Softly Come Evening

by Flutesong

SOFTLY COME EVENING
By Flutesong

Email/Feedback: Flutesong@hegalplace.com

Keywords: M/K Slash

Spoilers: Assume all episodes thru The Red and The Black - then AU

Rating: NC-17 - m/m sexual situations and profanity

Summary: Truth is Love Mulder POV

Warning: M/K SLASH

Notes: Dedicated to Marcia Elena who believes that M and K 'LURVE' each other. Thank you Mars and Thank You Deb for the excellent BETA.

Disclaimer: CC and 1013 tried to prevent these characters from going on their rightful path (They OWN them) but this is my attempt to correct that grievous mistake.

SOFTLY COME EVENING

PROLOGUE - PLANS FOR THE EVENING

Mulder watched the leaves swirl and float in mini cyclones as the wind rushed its first breath of fall across the park.

He thought about the changing seasons and setting the clock to accommodate the daylight. Spring Forward then Fall Back. Well, he had certainly sprung forward time and time again. He had always looked forward to the extension of daylight every May and the possibilities of a pickup game of baseball or basketball after work.

This year was different. Fall Back and cool crisp light from a flaming yellow autumn morning sun blinding his morning commute east from Alexandria over the Wilson Bridge into DC.

When had he become a morning person? Suddenly preferring the clear light of day to the mystery and seduction of shadowed secrets and truths found in dank, mossy millimeters between rock and earth?

Had the change in him evolved as the evidence of the conspiracy came closer and closer to light in unexplained burning flames and scorched bodies? Undeniable that 'something' more was at stake than his personal axe ground down to dull disbelief in the face of Scully's unfathomable illness and miraculous recovery offered as faith and not proof?

Or had the evolution from unknowing to known become clear, at last, in his perpetually shadowed apartment late one afternoon when the darkest personal inhabitant of those mysterious millimeters knocked him down and said the dreaded denied words that alien war and global destruction itself was at hand.

At hand.

One hand.

Proof undeniable that his was not the only 'self' to pay damages in loss and life and limb.

Wasn't the maxim true that the vengeance of an eye for an eye made the whole world eventually blind to any light of forgiveness, peace or for enemies to join in mutual resistance?

He sat and watched the Gunmen work as they downloaded yet another email attachment to the growing file of interconnected human/alien conspiratorial evidence amassing, as if by magic, from the hand of the one remaining source of verifiable information who signed each untraceable communication, simply, AKA Ratbastard.

Mulder insisted a way must be found to meet with Krycek. After much complaining the Gunmen agreed that a personal ad in their newsletter would be the only way to go. They were intensely curious themselves how Krycek managed to circumvent each and every strategy they came up with to trace his whereabouts.

Plans for a meet ensued.

They went surprisingly quickly, and without a fuss.

Mulder was the one to guarantee Scully and Skinner would be kept in the dark, thinking this would make Krycek feel more secure. Krycek replied that it was in Mulder's hands. Either Scully or Skinner would have to arrest him, which would ensure his demise. He reasoned that after all the years there was still nothing to arrest him on or they would have to kill him outright. Neither possibility worried him too much. Time, Krycek said in his email, was finite in any case, for him personally and for everyone else, if steps were not taken soon to prevent the coming invasion.

Mulder was not amused by the extent of Krycek's newfound pragmatism, and replied waspishly that at this point, Krycek would be of no use at all dead.

Krycek replied that he was glad to be useful, and was certainly willing to wait awhile longer for the final solution to his fate.

Mulder was even less amused when he discerned that Krycek was not kidding.

Krycek replied one last time confirming the arrangements, and said he 'lived' only to please Mulder.

Mulder replied that he wasn't 'pleased' yet, and would believe that Krycek was willing when he had all his answers.

Mulder was secretly relieved that Krycek seemed to be back to trading off-color sarcastic comments. This was far more believable of the Krycek he knew.

DINNER

They met in an Arlington Bar named the Brewed Over, one of the newer chi-chi microbreweries that had sprung up on every other corner. Nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks.

Mulder sat on a backless bench, his shoulders up against the rough brick wall. The exit to the restrooms and the rear door on his right was a few feet further along the wall. The large plate glass window on his left gave him a view of the corner, and all ways of approaching the front door of the bar.

He saw Krycek come out of the Ballston Metro street level escalator and walk towards the bar.

It was a raw, rainy November evening that hovered on the cusp of sleet. The Thursday night rush hour had extended itself past seven due to slick streets, short tempers and the snarl of traffic, which stopped, started, honked, and cursed its way toward hearth and home.

