Chemical Agents VI: Valence

by Ratadder and Queen Mab

CHEMICAL AGENTS PART SIX - VALENCE

Valence: the degree of attractiveness an individual, activity or object possesses as a behavioral goal

February 2nd
8:27 a.m.

Skinner jerked up suddenly, wide awake, then sat there wondering what had woken him. Byers slept on in the chair, not quite snoring. A low buzz of white noise from the far room told him Mulder and Frohike had fallen asleep with the tv on. Again. Dana's door remained shut.

He tilted his head and listened. Nothing seemed out of order, but something nagged at the back of his mind. Some noise had pulled him straight out of sleep. He got off the couch bed and stretched, pulled on his pants and reached for his glasses. As he slipped them on, Dana's door opened and she entered the living room.

"Morning." He smiled. That answered that. He must have heard her moving as she woke. He entertained the fanciful notion that perhaps he was more attuned to noises coming from her room.

"Good morning, yourself," she greeted him with a warm smile. "Just wake up?"

"Yes." He glanced once more around the room. "Something woke me, but I don't know what. Maybe you," he added, moving closer.

She met him half way with a soft chuckle. "Should I apologize?"

"Absolutely not. Sleeping this late is strange, and I'd prefer getting back on my regular schedule."

"As upset as all our schedules have been, I don't think it's going to hurt you to get a couple extra late mornings. Coffee?"

"Love some." He crossed to the bathroom as she disappeared into the kitchen. On his way back to join her in the kitchen, he detoured to stick his head into Krycek's room and check on Langly.

The empty bed, coupled with the empty chair, sent a shock of adrenaline running through his system. He stared at the silent furniture for a half second that felt much longer, then turned on heel and raced back into the living room. "DANA!" His shout woke Byers with a start, and he heard a bump from the far room, but he didn't pause, just ran straight for the kitchen. "Are Krycek and Langly-" He broke off when he saw they weren't there either. "Dammit! He's gone! They're both gone! What-"

He froze as Scully's lifted hand caught his attention, then followed the direction of her stare out through the kitchen window. To see Alex Krycek, standing at the edge of the woods, apparently... communing with a tree. Three feet away from him Langly stood, arms wrapped around his skinny body, looking chilled but otherwise fine.

Not unconscious. Not dead. Just standing there watching Alex Krycek commune with the tree.

The adrenaline accelerated straight into rage without pause. "What the hell are they doing outside?!" he roared. Ignoring Scully, he whirled to storm outside, but Mulder came barreling through the door, Frohike and Byers on his heels, forcing Skinner back a step.

"What's going on? Where's Krycek?" Mulder's hair stood straight up and he still had pillow creases on his cheek, but he'd obviously seen the empty bedroom for himself.

Skinner pointed at the window, face dark with anger. "Your trustworthy pot-peddler apparently decided to take him for a stroll."

"What?!"

"Where-"

"He what?"

As they all tried to get a look out the window, Scully took the opportunity to grab Skinner's arm, yanking him to a halt when he would have stormed out again. "Wait! Will you just take a minute and look? He's not going anywhere." She spun Skinner around and shoved him toward the window.

Five faces peered through the glass as outside, oblivious to the ruckus, Alex stopped running his left hand up and down the bark of the tree, and reached up and gripped the branch directly over his head. Settling both hands in a pull-up position, he lifted his sock-clad feet just clear of the ground, though he didn't come close to getting his chin anywhere near the branch. Langly started forward nervously, arms out. Alex lowered himself with a visible exhalation, and landed on the ground laughing. Turning, he said something that made Langly laugh too. Langly kept shuffling forward a few steps and jerked his thumb at the cabin, obviously asking Alex to go back inside. Krycek shook his head, making a 'one more minute' gesture.

Dropping to one knee, he ran his hand over the grass repeatedly, then picked up a piece of broken branch. Rising awkwardly, he swayed and Langly immediately came in behind him, arms extended once again. Catching himself on the closest tree, he shook his head, lips moving rapidly. Once steady, he lifted his left arm in a graceful arc and threw the stick across the clearing and into the woods. Something obviously caught his eye as he did so, for he stopped still and waved his arm through the air again, looking at the ground at his feet. Speaking to Langly over his shoulder, he extended his arms and they both watched the ground where his movements played out in the mirror image of his shadow.

The silence in the kitchen remained complete as he knelt again, picked up a rock, held it between his palms, rotated his left fingers across the surface. Finally Skinner cleared his throat. "We need to get him inside," he muttered gruffly. He strode out to the front door, and glanced at the keypad. Seeing it was deactivated, he flung open the door and stepped out onto the porch. Langly and Krycek both looked up and he saw Langly mutter something. He descended the steps as Langly bent and helped Krycek back to his feet, and they both moved slowly toward him.

"Morning, Skinner," Krycek said as they got within feet of each other.

"Feeling better, I take it."

"Still hurts, but the difference is night and day." He smiled. "I've been cooped up for weeks. I just wanted some fresh air. And I wanted to use the hand a little."

"You couldn't 'use the hand a little' inside?" Skinner ground out.

"What was I going to do, use the remote control and channel surf?"

"You could have made breakfast," Skinner snapped. "Or tried a computer or-" The underlying message got lost, however, as Krycek's face lit up again.

"Hey, I could!" He passed Skinner and started up the steps, releasing Langly in favor of leaning on the railing. "Langly, you know if we've got potatoes? And onions? I make the best hash browns in the known universe."

Skinner stared up at the sky, muttering as he heard the door open behind him. "Just keep me sane until I can hand him off to someone else..."


Mulder watched out the window as Skinner's presence on the porch brought Krycek and Langly back across the clearing around the cabin. The open, happy look on Krycek's face hit him harder than seeing the man outside in the first place. He tried to remember if he'd ever seen Alex look like that, when he wasn't drugged out of his mind on Langly's pot. Watching him stretch out his hand, touch things, use the returned limb, had brought an unaccountable lump to Mulder's throat, and he turned from the window and tried to wash it down with Scully's coffee.

Hearing the front door he steeled himself, but nothing could prepare him for the Alex Krycek that staggered into the kitchen grinning.

"I'm making breakfast!"

Byers and Frohike just sank down silently at the kitchen table as Alex made his way to the counter and started pulling open cupboards. Langly came in behind him, followed by Skinner. Scully stepped up and caught his arm. "Alex! I assume you're feeling improved?"

"Hurts like hell, but it's nothing compared to what it was!" He grinned down at her, eyes alight, then extended his hand and opened and closed his fist in front of her face. "Look! Look at it! It works! It's just like... it is my arm."

She couldn't help returning the smile. "It's incredible, Alex." She caught his hand in hers and worked each finger independently. "They all respond fine, do what you want them to do?"

"Total control. Conscious, unconscious... all of it. If you ignore the aching, it's like it was never gone. It's... unbelievable."

"And how is the pain? Tell me more about that."

"I can deal. I've had a lot worse. It just aches and tingles. Some minor burning. I can put up with that."

She ran her hands up his arm slowly. "You can stand touch on it now?"

"Absolutely. The hypersensitivity is pretty much gone. The nerves feel like they're settling down. Mostly it just feels... tired. Like I've worked it too hard or something. And it's not as strong."

"Stands to reason," she mused. She looked up into his eyes carefully. "How are you otherwise?"

"I... feel okay," he said, as if he didn't quite believe it himself. "I mean I'm not 100% or anything, and I'm tired and shit, but I just feel so much better than I did."

"That's an excellent sign," she murmured, feeling for his temperature, checking his pulse. "But I still think it'd be a good idea for you to go back to bed and let me check you over."

"But I want to make breakfast-"

"And we appreciate the thought but I'd rather you didn't try to do too much too soon. I'm willing to bet you're running on adrenaline right now." She smiled up at him as she guided him away from the counter and back toward the door.

Mulder caught his breath as they left, Krycek still protesting that he was fine and wanted to cook for everyone. He could definitely say he hadn't encountered a truly happy Krycek before this. The force of energy radiating off the man was exhausting, and the pure projection of giddiness made his own head spin. He leaned against the wall nonchalantly, trying to look normal, as Skinner steered Langly to the kitchen table and loomed over him, arms crossed over his chest.

"What the hell were you thinking taking him outside? You do remember who we're dealing with?"

"It's not like I let him wander around out there alone, and he was just so excited about the hand when he woke up. And I mean come on, he was hardly going anywhere."

"Oh, you knew that for a fact did you? What would you have done if he just took off on you? Headed off into the woods?"

Langly rolled his eyes theatrically. "Probably would've hollered 'hey jackass, how far do you think you're going to get in socks?' Puh-lease. You saw him. He could barely stand up, let alone run. He just wanted to be out of that room for a few minutes."

"You should have woken one of us up."

"It just didn't seem like that big of a deal."

"Not that big of a deal." Skinner leaned over Langly's chair. "He is an extremely dangerous, completely amoral man who has committed countless violent and criminal acts. He's in our custody. He's not here on vacation!"

"I know that," Langly spat, jerking to his feet suddenly. He poked Skinner's chest with a long skinny finger. "I've been in on this set-up all along, remember? And while you're searching your memory, you might try remembering that this is my house, not yours, and you're only here cause we're doing Mulder and Scully a favor. So cool it with the Gestapo tactics, Mister Assistant Director!" Leaning forward until his thick black glasses almost touched Skinner's wirerims, he continued, "It isn't going to ruin the plans to take down the shadow government if Alex gets a break for five minutes, is it?"

Mulder couldn't decide which facial expression was funnier, Skinner's outraged glare, Frohike's poorly-hidden smirk, or Byers' goldfish imitation. As amusing as it was to watch Skinner turn the full AD-temper on someone other than himself for a change, Mulder finally stepped in. "Uh, sir, granted this could have been a lot worse, but nothing did happen and everything is okay so maybe-"

Skinner snorted. "Do we need to change the door code?"

Langly glared up at him. "No. I'm not stupid."

Skinner looked like he would dearly love to argue the statement, but Mulder cut in again. "So, guys, it looks like Krycek is back in the land of the coherent and functional. More or less. How about that palm pilot?"

"Right," Frohike sat forward. "We've got it up and running, and he can give it a shot. We can't guarantee it's going to work for his purposes. I don't know what he was using and this is an old model. That's why it was up here, after all. We never found it very useful."

Mulder nodded. "We'll give it a try. After Scully is finished with him. Sir?" He raised an eyebrow at Skinner.

Glowering at Mulder for reminding him of the role the Gunmen were playing in his cure just when he was rightfully pissed off at Langly, he just nodded.

"Alright then," Mulder smiled around the table. "Let's eat."


9:47 a.m.

I manage to convince Scully I feel fine enough to be sitting up in the living room rather than 'resting' in my closet. I lounge on the couch inspecting the palm pilot, trying to figure out if I can program in enough nano-controls to run a test on Skinner. And all from memory only.

It's so neat using both hands, I have to keep reminding myself what I'm doing.

I hate to admit it, but I think Scully was right. My energy level is sinking faster than I expected. Maybe adrenaline was the reason I was so hyped first thing. After eating breakfast - with both hands! - I feel like I'd really like to just take a nap. But after all the fuss I put up about not wanting to go back to bed, I feel stupid deciding to sleep. Besides, they want me to work on this thing.

Piece of shit.

Finally I toss it on the coffee table. "Sorry, but this thing is a piece of shit." Hey, no one ever accused me of excess tact.

Surprisingly, Frohike just shrugs. "Have to agree with him there," he offers apologetically to Mulder. "It's why we upgraded our own equipment."

"You can't work with it?" Scully looks up from the chair she's curled in, file open on her lap, making notes on a legal pad.

I shake my head. "The nanocytes are advanced little machines. It's like asking a DOS system to deal with a program written for Windows."

"It's not that bad," Langly grouses, and I bite back a grin. I was just waiting for them to start defending their equipment.

Mulder makes a frustrated noise, but I just look up at him and shrug. Can't blame this one on me. Well, I suppose he could if he tried hard enough. Especially given we wouldn't be trying this test at all if I hadn't infected Skinner in the first place.

I settle into my corner of the couch and just listen as he and the Gunmen start hashing out a next step. It's kind of obvious, really. They go get a better machine. As I sit and tune out their chatter, I let my mind coast over the state of Alex Krycek. My eyelids fall to half-mast. Let them think I'm nodding off. It's so damn nice to have a clear head, with only a constant low hum of pain instead of a fucking brass band.

So, it's looking like I'm going to live. At least for today, anyway. Which means I need to shake off the fuzzy head and the lethargy, start trying to get my shit together, and think about 'what's next'. Preferably before they get me into the new place, with increased security. I sort of like being out here in the backwoods with just the FBI's finest that falls asleep on guard duty, and the civilian brigade that takes me outside when I ask nice.

Actually, that was a stupid move on my part. Now they're going to be more careful. But I just needed to... feel things. With my fingers. My fingers. I look down and notice absently that my left fingers are running over and over the material of my sweatshirt. I feel another stupid grin splitting my face and I just can't get too down on myself for screwing up this morning.

So I'm still a little off my game. I think I'm allowed.

Mulder's voice is a soft rumble on the edge of my attention. Talk about being off my game. I really hope I didn't say anything too idiotic to him or about him while I was high. I remember very clearly staring at him like he was the main course. Grass always did make me horny. And Jesus H. Christ... yum?? Reason number 67 why mind-altering substances that lower your inhibitions are a bad idea, Alex.

I wonder how obvious I really was. He was looking at me so funny, and uncomfortable, like he knew...

My brain screeches to a halt.

Like he knew what I was thinking.

And suddenly triggered, a rush of small details floods through my brain. The blanket. His discomfort. The water. That creeping feeling. Alone in the dark. Scully won't hurt you. You are hungry.

I've been telling myself I'll worry about it later. I think it's time to start worrying.

Slowly I rewind back through the last seven days. Freeze-framing each memory of him popping out with something that felt out of sync. Examining each instance closely. Taken all together...

There's no fucking way I'm imagining this.

Without meaning to, I find my lids lifting and my eyes focusing on him. Mulder. Can read my mind. The bastard. The bottom drops out of my stomach. Could there possibly be a worse person...

Or am I being totally paranoid? I mean, he's always been 'spooky'. They don't call him that for nothing. Maybe I was licking my lips and he just realized I was thirsty. And he's never comfortable around me. I've probably been pretty obvious with my dread of doctoring lately. And yet... we're talking about a guy who was picking up everybody's thoughts not that long ago. Tuning them in clearer than digital cable if the reports are to be believed.

So it seemed like it went away after his little trip to Spender's clinic. Maybe some of it stayed around. Maybe he keeps it under wraps. Maybe it's selective. Maybe he's learned how to control it.

Maybe I'm nowhere near as recovered as I think I am, and I'm going fucking nuts.

I need to know. If he's actually reading me... I don't even want to think about it. Breakfast turns over in my stomach. Fuck fuck fuck. How do I find out... I can't exactly ask him. He's hardly going to tell me. And give up holding secret an advantage like that? Ha.

