Believe: Not for Me

by Nikita

Title: Not for Me

Author: Nikita

Pairing: M/O, but eventually M/K, what else?? : )

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but if I did... I'm not making any money off of this, but if I could...

Summary: Okay, this is a little different from my usual fic. This is AU and I've changed Krycek's role. In this world, Mulder and Scully investigate the X-Files, but with a BIG change: No conspiracy and no consortium. Samantha was abducted, and Mulder may even believe it was aliens, but there is no cancerman in this story... Krycek is a fellow agent and friend of Mulder's. They hang out, work together occasionally, etc. So you see...different.

Author's Note: This is also a response to a RatB Forum line of discussion in which one member pointed out that while there are plenty of Skinner saves Mulder from bad relationship fics out there...there are no real Krycek saves Mulder from a relationship fics. So, Nikita comes to the rescue and provides a little What if? What if Mulder and Krycek weren't involved with the conspiracy and there was no consortium interference? What if Mulder's bad childhood wasn't the result of aliens?

I hope you like this...I enjoyed writing this...at the wee hours in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, late in the evening... when I really should have been working on a thesis paper or two.

Also...yes it is another blasted series because it's not ending anytime soon and I wanted to get a piece out there already...this series will be called "Believe." The song, 'I'm a Believer' kept going through my head during this story. As played by SmashMouth. Doesn't it just seem like a Mulder theme song?? : )

Warning: As this fic deals with an abusive relationship, please note that not all sex is nice and sweet. There are mentions of violence and nastiness...read at your own risk.

And finally,

Feedback: Yes, please. If you liked this at all, please tell me as I'm a little uncertain of it. Feed the author, keep the fic coming!!

Thanks to Carol for her kind words and encouragement. Had to give you something to chew on... : )

XXX

He wasn't exactly sure when exactly he'd managed to fuck up his life so badly.

Was it the day he'd met Jack? The day he'd looked up to the policeman who'd been assigned as liaison to him at the local office during a case? No, it was fucked up long before that. Before Samantha's disappearance. His father had been a harsh man, a lousy drunk that took his anger and frustration out on his wife and children. Or child, after Samantha was gone. Not that he'd ever hit Samantha much before her disappearance. Mulder was the fuck-up. Mulder was the one that tripped over his large feet, forgot to pick up his books, and a million other little mistakes. When he'd finally moved out of the house and gone to Oxford he'd thought he'd left all of that behind. Left his childhood behind and with it his sense of failure in pleasing those he loved.

Only you can't out run your past. It's your history...and you're doomed to repeat it.

Jack Perkins, tall, black hair, and blue eyes that you just couldn't help admiring. Mulder had been struck by the man's eyes right away. The way they seemed to pierce his soul, gleaming with intimate knowledge of Mulder before they'd finished shaking hands. Mulder had found himself unusually tongue tied around the man. His usual jokes and sarcasm was absent and he'd found himself being strictly professional and courteous. Aberrant behavior. And Scully had immediately picked up on it.

He 'really' shouldn't have teased Scully about that Sheriff during the vampire case. She'd been quick to tease him about his own infatuation with a local cop that very evening while working on the case notes in her motel room that night.

XXX

Picking up a slice of pizza, Scully let her pen drop onto the bed alongside her notes. She watched Mulder with an amused smirk. Taking a bite, she waited until he sighed and left his own notes in favor of dinner as well. Noticing her attention he quirked an eye at her as he bit into his own slice of pepperoni and mushroom.

"So, are you planning a private conference with Lieutenant Perkins on this case?" Watching Mulder choke on his bite was definitely a satisfying image.

Wiping his mouth he finally managed to swallow his pizza and raise his eyebrows at her. "Uh, no. Why do you ask?"

'Going to play innocent, are we? All right, Mulder.' "Oh, I don't know. You two seemed to hit it off this morning." Scully nonchalantly took another bite.

Mulder's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "Lt. Perkins is competent, but I see no need to involve him in this case more than necessary. The police here have proven they aren't exactly 'open-minded' in alternate explanations to these missing person cases."

Scully wasn't particularly interested in discussing the case and she was sick of this game. "Oh, come off it, Mulder. You're interested in Detective Perkins for more than just official business. He's cute. And he's definitely interested in you. He was checking out your ass at the scene."

Mulder gave up any hope of finishing his dinner, tossing the slice down he glared furiously at her. "Scully!" Standing up to storm out of her room and into his, he suddenly stopped at the adjoining door. "Was he really?"

Scully snorted but then took pity on him. "Yes. I think he approved, too."

Mulder gave her one last irritated look before closing the door.

XXX

How the relationship ever got so far was beyond Mulder. Having never been in a serious long term relationship before, he'd let Jack take the lead and set the pace. Looking back on it, that might have been his first mistake.

"Fox?" Jack was brushing Mulder's bangs off his sweaty forehead as he watched him intently. After a long session of make out sex after a petty argument, Mulder was a little too tired to concentrate.

"Hmmmmm?" He groaned and arched his back, eyes closed as he enjoyed Jack's attentions.

"I think we should live together. I've been looking at apartment listings and I found the perfect place. Now that my transfer is through, I can move up here this week."

Mulder tensed slightly. Sensing this, Jack stroked his temples, watching him closely. Mulder finally opened his eyes and was slightly startled to find Jack's blue eyes gazing intently upon him only inches away. "Uh...okay. I'm not sure about my lease, though...and I'm really busy at work right now..."

Jack grinned and gave him a quick peck. "No problem, I'll take care of everything! I'll talk to your landlord and hire some movers. You don't have to do a thing."

And that was that. Three days later Mulder found himself driving to a new apartment after work. Gone was his leather couch (it didn't go with Jack's decor), gone were his fish (there was only one left anyway, and Jack didn't like fish), and gone were most of his clothes (Honestly, Fox! You should dress nicer after work, I'll help you pick out some new clothes...). Not that Mulder minded much. It was a nicer apartment, really. White walls, white carpet with white and black furniture. Very modern, very sterile. Jack had bought some new art for the living room walls and Mulder had hung them where Jack told him to. It was...nice. Definitely different from his old dark and dingy apartment. Mulder was relieved to not have to fuss with any of the details himself. Jack was so good at it and he liked it.

So, Mulder found himself in his office one evening working late on a report that was due the next morning. Scully had gone for a refill of coffee and he'd absently answered the phone as it rang.

"Mulder."

"Fox. Do you have 'any' idea what time it is?"

Mulder pinched his nose beneath his reading glasses and squinted at the clock on the wall. "Uh, 9:30, why? Oh, I forgot to call. Sorry. Skinner's on a rampage and I have to finish this report. Scully-"

Jack cut him off, "Scully's there, too?"

Mulder frowned but leaned back in his chair for a stretch. "Well, yeah. She's finishing her notes now. I think we'll be done in another hour. I'll be home as soon as possible."

There was a short silence and a small exhale. Mulder winced slightly. He hadn't meant to upset Jack, but he was relieved when his lover finally chuckled dryly. "That's okay, Fox. I didn't mean to sound like a jealous harpy. I was just a little concerned. I was worried you might still be on the field and gotten hurt. You're so accident prone. I have to keep my eye on you."

"Ha, ha. I'm fine. Scully will save me from any flesh eating mutants that might show up here. I should have called. I've got to go, I'll be home soon."

