By Viridian5
Thu, 2 Jul 1998 00:40:26 EDT

RATING: NC-17. If m/m interaction bothers you, you don't know what you're missing.
SPOILERS: "Anasazi," "Paper Clip," "Travelers"
SUMMARY: The road trip from hell.
DISCLAIMERS: All things X-Files belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen, and 20th Century Fox. "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley. "I Only Have Eyes for You" by the Flamingos. The teen railroad death song is "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning. I'm just sharing and not making a cent off any of this, I swear! No infringement intended. Suing me would be a waste of time and a mean thing to do. I have no money. At all.
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, as long as you ask me first.
FEEDBACK: Would you? That would be great. All feedback can be sent to Viridian5@aol.com or Viridian5@altavista.net
I have a punny reference in here for Alicia. I wonder if she'll notice it...

By Viridian5

"What a wicked game you play
To make me feel this way
What a wicked thing to do
To let me dream of you"
- "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak


As streams of sweat flowed down his skin, Alex couldn't believe he'd chosen a car with no air conditioning. It had been the best looking specimen parked on the street, but Alex supposed he should have known that the best car in White Trash, Pennsylvania wouldn't be that great. Between the noisy, sluggish engine and the lack of A/C in a 90-degree heat wave, this piece of junk hadn't been worth the two minutes it took to hot-wire it. It also stank of cigarette smoke, making Alex crave one with a strength he usually spent on more important things.

Even at 7 pm, the wind that came in through the four open windows baked him. It didn't feel much different from the wind that came off the car explosion he'd escaped two weeks ago. Pushing the accelerator to 85 miles an hour didn't have the cooling effect he'd hoped for, but he no longer dealt with still, stifling air. At least the car had a radar detector that worked.

It also, to his great relief, had a working tape player, and he had cassettes in his knapsack. The only five radio stations that came in clearly in this mountainous, backwater part of the state were country/western. That should be illegal.

Alex looked over at his passenger. Mulder still hadn't come to. Alex saw no signs of concussion when he'd last checked, but an hour of unconsciousness worried him. In a few minutes he would try to wake his former partner up.

With all the blows to the head Mulder took, you'd think his head would rattle when he moved. Alex couldn't help contributing.

Mulder's head rested on the open window, so the wind blew through his sweat-damp hair. One of the advantages of this old car was the sturdy, very well-anchored door handle, which Alex had looped his former partner's handcuffs around. Alex admitted to himself that it may not have been very adult of him to kick Mulder a few times after he'd pistol-whipped him into unconsciousness--it was a waste of effort to kick a man who couldn't feel it--but at least he'd been kind enough to take Mulder's suit jacket off before starting the trip. It felt good returning some of the interest from the last beating he'd taken.

Alex still wondered if he would have been better off leaving Mulder in the street, but the Consortium, for now at least, wanted the federal agent alive, which made him both a valuable bargaining chip and great human shield. Mulder had nearly delayed Alex from making an escape from the Consortium operatives, so it was only right that the federal agent made up for it this way.

Alex grabbed his former partner's leg and shook it. "Mulder!" he shouted.

Mulder came back to consciousness sluggishly, but his eyes gradually cleared and showed a potent combination of rage and pain. "Where the hell am I?" he rasped. Sweat glistened on his skin and made the swollen black-purple bruise on his forehead sparkle.

"You're the one who jumped me."

"You're a wanted criminal, *and* I caught you hot-wiring a car." His eyes burned hotter. "And you killed my father. I'm in the right."

"Whatever makes you happy," Alex answered sweetly and grinned as Mulder realized that he had been cuffed to the door.

To Alex's shock, the federal agent pulled against the door handle in a frenzy. The sound of metal striking metal and leather couldn't hide the small animal noises of frustration and panic Mulder made. Blood quickly started to well up from his cuffed wrists, and Alex had the sudden desire to capture one and suck on it.

Instead, he grabbed a hank of Mulder's damp hair and held the agent's head in place. It was hard to keep control of him and drive at the same time, but Alex had many talents. "You should stop that. You're only hurting yourself."