I need to find out without him knowing I'm onto him.

Which means... put it to the test.

But... how to test it, test him, without letting on I suspect. Shit, maybe he's picking up my thoughts right now. He doesn't look like he is. How will I know? I'd need to watch for his reaction and what kind of reaction will be noticeable but won't tip-

Oh. Oh, that's... evil.

I almost start laughing. Of course it'd be laying all my cards on the table, so to speak, but then again, big fucking deal. What am I worried about? That he'll know I like boys? No brainer, Alex. He's kissed you and you didn't exactly run screaming. That he'll know I have the hots for him? I sigh mentally. Who am I kidding. Scully knows. She's a very smart lady, and there is no chance she hasn't figured it out by now. Like she hasn't told him yet. And so what if he knows I think he's hot? He is hot. It's just sex, it's not like I'm declaring my feelings.

Okay, scratch that thought. Get it completely out of my head before he somehow picks up on it. I'm going to have to start being extremely careful what I'm thinking. I don't care if he thinks I want to have sex with him but... nothing else. There's such a thing as just laying yourself too wide open for getting stepped on.

But as for the sex... what the hell. In for a sheep, in for the whole flock. Serves him right if he really is eavesdropping in my head. And it's one way to get a reaction I'll be able to observe without arousing suspicion.

I let my eyelids sink back down until I'm watching him from under cover of my lashes. Then just let my mind go. Fantasizing about Mulder isn't exactly a chore. Come right down to it, it's pretty much second nature. I've got a good profile view. I start with the lips. I'm torn between what I'd like to do to his lips versus what I'd like to have them do to me. But I want nice vivid imagery so I go straight for the good stuff. I let my breathing deepen as I sink into thoughts of the two of us, naked on a bed, his mouth on mine, teasing my lips apart. Moving on to my chest, his lips brushing my nipples. Surrounding them, sucking them in. I can almost feel the pressure... my nipples pull into tight knots, sensitive against the soft fuzz of my sweatshirt.

Easy, Alex. Don't start panting.

Kissing down over my bare stomach. Lips parting as my cock presses between them... And suddenly, in a vertigo shift, the scene changes and I'm standing in front of him, dressed as I am now, with him staring up at me from the chair he's sitting in. His hands slowly pull down my sweats, just off my ass, down over my cock and balls. I can feel cool air on my bare ass as he leans forward and parts his lips, as I push my cock in...

He twitched!

The fantasy dissolves as my quarry definitely stiffens and twitches in his chair and sends a quick glance my way. Is it my imagination or is his color getting higher? I don't believe this! It's actually working? Which means he actually can...

Fucking hell.

Well, only one way to be sure. On with the show.

I shift and resettle in the couch, drawing my legs up and sighing as if I'm just dozing off. Concentrating on the scene I started, I let all the other people in the room fade to nothing, back to him sitting before me, sucking my cock. I imagine running a hand through his hair, letting it rest on the back of his head. Holding his head still as I rock forward and back, pushing in and out of those pouty lips, all the way in, feeling his throat. I'm just getting there, when suddenly his arm arcs up, knocks my hand off his head and he pulls back, releasing my cock with a smack. Standing before I have time to step back, he almost knocks me off balance, his hand catching in the front of my sweatshirt.

'Your turn,' he says, rough, a little pissed at my fucking his face. He yanks on the sweatshirt and I drop to my knees. 'Unzip me... take me out,' he orders. On my knees in front of him, staring up at him, my cock hard and begging, sticking out of my pulled-down pants.

I reach for the zipper with one hand, the other hand - other hand! - reaching down to keep working my own dick. He catches a hand in my hair, pulls hard. Jerks my head back so I'm looking up at him. 'Did I tell you to touch yourself? Then don't. Take out my cock and suck it.'

I moan, I can't help it. I open his zipper and pull his pants open, work them down. He's hung, I know he's hung... I take the head in my mouth and wrap my hand around the shaft. He tugs my hair again. 'Hands behind your back,' he orders. I put my hands behind my back, wrap my right hand around my left wrist. His hands work into my hair, gripping my head tightly. I know what's coming, I try to relax my mouth. He tilts my head and holds me steady as he rocks his hips forward, his cock claiming my mouth, and I take it. He pulls back and thrusts forward again... again...

Son of a bitch! As I watch from under my lashes, working hard to keep my breathing even and slow, I get my answer loud and clear. He starts shifting in his chair, the glances my way come more frequent and I can hear him stumble and stutter in his conversation. He crosses his legs, his face flushing. Coughs into his hand.

He's reading my fucking mind! He can actually do it. Out of spite, I want to turn up the heat just to make him squirm, but unfortunately I'm not exactly immune to my own imagination. I'm getting aroused myself and there are a few too many people in the room. Before I can figure out how to keep poking at him without making myself too uncomfortable, he takes matters into his own hands. Out of the blue he turns on me.

"Hey Krycek, if you're going to fall asleep, why don't you go back to your bedroom."

I jerk at his loud statement, as if I'm actually waking up. Blinking sleepily, I see Scully smiling at me. "Hunh?" I say, as if she's the one who addressed me.

"Told you it was adrenaline," she says. "Why don't you go lay down?"

"Mmmm... okay." I stretch, and swing around slowly, until my eyes meet his. I hold his gaze, giving him a perfectly wide-awake look. I'm onto you, Mr. I'm So Ethical.

Rising from the couch, I turn my back on the lot of them and walk to my room. I wonder if I shut the door and try to be real quiet...


Mulder swallowed hard and tried not to watch Alex's ass under the clinging sweatpants as the man slowly left the room. ::What the fuck was that???:: One minute, holding a perfectly normal conversation with the Gunmen. Next minute, an overwhelming pulse of arousal washing through him, X-rated images of him and Krycek, in this room, crowding his mind.

And thinking about it wasn't doing anything for his... unfortunate condition.

And what the hell was that look Krycek gave him right before walking out? It looked alarmingly... accusatory.

"-probably head off then."

He jerked as he tuned back into Frohike's words. "What was that?"

"What is with you, Mulder? Are you sure you're okay? You look all flushed and you've been so spacey."

Scully's head snapped up, and Mulder raced to cover. "No, no, I'm fine. I was just thinking about something else. So you're going to go get another palm pilot?"

Frohike nodded, then turned to Langly. "Why don't you go chat with your buddy and see if there are any particular specs he knows he needs?" Langly gave him a dirty look but didn't deign to answer. Standing, he headed for the small bedroom and with one rap on the door, went in.

"I suppose I don't need to say be careful on your way back here," Skinner put in.

Byers shook his head. "Despite the unfortunate incidents with our associate, I assure you we have a very vested interest in maintaining the anonymity of this location."

Frohike nodded. "What he said. We'll be back as quick as we safely can. Anything else you need?"

"If you could check with Luke at the lab again without raising suspicions that would be nice," Scully offered. "He should have a few more results for me."

"Can do."

"Other than that, hopefully we'll be out of here before too much longer, so I don't think we really need to stock up anymore," Skinner shrugged.

"All right then," Byers stood. "We'll be off."

Frohike watched as Langly came out of the bedroom, calling goodbye to Krycek. "You sure you don't want us leaving Agent 99 here to help you all out with the guard rotation?" he cracked. Langly shot him the finger and crossed the room to pick up his backpack.

They trooped to the door, calling goodbyes. As they punched off the alarm and left, Scully cast a questioning look at Mulder. "Aren't you going to see them off?"

Mulder shifted uncomfortably and shrugged. "I'm sure they can get on the road without my help," he muttered.

Skinner stood at the living room window, watching the van pull away. "Another beautiful day out there," he said absently. After extended minutes of silence, he swung back toward his agents. "I think I'm going to go for a walk," he announced.

Scully's head came up and a speaking look flowed between them. "You shouldn't really go walking alone, ...sir."

"Well then, would you like to join me, get some air?"

"I'd like that. I could use some exercise."

Skinner gave Mulder a hard stare, but the man was too distracted to even notice. "Agent Mulder," he clapped his hands together once, and Mulder jerked.

"I'm sorry... what?"

"We thought we'd go for a walk. You'll keep an eye on Krycek?"

"Uh... sure. Sounded like he was going to sleep anyway." Mulder tried not to think too hard about the very awake look in Alex's eyes.

"Listen Mulder, I'm not trying to imply you're not good at your job or anything but... he's obviously feeling some better, even if he's not back at full capacity. I believe I've mentioned we need to be a little more careful than we've been." He pointed to the alarm. "Set that after we go out, will you? And no letting him out to sit on the porch, or walk around touching... trees, and no falling asleep. Stay alert."

"Sure," Mulder nodded. "I'll... read in there." He waved vaguely at the bedroom.

"All right then. Agent Scully?"

Tying off her sneakers, she straightened. "All set. You're feeling okay, Mulder?"

"Fine," he answered automatically. "Really. Go ahead."

"We won't be gone that long, and we won't go far."

"Okay, have a nice walk." He waved them off, then rose to reset the alarm as Skinner pointed to it on his way out. Tapping in the code, he thought about his own excursion the last time Scully and Skinner had gone walking. Too bad he couldn't slip away again, he could use a little of the same. But Skinner was right. Krycek was definitely improving. Time to crack down.

He turned and stared at the closed door. Krycek didn't like the door closed. He should go open it, now that there was no reason to keep out noise. He'd be able to sleep fine with no one in the house but Mulder. Mulder supposed he should also do as he had promised. Sit in the bedroom.

But... what if Krycek was still... thinking warm thoughts? It was going to be damned uncomfortable sitting with him as it was, without that sort of projecting going on.

Mulder wondered vaguely if Krycek had actually fallen asleep and been dreaming, or just letting his mind wander. Either way it was... disturbingly similar to the places Mulder's mind wandered. Didn't really have the feel of a dream, like some of the earlier ones he'd been sucked into, but Mulder couldn't quite imagine the man sitting there fantasizing with everyone in the room.

Then again this was Krycek. Who knew what to expect.

Yes indeed. Krycek. Krycek Krycek Krycek. Of the confusing dreams. And confusing kisses. And confusing... confusion. And here he was. Alone in the house with the confusion. The pretty, paradoxical confusion.

Drumming his fingers against his thigh, he tried to decide what to do.

The bedroom door swinging open ended the decision-making process.


Alex walked out of the bedroom and partway to the bathroom before he took in the empty room. Blinking, he paused. "I know your pet hackers were leaving, but where are Scully and Skinner?"

"They went for a walk."

Krycek's eyebrows went up to his hairline. "That so? Hunh. Well, I was just thinking I might take a shower." He waved at the bathroom and started forward again.

"Not tired, after all, Krycek?" Mulder drawled.

Krycek stopped. Turned slowly, one hand steadying himself against the wall. "What can I say, I got my energy back," he answered sarcastically. "And you, Mulder? Could you use a nice... long... hot... soapy... shower?" He blinked, all innocence. "Or maybe a cold one?"

::He knows! The bastard knew what he was doing.:: Mulder felt his cheeks flush and his hands pull into fists. "What the hell was that all about?" he spat. The words were out before he could examine the wisdom of responding, as opposed to just acting like he had no clue what Alex meant.

"What the hell are you doing rummaging around in my mind?" Krycek shouted back at him.

Mulder jerked back in surprise at the unexpected vehemence. "I'm not," he declared hotly.

"Oh the hell you aren't! How could you do that?!"

"I didn't ask to be able to," Mulder hollered back, goaded by the offended, accusatory tone of Krycek's voice. Where did he get off acting like Mulder was doing something wrong? "It just happened!"

"So you admit it! You and your almighty ethics! You're just like the rest of them."

"What the hell's that supposed to mean?"

"What makes you think you have the right? Just because you can? Gee, who the fuck does that remind me of?"

"Dammit, that's not fair! I didn't-"

"How long, Mulder?" Krycek stalked forward, eyes burning. "How long have you been reading my mind, invading my head?"

"It's not like that!"

"Don't LIE TO ME."

"Oh, that's rich coming from you!"

"FUCK your moral high ground, Mulder! You fucking hypocrite! Why the hell I ever thought you were different is beyond me!"

"You don't even know what you're talking about! I'm not just walking into your mind any time I please!" Mulder flushed darker as he realized he'd been doing just that as he experimented with his odd power, but... it hadn't started that way. "And why the hell am I justifying myself to you?"

"Oh... BITE ME you self-righteous prick!" Krycek exploded, whirling to the side and slamming his fist against the wall. His voice spiraled higher as he lost any control over his tongue. "You act like I'm the fucking scum under your feet, like I don't deserve the common decency you'd show a... a... anyone but me. Well, here's a shocker for you, Mulder, I'm still human, or at least mostly so, and my thoughts are mine! NOTHING gives you the right to rummage around in my head! NOTHING!"

Mulder clutched his head with both hands, fingers raking his hair. "I'm not! I keep saying it's not like that-"

"You're lying!"

"NO! I'm trying to tell you... I don't know what the fuck it is! It's only you, dammit, and I don't know why or how or even why I pick up some of your thoughts and not others! It's not even like thoughts really, except when you're really upset. It's more like... I don't know... feelings, like high states of emotion. I'm not trying to do it and I'd stop it if I could but I can't and I wouldn't know how even if I could!"

Krycek's hands clenched in fists, chest rising and falling rapidly, cheeks bright red. "You can't stop it so you just figured you'd use it to your benefit, is that it? While not bothering to mention it to me? How ethical is that, Mulder?!"

"Where do you get off lecturing me about ETHICS?"

"Because you're not me, Mulder! You're you! You have ethics!"

Mulder stood gaping at that unexpected pronouncement, while the detached, logical side of his mind started whispering that this was dangerous ground... their mutual frustration was creating a feedback loop, driving each of them on. Hard on the heels of the thought, he recognized the increasing horniness spreading through him, the familiar arousal that always fed on the violent emotions. He'd started the fight turned-on and it was just getting worse.

Krycek kept shouting furiously. "You're the big fucking truthful white knight! You're everything I'm not and everything I'm supposed to be, right? Isn't that the way you think of it? You're supposed to be better than that... better than me. How come you never seem to quite live up to it, but you get to keep the title anyway? How come you get to fucking beat on a handcuffed prisoner, and still walk away looking like poor, persecuted golden boy? How come you get to decide when and if I know that you're looking into my mind? Because I'm beneath your contempt? Is that it? I'm not a real person, so you can treat me however you want and not bruise your conscience? Scully's got integrity! You've got... a family legacy you're doing a damn good job of living up to!"

Logic flailed once more and went down in flames. Rage exploded behind Mulder's eyes, both at the truth in the words and the obvious reference to his father. In that distant corner in his mind he unconsciously stored and began processing the odd turns of phrase, but no where near fast enough to prevent himself from flying across the room, hands gripping Krycek's shirt-front, walking him straight back into the wall with momentum. "Don't you dare talk to me about my family!"