Mulder watched Krycek approach. He noted the stiff left hand stuck in the pocket of the dark blue pea coat, and the way Krycek walked; head up, alert and balanced as if ready to break into a sprint at the least provocation.

In the light blue wash of evening light and the staccato bursts of yellow headlights through the stinging rain Mulder saw that, even from a distance, Krycek looked more worn and older than he'd ever seemed before.

There was neither a saunter nor a smirk visible as Krycek neared the corner of the bar. He simply walked apace with the others the metro had disgorged onto the street. He was just another person on his way either to or from somewhere. In any case, he was another 'someone' not yet at a stopping place.

Mulder was tired too. Would a stopping place ever be available for him?

Both Scully and Skinner's moment of 'aliens being the more plausible explanation' had quickly dissipated in their more immediate reality of dozens of burned bodies and no apparently arrest-able perpetrators. Even now, Kersh was slowly seducing Scully away from the mind numbing exercises of background checks and the possibility of returning to the X Files with more and more assignments to teach and lecture forensics at Quantico, law enforcement seminars and conventions.

He had come to realize that in the months since Weikamp, Krycek had been supplying him with clear concise information, and in several cases, entire contents of previous X Files that he had thought were now only ashes. Information was proffered unadorned by innuendo or subterfuge sent in emails from various cyber cafes and libraries to the Lone Gunmen address printed in their newsletter. Always signed, just as simply, from AKA Ratbastard.

The invitation to meet had come from Mulder. He'd published the 'personal ad ' in the Lone Gunmen newsletter to AKA Ratbastard asking to meet and Krycek had, with seemingly no hesitation, agreed to Mulder's choice of date, time, and place.

Watching Krycek approach, Mulder realized that his hate for this enemy was tempered by time, loss, and irony.

Time, because he now knew the black and white world of right and wrong was a younger man's fantasy.

Loss, because he now knew there would never be a winner in these games. Only survivors, if they were so lucky.

Irony, because his enemy, this enemy, had believed all along that survival was enough, and dreams were for other men.

Mulder holstered the gun he had been aiming under the table at the empty seat. He was tired of shooting at mirages and phantoms, whether they bled red or oozed green.

The pale man with exhaustion bruised under his eyes sat across from him now. Mulder decided that one truth was better than none, and the truth was he knew tonight was he would not shoot Krycek.

Krycek didn't greet Mulder or smile. He sat, placed a diskette and his good hand on the table, and left both hand and diskette there.

The waiter appeared, and without consulting Krycek, Mulder ordered the house beer on tap, and the evening's special for them both.

He waited for Krycek to make a smart-ass comment about breaking bread and drinking with the enemy, but no such remark was forthcoming. Mulder didn't know if he was disappointed or relieved.

They waited in silence, neither anticipatory nor resigned, simply silence. They drank the beer without even the most cursory of toasts, and when the food arrived, they ate.

After the initial foray into half of his sandwich, Krycek stood and removed his coat, draping it over the back of his chair. He sat down again and said thanks for dinner, he was hungry, and it had been a long day.

Mulder was taken aback by this comment, given that it revealed so much about the man making it. He quickly realized that the very commonness of it, coming from Krycek, surprised him. Was Krycek a man who got tired and hungry? He had never considered it before.

Krycek ate quickly and neatly, alternating bites, sips, and napkin swipes with one hand. The lack of fuss and simplicity of motion Krycek displayed denoted neither awareness, nor self-consciousness. He ate this way as if he had always eaten this way. Maybe he had.

Mulder agreed that it had been a long day and that he too was hungry. He asked Krycek if he was in staying in town and Krycek replied that he 'stayed ' nowhere for more than a night or two, but yes, he was hanging in the DC area, for the time being.

Mulder was even more surprised by these remarks. They were said without sarcasm or challenge, as if Mulder should have known that Krycek never settled, or could settle, anywhere for more than brief moment.

Mulder asked Krycek where his leather jacket was. Krycek relaxed and smiled a pale imitation of a smirk, and said it was with his stash. He wore the pea coat because he had been sleeping in shelters or other less than secure places and the leather jacket on a one armed man was just too much temptation to would-be thieves. He said he'd rather not draw attention to himself having to dissuade those guys.

Mulder wondered if the 'woe-is-me-out-in-the-cold' scenario was another Krycek bait and switch. However, Krycek was making no bid for pity or any attempt at humor.

Mulder asked if Krycek was broke. At this Krycek finally rolled his eyes and said no. He had plenty of money, but didn't want to alert anyone by attempting to access it. The problem with hiding money was retrieving it on short notice. His ID's and access cards were, at the moment, unavailable. He told Mulder not to worry. He was not meeting him to hit him up for money, although he would let Mulder pay for dinner.