"You better, lover." Jack's throaty voice promised Mulder that he wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon. Scully returned with her cup of coffee and returned to work with a sigh. Usually they'd finish the report over the weekend rather than work all night Friday for a report due Monday, but Mulder didn't want to have to explain the necessity to Jack so he'd bribed her into finishing it with him late tonight.

"Mulder. It's late and we've still got a couple of hours of work to do before Monday and I'm so tired I can't see straight. Let's just finish it over the weekend."

Mulder sighed and finally nodded, he'd just have to explain it to Jack. "All right. How about Sunday at your place?"

Scully nodded gratefully and swept up her files and jacket.

Mulder stayed another hour, trying to finish as much as he could without her before leaving the office. He was tired, but looking forward to getting home to his lover.

XXX

11:00 pm
Apartment #322

Home at last. Mulder was exhausted, but he carefully hung his coat on the rack by the door. Jack was really a neat freak and it was better to avoid a fight about something so small. Toeing off his shoes, he carried them and his brief case up the stairs to the bedroom. The bedroom was dark and disappointed as he was, Mulder decided not to wake his lover. He'd just take a shower and go to sleep. He 'was' tired.

Setting his shoes down inside the closet he suddenly flinched as the light came on abruptly. "It's about time, Fox."

Straightening, Mulder glanced over at the bed. Jack lounged in bed, naked except for the barest slip of sheet that covered his legs, coming to rest dangerously low on his hip. Swallowing, Mulder gazed at him appreciatively. "You didn't have to wait up, Jack."

Jack raised one elegant black eyebrow. "Oh, yes I did. I had to wait for my bad boy to come home for his punishment. Come to bed, Fox." Mulder forgot all about his shower and quickly stripped.

Jack didn't wait for him to finish. Standing up, he let the sheet fall and strode hungrily to Mulder, helping him finish undressing with a bit more force than strictly necessary. Strong hands gripped Mulder's biceps painfully. A hot demanding kiss claimed Mulder's mouth.

Finally releasing Mulder's mouth, but not his arms, Jack nuzzled his neck and then bit him, sharply and without warning.

"Ah! Jack!" Mulder gasped at the violent expression that Jack shot him as he faced Mulder again.

"Quiet, Fox. This is your punishment." Jack lowered his head again and licked the bruised flesh before biting again. Jacks right hand released his arm and scraped his nails down Mulder's back. Rubbing their cocks together hard, Mulder gasped and groaned, relaxing into the onslaught.

Several minutes later, Mulder found himself on his hands and knees on their bed. Grunting at the impact of Jack's rough lovemaking. It was his usual position. Jack never allowed him to switch roles or positions. The one time he'd attempted to take control of their lovemaking, he'd found himself firmly denied. Jack had gripped his wrist hard enough to leave black and blue marks the next day and through gritted teeth he'd told Mulder that he 'didn't' bottom. He refused to discuss it or answer questions.

A particularly powerful thrust and Jack's punishing grip on his cock ripped his release from him in a loud cry. Jack grunted and waited until Mulder sagged onto the bed, face turned to the side, relaxed, before resuming his punishing pace. As Mulder clutched the sheets to keep his body from moving off the bed with the forceful thrusts, he considered Jack's insistence at always topping. It could be a sign of past abuse. Unable to give up control or enjoy sex that way.

Jack came with an explosive and triumphant shout. Collapsing, he pressed his sweaty body onto Mulder's and claimed Mulder's lips with a possessive kiss.

It didn't matter. He loved Jack. He could be what Jack needed...what he wanted.

XXX

Saturday
11:35 a.m.

Alex Krycek checked his watch for the umpteenth time that morning. Mulder was late.

Again.

He and Mulder had been playing basketball together for years, but lately...Mulder was distracted. Late, less focused, he'd canceled on Alex numerous times during the last few months. Alex knew he was in a new relationship, and he was happy for Mulder...kind of. But enough was enough!

Tossing a few hoops he resigned himself to another lone practice when Mulder came trotting in with an apologetic expression on his face. "Alex! Sorry. I slept a little late. Been waiting long?"

Alex didn't look up from the ball, examining it with exaggerated enthusiasm. "You could say that. I've been waiting all morning. I was just getting ready to go grab some lunch." Alex finally decided to look up at his friend. Mulder was pulling off his sweatshirt, revealing his usual tank top underneath. Alex's eyes widened at the sight of large finger shaped bruises on Mulder's arms. As his eyes drifted up to look at Mulder's face he found his gaze caught by a large wound on Mulder's neck. Was it...yes, a bite mark. A rather angry looking bite mark that made Alex wince.

"Geez, Mulder. Your cases are dangerous. Another freak that watched too many old horror flicks?"

Mulder stared at him as if he'd spoken in tongues. "Huh?"

Pointing at the bite mark he raised a sardonic brow. "The love-bite on your neck, Mulder. Another kid that forgot his fake vampire teeth?"

Mulder's hand went automatically to his neck. He winced slightly before giving Alex a rueful grin. "Oh, yeah. Kids today. Anyway, do you still want to shoot some hoops?"

Alex shrugged, they played for an hour or so. Playing for their usual stakes, Mulder was buying lunch for once. While they were both fit and athletic, Mulder was the better basketball player. Alex relished his rare win, but not without realizing that Mulder wasn't exactly in top form that morning. "Yes! Burgers are on you, Mulder. And no McDonalds, either, I want a good pub burger. I know just the place..."

Mulder had shrugged good naturedly and they'd gone off to shower quickly before leaving. Two men passed them as they entered the empty locker room. Stripping, they both headed to the nearest shower head to wash off. Alex allowed himself a glance at Mulder. It was all he ever let himself have.

He'd had a bit of an infatuation with Mulder since the day he'd met him. Tall, lean and an off-beat sense of humor. Alex had been attracted to him right away, but he'd been in the middle of a turbulent, but waning relationship at the time. Even after the relationship had ended, he and Mulder had never been at the right place or time to start anything, busy careers and lives had simply gotten in the way. Mulder had rarely had more than a date or two at a time and Alex had thought he'd have plenty of time and opportunity to finally deepen their relationship.

Which was why he'd been so surprised when Mulder had gone away on a case single and returned with a steady boyfriend several months ago. He hadn't even met Jack, yet. All he knew about him was that he was handsome, charismatic and rather possessive. Mulder never talked about him, but Scully'd let some information slip over the water cooler to him and other coworkers. When Mulder had casually informed him of his new address and phone number Alex had been surprised. The relationship was far more serious and developing faster than he'd ever imagined. He had to accept that Mulder wasn't free anymore and he'd missed his chance. Still, Mulder was a great friend and Alex didn't want to lose it over a petty jealousy or spilled milk. He'd be there for Mulder and who knew, maybe some day...

Alex's brief glance drew his eyes to those vibrant bruises once more. They looked rather painful, but didn't really account for Mulder's old-man stiffness and inflexibility on court. In fact, Alex had actually held back a little when he'd realized just how hurt Mulder must be as they'd played. They were both FBI agents and had both been hurt in the line of duty at one time or another so it wasn't that unusual, but Alex was concerned. Mulder had a tendency to avoid doctors and hospitals when hurt and the way he was moving made Alex worry he was hiding a more serious injury. The other man stretched slightly under the spray and the muscles of his back flexed as he arched with cat like grace. Mulder turned his back to Alex as he stretched and Alex's eyes were inevitably drawn to Mulder's ass which sported a few 'more' bruises.