"Don't you dare read my mind!" Krycek's arms came up and under Mulder's, breaking his grip and shoving him back.

"How the hell else am I supposed to know if you're telling the truth?!" Mulder hollered, stumbling backwards and barely catching himself. "If I end up with a built in lie-detector test where you're concerned, you want me to not use it because it's not ethical? And what? Just go on your say-so? You expect me to trust you??!"

"NO!" Krycek screamed back full-volume. Then suddenly his voice fell to a flat, even pitch. "No, I don't."

Mulder already had his mouth open to continue when his brain caught up. "You... don't?"

"No! What kind of an idiot do you think I am? I don't want, need, or expect you to trust me, Agent Mulder."

The words and the cold delivery brought Mulder up short, and he scratched his head, admittedly nonplussed. "Why not?"

Krycek heaved a sigh, eyes sparking. "What does it matter? You don't. You won't. Ever. Why does it matter whether I want you to or not?"

"It just... it doesn't make any sense," Mulder snapped. "You're asking me... us... to believe you're telling us the truth about whatever information you're passing on, but you don't want me to trust you?"

Krycek drew in a long breath, held it for a silent moment. Anger still radiated off him in palpable waves, but he seemed to be hanging onto the reins with all his strength. "Look at it this way, Mulder. You and me... when we talk about trust? We're talking about two entirely different things. We might as well be speaking different languages."

"What, now you're telling me I don't know what trust is?"

Krycek blinked, and his mouth curled in a humorless smile that disappeared as fast as it came. "Well, no, actually you don't know what trust is, but that's not what I meant. I mean... I don't expect you to understand. Me, or my actions, or my life, or anything I've done. I honest to god don't. I don't expect you to like me or forgive me or... trust me. Or understand anything about what trust means to me, or even how I define it. Because we might as well have grown up on different planets, and I know I'm just some kind of animal to you." He stepped forward, chin rising, jaw tightening. His chest heaved as he glared into Mulder's eyes. "But you know what I do expect? I expect you to be what you believe you are, what you say you are. I expect you to be the 'better' you think you are. Better than me, better than Them, better than him." He took another step closer, grinding out the words through clenched teeth. "And if you're not going to be? Then I expect you to get down off your moral high horse and be man enough to admit it, and stop pretending you don't recognize yourself when you look at me. Stop using me as your all purpose punching bag and pressure valve. You can't have it both ways, Mulder. You can either be honorable and righteous and keep your sneering-rights, or you can roll around in the mud with me. But if you get down into that swamp, don't you be standing there with your nose in the air throwing mud at me and acting like you're above it all."

Mulder's anger drained out of him as if a plug had been pulled. Krycek's final scathing words hung in the air, but nothing came to mind in response. Staring at the incensed man before him, quivering with fury and tight with tension, all he felt rising in place of his own disintegrating anger was a sudden sweep of intense attraction. Attraction that went beyond the merely physical... attraction for the man inside the cracking shell, the man revealed by the uncensored words. Mulder didn't need to see inside Krycek's head to read between the lines of the diatribe, to read the pure need in Alex to have someone, anyone, be better than the world he'd been born into, been raised in. And to have that someone be the man he wanted. The man Alex himself thought of as above him, on a plane he could never hope to reach. Never hope to be worthy of.

Whether his alien-given sixth sense was indeed kicking in, or whether his profiling instincts were finally working in regards to the conundrum of Alex Krycek, he felt his own shift in perception like a body blow. The intensity of Alex's regard for him, focus on him, preoccupation with him... feelings for him... hammered at any defenses he had left after a week of constant Alex-exposure and introspection.

Alex's extreme anger at learning his mind had been invaded - anger that hadn't arisen during all the physical altercations when he'd never lifted a finger in his own defense, when he'd taken whatever Mulder threw as if he deserved it - was too familiar. Especially in light of Mulder's efforts to rein his own anger in, to stop trying to cloak his own responses in the only emotion he deemed 'acceptable' to feel for Krycek. Krycek's anger reminded him of himself. Himself, angry at Alex for betraying his trust. Constantly, violently angry... because he cared too much.

Did Alex care too much too?

All the trips he'd taken into that foreign brain swirled through his mind. All the pieces he'd been trying not to see clicked together.

If he did... if he cared... then how could he? How could he do the things...

The familiar thought progression broke down before the expanding horizon of his mind's eye, before the eroding power of the melting sensation deep in his gut. All his experiences over the past week coalesced, all his efforts to untrain his thought processes in the face of new information that told him he didn't know everything about this man... didn't know much of anything about him for that matter. Certainly didn't understand him. All his efforts to recognize Alex's humanity... reconcile it. He felt his mind stretch and reorder, intuitive understanding kicking in where logic and concrete thinking still failed.

And the old attraction didn't stand a chance. Or rather, his resistance to it didn't stand a chance as his deeper reactions to Alex rose and gathered speed and strength like a tidal wave, crashing over his mind and leaving it blank in the wake, a beach laid to waste and yet left cleaner and new somehow.

Watching his own hand rise as if it belonged to someone else, he could only stare as it lighted against Alex's furious face. He watched the automatic wince and felt a sharp ripping sensation in his chest, amplified when the wince was the only reaction, when Alex stood perfectly still, obviously expecting pain, a blow, yet doing nothing to avoid. He felt the heat of flushed skin, rough with patchy stubble, against his fingertips, his palm. He pressed his hand full against Alex's face, watching the angry eyes go puzzled, wary. How to reach out... how to reach this damaged man...

"Alex. I don't... I didn't..." He didn't know what to say. What wouldn't be a technical lie, or make matters worse? How to talk to Alex when he wasn't lashing out? The rising, choking drive within him forced him on, stumbling. "I don't think you're an animal. And I didn't... purposely try to get inside your mind. I swear. I realize... I mean I see what you mean. It must seem incredibly invasive. I didn't even know what it was at first, it's been totally unpredictable." His conscience poked him. ::Stretching the truth a little there.:: But the rising heat, the damn liquefying sensation, was making any kind of coherence harder. Among other things. He tried again. "I haven't just been keeping it from you, I haven't told anybody. I don't want to end up-" He stopped. ::Back in some institution. Locked in a mental ward. And they'll do it, too.:: He couldn't make his tongue say it. Too much, too soon. He could try to reach out, try to show that he was battling through his automatic 'subhuman' reaction, fighting the anger... but he couldn't just drop all walls, reverse seven years of history, make himself that vulnerable to Alex Krycek. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? I should have said something. But I didn't plan it, or expect it. It just happened. I've been trying to understand it."

Alex stared at him in confusion, Mulder's abrupt about-face obviously throwing him. The sudden dissolution of the hostility left him still fired, still trembling and breathing shallowly, totally unprepared for Mulder's incomprehensible behavior. "What are you... stop it." Alex took a step back, out from under Mulder's touch. Mulder could hear the raw fear, feel it, a sudden palpable presence in the room.

::Go with it... show him you're changing, you're thinking. That you know you don't understand it all. That you know he's human and complex. Reach him, touch him... give him what he wants, what you want...::

What better way to reach out, to prove he truly acknowledged Alex's humanity?

Heat pounded through him and he stepped forward, following Alex's retreat. The green eyes widened impossibly and Mulder felt his chest seize. The man was beautiful... beautiful in anger, beautiful in fear. So potent. So present. So alive. The mental permission lifted all the gates, seared away any final restraint. Alex backed away and he followed as if mesmerized, until Alex's back hit the wall again and then he closed the distance. His right hand again encountered Alex's cheek, ran up and back, stroking through fine hair tufted and mussed.

"What the fuck is this?" The panic rang clear in Alex's voice. "Didn't I just tell you to stop using me as your pressure valve?" The husky voice rose and cracked on the final words.

Mulder shook his head, caught up in his own thoughts, arousal, his sudden sense of direction. "I'm not. I'm trying to show you."

"Show me what?" The annoying snarky tone was back, but it sounded forced. "That you've finally lost it, just like your old man?"

A faint smile curled Mulder's lips at the obvious ploy, the last ditch effort to respark the fight flame. So, Alex preferred the anger dance too. Not surprising... he could attest to the safety of anger. "Alex," he murmured as his face came closer, closer. "Shut up."

To ensure compliance with the order, Mulder closed the last breath of distance and brushed his mouth against Alex's. From one corner of the parted lips to the other, a featherlight skim that could scarcely be called a kiss. The soft sound of startlement and protest just separated the lips further, and Mulder stroked the full bottom lip with his tongue before moving to nibble at the upper lip. He felt Alex's entire body shudder, felt the mouth trying to pull away, moving to form more words. ::Oh no you don't.:: Shifting forward, tightening his hand in Alex's hair, he caught Alex's mouth full force. Seven years melted and sizzled, igniting the old burn that much hotter for having been suppressed so long. Spreading Alex's lips with a strong sweep of his tongue, he pressed for entry, devouring the helpless mouth. When he felt Alex sway against him, when his own lungs burned with the need for air, he broke the kiss.

"M-Mulder..."

"I..." Catching the lower lip between his teeth, biting down, releasing. "Said..." Tilting his head the other way, diving back in with more tongue, pulling back. "Shut..." Licking the upper lip, the lower, the upper... between. "Up."


"Up."

Oooh... oh oooh... who am I to argue. Aah... fuck me. I sink back against the wall, the only thing holding me up. Protest lost in his tongue... tongue... mmm... thrust and retreat and back to steal my breath again and I'm dizzy...

I'm drowning, I can't breathe I can't think... I'm breathing him and that doesn't do me any good.

He breaks for air and my tortured lungs expand. I stare at him, held against the wall by his hands and his body, slumped and gasping and trying to pull myself back together. He comes in again and my head goes back, offering, whatever he wants, whatever... take it...

What is he doing? What am I doing? I can't let him-

"Stop!" I twist my head sideways, trying to breathe, trying to shake the world back into reality. If he hates me now, what he'll feel if he lets himself... "Mulder, don't do this."

"Why not? You want it. I want it. It'll work."

It'll work? My mind tries to twist itself around whatever his mind is doing, but like that was ever possible. Mulderbrain... who the hell knows. Where did this even come from? I mean granted, I was teasing him before, I suppose I started this in a way but... we were fighting... we were... oh ohohoh...

His lips trace my jaw, nuzzle the hollow beneath my ear, his tongue driving me wild. His hand strokes my hair over and over, his other hand climbing up under my shirt. No... not a good idea. This isn't... I try to push back against him but he just leans in and his weight holds me to the wall and all I succeed in doing is feeling his entire body burning into mine. His hips move against me and through the thin sweat pants I feel the hard lump of his erection, driving a spike of lust straight up from my groin. Sucking on my earlobe, tonguing my ear, working back over to my lips while his hand strokes my stomach and tugs on the elastic of the sweatpants. I can't even stand up how the hell can I tell him no and it's what I want what I've always wanted...

His lips find mine again and I part for him, welcoming him back, more... please... make me yours. My arms wind around him and his hand is down my pants and I- OH FUCK... oh that feels... that feels...

Oooh... oh so good... his fingers, he's touching... I gasp for breath and just get more him, my hips jerk but can't move, he's got me pinned to the wall and he strokes my balls again, his hand cupping and cradling and I want to rub... rub against him and... oh please.

"Please... please!" Groaning it against his lips, his mouth, his tongue and I don't care... don't care that I'm pleading and trying to move against his hand and trying to spread my thighs and clinging to him. Swallowing his soft noises of pleasure and touching... touching him and feeling him, feeling his back and down... feeling his ass, squeezing and his hips buck and grind into me and we surge together.

"Berhm," he manages, lips never fully leaving mine, that damn hand between my thighs still light and teasing and not where I need it and I moan and Jesus is that me? I sound... fuck...

"Wha-?"

Another kiss and another long... sucking... tongue... mmm... stroke and lick and oh yes, touch me there... oh yes, up up... up further. God! I rise on my toes, back arching against the wall as his long fingers press up behind my balls, rubbing and prodding roughly, his palm still chafing my swelling sac. My head jerks back, and the sudden pain tells me I just slammed it against the wall. Ouch.

"Bedroom," he groans, and I couldn't agree more. Standing up is too much work, I need to be flat. Horizontal is good, very good. He steps back and I flow with him, my arms still tangled around him, and we move, stumbling and grunting, his hand still down my pants and finally he laughs low and impossibly sexy and pulls away... no... no!

Separating us by force of tugging on my hair and stepping out of my arms, his hand in my pants settles in the crotch of the material and fists. He walks backward, grinning like an idiot, leading me. I can barely walk anyway, the tug of the material tightening over my ass, in my crotch, just makes it harder but inexorable and I'm following, I can't not, he might as well have a leash on my cock.

The unbidden image burns through me and I moan, making his smile go feral. In that instant, the look in his eyes... I remember. Reading my mind. I blush hotter than I thought possible and he laughs, low and wicked. We're through the bedroom door and he yanks me forward with a sharp tug on my pants, catching me when I stumble and steering me toward the bed. Now I'm the one going backward as he powers me to the bedside and pushes me down as the bed catches me behind my knees. I fall flat on my back, staring up at this wild Mulder above me, almost unrecognizable except from my dreams, my fantasies. And I thought I could turn this down?

He reaches and yanks down my pants, his other hand pushing up my sweatshirt, leaving it rucked up around my chest. I reach for him but he bats my hands back and gives me a sharp look. Something in his face... I subside immediately, hands dropping to the bed, fisting in the tangled blankets. He straddles my legs. His hands trace my hip bones, my thighs, and I whimper and arch, my hard cock thrusting up into the nothingness of air. I reach for my dick and he slaps my hand back again, once more quelling me with a look, and goes back to stroking, light gentle touches on my stomach, lower abdomen, investigating my navel, one finger thrusting in and out roughly. I try to swallow and my head twists on the bed. My body tries to follow his hands, tries to force his touch where I need it, want it... "Please!"

He just smiles down at me and his fingertips glide down my thighs, then his thumbs back up the inside of my thighs. I can only stare from his face to my crotch and back again, watching his enthralled eyes devour me while his fingers drive me slowly insane. They reach my balls again and the careful, investigative touch has me whining. One hand lifts my scrotum, a gentle massaging roll, the other feels beneath, rubbing hard over my perineum. I bite my lip and wail. Slowly, his fingers and his eyes move over me, tugging and petting through my pubic curls and then... and then...

...whoa....

...stars...

...hand, cock... stroke... can't breathe...

His eyes glow as his fingers explore my cock, gently turning it this way and that, fingering the veins, rubbing his palm up the underside, surrounding with long fingers, squeezing, releasing completely and watching it bob. One hand circling and holding my shaft steady while the other fingers examine the head, tracing the glans, grinning at each twitch, each pulse. Pressing on the tip, rubbing at the slit repeatedly, lifting his fingers away and peering at the sticky juices coating one.

