Fields of Gold

by Jennie and Ursula

Title: Fields Of Gold
Pairing: Mulder and Krycek
Rating: NC-17 and S for silly, schmoopy, and sweet Status: Complete
E-Mail Address for Feedback: Jennieemcg@aol.com E-mail Address for Feedback: Fan4Richie Series/Sequel: Is this story part of a series: Stand Alone Other websites:
Jennie's Place: http://www.fhsarchive.com/hosted/Jennie.htm Ursula's Cave: http://fhsarchive.com/ursula/index.html Disclaimers: Not our characters. No money made. Time Frame: Post series
Notes: Written for Pollyanna's Lyric Wheel, the Transports of Love cycle. Lyrics are at the end of the story. Thanks to Teri, Ori and Sue for the beta. And to Spiff for the great lyrics!

Fields of Gold
By Jennie and Ursula

He's close. I can feel his presence. Apart from a very few instances, I always know when he's nearby. He does, too, I think.

I hope.

And, yes, there he is. Standing in front of the shabby excuse for a house he's lived in for the past four years. In shorts. Short shorts!

Hey, gimme a break; I have to get my jollies whenever and wherever I can. Because, frankly, my life sucks. I'd mention that I can't recall a time when it didn't if I wasn't afraid of sounding pathetic. Oh, fuck it. My life sucks. It always has and it probably always will.

Except... There was that all too brief period of time I spent as Mulder's partner. That wasn't all bad. Knowing I'd have to betray him eventually was lousy, sure. But, those days, weeks, I spent with him were... Well. Not awful. Better than anything I'd known before. Which probably isn't saying much.

There I go, being pathetic again.

To make matters worse, I fell for him. As in fell in love with him. And, when it all came crashing down around us, I promised him that we'd have a 'someday'. To his credit, he didn't laugh in my face. Guess I should count myself lucky.

OooOooO

I don't know what's drawn me from the house, except that the sun was trickling through the blinds. As I step into sunlight, I regret how much of my life I've spent inside that dark apartment in which I used to live. Everyone says they can't believe I bought this place, but the moment I saw it, I loved it. It's a small house in need of a coat of paint, and Walter said that the gutters will have to be replaced soon, the last time he visited.

I don't know about the gutters, but I love the way the sun shines through the tiny parlor. There's a broad front porch. I'm thinking about getting a porch swing. Porch swings are nice. My parents never had one. I want to have one on the shabby porch with Chinese lanterns dangling from the eaves. The garden grows with haphazardly planted flowers. I know nothing about gardening. One day I noticed a rack of plants on sale outside the grocery store. They were inexpensive and seemed forgotten, sad. I read the directions and spent a day digging in the small garden. The work was hard, and I slept like a log at the end of the day. They surprised me by staying alive, even thriving under my neglectful efforts. The neighbor saw the tomatoes growing with the marigolds. He's a lean old man, brown from a life spent outdoors. He told me how intelligent it was to use the natural pesticide properties of the marigolds to protect the tomatoes. I never told him that I had confused the tags and forgot which plants were supposed to be tomatoes. I smiled and let him assume I knew.

One of the plants has almost ripe fruit. I look up, outward to the street. That's how my life feels right now. Almost ripe. I'm waiting. I know who I'm expecting. I know why I want to see him. The only thing I'm not sure about is how I know he's still living against all supposed facts. Nor do I know why my heart knows he will be drawn to me, like the heads of those tomato plants turning toward the sun.

Out back, there's a field. It belongs to the house, but I lease it to the farmer next door. I think he's growing barley in it this year. I like the way the fields look in the summer heat. There's a shimmer above them like you see on the beach. I'm sure that Scully could explain it scientifically, but I don't want to hear it. She doesn't visit me often anymore. I think it bothers her that I'm content. She asks me all the time when I'm coming back to Maryland. I tell her this is my home now. She always looks surprised, glancing around as if for some alien puppet master, working my strings.

There are no strings. One day we were running from them; the next, they were dying. I never knew what saved us, what killed them. Perhaps there are human marigolds among us that slowly and secretly killed the blight of our invaders? All I know is one day they were gone, and we were free. I have to say Scully and I kept running, kept hiding, until one day, we just stopped. We waited and the enemy never stirred. And so, we went home.

And here I wait, wait for the only thing, the only loose thread worth plucking up and binding to me.

OooOooO

Mulder looks good. Very good. Although it shouldn't surprise me after all these years, I still find myself amazed at how beautiful he is. I'd give myself a swift kick for being such a sap, but with my luck he'd hear my boot impacting my ass and zero in on my location.

It's one thing to suspect that he somehow feels my presence; actually being confronted by him, being caught mooning over him like a high school kid is an entirely different matter. Talk about humiliating! Besides, I'd probably blush with embarrassment, and I don't look good in red.

Time to go. Slink away and take refuge in my latest hidey-hole. Until the next time I'm overcome with a need to see him. Moving carefully, I creep soundlessly away towards the wooded area where I've hidden my bike.