Mulder asked why then, had he agreed to meet. Krycek said quite simply, you asked.

Mulder felt the exact same way he had felt upon previous occasions when he had experienced a nine-minute time-out courtesy of alien technology or had been tossed will-nilly about the room by a poltergeist no one else had seen. He felt exhilarated, off kilter, on the verge of momentous discovery, yet strangely humbled by the rightness of the inner knowingness.

I asked?

Yes. You do so seldom, Mulder. Krycek answered. Ask, that is. Usually you accuse, threaten or use force. I don't like that, you know.

No. I didn't 'know'. How could I know? I don't know anything about you except that you have been the bane of my existence.

Really? Krycek said. How dramatic. I thought I was just a minor, albeit a rather personal, annoyance. I haven't been the architect of anything Mulder. Whatever fantasies you've had about my role in this mess. I started out a drone and graduated to a threat, then failed as power monger. Now I'm just trying to stay alive along with the rest of the planet, whether they know it or not. I am nothing particularly special. The dead would be just as dead with or without my participation. There are many drones at their disposal. You have to know that. I was just too dumb to know that for myself in the beginning, and too smart to not realize it eventually. Unfortunately, I realized it 'more' eventually than was good for either of us.

Mulder began to laugh then. He couldn't help it. The last terrible, miserable, painful, unendurable years summed up in the unapologetic, dispassionate voice of his enemy.

And his enemy, this enemy, was right.

Want some dessert?

Sure, but not here. There is a Moroccan place with pounds of baklava and steamed coffee two blocks from here. My treat Mulder, and you can 'ask' whatever you want. If I know the answer, I'll tell you. Whether you'll believe what I say or not, that's up to you. Janis Joplin said 'freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose'. She was wrong. I have nothing left to lose, whatever I tell you or don't tell you. It doesn't make me free, just dead perhaps, sooner than later.

So am I the sword you intend to fall on Krycek?

Sure Mulder, who better? I owe you, and you've wanted me dead for a long time. This way I get to pay a debt and you get some satisfaction. In the meantime, let's pig out on pistachios, honey, and bitter Mediterranean coffee. You have to admit they are a step up from sunflower seeds and FBI sludge.

You've always had a sweet-tooth Krycek.

See, Krycek beamed, you do know something about me after all.

DESSERT

Mulder walked alongside Krycek and wondered again, where all the swagger and sass in the other man's gait had gone.

He got it, got the part about Krycek ready for it all to be over. Got it that Krycek was tired. Got it that Krycek was out of the loop that had sucked him in and spit him out. Whose remaining dregs were still trying to kill him.

But, if this was Krycek, ignominious and at the end of his rope. It was certainly an impressive display of dignity in the face of defeat.

Mulder was beginning to miss the drama, sweat, blood, and tears - nah, Krycek had never cried - he missed the what?

Mulder looked over at Krycek. The way the man walking beside him now him seemed taller. He remembered they were the same height with a startled slice of memory from days long ago. When had he imagined Krycek into a smaller frame? Had he needed Krycek diminished by the evil he had perpetrated in order for Mulder to stand taller in his righteousness?

Did he miss the smirk, miss the 'I've got a secret' taunting? Miss the excuse to lose it, guilt free, and counted on unreturned flurry of fists in a fight that he always seemed to win in the one on one brutality-fest?

Mulder halted abruptly. Krycek took another step and stopped to look at Mulder inquiringly.

Why didn't you ever hit back?

You've always said I'm a coward.

Why didn't you ever shoot me?

I never wanted you dead.

Why did you help them take Scully?

I didn't help them take Scully. I followed orders for you to be delayed from reaching the top of the mountain and witnessing 'them' take Scully.

I could have stopped them. We could have stopped them.

In your heroic dreams, Mulder, only in your dreams.

Why did you kill Barry?

I did not kill Barry. I am not 007, carrying poison pellets around in my shoe. I upset him further by telling him they were going to get him no matter what, and to talk to you fast before they did. He weak from the shooting and your throttle, sick, tired, and fucking scared Mulder; he started choking when you dragged me out of there. As far as I know, he did Spender a favor, and died of his own accord.

Why did you leave the cigarette butts in the car?

So you would know whom you were up against.

Why did you disappear?

Jesus, why the hell do you think? You insisted on leaving without taking the lie detector test with me. If you had, then it would have proved I did not kill Barry and that, yes, I cold-cocked the tram operator. I would have said he was fighting me over the controls, but that he disappeared after I drove up the mountain to find you.