I'm dying. Jesus fucking Christ he's going to kill me. I'm making noises I've never made in my life and I won't lift my hands because he doesn't want me to and I'm just laying here letting him play with me like a life-size sex toy and it's making me so hot I'm ready to explode...

How fucking humiliating...

More... god, please... more...

And like he's answering a prayer, his hand is back and he rubs his palm gently over the head of my hard-on, like he's polishing it. He pulls back and uses his other hand to tilt my dick to a more pleasing angle, then using his thumb he pushes back on the underside of the glans, working his thumb firmly against the... ah... ahhh... spot...

My body arches, my head whips from side to side, I can't... I can't... hot pulse and spurt and oh... oh fuck... oh...

I'm staring dazed at the ceiling, listening to his satisfied noises as he gently coddles my shrinking cock. Heat and aftershocks roll through me head to toe, toe to head, somewhere, everywhere, don't know, can't trace them. Nerves a tangle and wet on my stomach and his hand pets me one last time and then his fingers are playing in the slippery cum and damn I knew he'd be weird in bed. Weird and wonderful and... holy fucking... whoa... what's he-

My eyes jerk down from the ceiling and I feel heat flush my face again as he meets my eyes with a devil's grin before lowering his gaze to my groin where his hands are busy again. One hand lifts my balls again and his other fingers, the wet ones, continue their startling exploration downward, probing and striking once more, my body jerking, stiffening, as they stroke my pucker again. No gentle caress, he isn't going slow, he's watching his fingers with a fevered glint in his eyes, mouth parted, breath coming harsh and fast, eyelids drooping as one finger breaches me and forces its way in.

I gasp and my thighs want to part. I want to spread for him and there's no way I'm getting it up again but fuck this is... this is...

As if realizing he's hampering himself with his straddled position keeping my thighs still, he feels all around, nice and thorough, one last time, grinning when I yelp as he strokes my prostate, then removes his hands and slides back off my legs. I lay there wrecked, staring up at him, my sweatpants stretched around my knees.

He starts unbuttoning and unzipping, watching my eyes as they drop to his crotch, my breathing picking up. He gets his pants open and pushes them down with his shorts, and... oh wow. Without conscious thought I'm rising to my elbows, wanting a closer look, wanting to get closer. He's saying something and laughing softly but like I care. Pushing myself to a sitting position I reach and touch and he's fucking big. I knew it. Speedos don't lie. My fingers brush over the softness of heated skin, wrapping gently to feel the movement, the pulse, the life wriggling in my hand. Both hands. I wrap one hand above the other, then let my left hand drop to his balls, loving the weight and warmth, the pure intimacy. I let my eyes climb his body as he strips off his shirt, then staring up at him I raise my eyebrows.

"Can I...?" I rasp.

He just nods, eyes glowing again. I lean forward and press my mouth to the tip, just tasting him, before stretching my lips to accommodate him. Suddenly his hands are in my hair, tilting my head, and my heart leaps in my chest. My fantasy... my eyes ride upward again to see him grinning darkly down at me, and there it is... the aching, tearing sensation in my chest and I knew this was a fucking bad idea. Too late now, Alex, you are so gone and... oooh...

He thrusts forward, riding into my mouth, and it's heaven. It's the fantasy and more... it's him, and he's fucking my face and I choke and he pulls back. I suck desperately, trying to establish a rhythm but it's like he can read my mi - he can Alex, you stupid fuck - and he keeps thrusting, throwing me off, keeping me open at his whim, taking it when he wants to give it to me. My jaw aches and the smell of him surrounds me and I can't catch my breath and then he's gone.

I sit, panting, mouth still hanging open. This is so dangerous, so bad... I shouldn't be letting him this far... shouldn't be letting him see...

His voice is unbearably gentle when he speaks. "Close your mouth, Alex, or I'm not going to be able to resist." His grin is the goofy Muldergrin that I've only ever seen him give Scully. I can't do this... fuck... I can't... I'm coming apart all over again...

"Take off your pants. And the shirt."

My hands are already obeying and yanking off the sweatpants before he finishes the sentence. I cross my arms and rip the shirt up off over my head, even in my Muldersodden state noticing and loving the ease and fluidity of the movement. Then it's all Mulder, naked, blinding, standing in front of me, filling my entire vision, my entire world. How the hell did I get here... how did we get here... how did...

My brain stops when he motions me to move back on the bed and climbs on next to me. His hand rubs over my sticky stomach again and down over my cock, then moves to his own, stroking purposefully, adding to the wet from my mouth. I swallow hard. It's been a while and that thing is intimidating. "Mulder..."

"We'll manage," he murmurs, moving closer and I can't say no. The intensity in his eyes, his face... his hand stroking his cock. His tongue moves over his lips and that's it... I'm done. I lay back, ready to offer him anything. As he shifts something catches his eye off the side of the bed, and he laughs. I turn and look as he rolls up and over me, climbing off the bed to squat beside... Scully's black bag. He opens it and rummages and sure enough, the good doctor carries KY, choice of hospitals around the country. He grins at me as he opens the tube and squirts a healthy dollop on his fingers. "Obviously, you're not the only one who wasn't a boy scout, but lucky for us we travel with a doctor," he murmurs, voice low and sexy. I've never heard him like this, teasing, intentionally seductive.

He climbs back over me, and nuzzles my shoulder. "Roll up on your side," he whispers, hand guiding me to suit action to his words. I roll onto my left side reluctantly, I can't see him this way, but the sharp intake of breath I hear is a nice compliment and suddenly his fingers are back and I don't care that I can't see him because I can feel him... oh yeah. My right leg curls up to my chest instinctively and I moan, pushing my ass back and wrapping my arm around my drawn-up knee. "I love your ass," he murmurs reverently as two fingers thrust directly into my asshole, invading and slick, making me gasp repeatedly.

I try to catch my breath but again it's like he's in my head, purposely keeping me on the edge, moving his fingers just when I don't expect, stretching me with an insistent, no-nonsense touch that has me melting around his hand. I bite my lip to try to hold the noises in as he keeps going, further in, another finger, working me open. For him. I ride his hand and try to convince myself I'll be able to forget, that I won't remember my reactions and cringe. Even knowing it's a lie, I'm helpless to prevent my response, to keep from offering him everything, giving him anything.

I never thought I'd have him... how can I not...

His fingers slide out of me easily and then thrust back in. I yowl and arch for him, and hear his soft laugh through his panting breaths. "You're incredible," he murmurs against my shoulder, his teeth setting in a bite. He keeps it up, working me until I'm mindless, loose around his fingers and begging again, making those short sharp noises that sound like a strangling moan. "Uhn... please, uhn uhn..."

"Okay, alright... here it is..." He whispers a litany against the back of my neck as he settles against my ass, his cock pressing into the cleft of my rear. "Ready for my cock in your ass? Ready for me to fuck you?" He's not waiting for answers and his fingers pull slowly out, separating and holding me wide, and then there he is... solid and hot and oh fuck...

My hand clenches on my knee, my other hand fisting in the pillow under my head. His hand rubs over my ass and up the underside of my bent thigh as his cock presses presses presses and aaah... ahh, ahh god... I yelp and buck as he breaches the ring of muscle, as his cockhead enters and my asshole closes back around it, gripping his shaft. I try to catch my breath and can't, his width making the adjustment not as much of a relief as usual. It feels even bigger not being able to see it, not being able to see him. Then he rides forward again, and suddenly his girth is exactly what I want, what I need. The fucking of a lifetime. From him. Mulder. My Mulder. A steady groan tears from my throat. I arch back helplessly and he goes in further and I'm going crazy... I'm not even close to hard but the steady ripples of pleasure from my ass make all my nerves tingle. The stretched, opened feeling is getting better and better, more intense, with each shallow thrust of his hips. The discomfort settles completely and then it's all good... his big dick filling me full, so full, and I'm his. His.

One last thrust and he stills, flush with my ass, breathing heavy into the curve of my neck and shoulder. "Alex, Alex, Alex..." The whimpering note in his voice takes me apart as surely as the monster so deep inside me. I still can hardly catch my breath and every minute shift either of us makes causes me to moan helplessly. I've never felt like this... never. He doesn't move and I try to lay as still as him, but I'm sliding beyond sanity. I can't just lay here with him buried in me. Can I? Do I have a choice... I moan pitifully and then I'm writhing, wriggling my ass against him and I can't believe it but I can't stop either. I'm thankful I can't see him, he can't see me, even more so when I hear his soft chuckle against my shoulder, feel his hand tighten under my thigh.

"Oh yes. Oh yeah, move, Alex. Move. Squirm. YES. Oh god that's good..."

Pleasure shoots though my nerve endings with each twitch and shift. My ass is singing and I'm so totally owned and it can't get any better. With him whispering explicit encouragement into my skin, I twist in his arms, trying to goad him to move. His teeth sink into my muscle again and I press back against him, feeling his burning body like a brand all along me, the center of the fire in my ass. His hand slides slowly down my thigh and, arm staying wrapped around me to keep me in place, his fingers slide over my lax cock and balls. It's a lost cause, but his hand on my exposed crotch is another sharp knife of vulnerability, and ratchets up my twisted pleasure. He keeps his hand loosely on my dick, warm and heavy, as he slowly slowly starts to move.

Small movements at first. Back, and in. Back, and in. Baaack... and in. Oh god! I give a strangled cry. The tension releases in my body all at once, and my muscles ache. He settles into a steady rhythm of thrusting, almost more of a rocking than anything else. I just lay there and float. Float on the scents and the sounds and then... oh... the sharp spike of sensation. And again. And again. And again. Again.

I'm rolling forward, pressing my knee into the bed to help keep it up where it's supposed to be, flattening against the mattress. He rolls with me, his upper leg coming down between mine, giving him more leverage. His hand leaves my balls and braces on the bed next to my shoulders. I feel his other arm shift and his weight settles more on top of me. And his hips pull back and drive... oh yes... yes. This position is even better, he can go deeper, his weight bearing him down. And he's pulling further back now, so more of him is driving back in with each thrust, nerves igniting and screaming and begging for more. He rides me forever, for minutes, for hours... I'm out of my head and totally out of touch with reality. My only world is this bed and this heat and this smell and this man and this feeling... he collapses over me with a shout.

Breath heaving in my ear, a dead weight half on my back, sweat dripping from his skin to mine. His cock softening inside me, and I want to cry but I can't. It's over and he's leaving and I can't. He lifts his upper body just barely on shaking arms and his weight shifts, his cock leaves me completely and I moan into the pillow. I feel the bed shift behind me then still.

Oh. Oh fuck. What have I done.


Mulder caught his breath, his mind slowly clearing, though he was of the studied opinion that the top of his head had blown off at some point in the last few minutes, and that was bound to be difficult to recover from.

Alex.

Wow.

He lay flat on his back, waiting for his muscles to return to a semisolid state. At the moment they felt remarkably like jello. The gentle comedown gave him time to marvel at the intensity of the experience.

Alex.

Granted, he'd been living with his right hand for some time. But he'd had relationships before. And one night stands. Men and women. He'd had hot sex. And now... now he'd had Alex.

He thought perhaps there should be a whole separate category for Alex.

As his brain recovered and synapses started firing again the air of the room felt cool on his sweaty body. Thinking warred with sensory impact, and finally thought processes reestablished dominance.

Alex.

Alex. Alex Krycek. AlexAlexAlex. The name filled his head, echoing, bouncing around his skull. All the associations with the name... all the associations... flooded through him, chasing his momentary peace. Just as the clarity and peace slid from him only after the punches landed, so his sense of direction fled like it had never existed now that the moment was past.

He just had sex with Alex Krycek. Incredible sex. Intense sex. With Alex Krycek.

What had he done?

A swell of unease bubbled in his gut. He'd just done something that couldn't be undone. His mind grappled, reaching madly for the reasoning of those few moments before he fell... this had seemed like a good idea why?

Humanity... something to do with humanity. The fight filtered back through his mind and like a curtain lifting, his reasoning played out behind his eyes. Alex had been so open, so broken, without even realizing it. Alex had given away so much in those angry words, so much want, so much need... and he'd wanted to answer it, give to it. He'd wanted to touch Alex's humanity. Show Alex he saw him as human.

::You couldn't have sat down and played a game of chess with him?? You had to hop into bed with him to reassure him you see him as human?! Fuck him into next week because you've decided he has feelings for you? What the hell kind of self-serving asinine psychobabble thinking is that?::

Mulder felt the unease shift into panic. What had he done? Scully would be back... when? Anytime. How long had they been... his mind tripped. Fucking. How long had he been rolling around in bed with Alex Krycek. Exploring his body. Dick up his ass. A twang of resonating desire shot through his exhausted body at the blunt thoughts, but the panic born of the thought of Scully - and Skinner! - walking in on him... on them... brought him into a sitting position then off the bed like a shot.

Standing naked beside the bed, he caught sight of Alex. Laying completely still. Unmoved and unmoving. Half curled on his stomach, just as he'd been when Mulder pulled out, rolled off him. Face buried in the pillow.

The panic bloomed again.

"Alex?" His voice sounded foreign to his own ears. He felt discombobulated, couldn't think what he should do. He looked around wildly for his shorts and yanked them on. Krycek's lack of response didn't ease him. "Alex," he spoke louder, more firmly. What the hell... he knelt on the bed and reached out a hand, hesitated, winced. Laid it on Alex's shoulder, just under the livid bite marks.

Alex jerked under his touch, flattening, rolling further away, out from under Mulder's hand. "Don't," came a harsh croak. "Just... don't."

Confused, hurt despite the out of control direction his own thoughts were careening, Mulder pulled back, sitting on his heels on the bed. His eyes couldn't leave the bright red bites, already purpling at the edges. They looked... painful. His eyes traveled over the pale body, shocked at the finger-shaped marks on the back of Alex's thigh. Had he left those? Had he gripped that tight, bitten that hard? Just as his 'reasoning' had unraveled once he poked at it, so his recollection of the... experience - the sex his little voice insisted cruelly - traipsed through his mind in full excruciating detail.

And suddenly things didn't look exactly as they had during the heat of the moment.

Alex certainly seemed to be as into as he was. How could he not be? How could an experience that incredible not have been as good... Mulder swallowed hard as the unease swelled again, almost a sick sensation. He'd have known if Alex wasn't. Enjoying himself. Wouldn't he? Hell, he could read the man's feelings, pick up thoughts when they were projected hard enough and-

The line of thinking ground to a halt. Alex had to be upset. Obviously. And Mulder was picking up exactly nothing. No disorientation. No sense of any other thoughts or sensations other than his own disquiet. As recently as within the past half-hour he'd been getting feedback from Alex. During the sex he'd had a number of shifting moments when images swam through his mind, scorching hot images, when the heat seemed doubled. But now... nothing.

He didn't know what it meant anymore than he knew why Alex was so still, so stiff.