Just as I draw a deep breath, relieved to have safely escaped his notice, a great big hairy dog attacks me. Well, okay, maybe accosts would be a better word. The thing greets me as if I'm his long lost and dearly loved best friend. It jumps up, placing its front paws on my chest and drools all over me.

"Shhh," I vainly beg. "Quiet, dog."

It licks my face and whines happily.

Not the response I'm looking for here. Stronger measures are called for, so I shove at its chest, hoping it will fall over and give me enough time to escape.

And, wouldn't you know it, the dog thinks this is the greatest game ever invented. It leaps away, does an awkward spin, and barks at me. Tail wagging, tongue hanging out of the left side of its mouth, it adopts a playful pose and waits for my next move.

I weigh the situation, decide that distraction is the key, and locate a stick conveniently lying nearby. Just the ticket!

Not.

The stupid mutt just stands there when I throw the stick. Hell, it doesn't even bother to watch the thing when I toss it as far away as I can.

"What?" I whisper. "You retarded or something? Go fetch. You know; run over there and pick up the nice stick."

It smiles at me. Swear to god, the damned dog is smiling.

Fine. Just wonderful. I shrug and move to walk past it. Big mistake. This, it appears, is exactly what the dog's been hoping for. It barks again and throws itself against me - knocking me flat.

Then, oh joy, I hear Mulder. "Alfred? C'mon boy. Come inside."

'Alfred', for I'm assuming that must be the dog's name, wags his tail with increased vigor and barks. Again. He, at least I think it's a he, does not move. No, he remains in place, standing over me and drooling all over my neck.

And people wonder why I don't own a pet...

Mulder is still calling his dog, the dog is still drooling, and I... I'm still laid out on the ground.

I've imagined meeting Mulder again. A thousand times and in a thousand different ways. Not once did I think he'd find me in such a position.

OooOooO

It takes me a minute to realize what's missing. Alfred.

It isn't that I really have a dog. I mean, I suppose that I do have him, according to the license at the humane society and the vet bills I paid when Alfred ate one of my silk ties. Alfred represents something rather like the waterbed that inexplicably appeared in my apartment one day. That's something to ask Krycek about, since no one else would admit to buying it for me and installing it.

Alfred turned up on my doorstep looking innocent and forlorn. Rather like Alex, the night he showed up at my door after he killed Cole. Like Alex, Alfred turned out to have hidden powers of destruction. My first inkling was when he accidentally locked himself in my bathroom, overturned my laundry hamper, ate my underwear and then clawed a hole in the doorframe to get out. In case, you're wondering, it was Alfred who was trapped in the bathroom. As far as I know, Alex can escape most confinement - with the one exception of being chained on Walter Skinner's balcony. Of course, for all I know, Alex liked the S and M scenario we had inadvertently set up. Anyway, Alfred had grown from a thin puppy to a large dog that could pull himself into a semblance of astounded dignity. I named him after the butler on Batman and Robin. That was my second favorite show when I was a kid. The first was Star Trek, of course, but Batman and Robin was second. I think it was the costumes, not to mention the idea of getting into a tight, dark passage. Alfred's air of respectability doesn't stand up to scrutiny. The dog is a maniac. My neighbor, Mr. Green, says that I should train him. I have a stack of books and videos, but Alfred has shown no inclination to read or watch them with me.

I call my dog, wishing I didn't sound as if I was pleading. From the direction of a tangle of blackberry bushes I had promised to pull up, I hear Alfred bark. I face that direction and call again. Right. Alfred must have found something interesting. I hope it isn't something dead and smelly.

Calling again, I admit reality by walking toward the happy sounds of my dog playing one of his games. I just hope it isn't something involving purloined underwear or someone's lawn ornament.

My worst fears are realized as I see that Alfred has someone pinned to the ground. If only he wasn't such a large dog! I try to remember the name of the lawyer I met at a bar a few weeks ago...

"He's just a big friendly puppy," I shout. "He's just playing."

"Alfred, come here!" Alfred's tail wags harder. He doesn't appear to thinking about obeying, even remotely.

I run full tilt to the man that my dog has captured. I don't fully realize who it is until I'm standing over him. I know my jaw unhinges. I draw a deep breath, feeling giddy with a cascade of emotions.

Putting my hand on Alfred's collar, I say to him, "Well, dog, when you finally decide to fetch me something, at least you pick something I really want. Good dog! Very good dog!"

Grinning widely, I stand over Alex Krycek and say, "Want to get up, or do you want me to join you down there?"

OooOooO

Closing my eyes, I pray for the ground to open and just swallow me up. Not that praying has ever done me any good in the past.

"Alex?"

Now that's strange. When's the last time he called me by my first name? Near as I can recall, it was about a million years ago.

"Hey, Alex?" A foot nudges my thigh. "You okay down there?"

I'm ignoring him. Of course, that's never worked any better than prayer but, hey, one day my luck has to change. Right?

"I know you're awake. You're frowning. And blushing."

"Am not." Childish much, Alex?

"C'mon, let's go inside."