Did you kill him?

He was breathing when I left.

Did you bring Scully back?

I helped cover the man you called X, yes. It wasn't a simple operation to get her back without a trace.

Did you know if the implant was removed, she would get sick and die?

Yes, yes, yes! God damn-it. There was ample evidence if you both would have only thought about it for a minute. The MUFON women and other implants you had come across by then. But just let Scully near an implant, and to hell with any scientific method I ever heard of, let alone discretion.

Krycek was shivering slightly now, from the sleet or from nerves. Mulder did not know or care.

Did you kill the hacker who leaked the MJ documents?

No. I was there, with Baker and Cardinale. I beat him until he said he had given it to you. Baker killed him.

Did you kill Melissa Scully?

No. I was there though as well, with Cardinale. He was totally freaked and shot out of turn.

Why did you run and take the DAT?

They tried to kill me. I stopped Cardinale from strangling Skinner in the stairwell, and that pissed him off. Cardinale and Baker thought I handed them the DAT. I had a corrupted version that I palmed off the hacker when I was working him over. I gave them that.

Krycek was shivering in earnest, said he was cold, and wanted to get inside.

Mulder grabbed him, connected a fist to Krycek's face, and pushed him into a doorway of a store closed for the night.

Mulder was furious and he knowingly fed his rage on Krycek's simple answers and lack of guilt or sorrow.

Did you kill my father?

Let go of me Mulder. Do not hit me again Mulder.

The quietly spoken words cut through the red haze in Mulder's vision. He gulped the cold damp air, and reached for calm. He let go of Krycek and stepped back.

I shot Bill Mulder when he grabbed for my gun.

I was told to wait for him in the bathroom. He was supposed to bring the DAT if you had it, and give it to me. If you were recalcitrant, he was supposed to tell you he could decrypt it with a program on his computer and get the tape off you that way. That's why they drugged you, so you wouldn't be able to follow the logic too carefully. He had another download ready with similar but false information. He was supposed to give you a printout once he went through the bogus decryption. Spender had been there earlier that day and they arranged it. Neither of them wanted you dead. Misinformed was so much better.

He must have panicked or he was so drunk that he'd forgotten the plan. He went for his pills, saw me, and spilled them. He made as if he were bending over to get the pills and lunged for my gun. I shot him.

Cardinale was just outside the window and he ran to get-away car. I barely made it before he pealed off. He was laughing. He said 'thank you' to me for saving him a bullet. That's when I realized he would have killed Bill Mulder no matter what he brought to the bathroom.

Mulder started to sink to his knees. The burst of adrenaline, rage, and truth passed leaving him devoid of strength. Krycek caught him before his knees hit the ground and hugged him tight to his chest. Mulder felt the hard prosthetic arm exert its weight against his lower back.

I'm sorry that you were hurt by his death, Mulder. For that, I am sorry, and for that pain, I owe you compensation. If it is a life for a life, I will be dead soon enough, but more than that I don't have anything else to give. My life is the only thing I held 'dear' because I never had anything else to hold on to.

Mulder felt the deep shudders that ran through Krycek's body.

Truth felt a lot like pain.

Truth tasted a lot like ashes in his throat after the debacle in his office.

Truth looked a lot like the blood on his father's head, running down Scully' s face, dripping on his shoulder from Krycek's mouth.

Truth sounded a lot like the echo of his scream, bouncing off silent walls in a lonely room that awakened him from his nightmares.

Truth was ephemeral, easily stolen from him repeatedly every night for over twenty years, 'Fox, I'm scared Fox, I need you Fox', when the truth was he had been helpless to hold onto it.

You are holding onto me now he said to Krycek.

Truth was immensely hard, but perhaps, not impossible to rediscover or regain or find anew.

Krycek moaned an agonized sound of distress. Mulder's primal ear recognized the sound as the moment when a man knows he is more, and has more to lose than his own life. The sound a man makes when he believes he has sacrificed his humanity for the vainglory of belonging to no one, and having faith in nothing, not even in himself.

Mulder wrapped his arms around Krycek's arms. Don't let me go.

Krycek choked out a reply. You are holding me now Mulder.

I won't let you go either. Mulder answered.

TRAVEL TIME

The Mediterranean place was closed by the time they made it there. Mulder was unsure exactly how long they'd stood in that fierce hug before the wind direction changed and blew icy pellets of sleet onto their bare necks and urged them to find a more protected shelter.

