy satisfaction. "Mmm," he said against the pliant lips opening beneath his, the tongue tangling gently with his. "Now this is worth coming home to." He grinned, running his hands through the strands of silky hair. "You're right, I am hungry. Very hungry," he added with soft insinuation, watching Krycek carefully.

The younger man didn't answer the challenge, his eyes suddenly detached. With a small frown, Mulder let him go. "I guess we could eat dinner first," he said stepping away from him.

Moving rather slowly, limping a little, Krycek led the way into the kitchen, where he silently put the steaks, a baked potato and some salad onto two plates and carried them to the kitchen table, putting one plate down in front of Mulder and the other on the opposite side of the table. He sat down and although Mulder dug into his dinner with gusto, Krycek just pushed pieces of steak around his plate. Finally, as if deciding to take the leap, he gathered himself. "Mulder?"

Mulder looked up from chasing the last of his potato. "What is it?"

"If I ask you one more thing, will you consider it?"

Shrugging, Mulder leaned back in his chair. "Depends what it is."

Krycek took a deep breath. "You know you can do whatever you want with me ..." his voice died out.

Waiting in vain for Krycek to continue, he finally said impatiently, "What?"

A whisper so soft Mulder had to lean forward, until their shoulders touched, to catch it.

"No, never mind, forget I ever mentioned it." Yet, the barely perceptible flinch, the sudden bleakness in the green eyes, as Mulder accidentally brushed against him, proclaimed louder than words, what Krycek didn't articulate.

Mulder went rigid. "Not a chance," he said coldly, suddenly furious.

Krycek ducked his head. "I always knew you wanted me," he said very softly, a thread of lingering and unfeigned sadness flowing through his tone. The echoes of an impossible regret reflected in his eyes for a moment.

Rising, Mulder came around the table and dragged Krycek to his feet. Enraged, he snarled into the fine features, "And you wanted me, don't deny it!"

Long lashes effectively disguised green eyes, "I did ... once."

He tightened his grip, until Krycek winced from the pressure on his hair, tilting his head back to lessen the pull. Icily, Mulder said, "I don't think you understand. This has nothing to do with desire. If that's what I wanted I'd go out with a woman, or buy a rent-boy." His laugh was a chilling sound with no hint of humor. "This is about hatred, Krycek. I've never hated anyone so much in my entire life."

Krycek spat, "Trust me, it's mutual."

Mulder's hands itched to wrap themselves around the slender neck and choke the life out of the lying piece of trash.

"See, I could beat the shit out of you," he said harshly, "but you don't give a damn about that. I hit you, and you just come back for more." Krycek glared at him, but didn't deny it. "However, you don't like it, actually you hate it, when I fuck you."

The sick loathing written on Krycek's face for a moment told him just how true his words were. "So, that's what I'm going to do. Every night you'll feel my cock up your ass, and remember why you're here, and why I'll never let you go."

"Fuck you, Mulder!" Krycek hissed.

Mulder laughed without humor. "Never, although it'll be my pleasure to fuck you." Almost casually he grabbed the hard body, turning it around and bending it over the kitchen table.

Krycek didn't say another word, didn't beg once, even as Mulder pulled down his jeans, and using just his own spit for lubrication, rammed inside, enjoying each wince, each soft moan of the body beneath him.

Once he was finished, he just pulled out, zipped up his own pants and walked away to sit down at his computer and begin his work, leaving Krycek huddled on the kitchen floor.

Getting ready for bed a few hours later, Mulder watched Krycek from the corner of his eye. He was standing by the window, a straight, slender figure, one hand gently touching the smooth cool surface of the glass. A shadow fell across his face, or perhaps it was just an illusion caused by the remoteness that haunted his eyes and face.

The presence of Alex Krycek, Mulder thought, was rather like having your own tame leopard. The man, like the animal, was pure sleek and beautiful danger. Housebroken and purring, he licked your feet, arching under the petting hand. Yet, there was always an invisible aura of danger and the slight frisson that comes from never being a hundred percent sure whether he would rub up against you, or tear your throat out.

Stretching lazily, Mulder dropped his boxers and padded naked over to stand behind Krycek. He half-closed his eyes and breathed in the spicy scent of the younger man. One arm came up and suddenly pressed Krycek against the window.

Krycek opened his mouth, the half-formed protests dying unsaid. Instead he just shifted his legs, opening them wider to allow the questing fingers easier access.

Spitting on his hand and using it to lubricate, Mulder unceremoniously moved between Krycek's legs and forced his entrance. Krycek still said nothing, just winced as half-healed tissue tore under the assault.

"Say it," Mulder growled in his ear, as he began to move.

"I'm yours. All yours," Krycek whispered softly, instinctively knowing what was being demanded of him. Green eyes closed and he bit his lip, chin pressed against the glass, body tensing against the pain of Mulder's dry thrusts deep inside him.

It was like some grotesque parody of a trashy romance novel where the heroine swoons in the hero's arms, proclaiming, 'I am yours. Please be gentle."

However, there was no romance, no gentleness, no love between the two bodies moving in the dimness; one taking, the other submitting. There was nothing but hatred and pain and lust coiled around each other in a spiral of darkness.

There was a dangerously sweet addiction in hearing Alex Krycek whisper his message of defeat, Mulder reflected later. A dark pleasure in the sight of a bowed head and a long slender throat bared. A body, submitting to his touch. The sight of Krycek's involuntary flinch and the tension that sang through him whenever Mulder brushed up against his body was far more potent than any recreational chemical drug.

In a twisted way he even enjoyed the hatred that darkened green into emerald as Krycek submitted. Mulder had never known exactly what the man he hated so fiercely felt for him. Contempt, amusement, pity? It had not been hatred ... not until now.

Quid pro quo, you son of a bitch, he thought viciously.

What Mulder should have felt as he watched Alex Krycek was unease at the presence of another person, much less an enemy, in his home and his bed. What he did feel was a merciless satisfaction.

Especially after he had finished, leaving Krycek still leaning against the window, breathing deeply to control the pain, and went to get the hand-cuffs lying on the bedside table.

He returned, jiggling the cuffs between his fingers. "Hands behind your back," he ordered harshly.

"Mulder, this really isn't necessary," Krycek said quietly even as he obeyed. "I told you, I'm no threat." His voice was indifferent, but the sudden rigidness of the muscles told another story, as did the brief flash of panic in his eyes before he looked away.

Mulder ignored him, dragging Krycek's unresisting body behind him into the living room. In the room, he knelt and attached one end of the chain to the sofa leg and the other to the handcuffs. The chain was just long enough so that with care, Krycek could curl up on the sofa.

A pull of the chain to check that it was securely fastened, and Mulder nodded in satisfaction before standing up.

Krycek meanwhile had sunk down on the sofa, head bent, but now he looked up. "Why?" he asked quietly.

A cold, vicious smile, "I would have thought the answer was obvious. Because you hate it." His tone mocked his antagonist's vulnerability. "Never admit your weaknesses to your enemy or didn't your mother ever teach you that?"

Green eyes darkened to black and Mulder nearly took a step back before he caught himself.

Krycek's shoulders slumped. "Do you want me to beg, Mulder?" he asked wearily.

Mulder raised an eyebrow, "It would certainly be interesting," he said thoughtfully. "Yes, by all means, Krycek, show me how well you can beg." Not for a moment did he expect Krycek to actually do so. Give the bastard his due, he had pride and guts of a sorts.

However, to his amazement, Krycek slid off the sofa and onto his knees. "Please, Mulder, don't do this. I'm begging you not to," his voice was light, as if making a joke out of the words. Yet, the flare of real fear in his eyes before he veiled them, gave lie to the unconcern.

"Pathetic," Mulder told him derisively. He grabbed a handful of dark hair and wrenched Krycek's face up. "Come on, Krycek, you can do better than that." Hazel eyes glittered strangely in the light of the lamp.

Krycek met his eyes steadily. "What do you want?" he asked evenly. He actually smiled a little cynically, as if this was familiar territory. "Just tell me," he raised an eyebrow and added with soft irony, "I am very good at following orders."

Mulder's hands tightened in his hair. "I want you to admit what you are!"

"I'm a survivor." The bastard actually smiled wryly.

Mulder slapped him hard across the face.

Krycek almost fell before he caught himself. "Well, that was certainly a constructive response," he murmured, with a hint of familiar sarcasm. A slight restless shift, and Krycek's body had gone rigid to stop himself from tugging uselessly at the hand-cuffs, chaffing his wrist bloody.

"What do you want, Mulder?" the husky voice repeated wearily. "This?" he gestured with his head towards Mulder's groin. His eyes filled with the shadow of some unnamed emotion as he added, "unlock the cuffs and I'll give you a blow-job you'll never forget."

Mulder pushed him away abruptly. "No. That's not what I want." He tried to ignore the way his cock had become hard as a rock at the mere sight of the dark head nuzzling so near that he could all but feel Krycek's tongue stroke down its length.

Instead, he hauled Krycek to his feet. "What I want," he hissed, cold as ice, "is for you to admit that you're nothing but a dirty little liar and whore." He almost spat into the upturned face, the flood of adrenaline released at Krycek's offer transformed into rage and hatred. "That whatever I do, it can never equal your crimes." With a deadly softness he added, "Thank me, Krycek, for what I've done."

Something flared in the emerald irises just inches from his own eyes: a raw pain, an anguish, or perhaps just a trick of the lighting. Flared and then died.

"Go to hell, Mulder," Krycek said evenly.

Mulder shrugged, "Ah well, if you want to spend the next month or so in cuffs, that's your choice." He gave Krycek a very thoughtful look. "Let me guess, you've probably got more than a touch of claustrophobia." He nodded in satisfaction at the slight flinch. "Yes, exactly as I thought." He pursed his lips. "If I left you cuffed inside a small windowless space, say my wardrobe, I wonder how long it would take until you break, Krycek?"

Green eyes widened in shock and a bruised, strangely vulnerable expression slid across the usually self-possessed features.

Mulder raised an eyebrow, enjoying himself immensely.

Slipping out of Mulder's grip, Krycek knelt by the sofa and said in a monotone, "I'm a liar, a whore, a thief and a killer, and I deserve whatever you do. Thank you for being so," he faltered almost imperceptibly, "merciful to me." He crouched and kissed Mulder's foot.

Mulder patted him on the head. "See, now that wasn't so difficult, now was it? Good night."

He stared at Mulder, the expression on his face hovering close to ... betrayal. "You said if I begged, you would remove the hand-cuffs."

Mulder leaned down until their eyes were almost level. "No, I said, I wanted to hear you beg. I was right, you do beg very nicely." He straightened.

"Sweet dreams, Krycek," Mulder mocked, going back into the bedroom and closing the door behind him.

Mulder punched the off button on his phone still hearing Scully's voice and the pain, the aching sense of loss, she felt because of her inability to bear a child. Her grief was always accentuated by the times she spent with her brother and his family, as they illustrated only too clearly everything she would never have.

The pain in her always went through him like a knife. Although she would never blame him, never even dream of blaming him, *he* knew only too well whose fault it was that she had been abducted. Anger and frustration followed quickly. Looking up to see Krycek bent over a book in the sofa he suddenly growled, not because he thought the revolting vermin would answer but because he was there and therefore convenient to take out his anger on. "Why the hell didn't you bastards take me instead of Scully?!"

Krycek glanced up at him over the edge of the book and suddenly green eyes warmed with real humor. "I hate to burst your bubble. But if you'd been taken, Scully would have torn the earth apart finding you. She would have stopped at nothing, and they knew she might have done it. You," he shrugged, "you were already used to loss. Besides ... " he paused.

"Besides, what?"

Krycek shot him a thoughtful look. "If you want the truth, without Scully, you're not much of a threat."

"What?!" Mulder sat up, outrage written on his face.

"Face it Mulder, before she was partnered with you, all you did was sit in your damned basement and get e-mails from conspiracy kooks and people who believe in the Yeti. You wouldn't have known the truth if it came up and bit you on the nose. Hell - " he broke off abruptly as if realizing that he'd said too much.

"How do you know all this?" Mulder's voice was dangerously calm.

"I was given all the files on you before they ever assigned me to be your partner." A wry self-mocking smile twisted his mouth. "One thing about my masters, they have excellent sources of information. By the time I met you, I knew everything there was to know about one Fox William Mulder."

Mulder's eyes narrowed, seeing the hint of smugness as Krycek lowered his eyes to the book again. Damn the scum-sucking invertebrate pond slime for knowing and not telling. Well, at least he could make sure the bastard wasn't smirking to himself. "Get up!" he growled, standing up and moving to the sofa.

Krycek stiffened, recognizing only too well Mulder's expression, his face suddenly wiped blank as he carefully marked his page in the book before closing it. Obediently, he got to his feet and waited quietly, neither flinching nor offering. Passive was the best way to describe him.

Mulder didn't trouble to hold back a feral smile of satisfaction at the automatic compliance as he stalked closer. Whatever made Krycek obey must be momentous indeed; there was not so much as a hint of rebellion or resistance in the other man.

The knowledge that he could do what he pleased, as he pleased, with Krycek thrilled him in ways he didn't even want to think about. There was no need for the usual courting rituals; the soft words, the subtle dance, and then the reassuring phrases that both parties know are lies. The promises to call that never come true.

With Krycek all he had to do was to say to him, like now, "I want to fuck you," and watch Krycek silently, obediently kneel between his outstretched legs, open the zipper and take Mulder's already hard cock between his lips. Sinking down on the sofa and leaning back, he buried his hands in the dark head, urging it closer as he felt the talented mouth work its magic, sucking and licking until he felt ready to explode.