Warily, I open one eye to study him. "Will the dog be coming in with us?" is the best I can come up with, because Mulder's smiling at me. A real smile, teeth, laughing eyes, and all. All things considered, it's damned amazing that I can manage to form a coherent sentence.

With a wink, Mulder says, "Watch this." He gasps dramatically and points into the distance. "What's that?"

Naturally, I sit up and reach for my sidearm. "What? Where?" I sputter, looking around for whatever danger is lurking.

Alfred, though, is much faster than I in reacting. Barking madly, he dashes off in the direction Mulder indicated.

Mulder chuckles. "Easy, killer. There's nothing there. It'll take a good five minutes for Alfred to figure that out, though."

Before I realize what I'm doing, I grasp the hand he holds out and let him haul me to my feet. Slightly off-balance, I nearly crash into him as I rise, clumsily. Firm hands grip my waist, steadying me, which only serves to throw me completely off-balance.

"You okay?" he asks, frowning in... Is that concern? "You didn't hit your head when Alfred knocked you down, did you?"

"No. I'm fine, Mulder." I attempt to step back, but he's not letting me go. In fact, he leans in and studies my face closely.

"I don't know, Alex. You seem a little shaky to me."

"Well, what the hell do you expect?" I say belligerently, putting a little more effort into my attempts to escape. Fortunately for my dignity, he releases me before I'm reduced to kicking and screaming. "What is with you, Mulder?"

He has the nerve to blink at me innocently. "What do you mean?"

"You... you're... you're smiling." I finally sputter. "At me. Mulder, you don't smile at me. Remember? You hate me!"

OooOooO

I've always loved taking advantage of Alex. He's adorable when he's flustered. I keep smiling and say, "Did I? I can't remember that."

Ah, now he looks concerned. He's craning his head to try to see the back of my neck. I grin even wider. "I remember your hair like that though. I remember I like that. When it's long, the sun lightens it. It looks so soft. I supposed that's what I should have said instead of 'stupid ass haircut'. I was such a bitch."

His mouth gapes open. He looks as if he's asking for a kiss. I wish I dared pretend that he was, but I have a feeling if I reach for him, he'd run. He half turns as if he's thinking about leaving. I catch sight of a flash of white. His jeans have split. He always did like them on the tight side and was ever penurious. He always would wear them until they split on him, which these had done.

"Tsk-tsk, Alex," I tease. "Isn't that a bit breezy? Come in. We'll find you a needle and thread and save you from being arrested for public indecency." As I trot toward the door, Alfred comes running back and grabs the edge of the small tear. There's a splendid ripping sound, and I have to suck in my cheeks to keep from laughing. Turning back slightly, I say, "Come along. That didn't help matters."

Little strangled sounds emerge from his throat. Oh, my, this is so much fun. Alex baiting was always my favorite sport. Well, second favorite - my first is not encouraged in public but still involves him.

Alfred nudges Alex from behind, pushing him toward me. Hey, maybe Alfred is one of those angels in disguise. A very good dog...

As usual, Alex is casing his new surroundings. I can see his little nose sniff the air. He asks, "Where's the big man?"

"Who?"

"The man..." Alex says with a sneer. "Don't tell me you're living here in Strawberry Lane without Skinner."

I had a feeling that was what he thought. Alex was always a jealous son of a bitch, and he seems a little focused on Walter Skinner in an unhealthy way.

"As far as I know, Walter is in Washington. There's a strong possibility he's going to be promoted to Director. Of course, that's if they don't find out about him and Doggett," I say.

His eyes still narrowed, Alex tries for his classic strut. He succeeds until a cold nose pokes inquiringly into the flap of his jeans. I don't think I ever expected to hear Alex let out a weak little 'eep'. It's adorable.

Whirling around, Alex says, "I thought the dog was staying outside."

"Oh yeah, I forgot," I agree. "Alfred, would you like to go out?"

Judging by his leaping about and tail wagging, Alfred is more than willing. He dashes out the door with a thunderous bark to ward off any intruders. It's all a big fake. Alfred loves everybody and everything.

"Take your jeans off," I direct. Scully has left me a sewing kit somewhere. I know a sail stitch, but I bet that's not what Alex wants on his ass. I hope he decides that I'm exactly what he wants there, before the day ends.

Alex follows me as I prowl around searching for the sewing kit. He's still looking about himself. "I don't see any baby things either."

"Yeah, Scully is pretty careful when she visits. She left a pacifier once, and Alfred ate it," I explain.

"You really live here, alone?"

About time, baby. Just ask, and sometimes you get an answer.

"Just me and Alfred, although there is room for one more," I say. "You still haven't taken off those pants."

"You got a blanket or something?" Alex asks.

Jesus Christ, since when did he get so modest? Disgruntled, I stomp over to get a beach towel from the linen closet. "Here you go."

I lean on the corner of the little dining room and toss him the sewing kit.

"You going just stand there and look at me?" Alex complains.

"I have nothing better to do."

Alex tucks the beach towel under his chin and attempts to wiggle out of his jeans behind the cover. I can feel bubbles of laughter coming up again and swallow them. His ass is as lovely as ever. He drops the towel and scrambles for it.