Krycek had shrugged and said there's always Starbucks and Bear Claws. Mulder agreed but neither of them could face the crowd of boisterous after dinner shoppers and opted to take it to go. They were headed back to the Ballston Mall when Mulder realized his car was parked closer, and they ended back there instead.

The coffee and their breaths steamed the windows immediately, enclosing them in a private space virtually unseen by passers-by.

Where do we go from here? Mulder asked Krycek.

Where do want to go Mulder? Alex asked in return.

Alex continued, I have more information, but I have to be mobile to get hold of it. I have it here and there along the east coast, gathering it in no particular pattern, in case I am followed. Spender still has a big part of the old boy network intact; he's just attempting to manage it with 'new' people. They have a general 'kill' order out, which includes independent operators. I don't have the time or inclination to try to buy them all off or kill them first. I just keep moving and watching my back. There's a lot I don't know about how much information Spender has regarding my finances or 'safe' places so I avoid those.

I meant right now, tonight, Krycek. As in, where do we go now?

You can drop me at the fleabag motel I'm staying at tonight on your way home, Mulder. I would appreciate not having to walk from the Metro in this weather.

Mulder sighed and shook his head. I am not leaving you. I thought that was clear. We have a lot more to talk about and set straight. Plans we need to make if we're going to get this show on the road.

Mulder was astounded by Krycek's astonishment. You can't do this with me. Krycek said emphatically. You have to keep everything as normal as possible. Besides, I am not doing anything particularly interesting, just gathering up all the bits and pieces of information and passing them on to you though the Gunmen. It would be a waste of your time, and possibly endanger you as well. When you feel we've got enough to make a verifiable statement, or something big enough to expose the conspiracy and make it stick, then I can come forward and testify.

I am not leaving you. You are not leaving me. He was proud the annoyance he felt waiting for the 'dime to drop' in Krycek's brain was not apparent in his voice.

Annoyance was apparent, however, in Krycek's voice. There's nothing else to do tonight Mulder. It's late, I'm tired. You're tired. I actually have a room tonight, and would like to get some sleep in it. You go home and get some sleep, too. I will talk to you more tomorrow if you really think it's necessary. Here, he said, scrabbling for a piece of the Bear Claw bag and writing a number on it. Get an untraceable cell phone from the Gunmen and call me at this number.

Mulder decided Krycek needed a more direct approach to cut through the dense state his perception was currently occupying.

Alex.

Krycek stopped breathing.

Alex, when was the last time you had a real live human being watch your back while you slept? When was the last time you actually slept? When did you last actually sleep with someone?

The scrap of paper in Krycek's hand shook.

Mulder watched Krycek tremble. Breathe Alex he said and waited.

Bastard, Alex hissed at him.

Mulder was unsurprised by the epithet, and stayed silent.

You want to 'watch' my back while you fuck me from behind Mulder?

Bingo! Mulder thought. The return of Alex Krycek.

I always thought you were anal-retentive Mulder. But I never guessed you were anal-intrusive as well.

Yee-haw! Mulder made a mental thumbs-up. I think I'm going to just love pushing his buttons now that I'm sure he really won't shoot me.

Krycek drew himself upright from his slouch with a touch of the old smirk Mulder thought he might not see again and realized he missed profoundly.

Krycek leaned back in the seat and glancing sideways at Mulder, his eyes bright enough to splinter the gray interior of the car with shards of sharp green light, Mulder you have to know I'm better at breaking and entering than you could ever be.

Well, I can't argue with that. You probably have more experience at it, Alex. After all, I always was sidetracked waiting for warrants. But, I dare say, we each deserve to take turns at being covered. I have absolute confidence that once we're working together neither of us would find the other to be a slacker in that regard.

Krycek started to chuckle. Stopped, as if surprised the sound issued from his own throat, and burst into a full-bodied laugh instead.

Gotcha! Mulder thought and began to laugh with Krycek.

ALMOST HOME

Mulder drove east on Glebe Road toward National Airport and its satellite belt of dingy motels and rental car lots. He realized he felt at ease. It did not particularly surprise him that feeling at ease was even better than feeling happy.

At ease with his enemy.

Mulder saw Krycek had hunkered back down into a slouch and was gazing pensively out the window.

He was struck anew at how exhausted Krycek looked. The brilliant gaze and flushed cheeks of a few moments ago had faded and his mouth was compressed in a tight line.

It's been a long time, Mulder.

What?

I'm answering your questions.

Ah, I asked and he promised answers - apparently, he meant that literally.

I've never trusted anyone to watch my back unless the risks I was taking would serve their interests as well. I haven't served anyone else's interests since I was supposed to go up in smithereens in a car bomb.