He rolled back and twisted, swinging his legs off the bed and reaching for his jeans. How the hell did everything go from feeling so right to such a complete mess? ::When you decided to jump the bones of the Consortium assassin who killed your father just to show him you appreciate his humanity,:: his mind shot back sarcastically. And for fuck's sake, had the Consortium assassin even wanted to be jumped?

Alex hadn't fought, not after the first couple no's. Not like he meant it.

Of course he'd never fought off Mulder's punches either.

But he must have known... known Mulder would never force him to have sex. Wouldn't he?

He'd had an orgasm. An intense one...

Lying on his back, passive and wide-eyed under Mulder.

He'd actively participated in the fucking... seemed downright into it...

Hadn't gotten hard though. Mulder remembered the feel of Alex's flaccid cock under his hand as he'd buried himself, over and over, in the wriggling ass.

But then he'd just orgasmed minutes before. And he'd been sick.

God, the man had been sick. So sick. In agony within the last 24 hours. What had he been thinking?

He hadn't even used a condom.

Jeans half done up, he sank down in the chair by the bed, stunned at himself. What temporary insanity crawled inside his head and made him think having sex with Alex Krycek was a good idea? An answer? And even as he thought the question he knew the answer. He'd been working himself toward exactly this conclusion since he'd walked into the cabin. Technically since he'd kissed Alex in a basement office, but mostly since they'd both ended up in the wilds of North Carolina, so far out in the woods they weren't even on a map. Shacked up in Pandora's box.

Once he'd found even a remotely plausible reason to act on the impulses, he'd grabbed it. And once acting, 'thinking' wasn't really an issue anymore.

Somewhere in the outer room, an electronic buzz sounded. A watch alarm, or a small clock. Some piece of the Gunmen's equipment with a forgotten time programmed into it. Mulder stared at the half open door to the small bedroom. Scully and Skinner could have returned at any time, walked into the house, and...

He felt sick to his stomach. He had to get dressed. Get washed. Alex had to get dressed.

Alex. His head swung back to the still figure on the bed. "Alex." Standing and picking up his shirt, he pulled it on, then picked up Alex's sweatpants and shirt, laying them on the bed beside him. "Alex, if you don't want to talk to me fine, but... Scully and Skinner. They could be back anytime. I just... realized. I mean... we weren't... thinking of that. I guess." He drew a deep breath, wondering if the room reeked of sex, wondering if he'd notice if it did. "Alex, listen to me. I'm... sorry. I wasn't... I didn't mean..." He stopped and forced his hands back through his hair. ::Engage brain, then talk.:: "I don't really know... what just happened. I'm sorry. We shouldn't have... I shouldn't have... I-"

He broke off as Alex's body suddenly pulled in, curling and flexing and sitting in a fluid motion, back still to Mulder. "Forget it, Mulder." The husky voice came flat, cold. "Don't even think about it. Go get cleaned up. I want a shower."

Mulder stared at the stiff back, wanting to say something, anything. Wanting to crawl onto the bed and take Alex in his arms. Wanting to curl down under the blankets and hold him close. Wanting to run screaming from the room. Wanting to sink through the floor and disappear. Wanting to talk this out, make some sense of it. Wanting to forget it ever happened.

Wanting to do it all over again.

"Go use the bathroom." The voice was no less flat, but somehow not as cold. "I'll take my shower when you're through."

Mulder felt something coil within him, something small and screaming, calling ::mistake mistake mistake don't walk away don't don't don't:: but long practice made it second nature to force it - and all the wanting - down into a tight, compressed sensation in his chest. Scully could be walking up the steps right now. He needed time. Space. He needed to sort things out. Settling himself into acknowledging his sympathy for Alex, his old attraction to Alex, his consistent confusion about Alex... that was all well and good. Climbing into bed with him was something else again. Climbing into bed with him when his best friend and his boss could walk in at any moment was sheer stupidity.

And didn't even take into consideration the federal agent/federal witness complication.

Time. They'd let things settle... calm down a little. Let Scully and Skinner get back, go to bed. He'd take night watch again. They'd talk. Talk it out. Just talk, he informed his wayward mind in no uncertain terms.

"I'll... just go clean up then," he finally said, backing for the door. Alex nodded without turning around. Mulder left the bedroom.


February 2nd
12:23 p.m.

A silent house greeted the returning walkers. Scully slipped off her sneakers while Skinner reset the alarm on the front door. Noting the closed bedroom door, she assumed Alex was asleep, and at the clink of dishes, headed for the kitchen. Poking her head in, she blinked in surprise at the sight of Mulder standing at the sink, elbow deep in soapy water.

"Who are you and what have you done with Agent Mulder," she demanded from the doorway.

Mulder spun around, soap suds flying, face going paper white. "Scully!"

"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." She smiled as she came the rest of the way into the kitchen. "Unless you really are an alien bounty hunter." She glanced pointedly at the sink. "You don't look like the Mulder I know."

He forced a laugh and shrugged. "I... ah... got bored. You know, it's kind of... cabin fever I guess."

She nodded. "I can understand that. Maybe you should go for a walk. It really does help." Of course, she doubted his walk would be as... helpful as hers had been, but she decided to keep that to herself.

"You know, maybe I will."

"You can finish the dishes first," she added. "Alex asleep?"

Mulder whirled back to the sink. "What's that?"

"Alex... is he asleep? His door is closed."

"Oh... uh, I guess so."

"I thought you were going to read in there." She pulled out bread for sandwiches as she chatted. "Were you two getting on each other's nerves again?"

"What? No! I mean... I... no. I didn't. He... um... he took a shower."

"Ah." She layered turkey onto one piece of bread, spread mustard on the other.

"And I washed the dishes."

"I see that. Good job. I was starting to think you were allergic to Palmolive."

"I figured I'd go in there when he finished his shower, and I finished the dishes."

"Don't worry about it. I'll check on him in a few minutes. I guarantee he'll be out most of the afternoon."

Mulder startled, and gave her an odd look. "What?"

"The way he was bouncing around this morning. It was totally manic. Obviously an adrenaline rush. The high of the arm. I'm betting he's going to crash and crash big."

"Oh." He went back to the dishes.

"Mulder, are you okay? You seem... jumpy. Are you having dizziness again?"

"No," Mulder answered immediately, truthfully. "No dizziness. But like I said, I am feeling a little... claustrophobic. I think that walk would be a good idea."

She peered at him, but he offered her a smile and went back to staring at his task. Taking her sandwich and Skinner's, she headed back to the living room with one last suspicious glance. "Well, just tell us when you want to go. We'll be here."

"Okay. Thanks."

She entered the living room and handed Skinner his sandwich, sitting down beside him on the couch. He raised a silent eyebrow at her wrinkled forehead. She shrugged. "That was just... odd. He's doing the dishes."

Skinner mimed clutching his chest. "He's what?"

Scully chuckled. "My thoughts exactly." She glanced at the closed bedroom door. "I... think I'm just going to check on Alex." Standing up before he could protest, she knocked lightly once, then opened the door. Slipping into the bedroom, she was surprised to find the noticeable smell of marijuana thick in the air.

Alex's head lifted from the pillow. "Oh. Hi."

"Hey there. Were you in pain again?"

"Hmmm?"

She sniffed the air. "Did you need your painkiller?"

"Oh. That. Yeah... a little. It's okay now."

She walked to the bedside. "Are you sure? What was it?"

He stared at the ceiling, avoiding her eyes. "Just a little... burning. Like the crawly things in my veins again. I hate that one. It's a rotten sensation. I just wanted to numb it out a little."

She sat down in the chair, wondering at his flat affect. He couldn't have smoked much... Langly's grass had produced a consistently very happy Alex. "And it worked?"

"Yeah. I'm fine now."

She stared at the blank face watching the ceiling. Not asleep, and with the door closed. Which he hated. Her eyes narrowed. "Alex, are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine." No reaction, not even an eyelash flicker.

"Do you want some lunch?"

"I'm not very hungry. Maybe later."

"Okay." A vague unease skittered up her spine. "If you need anything call. We're right outside."

"Sure. Thanks."

She got up and walked to the door, stepping out, then pausing as he spoke again, finally looking away from the ceiling. "Shut the door would you?" She gave him a surprised look. "I'm going to try to sleep," he explained.

"All right." She pulled the door shut behind her, and stood, puzzling out the pieces before her. Skinner looked up from the couch with another interrogative expression. She rejoined him on the couch before speaking, and then only in a low murmur. "I get the distinct feeling they had another fight."

"Wonderful," Skinner muttered. "I don't know that I've ever met two people more adept at driving each other nuts. I understand why Mulder has a hard time around him, but I thought he'd started showing some remarkable self-restraint. What with reading to him and all."

"I know," Scully mused, expression troubled. Her own experience of discovering a potential new relationship had drawn her attention, and she had no doubt she'd been distracted since she and Walter began to move toward the idea. Considering her suspicions about Alex and his motivations concerning Mulder, she realized she needed to refocus. With an apologetic look at Walter, she grimaced. "I think it may be wise for us to make sure we don't leave them alone again. We won't be able to avoid the rotating watch, but I think perhaps we shouldn't leave the house."

He sighed. "Another good reason to avail ourselves of Jack's safe-house," he murmured. "I'll be damn glad to get Krycek into more formal custody, and return to DC myself." He gave her a significant look. "And regain a little of my privacy."

"Can't argue with you there," she sighed. "I'd like to get my life back for sure. I wish there was an easy answer as to what to do about Alex."

He touched her hand lightly. "Dana, you need to stop this. We're doing all we can... you're doing all you can, and then some. We've already arranged to have his custody be outside FBI and official channels. We're not going to be handing him over to Spender by placing him in the safe-house."

"I trust your judgement, Walter, don't think I don't. I just worry. Spender's so untouchable, and yet seems able to get his hands on anyone or anything." She shook her head as the kitchen door swung open and Mulder appeared, tugging down his shirtsleeves. "Going for that walk?"

"Yeah, if you guys really don't mind."

"Not at all. Take your time, Agent Mulder."

"Thank you." He started for the door, then stopped, glancing back at the closed bedroom door, then looking to Scully. "Did... you... uh-"

"He's resting. Not asleep, but resting."

Mulder gave her a searching look, but she had no idea what he was looking for. Finally he nodded, tapped in the security code, and left. Scully leaned into Walter's side as his arm came up and circled her shoulders the minute the door closed. Settling against his shoulder she tried to shake the ominous feeling prickling the hair on the back of her neck.


February 2nd
5:46 p.m.

Scully looked up from her laptop graph as she heard the bedroom door open. Marking her place on the paper lab report in pen, she set the laptop aside as Alex walked out into the living room heading for the bathroom. Standing up and stretching, she decided to wait until he reappeared to address him. Walter looked up at her from his notes.

"He's awake, I'll sit with him for awhile," she said, rubbing the back of her neck.

"He probably doesn't need as much attention now," he offered. "And drag Mulder up from downstairs if you're in the middle of something. What the hell's he been working on down there since he got back?"

"I don't know, but really, I don't mind. I'd like to see if Alex is willing to let me take a few samples from the new arm."

Skinner set down his pad and pen, glanced at his watch and sighed. "I suppose this is my cue to start dinner."

She grinned. "You could always drag Mulder up from downstairs."

"Thanks, but I'd like to be able to actually eat the food." He stood and headed for the kitchen, letting his hand slide over her back and hip in a lingering caress on his way by. "Think I'll be able to turn in my badge for a chef's hat when I get back to DC?"

"You definitely have a future in the diner field," she said seriously, grinning at his snort as he disappeared into the kitchen. When the bathroom door reopened, she redirected her attention. "Hey. Finally awake?"

"Yeah." Alex looked as remote and shut down as he had on the bed earlier.

"I checked on you a couple times throughout the afternoon. You were out. How are you feeling now?"

"I'm fine." He edged toward the bedroom even as he spoke.

"No more burning?" She followed him, catching the indecipherable look he cast her way when he realized she was entering the bedroom behind him.

"No, none."

"Since you're feeling better, do you want to watch some tv or something? W- Skinner is fixing dinner."

"No, I think I'll just... lay down again."

"You won't sleep tonight if you sleep all day." She watched as his eyes skated to the door and back to her repeatedly. "Why don't you come out to the living room, read or something?"

He sat down on the bed but didn't answer, his mouth a set line.

"Alex, are you sure everything is okay? You seem... upset about something."

"I'm fine," he responded almost before she finished speaking. "I'm just low energy, like you said I would be. I just want to be alone. Is that too much to ask? I've had somebody practically right on top of me since we got here."

She paused, debating, then finally gave a mental shrug and spoke. "Mulder's downstairs so you wouldn't have to put up with fighting him for the remote or anything." She carefully didn't look directly at him, busying herself picking up a glass and a bowl off the stand by the bed. The silence held for a few moments longer, then finally:

"Maybe watching tv would be okay."

She followed him out, wondering what on earth he and Mulder had gotten into it about. She debated asking him, but as closed as his face was, she doubted she'd get anywhere except to poke him even further back into his shell. ::Besides, I'm not Alex Krycek's therapist.::

Dropping the dishes in the kitchen with Walter, she went to the tv room and found him sitting almost totally motionless, his thumb the only movement as he flicked through channels. She dropped onto the couch next to him and glanced around, noting Mulder's stamp on the space. His clothes hung about in haphazard disarray, stacks of papers already littered every flat surface, books opened and forgotten. Another glass and a plate, complete with silverware, sat on the floor near the couch.

The television flickered almost faster than she could track, but Krycek didn't pause. She thought he must have gone through all the channels three times before suddenly he stopped on a show about cheetahs. She watched the last few minutes of it with him, and stayed sitting silently beside him as the 7 o'clock hour kicked off by switching from cheetahs to grizzly bears.

He sat entranced. Or at least doing a damn good imitation. She sat and surreptitiously watched him.


February 2nd
8:10 p.m.

Mulder debated bringing his dishes upstairs and decided he really should. Skinner had been irritated enough about brining his food down to him, and Scully must be wondering about his disappearing act by now. Between taking a three-hour walk and then hiding out in the basement, he'd avoided talking to anyone for most of the day.

He leaned his chair back away from the computer he was ostensibly typing notes into, and tried to make himself get up and go upstairs.

It wasn't like he was scared to face Alex after all. He wasn't. It was just... this was an odd situation. They couldn't talk openly with Scully and Skinner around. He'd rather just avoid confrontation until the other two were safely asleep. He looked around the basement, considering. Maybe he could convince Krycek to come down here to talk. He bet it would be more soundproof.

Of course, knowing what the hell he was going to say would be more helpful than all the soundproofing in the world.

A shadow of his panic from the afternoon fluttered up his spine. What if Alex told Scully? He was treating her like a confessional lately. Mulder felt a flash of intense irritation at Alex's ease with Scully. The annoyance immediately fled back into a growing sense of dread though. He didn't want Scully to know. How could he tell her? How could she possibly understand? Feeling sympathy for Alex Krycek... okay. She was a good person, a kind person, a doctor at heart as well as in profession. Hell, she was well ahead of him in showing compassion for Krycek.