He's wearing tight, white briefs.

Yeah. Little cheap cotton briefs, looking virginal and pristine. It just makes me want to rip them off of him.

"When did you start wearing underwear?" I ask.

"Since I started riding a Harley again," Alex says. "I don't care for getting all chafed."

"Oh, I agree. That would be very uncomfortable," I agree.

I can see that sewing the jeans is going to be beyond him for many reasons. I walk over and say, "Let me have those. I'll fix them. It was my dog that ripped them for you."

Wrapping the beach towel around him, Alex stands there, long white legs emerging from the impromptu kilt. He fidgets as I examine my project. His jeans are still warm from his skin. I fight the urge to hold them to my cheek, only because I'm afraid it would freak him out even more.

"There's some sun tea on the counter. There's ice in the freezer. Get me some, will you? And if you're hungry, there's roast beef in the fridge. Damn good roast beef too," I tell him.

I know it's good; it comes from the best deli in town. There's potato salad in there, too, and a plate full of oatmeal raisin cookies. Scully says I should eat more oatmeal at my age. She does have a way of reminding me how much time is passing.

Alex seems relieved at having an errand to do.

Alone, I examine the jeans. As I thought, the material was already frayed. Alfred may have been the final strain, but the denim was worn to silken softness. I'm sure that my stitches won't hold long. That makes me smirk. I push my needle in and out, trying to catch enough material to prevent the threads from ripping out on the spot. Chuckling, I can't resist checking the pockets, finding a few worn bills, and a condom as ancient as the ones that Alex found in my wallet the first night we slept together, way back when.

I flip the bills and the useless protection onto the latest tabloid that Frohike sent me. He's proud that his article has made lead. It alleges that someone named Kelly Clarkston was pregnant, not by someone named Justin, but by a space alien that appeared in the form of Elvis.

A tall glass of ice tea thudded beside my gleanings. "You have to go through my pockets?" Alex asked.

"It would have been more fun, if you were in your jeans at the time," I say. "I just wanted to have a chance at repairing these jeans. Don't you have another pair?"

Alex confessed, "I think I lost my side bag somewhere on the road leading to this place. You ever heard of grading a road, Mulder?"

"I'm going to get around to it," I defend myself. I take another look at him and say, "Your towel is coming off."

"Mulder, you..." Alex starts to say. Abruptly he gives up and slumps into a chair. "What the hell am I doing here? One minute I was on my way to a job in Colorado, and the next minute I was turning down the road to your place."

"That's a pretty big leap," I say. "Maybe you drove through a Stargate. Did you happen to notice a Naquada formation?"

I can see from his blank expression that he isn't a fan. Oh, well, maybe we can watch it together later. I want to know if he thinks that Jack is doing Daniel on the sly.

"Now what are you thinking?" Alex asks suspiciously, edging around to check my neck.

"Not unless you offer me a penny," I say. "But I know what you're thinking. Come on. Check my neck and get over it."

I bend my head to expose my neck and wait.

OooOooO

Well, his neck looks normal. "What's they do to you, Mulder? Personality transplant? Another mind-wipe?"

He laughs. Again. "No to both."

I step back and eye him suspiciously. "Then what?"

"Relax, Alex, I just... well, for the first time in my life, I'm content. And happy."

"Happy," I repeat incredulously. "Out here in the sticks, all by yourself. No Scully. No Skinner. No UFO's to chase, no conspiracies to crack." Shaking my head, I retreat to the sofa. "I don't buy it."

"You should try it, Alex." He waves his arms expansively. "Set the bad years aside and just... live."

"Right. Forget the things I've done, the people I've betrayed, the people I killed - the people who want to kill me. Buy a house, get a dog, and take up needlework."

He's shaking his head. "No, Alex. Not forget. Never forget. You can set it aside, though. Realize that in most cases you had no choice and forgive yourself. They were special times. Dangerous times. We - all of us - did what was necessary to survive. It's time to move on, Alex."

"Just like that?" My skepticism knows no bounds. "Mulder, you're a fool. And, give me my jeans, dammit."

He quirks one eyebrow at me. "Once upon a time, you didn't have a problem with taking off your pants for me. Actually, as I recall, you were pretty enthusiastic about it."

Ooh. He hasn't lost his ability to hit me where it hurts most. "Yeah, well," I reply snarkily, "that was before."

"And this is after, Alex." Oddly, his voice is soft with understanding.

Wrapped in my towel, I rise and impatiently grab my repaired jeans from his hands. "I'm going to get dressed now, Mulder," I inform him with all the dignity I can muster.

"If you must," he says, with a pout. Hazel eyes give me the once over. "Why don't you take a shower? Wash off the road grime. I'll make us something to eat."

"You don't cook, Mulder. You never cooked. Ever."

He shrugs good-naturedly. "The closest town is forty-five minutes away. It was either learn to cook or starve."

I pause, then shake my head. "Thanks for the offer, but I really should get going."

"Alex... stick around for a while. At least long enough to get cleaned up and eat. After that we can renegotiate."