'Aaah. So that bite on his neck, really 'is' a love bite. No wonder Mulder was so tight lipped about it. This'll be fun.' Alex grinned and finished cleaning up. As the two men pulled out clothes from their lockers and started dressing, Alex leaned over and nudged Mulder's shoulder with his own. Mulder glanced up and Alex grinned wolfishly. "Had a rather rough night last night, eh, Mulder?"

Mulder acted innocent. "What?"

Alex rolled his eyes and pulled on his boxerbriefs. "I guess the vampire messed up the bite on your neck because he was too busy groping your ass then. Really, Mulder. You've got bruises on your hips and butt. I hate to think what Jack's sporting today. You two really went at each other, hmm? I guess the honeymoon isn't over yet."

Mulder flushed and shrugged, sitting down to put on his socks. His light-gray boxers had little spaceships and aliens on it that looked like they'd glow in the dark. "I guess not." Alex noticed Mulder's exaggerated care in sitting down and smirked. Mulder had still winced when he'd made contact with the hard wooden bench.

Pulling on his black jeans and shirt, Alex squashed the little feeling of jealousy that flared at the thought of Mulder and Jack having a wild night together. Maybe it was time he gave up on his unavailable friend and found someone of his own. He sat down to put his own socks and shoes on and watched Mulder stand up once more. Mulder was definitely moving slower today and he was still reaching for his pants. Alex's eyes were caught by a little splash of contrasting color on Mulder's boxers. Taking a closer look he noticed it was a small rusty patch at the seat. Blood.

Jumping up he grabbed Mulder's arm, unfortunately he grabbed him on a bruise and Mulder yelped slightly turning to face him with an irritated look. "What?"

"Well...sorry, but...are you aware that you're still bleeding?" Alex suddenly felt tongue tied.

Mulder flushed for the second time and jerked his arm out of his grip. "Oh, don't worry about it. I'm fine."

Alex let his hand drop, but didn't step away immediately. "Are you sure? You should have it checked out if-"

"I'm 'fine,' Alex. I just got...carried away a little last night. Really, it's fine. Now, I'm starved. Let's hurry up and get out of here." Mulder quickly pulled on some clean sweat pants and a t-shirt.

Alex sat back down to finish tying his shoes, jerking the laces with irritated jerky movements. 'Jack's the one that seems to have gotten carried away. And the fact that Mulder doesn't want to wear any jeans just proves he's in worse shape than he'd letting on.'

Lunch was more subdued than usual and Alex's food tasted like sawdust, even though they'd gone to his favorite restaurant. As they parted ways, Alex found himself watching Mulder walk away with not a little worry, but angrily told himself to stop it. Mulder was a grown man and if he had a little bit of rough sex with his boyfriend, that was 'his' business. Alex decided to hit a bar that night. Maybe it was time he got back to socializing again.

XXX

Mulder dropped his gym bag on the floor tiredly as he shrugged off his jacket. He was exhausted and in pain. He just wanted to take a couple of Advil and maybe a nap before Jack was due home from visiting a relative. Glancing down at his bag again he decided to get it later, the thought of bending over for it... Mulder downed a few pain killers and fell asleep on top of the covers, shoes still on his feet.

He woke to some one tugging off his shoes with irritated tugs. Blearily he lifted his head and saw Jack jerk off his last shoe and toss them into the closet with a curse. "Damn it, Fox, you can't take off your shoes when you get into bed?"

Mulder sat up, "Oh, sorry. I didn't realize..."

"And did you 'also' not realize that your gym bag was in the middle of the floor? I nearly tripped on it. Go put it away."

Mulder crawled out of the bed and walked back into the living room. His gym bag was where he left it, out of the way under the table by the front door. Pulling it out he brought it back into the bedroom. Jack had straightened the comforter and was changing clothes.

"Sorry." Mulder mumbled and shoved his bag in the back of his closet. He walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Bending over the faucet he was surprised by hands slipping under his shirt and caressing him roughly.

"Mmmm, I missed you today. Did you get a good workout?" Jack caressed his flat stomach and reached up to tweak his nipples. Mulder never mentioned that he played basketball with Alex on Saturdays. Jack was jealous enough about Scully at work, Mulder didn't want to think about how jealous Jack would be about Alex, he just let his lover think he worked out alone at the gym.

"Yeah. I'm a little sore." Mulder pulled out of his grasp and stripped quickly, entering the shower. Jack pulled back the curtain once more and stepped in behind him.

"Yeah? I could help you with that..." Jack rubbed his shoulders and Mulder leaned into the touch, but as Jack's hands dipped lower Mulder tensed.

"Uh...that's not going to help me with my soreness." Mulder pulled away slightly, but was stopped by Jack's hands on his hips.

"I'll be gentle." Jack grabbed the shampoo bottle as Mulder gritted his teeth but remained where he was. A finger circled his anus gently at first, then slowly slipped in, rubbing irritated tissues. Jack was gentle, but insistent. Mulder bit his lip as he was pressed face first against the wall. Bracing himself, Mulder bent slightly and grunted with the first thrust. Jack's hands gripped his hips harder and he grunted into Mulder's ear. "Unh...oh, so hot...tight...unh...so sweet..." A hand slipped around Mulder's waist and caressed Mulder's cock, but it was only half mast. Mulder couldn't help being slightly aroused, but the pain kept him from a full erection. Jack's fingers gave up and returned to their grip on Mulder's hip. A powerful thrust wrung a cry from Mulder and he lost all interest, his dick hanging limp as he struggled not to slip with each crushing thrust against the bathroom tiles.

Jack continued to fuck him for several minutes, "Oh, god...fuck...unh...take it..." His lover finally came, thrusting into Mulder with jerky movements. Mulder closed his eyes and waited for him to finally finish and pull out and was surprised when Jack refused to for several minutes, pushing Mulder into the wall for several minutes as he leaned on him.

Finally, he slipped out of him and pushed himself off of Mulder. Chuckling, he pulled Mulder off of his plastered position from the wall. "You slut...always horny...you make me lose control." He leaned forward and bit Mulder's already bruised and puffy lower lip.

"Excuse me? 'You're' the horny bastard. I told you I was too sore-" Mulder knew better, but he couldn't help being pissed off at this.

Jack growled, but kept smiling. "You loved it. Shut up and wash up. I invited my family over for dinner." Jack lathered himself up and rinsed off, leaving Mulder staring after him. Jack had washed off his bloody dick without comment. Red swirls had filled the tub and quickly washed down the drain and his lover had glanced at it with detached amusement. Mulder stood under the spray as long as he dared, washing himself as best he could. He had thought that he'd hurt 'before.' He wondered if he should take Alex's advice and get a check up at a clinic. He wasn't looking forward to sitting down at dinner.

XXX

Dinner was tense and artificially polite as it always was with Jack's family. Jack's parents didn't approve of their lifestyle, but instead of aiming their icy disproval at their precious son, they blamed Mulder for corrupting him.

"So, 'Fox' how's your work?" Jack's mother always stressed his name in 'just' such a way as to show how contemptuous she was of both his name 'and' him. Mulder hated that Jack's family called him by his first name, but Jack insisted, just as he insisted that 'he' could call Mulder by that name.