But... sex? Somehow he seriously doubted Scully's compassion would extend to offering Krycek sexual succor.

::So that's what you're calling it now?:: his mind snarked. He winced. He honestly had seen it that way, as patronizing as it now sounded. He'd really thought of it as offering Alex succor... offering him something he seemed to dearly want. He winced at how hideously high-minded and conceited the concept sounded without the background thrum of an engorged cock and hyped-up hormones to encourage the delusion.

Somehow he doubted Alex had experienced it as succor.

::He shouldn't be so damned irresistible when he's all flushed and angry.::

::Oh that's just great. Fucking great, Mulder. Blame him for it now.::

Groaning, he let his chair thump back to the floor and leaned his elbows on the desk, cradling his head in his hands. His mind circled the same paths it had all afternoon and evening. The same damn thoughts over and over and over... one leading to the next and the next and the next...

How could he have convinced himself it was a good idea? Had Alex even enjoyed it? What came next? Had Alex felt forced? Did he agree because he wanted to... hell, did he even agree? What if Scully and Skinner found out? Guessed? What if Alex told them? Alex wouldn't, would he? If Alex really did have feelings for him... if his mind scoffed, not letting him off that easy, you know he does, you felt it... what then? Did he... have feelings back? For Alex? Was it more than sex? And so what if it was... what could possibly come of it?

His mind flitted over the inevitable fantasy. Alex Krycek stored away in a carefully protected safe house. There for him whenever he felt the need or desire for a little... visit. It was a potent thought. Despicable, but potent. And Krycek would be in custody for some time...

He winced. They didn't even know for sure what they were going to do with Krycek from a legal standpoint, and here he was making plans to keep the man as a federal sex slave. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. ::You need sleep.:: Actually, he did feel oddly tired. Maybe he could use that as another dodge. Go upstairs, say he'd sleep for a bit, then take late watch.

::Sure, and put off talking with Alex for another few hours. Then maybe he'll be asleep and you can put it off even longer.::

Sighing heavily he heaved himself out of his chair and gathered his dishes.


"You didn't do the dishes did you?" Scully asked, looking up and over her glasses as Walter came out of the kitchen.

"No, I left them for Mulder. I just cleaned up my own mess."

She nodded and smiled. They exchanged a look, and both glanced to the still, silent figure in the window seat, curled up around a book. Where he'd been ever since he'd barely picked at dinner. The difference between his mien of the morning and now couldn't have been more marked. Scully looked back to Skinner helplessly.

He grimaced, then cleared his throat. "Hey Krycek, how about a rematch on the cards?" Scully shot him a grateful look that made the effort worthwhile.

Alex's head lifted from his book and a perfectly blank expression took in both of them. "Not right now, thanks."

Every person in the room tensed as the closet suddenly swung open.

Mulder stumbled out and blinked at the attention turned his way. Flushing, he lifted his dishes and jerked his head at the kitchen. "I... ah... finished," he mumbled, then turned and almost ran into the kitchen.

Scully and Skinner exchanged another long look.

"I'm getting a little tired," Alex said suddenly. He swung his legs down off the window seat and stood. Scully noted his face did look pinched and pale.

"Are you in pain again, Alex?"

"A little. It's really settling down, though." He didn't meet her eyes as he strode across the room and disappeared into the small bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind him.

She sighed. She'd been willing to let them both have some time and calm down, hoping whatever it was would blow over again, but this was getting worse instead of better. Mulder was in complete evasion mode and the air was thick enough to cut. Mulder reappeared from the kitchen and she caught the way his eyes skittered immediately to the window seat, the look of relief that flickered over his face at the emptiness there.

"I'm kinda tired after that long walk," he hedged. "How about if I grab a little sleep now, and then I'll take the late night watch again?"

Scully nodded slowly. "If that's what you'd like, Mulder."

"Okay then." Dodging her eyes yet again, he escaped to his room. The door to the tv room swung shut.

Scully looked back to Walter. He just raised his eyebrows and shrugged. Scully shook her head. "I'm going to talk to Alex," she decided, standing.

"Better you than me," he murmured softly as she left the room.


8:35 p.m.

Mulder flopped down onto the couch and turned the tv on low. Not even noticing what came on, he rearranged his pillow in the corner of the couch and stretched out.

All he could smell was Alex.


8:36 p.m.

I stiffen at the knock on the door. Please don't be him. I can't take it.

I've been working on keeping my mind completely blank. Something I've had some practice with; it helps when you're going out on a kill. But my old skills are failing me. Thoughts... feelings... keep slipping around the edges. Cracks keep coming up in the walls and things squeeze through.

I can't be in the same room with him. I don't know what the hell he's picking up and what he isn't. I can't think about nothing but a brick wall all the time. Besides, I have to start really thinking. Thinking about getting out of here.

If I didn't want to go into custody before, I sure as hell don't now. So much for safety. There's no place more dangerous for me right now than anywhere he is. The only good thing is he seems to be as eager to stay away from me.

The thought slices like a knife straight through my chest. It's an actual physical pain. I shut it down with a vengeance. It just underlines the problem. If I'm in the same room with him too long I'm going to shatter into so many little pieces they won't even find them all, say nothing about putting them back together.

I thought I was in bad shape when I got here. Thought the Consortium doctors had taken me apart. That's nothing compared to what one fuck from Fox Mulder did to me.

The door cracks open despite my lack of response, and Scully pokes her head in. I breathe again. At least it's not him. Granted, she's not much better but... she's not him.

"Hey. I'm on first watch."

"You guys really still think you have to keep a constant eye on me?"

"Actually, I prefer to be in here in case you need anything. I'm getting to know you a little... you don't ask." She gives me a hard look. "This way, if I'm here I can get a better idea if you're in pain again or something." She sits in the chair and rubs her palms over her thighs. Her face tells me there's something else. Sure enough, after a pause, she speaks again. "Besides, I... wanted to talk to you."

Shit.

"Want to get the tape recorder?" Consortium secrets would be a good distraction right now.

"No, not about that."

Shit shit shit.

"What happened, Alex."

"I'm sorry?"

"What happened this morning. While Skinner and I were walking. Between you and Mulder. You did have another fight?"

I give her my very best totally blank look. "I don't know what you're talking about."

She huffs out an exasperated sigh. "Oh just stop it. You may think this stone-cold look hides everything, but you might as well be screaming. It's obvious you're incredibly upset." She gives me that pointed Scully look again. "Like I said, I'm starting to know you a little. Look, did Mulder... do something?"

I note the hesitation, the odd look on her face. I swallow hard. She knows how I feel. She's definitely guessed. Is she actually asking...? "What do you mean?"

"Did he hit you again? Did he start something?"

"How do you know I didn't hit him."

She smiles sadly. "Because you never hit him, Alex."

Shit. Shit shit shit.

I need her off this trail and I need her off now. I can't do this. I can't... I'm not... I don't have it together. I'm still too... damned... I don't know what. Too cracked, too off balance. The labs, and then being here, with Mulder, and now this. I can't take anymore. Suddenly anger buzzes just below my skin, all through me.

So okay, Alex. Just be your usual obnoxious self and get them the fuck out of your face.

I turn a sneer on her. "He's not worth my time to hit. Unlike your boyfriend." Her eyes go wide and she sits back in the chair.

"Excuse me?"

Good start. Keep it up. "Oh come on, don't be coy with me. So, when did you start fucking old Walt? You are fucking, aren't you? Sure looks like it."

"What the-"

"Is he any good? Is he big all over? Horse-cock? Always wondered how the old boy was hung. Does that cause any... ah... problems for little ol' you?"

Her hand comes down hard on the chair arm. "Alex, stop this-"

I ignore the interruption and keep jabbing. "And of course... bald. You know what that means. All that excess testosterone... does he like it rough?"

"THAT is enough." Her eyes spark blue fire and her face is flushed. She's beautiful when she's mad. I'm almost sorry to be so nasty to her. I've really started to like her. "And this is not going to work, Alex. We're talking about you and Mulder, and say whatever you want about my relationship with Walter, I'm not going to get mad enough to just 'forget'. Be as crude as you want. You forget I've worked in the FBI, the original old boys club. You think I haven't heard it all? Your obnoxious distractions may work like a charm with Mulder, but I'm not him."

Her face is set, her voice steady. She's right. She's not him. I sigh. Then something about what she said strikes me. In a softer voice I bounce back at her, "Did you say 'my relationship with Walter', Dana?"

She freezes, and her flushed face goes bright red. HA! Gotcha Special Agent Dr. Scully! I knew they were doing it!

"You are! You're fucking the boss! You... brazen wench!" I grin at her so she knows I'm just teasing this time.

She stammers for almost a full minute, then finally drops her burning face into her cupped hands, groaning. When she lifts her head she's still red, but marginally more composed. "I am not... 'fucking the boss'."

"Oh, come on. You can't back out of it now." She gives me a heated look and I actually laugh. Thinking about her and the bald mountain is better distraction than Consortium questioning would have been. "You as much as admitted it, and your face sure as hell did."

"We're just... we're not... I... he... oh!" She makes a frustrated sound. "I am not going to discuss this with you."

"Why not?" I shrug philosophically. "I'm not going to give you a hassle about it, and it's not like anyone would believe me even if I were inclined to tell anyone. Which I'm not." She gives me a surprised look, and I realize I've hit the nail at least partially on the head. "No one knows," I guess. Then, "Oh! Oh, I get it. Mulder doesn't know."

She blushes again, and looks torn. Finally she shakes her head, avoiding my eyes. "It just... started," she says haltingly, voice stiff. "I mean we're just... exploring the possibility. I just don't want to discuss it with Mulder right now."

I nod. "I can understand that. Don't. He already eats too much of your life as it is. You need to carve out some space that he doesn't get his fingerprints all over. Skinner's probably a good person to help you do that. He knows Mulder, he knows about you two and your relationship. He'll understand better than an average guy off the street would." I settle back against my pillows. "And he'll understand better about FBI stuff in general." I shrug. "He may not be my favorite person but... he's probably a good choice. And it looks like he really isn't quite as... mucked up as I thought he was," I admit grudgingly.

Scully narrows her eyes. "You really thought he was deeper in the Consortium."

I nod. It was a natural assumption, all things considered. I sigh. "You guys are what convinced me. If you and Mulder trust him..." I shrug. Still seems weird to me, but I'm willing to believe they know him better than I do. And if he really has gone out on a limb for them, that's good enough for me. I give her a sly look. "However, I never thought of you as someone who would break the fraternization rules. Especially not with a superior." That's not entirely true. I've been wondering whether she and Mulder have been breaking fraternization rules for years. But... the part about with a superior is true. It strikes me as out of character for her, but then maybe I don't know her as well as I think I do.

She flushes again and looks damned uncomfortable. "That's certainly occurred to us," she says carefully. "We're... working with it."

"You'll figure it out," I say confidently. I actually kind of like the idea of her and Skinner. Selfishly, it answers my questions about her and Mulder. I wince as that brings up everything I'm trying to shove down. I push on, determined to ignore it for as long as possible. "Go for it, Dana. Be happy. Give it your best shot. Life's too damned short."

She looks startled again. "I... he said the same thing."

I nod. "It's brushing death that does it," I answer vaguely. "I imagine the whole bit with not knowing what the nano-neutralizer was going to do brought it back home again. And probably you getting kidnapped again in the first place." She nods. "Besides," I add, letting my voice go slightly faggy and adding a flick of my hand, "he is totally hot. Grab it and run, girlfriend."

Her eyes go wide again and she bursts out laughing. I smile, glad I made her laugh. And the message is real. Watching her, I want her to be happy. She's been too damn sad.

Gasping, she points a finger at me. "YOU stay away from him," she jokes.

I choke. "As if! Please. He'd sooner die, I'm sure," I laugh. It's amazing, talking to her like this. It feels... like nothing I've ever had. I want to keep it, but I know it's not for me. Not really. But I want it. In its own way, it's as good if not better than sex with Mulder. I realize with a start I'm really slipping. First sex with him, now wanting to keep... her. Friendship, I guess. I sigh, sadness creeping into me again.

She looks at me, wiping her eyes on her shirtsleeve, and it's as if she catches the shift in me. She looks thoughtful herself. "You know, I haven't really done this... since Missy."

I don't understand. I give her a perplexed look.

She waves her hand, taking in the bedroom, the bed, me. "Sat in a bedroom, talking about men." She smiles, and there's a wistfulness to it. "Missy would have said the same thing. 'Go for it. Life's too short.' And it was, wasn't it."

My chest literally aches. Damn Mulder anyway. I never used to have chest pains. My mouth is open before I can stop it. "I am so... so sorry," I whisper, my voice raw.

She looks at me, coming back from wherever she was. I watch her face soften, her eyes glassy with tears. She reaches out and catches my hand. Squeezes it. "Thank you, Alex," she says softly. "I... appreciate that."

I shake my head, knowing I can never make up to this woman what she lost. I want to. Even wanting to is foreign and uncomfortable. But I want to give her something, something of me, something ripped out of me making as big a hole as the ones she lives with in her life. I sigh and realize with a start that my hand is gripping hers like a vice. I make myself loosen my fingers. "I don't... always understand... the way normal people think. Feel." I swallow hard, forcing myself on. "You... make me want to. More than anyone I've ever met."

She blinks at me, her face stunned. I feel instantly embarrassed. I pull my hand back completely. Look away. Something, anything, make a joke, Alex. Now would be good. I force a short, hard laugh, and even to my own ears it sounds strange. "But hey, if I was a 'real' person, what would Mulder do then? Hell, his world would come apart at the seams."

I realize what I've said an instant too late. That's what I get for shoving my brain when I'm in this fucking... state I'm in. I shut my eyes, as if that can just stop the world. All it does is bring all the pain roaring up in me, the ache in my chest tightening until I can barely breathe.

"Oh my God..."

I hear the soft gasp beside me but I'm concentrating too hard on leashing everything back down. By the time I'm in a semblance of control again, by the time I open my eyes and look at her, she's staring at me with this vaguely horrified look.

She knows.

I literally can't breathe for a moment. I stare back at her staring at me, wondering how the fuck she guessed, raking over what I said, trying to tell myself I'm wrong. Her next words shoot that effort down.

"You... and Mulder." Her voice catches. "You... this morning..." She lifts her hand to her throat, visibly swallowing.

I feel frozen. Caught. On a hook like a worm, ready to be tossed into the lake. I don't know what to say that won't make it worse. There has to be some way to twist out of this. Laugh her off, act like I don't know what the hell she's talking about. Hell, even say something like 'I wish', turn it into another joke.

Nothing comes. Nothing comes to mind, nothing comes out of my mouth. Nothing nothing and just more nothing. I have nothing left.

I can't do this anymore.