I have to admit to a certain amount of curiosity. This is a Mulder I've never met and, well, I think I might actually like him. Sure, sure, I've loved him for years - but like?

"Clean towels are in the linen cabinet," he tells me. "Feel free to grab some clean clothes from my dresser." He rises to his feet and heads towards the kitchen. "Oh, and Alex? You made me a promise once. Think about that while you shower."

And, wow. Just... wow. That he even remembered that is beyond imagination. I'd meant it at the time, yes. But to have him bring up the subject... Honestly, I'd assumed that he'd forgotten - or chalked it up to some kind of attempt on my part to fuck with his mind.

I'm not a man to make promises lightly. Never was. That particular promise had been mostly wishful thinking, anyway. That he'd remembered was...

"Hey," he says, breaking into my muddled thoughts. "Go on in and get cleaned up."

Okay. If for no other reasons than curiosity and a morbid desire to figure out what strange game he's playing, I'll do it. Hell, I'll even take my chances with his cooking.

"Toss your dirty clothes out; I'll throw them into the washer."

Cooking and laundry?

Maybe he's a clone.

OooOooO

I have no idea why I told him I would cook for him. The nearest town is forty-five minutes away, but that doesn't stop me from making a deli run a couple times a week. I suppose I'm displaying courting behavior. My cheeks puff with amusement as I imagine myself performing a strutting dance around him and possibly offering him a few shiny bits of glass or blue flowers.

Alex's eyes narrow. I'm sure he's worried that I'm laughing at him.

I say, "I'm laughing at myself, Alex. Listen, I can cook, but I'm no gourmet chef. It's such a warm day, why don't I just throw some steaks on the grill? I have some potato salad and fresh salad greens. I might even have a chocolate cake in the freezer."

Ducking his head again, Alex says, "Yeah, whatever. Steak would be fine."

I wait until he hands his clothes out. I probably should do something romantic like bury my nose in his scent, but even the sweetest body chemistry on the planet can't do anything about bacterial growth in old sweat. I toss the clothes into the washer, set it on normal cycle, and go outside to fire up the grill. I'm proud of that grill. Walter built it. I never realized that he liked to putter about with his hands. The last time Walter visited, his so-called vacation was spent building the brick grill and installing all the bells and whistles known to Home Depot. It works great, too.

The coals flare up and then settle to a more sedate pace of ignition. I'm feeling the flames of impatience myself. There was a time when I would have believed that it was my right to grab Alex and tell him how I felt with a kiss. I bet if I try that today, he'll be running down the road, naked. Wherever he's been, the world has not been kind to him in the time since I last saw him.

It's strange. I always knew he would show up. I had left the discreet messages all over the Internet. Things only Alex would know were for him. Once, I tried to have the Lone Gunmen trace him by using all the aliases that I'd ever known him to use. Not one of them had so much as updated a credit card since he vanished. Scully told me that meant he was really gone. That's how she said it, 'gone'.

I told her that if he were dead, I would have known it, just as I would have if she were to die in my absence. I think it hurt her to hear that, but she didn't question my belief. Scully has changed a lot over the years. Not as much as I have, though. I'm a man who has died and was born again. You can't experience that without some sort of an epiphany.

It wasn't an instant thing. At first, Scully and I were running together, brought closer by a world of forces against us. We were okay until we settled down. Then we started to do our eternal dance of come close, push away. At first, I came here to think things out. I didn't know what I wanted. I spent my days raging; the nights slumped in silence. Then, one day, Albert was at my door, and I had to have a schedule, or he'd show me why I had to let him out on time, take him for walks two or three times a day.

I remember sitting down one afternoon in the middle of the field, feeling sleepy, and deciding to take a nap. The sun was warm on me and the gentle breeze was blowing through the green barley. I woke moaning, dreaming of Alex's kisses. I woke feeling the gentle heat of his breath as he leaned close and promised me that nothing would stop him from coming back to me.

His promise was a nightmare to me after it happened. I imagined hearing the thud and slide of feet heavy with decomposition following me. I imagined his restless spirit could find no ease in death. I scared the hell out of Scully when I woke screaming from that horrific vision. My dear and practical Scully pointed out that I had been watching classic horror films for half the night. Well, yeah, I know, but still...

That day in the barley field I woke smiling, and not just because Alfred was licking my face. I could feel Alex moving on earth. He was both drawn to me and fighting his attraction to me. Poor baby...he always wanted to be the tough one, the one that didn't need anyone. Yet he couldn't stop falling into my life, no matter what either of us thought we felt at the time. I think I started to heal from that moment. I've always laughed at New Age saps. I believe in impossible things, but like my hero, Harry Houdini, it pissed me off to have people embrace frauds or suspend their intellect to think you can buy or pray for the key to the mystery of life and after life. Yet I believe in karma. I said to Scully once that Alex was an inextricable relation. It was another of the lies that were half- truths I told. That our ties to each other were soul deep, and that we fit to each other, he the key to my lock. This was truth... the kind of truth that always made me lower my voice when I said the word. The lie was that I implied I truly wanted to get away. Lies I told to myself, until that day in the field.