"Fine, Mrs. Perkins. I'm busy as always. And how are you?" The Perkins ate dinner with subdued grace, silverware clinked and they took turns grilling Mulder over his career and lifestyle at every turn. Jack had done most of the cooking, but it was Mulder's job to serve and get up every few moments to fill everyone's glass. The fact that he moved slowly and stiffly was a source of amusement to Jack who grinned evilly at him when his parents weren't looking.

When dinner was finally finished, Jack and his parents retired to the living room as Mulder cleaned the table. He took a minute each time he returned to the kitchen to lean against the counter. Fists clenched he struggled to force the pain to a tolerable level before returning to the dining room. Jack swept in as he was resting once more and gave him an annoyed look.

"What's taking you so long? I told you to bring out the coffee when it finished. Mom wants her coffee." Mulder glanced at the full coffee pot and reached up in the cabinet before him for cups and saucers. Gasping as a bolt of pain shot up his spine at the movement, Mulder nearly dropped a saucer. Jack grabbed the dish from his hand and shoved him out of the way.

"Damn it, Fox! I'll do this. Just fill the dishwasher and come out. You're being rude." Jack filled three cups of coffee and carried them out to the living room on a small tray. Mulder did as he said and grabbed his own cup of coffee before plastering a polite smile on his face and joining the Perkins.

XXX

Jack was cold to him in bed that night. Turning out the lights, his lover had rolled over, his back to him as he gave him the silent treatment. Mulder shifted all night, trying to find a position that didn't hurt. He watched the hours slip by.

He must have finally dozed off because the Jack woke him with a hand on his cheek. "Good morning, Mary Sunshine!" Jack chuckled at his disgruntled groan as he shoved Jack's hand off his face and tried to press his nose into the pillow.

"Oh, come on, Fox. The day's a wasting! Up and at them!" Mulder pretended not to hear him. Jack decided it was time for more persuasive arguments. Stealing under the covers, his hand snaked out to touch Mulder-

An angry yelp leaped from Mulder's throat as he jerked away from his touch. "Don't touch me, damn it, Jack!" Jack pulled back with an offended look, but Mulder wasn't having any of it this morning. "I'm up! And I'm taking a shower... Alone!" As the door slammed behind him, Jack slowly turned his attention from the door and looked at the light blue sheets that had been revealed when Mulder tossed the comforter off. Blood.

Jack found himself staring absently at the particularly dark red stain without moving until he heard a painful groan from the bathroom.

"Fox?"

XXX

Later that day...

Mulder wiped at the cold sweat that had broken out on his face as he'd walked up to Scully's apartment. The doctor at the clinic Jack had driven him to had told him to get plenty of bed rest along with his medications, but he'd promised Jack he'd be quick in finishing up his work with Scully and then go home to bed.

Knocking on the door, Mulder wiped his face again quickly and tucked the Kleenex in his pocket as he squared his shoulders. Scully opened the door with a distracted frown, her eyes on a piece of paper in her hand.

" 'Bout time, pizza's on the table and you are going to come up with a better explanation for the damage to the Brinkley's living room than 'the ghost didn't like their wallpaper,' Skinner isn't going to let that go."

Mulder stepped around her and into the apartment. "And hello to you, too, Scully. I told you, the poltergeist ripped the wallpaper off the wall right in front of me. Don't you believe me?" A snide comment or two later and Mulder was sitting gingerly on Scully's overstuffed sofa cushions.

Of course Scully managed to look up in time to notice 'that.' "What's the matter, Mulder? Rough night?" She smirked as she grabbed a slice and sat down next to him. Mulder shifted slightly as the cushions dipped from her weight next to him and he winced and a very soft groan escaped him.

Concerned she examined his face and then dropped her pizza back in the box as she gently moved to the side to look at him closely. "You don't look good, Mulder. You're pale and sweaty."

Mulder winced as he gave a lame attempt at a smile, "Thanks, you look great, too."

"No, I'm serious." She lifted a hand to his forehead. "You have a fever..."

Mulder batted her hand aside and grabbed the soda she'd left out for him. "Yeah, I've got an antibiotic I'm supposed to take, I'm fine." He pulled out a bottle and shook out his pills. Swallowing them with the lukewarm soda he started to drop the bottle back in his pocket when she stopped him. As usual, Dr. Scully checked his prescription and the doctor prescribing it.

"Well?" She asked as she handed back the bottle. "You never voluntarily go to the doctor when you're sick, Mulder..."

Mulder grabbed a folder and flipped it open. "Yeah, well, like you said, it was a rough night. I don't feel like talking about it, okay?"

Scully frowned, "A rough night? Are you two-"

Mulder flicked his eyes up at her and glared before returning his gaze at his report. "I do 'not' need a lecture on safe sex from you, Scully."

Raising her eyebrows, she gave in and reached over for her own notes as she heard him mutter under his breath. "Especially after I already heard it today..."

XXX

Monday
9:15 a. m.

Skinner was reading their report with a familiar frown. Scully glanced over at Mulder and wished for the tenth time that morning that he'd stayed home in bed. The stubborn man was sitting ever so slightly to the side in his chair, a line of pain creased in his forehead.

"Very well, agents, if there is nothing further..." Scully looked back at her boss and shook her head.

"No, sir." Skinner glanced at Mulder who was pushing himself out of the chair like an old man.

"Are you alright, Agent Mulder?" Skinner's eyes were hidden by the reflection off his glasses, but his voice was full of fatherly concern.

"Fine, sir." Mulder walked to the door at a sedate pace, Scully trailed after him. As she closed the door behind them she thought she noticed a frown of concern on his face as he stared after them.

Catching up with her partner at the elevator, Scully tried not to stare at him.

"Scully, you're staring."

Sighing she decided to confront him, "Look, Mulder. You're not feeling up to work today, why don't you-"

"I think I'll call it a day, Scully. Go home and get some bed rest." Scully raised her eyebrows and dropped her hands.

"Oh...good. I'll call you later and check up on you, then." Mulder smirked at stealing her thunder and nodded.

XXX

Making sure his briefcase was stowed away and his suit in the dry cleaning bag, Mulder finally allowed himself to collapse onto the bed for a nap. By collapse, he meant gingerly sitting and easing himself down onto his side. His ass was in flames. The painkillers just zonked him out so he'd avoided taking them until getting home. Popping a pill now, he washed it down with a cup of water from his bedside table. Glancing at his clock he realized it was lunchtime, but was in far too much pain to contemplate getting up. As the pill worked, he drifted off into a deep drugged slumber.

A hand stroked his cheek and Mulder fuzzily tried to clear his head and open his eyes.

"Whaa-?" Blinking, he saw Jack smiling tenderly at him as he leaned down for a chaste kiss on his forehead.

"Hey, Fox. I just got home, how are you feeling?" Mulder grinned slightly, it was moments like this that reminded him why he was glad to be with Jack. His lover could be very sweet sometimes.

"Oh...I'm fine. Just a little zonked from the pills..." Mulder shifted as he tried to sit up and groaned as he reawakened the pain.

Jack steadied him as he propped pillows up behind his back. "Better? I thought I'd bring you some dinner in bed and we could just spend the night in here. I even brought you your weird magazine. It was with the rest of the mail downstairs."

Mulder glanced at the latest copy of 'the Magic Bullet' that Jack handed him. He'd forgotten to get the mail even though he was home first. "Oh, sorry, I forgot-"

Jack shook his head, "That's okay, you're sick. I'll go make us some food." His lover gave him a peck, this time on the cheek and left the room. Mulder watched him leave, squashing the slight feeling of nervousness he had at Jack's easy acceptance.