Scully is looking faintly ill. I want to tell her not to puke on my bed. I want to ask her to hold me, like she did when I was in so much pain I didn't know how to resist.

"Oh Alex."

I can't take that note in her voice. I start to tremble. My knees draw up automatically and I wrap my arms around them, gripping the sides of my legs with my hands so the shaking doesn't show.

"What happened?"

"Nothing," I croak.

She shakes her head. "The two of you... you-"

She won't say it. Doesn't seem capable of saying it. I shake my head. I don't know what else to do.

"Alex." Her voice is careful. Her face is white. "Are you... okay with what happened?"

What is she asking? I just stare at her in confusion. Mulder doesn't want her to know. I want out of this conversation. "I can't talk about this," I finally rasp.

"Yes, you can," and suddenly her voice is firmer. "I realize you... I've theorized, since we escaped, that you may have some... sort of feelings... for Mulder."

I pull back further into my pillows. Don't do this. Don't.

"There were a lot of little things. Things I noticed and kept noticing, after we got here. To the cabin."

I shake my head. Hard. I can't just sit here and stand this. It's fucking mortifying. "Stop," I grind out. "Just stop. It's nothing. Okay? It just happened. It's... old tension or something. It's him getting his aggression out. It's confused wires crossing... hate and aggression and sex. It's nothing. I know that, he knows that."

She's taking slow, careful breaths now. Watching me like she expects me to pull a knife or something. Her eyes are sad again. I don't understand that. Is she worried about Mulder? "I won't... I don't expect anything. I didn't... do anything to him. You don't have to worry. It just... happened, and that's all. I know... I know the score. I won't... create problems for him, or anything."

Her face changes suddenly, the horrified look back. "Alex... he didn't... it wasn't... violent?"

I realize what she's thinking and shake my head wildly. "No! God, no no. Of course he didn't." Her relief is palpable. "No, hell... it was great..." I stop myself with a screeching of mental brakes, wincing. "I mean... just no. It wasn't like that."

She's flushing again, but now the worried look is back. I just want her to go away. I want to disintegrate. "These things don't just happen. You can't just ignore it," she says.

I swallow hard. I'm scared to death she's right. That's why I have to get away from him. I can't be around him like this. I can't just pretend it didn't happen.

"You can't just pretend it didn't happen."

Christ, get out of my head, woman! It's not enough he can read my mind?

"Especially if you do... have feelings-"

"STOP. Enough." My voice rips out of me and once again I'm talking without knowing what's going to come out until I hear it hanging in the air between us. "I know, goddammit! Don't you think I know?! I'm telling you I understand. YES, I have feelings. Big shocking surprise! But I UNDERSTAND. No one has to explain the facts of life to me, I've lived in this world for long enough to get how things work. I know this is a fucking nightmare and I'm exactly what Mulder doesn't need and he knows it too! I know it's a mess and absurd and I just... want to get away from him, okay? I can deal with it, I can deal, if I can just get away from him. Whatever he's thinking, whatever made him... do it... I know he's going to be totally fucked up about it and I'm sorry but I just... I just... it happened and I can't take it back even though believe me I would if I could! I should have stopped it but I didn't and I'm sorry. I know it's better if he just... drops it and doesn't go crazy on himself about it and I don't know how to make sure that happens except to be somewhere else. We're weird together... I don't know what happens or why and I don't think he does either. I know he's got enough problems in his life without me around and I'm not some... lovesick puppy who's going to be trotting around after him waiting for him to ask me to move in." I pause for a breath and try to put the reins on my tongue. One breath... two. "I'm not stupid, Dana. A blind man could see I'm horrible for him. Whatever weird attraction made him... want me, he just needs to forget about it and... go back to his life." I force my mouth shut and sit there breathing heavily.

I cannot believe I'm having this conversation with Dana Scully.

She nods slowly, her face still worried. I don't know what else to say. I just sit in silence as she gathers herself from my outburst. "Alex, I don't know what exactly happened and I'm not asking for details," she finally murmurs softly. I have a hysterical thought that that's too bad, she might find the details rather interesting. "But it sounds... like you have a sense that..." She stops.

"That it can't happen again?" I finish quietly. "That it's got no future? Like I said. I'm not stupid. I may act it at times," like earlier today, "but I've got a pretty realistic view of life, the universe, and everything." Even number 42. I close my eyes, take a slow breath, open them again. Not much to hide from her now. With the worry of 'what's she going to think' removed, I can be pretty blunt with her.

I find it's something of a relief.

I clear my throat and continue. "He really doesn't want you to know. About what happened. I think he's worried what you'll think of him. Please, don't hold it against him. Whatever you think of it, of me, don't let it affect the way you look at him. Keep caring about him and be there for him. He's really going to need you. I know it's up to you if you want to tell him you know and try to talk to him about it, but don't be too hard on him." I lay it on the line. "You know that he's... in danger. A lot. That he's always on Their radar. He needs a clear head and if we're really going to work together to bring Them down, he's going to have to be damn careful. More careful than he has been, and smarter. He sure as hell doesn't need any extra... distractions. In the form of me or his own fucked up psyche or because he's worrying about what you think of him. I know this sucks, to ask you to do this just now when you've got this new thing starting up with Skinner, but it's really important... you have to watch his back closer than ever, Dana. Once things start falling apart, he'll be in even more danger. From all sides." I pause. What to say. But if I'm really getting out of here, and I am, I have to be clear with her, make sure she understands. Last chance. "The Consortium isn't the only side that has a special interest in him. And none of the interested parties are particularly safe for him."

She sucks in a breath, and I can see she's following me. "The Rebels...?"

I nod. At the very least, the fact that she knows I care for him should convince her I'm telling the truth. "Don't let him do stupid things. I know that's way too much to ask of anyone, but he listens to you. He may not seem to, but he does. You matter so much to him, you're the only one with a hope in hell of getting through to him. When everything starts going down, he's going to need you twice as much. Especially if I'm not-" I stop. Start again. "Especially if I'm not playing the interference I have in the past." I have no idea if I'll be able to or not. I'm going to have to totally reassess everything once I get back out in the field. But as far as she's concerned, she thinks I'm going to be locked up in a CIA safe house somewhere.

She nods, her face pale. "You've been protecting him." It's not a question, and I'm surprised at the confidence in her tone.

I give her a cagey look. "You could put it that way," I temporize. "But if I can't keep doing it..."

She nods again. "I understand, Alex." She dips her head and then meets my eyes again. "And I'll make sure to run a little interference for you. With Mulder." She bites her lip. "I know it's uncomfortable, this place is so small and we're all right on top of each other." She flushes as if she realizes what she's just said, then hurries on. "I'll see to it that you're not left alone in the cabin again, and that... until we get you to the next place, he doesn't do a lot of lone watch duty. If you'd like."

I smile at her. It's a nice offer, even if she is making it because she wants to keep him as far away from me as she can. Hell, I don't blame her. I might as well accept. She doesn't know I'm not going to be here tomorrow morning. "Thank you. I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything to him about knowing what happened... until we... get to the next place. I'm sorry, but this is weird enough..."

She holds up her hand. "Say no more. I understand, really. I can't promise not to bring this up with him eventually, but I'll wait until we're out of here, until you have a little space."

That should do it. "Thank you."

"One thing... he's asked for late watch tonight. Are you... okay with that? Do you want me to have Walter take it instead?"

I smile wryly. That's rather poetic actually, and in some ways makes things easier. "No, I'm okay with it. He'll think it's weird if you ask him not to. I'll just 'be asleep'."

She returns my ironic smile. "All right." She stands and heads for the door. My mind shifts over into planning mode, and I have to jolt myself back out when she pauses at the door. "Alex."

"Yeah?"

"I'm... sorry."

I give her a quizzical look.

"I'm sorry things aren't... different."

I stare after her as the door swings shut behind her. My eyes burn. I think I just may miss her more than I miss him.

I stretch out on the bed and shift gears again. Close down everything. I'm out of here tonight, whether I'm ready or not. I'm not going to worry about the disks and information. Leave them in their hands. I need to just get out of here, now, for my own sanity. Dealing with the data is too much to worry about and besides, they deserve it since they aren't going to be getting everything they thought they were going to get from me. The thought of the look on Skinner's face makes me smile. He's going to be kicking himself that he didn't spend more time interrogating me when I could barely talk. Humanitarianism comes back to kick you in the ass yet again, Skinner my man.

Eventually you'll get what you're looking for from me. You'll just get it on my terms.

I look at the clock on the wall and start calculating.


February 3rd
12:36 a.m.

Scully looked up as Mulder walked out of his room, stretching. She wondered if he'd slept. Or just lain there. Thinking about... Alex.

At least she understood why he was avoiding her.

"Ready to take over?" she asked quietly in deference to Skinner's sleeping form on the pull out couch.

"Yep."

She watched him dodge her eyes and wondered for the 49th time exactly what had happened. How it had gone down. She winced at her mental choice of words, and flushed. She'd told Alex she wouldn't say anything. Yet.

But she and Mulder were definitely going to talk about this. Soon.

Sympathy, empathy, compassion... that was one thing. SEX? He had sex with Alex Krycek??

What the hell had he been thinking?

"He's asleep," she murmured, packing up her folders and papers. "You should have an easy night of it." She watched the odd, guilty look flash across Mulder's face and sternly told herself to leave it alone. "I made some coffee."

"Thanks. See you in the morning."

"Goodnight." She walked to her bedroom, wondering how the hell she was going to bring the subject up once she was in a position to. As she got ready for bed, her thoughts started circling again. SEX with Alex Krycek. "Always have to be complicated, don't you Mulder," she muttered.

She couldn't imagine a worse, more self-destructive choice. It was so... Mulder. She was more surprised she hadn't seen it coming. She'd been so concerned about the ramifications of Krycek having feelings for Mulder, she hadn't even considered the flip side. But who would?! MULDER?? Feelings for Krycek?

Did he have feelings? Was it just sex? Krycek was certainly pretty enough. And Mulder had a fair amount of electrical chemistry going on whenever Krycek was around. Perhaps... it grew out of that. Maybe they'd always been attracted to each other. It would explain why Mulder always took everything Krycek did so personally.

But did he have feelings as well? For the man who'd killed his father?

She flopped down on her bed and sighed. She just knew it was going to be a long... sleepless... night.


February 3rd
12:45 a.m.

I hear the door creak open. Tread on the floor.

Him.

I can tell. I keep my breathing calm and even with an effort, and shore up the mental brick walls. Come on, Alex, you can do this. Think... nothing. Just... nothing.

I hear the clink of a cup setting down on the bedside table. Excellent. That means no restrained violence. Not even a bump on the back of his pretty little head.

Careful, Alex. Think... nothing.

I picture every square inch of my brick wall. I study it brick by brick. Touch the mortar, feel the bumps, appreciate the color variation from one brick to the next. I have no idea how long I've been floating when I suddenly hear a soft, "Alex?"

I debate. Pretend I don't hear him, or just 'wake up' and shut him down flat, fast. Which would be easier? Suddenly a hand shakes my shoulder. Okay, not going to get the choice. Louder, "Alex?"

I blink myself 'awake' and shift in the bed, trying to look bleary and half-asleep. "Whaz?"

"Alex, I'm sorry to wake you up, but we need to talk." His face is all concerned and worried, peering down at me.

Shut him down fast. I blink and rub my eyes, careful to keep my thoughts blank as my face. "Mulder, we don't, really."

"But we need to talk about... what happened."

I lay still, just staring up at him. Beautiful. Shut it down. "It happened. It's over. Let it go. What do we need to say about it?"

"Well... what it means, what happens next, what-"

I cut him off. "It means nothing. Nothing happens next. Mulder. Let it go. I'm really tired, and I want to sleep."

He looks hurt. Oh that's rich. He's hurt. I don't give a millimeter. Things are building up fast and furious behind the blank wall. I need to stop talking to him. He finally sits back in the chair, pouting.

"Fine. Ignore it. Ignore me. I'm not going anywhere, Alex. We do need to talk about this. I can wait."

Good. Carefully not thinking anything, I roll over and go back to my bricks. I decide to add a layer to the top of the wall, and occupy myself with that, making sure my breathing settles almost instantly back into the rhythmic sleep cadence.

Some interminable time later, I hear what I'm waiting for. He stands, walks to the door, leaves. Instantly I'm up, reaching under the pillow for the pills I got out of Scully's black bag earlier today when I put the KY back. Crushing them instantly between thumb and forefinger, I drop them into his coffee, stirring with my finger.

I'm back on my side 'sleeping' when he gets back from the bathroom. Sure enough, right on cue, he sits down and picks up his mug. I hear him sipping, hear the clink of it back to the nightstand.

Now it's just a matter of time. Bricks and nothing and this is old hat. It's getting easier as I do it. There's always been a lot of waiting in my life. I'm good at it. I suspend my mind and let my body rest. My wall is beautiful.

When I hear a soft snore, I roll onto my back. He's collapsed against the back of the chair, eyes shut, mouth open. I'm out of bed in an instant. I glance around to see if there's anything I need. Nothing... then I spot my quilt lying half-folded across the foot of the bed. It's not really mine, of course. I'm sliding it through my fingers without really thinking. I need to go. Now. I drape the blanket over Mulder's legs. Take one last long look at him. He's more beautiful than my wall. I don't touch him, but I want to. I don't kiss him goodbye, but I want to. I'm not stupid.

I turn and slip out of the room. Through the closet and down the stairs. Across the basement in the dark. The security system panel is right where I saw it my first time down here. I pick the little padlock, and open the panel. The Gunmen are good, but I was trained by the Consortium. In five minutes flat the alarm system is dead. I find a laptop among the computers spread around, and tuck it under my arm.

Back up the stairs and I can't bother to take anything with me except Langly's leftover pot and the laptop. The grass will sell quick and easy and I need the cash. The laptop and an internet caf should help me find a few things out, check the lay of the land. Otherwise, I have to be out and clear. Fast. Three FBI agents, and none of them sleep too soundly. I avoid the creaking board in the floor even though Skinner's snoring loud enough to cover. Poor Dana. She's going to need earplugs.

Mulder's sneakers. Skinner's coat. I don't bother to feel for the keys. I wouldn't be that lucky, and besides, if for some odd reason he did leave them in his coat, they'd make noise if I touched them.

Moonlight is suddenly coming through the windows. A cloud must have passed. In the sudden light and shadows, I see the reflection of a white cover in the window seat. Unable to resist, I take three steps, snatch up the book, and then I'm out the door.

Down the steps and around the back of the house. Fast now, Skinner's not drugged and I know he's got that sixth sense good cops have. The car door is fast work but once inside I take a slow breath and steady myself. This is it. If they're going to wake up, it'll be the car starting that does it. I'll still get clear and the best they'll be able to do is call it in, but I'd like to have more of a head start.