"This doesn't make me happy," Mulder said dully as the panic started to clear from his eyes.

"Such is life."

"Where are we?"

"Near Exit 29 on I-80 in Pennsylvania. Mile Run, I believe."

"Why didn't you just clock me and leave me?"

Alex couldn't help leering. "I have uses for you."

Mulder's face didn't change as he resisted taking the bait. "You couldn't steal a car with air conditioning?"

"Oh, shut up." Alex noticed that Mulder had the oddest expression on his face. "What?"

"I want a cigarette." From the way he said it, with such surprise and wanting, it must have slipped out by accident. Mulder looked away.

Alex stared at him, then said, "Maybe we can do something about that."

"In exchange for what? I'm not playing this game."

"The only way to stop playing the game is to die, Mulder. I don't think you're ready for that yet."

After that Mulder stayed quiet until Alex pulled off the highway at Exit 22. Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania rested on one of the highest altitudes in the whole state, making it slightly cooler but still currently hot enough to render the name ironic. In winter the natives probably dealt with snow up to their asses. Alex would have preferred that.

"Where are we going?" Mulder asked.

Alex had a sudden image of a younger Mulder driving his parents to homicide with endless questions. "We're stopping for gas and supplies. *You're* staying in the car." He stopped the car in a truck stop parking lot.

"Like hell I am."

With lightning speed Alex grabbed Mulder by the hair and rammed his head against the dashboard, knocking him out cold. The former agent eased Mulder back against the seat and, with some amusement, posed him so the older man looked like he was sleeping. A person walking by would have to come right up to the door to see the cuffed hands.

No choice really. Mulder would be trouble any other way. That Alex enjoyed doing it had almost no bearing on his decision. Almost.

Mulder always looked different and younger when unconscious. Innocent. Sweet. Sexy, especially with the gleam of sweat on his skin and even with all the bruises. Though the bruises did something for Alex too... Vulnerable. Alex licked a drop of sweat off Mulder's temple and told himself he did it just because he could, not out of any sentiment or need.

Definitely time to get out of the car.

When Alex walked inside, the air conditioning hit him like a wall of dry ice, such an intense contrast after the heat that he almost felt ill. He chose a cooler, a bag of ice, some cold hoagies, some ice cream, and a few drinks. The last man who tried to kill him would be picking up the bill. When he reached the counter, Alex saw row upon row of cigarette packs.

The cold and the thought of cigarettes briefly brought his mind back to Russia. Everyone smoked there. Alex had quit for his new life in the United States. He was one of those people who could step on and off the nicotine train at will, although he admitted that the fact he kept stepping back on suggested he wasn't as free from addiction as he liked to think. He'd loved the feel of the smoke diffusing through his body. The stench in the car had awakened the craving.

//I don't need them. I just want them. That's different.//

When Alex paid for his supplies, he also bought a pack.

The heat smacked him like a giant hand when he walked out. He felt light-headed and a little ill, but he couldn't do anything about the weather. Alex thought of snow and walked to the car with his bags.

Nothing was working out lately. His superiors had set him the task of keeping an eye on the American end of the Consortium. //"We can't trust them not to stab us in the back and make a separate peace, Sasha."// But he hadn't gotten anyone to trust him with important information. He'd thought his assignment babysitting Mulder would lead to better things, but that had gone sour through no fault of his own. Then the Americans had tried to just sweep him aside like trash. They hadn't even bothered to do a professional job on that car bomb. Very insulting.

//So, what now? I can't go back a failure...// Alex set thoughts of the future aside for later.

Alex put the bags on the front seat and checked on Mulder, who was still out cold. Even unconscious, the older man looked uncomfortably hot. //Can't have that, can we?// Alex removed the ghastly paisley tie and started to unbutton Mulder's shirt. The agent didn't have an undershirt on. One button, two buttons, three buttons... //Are we going to stop, Sasha?

//I'm doing him a favor. Yeah, he just looks so uncomfortable.