After dinner, Jack cleaned up and Mulder took his pills again, as his eyes drifted shut he felt Jack cuddle him close as he sat up reading a book. The occasional flick of a page was hypnotic. Feeling warm and comforted, Mulder drifted off feeling better than he had in weeks.

XXX

XXX

A couple of weeks went by, normal ones where Mulder and Scully closed a few bizarre cases and most Saturdays Mulder and Alex played basketball. Jack had been acting unusually conciliatory and there had been no arguments or yelling over the day-to-day chores and Mulder's messiness or late hours.

As Mulder snagged the ball from Alex's hands and made a shot, he realized that he was actually feeling nervous about that.

It was strange. Jack was acting far more easygoing and loving since the 'incident' as Mulder called it. He cuddled more, didn't raise his voice often...Mulder knew he should be thrilled. But instead he felt like it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped.

Shaking off this paranoid line of thought, Mulder turned his attention back to the game. He wanted to focus on his free time with Alex today, not on his delusions of life being a little 'too perfect.'

X.X.X

Alex watched as Mulder made another beautiful shot. He wasn't irritated, he actually enjoyed watching Mulder mop up the court with him. Mulder's grace and athletic ability was a thing of beauty.

Alex snorted at himself for the sappy thought, he was finally dating a little again, but it was painfully clear to Alex that he was 'far' from over Mulder. Every date he went on he found himself measuring his date against Mulder. David wasn't nearly as funny or smart. John had similar eyes, but they just didn't mesmerize Alex the same way... It was frustrating as hell and driving Alex crazy. If he could 'just' get over his infatuation, maybe another guy would stand a chance in a date with him.

"Aaaleeex? Hey, Alex!! You okay?" Alex blinked and found those mesmerizing eyes studying him with playful concern.

"Huh? Yeah, just distracted..." Alex made a grab for the ball, but Mulder easily avoided him and started circling him, ball dribbling expertly in his hands as he taunted him.

"Yeah, suure, you just keep telling yourself that's why you're losing! Come on, Alex, do you want to play or not? Huh? Huh?" Mulder taunted him some more, weaving the ball around Alex, just out of reach. The playful taunts delivered by his sexy voice grating on Alex's last nerve until he snapped.

Reaching out he managed to knock the ball out of Mulder's hands, sending it bouncing toward the bleachers. "No, I don't." Alex stalked past Mulder, suddenly furious at the other man. He had to get away from him. How could he take it any more? Mulder only saw him as a buddy. Someone to play a game with and maybe grab a beer. He had no clue...

"Wait! Alex, what's wrong?" Mulder trotted after him, all playfulness abandoned and real concern on his face. Normally Alex would have risen to the challenge and trounced him thoroughly just to remove the smug look from his face, and laughed while doing it, but right now he just couldn't stand it.

Alex wiped his face off with his shirt and grabbed his water bottle with a death grip, squeezing his eyes shut as Mulder neared. Opening them he deliberately took a long swig of lukewarm water. "Nothing. I'm just not up to a game today. Next week, okay?" Stepping around Mulder he headed for the showers. Mulder followed him in a minute later.

Ignoring the other man, Alex stripped and started lathering under the shower's spray. His eyes were closed to avoid soap in his eyes when he felt someone bump into him. Opening his eyes, he grimaced as the soap burned his right eye. "Damn it, Mulder!"

Mulder glanced at him from under the next shower jet in surprise and then realized what the problem was. Leaving the showers he came back with a towel and Alex grabbed it thankfully, rubbing his eyes. "Thanks." He then gritted his teeth and let out a muttered, "...sorry."

"For what?" Mulder returned to rinsing soap from his torso and Alex shrugged, tossing the towel to the side.

"For yelling at you, I got soap in my eyes...and well, earlier on the court, I took my frustration out on you, too. I'm sorry. I'm just not myself today." Turning off the spray, Alex walked over to the lockers, drying himself. He gritted his teeth as he struggled with his temper.

Why was he so mad, anyway? Mulder was clueless, but that wasn't 'his' fault. It's not like Alex had ever told him...and he wouldn't. He'd just have to get over it. He listened as Mulder finished his shower and headed in his direction. 'Keep your cool. Don't mess up your friendship over this.'

Mulder watched Alex leave the showers. He was confused. Alex seemed distracted and angry, but not at Mulder. He'd apologized for taking it out on Mulder, too. Alex was a damn good friend. Always willing to listen, eager to help, and he never seemed to lose his temper with Mulder. He'd apologized for such a trivial thing as snapping at him. Why couldn't Jack be more like that? Not just lately, but all the time.

The brief traitorous thought surprised him. Why on earth would he expect Jack to be any different than he was? Jack loved him. Lived with him. He knew what Mulder was like...Alex only saw him at work or on the court...if he and Alex were together... Mulder snorted and turned off the water. As if Alex would be interested in him...even if he was...it was better as friends. After all, if Alex lived with him he'd soon realize all of Mulder's faults and hate him. He was lucky to have Jack.

He dried himself off and watched his friend pull a shirt over his head. "Alex? I don't know what's wrong, but if you ever need to talk, I'm here." His voice was quiet, but he tried to sound casual enough that Alex didn't get upset.

He was relieved when Alex looked up with his usual easy smile. "I know. Let me buy us some lunch. I found a great Greek restaurant..."

Mulder chuckled as he listened to Alex describe their delicious baklava and strong coffee. Alex had a sweet tooth and rather exotic tastes sometimes. Perhaps it was his heritage. Alex was half Russian and half Greek, although neither of those explained his own last name, Krycek. Apparently, Alex's Russian grandfather had changed the name somewhere along the line and it was hopelessly corrupted. Mulder wondered how Alex's Greek grandmother was, he'd met her once and she'd seemed such a sweet old lady.

As Alex trailed off, Mulder finished tying his shoes and stood up. "What about your Yiayia? Doesn't she still make the best Baklava? How is she?"

Alex smiled sadly. "She's okay, but too tired these days to make it much. I took her some Baklava from that restaurant last time I visited her, but she said it wasn't as good as hers. She's right....but it's better than most. She asks about you all the time, you know. She liked you."

Mulder smiled warmly. Nice to know he could make a good impression on 'someone's' relatives. "Tell her I said hi. And that I agree...no one makes better food than her. Those cookies you gave me that last time were great. Too bad she's not feeling good."

Alex nodded and made a mental note to tell Yiayia how much she was still appreciated. Maybe he could bring Mulder over to see her again. They'd gotten along rather well.

Lunch was eaten with great gusto, Alex left with another small box of pastries to tempt his grandmother with and Mulder drove home with a wistful smile on his face.

XXX

The other shoe finally dropped a week later.

Jack had returned home from his night out with his buddies from work. Drunken, Jack had blown into a fit of rage over Mulder's 'clutter' of papers on the coffee table. As Mulder tried to pick them up, Jack backhanded him. Holding his jaw, Mulder had stared at him wide-eyed.

"Clean up this mess, Fox!" Jack grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away from his face in a punishing grip, squeezing it threateningly before letting go. Stumbling to the bedroom, he left Mulder alone in the living room.