Shit.

Yeah. I do 'actually' sleep. My body eventually shuts down. I am not Superman. Sleep, as safe repose, is another matter and one you know as well as I.

True.

Mulder heard Krycek make a soft humph/snort/sigh sound as he angled his face more toward the window. Mulder saw the reflection of Krycek closing his eyes in the extended moment of a block length of street lamps.

I haven't slept in a bed with another person, through the night, since the weekend I graduated from the FBI Academy. I went to Richmond and met a college student. He was a gentle boy who was busting his ass trying to pass all his pre-vet science courses. I remember being incredibly envious of his certainty, that he had a place in the world, a family that was bewildered by his sexuality, but loved him anyway. That's actually how we started talking. I was buying a suit, and he said his brother had just bought the same one last week. He thought it was a really ugly suit. All the vibes were right. His name was Alex too and he made me laugh when he said he was damned if he was going to call out his own name when he came.

I think that was the last time I laughed about sex too, until tonight.

Alex.

Shut up, Mulder.

You romanticize everything. Do you think life spent constantly on the run and full of violence is sexy? It is not. I don't do whores. It smacks too closely to what I became for their damn operation. Being overcome by lust is just too vulnerable. What good is a body you have to pay for anyhow? I live inside enough lies; I didn't want to put my dick in more lies too.

Since I lost the arm. Once. It was a bad choice. Krycek laughed bitterly. A very bad choice.

I'm clean Mulder, but if we're going to my place to have sex you'd better stop somewhere so we can buy condoms and lube.

He laughed bitterly again. A real date, huh Mulder? You bought dinner. I bought dessert. I think we'll go 'Dutch' or is that 'Butch' to pay for protection.

No. I mean yes. I don't give a damn who pays for what Alex. This isn't about punishment or payback. If anything, it's about having an equal place between us for the first time. Maybe we can finally find it naked.

Mulder took his turn to sigh. You, a bed, and me nothing else - just us. Since we are being so honest here Alex. The past, our past, includes shit galore but it also includes this desire, this attraction, and this need. I' ve always wanted you, and you've always wanted me.

I want it all. I want the symbolism of it, for God's sake, along with the sex. You want to hear something funny? I jerk off to the fantasy of us fucking. But I can't orgasm until after the sex is over, when I see in my mind the two of us naked, sprawled, spent, and soft. The moment I can finally come is when I look at you, and you're just there.

Mulder, Mulder you are a romantic. We have no time for this. This is not the time for a relationship. A peaceful coexistence, maybe. You have a job to do and part of that is juggling the relationships you already have.

We have tonight Alex. That is more than we have ever had before.

Mulder parked in front of a 7-11, and turned to face Krycek. Do you want this Alex?

Mulder watched the expressions chase themselves across Alex's face; pain, fear, resignation, indecision, hope, a measure of embarrassment, which surprised Mulder, and then Krycek took an audible, shuddery breath. Their eyes met at last.

Fuck Mulder. If dreams came true, if my dreams came true... Krycek swallowed hard, not able to finish the sentence.

Mulder smiled, reached out, and softly covered Alex's mouth with his fingertips. That's what tonight is all about, isn't it Alex? Truth?

Krycek turned his face into Mulder's hand.

Mulder's heart clenched.

Truth felt a lot like Alex's warm cheek.

Truth seemed to be the texture of Alex's soft hair beneath his own cheek.

Truth was the rhythm of the pulse in Alex's throat beneath his lips.

Truth was the sound of Alex's voice whispering into shoulder.

Yes, Mulder. I want this.

HOMECOMING

The room was exactly as Mulder expected; plain, smelled of carpet cleaner, had two exits, and a double bed. It was also blessedly warm and dim. Krycek and Mulder did the whole paranoid thing, guns in hand, together, as Krycek silently unlocked the door and entered the room. Mulder watched as Alex checked his way around the room looking for traces of surveillance or visitors, neatly hung up his coat, matter-of-factly placed a gun on the nightstand and another under 'his' side of the bed.

Mulder followed Krycek's lead. Hung up his coat and placed his gun on the nightstand on 'his' side of the bed.

Mulder had been practical, as well as anticipatory, when he bought the condoms and a small bottle of odorless baby oil from the 7-11. He'd also bought juice, bagels, and a couple of bottles of water. He had his back-up overnight bag in the trunk of the car for toiletries and a change of clothes. Krycek had walked to the corner liquor store and bought a bottle of Johnny Walker Red and a bag of sunflower seeds. When Krycek put these items on the motel room table and went out for ice, Mulder chuckled to himself 'and he calls me romantic'.