The man who walked away, leaving a shadow of himself in the crushed barley, was not the man who fell asleep there. I woke with both a renewed sense of purpose and a new calm. I knew if I waited that Alex would arrive.

Of course, I tried to hurry fate up a bit. I'm still Fox Mulder. If the mountain won't come to Mohammad, I was more inclined to get earth-moving equipment than humbly start a journey to surmount it.

I can see Alex isn't sure why he's shown up at my door. I bet he's trying to think what information he should offer me, what excuse he might make for arriving here. Dear Alex, fighting it as hard as I have in the past. He's a contrary son of a bitch. I bet if I had greeted him with a snarl and a kick, that he would be struggling as hard to stay as he has been to leave.

I add some mesquite to the coals and dropped some nice thick buffalo steaks on the stainless steel plate. There isn't time for a real marinade, but I can baste the steaks as I cook them. I wrap some ears of corn in foil to roast on the side. Alex looks as if he hasn't been eating on a regular basis. He could use a solid meal.

I walk inside to get a basting brush and catch sight of something lovely. Since I've forgotten to bring Alex any of my clothing, he's been forced to fend for himself. A towel barely clings to his lean hips. He's all legs. Oh man, I love his legs. Scully's short legs are cute, but long legs that could wrap around you. Oh my, yes...I remember those legs.

I grin again and quote Lewis Carroll, "They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; They pursued it with forks and hope; They threatened its life with a railway-share; They charmed it with smiles and soap. I'm working on the fork now, but I seem to have misplaced my railway share and threatening your life seems inhospitable."

"Yeah, and this snark is a boojum, you see," Alex replies, as if unable to stop himself.

I grin. The 'Hunting of the Snark' is lesser-known Carroll. I had the pleasure of introducing it to Alex in golden days of yore. I see he still remembers. "I forgot to get you clothes," I blurt.

Nudging the bedroom door open, I tell him, "Underwear and socks in first drawer. Shirts in the second. There are both jeans and cutoffs in the bottom drawer. Take whatever fits."

I would have liked to eat up the scenery some more, but I'm afraid that my snark will 'softly and suddenly vanish away'. Instead I shove the deli roast beef aside to find the ginger sauce for basting and grab some tomatoes to grill on the side. I'll leave him alone and see if he feels comfortable enough to come out and ask some of the questions I see brimming over in his eyes.

Wondering if he'll believe that I've finally decided that I don't want to fight our karma any longer, that I want him in my life, as flawed as he is, as screwed up as I am...

OooOooO

This is just plain weird. He's acting as if all those years of enmity never happened. Like some cosmic vacuum just sucked out all his suspicion and distrust, so his hatred never happened. Hell, even when we were lovers, he wasn't so... nice. So trusting. I have no idea what to make of it. But, well, I guess I'll just play along and see what happens next.

Dressed - in his clothes - I wander out to find him in the back yard. Grilling. And, by all appearances, enjoying the job. He's actually humming to himself.

"Hey there," he greets me cheerfully. "Food's almost ready."

"Um. Can I do something to help?" I ask. Humor the madman, I decide.

"How about setting the table?" He turns and smiles at me. Again.

Just about the time I locate everything I need for the table, he walks in bearing a huge platter of food. It's been a while since I've eaten, even longer since I sat down to a home-cooked meal. Mouth watering, I sit down and manage to wait until he joins me before I dig in. And, damn, it's good. Better than good. Of course, he could serve me sawdust and I'd be a happy camper, but this is just outstanding!

He watches me with a suspiciously indulgent expression on his face as I shovel bite after bite into my mouth. Finally, I notice that he's barely touched his own meal and give him a questioning look.

"Mulder. Stop staring at me and eat, for God's sake."

"Just enjoying the view," he says with a smirk. "I've been expecting you for a long time, Alex."

"Expecting me?" Alarm bells are ringing in my head.

"Yeah. Expecting you. Waiting for you. Looking forward to seeing you."

"Mulder, what the hell game are you playing?"

"No game, Alex. You promised me that we'd be together one day. That we'd live happily ever after."

My fork clatters as it hits the plate. "I never said happily ever after."

He shrugs. "It was implied."

"We are not living in a fairy tale, Agent Mulder. Well, maybe you are, but men like me don't get a happily ever after. You know what I've done. How many enemies I have." I shove my plate aside, sighing heavily. "You seem to be happy here, and I'm glad to see that. Having me around would be dangerous for you; your peace would be shattered. I don't want that. So, as soon as my clothes are dry, I'll be on my way."

"No, you won't," he says firmly, that old familiar stubbornness in his voice. "You're off the radar, Alex. And, so am I. No one knows about this place. Except Skinner, Doggett, Scully, and the Gunmen."

"Right. And none of them will jump at the chance to drop a word in the right ears. They'll just be ecstatic that I'm here."

"They're my friends, Alex. And they want me to be happy. You being here will make me happy."