Conflicting thoughts and emotions swirled in Mulder's head. He felt a flash of anger, of course, but mainly he felt strangely relieved. Jack's behavior was understandable. 'He's drunk. I shouldn't have left these papers on the table. I know he doesn't like anything left out like that...' Cleaning up he noticed his hands were trembling and felt another, stronger, flash of anger. 'So stupid...shouldn't have...cut it out. I'll clean it up and everything will be fine...'

XXX

At work Mulder was quiet. No sunflower seeds, no flipping pencils at the ceiling or cracking jokes. He worked at his desk with intense concentration and flashed Scully his completed report well within the deadline.

In short, Scully was worried.

"Hey, Mulder, any plans for this weekend?" Scully asked casually as she sipped her coffee.

Mulder glanced up and then tossed his pen down with a sigh, leaning back in his seat as he stretched his arms up and behind his head.

"No, why? Gotta hot date?"

Scully gave him the eye and then grabbed another folder. "No. I was just wondering if you and Jack were planning any-"

"Jack's out of town this weekend, his brother's having some party or something. I was planning on relaxing. In fact, I think I'll go for a swim after we finish." Mulder stood up and grabbed a file off of her desk, the cuff of his shirt was pushed up slightly and she noticed a large purple bruise.

"What happened here?" Scully reached out, but Mulder glanced down and jerked his hand back quickly.

"Nothing. Banged it. So how come you aren't on a hot date this weekend? I thought you were seeing that doctor..."

Scully sighed, "He turned out to be married," she grimaced and sipped her coffee again. Why had she brought up hot dates?

"Want me to have a little talk with him?" Mulder's attempt at a joke failed as his voice came out low and serious. Scully glanced up in surprise and then smiled gently. He sounded like an older brother just then, protective instincts at red alert.

"No, Mulder. I took care of that already. And his wife was interested to hear from me, too." Mulder nodded and smiled back, but his protective watchfulness took longer to fade.

"So, since we're both free, wanna grab a pizza and rent a movie, then?" Mulder tossed another file onto her desk from his own, the folder opened and papers scattered across her desk. Back from being protective and right into acting like an obnoxious older brother. Scully scooped the papers up and shook her head.

"No, I promised Melissa I'd go over to her apartment tonight and then we're going shopping over the weekend. You're welcome to come..." Scully smirked as Mulder made a gagging face and shook his head.

"Uh, no. You two have fun."

Scully chuckled to herself and returned to her work, uncertain if the idea of shopping or hanging out with her New Age sister was the worst in his mind.

XXX

Hoover Pool

Krycek walked around the pool, watching as a lithe and graceful body sliced through the water. The rhythm was interrupted as Mulder poked his head up as he reached the edge of the pool and noticed Alex. Swimming over, he pulled himself up the latter and out of the pool. Alex noticed the bruise on his wrist and as he reached the top of the ladder, Alex could see more bruises on each hip. Alex quickly averted his gaze and smiled at Mulder. Water dribbled down his smooth chest as he removed his goggles and smiled at Alex.

Alex swallowed and tried to keep his eyes from drifting down and getting a better look at the skimpy speedo Mulder was sporting. 'Why in the hell does he torture me like this?'

"Hey, Alex, what's up?"

Alex remembered that he could speak and found himself nervously tugging on his tie, why did the keep the indoor pool so heated? It was too hot. "Oh, I just heard you were in here and wanted to see if you wanted to grab a beer. I didn't mean to interrupt..."

Mulder swiped his hair out of his eyes and wiped at his face. "No problem. I was finished..." Mulder frantically tried to think of an excuse about the beer. He really shouldn't...Jack wouldn't understand. As long as Alex and he just played basketball, it was really innocent...even if he didn't tell Jack. But a beer? Alex looked a little nervous. Maybe he needed to talk to him about what was bothering him. He was a rotten friend if he didn't go...

"I could use a beer, give me a few minutes."

Alex nodded and left to wait outside. 'Shit, what are you doing, Alex? You promised yourself you wouldn't...'

XXX

The bar was crowded and deafening as Mulder and Alex searched for an empty booth. The jukebox was blaring and people were celebrating Friday by making general fools of themselves. They finally snagged a booth and ordered drinks. While they waited Mulder grabbed the peanut bowl the waitress had plopped on the table. Alex glanced down at the long tapered fingers as they opened a shell. His gaze wondered up the fingers of the right hand up to the wrist that peeked out from the shirt cuff.

Their beers arrived at that moment after sipping his beer, Alex tilted his bottle, gesturing at Mulder's wrist. Raising his voice to be heard over the din of the crowd, "So what happened this time?" he swigged his beer again before setting it down and reaching for a peanut.

Mulder glanced at his own wrist as he held the beer. "Oh, banged it. So, what's up with you?" His voice was also raised to be heard, making his usual flat monotone a bit higher.

'Evasive maneuver, hmm, Mulder?' Alex raised a brow. "Nothing." Pausing, he shouted over to his companion again, "How'd you bang it? Looks nasty."

Mulder set his beer down and leaned back in his seat slightly and shrugged. "Don't remember." His smile had become slightly stiff and his eyes were flinty. Alex knew he was treading on dangerous ground.

"Just wondered. How's Jack?" Just as Alex finished asking, the juke box finished its song and the noise level dropped to a more comfortable level.

Mulder shrugged again and grabbed his bottle, taking another swig before answering with his usual low voice. "Fine. Just fine. How's 'your' love life going?"

"Look, Mulder..." Mulder looked ready to bolt, but his eyes challenged him to finish his sentence. "...we're a little concerned-"

"We?" Mulder's voice was a low growl.

Alex avoided his gaze, but continued, "Scully and I are a little concerned, Mulder. You've been acting a little odd and the bruises..."

Mulder threw back his head and laughed a short barking laugh that made Alex uneasy. "You two! I banged my wrist, that's all. And Jack and I...well, we get a little frisky, sometimes. It's NONE of your business, either of you. Maybe if the two of 'you' got out once in a while and dated..." The juke box was roaring again and their shouting went unnoticed amongst the crowd thankfully.

Alex glared at him, "Mulder-"

Mulder slammed his beer on the table a little harshly. "No, it's none of your business. I'm a big bad FBI agent and I can take care of my own damn self. I 'banged' my wrist, okay? I don't remember when, maybe while we were fucking like animals and I banged it on the headboard, the point 'is' it's none of your business. And I'll thank you to stay out of it. If that's all you asked me out for a drink for, I think I'll go, I'm tired." Mulder pulled out his wallet and dropped some bills on the table before leaving.

Alex stared after him with mixed feelings. He was still worried about Mulder, but overwhelmingly he felt as if he'd betrayed Mulder by overstepping the boundaries. He really shouldn't have mentioned Scully or questioned Mulder's story. Sighing, he picked at the label of his beer bottle and wondered how he'd managed to fuck up so bad.

XXX

Mulder growled as he slammed the car door shut. Damn the two of them anyway. Sticking their noses where they didn't belong.

As he drove towards home he realized that he smelled like cigarettes and alcohol. It was a damn good thing Jack wasn't at home waiting for him.

XXX

Saturday passed without the usual basketball game. Mulder left a message on Alex's machine before he even got back from the bar saying he was busy, but they could play next week. Mulder was still seething from the betrayal, but he didn't want to cut his friend off completely, just a little time to cool off. Besides, he was so tired... He slept most of Saturday away on the couch.