Was he nervous? Was he worried? Was Alex's dick bigger than his was? He wanted a drink. He needed a drink. Did Alex need a drink too? Mulder attempted to concentrate on how much he wanted this night as nerves, inhibitions, and reluctant doubts whirled about wind-tossed in his head. It had been a hell of a long time since he had last had sex, and longer than that with a male lover. But, this was Alex.

Krycek opened the door and reentered the room. Mulder was startled into blurting out - it's you! Krycek did a double take and looked quickly behind him towards the closed door. Mulder could see the puzzlement on his face when he asked whom else Mulder was expecting.

No one, Mulder laughed partly nerves and partly happiness. I was just thinking about how long it has been since I slept with anyone and how glad I was you bought the scotch. I'd come to the realization, just as you came in, that all my ridiculous panic was for naught because it was you I was with. You, Alex, and being with you is more right than I ever thought possible.

Alex slowly made the drinks in the ubiquitous plastic motel cups. We aren't kids anymore, Mulder and I don't think performance anxiety is the issue. This is more about equality and trust, as you said earlier. I'm going to trust you really meant that. I've already offered you everything of value I thought I had to give. This has to be give and take between both or I won't do it. I'm not talking about who is on top or who bottoms here Mulder. I'm talking about what it means inside.

Mulder paid close attention and stayed quiet.

You have to get it Mulder, really and truly 'get it' that I am just a man, not Superman or super-spy or super-sexed. I'm not a ratbastard or a demon either.

Mulder found himself perilously close to tears.

He thought how he'd endowed Alex with all these more, no, less than human qualities to be able to justify his own position and pacify his own ego.

He watched Alex watching him, willing Mulder to let go and give instead of take, to finally cede the power to harm

He knew with certainty, with clarity, and with a sense of homecoming that Alex Krycek loved him.

Mulder felt his tears fall and saw how terribly, terribly hard it was for Alex not to reach out and offer to banish his pain in recompense for how much he thought he owed him. He watched Alex press his arm to his gut in an ancient gesture of self-protection, because he knew that Alex 'knew' that this must not be about their old shit.

This had to be about how they went into the future. Mulder was also certain these were the about to be the most important words he would ever say to another person in his life.

I am not a hero Alex. I am just a man too. Is that enough? Mulder opened his arms wide and Alex Krycek smiled and swaggered into Mulder's open arms and said yes, you are 'the man', and you're man enough for me.

REPOSE - EPILOGUE

Mulder looked at Alex's boneless, spent, and sated body sprawled on the bed beside him.

Alex slept.

Alex had freckles.

He loved Alex Krycek's freckles.

He wanted Alex, just like this, on a deserted beach in the in sun and he wanted to watch the freckles multiply. He added this fantasy to his growing list. Why not? If this miraculous thing has come to pass, why not others?

He looked at the hodge-podge of scars scattered on Alex's body from shoulder to ankles. They told Mulder a story he didn't need to hear aloud.

He looked at the passion marks that adorned Alex's neck and chest and the lovely tender flesh between bellybutton and crotch. He'd made those, all suck and no bite, and without a whisper of pain. He'd made them slowly and deliberately.

He intended to ensure that fresh ones regularly decorated these areas.

He was amazed, as he looked at the solidity of flesh and bone that slept by his side, that they hadn't boiled away into puddles of hot lava and melted the bed. It may have been a long time sans-sex, but damn if either of them had forgotten how to do it.

The maxim 'practice makes perfection' was just wrong in their case. It had been perfect the first time.

Mulder yawned and stretched out the long muscles in his legs. He felt the echo of tremors and faint reverberation from the ache from maintaining seldom used physical positions. His spine creaked and popped. He felt entirely satisfied that he had indeed held up his end of the bargain to watch Alex's back.

Oh yeah and what a back it is. Mulder closed his eyes, not to sleep, but to immerse himself in the sound of Alex's breathing and the scent of their mutual exercise.

They had held on to each other in a fierce grip at first, until Alex had pulled back slightly, without fanfare or warning, and licked the path of the tear trail from eyelid to chin on Mulder's face. Once there, he had moved in and kissed Mulder's mouth.

They had kissed confidently. That had surprised Mulder. The confidence fueled a sense of liberation and they kissed then as fiercely as they had held each other.

God, Mulder felt a twitch of recalled lust in his spent cock. He had a great imagination. A fabulous and inventive fantasy life, but damn if he could have even begun to perceive what Alex's tongue felt like in his mouth. Soft, hard, pointed, rounded, wet and hot all at once.