Up under the steering column and a yank has the wires in my hand. Two hands makes it infinitely easier than the last time I did this. Sparkage, and Skinner's got a nice car. The motor is a wonderful low purr. Thank you, Walter. You most likely just gave me my head start.

The little clock in the dash tells me it's 3:10 am.

I'm around the house, driving over the lawn and down the little road. The moonlight keeps me from having to turn on the headlights. One more glance in my rearview shows the little house, dark and silent.

I take a left at the end of the road. I have no idea where I am, but I'm about to find out. I drive slow and careful until I'm sure no one in the little house can see lights even through the trees, then I turn on the headlights. I hit the gas.

And I'm gone.


February 3rd
3:08 a.m.

Scully rolled over in bed, glanced at the clock and sighed. She'd been right about elusive sleep. This was stupid. It was none of her business.

What the hell... of course it was her business. Mulder was her best friend! Alex was a Consortium assassin!

Granted, a Consortium assassin who had showed some depth over the past days. Who'd been through as much in his life as she and Mulder had in theirs. Who'd saved her life. Obviously tried to find Mulder's sister. Was working to help take down the Consortium. Was going to continue to help them. Was conceivably working with the alien Rebels if she'd read the signs right.

Still... Alex Krycek...

She could handle Mulder with a man. Hell, she'd wondered about it herself. Late thirties, single, great dresser. But... Alex Krycek?

She had to wonder if Mulder fucked up his life like this on purpose. No one could have such a screwed up life just by accident, could they?

Something made her sit up in bed. Some feeling... some sound... car door? Impossible. She listened again. Silence. Were the Gunmen back? She got out of bed. As her feet hit the floor, she froze. The unmistakable sound of a car starting.

Car.

Starting.

Car starting.

Her breathing sounded harsh and loud in her own ears. A rough, uncomfortable conversation that suddenly sounded alarmingly final rang through her head.

Moving swiftly and silently she crossed her room, got her gun out of her top drawer. Out the door of her room and one glance assured her that Mulder was fine, just sleeping. The empty bed couldn't have been less surprising.

Tiptoeing past a snoring Walter she sidled up to the front window. The lack of light on the alarm box another non-surprise.

She watched Walter's car roll around the side of the house and down the drive. No lights. He was good. The agent in her screamed to get out there... hit the outside floods and burst out there, gun drawn, shoot out the tires, apprehend the escapee.

The best friend in her that always thought of Mulder first, second and last, kept her feet rooted to the spot.

I know this is a fucking nightmare and I'm exactly what Mulder doesn't need.

Once things start falling apart, he'll be in even more danger. From all sides.

I'm not stupid, Dana. A blind man could see I'm horrible for him.

He needs to just forget about it and go back to his life.

She stood at the window staring at the moonlit night, watching the car take a left onto the dirt road. She watched until she couldn't see the car anymore. Then she turned and went back to her bedroom and put her gun back in the top drawer.

Crawling under the blankets, she tugged them up to her chin. To her own surprise, she fell asleep almost immediately.


February 3rd
6:25 a.m.

The hollering, when it came, brought her wide-awake. For a long moment she couldn't remember that she'd been expecting it. As her mind cleared, she drew a deep breath and prepared herself to act surprised.

Entering Alex's room... not anymore her mind corrected... she walked directly between Mulder and Skinner, trying to picture exactly what she'd do if she didn't know.

"What on earth is going on?!" she shouted. Then looked around the room. "Where's Alex?"

The furor that followed would have been funny if she didn't feel so sick in the pit of her stomach. Skinner reamed Mulder six ways from Sunday. She felt marginally guilty letting him take the fall when she'd been the one to consciously see Alex off, but given the amount of shit she'd had to take for him over the years, it really only balanced out. Mulder, for his part, was raving about being drugged.

"I wasn't tired! I'd just slept! I wouldn't have fallen asleep!"

"Oh right, because you've never done that before, have you?!"

Scully whistled sharply through her teeth. "Okay, enough. This is getting us exactly nowhere!"

Walter turned to her, frustration boiling off him. "He took my car. We're stuck here."

"I've already called the Gunmen. They're close, they'll be here soon."

"I put out an APB on my car, but he's likely ditched it by now."

"I can't believe he drugged me and took off!"

Scully turned and walked out of the room, to the kitchen, started coffee. It was going to be a long day.


February 3rd
3:13 pm

The van bumped over the back roads with sickening jolts. Mulder tried to grip the wall and simultaneously avoid Skinner's murderous looks. Scully sat in the front seat, staring out the window.

He'd gone. He'd just up and left. What the hell kind of behavior was that? They needed to talk. And he just ran?

How typical.

But the anger just wouldn't come. No matter how hard he tried.

Skinner was having no problem with anger. He was barking at everyone but Scully, muttering about lax work ethics and Consortium bastards and having expected something like this. Sitting in steaming silence, brooding about the Consortium secrets they hadn't squeezed out of Alex. Wondering aloud if they had any chance of using any of the information against the Consortium now that Krycek was on the loose again and undoubtedly headed right back to the den of snakes.

Scully pointed out calmly from the front seat that it was unlikely Krycek would be in any hurry to approach the Consortium. Skinner had to acknowledge that point, all things considered.

The Gunmen were also getting in touch with their rage. All three expressed various stages of anger and frustration over the now-useless nature of their hideout, the lost opportunity for a Krycek-exclusive. Langly seemed the most disappointed, somehow.

Scully, he couldn't tell. She didn't say much, but he guessed her quietness likely also concealed a touch of temper.

He sat in the old van, bouncing along the back roads of North Carolina, and wondered where his own anger was. And hoped no one would noticed the faded quilt carefully stowed under a pile of their gear.


February 3rd
3:30 pm

Scully stared out the window, fingers running absently over her seat belt.

"-sure it's safe for you two to reappear?" Frohike shot a quick glance at her before returning his attention to the rutted road.

She jerked herself out of her thoughts. "Hmm? Oh. Yes, we need to come back from 'California'."

"We don't have any choice with Krycek on the loose." Walter's voice came sharp and hard from behind her. "We'll just have to be particularly careful, and threaten Spender with the fact that we have information on his operations when he comes sniffing around. And Scully and Mulder will have to take some extra precautions."

She looked over her shoulder and sent him a reassuring smile. "We'll be fine. And we don't have to be specific about everything we know and give him a chance to clean up, we can just force the issue on the one facility I was actually in."

"All I know is you're getting an agent watching your apartment," Walter stated, matter of fact, obviously not arguing the point.

She shook her head and turned back around, a small smile playing on her lips. They really were going to have to have that conversation about overprotective urges, obviously. Her smile faded as she watched the trees roll by. It didn't feel right, lying to him. Even just by omission. Didn't feel right lying to Mulder either, although he'd certainly done it to her before. Omitted plenty of details over the years.

She sighed. She'd let a Consortium operative just walk away. Who knew if they'd ever see him again. Sure, she'd done what was right for Mulder but... did she have any right to make that kind of decision about his life? ::I didn't make it. Alex did.:: She leaned her head against the cool glass of the window. The rationale didn't work. She could have stopped him. She could have made sure he and Mulder dealt with whatever had happened. ::But Mulder's safety...::

And the worst of it was the feeling deep in her chest. The niggling worry about more than Mulder.

Alex.

Mulder had her. Who did Alex have?

::What the hell are you doing worrying about Alex Krycek?:: Apparently it was habit forming. Her annoyance at losing her living proof of a medical miracle to work on paled when she thought about how much agony Alex had been in, and how much they still didn't know about what was inside him. They might never know now.

And she could have stopped him.

Her breath fogged the glass. She couldn't see past the moisture. Everything just looked foggy and indistinct.


Washington DC
February 4th
2:23 p.m.

In the heart of DC, the phone rang in an elegant office on the top floor of a nondescript building. Unexpectedly it was not the phone on the desk, nor the phone in the pocket of the man behind the desk. It was the phone that sat on the nearby conference table, with speakers surrounding it for conferencing.

The man behind the desk stared at it for a full three minutes before standing, walking to it, and picking it up.

"And how did you get this number?" he said into it in a cold voice. Somehow the voice on the other end wasn't quite a surprise.

"Good afternoon. I'm sure you know by now that certain FBI employees are back in town."

Hand tightening on the phone, he carefully sucked in on his cigarette before answering. "Alex, so nice to hear from you. How are you?"

The voice continued as if he hadn't spoken. "Just a head's up to let you know that I'm watching, and if either one of them goes missing, certain individuals will be made aware of exactly where I spent the month of January. So you just better hope neither of them takes a vacation without me realizing it."

Exhaling a swirl of smoke, he let the pause sit for a moment. "And you expect me to believe that certain individuals don't already know where you spent January?" The soft, husky laugh echoing through the phone crawled up his spine, not that he'd ever admit it.

"I find it in my best interest not to inform the rest of the Consortium exactly what you've been doing behind their backs. Again. But I've set up a few contingencies. You can wonder about them. Perhaps I'll elaborate the next time I see you. I will be seeing you. Soon."

"Excellent. I was hoping that could be arranged." He sounded honestly pleased.

The voice on the other end of the phone didn't doubt that in a way, he was. An exasperated breath sounded loud through the receiver. "Remember what I said. Mulder and Scully are out of consideration for those trials. Understood?"

"And what trials would those be, Alex? I believe you'll find that facility has been... liquidated. But tell me, why the sudden concern for the safety of two of the people who would most like to see you dead?"

The sound of a dial tone in his ear was the only answer he got.

Walking back to his desk, he settled into his chair and lit a fresh cigarette, stubbing out his old one after the new one took. Smoking thoughtfully, he studied the wall opposite his desk and rocked in his chair. Soon, Alex had said. Soon.

He looked forward to it.


Los Alamos, New Mexico
February 7th
12:20 p.m.

I sit in a bar, cutting up my steak and loving it. I still can't get over the arm. It's the little things that keep reminding me, bringing a smile to my face.

Of course it's also the little things that keep making the smile disappear too. Little things like the book that sits in the briefcase beside me. Little things like waking up in the middle of the night with my shoulder tingling like someone is biting it. Hard. From behind.

The emptiness in my gut has nothing to do with the fact that I haven't started eating my meal yet. I had to go. What was I going to do? Stick around and listen to him tell me about how it was a mistake that shouldn't have happened, that couldn't happen again? I could stand in front of a mirror and listen to myself say it all. And it hurt less that way.

I still wonder what in hell made him do it. Was he just horny? Was it just that weird chemistry there always is between us? I know why I was stupid enough to let it happen, but what the hell was he thinking. Sure, I know he was attracted to me, once. Obviously the attraction isn't dead. Still.

In my worse moments, I'm sure it was pity. After taking a few too many trips into my head and knowing... knowing how I felt. In my more cynical moments I think it was a bid to make me more malleable, get more information.

Sometimes I think that maybe he was stupid enough to think he might actually be able to get past his hate, past our history, follow his attraction. It's a dangerous thought pattern for me to fall into. Depressing. Depression is distracting. His reaction afterward must have killed that budding idea, if that is what was going through his head. If there's one thing you can count on with Mulder, it's that eventually he'll think, and then eventually he'll think too much.

I start in on my steak. Eating with my left hand just for the hell of it. The general pain is pretty much gone and what there is I can manage. I feel pretty damn good actually. I don't know if it's all over, or if I'm about to dissolve into a puddle of green goo tomorrow, but until I actually start liquefying... screw it. I've got things to do. Can't stay holed up hiding forever, waiting to make sure I'm 'okay'.

Still get tired too fast, but I'm handling that too.

I look up as the door opens, and see my contact enter. I nod to her and she approaches my table, sits down. Time to start moving up the timeline with the Rebels. Time to convince them we've got help we can utilize in taking out the Consortium.

I give her a charming smile, and get ready to start the climb through meeting after meeting to reach the Rebel leaders I really need to sell the idea to.

The sooner I get this over with, the quicker I can get on the road again. Got a few stops to hit, then back to DC. I've already started the process in motion to send some deliveries, mostly through the Gunmen, but one package has to be delivered to her place in person. I'm not going to trust it to anyone else.

Maybe I'll even give myself a present and see her while I'm in town. Just a quick visit. Give her a medical update. Make sure... everything is okay. Just talk for a few minutes.

I think I'd like that.

End of Chemical Agents Part Six

CHEMICAL AGENTS
EPILOGUE

Washington DC
February 23rd
6:35 p.m.

"Are you about ready to go? We should leave now to make sure we make our reservation." Walter settled his hands on her shoulders, rubbing gently.

"Just about... look at this! It's the list he told us about at the cabin. The one identifying the locations of the facilities mentioned by number in the data we brought out of the lab!"

He leaned over her shoulder, studied her laptop screen. Shaking his head, he pressed a kiss to her temple. "I wouldn't have believed it but... you were right about him. I can't believe he's been keeping up his end of the bargain."

"I know." She paged through the rest of the material and then closed down her email client, and the laptop itself. She looked up at him and smiled. "We can look at the rest when we get home."

He laughed. "Ah yes, another romantic night, just the two of us and reams of Consortium data."

She joined his laughter, stepping into the circle of his arms and wrapping her arms around his waist. "Oh Walter, it's going to happen this time. I can feel it. We've got them. It will happen, won't it?"

"It'll happen. We need to take it slow," he murmured into her hair, "but we'll get there. We just need to be sure we do it in a way they can't wriggle out of. If he keeps sending this kind of information, it'll be sooner rather than later."

Pulling back she stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. "Let me go change real quick, and we can go." When she came back out, he whistled softly and she beamed at him. "Thank you kindly." He held out his arm and she took it. They made it as far as the door and stopped short.

The short silver canister sitting on the landing was familiar to Scully. She'd seen many like it in a variety of labs. Made for holding frozen genetic material. Keeping it at the temperature needed to suspend life. She bent and picked up the canister, staring at it quizzically. Walter scooped up a brown envelope.

"There was a note under it... it's addressed to you." He handed it to her; she handed him the canister.

Opening the envelope, she pulled out a piece of cream, unlined paper. In stark black pen on one side, one sentence stared up at her.

"I can never give back what you've lost or make up for my role in it, but this may help settle some of what's between us. --A."

She turned and stared at the canister, face pale in the bright outside light over her door. Walter caught her elbow, concerned. "Dana? What is it?"

Not answering, she took the canister and walked back inside, set it on the table and released the seals around the top. Once open, she slid out one of the vials. On the side, a typed label identified the contents. The only important information leapt out at her.

Scully, Dana Katherine... Ova

Standing at her shoulder, Walter stared, then raced for the door. She heard him clatter down the outside steps, heard him ask the agent stationed across from her apartment if he'd seen anything, if anyone had been near her front door.

She stood, staring at the vial. Knowing the agent wouldn't have seen anything. She carefully slid the vial back into place, blinking back tears. She resealed the canister, then stepped back to the door, out into the chill night air. She looked around the deserted street, at Walter haranguing an honestly confused agent.

"Thank you," she said aloud to the night.

# End #


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