//And unconscious, and vulnerable, and sexy...

//Whatever.// Four buttons, five buttons, six buttons, seven, eight, nine. He pulled the shirt out of Mulder's pants and fanned the wet linen out a bit. Alex hovered over Mulder's bare, glistening chest with his brain a total blank. He watched one perfect bead of sweat slowly roll down pale skin and bit his lip. Hard.

//The shirt's off, Sasha... you can stop now...

//But he's *sweating*//

Alex caught Mulder's scent, a heady mix of sweat and that indefinable *something* he associated with his former partner. It mingled with the smell of his own arousal, and his brain flashed helplessly to an image of Mulder's bare ass impaled on his cock, the older man moving the way he wanted him to, writhing in mindless pleasure.

//This is not who I am now. I'm in control of my wants; my wants don't control me.

//But all this drops in my lap, and I shouldn't touch?// Alex stared down helplessly at the treat fate had thrown at him. //I was much more fun back in Russia.//

The bead of sweat continued its unstoppable path toward Mulder's navel, hesitating just at the rim. Alex couldn't help himself. He ducked in under Mulder's arms and used one long, leisurely stroke of his tongue to lick it away. Salt and skin and moving flesh beneath him...

Mulder's head started to move back and forth, as if he struggled against something, and he muttered, "No, please, no."

Definitely not the reaction Alex wanted. It also seemed to be waking Mulder up, and Alex still had to pump the gas. With great regret and a supreme act of will, Alex pulled away.

Once he'd filled the car up and put his goodies in the now ice-filled cooler, Alex got back onto the highway. In five more minutes, Mulder came to. "You son of a bitch!" Mulder shouted before he rested his head back against the seat with a dazed sound of pain.

"You shouldn't move too quickly."

"You bastard. And how did my shirt get unbuttoned?"

"Well, either I did it, or it's an X-File." Alex laughed at the venom in Mulder's eyes. "You looked hot, so I tried to make you more comfortable."

Mulder shivered a little. "I always get worried when you turn helpful."

"I have food and drinks, Mulder. I even got an iced tea for you. You don't want to dehydrate."

"Go to hell, Krycek. I'm not playing along with you."

//What's going on here?// "It's your funeral."

Mulder quickly started to annoy the hell out of Alex. The agent refused food and drinks without a word, just a curt shake of the head. Despite his obvious suffering, he refused to take anything Alex offered. The younger man finally reached a point where he effusively praised the drinks and sandwiches as he consumed them, making conspicuous sounds of enjoyment just to watch Mulder squirm.

As the sun started to descend in a bright, rainbow sherbet sky, Alex had to adjust his sun visor to rescue his eyes from the blinding ball of red-orange fire in front of him. When Alex turned his head, he saw Mulder trying to escape the light, too, so he adjusted his former partner's sun visor. "Thanks," Mulder said softly, then looked horrified at himself.

But it didn't prove to be the victory Alex expected it to be, because Mulder didn't say anything else. Thirty minutes later, as a deep blue twilight slowly settled over the world and the younger man felt a silent Mulder getting on his last nerve, Alex took out the pack of cigarettes. He peeled the plastic away and opened the box, taking a moment to savor the smell. He didn't intend to do this again for a while, so he had to enjoy it while it lasted. He lit the cigarette and soon felt that lovely head rush and pleasurable tingling through his whole body. The smoke diffused through him until he slowly blew it out. Sometimes he thought it was worth it to kick the habit, just to experience that wonderful first-cigarette-after-the-long-exile feeling.

When Mulder made a small sound, Alex turned to look at him. The older man looked jittery and anxious. His eyes followed every move the coffin nail made in Alex's mouth. He couldn't be more obviously in need of a nic fix.

Alex smiled. "You sure you don't want one, Mulder?"

Mulder shook his head but still watched with a dazed, hungry look as Alex went through a few more cigarettes in front of him over the next two hours. At first the stare bothered Alex, but it soon started to arouse him, despite the fact that Mulder was lusting after his cigs, not him. //But I intend to change that...//

"Are you sure you don't want one?" Alex asked, and got another head shake from his passenger. He put the box away and grinned at Mulder's heartbroken expression.