Mulder was sitting in the dining room doing paperwork when Jack got back home Sunday night. Jack waltzed in with his bag and set it on the chair next to Mulder before swooping down behind him and embracing him tightly from behind. Mulder stiffened until Jack leaned over and kissed his ear, whispering, "I missed you, babe. You should have come with me...mmmmm..." Jack started kissing and biting his way down his neck and Mulder eased into it, ignoring the fact that Jack hadn't 'asked' him to come.

Jack's arms remained tight around his shoulders, refusing to let Mulder raise his arms as Jack nibbled his way down to his collar before switching sides. Sucking on his earlobe, he then bit it hard before growling, "Let's go to bed."

Mulder jerked at the bite, but nodded slightly, smiling wanly. Jack finally released him and Mulder stood a little wobbly before reaching out and pulling Jack into a kiss. Jack allowed it before increasing the pressure, turning the kiss into a full frontal assault.

When he finally released his mouth Mulder panted and then chuckled as Jack started tearing his shirt off him. "I thought you wanted to go to bed?"

Jack growled and pulled him towards the bedroom. Stripping Mulder of his pants, he then pushed Mulder onto the bed before pulling his own shirt off.

"Miss me, Fox?" Jack's black eyebrow rose expectantly.

"You know I did. It's too quiet without you here." Mulder stroked himself slowly and gave him a lazy smile. Jack smiled wolfishly and pushed his pants and underwear off impatiently. Climbing onto the bed he parted Mulder's thighs and leaned down in between them.

"It won't be quiet any longer. I'm going to make you scream..."

As he lay after, sticky, sore and sated, Jack's arm thrown over his hip possessively, Mulder stared at the moonlight as it peeked through the blinds.

'I'm happy. They don't know what they're talking about...'

XXX

Monday was a bear. Scully deeply regretted mentioning the latest bruise to Alex by the water cooler. She hadn't meant for the man to confront Mulder on it. Now Mulder was giving her the cold shoulder and the only reason she knew why was because Alex had called her Sunday to warn her.

As Mulder swiveled in his chair to reach for the file cabinet Scully stood and walked over, she'd had enough.

"Mulder? Damnit, Mulder, will you talk to me?"

Mulder slammed the file drawer shut and glanced up at her, his eyes were cold. "What, Scully?"

"Look, about Alex...I didn't tell him to confront you, I only told him I was worried-"

Mulder stood up, his height intimidating her as it was meant to, she stepped back only enough to look up at him comfortably, not backing down. "Worried about what? Didn't your little gossip partner tell you? It was from sex. I like it rough sometimes and I banged my wrist. That enough detail, Agent Scully?"

Scully glanced to the side, suitably chastened. "Uh, I'm sorry. I didn't...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have talked about you behind your back. I was just worried...I'm sorry, Mulder."

Mulder sat down abruptly. "That's okay. I understand. But next time, talk to me. I don't need you gossiping about me at the watercooler. I get enough of it from everyone else. Spooky Mulder doesn't need any more rumors going around."

Scully winced and nodded. "I'm sorry, Mulder. And don't be mad at Alex? He was just concerned, too. He's a good friend. He stands up for you against those kind of people. He doesn't think you're spooky, and neither do I..."

Mulder smiled weakly and nodded, he'd already decided to forgive Alex, provided the man didn't bring up the subject again. "Thanks."

"...you're just weird." Scully finished. She got a bigger smile at that, easing the last of her concerns.

"Oh, yeah? Well, I've got a new case here. What do you know about werewolves?"

Scully groaned.

XXX

Their weekly game continued the next Saturday. There was no apology and no mention of the topic discussed. Typical men that they were, they ignored the elephant in the room and played as if nothing had happened. Alex was just relieved that Mulder had shown up. He'd thought for sure that Mulder would stop coming all together.

Afterwards they showered, but neither mentioned lunch. Mulder's bruises were faded to a brownish yellow and Alex pretended not to see a fresh one on his left hip. If Mulder wasn't complaining, then Alex wasn't going to fight him on it. The man 'was' an FBI agent. And a psychologist to boot.

Splitting up at the parking lot, Mulder was friendly enough as he said goodbye. Alex turned back to watch him walk away. He wondered if their friendship would ever be the same.

XXX

Months passed and the holidays came and went.

Thanksgiving was always a difficult time for Mulder because of his sister's disappearance. He hadn't celebrated holidays since leaving home for college until he'd gotten together with Jack. Even though he knew that Jack was aware of when his sister disappeared, Jack ignored it. He found Mulder's quietness and lack of holiday cheer irritating and offensive, so Mulder buried the usual holiday depression and put on a fake smile. Even going so far as to buy a flower centerpiece for the thanksgiving table.

Christmas was spent with the Perkins family and Mulder was thrilled when the holidays had ended because the entire family drank like fish. Jack, his father, and his brother Tom had been pounding back the beers while the mother guzzled the eggnog. The drunken insults and condensation had reminded Mulder far too much of his childhood holidays after Samantha had been kidnapped. His father had preferred highballs and drinking in his office while his mom had sipped her wine by the bottle along with her sleeping pills.

Now that New Year's was over, Mulder was glad to be back to work. Whistling, he waltzed into his office to find Scully at her desk, one brow arched over her mug of coffee.

"And what are 'you' so happy about? The holidays are over."

"Exactly. Back to work...how was your holiday, Scully?"

Scully told him about Bill and the new baby. Mulder carefully kept his distaste of her brother hidden while he nodded without really listening. Scully was fully aware of this and she wrapped it up quickly and went back to work. It was sad, really, he still didn't enjoy the holidays. She would have thought that that would change once he was living with someone, but instead he seemed to dread them more.

The New Year started off with a bang, Mulder was assigned an urgent profiling case that quickly became a nightmare as the killer escalated. By the time the case was finished a week later, Mulder looked ready for another vacation. Worn out and tired, his eyes were lined with bags and his skin was chalky. An ever present reminder of why he didn't profile anymore. Apparently Skinner agreed because he gave Mulder a three day leave afterwards.

But giving him a leave and making him leave were two different things. Mulder sulked and tried to refuse the time off, Skinner had to practically call security before Mulder agreed to accept the leave and not the suspension.

"...who does he think he is, anyway? I've got lots of work to do here and..." Scully rolled her eyes and gestured for him to hurry up put on his coat.

"It's not the end of the world, Mulder. Tomorrow's Thursday so you'll have a nice long weekend." Mulder shook his head with exasperation and grabbed some files to take with him. Scully grabbed his hand and thwarted his attempt. She was still trying to get him out the door when Alex poked his head in.

"Still here, Mulder? I heard Kim was to call security if you're not out the door in ten minutes." Mulder glared at him and finally gave up on the folders.

"I'm going, I'm going..." He swept out of the office, leaving the two watching after him, bemused.

"Why does he always put up such a fight? He looks terrible, he needs some rest." Alex shook his head while Scully turned and started studying him.

"You've got it bad, don't you?" Scully smiled at him with knowing sympathy.

"What?! I-" she quirked an eyebrow and he caved, "...yes," he finished and dropped into Mulder's chair. "It's that obvious?"

Scully walked over and patted his hand. "Only to someone who's suffered the same malady."

XXX

The Monday after, Scully walked into the office with no surprise that Mulder was already there. She'd known he'd be there the second his leave and the weekend were up. Sure enough he was at his desk, buried in papers. He glanced up from his pile of files and Scully gasped slightly.

"Mulder-!"