"Oh, well, that's okay then. I'm sure you're right, they'll be so happy to hear that you've taken up with a murdering bastard."

"They know I've been looking for you. And why. They might not be thrilled at first, but they'll come around," he tells me with utmost confidence.

Jesus! The man is delusional. "Mulder... why? Just, please, tell me why you'd want me around."

"Because I... Alex." He sighs. "Remember what it was like. Remember how good we were together? You can't have forgotten how it was. The nights. The days. I was more than halfway in love with you then. No one has ever come close to making me feel the way you did."

Well, shit. "But, Mulder, all the things that happened after. I betrayed you. I used you. I... "

"You promised, Alex. That was the only promise you ever made me - that we'd be together in the end. I'm holding you to that promise."

OooOooO

I watch his face with rapt attention as I remind him of our golden days.

His eyes fall again. "I've broken a lot of things, promises, most of the commandments, a few hearts."

"I bet your own heart is one of the ones you broke, my love," I reply. "So what do you want to do now?"

Hoping that he will reply that he wants to fall into bed and fuck until the cows come home, I wait, probably with the same pathetic expression that Albert has on his face. I guess we're both hoping someone will toss us a bone.

"I should go look for my clothes," Alex says, craning his neck in that nervous way I remember. I used to tease him about it, telling him he looked like a crane trying to swallow an oversized fish.

"Great, I'll drive you," I offer, grabbing my keys.

"Mulder..."

"It's no problem," I say blithely. "Let's go. You're going to love my truck. It's a classic. It came with the place."

His expression is dubious when he sees Matilda. I feel rather hurt. Sure her paint is mostly primer, and she could use a new bumper, but she's still a classic. I jump in behind the wheel. Alex holds the door open a little too long, and Albert jumps into his lap. I say, "He certainly likes you."

For some reason, Alex only makes a choking sound.

We bump back and forth, almost to town, without spotting Alex's clothing. He says, "I can buy some more clothes." Then he winces and adds, "Damn, I just realized I don't know where my wallet is."

"It wasn't in your pockets when I went through them," I say.

"Shit, it must have been in my side bag!" Alex thumps his head on the window. Albert licks his face thoroughly in sympathy. Alex is too pissed at himself even to push the dog away. Lucky dog... I'd much rather be the one licking Alex's face.

"I can buy you some things," I offer.

"No thanks," Alex says. "It didn't work out too well the last time you bought me anything."

That shuts me up. It was on our way to Tunguska. I didn't do it out of loving kindness, either. He stank. Apparently, they didn't hit the Laundromat too often in right wing militant camps, and after spending a night on a balcony and a day on the road, he didn't exactly smell like a rose. I bought him a compete change of clothes when we spent the night at a hotel in Russia. I made him go to bed with me that night. It wasn't rape, but I didn't really ask, so much as grab and assume he'd be willing.

"I'm sorry," I mumble. "We both did things we regret."

"Fox Mulder apologizing to me?" Alex comments sarcastically. "Hell must have frozen over." His eyes narrow, and he says, " Isn't this where you say that must be how I got out?"

"Nah," I reply. "I think if the devil had you, you'd have him twisted around your little finger."

Alex rolls his eyes at that.

"I don't mind you wearing my clothes," I say. "You can use my laptop to get in touch with someone to replace your ID. The Gunmen have me under a firewall and bouncing through so many IP addresses that even they can't tell where I am when I'm on line."

The dead silence on the way back isn't very informative. I can't tell if he's thinking it over, is pissed off, or just brooding. We get out of the truck and walk into the house.

"This place have a guest room?" Alex asks.

"Yeah, " I say, not able to hide my disappointment. I'm starting to doubt my surety that Alex has been drawn to my desire, that he would want me as much as I want him. I shrug and say, "I was hoping we could sleep together. I won't do anything you aren't ready for."

Even though I'm having a doubt or two, I still feel that strange ability I've always had to read people. I know, regardless of what Alex keeps saying, that he's never stopped loving me. If only my famed profiling ability was strong enough to tell me why he's acting like a frightened virgin.

OooOooO

"Mulder... " Damn! How the hell do I explain that I, Alex Krycek, am scared? I don't think I can take it if he only wants a walk down memory lane. I want everything. I want us. Forever. "I don't think... I... fuck."

"You don't want me anymore, Alex. Is that it?" God, he sounds sad.

"No. No, that's not it. The problem is that I want something I can never have."

"Alex, sit down. Let's talk about this. I don't want you to disappear again."

I shake my head. "Can't. I'm... restless. And I think better on my feet."

"Okay," he says in that 'humor the madman' tone of his. I've always hated that. "Let's take a walk. Out in the field. It's time for Alfred's evening constitutional, so we can kill two birds with one stone."

With a terse nod, he heads for the door. Alfred takes off like a shot for the field, barking madly as he runs. Walking in perfect sync, Mulder and I follow at a more leisurely pace.

"I love this time of evening," he tells me. "The setting sun hits the barley just right. It's like walking in a field of gold."