Mulder's mouth opened in a soft moan as he considered his possibilities; he could either let himself go or tell Krycek, as he had done so many times before, to turn around. The thought of Krycek silently kneeling on the floor, waiting for Mulder's possession almost made him come then and there. With a supreme effort he pulled away and growled, "on your hands and knees."

Still silent, his face carved into a remote mask, Krycek stood up in one smooth movement, unzipped his own jeans and knelt again, bracing himself with his ass in the air. Almost lazily, Mulder reached out for the small bottle standing by the sofa and opening it, poured the oily jelly on his hands sliding his fingers along the crack of Krycek's ass. He smiled again at the long, slow shudder that went through the lean tanned body before it went completely still.

Moving inside his enemy's body, Mulder allowed himself a fierce grin, acknowledging that a large part of his pleasure came from the sight of Krycek gathering and tensing muscles beneath Mulder's hands to stop himself from moving away from the pain. Something in him gloried in the sight of Krycek's wince as he fucked him, at the flash of white teeth against the swollen red of his lip, as Mulder deliberately thrust harder and deeper than he had to.

Once, many years ago, Mulder had attended a cultural anthropology lecture at Oxford. The professor had pointed out the ritualistic use of rape after conquest. How men through the ages, and in various cultures, used rape to stamp their ownership and dominion. At the time a younger, more innocent Mulder had obediently written down the words but not until now did he grasp their true meaning. He had never ever been tempted, never even fantasized - which given his imagination was a feat in itself - of raping a woman. He'd always felt nothing but disgust and aversion to the kind of man who raped. This, however, was very different. Finally, he understood how a man could take and conquer, how a man could find his own pleasure in another's pain and submission.

The knowledge that Krycek hated what Mulder was doing, hated it far more than any amount of beating would have accomplished, soothed open, aching wounds. It eased the wound Krycek had inflicted on the day he killed Bill Mulder, the wound that began to fester on the day that the other man betrayed the growing trust and friendship of their FBI partnership. Mulder did not trust easily, but he had trusted Alex Krycek, so when his young hero-worshipping partner was revealed as a traitor, the blow had been all the greater.

The enforced intimacy of living with Krycek, however, also had some rather unexpected results. To his increasing bafflement, Mulder found the insane rage that had driven him to the dark smoky room slowly receding, replaced by something far more complex ...

It wasn't that he hated Alex Krycek less; it was just that tangled and intertwined with the hatred were more ambiguous emotions. Some were easily identified, such as lust and an odd possessiveness. Yet, there were other feelings that forced themselves into Mulder's consciousness, emotions that spoke of Krycek's vulnerabilities and basic humanity.

It was impossible to live with a man day after day and not recognize that for all his vile acts, all his betrayals, he was just a man, not the monster of pure evil Mulder's imagination and memories had built him into.

Mulder frowned over the case an old friend had asked him to review. Leafing through the pages he made occasional notes, listening with half an ear to the quiet noises from the kitchen. Whenever he had time to think about it, he was more than a little amazed at the ease with which he and Krycek had fallen into a weird kind of normality; the Waltons on speed crossed with the Twilight Zone probably came closest to describing their domestic set-up.

Stretching and working at the kinks in his back, Mulder wandered into the kitchen where Krycek was peeling and slicing potatoes. He looked up when he heard Mulder behind him but said nothing. Actually, unless spoken to, Krycek said very little and he seemed to grow more silent for each day that passed. Even direct questions elucidated nothing more than a monosyllabic answer.

Sprawling on the chair, Mulder leaned his elbows on the kitchen table and thought about how much at home the little toad seemed to make himself. Although Krycek had brought few personal belongings to the apartment, just a couple of faded well-washed jeans and shirts and some tattered paperbacks, like a cat, he seemed to make himself perfectly at home wherever he temporarily slept.

Watching the elaborate and time-consuming food preparation, a rather odd thought struck Mulder - Krycek seemed, more or less conciously, to use cooking as an excuse to avoid his 'owner.' It isn't easy to dodge someone in a three-room apartment, but Krycek was succeeding to some degree. If Mulder was in the living room watching TV or working, Krycek was in the kitchen or the bedroom, reading. And the mouth-watering meals when they were presented, gave Mulder the strange feeling that he was being offered a mute plea of mercy, or a delaying tactic. As if, through feeding Mulder, he could delay or avoid the inevitable time when the other man reached for him.

Over dinner it also occurred to Mulder that although Krycek spent an inordinate amount of time cooking, not much of the food found its way down his throat. Not that Krycek had ever carried any excess weight, but the man was beginning to look downright starved. The fine tanned skin, with its faint olive tinge, was stretched tautly over the cheekbones of his face. His jeans were beginning to hang loose on his hips, and the wrist looked slender enough to break. Even now he was just pretending to eat, cutting his meat in smaller and smaller pieces, crumbling a forgotten piece of bread between his fingers.

Wiping up the last of the gravy, Mulder said coldly, "Look, I don't give a shit if you starve to death. But if you think this starving-waif act is supposed to make me relent, you can fucking well forget it."

"I never thought you would," Krycek snapped back, then bit his lip knowing he'd gone too far.

Actually, Mulder rather enjoyed the odd flashes of defiance. It gave him an excuse for the violence that still shimmered beneath the surface. He stared at Krycek's bent head and ordered curtly, "Eat, or I'll force it down your fucking throat."

Krycek gave him an incredulous look.

Mulder's lips peeled back into a wolfish smile as he thought about how much he would enjoy forcing the food down Krycek's throat. For one moment it looked as if he was going to rebel and Mulder tensed in anticipation but then the dark head bent, Krycek picked up his fork and slowly started to choke down some of the pot roast.

After he had finally finished it, an odd expression crossed his face and he suddenly bolted from the table. A few moments later Mulder heard him vomiting in the bathroom. It was a long time before he finally emerged again; so pale his eyes seemed to carve deep holes in his face.

Mulder was working at his computer. He looked up when he heard Krycek approach but didn't say anything.

Krycek silently picked up the book he had left on the sofa and sat down, burying his nose in it.

Mulder was tapping at the keyboard writing his reply when his eyes suddenly fell on the textbook lying open on the table. "... a classic response of abuse victims is their withdrawal mentally from the abuser, often through silence and their attempts to control the situation through actions they hope will appease the abuser."

He stared at the book for a long time. No, of course it didn't fit this situation. Krycek was hardly his victim. He was, Mulder reminded himself, the traitorous, slimy bastard who had shot an unarmed helpless old man, who had killed Melissa Scully and god knew how many other innocents. He was a double, a triple traitor who didn't deserve any more mercy than he had given his many victims.

Reassured by this silent recounting of Krycek's multitude of crimes, Mulder allowed himself a single grim smile as he started typing again.

At last, the double-crossing snake was paying and in a way that he would remember for a long time to come. No matter how he tried, and Mulder wondered if he did try, Krycek could not disguise his loathing of the strong hands that turned him this way and that, of the fingers that stroked down his body and played with his nipples making him silently gasp, forcing a moan from behind clenched teeth, of the cock that pounded into his ass or came down his throat.

However, all thoughts of Krycek's punishment, justified or not, abruptly disappeared as the computer screen in front of him flashed once, gave a demented 'cheep' and then went black.

"Fuck!" Mulder swore heatedly, staring at the suddenly dark screen. He pressed some of the keys, but the computer seemed determinedly dead. Mulder relieved himself by a minute or so of creative cursing.

At the end of the tirade Krycek looked up from his book. "What's happened?" he asked although his voice evidenced little interest.

Mulder pushed both hands through his hair, in frustration. "The fucking screen just went black!" He picked up the phone and dialed a number, punching in the numbers with enough force it was wonder the plastic didn't crack. He listened in angry silence as it rang, and continued to ring. Finally, slamming it down, he swore again. "Oh shit! I'd forgotten they were going to WorldCon this weekend."

Still without any real interest, Krycek murmured indifferently, "Just hand it in to any half-way decent computer repair shop."

"Right, and let everyone and his uncle read what's on my hard drive. Do you have any idea how nosy most computer techs are?" Mulder glared at him as if it was all his fault. "Besides, I need it now."

A brief hesitation, "I might be able to help you."

Mulder gave him a sour look resisting the impulse of throw the computer out of the nearest window. "What do you know about computer repairs?"

Standing up and moving over to his jacket, Krycek opened one pocket and took out a slender black, steel tool. "You'd be surprised," he said, walking over to the laptop and turning it over. He flicked open a thin blade and started to unscrew the lid.

It wasn't long before most of the computer was disassembled and spread out over the table. Krycek was hunched over, his one remaining hand moving swiftly and sure over the components. "Ah," he finally murmured, "this is the problem. Still, it's no big deal; I can ... " his voice faded away, as slender fingers delicately picked over the chips and wires, and then suddenly the computer cheeped and the screen lit.

"Where did you learn how to do that?" Mulder demanded.

"Oh, this is nothing," Krycek said absently, beginning to re-assemble the computer. "I once had to repair a smashed sat-phone during a blizzard in the Urals. Some idiot slipped and fell right on top of our only communication hardware. Half the components were mush, and the other half frozen." He screwed back the plastic cover, and turned it on. "I'll just run a basic diagnostic," he added, clicking on the keyboard.

Mulder made an unconscious noise of protest.

Krycek caught the suspicious look, and a very swift glimmer of amusement reflected in his eyes. "Relax, Mulder. There is nothing on this hard drive I haven't seen before."

"Bastard," Mulder muttered, but his lips twitched briefly in answering humor. He leaned forward, hand on Krycek's shoulder, as they both looked at the screen.

Finally, the program finished, Krycek smiled in satisfaction, "There you are, good as new. That'll be a hundred bucks please, all major credit cards accepted."

Mulder laughed, leaning closer, his body unconsciously pressing against Krycek's back. "Hey, you're a pretty handy guy to have around."

Their eyes met, and the smile died away. He didn't move but the body beneath Mulder's hand was abruptly tense as a wire.

Although he wouldn't beg the look in Krycek's eyes was more eloquent than any words. Very softly he spoke a single word. "Please." The fingers on his shoulder abruptly tightened.

The calm of Mulder's face masked his sudden fierce anger. Anger that Krycek would even ask. "There is one thing I might be willing to trade."

Krycek blinked once, the sudden stillness communicating to Mulder just how desperate he was. "What?"

"Information about the Consortium. Tell me about the projects, the plans, the secrets, Krycek, and I promise I'll never lay a hand on you ever again."

Krycek closed his eyes but not before Mulder saw the desolation in them. "I can't, Mulder." His voice was dead, his last hope gone.

Mulder's smile was pure viciousness. "Too bad, I guess that brings us right back to status quo."

He watched, and enjoyed, the despair of this man who had betrayed him on every level possible. He treasured the hopelessness that flickered in green eyes before they turned empty and distant.

Cruelty to Alex Krycek could be very addictive indeed.

In the weeks that followed his bargain, Mulder often thought he had divided into two separate entities. There was the man who looked, spoke and acted like nothing had changed, as if he still had no life outside the office, the one who argued with Skinner and bounced theories off Scully, the more outrageous the better. The Fox Mulder who investigated the x-files with the cool tenacity that had become his trademark. Then there was the Mulder who sprang into being when he unlocked his door each evening.

Only an iron discipline he hadn't known he possessed made it possible to get through the days without betraying himself. Apart from Scully who sometimes looked at him a little strangely, none of the rest of the FBI agents ever seemed to notice. It was at times like these that it paid to have a reputation as an eccentric kook. No one questioned your behavior, nobody but himself that is ...

He sometimes felt as if daytime Mulder existed just to pass the time until he was back in his apartment where the real part of his life could begin again.

The never-ending dance of lust, violence and hatred that had become an addiction he never wanted to give up.

He discovered inside himself a man he had never known existed. A man who found a dark, bitter pleasure in the silent, hate-filled submission of someone he loathed and had come to want with equal obsession. A man who each night knelt above the hard, naked body flung across his bed, taking greedily, viciously, enjoying the pain he inflicted, and each soft moan he could force from the mouth of Alex Krycek. Yet, no matter how deeply he buried himself inside his enemy's body, no matter how many times he took Krycek, it was never enough. It always left him feeling vaguely dissatisfied and hungering for more.

Mulder groaned in helpless rage. He blinked away the sweat running down into his eyes, looking down at dark silky hair. Briefly he caught a glimpse of a Krycek's profile and the fan of black lashes against the bronze of skin pulled tightly across cheekbones.

"Fuck, I hate you!" His hands clenched on slim hips, already bruised from previous nights, as he rammed himself against, *into* the searing heat of the taut body beneath him.

Turning his head to look over his shoulder, even as he braced himself against the headboard, allowing his body to follow Mulder's motions, Krycek met his eyes steadily, cool irony coloring his words. "Hatred can be a powerful aphrodisiac, Mulder, you're a psychologist you know that," his mouth twisted, "or didn't your lectures cover that particular chapter of human behavior?"

"Shut up!" Mulder gritted between clenched teeth, ruthlessly squashing the sudden impulse to lean forward and capture the gracefully curved lips in a deep kiss. Instead he increased his rhythm and was rewarded by a single intake of breath and then absolute silence.