"Before you start...I walked into the bathroom door. It was pitch black last night when I went to get a glass of water and boom! Hurt like a son of a bitch. But I'm fine. It's just a little sore." Mulder touched the side of his face tenderly, his eye was black and swollen shut. "So anyway, how was your weekend?"

XXX

Months later...

Returning home after a case in Wisconsin, Mulder was glad to finally hang up his coat on the coat rack. Besides an exhausting case which resulted in a newly sprained rib, Mulder was drained from a series of delays at the airport. Picking up his carry-on bag, Mulder headed up to the bedroom. Entering the dark room, Mulder squinted to see a shadowy figure sitting in the chair beyond the bed.

Snapping the light on, Jack glared coldly at him, a piece of paper in his hand. Unaccountably nervous, Mulder shifted his weight slightly before finally settling on an action. Setting his luggage on the bed, Mulder unzipped the bag.

"Hey, the airport was murder...sorry I'm late. Were you-"

"Did you think you could get away with it, Fox?" Jack's voice was cold and unemotional.

Mulder froze, hands clutching his toiletry bag. "What-"

"Surely you knew I would find out. You did this purposely to humiliate me, didn't you?" the cool even tone had a hard glittering edge to it, a warning that shot down Mulder's icy spine.

"I don't know what you're talk-"

"And don't 'even' try to play innocent. I'm not in the mood. Sit down, Fox." Mulder sat down on the edge of the bed without a word. What had he done?

"Since you want to play dumb, I'll be blunt. I know about Alex." Jack's voice lowered to a growl of barely controlled rage. "Are there any others I should know about...you whore?"

"Jack, I- Alex and I play basketb-"

The blow was sudden and vicious. Mulder never saw it coming. It wouldn't have been as bad, though, except that his head hit the edge of the nightstand. Blood poured down the side of his head as Mulder scrambled to his feet.

"Don't you 'dare' lie to me, Fox! You slut! Did you think I wouldn't find out?!" Jack swung again and Mulder barely avoided it. Stumbling backwards, he tripped on the edge of his bag which had fallen off the bed. Jack seized the chance and grabbed him in a vice-like grip. "I'll teach you to fuck around on me!"

XXX

Beeep, beep, beeep, beep...
Whoosh, whump, whoosh, whump...

The clatter and noise of the hospital seemed distant and faded as the quiet sounds of the ICU machines worked diligently to keep its patient alive.

Alex stared through the glass at Mulder lying heavily bandaged and pale on the bed. Tubes snaked out from under the blanket. The sight made his throat burn and his chest tighten. Glancing down the hall he noticed a tall man with black hair and blue eyes heading towards him.

"Excuse me!" A nurse tried to bar the man striding towards the ICU from entering. "Excuse me, but visitors are - "

"I'm looking for Fox Mulder. I'm his partner. Where is he?" The nurse struggled to keep up with the man as he strode past her and continued down the hall. Alex turned away from the window and unconsciously checked his weapon.

"Jack Perkins?" Alex gave the nurse a small nod and she shot him a relieved look and returned to her post, but not without one last shot of venom over her shoulder at Perkins.

"Yes. Who are you? Where's Fox?" Jack looked over at the window Alex had been at and stepped closer. "God, Fox..."

"Mr. Perkins, I'd like a word with you - "

The taller man gave him a dismissing glance and reached for the doorknob. "Later. I need to see Fox-"

Alex reached out a hand to stop him just as Skinner and a small group of police officers and two agents walked down the hall. Perkins stopped and glared menacingly at the small group approaching. The nurse stepped from her desk once more, this time with her own back up.

"Excuse me, but you gentlemen will have to leave. The patients-"

Skinner nodded at her and gestured for Krycek and Perkins to follow them out to the hall.

Perkins reluctantly left with them and Alex gave one last glance at the man in the bed. 'Don't worry, Mulder, we'll take care of this...'

XXX

The 'interview' was not going well. Skinner had sat at the head of the table in the small conferencing room the hospital had allowed them, but he had decided to remain silent for some reason that Alex couldn't understand. Allowing a fellow detective to interview Perkins, Skinner seemed content to listen as Perkins charmed his way out of the situation.

"So this was strictly a domestic dispute between you and...er, Mr. Mulder?"

"Yes. We had a disagreement and Fox had an accident."

Alex waited for the cop to show some brains and push the man, but he just nodded and made some notes. 'What the hell?' Krycek opened his mouth but stopped Skinner's slightly risen hand. The A.D. shook his head slightly and Alex clamped his mouth shut, but his aborted outburst was noted by all in the room. Perkins glanced at him slightly uneasy before giving a rueful grin.

"It got out of hand, I admit. We were both angry and we traded punches and I shoved him, he hit his head on the bedside table. That was an accident..."

Jack showed his own injuries and the police nodded and made note of them. Alex had had enough, standing up he leaned on the table and into Jack's face.

"Looks to me as if your injuries subsist of bruised knuckles and a nail gouges. Like an attacker would receive from a victim in self-defense."

Jack's anger was quick to rise and subdued with obvious difficulty. "He got a few punches in himself, it was a fight, I didn't pick it. He was angry-"

"Bullshit. 'You' were angry. He's the one in a hospital bed right now. Unconscious. Broken ribs, nose and arm. There are bruises around his arms and neck and he's suffering from a severe concussion. Your story is shit."

The interviewing policeman tried to interfere, but Alex would have none of it. "It seems the police department is more concerned with covering up for one of their own. Luckily, it doesn't matter, assaulting a federal officer is a federal crime, it is officially out of your jurisdiction." Skinner gave him an annoyed look, but nodded at that point. Gesturing for one of the nearby agents to step forward, he told Perkins to stand up. Alex allowed himself a small grim smile of victory.

Jack finally lost his temper. Red faced he lunged across the table.

XXX

Alex sat on the couch wearily sipping stale coffee. Skinner had left long ago with the other agents and Perkins in handcuffs. Scully had arrived earlier, but spent all of her time with Mulder's doctors. When she finally finished she found him in the waiting room, waiting for time when the nurses would give in and let him visit Mulder's room.

Scully sat down next to him and gave him a sympathetic smile. "I heard what happened.

"Hmm." Alex sipped his coffee again to avoid answering.

Scully seemed to understand. "God, I wish I'd been there. Given that son of a bitch... Alex? Are you aware of..."

Sighing, Alex glanced over at her. "Of what?"

She sat up a little straighter before piercing him with her blue eyes. With a careful steady voice she finished, "...were you aware that he was...sexually assaulted, too?"

Alex's hand convulsively tightened, crushing the fragile paper cup of coffee in his hand. Scully automatically grabbed his hand, but the coffee was barely lukewarm and she settled for wiping it off with a nearby paper napkin.

"What?" Alex's voice was a hoarse whisper. He wished he had the man in front of him again...

Scully dropped their hands back his lap, but continued to hold his hand tightly. "There was a great deal of trauma, but a lot of the bruises were old...but there were fresh tears and..." She stopped as his hand squeezed tighter. "Anyway, he'll heal, though. The doctors have taken good care of him. All of his injuries should heal eventually without any long term difficulties. He may need physical therapy and lots of time to recuperate. They'll be recommending counseling..."

Alex nodded absently, he knew how 'that' would go over with Mulder.

"...and he'll need us to be there for him. You'll be here for him." She said it with quiet conviction as she squeezed his hand one last time.

Alex smiled at her and nodded. "We'll be here for him."

XXX


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