How dare he be poetic at a time like this! I'm a wreck, knowing that he's going to want to talk about relationships and love and all kinds of gooey shit. He's a romantic at heart and I'm... not. I really have no idea how to deal with what's coming.

The best defense being a strong offense, I decide to speak first, "Look, Mulder, if you're looking for a quick fuck, I'm okay with that. But... if you want more, I don't know if I can... I don't know how."

"You're frightened," he says softly. "Of the past. Of the future. Of me."

"Bullshit."

"Alex," he sighs. "I meant what I said, I've been waiting for you to come to me. Don't ask how, but I knew you survived. And I knew you'd turn up here one day. Relationships have never been easy for me, but with you... I think we can do it. I really do. Won't you at least give us a try? I won't push you. Let's just take it slowly. Try living together, get reacquainted. If you prefer to sleep in the guest room, well, it's not what I want, but I can wait. Give you time."

"Why?" I ask baldly. "What's in it for you?"

"You. Us. Possibilities."

"I don't know, Mulder. There's so much between us, so many bad times. How can you...?"

"Alex, I was never as happy as I was when we were together. I want that again. I want to go back." He pauses. "No, I want to rebuild our relationship - as we are today. I love you."

Love. Jesus Christ, love! "I don't know if I can even remember how to love."

"You will. I know you will. We belong together. Be honest, Alex, you know I'm right."

"You have more faith in me than I do, Mulder."

"I believe, Alex," he says simply. "I believe in the promise you made all those years ago. I believe you love me too. I believe we have a future."

OooOooO

We walk through the field. Albert bounds ahead, whirls back, bursting out of his skin with joy. He scares up a covey of grouse. They burst into the air with a sharp sound like a bullet. Both Alex and I break step, crouching and reaching for guns we don't have. We grin at each other, very simpatico in this moment. Damn, we were good together. So good.

Somehow his hand is in mine when we rise. I hold it, not saying anything, not seeking his eyes.

The barley is so ripe that we walk in a haze of pollen, from the heavy heads. It's surreal, dancing around us, softening the signs of age in our faces. Above us the sky is turquoise, shot through with clouds that look like the kind William draws, impossibly white, impossibly fluffy, and soft.

"Most of the barley grown in the United States is made into beer," Alex tells me in an absent-minded way. "Seventy percent of the world barley crops are of the malt variety."

My tongue is shoved so far into my cheek that I think I'm going to choke on it. I wonder if rats are like cats? I know cats hate it when people laugh at them.

"I never knew barley fields were so beautiful though," Alex muses.

Stopping for a moment, he stretches. I can almost feel him unwinding, letting go of some of his barriers, and my heart is so full of hope that it may burst. I believe that I had arrived at a place of magic when I found this place. I believe that Alex's pain and his fear will find some ease here, as my wounded heart has done.

I wonder if I can find the place where I had rested and looked up at the sky that afternoon. To my surprise, Alex tugs on my hand. He is leading me. We walk faster, the haze embracing us. I wonder if anyone were to see us, would we look human or like angels shaped and surrounded by the sun shining through the barley?

"We should sit here," Alex tells me.

Is this the place? I remember that the ground gently mounded as this does. I'd felt like an infant, peacefully resting on his mother's breast. It doesn't matter, not really. I sit when Alex does. He turns to me, face eager, face dawning with life. I have to kiss him. I have to tell him with my lips, with my hands, with all of my soul.

Our lips meet. He gasps instantly, taking in a deep breath, my breath. His eyelashes flutter on his lovely, high cheekbones. His eyes are green-gold, sunlit, clear for once of dark places.

His hand pulls down on my neck. He clings to me. We kiss. We kiss until both of us must separate to catch our breath.

"I want to believe, Mulder. Help me believe," Alex says.

Oh words have always come quickly, but I have none. I have no words to persuade him, just the language of my beating heart as I press his hand against my chest. I want to tell him to come in. I want to tell him that there will never be a time when he will not live there, will not be wanted here. All I can do is hold his flesh to mine and wait. Wait to see if he can understand.

OooOooO

Old feelings, emotions I'd buried long ago, are warring with my instinct to run. To protect myself. But. The sincerity in his words, the hope in his voice...

Can I do this? Actually trust someone? Believe that he really does want me here? Believe that he loves me? I sit in silence, letting the peaceful evening wash over me, feeling the steady beat of his heart under my hand.

I do love him. I have for years and years. But, to place my heart in his hands, trust that he won't wake up tomorrow or next week or next year and suddenly realize that I'm the same man that hurt him so many times in so many ways...

Damn.

Patiently, he waits quietly as I argue with myself. Try to convince myself that this - that we - can have a life together. That we can spend our remaining days together here, beside this field of gold.

"I love you, Mulder. I do. And... Yes, I'll stay here with you."

His smile is so filled with joy at my words that I know I've made the correct decision. We can do this.

We will do this.

Together.


Fields of Gold
by Sting

You'll remember me when the west wind moves Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky As we walk in fields of gold

So she took her love for to gaze a while Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky As we lie in fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth Among the fields of gold

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold
We'll walk in fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down Among the fields of gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold


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