Before Krycek turned his head away again, Mulder caught the brief flicker of pain in the otherwise opaque green eyes, the involuntary wince as Mulder shifted his weight, pressing down on tender bruises. It all served to enhance the burning pleasure that swept through his blood. Sweat dripped off him, collecting into fat drops that landed and slid slowly down the slick, hot skin beneath his fingers. With a final deep groan Mulder came, pulling out and away from the other man before he had even finished.

Rolling away, on to his back, he gasped for breath, waiting for his heartbeat to slow down again.

Mulder stared blankly up into the ceiling wondering for the millionth time if he had gone completely insane. What the hell was he doing?

With his body heavy and sated with pleasure, and feeling the eyes of Alex Krycek on him, Mulder finally, wearily, admitted the truth to himself - sometime in the past two weeks, lust had overtaken hatred, want had become stronger than bitterness.

Slowly running a hand through sweat soaked hair, he felt the dampness on his skin dry. The air in the room was redolent with the acrid scent of sex and hatred as Mulder thought tiredly that it had all seemed so clear when he first made his bargain. He would make Krycek pay for his crimes in a way that the law never could. That first night he had not thought of fucking Krycek as anything but another way of hurting his enemy, of inflicting the kind of damage that would never be forgotten. Yet now, he had to ask himself who had been truly branded by that night and all the nights after, himself or Krycek.

When had it all become so much more complicated? When had possession become more important than vengeance?

He was briefly distracted from his dark thoughts by the bed dipping and trembling as Krycek rose, moving over to pick up his jeans, pulling them on and snapping them shut. He moved with an easy feline grace. His face, as always, expressionless.

Mulder continued to study him through heavy lids, eyes following the shift of muscles beneath the surprisingly soft skin. The memory of the satin texture of that skin beneath his hands caused something deep inside to stir into life again, although he was too tired to feel more than a casual shiver of lust. He yawned widely, feeling pleasantly fatigued. One unexpected consequence of Krycek's presence was that for the first time in more years than he could remember, Mulder actually slept at night, the emotions and the physical activities of each evening exhausting him in both body and mind. All the frustrations built up over cases unsolved, over the petty bureaucrats who seemed to look upon their mission in life to frustrate him, it was all gone and he slept deeply, dreamlessly.

"Like having your own private whipping boy," Krycek said quietly, interrupting his musings with a quiet acerbity.

Mulder stared at him, hazel eyes opening wide, "How did you ...?" he began.

Krycek gave him a strange smile. "Your face was like an open book just now." He in turn silently studied the wiry, lanky pale body sprawled across the bed. "Feels pretty damn good doesn't it, Mulder?"

"What does?" Mulder growled.

"To have someone to take out all your frustration, all your anger on," was the dispassionate answer. "You have to 'Yes Sir,' 'No Sir,' Skinner, accept Scully's skepticism and the other agents contempt. But walk through that door," he nodded at the bedroom door, "and you're the boss."

"You make me sound like a childish bully," Mulder muttered.

A breath of absolute silence.

Slowly, Mulder raised his head and gazed at Krycek. The two men looked at each other for a long time. There was neither challenge nor anger in the calm green eyes, just a weary acceptance of what he was, what Mulder had forced him to become.

He should be delighted, knowing that his vengeance had indeed succeeded beyond his wildest expectation. A vengeance that had given him more pleasure than he had known existed.

Instead ...

Instead, it didn't matter how many times he told himself that he had what he'd dreamed and schemed and sold his soul for. The problem was that what he truly wanted, he realized to his bewildered frustration, was Alex Krycek as a lover not a possession.

What he really wanted was to watch the sea-green eyes light up in welcome and love, not ice over into blank resignation, occasionally shot through with hatred. To kiss firm, soft lips and feel the response come not from compelled obedience but genuine want. To laugh and play in bed in the knowledge that the lithe body beside him was there because it had chosen to.

To love, not just to fuck *Alex Krycek*.

The knowledge, ignored at first, began slowly to itch, like the bite of a gnat, until he was ready to scratch himself bloody.

The following night, he surreptitiously watched as Krycek was slicing peppers for the stew he was making. Unaware of Mulder's furtive looks, gradually the movements stilled, the hand ceased moving, as Krycek stared blindly down at the vegetables.

"Alex?" Mulder asked quietly and watched as the younger man gathered himself. Although not before he had caught the vulnerability in his eyes, the bitter twist of his mouth.

"What is it, Mulder?" The voice was even, giving little away.

"Nothing," Mulder answered softly, wondering why it should bother him so much to watch Krycek retreat behind his walls again. "What are you making?"

Krycek stared down at the board blankly. "Umm, chicken Paprika. It's an old Hungarian recipe."

"It sounds nice," Mulder said, surprised at his own words, the wave of yearning that swept through him to break through to the real person the other man concealed so carefully. "I didn't know you were a gourmet cook," his smile invited Krycek's. "It's not the first thing you think about when someone mentions your name."

Krycek half-shrugged, not answering the smile, neatly dicing the peppers. "I thought you knew everything you needed to know about me. That I'm a traitor and a killer."

Refusing to take the bait he just said softly, "Alex, talk to me."

One dark eyebrow arched, green eyes wary, "About what?"

Mulder stood up and reached past Krycek to take out a beer, popping it open. "About anything and everything. Shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and kings and whether pigs have wings..."

Krycek didn't reply, stirring the pan of bubbling stew. "Screw you, Mulder," he finally said softly. "You can do whatever the hell you want with my body, but you leave my mind the fuck alone." When he turned around, his eyes were shards of green glass. "I'm here so you can get your fucking revenge, so you can live out your dark fantasies, and if you want to carve your initials into me, then go ahead, but don't try and understand me."

Mulder stood up. Moving closer, he watched as bleak resignation settled on the beautiful features and Krycek bowed his head, hand clenching behind his back. Watched as his breathing slowly pick up speed.

Mulder felt sudden pain lancing through him. I didn't mean to make you hate me, he wanted to cry out. I don't want your forced reluctant obedience. I want to know you want me as much as I am beginning to realize I want you.

Tonight, he thought, would be different. Tonight he would take his time, see if he could break through the barriers Krycek kept around himself. To finally begin to understand the man who had come into his life to wreak such havoc and destruction. But before he could do more than touch the exquisite face, there was a noise behind his back, and suddenly Scully was standing in the door, gawking at them.

"Your cellphone is off again, and I wan ... " Scully's voice ran out and died, as she stared incredulous at the scene before her, Mulder with his hands cupping the face of Alex Krycek, pressing the other man against the kitchen sink.

Krycek recovered first, moving away from Mulder. "Hello Scully, are you staying for dinner? I'll lay another plate. Do you like chicken?"

"Yes, I - " she broke off. "Mulder," her voice was controlled enough to cut diamonds. "Would you please tell me what the hell is going on?" She gave Krycek a speaking glance, "What is *he* is doing here?"

"It's not what you think, Scully," Mulder mumbled, fighting down panic.

"I see, you are *not* cooking dinner together with *Alex Krycek*? Then who is the man in your kitchen? A shapeshifter, a clone, a mirage, a shaman-induced hallucination?" her voice dripped sarcasm.

"No, I mean, yes, it is Krycek, but ... " Mulder faltered.

Krycek started to leave the kitchen but to do so he had to almost brush against Scully, who suddenly shifted all her attention to him. "Come here," she commanded, taking his arm. He winced away from her grip and her look abruptly sharpened as she noted the stilted way he moved and his tiny flinch when her fingers inadvertently tightened on his arm. "My God! What happened to you?!" she exclaimed. Before he could stop her, she flipped up the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing and stared at the ugly red mark on his wrist.

Mulder interrupted abruptly. "Scully, what are you doing here?"

Her focus shifted back to him. "Just after you tore out of the office, I got a phone call. A certain English gentleman wants to meet us ASAP. He's set the meeting for tonight," she glanced at her watch, "in less than half an hour. I tried to reach you on the cellphone, but you weren't answering. I got concerned," she finished crisply.

Krycek used the opportunity to leave them alone, distancing himself from the two agents. Christ, what wouldn't he give to have someone, *anyone* who gave a fuck whether he lived or died. To have someone at your back, supporting you, someone to trust blindly and completely. He wondered if Mulder knew just what a lucky s.o.b he was. He briefly pondered what the hell the Englishman wanted. What game he was playing. Ah well, he'd know, sooner or later and since there was nothing he could do, he wouldn't worry about it.

"Alex?" Mulder was already shrugging into his trench coat. "I'll be back soon." A warm smile softened hazel eyes, "keep the chicken warm for me, okay?"

Krycek didn't say anything. There was no expression on his face; it could have been carved from stone. Nor did his green eyes reflect anything but the light from the lamp. He didn't acknowledge Mulder's words apart from a brief nod before turning away.

They walked to the car in silence. However, as they started to drive away, Scully asked acerbically, "Mulder, have you completely lost your mind?"

His attempt at a laugh emerged as a groan. "I think so."

"I don't understand, *Alex Krycek*?"

Mulder shook his head. "Don't ask, Scully. I just ... I need to get some things straight in my own head before I can share them with you, okay?"

Scully gave him a long steady look. "I hope you know what proverbial creek you are up without a paddle? Krycek is a known felon, wanted by the government for some pretty serious crimes." There was no anger, no hatred in her voice, just cool reason. Scully never had been a good hater, Mulder reflected. She had an ability to separate her working life from her emotions. Unlike him, who tended to get way too involved with his cases, and sometimes lose all perspective. It was one of the reasons they worked together so well.

"You know Krycek was involved in Melissa's death," he said, just to see how she would react.

"We don't know that, Mulder. Forensics showed it was Cardinale who pulled the trigger. Frankly, I don't know how much trust to put in his statement that I should talk to Krycek to find out the truth." She took a deep breath. "However, whatever he is or isn't, he should be in federal custody, not having dinner with you." She glanced at him, as they drove through deserted streets. "Are you going to tell me why he was there?"

Mulder shook his head. "When I'm ready, Scully."

She opened her mouth, but seeing the all too familiar obstinate expression on his face, she backed off. Mulder would tell her eventually, he always did, but in his own time and in his own way. "I'll look forward to your explanation," she said with gentle sarcasm.

 


 

Abandoned warehouse
Water Street, SW
Washington, DC

There was no more time for discussion as they drove up in front of an obviously abandoned warehouse. Scully peered out into the darkness doubtfully. "This is the address he gave me."

Mulder got out. "Looks about right."

The rusty door at the side of the building swung open easily. However, when they stepped inside they were surrounded by total darkness. Mulder swore faintly, "Do you have a flashlight in the car?"

"Wait here, I'll get it," Scully said, leaving and coming back with a standard field issue flashlight. Once inside they drew their guns, covering each other.

"Scully?" Mulder called out softly.

"I'm here," the light moved around, there was a faint click and suddenly they were bathed in brilliance.

The warehouse was completely empty apart from a television standing in the middle of the vast expanse, a video nestled beside it and set up in front of it, two chairs.

Mulder walked over to the TV, holstering his gun, as Scully looked around, shivering slightly. "I have a bad feeling about this," she muttered.

"You always have a bad feeling, Scully."

"And I'm usually right," she answered tartly.

Mulder frowned then shrugged. "I guess we should just play it?"

Scully gazed doubtfully at the video. "Are you sure if we do, the damn thing won't blow us to pieces?"

He gave her a dry look, "Never know 'till you try it." He pushed the play button as Scully sighed and sat down in one of the chairs.

For a few moments there was nothing but static, and then the screen showed two men at a table, discussing something, although unfortunately there was sound. Mulder stiffened, recognizing both men. One was the old smoking bastard, the other was ...

Scully grabbed his arm. "Mulder, isn't that ...?"

"My father." He said between stiff lips.

The two men were talking and sharing a bottle of wine when the door opened, and two large men dragged someone in. Their bodies obscured the face for a few moments, and then his image filled the screen. Scully barely repressed a gasp.

Staring at them, eyes wild with panic and terror, was Krycek. Although it wasn't the Krycek they were used to seeing, not the hard, deadly assassin. This was a boy, no more than thirteen or fourteen. He was yelling something, writhing in the grip of the two men. Bill Mulder stood up, walked up to Krycek and casually backhanded him across the face. Scully winced in sympathy. But the younger Krycek didn't lack guts. He spat something back, glaring up at the two men. Bill Mulder turned away and said something that made all of them laugh, except for the thin boy held securely in their grip.

Scully was suddenly reminded of when she and Mulder had worked a sex-crime with the BSU. There had been too many videos with similar settings meant to titillate and arouse. Yet, there was a startling difference. This was no play for the camera; this was brutal, raw reality. The soundless screams that filled the screen as Krycek was thrown across a table, arms and legs secured, and raped, followed no set script. The videos had also always suggested that in some way the victim was enjoying himself, but there was no hint of pleasure, only pain and fear and hatred on the thin delicate face, only anguish and horror in the wide green eyes, surrounded by long lashes.

The whip that Bill Mulder reached for after they were all finished was also real. It wasn't the kind you could buy in any sex shop for S&M, but the kind the overseers in the old South used to carry around. The dark leather, shiny and well-used, was stained with darker patches.

Scully's air whistled from her lungs, and she winced in sympathy as the first stroke hit the thin back bent over the table.

Mulder and Scully were bound in a strange, sickening spell as they watched the whip lift and descend, lift and descend. By the time Bill Mulder laid the whip down, Krycek's back was covered in blood, dripping slowly down to the cement floor. The slim body was completely still, the only sign of life - an almost imperceptible rise and fall of the rib cage. The smoker said something that made them both smile as Bill Mulder. leaned forward and slowly, lasciviously lapped up the blood.