Night fell softly with the odd deep blue-white brilliance only a full moon could give it. Alex couldn't help being touched by a certain sense of wonder at seeing shadows at night. Living in the artificial light of cities made full moon nights just like any other. Out in the middle of no man's land, the moon made a difference between total darkness and illumination.

The air slowly cooled to something more livable, and Alex slowed the car down to the legal speed of 55 miles an hour. But two hours later, when he put his foot on the accelerator, he got no power. The car started to make terrible struggling noises. "Oh, shit, not now. We're in the middle of nowhere," Alex muttered.

"What's going on?" Mulder asked.

//Sure, a crisis gets him talking again.// "Everything's fine, Mulder."

"That doesn't sound like 'fine.' It sounds like the transmission."

Then the car lurched forward in a rush of power before going dead. "Shit!" Alex managed to coast the car onto the right shoulder. He turned off the car and tried to restart five times. Each time he got the battery to go on, but the ignition refused to do anything other than make a little noise. "God damn it!"

"As far as getaways go, I've seen you do a lot better, Krycek."

"That does it!" Alex got out of the car, stomped over to the passenger side, and yanked the front door open. Since he had Mulder handcuffed to it, Mulder came flying out too and got dragged along the ground. "You have been nothing but--"

Mulder kicked him in the groin. When the younger man folded in on himself in pain, Mulder kicked him in the head, knocking him onto his back. As Alex tried to move past the agony and get up, the older man tried to pull the door handle loose in a fit of berserker strength. Alex threw himself at his former partner and put him in a sleeper hold, cutting off the oxygen to Mulder's brain, such as it was, and taking the fight out of him.

Which left Alex with Mulder's back pressed up against him and long elegant neck under his arms as Mulder gasped and tried to move. The thoughts that followed sent a stab of pain through his abused groin. //I'm going to do something about this later, I swear.//

"Where did you think you would go?" Alex asked as he shook Mulder the way a cat shook a mouse. "We're in the middle of nowhere, 10 miles from any exit, with only woods and mountains nearby."

"Get. The. Cuffs. Off," Mulder gasped.

"I can't do that when you pull stunts like this."

Mulder quivered in his arms. "I'm not going to let you make me feel responsible for this."

"Whatever. I'm going to use your phone to try to call a tow. I could either keep you cuffed to the door or keep you cuffed but loose around the car. More freedom if you're good, Mulder. Which will it be?"

Mulder swallowed. "Please, uncuff me from the door."

"Do you promise to behave? You'll just get yourself killed trying to escape here."

"I... promise."

Mulder sat still as Alex uncuffed one wrist and brought it away from the handle, then put the cuff back on. Mulder moved and stretched his arms in a careful manner that suggested great pain. He had been forced to keep himself in one position for hours.

//I'm not going to feel bad for you.// "Good boy. Now I'll find you someplace to sit while I call someone to get us out of here."

Forty-five minutes and two cigarettes later, Alex cursed and threw the phone down onto the front seat. None of the towing companies the operator had listed for him were still open. He'd tried nine and heard nothing other than an endlessly ringing phone at each number. //Jethro has to get home early, so I'm screwed?//

He shouldn't have had those cigs in such a short time after his long time away. He felt high and vaguely nauseous. //My God, I'm either gonna puke or come in my pants. I feel like I'm gonna die. This is wonderful.//

Then the cassette player stopped working. When Alex hit eject, streamers of crumpled tape came flying out. The fucking thing had eaten one of his favorite cassettes, and he refused to test its gaping maw with another. Back to the radio, then. //I'm in hell.//

He flipped past four country stations before he heard the King singing, "You ain't nothin' but a Hound Dog / Cryin' all the time /Well, you ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine..." Mulder laughed. Alex decided that he had a winner.