They'd been on fire, sweaty and panting in seconds.

Alex had paused to catch his breath and handed Mulder his scotch. Drink this Mulder he'd said, and went into the bathroom.

Mulder had sipped at the scotch noting that the taste, no matter how fine, didn't hold a candle to becoming intoxicated by Alex. He'd sat down and undressed, thankful that he had showered and shaved prior to the meet, glad that he had kept in shape, and amused that his erection seemed to be pointing in the direction of the sound of Alex washing up in the bathroom. A 'divining rod', literally, he thought.

Mulder watched Alex exit the bathroom, a towel in his hand, a scarred stump where his left arm once was, and an erection at half-mast. Alex shivered at his stare, and handed the towel to Mulder. He sat on the edge of the bed; half turned away, and asked him to dry his back.

Mulder rubbed the towel along Alex's spine and when Alex arched his back, he threw the towel aside and put his hands in its place. He used his thumbs to press a deep massaging path from top vertebrae to coccyx. Alex moaned and bent forward, resting his head on his hand, bracing his elbow against his knee.

Mulder grasped Alex's left shoulder, his hand spanning the stump, and pulled Alex in a backward arch to kiss the exposed joint of neck and collar. When Alex moaned loudly, he let his hand slide down the front of Alex's body until he encircled the fully erect cock in his hand. Not a Superman? He teased and Alex laughed as his pelvis jerked spastically into the Mulder's grip.

I lied, Alex had laughingly gasped. I'm going to come if you don't stop Mulder.

Mulder had eased off momentarily and pushed Alex back onto the bed with his feet still on the floor. Mulder moved off the bed and onto his knees in front of Alex.

Alex had said 'Oh God' then. Mulder chuckled and said that's fair enough. You're Superman, I'm God, and all's right in heaven and on earth.

Alex had laughed unreservedly. When Mulder took him in his mouth, he yelled Oh God! And came in a hot forceful uncontrollable burst of semen and joy.

Mulder buried his head in Alex's belly, and when he had recovered a bit and Alex stopped panting he got to his feet and leaned over Alex's prone body and said slyly that he guessed he hadn't forgotten everything about sex.

Alex smirked, said that was way too easy for a real test, scooted himself backwards on the bed making room for Mulder to get on his knees between Alex 's thighs. Do something 'harder' and 'longer', show me what else you haven't forgotten how to do, he had challenged Mulder.

It had been Mulder's turn to say 'Oh God' as Alex spread his legs obscenely wide and offered Mulder free access to his entire body.

Harder, I can do, Mulder said. Last longer? Only if we count in milliseconds. Where's the lube, where's the condoms? He frantically looked around as Alex had begun to laugh again. Mulder reached across Alex's body to the table and grabbed the package. On his return he had focused on Alex's laughing mouth and froze. God, you're beautiful, he whispered.

Alex opened his eyes wide, got serious, and said to Mulder, you've got that backwards. It is God, you are beautiful, Mulder. He had pulled Mulder down for a kiss. Make love to me Mulder he'd said softly. Make 'love' to me now.

Mulder had done just that. He kissed Alex's forehead, eyelids, cheek, and licked his earlobes and neck. He'd sucked his way across and down Alex's chest and abdomen while Alex cried out and hid nothing.

He reached Alex's genitals, licked, and sucked there too as Alex twisted, pleaded, and panted out curses and praise.

Mulder had felt his control finally slip as he eased his lubricated fingers into the molten hot passage and lost all vestiges of teasing, play, patience, or humor when he pressed his cock into Alex's tight, tight ass.

He'd gave up self, became extended and 'more' as he felt his eternal separateness end, and his new life of belonging begin.

And Truth was in the hard, hot, fast fuck inside Alex's body.

And Truth was the cacophony of grunts and moans and cries.

And Truth was sweat.

And Truth was tears.

And Truth, that illusive God-damned masqueraded cheating bitch, was here and now and finally and forever.

And Truth was lust and life, and the lust for life that flooded both of them in a tidal wave of union.

And Truth was, had always been, would always be, love.

No, Alex. Mulder thought, we are not kids. Thank God, we are not kids. But we are 'young' because we have found the best fountain of youth, one that will last as long as we live. And, for the first time, I want us to live a long, long time.

Redemption, rejuvenation, and a place, with each other, for safe repose.

Mulder had very lightly brushed his fingers across Alex's soft naked sex and smiled to himself. Just a man? He'd thought wonderingly. Yeah, right.

He yawned then and had fallen asleep, still smiling.


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