His son made a choked noise and bent double in the chair helplessly and violently sick. Scully held his head and supported his weight as he coughed and retched. "Let's turn it off," she said gently, "we don't have to see anything else."

Mulder, face white as paper, shook his head. "No," he whispered, "if Alex could live through it, the least we can do is to watch."

She heard and wondered at the pain in his voice, a pain that went far beyond the disillusion of a son with his father. She made no further attempts to persuade him since she knew Mulder and the iron-will that made him both a brilliant profiler and agent, and a tortured individual. Instead, she just helped him back to the chair. While they'd been distracted the scene had shifted, obviously jumping a few years forward. The camera was set in another room, with an older Krycek, whose eyes had lost the last flicker of innocence, on his knees before Bill Mulder.

In silence they saw Krycek raped by a procession of men and objects. At times beaten and tortured, either for some disobedience or for the edification of the men who used him. There were more scenes of Bill Mulder, of the man they only knew by his nickname, and an array of strange men parading through the grainy black and white film.

They watched a boy broken then re-molded, and turned into a tool to be used by the men who formed a second government, answerable to no one, the men to whose numerous crimes they could now add another. Perhaps no one individual really mattered when you considered the magnitude of the project these men led, delivering the earth to alien aggressors. Yet, in the here and now, the torture of Alex Krycek remained one of their most horrifying sins.

Finally, when Scully thought one more minute was more than she could stand, she glanced over at Mulder and dared to lay a gentle hand on his arm, offering mute support. He shrugged it off almost violently. Still, she knew it wasn't her he was rejecting but rather himself. Himself and the man who had sired him.

"I think we've seen enough," she said quietly.

He shook his head, his voice so controlled it lacked all expression.

"No."

Again she knew it was hopeless to say anything else. Mulder would watch until the bitter end.

When they turned their attention back to the screen, they saw Krycek standing by Bill Mulder's side, hands cuffed behind his back. His face was a perfect, indifferent mask; the same expression Mulder had seen too often on the adult Krycek's face since that first night when a son had first begun to take his vengeance for a father who never deserved it.

And finally William Mulder's son saw with crystal clarity the true duplicity of the man who had given him Alex Krycek.

I hope your lungs rot, you son of a bitch, Mulder thought bitterly, knowing just how the old man must be laughing at this moment.

On the TV, wrinkled hands pawed at Krycek, turning him this way and that, examining him with the same impersonal assessment you give an inert object. It was, Scully thought later, the most obscene aspect of their inhumanity, the way they laughed and talked, as if the slender young man didn't exist as a human being. As if he was no more than an inanimate thing. Finally, some sort of deal seemed to have been made, and a large dark man snapped his fingers impatiently, obviously waiting for Krycek to follow him. Green eyes gave Bill Mulder a startled look that contained, of all things, a hint of betrayal and pleading. William Mulder turned away indifferently, and the dark head flopped forward, as Krycek walked obediently behind the man out the door.

That was the end of the tape. Mulder and Scully sat for a long time looking at the black screen. Neither said a word.

A sound in the other end of the warehouse startled them and they saw a small door open.

Scully gave her partner a glance, one eyebrow raised.

He showed little interest, but when she stood up, he followed her automatically, eyes dazed and shocked.

Walking behind Scully, the foul tang of vomit in his mouth matched the vileness in his soul. He knew what he tasted was his revenge; and the rank flavor came close to choking him.

Once through the door, both Scully and Mulder stopped abruptly, staring at the incongruous sight meeting their eyes. The room was much smaller, although just as empty, apart for a small, round table, a single lamp illuminating blue and white Royal Derby china and a tall, thin old man in an immaculate suit.

He delicately sipped the tea, patting his lips with a spotless white linen napkin. "Agent Mulder, I trust you have recovered. Perhaps some tea to take away the sour taste?" He gestured at the neatly laid table.

With Mulder still white and shaken, Scully took the lead. "No, thank you," she said crisply. "What we would like is information. Why did you show us that ... that tape?"

He put down the paper-thin china cup. "Shall we be frank? My, ah ... *colleague* is at times, too ambitious."

Mulder, realizing if he didn't sit down soon he'd fall into a very undignified heap, collapsed into the nearest chair. "The Smoking Man," he mumbled numbly.

The old man gave him a faintly disapproving look. "If you prefer, we can refer to him by that name. He recognizes your future importance, Agent Mulder." He shook his head at the sudden question in Mulder's eyes, "no matter now. Consequently, he was most insistent on obtaining control over you. He assessed, correctly, that Alex Krycek could be utilized in this capacity, if the right stimulus was applied." Faint admiration colored his measured words. "His psychological evaluation of you was quite outstanding."

"Fuck you," but there was no anger in the words, just immense weariness.

The man raised an immaculate eyebrow. "I was under the impression that this was why you wanted Alex Krycek."

Mulder flinched, a stricken look entering his eyes.

It was Scully, anger sharpening her voice, that said, "So now what? You've dropped your little bombshell for a reason. What is it?"

The man looked her over with cool approval. "As usual you are direct and accurate, Agent Scully. No, I did not merely ask you here to show you the self-indulgent foolishness of my associates." His lip curled in genteel distaste. "I also believe that it is time to, let's say, clip the wings of my colleague." He gave Mulder a thoughtful look. "Did you never wonder why Krycek was so obedient?"

Mulder shook his head numbly.

The brittle, soft voice continued, "The simple answer is, this boy." He handed them a photograph of a boy, perhaps twelve, who was grinning at them. Scully caught her breath at the sight of the intense green eyes.

"His son?"

The Englishman answered crisply, "No, his nephew. The son of his only sister, Tatyana Krycek. The boy, his name is Peter by the way, is an orphan since his mother died shortly after his birth. I believe that Krycek promised his sister that he would always look after her son." A brief wintry smile crossed thin lips. "Most touching, don't you think?"

Scully raised an eyebrow, her voice cold as ice. "Extremely. Krycek has been responsible for his nephew following the death of his sister?"

"No," the Englishman replied. "The boy has been in the care of the Consortium since his birth, although Krycek has been allowed frequent contact with him." He seemed to contemplate the delicate pattern of the china for a moment. "Despite his conditioning, Alex Krycek retains a distressing streak of independence. His nephew has been ah, useful, as a tool for controlling our mutual acquaintance."

"Where is Peter Krycek now?" Mulder asked evenly.

"My too ambitious colleague has him. His continued survival depends on just how well his uncle pleases you." A hint of lasciviousness touched his face, "quite well I assume from your expression. A most talented individual, Krycek, I think you will agree."

Scully looked faintly sick, although it was nothing to the nausea that twisted Mulder's insides. "Are you offering to tell us where Peter Krycek is being held?"

A courteous inclination of a silvery head, "Correct."

In a haunting echo of another time, another place and another man, Mulder asked, "What's the price?"

The answer was the same.

"No price. As I said, I believe it is time to ah, bridle the, what do you call him? The smoker's ambition just a little." He handed them a folded piece of paper. "Good bye, Agent Scully, Agent Mulder, it has been a true pleasure."

Suddenly the lights went out and when they clicked on again, Scully and Mulder were alone in the abandoned warehouse.

Silently they left the warehouse and got into the car, although Mulder made no attempt to start it.

In the faint illumination of the streetlight, Scully saw his face contort and the silent, silver tracks of his tears. Instinctively reaching out, she rocked him in her arms like a mother consoling a child.

She stroked his hair, quietly offering her sympathy and her support. She did not give him false assurances that everything would be all right. They both knew it wouldn't. What she did say was, "There must be a way to solve this."

Abruptly he pulled out of her arms. "You have no idea what I've done," he whispered, sick self-loathing thickening his voice.

She bit her lip, remembering the way Krycek had moved, each movement careful and measured. She'd interned at Boston General and she'd seen too many similar injuries. "I can guess," she said, her voice subdued.

He nodded once, simultaneously grateful that he didn't have to tell her anything else, and unbearably shamed that she knew the truth about him. "I hated him, Scully. I've hated him so much."

"And now, you hate yourself," she said quietly.

He almost smiled. "You should be a psychologist."

She shook her head, laying a gentle hand on his arm, "No, but I know you, Mulder. Look, quite apart from shooting," she hesitated slightly, finally settling on the most neutral of all descriptions, not wanting to add to his torment by reminding him of his kinship to the man they had watched inside the warehouse, "Bill Mulder, Krycek's no lily-white innocent. He did beat up Skinner and he did steal that DAT tape, and he probably had a hand in my abduction."

He didn't answer at first. Finally he said very softly, "I know that, but ..." he faltered.

"But, what?"

Mulder shook his head wearily and his voice changed abruptly. "How could he do it?"

She knew from the change in his voice that he was referring to his father, not Alex Krycek.

Scully gave him a quick searching look. "He never ...? I mean," she fumbled for the right words, "you never noticed anything like that at home?"

"He never laid a hand on me," Mulder said grimly, knowing by the swift concern shading into fear in the clear blue of her eyes what she was asking. "There were times I wished he did, no, not like that, but if he'd beaten me, then at least he would have acknowledged that I was there. After Sam disappeared, it was as if I had too. Mom and Dad both retreated into separate glass cages." He stared into the darkness surrounding them. "So now what? What do I do?"

"You help Krycek get his nephew back," Scully said calmly, forcing down her own chaotic emotions to deal with Mulder's. "*Then*, you try to forgive him and yourself."

"How?!" He suddenly smashed his hand against the steering wheel, "how the hell can you forgive something like that?"

"Oh Mulder," she sighed, not sure what to say. "You don't believe in making it easy on yourself, do you?" Slowly, hesitantly, picking her words carefully, she murmured, "All I know is that hatred, at times, can disguise other emotions. I don't know what exactly there is between you and Alex Krycek, but ..." her voice died out and then she tried again. "I guess, Mulder, what you have to do is to ask yourself what you'd have felt for Krycek if he'd been genuine, and not ..." she shrugged, feeling no need to detail Krycek's crimes once again, simply finishing, "what he is."

He gave her a startled look but she wouldn't meet his eyes, instead choosing to look out the window.

Well, so it was finally out in the open between them and all he felt was a weary relief. In a way he guessed he had always known. Still, he had also known that if he ever wanted to work for the FBI, he would have to pay the price in silence and denial.

He smiled in sudden acid bitterness, trying to imagine his mother's reaction. Even in the best of times Teena Mulder was a cold and distant woman. She would have had no mercy, even with her only son, if she discovered the truth about him. As for his father ... Mulder shivered, remembering the icy contempt in his father's eyes. William Mulder was as cold as his ex-wife and even less forgiving. There was no way Mulder could ever have admitted to being something both his parents would think dirty and perverted.

Oh fuck, his father. A low, painful laughter worked itself up from his throat.

His father.

"I'm coming up with you," Scully said firmly when he stopped the car outside his apartment building and turned off the engine.

"Why?" Mulder stared at his hands.

"Because," and her tone implied she shouldn't have to explain. "Krycek may need medical attention."

Mulder flushed deeply and didn't say anything else as they walked up the stairs.

Alex Krycek was standing by the window. The TV was off as were most lights, and the only sound was Vyskin screaming his pain and rage in Russian on the stereo. At the sound of the key in the door he swung around facing them.

Mulder stared at him silently. He saw the sudden tense caution, the tilt of the head and the hatred that shimmered across the thin face with its tanned skin stretched tautly over the bone structure, as Krycek caught sight of Mulder and Scully.

He felt very, very tired. "Hello, Alex," he said quietly.

The only reply was a quick nod. Krycek's eyes moved to Scully, giving her a faint questioning glance.

Intercepting the mute question, Mulder said softly, "Scully wants to have a look at you."

Cynicism slid across slitted green cat-eyes. "I didn't know you were into threesomes, Mulder. Or," a sardonic smile, "is this a present to your partner?"

Mulder and Scully flushed identical red, once they realized what he meant.

Scully recovered first, "I assure you, Krycek, that you are the last man I would ever find attractive. My interest in you is purely professional, as a doctor I mean," she added hastily at the sudden gleam of cold amusement.

Krycek slowly looked from Mulder to Scully and back again, picking up on the change in atmosphere. "What's happened?" he asked warily. "What did our resident gentleman want with you two?"

Scully glanced at Mulder who wouldn't meet her eyes, staring down at the floor. She hesitated and then said quietly, "Krycek ... Alex, we know the truth."

He frowned, "The truth about what?"

Speaking in a soft, compassionate voice, Scully answered, "The truth about you and Bill Mulder, and Peter."

Krycek went white. "No!" It was an instinctive denial. "You can't!"

His reaction was, Scully thought, very revealing. It would have been so easy, and rational, to tell Mulder the truth about his father. To play on the sympathy, the inevitable revulsion of what Bill Mulder had done. Yet, Krycek had never breathed a word. She knew instinctively that this was a man who would rather be hated than pitied.

Mulder looked up for the first time. "He showed us tapes, of you and ..." his voice choked and he took a deep breath before continuing, "and dad, and the smoking man." The raw pain in his voice was almost more than Scully could stand.

Krycek closed his eyes. "Tapes, of course. I should have remembered," he whispered to himself. "He always did have a mania for recording everything."

Both Scully and Mulder wondered who the 'he' was whom Krycek referred to.

"So ..." A single deep breath and then his back was suddenly straight, and all signs of weakness were gone. Or not gone as much as carefully hidden and disregarded as the luxury they were. "What about Petya... Peter?"