Alex walked to the back of the car and stared down at Mulder, who had stretched out across the trunk of the car. The car was old enough that it still had a large tail section. Mulder was lying on his back, legs dangling over the side below his knees, with his arms extended to their full length as he tried to bring some life back into them. His hands clenched and unclenched above the cuffs. He raised his hips occasionally. //I'm going to have to do something about this soon.//

"No luck, huh?" Mulder's eyes gleamed oddly.

Alex decided that his former partner had gone into another manic phase. "You're really getting on my nerves, Mulder, and this is even after I gave you a blanket to lie on."

"Forgive me. I'll try to be more pleasant the next time you kidnap me and knock me around."

//At least he's talking again.// Alex boosted himself onto the trunk to sit beside Mulder. The older man was having a hard time sitting up without rolling off the car, so Alex gave him a helping hand.

As they sat in silence again, Alex noticed that the air was rich with the thick sweetness of clover and the tart, tomato-like scent of freshly mowed grace from the median. They couldn't drown out the subtle scent of the man he sat so close to. //Horny, much, Alex?//

"Oh, damn, they're playing that song about that girl who got hit by a train and went to heaven, probably to get away from her boyfriend. I can take morbid, but insipidly sweet morbid is more than I can deal with," Mulder said. "Let me guess, you can't get a tow truck out here."

"No tow truck for me to steal, no."

"You wouldn't want it. They're slow as hell."

"But they vibrate so nicely."

"I'm not touching that one. Where were you trying to go? I imagine you'd have to stop before you hit the Pacific."

"That's for me to know, Mulder."

"You stink, Krycek."

"So you've said before."

"You've been smoking." Mulder tried to wriggle away.

Krycek gripped his arm. It felt hotter than it should, somehow. "I've had enough of this. Sit." Incredibly, Mulder actually sat there as told. Maybe Alex had succeeded in training him to associate escape attempts with blows to the head and loss of oxygen. //World, you can thank me later.//

As much as it nauseated him, Alex put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. Just when Mulder started to relax, Alex removed it and put it into his former partner's mouth. Mulder's lips pursed around it with the strength a baby would probably use for its mother's nipple. Alex tried and failed to stop thinking about other things Mulder could wrap his lips around.

The older man actually shuddered and closed his eyes as he breathed in. The full moon's light left half of Mulder face washed in blue and the other half in shadow. His white shirt glowed only slightly more than his pale skin. Working the X-Files had made Mulder a creature of darkness and fluorescent light. //He needs to get out in the sun more.

//Are *we* going to make him?//

Instead, Alex asked, "I didn't know you smoked."

Mulder brought his cuffed hands up to hold the cigarette. "For a year and a half. It was a low time in my life. With all the profilers I knew who smoked, it was a cliche for me to start to, but..." Mulder suddenly looked distant.

"What?" Alex finally asked.

"I didn't start because of them. Did you ever hear about Bobby McCain case?"

"Yeah, everybody did. Are you trying to tell me that you were the profiler on that one?" Alex wanted to keep Mulder talking. //If I'd known that all I had to do was get him smoking...//

"The anonymous FBI agent. Yeah."

"They kept your name out of the news."

"There was a good reason why. McCain kidnapped me. He wanted me after he hacked his way into the bureau's computers and found my profile of him. He wasn't the genius movie serial killers are, but he was an incredible hacker.

"He never understood why he did the things he did. Killed people and embalmed them. Ate their organs. That sort of thing. My insights into his character stunned him.

"So he kidnapped me, seriously wounding my partner in the process. When I came to, I knew I had to be very careful. Anything could set him off, and my profile of him pegged him as the type to booby-trap his home. If I wanted to live, I had to play along with him. After the first week I convinced him to take the cuffs off. The bureau rescued me at the end of the second."

"Are you saying--"

"I went Stockholm. I personally led two of the rescuing agents into traps. They had to keep me... in restraints. And there was Bobby, confused about why they arrested him. After all, he would never have to kill again. 'I have Fox now,' he said, 'and Fox will never leave me.'" Even Mulder's voice changed on the last. He blew a perfect smoke ring and followed it with another. They swirled in the odd light until they slowly disintegrated.

"Because you 'played his game.'" Now it made sense.

"It took five months of therapy to get me back on active duty and another year to kick the smoking habit I started while I was with him." Mulder held the cigarette in his cuffed hands. The orange flare at the end bounced as his hands shook. "This is a symbol of so many things I don't want any part of." He stubbed it out on the car's roof and tossed it onto the highway.

Alex didn't know if it had been the smoke rings or the shaking hands, but he couldn't hold back any longer. He grabbed Mulder and kissed him before pushing him back into a prone position. Stretched out and with his arms pushed over his head again, Mulder looked like a ritual sacrifice laid out on the altar of one of those ancient South American cultures that ripped out the hearts of its victims.

For a few blissful moments, Mulder melted compliantly against him. Of course it didn't last. "We're not doing this," he gasped.

"You need this as badly as I do." As Alex straddled Mulder, he heard, "My love must be a kind of blind love / I can't see anyone but you" from the radio. "It must be fate, Mulder." It fascinated Alex to feel part of Mulder acquiesce so shamelessly while another fought. "This isn't about you and your guilt or you and your past, this is about you and me."

"There is no 'you and me.' There's you and then me, and in a perfect world the two would never meet," Mulder gasped but ground his hips against Alex's.

"There's been a 'you and me' from the moment you met me. For a man who claims to be looking for the truth, you have some gift for self-delusion. You have to learn to accept what you can't change and get on with your life."

The headlights of a passing truck briefly spotlighted them. "We can't do this here!" Mulder said.

Alex smiled at the surrender implicit in that statement. "Sure we can." Letting the leisurely speed of the song set his pace, Alex laid claim to the body under him with slow touches from his hands and lips. Under the odd illumination, Mulder became all blue light and shadows, a striped animal growling and purring under Alex's attentions.

"The moon may be high, But I can't see a thing in the sky. 'Cause I only have eyes for you..."

"Doo wop, shoo wop," Alex sang with a grin into Mulder's neck. The older man, who gave off a furnace's heat, shivered against him.

"You're insane, Krycek."

"You're here too. Should I stop?" Alex started to undo his captive's pants.

"Yes. No. Oh--"

Alex wrenched the pants and underwear down, exposing Mulder to the cool night air, and pulled off his own. The older man spread his legs obligingly as he panted, "Please."

Alex couldn't believe how much he needed this as he stroked Mulder's hard cock for lubrication. //No, I don't need him. I just want him. That's different.//

"You are here, so am I. Maybe millions of people go by, But they all disappear from view, And I only have eyes for you..."

It didn't take much to bring Mulder over, just a few hard, expert strokes. His whole body shuddered as he came with a strangled sound. //I wonder how long it's been for him?// Alex slicked himself with Mulder's juices and asked, "Do you want this?" //He better want this.// Without waiting for an answer, his slippery fingers teased his former partner's puckered opening as he lubricated it. He knew how Mulder would respond.

"Yes, please..." The light of another set of passing headlights revealed a Mulder utterly abandoned in lust, body loose, lips slack, eyes sparkling and dazed, hands clenching and unclenching above the cuffs. Beautiful, and obviously ready.

Alex plunged into him and immediately set a hard, fast rhythm. Mulder locked his legs around the younger man and writhed against him. As Alex thrust over and over, he kissed whatever flesh he could reach and tasted salt. Mulder's inner muscles contracted around his former partner's cock. //You're going to break me... I never knew you could make such incredible sounds. Oh, God.// The next squeeze made Alex feel like he'd shattered into a million pieces as he exploded into Mulder.

Alex rolled to the side and collapsed, only then coming close to falling off the car. //Irony. Yeah, it would be great to break my fool neck now.// He kissed Mulder, who sighed and curled up against him. //Keep this in mind for next time. Mulder's very nice to deal with when you've just fucked him. Although I really think I need to do much more research. Much, much more.//

Alex saw red and blue flashing lights coming in fast in the distance. At first they meant nothing to him. When his brain came back on line, a bolt of fear shot through him. //Oh, shit.//



"The state police are coming. We have to get presentable, pronto."