Scully pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. "I've got an address. The Englishman said you'll find Peter at this address."

Krycek almost tore the paper from her hand, reaching for it greedily, desperately. "You're sure? This is where they keep Peter? Oh Christ!" He muttered something in Russian, a profanity or a prayer. "Can it be that simple?"

Mulder said quietly, "Not simple perhaps, but we'll help you get him back."

The two men looked at each other for a moment, and then Krycek said sincerely, "Thank you."

Silence descended.

Scully stepped forward taking charge. "Come along, Krycek," she ordered crisply, marching past them both into the bedroom, waiting until Krycek had unwillingly walked past her, and then closing the door in Mulder's face.

"Take off your shirt, please," she said heading towards the bathroom and Mulder's well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Krycek struggled to remove his T-shirt, genuine humor momentarily breaking through the grimness. "Why Scully, I never knew you were such a romantic."

She pointedly ignored him as she returned to the room with her arms full of medical supplies. "Lie down on the bed," she ordered calmly, striving to keep her professional distance. It was hard and became harder still as he silently obeyed, all humor abruptly gone.

Scully bit her lip to keep back an exclamation of shock. His body was mottled in bruises ranging from blue to green to black. From the way he winced when she lightly probed his skin, she had to wonder over internal injuries. "You've probably cracked two or three ribs," she told him dispassionately.

He nodded, unsurprised, "I thought so, musta happened the first night, when he kicked me."

She couldn't repress a soft exhalation, face freezing. "Mulder kicked you in the ribs?"

He nodded again, flinching away from her fingers as they smoothed some disinfectant on an angry inflamed wound that looked too much like teeth marks, human teeth marks. "Yeah, but I also fell badly, couldn't catch myself with my hands cuffed." He shrugged, "it'll heal," he added philosophically, not seeing the way her eyes widened and darkened in horror.

"Scully?" her fingers had stopped moving, as they silently lingered over the black marks on his hips. Bruises unmistakably left by human fingers.

Although he didn't owe Mulder a damn thing, her obvious dismay made him add, "It looks a lot worse than it is you know. I've always bruised easily." A wry, rueful smile, "which can be damned inconvenient at times in my line of work."

She hesitated, every fiber of her being screaming in protest at her next move, but she was, above everything else, a doctor. Clearing her throat, she said softly, "Can you pull down your pants please?"

It was his turn to hesitate. "It's okay, Scully, really."

She gave him a steady look. The type that said she knew he was trying to bullshit her. "Not from the way you walk it isn't."

With silent resignation, he removed his jeans, rolled over onto his side and curled up, his arm loosely held around his knees, making no more fuss. Scully took a deep breath at the realization that he had automatically assumed the exact position for a rectal examination. She wondered how many times he had laid like this; open and vulnerable with strange fingers and instruments touching and probing parts of his body that were called private for a reason. She glanced at him but could read nothing in his face or eyes. He looked if anything slightly bored, almost disconnected.

However, he couldn't help tensing up slightly as her first light touch of her latex covered fingers slid between his ass cheeks. To stop himself from clenching aching muscles in a pitiful reflex of protection, he turned his head, glancing over his shoulder giving her a long look under his lashes. She was concentrating, all doctor, all professional.

Working swiftly and expertly, she said softly, "I can't believe Mulder would do this to anybody, even you."

Feeling suddenly very tired, Krycek murmured, "He wouldn't, to anybody else. He's still your White Knight even if his armor is slightly tarnished."

She shook her head, returning to the box to open a tin of disinfectant cream, "I don't understand, Krycek. How can you take this so calmly? Why didn't you stop him? Even with one hand, it's not like you to just give up and submit. You're a survivor."

Firm lips curved in a sardonic smile, "Which is why I didn't fight." He explained matter-of-factly, "Mulder made a deal with the devil."

Very gently she probed the tender ring of muscle and her lips flattened as he twitched against her fingers. "I refuse to believe that any deal with you would include you voluntarily subjecting yourself to abuse." More abuse, she added silently, remembering the tape.

His chin moved a fraction, "No, it wouldn't. But the deal wasn't with me, but with the man who owns me. I was," his mouth crooked, "Mulder's part of the deal. He got me, the old bastard got his hooks into Mulder."

"I don't understand," she said, looking grim as her fingers came away streaked in pink.

"I was given to Mulder as a gift to do with as he pleased, whether it was blowing my brains out, fucking me through the wall or cutting off my other arm."

"Krycek, you don't own people in this day and age."

Cold, weary cynicism colored his voice. "I'm glad you think so. I hope you always will, Scully."

That silenced her and they didn't speak again as she finished her cleaning and bandaging.

Once she was done, Scully watched him rise and zip up his jeans. She knew it must hurt, but he never so much as winced. Watching him move, you would never suspect that he was covered in bruises and bites, never mind cracked ribs and strained, torn muscles.

Resolutely she shied away from the knowledge of who had put those marks on his body.

She had never made the effort to try and understand what made Krycek tick. It was enough that she knew what he had done. Yet, after what she had learned tonight, she found herself speculating about his life. What had made him into the man he was? The liar, the traitor and the killer. She looked at him, and an emotion she had never believed she would feel for Alex Krycek filled her - compassion.

"If we leave here tonight, we can be in Grove City by tomorrow morning," he said, breaking into her thoughts as he reached for his T-shirt and pulled it over his head.

Scully thought for a moment, "Actually, I think the best alternative would be to drive up tomorrow morning." She held up her hand to stop his instinctive protest. "No, listen to me, Krycek. If we want to do this right, and we'll only have one chance, we have to be prepared. I'll make some calls tonight, see what I can shake lose, and you," she raised her eyes and looked firmly at Mulder who had silently slipped into the bedroom, "both of you get a good night's sleep." She flushed abruptly conscious that was perhaps not the most diplomatic thing to say.

Mulder put his hands in his pockets, leaning against the wall. "Listen to her, Alex," he said softly. "You know she's right."

Reluctantly, Krycek nodded. It did make sense. So, although every instinct he possessed told him to go after Peter, tonight, now. He stilled his impatience. "All right," he agreed. "We'll leave here tomorrow morning?"

Going to the bathroom to wash her hands, Scully said, "I'll pick you up at six. That means we'll be there by lunch. The Englishman said there were only two guards, since this wasn't a high-priority project. With any luck we'll be in and out before they know we were there."

Once Scully had left, the silence grew heavy. Moving a little stiffly, Krycek went into the kitchen. Seeking relief in ordinary, everyday things he started re-heating the stew and measuring up rice, water and salt. Concentrating on the easy, familiar tasks he felt, more than heard, Mulder come into the kitchen.

Suddenly a voice raspy and rough with emotion spoke behind his back.

"Why the fuck didn't you tell me?!" Mulder demanded angrily. Krycek almost sighed wearily. How typical for Mulder to react with anger as if everything that had happened had done so to personally inconvenience him.

"You think I wouldn't understand about something like Peter?!" Neither of the men was eager to bring up Bill Mulder since the subject was equally agonizing for both of them, albeit for very different reasons.

Krycek turned and gave him a steady look. "I was going to," he said softly, "but after that first night ..." he shrugged, not finishing the sentence and Mulder flinched at the memories it called up.

Mulder, anguish and regret darkening his hazel eyes to gold, finally broke the long silence between them. "I ... I never meant to hurt you, Alex. I've hated you so much, I think I went insane," he whispered, wishing the words could convey even a fraction of the guilt, the horror he felt over himself and his actions. He, who was usually so slickly verbal, could find no words to excuse himself and what he had done. Nor to explain the madness that had gripped him.

Another quick shrug. "I know. It doesn't matter."

Mulder took two steps closer. "Yes, it does." He laid a gentle hand on Krycek's shoulder. The muscles beneath his fingers tensed and bunched in a flinch. Mulder closed his eyes, the pain like a knife through his heart, at the tiny instinctive reflex. "Shit, Alex, if you'd only told me."

Krycek moved away, and Mulder let his hand fall to his side. "About what?" He opened the refrigerator, looking for some tomatoes. "Your father or Peter? Words don't matter, Mulder, only actions. I'm still the bastard traitor who shot your father and stole national secrets, and almost killed Scully, don't forget."

Mulder refused to let the words and the distancing hurt. "If I'd known what he did to you, what the Consortium was holding over your head, I might have been able to help."

Krycek stared at him for a moment, and then a weary laugh broke from his lips. "Oh fuck, Mulder, you have *no* idea what you're dealing with here. You can't help yourself, much less anyone else." He shook his head tiredly. "In the end there is only one person I can rely on, and that's me." He dished up the fragrant chicken stew onto two plates, putting them on the table.

Neither Mulder nor Krycek had any appetite so after spending twenty minutes staring at his chicken, Krycek took his plate and dumped it, untouched, into the sink. Not looking at Mulder, he said, "If you don't want me tonight, I need to get some stuff together for tomorrow."

Mulder's breath caught. "Oh for God's sake, Alex!" Anguish sharpened his voice. "You can't believe I'd still hold you to your bargain. What kind of bastard do you think I am?"

A dark head came up, and the two men stared at each other in silence. A slow, strange, glittering smile twisted Krycek's lips.

"I think you're your father's son."

Mulder flinched, going white. "You son of a bitch."

"Takes one, to know one." Krycek taunted softly. "Welcome to my side of the fence, Mulder."

Mulder flushed, feeling the cool contempt burn through him.

After another moment of silence, Krycek murmured, "I'm out of here." He grabbed his leather jacket and disappeared through the door.

Both Mulder and Krycek were ready and waiting in the street when Scully drove up. Carrying a small green nylon bag, Krycek dressed in his usual black leather and denim. He threw the bag into the back of the car and slid in after it. Mulder hesitated, then got into the passenger's seat beside Scully who greeted them both with a crisp, "Good morning."

"I made some phone calls," she gave Mulder a smiling glance, "Ben, down in Records, was most cooperative."

If these had been ordinary times he would have teased Scully about the crush the gangly researcher had for her. He would have made a quip over using her body to get ahead.

However, these weren't ordinary times and all he said was, "Did Ben give you anything useful?"

Scully nodded, maneuvering the car skillfully through the early-morning traffic. "The house is owned by a corporation, and I've got the floor plans." She met Krycek's eyes in the rear-view mirror. "It actually sounds a lot more impressive than it is. Ben found it for me in an old database."

"You did good, Scully," he spoke for the first time, his voice a little husky. Unzipping the bag, Krycek took out his gun, loaded and checked it, his hand moving over the metal with an unerring efficiency. There was no hint of the subdued man from last night. This was the Krycek they were used to. A dark, dangerous, deadly presence.

Mulder looked at him. "Do you think the guards will recognize you?"

A dark head cocked in thought for a moment, "They might. I've been around for a long time and," he shrugged, "they might suspect I'd try something. Better not to take the chance."

Scully nodded in agreement, "I suggest I drive up openly and create a diversion while the two of you go in the back."

Krycek frowned, "That could be dangerous. If they realize who you are ..." his voice died away.

She grinned, "I'll do my patented 'helpless lost woman' act." Her smile widened at Mulder's sudden amusement. She glanced over her shoulder and told Krycek, "I'll just flutter my eyelashes and wring my hands. They'll never suspect a thing, trust me."

Krycek actually laughed softly. "Scully, will you marry me when I grow up?"

Scully chuckled, but the humor died swiftly, seeing Mulder's suddenly bleak look. He was hunching away, staring out the window.

East Poplar Street
Grove City, PA

For once a plan went off without a hitch. There were only the two men the Englishman had warned them about, and neither of the guards tried to go for their guns when Mulder yelled, "FBI, freeze!"

Mulder frisked them, removing all their weapons, while Scully covered them, a familiar hard light in her blue eyes. Mulder held back a grim smile as he recognized her expression. If there was one thing that really pissed off his pint-sized partner it was the abuse of an innocent child.

A door opened and closed and Krycek appeared, moving with a smooth cat-soft tread that would send him hurtling in any direction at the slightest sound of danger.

"The back's clean." He came up beside Mulder, face expressionless and cold, a true professional.

Pale eyes narrowed as the taller of the two men standing with their hands in the air, hissed a soft profanity. "Krycek! I should have known you were behind this. Once the old man finds out about this, you're dead!"

Krycek cocked the gun. "Not if you're not alive to tell him, Thomson," he said calmly.

The man snorted, unafraid. "You wouldn't dare."

Krycek smiled without humor. "You really think I give a flying fuck about any of them after what they did?"

Thomson sneered. "What? Hand you over to Fox Mulder? Hell, you always had the hots for him." Mulder flinched violently although Krycek remained impassive, "I'd have thought it was a dream come true. You always did have a thing for the Mulders didn't you? And they for you. Old man Mulder taught you real good and he was always generous with his toys." An ugly leer twisted the pale narrow face. "I liked you better in the old days when you weren't so uppity and knew your place." He sniggered, "on your knees."

Krycek looked at him for a moment, eyes cold and empty. For a moment the air sang with tension and dark memories.

He lowered his gun. "Where is Petya, Thomson?"

Thomson shrugged, "Upstairs. Don't worry, we haven't touched the kid."

"I didn't think you had. Always a good company man, eh Thomson?" He started to walk away towards the stair when he suddenly turned and said coolly. "Oh, and by the way ..." he caught the pale man's attention.

Krycek smiled coldly. "You were the worst fuck I ever had."

He raised his gun and shot Thomson right through the head.

Before either Mulder or Scully could react, the gun coughed once more and the other man slid to the floor, already dead as his body hit the ground.

Krycek gave them a cool look. "Rule number one, agents, don't leave live witnesses behind." He holstered the gun and started up the stairs.

Scully stared in shock at the two corpses, "Mulder, he just shot two men in cold blood!"

"They deserved it," her partner said flatly. "Come on, let's get Peter Krycek and get out of here."

Following in Krycek's wake, they started to search the rooms on either side of the narrow corridor. The third door Scully tried opened into a small rectangular room with a mattress. On the mattress sat a small dark boy, wearing jeans, dirty sneakers and a T-shirt. Mulder and Scully looked at him, and he stared back with wide wary eyes of the same intense green as his uncle.

Mulder raised his voice and called out, "Alex, we found him!"

Scully was watching Peter. His face was rounder than Krycek's, the chin less pointed. The shape was squarer, and for a moment as he glared at them, afraid but defiant, he reminded her of somebody else.

But before she could follow up on that thought, Peter heard Mulder's words and suddenly exploded into action. Yelling "Uncle Sasha! Uncle Sasha!" The small dark whirlwind tore past the two FBI agents and hurled himself at the black leather and denim clad man coming up behind them.

Krycek caught him easily, and his arms closed around the small body. "Petya!" He felt the tears slide down his face, and didn't give a damn.

"Hush," he switched to soft rapid Russian as he cradled the boy, loving the strength of the wiry arms clinging to his neck. "I came as soon as I knew where you were, Petya," he murmured.

"I know you did, uncle Sasha," a sudden urchin grin lit the dirty face. "I told 'em you would!" A small tousled head, nestled at Krycek's shoulder, as Petya burrowed even closer, whispering into his ear, "I love you, uncle Sasha."

"And I love you too Petroushka," he kissed one smudged cheek and then glanced over at Mulder and Scully a light in his eyes that neither of them had ever seen before. "Let's get the hell out of here."

Even as they left the house and got into the car, Krycek wouldn't let his nephew go. Folding himself into the backseat, he didn't even bother asking where they were going. Instead he and Peter were talking softly in Russian, questions and answers, avowals of love and trust. Completely wrapped up in each other, neither realized the odd looks both Mulder and Scully gave them from time to time.

Snow Goose Inn
Grove City, PA

Once they reached the small hotel, Scully assumed command and got three rooms beside each other. "You and Petya need to get something to eat," she told Krycek firmly when she got back, handing him a key. He stopped, halfway up the stairs.

"I know. Can you get us something?" he asked absently taking the key, all his focus on Peter. Scully's eyebrow went up, she hadn't expected Krycek to capitulate so easily, remembering what a contrary, independent s.o.b he usually was.

Gathering her thoughts, she said, "All right, what do you think he'd like?"

A dark head bent close and whispered into Petya's ear. One green eye opened sleepily and Peter said something in a drowsy voice, causing a soft chuckle from Krycek. "He wants piroshki, but they might be hard to find here, so he's agreed to settle for a hamburger."

"You go on up, I'll see what I can find," Scully said with a slight smile.

Krycek nodded in mute gratitude as he started up the stairs carrying Peter, unaware that the two federal agents were watching him.

Mulder had said nothing to Krycek since Petya's rescue; he had gone so far as to studiously avoiding even looking at the other man. But his eyes when he stared after Alex and Peter Krycek were haunted.

"Amazing," Scully marveled.

"What?"

"Krycek. Did you ever think he had it in him?"

"Yeah I did," Mulder said softly, remembering the flashes, too few, of sadness, grief and tenderness. The tantalizing glimpses of another Alex Krycek, one not twisted by the life he'd led.

Scully glanced at her partner, and saw the exhaustion written on his face. A bone-deep weariness that went far beyond any bodily fatigue. "Come on," she said, "I'll buy you a cup of coffee."

Half-heartedly he tried to object, but when she ignored his protests, he went along docilely enough.

They found an empty table in a quiet corner of the hotel garden. Sipping her coffee Scully looked across at her partner. Mulder was stirring his coffee absently.

"So now what?" she asked.

He looked down at the cup. "I don't know, Scully," even his voice was faint with exhaustion. "It isn't really up to me, is it?"

Scully played with her spoon. "Mulder, level with me, what do you want from Krycek?"

His lips twisted into a smile that contained little humor. "Anything he'll give me."

She gave him a long, thoughtful look. "You mean that?"

He nodded. "I know what I've done, Scully. I don't know if it can ever be repaired, but I'm going to try my damnedest."

"Mulder, you're not responsible for what your father did to Krycek."

He stared down at the table. "No, only for what I did to him."

They sat in silence for a long time.

Krycek never came down again.

Instead, Scully returned after a trip to the nearest hamburger place, loaded down with white and yellow cartons. She knocked on the door and waited until he opened it, stepping aside so she could enter.

"Thanks for getting the food," he smiled wryly, "although, I'm afraid he's out like a light."

She peered past him at the small dark head, smiling at the sight of Petya sleeping in the boneless trusting way of a child. "He was probably exhausted by today."

Krycek went over to the bed and looked down his sleeping nephew. "He's not the only one." He stretched and yawned, but the smile he gave her reminded her of an old medieval painting she'd seen once - of an angel worshipping at the feet of God. "You know," he said softly, "I still can't believe I have him, that he's safe, and that we're out from under the Consortium."

Scully sat down on the other bed. "Do you want a hamburger?"

He came over and unwrapped one. "Thanks," he said absently, still looking at Petya.

"You really love him, don't you?" It wasn't really a question. She knew the answer looking at his face as he watched his nephew.

"More than my life," he said simply.

They ate in silence, finally, Scully wiped her hands on a paper napkin and said quietly, "You can tell me to shut up and butt out, but I keep wondering about something, Krycek."

"What?"

"Why didn't you tell Mulder about Peter? If he'd known, he would have helped you."

He neatly folded up the trash, avoiding her steady gaze. "I guess, in a way, once everything hit the fan, I was caught in a time-warp."

She hadn't really thought he would answer her question. Yet, he seemed relieved, almost eager to talk about everything that had happened. Perhaps he just needed a neutral listener and she happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"Wha - " she caught her breath. "You thought Mulder was his father," she said flatly.

Krycek nodded once, still not looking at her. "Yeah, they don't really look that much alike, but ..." he shrugged, standing up and carrying the trash to the waste-paper basket. "All I kept thinking about was that this was Bill Mulder's son." He said softly, almost wistfully, "I always thought Mulder was different, y'know? The time I spent as his partner, he seemed like such a good guy, he," a complicated, sad smile shaped his mouth but never reached his eyes. "I knew he hated me for what I did to his father, but I never realized it ran as deep as it did. Frankly," He glanced over at Peter again, "I didn't dare take the chance. One word from Mulder, and Petya would have been dead, or worse."

She bit her lip. "But Mulder isn't his father. I didn't meet Bill Mulder more than once or twice, but even then I could see that he was a cold ruthless man."

Krycek didn't answer, but the sudden remoteness told her more than she wanted to know about his past.

Scully was tempted to let it go, but the memory of Mulder's white face drove her to say, "Krycek, I don't know what went on between you and Mulder, the fact is, I don't really want to know. All I know is that there is a man in the other room who is hurting, badly."

He raised an eyebrow, and suddenly he was the old arrogant Krycek again. "Am I supposed to cry over that?"

"No," she said exasperated. "You're supposed to go talk to him. I'm not asking you to jump his bones. However, I do think the two of you need to talk." Quietly she added, "You owe him that much for Petya's life." She felt just a little guilty over her blatant emotional blackmail, but the memory of Mulder's desolation drove her on.

He looked suddenly almost as tired as Mulder. "Scully," he paused, "I don't know what you want from me."

Scully hesitated. The bald truth was that right now her one wish was to have Krycek gone from hers and Mulder's life. She had accepted, once she'd known what Mulder had done, that they could never bring Krycek to justice for the crimes he *had* committed. A part of her even acknowledged the fairness of letting him walk away.

"I want Mulder to be happy, Alex," she said, finally. She had never called him Alex before, and he lifted an eyebrow at the sudden shift towards intimacy.

"You'll forgive me if that isn't exactly one of my pressing priorities," he murmured politely.

Scully restrained a wave of exasperation with both men. Then she tried again. "Alex, I know you may find this hard to believe, but Mulder loves you." She devotedly prayed that it was the right thing to say and that she had not just made the biggest mistake of her life - betraying her partner.

He stared at her, and she felt her hope die at the patent disbelief flickering through his voice and face. "No, he doesn't," he said flatly. He spread his hand, a weary cynical look hardening his face. "You think Mulder's the first man who's looked at me with the same expression in his eyes?" He rose, going over to tuck in Petya who was stirring restlessly.

Quietly, not looking at Scully, he said, "Mulder's a good man, or at least," sarcasm rippled through his voice, "that's what he thinks he is." He reached down and gently slid his fingers through Petya's hair. The boy murmured something in his sleep settling down again, the corners of his mouth tucking into a smile at the touch. The smile of his uncle was far less innocent and very tired. "It probably shocked him right down to the bottom of his soul to realize just how much he actually enjoyed fucking me." He saw her wince at the blunt words, "and now, the only way he can live with himself and what he's done is to tell himself that he's in love. Guilt and lust, that's all it is, Scully."

"You're wrong, Alex," she said softly.

There was a long silence, and Scully watched in silence as several conflicting emotions chased themselves across Krycek's face. Finally, he narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. "Scully, will you stay with Petya?" he asked suddenly.

She looked surprised, "Where are you going?"

He gave her an enigmatic look, "Not too far away."

She caught her breath and then her face softened. "I'll sleep in here with him, you take your time," she said firmly. She could only hope that whatever motivated Krycek's unexpected decision, forgiveness for Mulder's actions was included somewhere. It would go a long way towards soothing her partner's terrible guilt.

"Don't worry about Petya, I've got nephews of my own," she added with a smile.

He gave her a look of silent gratitude while putting on his jacket. However, instead of leaving immediately, he went over to where she was sitting, took her head between his hands and kissed her lightly on the forehead. She stiffened at the contact, but didn't flinch away.

"He doesn't deserve you. I meant it y'know, I want to be just like you when I grow up." His fingers slid along her chin in a quick little caress. He noticed her suddenly frozen posture and dropped his hand turning away with a rueful smile.

"Alex."

He turned, "What?"

Suddenly she had to know. "This is what you want isn't it? You aren't just paying a debt?"

"Partly," he admitted candidly. "But you've also told me how to get my revenge on Mulder."

She frowned, suddenly very worried, "What are you talking about?"

His smile was not altogether nice. "Scully, right now Mulder is feeling guilty as hell, you know how he is, taking the blame for the world." She found herself nodding automatically.

He continued wryly, "Actually, he would probably be just as happy if I were to go in there tonight and rape him."

She almost smiled before she caught herself. He did know Mulder.

However, then he continued, "I'm not going to do that. I'll do something far worse." He watched sudden fear widen her eyes and smiled crookedly, "No, no, Scully. I'm not going hurt him. I'm going to love him. I'm going to show him just how sweet, how *good* it could have been, if we'd been lovers. Everything he could have had if he hadn't been blinded by revenge. If he'd allowed me to give, instead of just take what he wanted."

"Are you still so angry with him?" she asked quietly.

He said coldly. "Yes."

"Don't go," she said impulsively. "Don't do this, Alex. Mulder doesn't deserve what you're planning. Hasn't there been enough vengeance and hatred? It has to stop somewhere."

He stared down at his hand holding the door-handle. "You still don't understand. There was a time, Scully, when I would have willingly, no, eagerly, *given* Mulder my body, and anything else he wanted from me. Maybe," he paused, "maybe I also need to know, for me, what it could have been like?"

Staring at the door as it closed behind Krycek, Scully recognized the bleak courage it took to go to the man who had hurt him. Yet, she also understood what he was doing. He was taking back what Mulder had stolen from him.

What Mulder had taken from them both.

Mulder was wandering around restlessly, turning the TV on, channel surfing, but finding nothing but talk shows and soaps.

The quiet knock surprised him, and he thought perhaps Scully had forgotten something. Opening the door he froze in shock at the sight of Alex Krycek standing there.

Krycek gave him a wry smile, "Can I come in?"

Mulder stepped aside automatically, mind whirling. He had been convinced that Alex would avoid him like the plague. He had tried to think of some excuse to talk to the man he had once hated. The man who probably hated him.

He wanted, desperately, to somehow begin to untangle the complex emotions that churned between him and this man. Scully had been right, they both had things to forgive, and be forgiven for. The only thing Mulder knew with any degree of surety was that he would give just about anything for Alex Krycek to stay in his life. Not necessarily as a lover, simple friendship would be more than enough at this point in time and their relationship.

Krycek walked past him into the hotel room turned and watched him steadily.

"What are you doing here, Alex?" Mulder tried to think of something witty or profound or tender to say, but his usually facile mind seemed to have taken a temporary leave of absence. Finally he simply gave up on anything but the truth, "Shouldn't you be with Peter?"

The dark green-eyed man slowly shrugged out of his leather jacket, throwing it casually across the back of a chair. "Scully's looking out for him." He flowed across the carpet, an almost feral look deepening the green to a verdant slumberous emerald. There was nothing overt about his motions, just a tilt of the head, an arch of the neck, the casual movement of a hip, but suddenly, the air was charged with sensuality.

Clearing a throat gone abruptly dry, Mulder moved restlessly. "Umm, Alex, what are you doing?"

Halting in front of the older man, Krycek slowly reached up and started unbuttoning Mulder's shirt. "I'm going to show you, Fox Mulder, what it should have been like between us." He smiled slowly, leaned in and the tip of his tongue lazily stroked along Mulder's mouth.

Mulder's lips opened in a soundless moan of pleasure, and Alex laughed softly against the moist open cavern of the ravishing mouth as he sucked briefly on his tongue.

He slowly maneuvered Mulder towards the bed, gave a gentle push, and Mulder fell with a startled ouf!

Staring up at Krycek standing between his sprawled legs, pulling his T-shirt over his head, he swallowed heavily, frantic thoughts whirling in his head. The remaining traces of his sanity screamed at him that this was wrong. Mulder opened his mouth to say that what they really needed was to talk... when he made the mistake of looking up and saw the slow, sensuous smile on the beautiful face looking down at him. Entranced, he watched lean muscles move beneath tawny satin skin in a leisurely stretch.

Whatever he was going to say died unspoken as his breath caught in his throat. God, it was what he had fantasized about for so long and had despaired he would ever have. Alex coming to him voluntarily, eyes speaking of passion and need, not hatred and submissiveness, lips shaping a slow, sensual smile, not thinning into weary bitterness. The beautiful, supple body arching against him in a mutual, hungry need.

Mulder's fingers trembled so badly, he had problems getting his shirt off. Faintly, through the roar in his ears, he heard the fabric rip as he lost all patience with the tiny buttons. The blood pounded through his veins giving him a bigger high than any recreational drug could ever match.

Following Mulder down on the bed, Krycek looked deep into bemused hazel eyes and told him softly. "Tonight, I'm going to show you the difference between fucking and making love." He bent his head, kissing his way along Mulder's jaw and throat, paying careful attention to the exact spot where shoulder and neck joined.

A soft chuckle feathered warm breath against the pale soft skin, "I bet you didn't know that part of your body was an erogenous zone." He slowly, lazily licked the spot he'd bitten before. "You do now." He raised himself on his elbow, looking down at Mulder, who was already breathing in short heavy gasps, eyes closed, head flung back and pale throat bared.

"Very pretty, Mulder," Krycek murmured, and moved his attention to already stiff nipples, nibbling at them carefully, then soothing the tender flesh with a flick of his tongue. He slithered slowly back up Mulder's body, capturing full, pouting lips, nibbling on them, and then thrusting his tongue deep inside the inviting opening.

Dizzily, Mulder realized that all they'd done was kiss and he'd never been so turned on in his life.

Flicking dark hair out of his eyes, Alex's lips burned a path down Mulder's body. Eyes closed, Mulder abandoned all control. The first touch of a wet tongue on his cockhead had him almost levitating in the air. Alex lapped, tongue exploring the tiny slit. But then he pulled away and Mulder moaned in disappointment, hands reaching out instinctively to pull him back again.

A smile danced in green eyes as Alex slid himself up until they were lying face to face, body to body. He kissed Mulder deeply on the lips. "Oh no, Mulder." He stretched himself out, arching and pressed himself against the paler, sturdier body facing him. "Turnabout is only fair you know," he said softly, fingers gliding over Mulder's ass, finding their way into the warm crevice separating them.

"Umm, Alex, I didn't bring anything ..." Mulder exhaled, feeling intensely frustrated. "And, it's been a long time since I ... since anyone ..." he didn't know why he was suddenly flushing and stammering.

"Fucked you?" Alex murmured, silencing the babbles with another tender kiss. "Hey, no need to panic." He suddenly rolled away and rose, going over to his jacket he pulled a small tube from the pocket. "I'm like the Boy Scouts, always prepared," and held up two fingers in the traditional scout greeting.

Mulder lay back feeling pure happiness running like fire through his body as he watched Alex, still with that devilish grin transforming his face, return to the bed, moving with cat-like soundless grace that signified everything he did. Mulder caught his breath, as he watched the taut, elegant, and above all, beautiful body of Alex Krycek. Even the loss of an arm couldn't spoil its innate perfection or harmony. Actually, it brought irresistible comparisons to Venus de Milo. Mulder had to turn away, lips twitching, he wasn't sure how well Alex would take being compared to a broken statue.

"What's so funny?" A warm breath tickled his ear and made him jerk as strong, skillful fingers teased and stroked their way down his flanks and into him.

"Oh, oh, *fuck*! Alex," he forgot what he'd been thinking about as his body jerked in absolute ecstasy as the first firm pressure on his prostate. Soft laughter feathered across his neck as Alex bit down lightly on his shoulder.

"Don't be in such a hurry," Krycek murmured, adding another finger, scissoring the two slowly, carefully, alternating the pressure, flicking one fingertip across the node of nerve-endings, and enjoying Mulder's unconscious movements as he angled his hips, trying to take Alex's fingers deeper into himself.

Leaning forward, Krycek whispered, "We've got all night, I'm going to teach you how to savor the moment, Mulder. Feels good, doesn't it?" It was a rhetorical question, but still Mulder answered it with the increasingly frantic movement of his body and the silent begging of his cock.

Mulder moaned, "Stop playing dammit!" Although the words were a command, the tone was closer to begging.

Alex laughed breathlessly and captured the sulky mouth in a deep hungry kiss, nibbling delicately at the pouting lower lip. He withdrew slightly, eyes dancing as he smiled into Mulder's face. "Didn't anyone ever teach you, anticipation is half the fun?" Without breaking the kiss he shifted their position, using body weight and a urgent hand on Mulder's hip until Mulder was sprawled across the bed on his stomach, head turned to one side, as he glanced over his shoulder, eyes dazed and dark with desire.

Tantalizingly slowly, enjoying each tiny shiver, each tremble as Mulder moaned again and his hands closed around the sheets, Alex slid down the rangy, hard body until he was kneeling between Mulder's thighs.

Long, muscular legs opened eagerly, as Mulder pushed back, raising his hips to rub himself against the velvet and steel of Alex's cock.

Krycek remained poised and still for a breathless moment. Then, with one smooth thrust, he buried himself inside the welcoming warmth.

Mulder groaned out loud at the sudden feel of Alex filling him. Hazily he realized that the voice moaning, "Oh, god, oh god, oh god," belonged to him. In the distance he heard a faint chuckle.

"Not very articulate are you, for a man whose mouth usually won't stop?"

Mulder filtered out the voice and everything but the pleasure filling every atom of his being, body and soul. Bracing himself he pushed back against the strong thighs and hardness filling him so completely. Dimly he thought that sex had never been like this before, with either men or women. Suddenly he heard the echo of Alex's words inside his head, " ...tonight I'll show you the difference between fucking and making love." This, this was love taking physical form. It could be nothing else.

For a moment Mulder thought the sensation was too intense to bear, as he passed into the dimension where pleasure becomes pain and pain pleasure.

Alex thrust slowly, steadily, gripping Mulder's hips and angling himself so he hit the prostate at each plunge. Draped over the lean pale body, he whispered into Mulder's ear, "This is how it's supposed to be. Like this, and this, and this," moving rhythmically, "so much pleasure you can die from it."

His hand tightened around Mulder's cock, thumb flicking over the sensitive head, smoothing and shaping the hardness, even as his movement shifted it back and forth against the skin of his hand.

Mulder felt the climax build through his body coming from somewhere deep in his soul and heart. Like an avalanche, it began slowly, picking up speed until finally there was nothing but the pureness of the ultimate bliss as he came and came and came until he was sure there was not a drop left in his body. From a distance he heard the harsh rasp as Alex finally let himself go, timing his release so perfectly with Mulder's, they came as one.

Later, much later, still trying to get his breath back, Mulder gasped for air, rolled over and collapsed on his back, arms out flung, eyes closed. With a lazy satisfaction he felt Alex move, sliding along his body in a caress that made him shiver even in his lassitude.

When he finally opened heavy sweat-soaked eyelids it was to find himself looking right into Krycek's amused face. The younger man had slithered himself around Mulder so his elbow was resting on Mulder's chest, chin propped in it as he studied his lover, a mischievous grin lifting the corners of his mouth. "Welcome back," he murmured. "Was it good for you too, honey?"

Mulder felt his face break apart and suddenly he was laughing and gasping and choking. He pulled Alex into his arms, rolling around the bed until they ended up with Krycek on his back, still laughing up into Mulder's face. At that moment there were no shadows, no sign of wariness in his eyes.

Abruptly Mulder sobered, one hand came up and slowly stroked the fine skin, fingertips tracing the nose with it's slight upturn that gave the man an eternal illusion of youth and innocence. Then they moved to the firm, full lips. He watched and shivered as the lips opened, and Alex gently sucked the fingertips into his mouth, biting down gently, worrying them lightly with strong white teeth.

"I'm sorry, Alex," he said simply, eyes somber.

"I know," was the soft reply. Long black lashes swept up as he met Mulder's look steadily. Mulder unconsciously held his breath, praying that tonight was the first tentative bridge across the chasm of blood and hatred and betrayal that separated them.

The quiet, husky voice continued, "I'm just sorry, we couldn't have ended up on the same side. I think I would have liked being your friend, Mulder."

"You are and more," Mulder bent down and kissed him. "Still, it's over now." He closed his eyes, breathing in the fresh, spicy scent of the body in his arms. "We'll figure something out. I'm not letting you go ever again."

Krycek opened his mouth then closed it again as a strange expression slid across his face. He said nothing; he just pulled down Mulder's head for another kiss, sliding his fingers through the short brown silky strands.

Then he began to move again, languidly and sensuously, stretching and rubbing himself against the firm expanse of smooth planes and wiry muscle that comprised Fox Mulder. He felt Mulder's cock twitch and harden against his hip.

Alex smiled and turned around, his leg sliding between Mulder's. His head bent to a pale shoulder, kissing it, lingering to taste the sleek softness as he licked his way across the curve.

"This is how it should have always been between us, Mulder," Krycek murmured against his skin, his voice slightly slurred, flowing like thick, sweet honey over exposed nerve-endings. "All naked and vulnerable, skin against skin ..." he laughed low in his throat. "Now, whatever happens, you'll never forget this night." His warm breath ruffled Mulder's hair, as he looked up and kissed his temple, "or me."

As if he ever could, Mulder thought, moaning deep in his throat. There was no chance he would ever forget Alex Krycek. Liar, traitor, thief, killer ... lover. Beloved. Hazel eyes, flecked with gold, widened at that thought and what it meant.

But then he forgot everything at the taste and touch and feel of the body with him, opening to him, as his cock pressed against the cleft dividing the two tanned ass cheeks pushing up against it.

Moving invitingly beneath him, Alex slid his thigh along Mulder's hip, "Come on, Mulder, you know you want to."

A muscle in his jaw flexed. "Hell yes, but Scully said that ..." he flushed suddenly.

A sudden swift flash of white teeth glimmered in the darkness. "I know what Scully said, and trust me, I'm fine, although I appreciate the concern. It's not as if this was the first time, I can handle it." He reached up and cupped Mulder's jaw, smoothing the slightly rough skin with its beginning stubble. "You know you want to fuck me. Remember," he whispered, "what it's like to come deep inside me? So hot, and deep and tight ..."

With a groan Mulder surrendered, holding Alex's hips steady as he slowly, carefully thrust into the welcoming heat. Alex's back arched as he wrapped his arm around Mulder's neck, urging the other man closer.

Mulder continued to push, still slowly, carefully. When suddenly he froze, as a slight shudder went through Krycek and his body abruptly stiffened. "Oh, Christ no, Alex," he whispered muscles tensing as he tried to pull back.

Krycek shook his head, holding Mulder in place.

"No!" he said between clenched teeth, "No, Mulder, don't." He began to push himself back on Mulder's cock, ignoring the pain, until he was fully impaled.

Alex smiled, turning his head, and giving Mulder a deep kiss, pink tongue darting out for a quick lick and nibble. "Mmm," he whispered against his lips, laughing softly, the sound vibrating through both bodies. "Don't look so guilty, I'm not going to break."

Still, Mulder hesitated. "I don't want to hurt you," he whispered into Alex's neck, pressing tiny kisses into the curve.

Krycek shook his head and said softly, shudders rippling beneath his skin. "Please, Mulder, I need this." His throat worked for a moment, "I need to know that I'm offering, that you aren't taking."

Pain exploded inside Mulder's head. He groaned, not in passion but anguish. His body began to move, not to thrust but to withdraw.

Once again Alex stopped him.

He pushed his hips back forcing Mulder even deeper inside. "I don't want your damn guilt Mulder!" His eyes glittered feverishly as he turned his head again to kiss Mulder deeply, with an edge of desperation. "I want you to help me to forget."

Wrapping his arms around the wiry, tanned body, Mulder's fingers sought out Alex's nipples, flicking them repeatedly as he began to move again, very slowly and carefully.

Mouths still locked together as firmly as their bodies, they moved as one, sweat slicking sleek skin and intermingling. Opening his eyes, the sight that met Mulder almost brought him crashing into oblivion. He had wondered what it would be like to see Alex lost in passion.

Yet, the reality was far beyond what even his fertile imagination could ever have dreamed up. Head back, the long, taut arch of his throat bared, eyes of green fire lighting up his soul.

Two bodies moved as one, transported far from the quiet motel, wrapped inside an enchantment as old as time, a need as fundamental as that of taking another breath.

Mulder breathed in heavy gasps, hands slipping on Alex's sleek body, clutching the smooth planes and hard muscles with a desperate intensity as he tried to bury himself even deeper. His hands reached out and grasped Alex's cock, milking it firmly. He felt the body beneath him gather himself and with a groan that seemed torn from the bottom of his soul, Alex came. The contraction of internal muscles pushed Mulder over the edge, and only moments after Alex, Mulder exploded.

Slowly, slowly, he floated down to earth again. Too lazy to open his eyes, he felt Alex maneuver them so Mulder was resting with his head pillowed on a smooth brown shoulder. Gentle fingers ran down his body, in a soothing repetitive motion.

When his breathing had finally returned to normal, and he had gathered enough energy to actually move, Mulder rolled over and raised himself on one elbow running his fingers down a lean tanned flank, finally free to caress and linger as he had wanted to do so many times before. "Where the heck did you get this tan, Alex? The last time I saw you, you were paler than I. No bikini-lines either," he added with a grin. "Do you always sun-bathe naked?"

A drowsy smile, "Would you believe a sewer with a solarium?"

Mulder chuckled softly. "Not hardly." His fingertips traced a faint white line slashing across hip and thigh. "What is this?"

One green eye half-opened, "Which one? Oh, that ... a knife in Algeria two years ago."

Sobering, Mulder started exploring the supple body beside him. Too often his questing fingers discovered white lines or puckered scars marring the smoothness of the skin.

Finally Alex yawned widely, pink tongue curling. "Leave off, Mulder. If you want the guided tour of my sordid history, we'd still be here next week."

When Mulder opened his mouth to ask another question, Alex silenced him with a kiss laughing softly. "Go to sleep, Mulder," he told the other man gently.

Mulder hesitated, not sure what to do. They had never slept together before unless you counted that first night when he'd chained Krycek to his bed. Even after he'd stopped using the handcuffs at night, Krycek had slept on the sofa, rising and leaving as soon as Mulder had finished with him. It had been a silent but mutual agreement, neither of them willing to risk the kind of intimacy sleeping in the same bed meant.

"Will you stay with me tonight, Alex?" he asked almost shyly.

Krycek didn't answer in words, he just slid closer, pressing himself against Mulder's length, wrapping himself around the other man.

Hard, possessive arms closed around the lithe, pliant body. Spooning himself around Alex, burying his face in his neck, Mulder breathed in deeply in contentment. He kissed the spot situated temptingly right beneath his lips.

"I love you, Alex," he mumbled drowsily, slurring the words, and went to sleep, supremely happy.

Krycek, hand tucked under his chin, spent most of the night staring into the darkness, lying very still so as not to disturb the man holding him.

When Mulder woke he was alone in bed. His hands reached out instinctively for the body that should have been beside him. Instead, his fingers encountered only rumpled cool sheets. He opened his eyes, blinking sleepily and looked around for Alex. Finally he saw him in the light of the window, his back to the bed, just looking outside, obviously deep in thought. However, hearing the soft rustling of the sheets, Krycek quickly turned around.

"Oh, good, you're awake. I didn't want to leave without saying good-bye."

"You're what?" Mulder was sure he hadn't heard right.

"We're leaving now, Petya and I." Krycek smiled. A warm, open smile that for the first time since Mulder had known him, reached his eyes. "Once again, thank you, for helping me get him back."

"You're what?" Mulder croaked. He tried to still his suddenly racing heart no it wasn't what it sounded like. Of course Alex had to settle Petya somewhere, make sure his nephew was safe and cared for.

"When are you coming back?" he tried to sound nonchalant and failed miserably.

Green eyes softened. "I'm not. I'm making a clean break, Mulder. It's the only way I can be sure no one finds us."

"You're what?" Mulder said for the third time.

"I mean it. I'm out of the game, Mulder. I've finally got Petya back, and nothing is going to take him from me again. If I stay," a shrug, "sooner or later they'll catch up with me. Besides, I can't drag Petya along to all those dingy motel rooms and airports, always on the run. He needs a real home, not," green eyes darkened suddenly, "what he's had until now. What I had."

Mulder bit his lip. "So what was last night about?" He tried, and failed, not to let his bitterness shine through. "Payment for Petya?"

Krycek moved across the room, and Mulder's mouth went dry at the easy, graceful sway of narrow-hips encased in faded, rough denim. He sat down on the bed. "Last night was what it was, Mulder," even the voice had changed. It was not Krycek's usual defiant sneer or whipped, remote automaton. It was warm and alive with an undercurrent of pure joy running through it, and for one piercing moment, Mulder was consumed with jealousy over whoever could cause this change in his Alex. "My way of saying thank you, for Petya yes, but most importantly, as I said yesterday, to put things right. So that both of us would know how it could have been between us. And perhaps," he admitted softly, "to make sure you'll never forget me. Forget what might have been."

He leaned across the bed, brushing his lips lightly across Mulder's in a warm, brief kiss. "Besides, I didn't think you'd take money," a rueful smile, "which is just as well because I'll need every cent I've managed to salt away to create a new life for us. I can't give you the other thing you want, Consortium secrets. It would mean yours, mine and Petya's death. So that left, this." He patted the bed then rose smoothly and picked up jacket and slung it over his shoulder while moving towards the door.

"Don't go, Alex," the whisper floated across the room.

Krycek turned, hand still on the door-handle. "I have to. Besides," green met honey-brown. "I don't love you, Mulder, not enough to risk mine, much less Petya's life."

Mulder flinched violently. "Who said anything about love?"

Emerald eyes hardened abruptly. "I see. Well, in that case, let me rephrase. No fucking, even with Fox Mulder, would ever be good enough to stay. Is that blunt enough for you?"

Mulder breathed out, intense pain slicing through him. "No, no that wasn't what I mean, Alex," he said quietly. "But you can't deny there is something between us. Something deeper than the hatred, the bitterness, even the violence."

Their eyes met, clashed and it was Krycek who looked away first. "Yes, there is, or there was." He wouldn't look at the other man; instead he spoke to the door. "Another time, another place, who knows what might have been? In the here and now..." he raised one shoulder in a mute shrug.

"Stay then, and we'll make it something else," Mulder knew he was begging, but even that couldn't stop him. He would do anything to quell the rising panic just the thought of Krycek walking out of his life forever caused.

"No," the word was soft, but firm. "No, we can't." The pain in Krycek's eyes was a living, coiled thing.

"Why not?" Mulder demanded.

Sudden anger hardened the beautiful weary face, a face that, despite its apparent youth, had seen too much. "You really don't understand, do you? You raped me, Mulder, you watched me crawl at your feet and you loved it." Mulder flinched violently. "Unless you're into some serious S&M shit, that's not the way to begin a relationship. This isn't some romance novel but real life."

Krycek dragged a hand through his hair. "I couldn't build something with you, Mulder, any more than I could have done with your father." He ignored Mulder's wince, the whitening of his face, as he said quietly, "once," he looked away, "I did think you were different, my mistake."

"Alex?" Mulder's whisper was a pleading.

"What?!" He swung around. Hand clenched.

"I'm sorry," Mulder said quietly. "I know what I did to you was unforgivable, but give me a chance to make it up to you. To make it right."

"Make it right?" He stared at Mulder and then he started to laugh helplessly, bitterly, something that could have been tears actually glittering in his eyes. "Fucking hell, you think it's that simple? You're such a naive idiot, Mulder. You have no idea where I'm coming from, the shit I've done to survive, what happens when you're nothing but a commodity to be traded or bought. He spat the words. "When you can be sold for the goodwill of a spoiled brat who still thinks daddy is the perfect man."

"I'm not saying that dad didn't deserve what you did," Mulder spoke more firmly. "But you're no saint. You can't excuse everything you've done with what he did."

It was as if Mulder's words broke something deep inside his soul, his heart. He heard himself speak of things he had never thought he'd share with another human being, much less Fox Mulder. The embittered words spilled from his lips in a sudden flood of venom. "Yeah, I've killed, Mulder, and I've whored and lied and I've kept faith with no man. Is that what you want to hear? You know what? Not until you've walked a mile in my shoes do you have any right to say a fucking word about what I've done." He paused, then asked abruptly, "do you remember that first night, when I begged you not to cuff me?"

Mulder bit his lip, and nodded silently.

"Remember how surprised you were that I would beg? That I would fucking lick your feet?" The smile was laced with a deadly bitterness. "Sticks and stones, Mulder. I've done worse, much, much worse to survive than just mouth words. Pride, honesty, integrity, they're just that; words. They're extravagances someone like me can't afford." Coldly, he added, "You've always been so quick to judge. To condemn me for what I am. It's so easy for you. You'll never know what it's like to scream 'no!' and have no one listen, or worse, just laugh. To have someone pound his cock into your ass tearing everything apart. To be treated like a fucking piece of meat."

He took a deep, shuddering breath, visibly controlling himself. "Do you know what it's like to be gang-raped by two men at the same time, Mulder? To have a man stuff his cock down your throat until you can't breathe? To be fifteen and tied over a table while everyone who wants helps himself to a piece of you? Until the only reality is the agonizing burn in your ass, the blood running down your thighs. To *have* no value, except as a possession to be traded and used. To continue working for the man who killed Petya's mother, who murdered the one thing that made my miserable life worthwhile. To smile and crawl and kiss the ass of the man who owns you, because of a promise once made."

He didn't even try and hide his searing bitterness. "Father and son Mulder both taught me how to do that, and they taught me real well. Kinda funny actually, I've never been had by a father *and* his son. Not that I had much choice, in either case. You know what? Screw you, *Fox*! You don't know shit!"

"Alex ..." Mulder whispered, feeling sick.

Krycek shook his head, breathing hard, as he bit his lip regaining control over himself. When next he spoke some of the anger had left his voice. "I've been a commodity for most of my life, Mulder. For my gun or my ass, or both. I want," he stopped, as a strange smile twisted his lips, "everything you take for granted and never even think about. I want to live in the light. I want to be," he laughed shortly, "respectable."

The look he gave the man in the bed held a strange pity. "You're so fucking selfish, you can't imagine that anyone else can suffer, can lose, as much or more than you have. You think everything revolves around you. You lost Samantha yes, but you still had your parents, you still had your life, your school, your freedom, your soul. You still had *yourself*."

The beautiful, husky voice carried a deadly calm. "You tell me, Mulder, what would you have done if you knew they had Samantha and she was a hostage to your behavior."

"I guess," Mulder whispered feeling Krycek's words strike him like deadly arrows, causing invisible wounds that would never heal, "I'd have done what you did. Whatever it took to keep her alive."

Alex stared at him for a moment, and then turned away. "Funny, that should help, but it doesn't." He took a deep, careful breath, "Good bye, Mulder, I wish I could say it's been a pleasure knowing you."

He walked out, closing the door behind him.

"We're leaving now, Petya and I, he's waiting in the car." Krycek paused. "Thanks for the help, Scully. If there is ever anything I can do for you..."

Scully put down the newspaper she'd been reading while drinking a cup of coffee in the motel dining room. She nodded, unsurprised and even a little relieved by his decision. In time even Mulder would understand that this was the best, and perhaps the only way it could be. "He's a great kid, take care of him, Krycek." She frowned, "you know, he reminds me of someone, besides you I mean, but I don't know who."

The weariness was smoothed away in a smile. "It'll come to you. Look, you don't have to worry about him. I'm getting out of the business. No fear." He hesitated, "Scully? Look after yourself, and Mulder."

She gave him a long look. "Are you going to tell me you care what happens to Mulder?"

He laughed softly, "Yeah, I think I am. He's important, Scully. If you keep backing him up, who knows how far you'll manage to dig? To be honest, I'd give anything to see the Consortium go down hard."

She nodded, hearing in Krycek's words an echo of her own level pragmatism. "I understand." Still, curiosity drove her to ask, "and you don't resent him, because of... " she wasn't sure how to finish the sentence so he did it for her.

"For raping me? For making a deal with the old smoker to be his fucktoy?" he shook his head. "I've been raped before, and treated worse than Mulder ever could on his worst day. In the end, what matters is that you don't let them win." He hesitated, and then gave her a sudden gamin grin reminding her irresistibly of the old cocky Krycek. "Besides, I could never hate Petya's brother."

He was gone before she could say another word.

THE END

More Notes:

This is my first slashfic. I know most people start off with something a little gentler and lighter. But this story actually grew out of thoughts I had while reading a lot of M/K slash. While there are plenty of fics out there that portray a less than nice Krycek, there are few fics where Mulder is the not-nice part. There are, of course some shining exceptions, like Sylvia's brilliant and haunting 'Betrayal,' but generally, if anyone is not-nice, it's Krycek. Now, I'm a very Krycek-centric reader and writer - heck, I still write it, Krycek/Mulder <g> and I started to wonder what would happen if you twisted the perspective a little and Mulder made a deal with our cigarette-smoking friend, to get his hands on Krycek....

The second thread in this story came about because I have always assumed that Krycek did kill Bill Mulder, and I wondered what would make Mulder accept the killing.

The third point was that Scully is too often portrayed in slash as a vengeful cold bitch and Mulder has to protect Krycek from her. Scully has no reason to hate Krycek, not as Mulder did, so I wanted to portray a slightly more sympathetic Scully.

I know that not everyone will agree with the ending, but after reading rapefics, something struck me as rather odd. Too many of them, no matter who raped who, ended up with the rapist and the rapee picking out curtain patterns. I wanted an ending where Mulder had to face what he had done and live with the consequences.