"I have one little problem. My hands are cuffed. Makes it hard to dress myself." For all the tartness of Mulder's reply, he sounded a little fuzzed.

Alex cursed as he quickly cleaned up and dressed first Mulder and then himself. Under other circumstances, he'd enjoy this. He finished zipping up his jeans as the car pulled up behind theirs. The cops had arrived too damned quickly. Given a choice and the opportunity, Alex would have hidden himself and Mulder in the woods rather than take the chance that the staties would realize he'd stolen the car.

As the two officers--both tall, blond, burly Slavic types--walked up to Alex, he quickly fabricated his story, but he could swear that he'd forgotten something. "We're so glad to see you. We can't get the car started or contact a tow. My friend got knocked around when we lost control. Could you give us a ride?"

One of the cops walked past him to stand next to Mulder, who sat slumped on the rear bumper looking exhausted. The agent had his bruised head down and his hands wedged between his knees... The cuffs. Mulder still wore handcuffs. //Oh, shit.// Right now the officer wouldn't see them, but if he forced Mulder to move... //They'll never believe that I'm in law enforcement now. If I was, I would have identified myself as such and Mulder as my prisoner from the beginning. Shit!

//Mulder doesn't look well. What's going on?// Alex couldn't help fidgeting as he fought the urge to try to distract the man away from Mulder, which would look too suspicious.

The officer put his hand to Mulder's forehead. The fact that the agent didn't stop him said a lot for Mulder's physical state. "I think your friend could use a doctor. Looks like heat stroke and dehydration." The cop reached for his wrist, and Alex already started to surreptitously move toward the tree line. //Shit, shit, shit! There goes my ride... But at least they'll take care of Mulder.//

The cuffs gleamed in the moonlight as Mulder's arms came up. The policeman wasted a moment reacting in surprise before drawing his gun and turning toward Alex, who had taken advantage of that hesitation to bolt for the woods. He heard the cops shout at him to stop but ignored them.

Alex fought the urge to look back. He had learned long ago to never look back. It was pointless. He would just move on, as always.


Mulder had been staring at the ceiling but noticed Alex the moment the younger man walked into the room. "The service sucks, and the bed's hard, but they have a nice big-screen TV," Mulder said. "If you want to beat my head in again, I can't do much to stop you." When he moved his arm the IV line rattled a little against the metal bed frame. He looked exhausted and a bit ill.

"That's not what I'm here for." //Why *am* I here? He looks awful. Still attractive, but awful. Damn, that doesn't make any sense.// Alex had to look away. //So this is guilt. I don't like it much. And it's not my fault! I tried to take care of him, and he wouldn't let me.// Alex closed the door to the private room. The near darkness of the room wrapped around him. "Why didn't you tell me you were suffering? Why did you let yourself get this way?"

"I didn't want you to get a hold over me." Mulder sighed. "I failed. You look tired, Krycek. How did you find me?"

"I had a rough night, followed by a rough day. A truck driver finally picked me up, and I convinced him to listen on the police band. Wasn't hard. It's amazing how much they say over the air." Alex sat on the edge of the bed and stroked a lock of hair out of Mulder's eyes. The older man let him. "How long are they keeping you for?"

"Not much longer. They're almost satisfied that I'm rehydrated enough. They're keeping me mostly for observation." He closed his eyes. "I can't sleep here, not even with the TV on."

Alex settled onto the bed beside him and gathered him close. Mulder melted against him but said, "They check on me now and then."

"I'll keep watch. Get some rest."

"I always worry when you turn helpful."

"If you didn't worry, *I* would worry."

Mulder laughed softly. In half a minute he drifted off to sleep. Alex stayed awake and stared at the door. The jitters he felt all day had faded. He'd gotten his fix. //Another need... what happens when this gets taken away from me, too? And it will. What happens when Mulder returns to normal?//

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxTHE ENDxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Strange what desire will make foolish people do"
- "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak